Volume 25 - Issue 1
Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: An IntroductionBy D. Eryl Davies
After achieving outstanding results, a young medical student in Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, was promoted quickly in 1923 to the position of chief clinical assistant to Sir Thomas Horder, the king’s physician. This high-flying medic was the Welsh speaking D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). By the age of 25, he had amassed a string of medical undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications, including MRCS, LRCP and MRCP. When only 23 he had earned the London MD, a real medical doctorate, and he was affectionately referred to as ‘the Doctor’ for the rest of his life. A brilliant thinker with exceptional skills of analysis, logic and oratory, Lloyd-Jones (abbreviated to ML-J) was assured of a prominent medical career.
Although he was an active member of a Welsh Presbyterian Church in London, his profession of Christianity was nominal until his early twenties. At that stage he was deeply aware of his sin and guilt before the holy God, he was converted and given a stronger sense of call to the Christian ministry. For about four years prior to his conversion, ML-J had known a measure of constraint and conviction concerning his own future place in the ministry, now the call became irresistible. Major contributory factors included his growing realisation and experience of the love of God in Christ, the fact he was ‘a debtor’ responsible for preaching the gospel (Rom. 1:14) and this was related partly to the spiritual needs of his patients. Despite their wealth and fame, many of them were dying and ML-J knew that their greatest need was the gospel.
His first pastorate was a Presbyterian1 church in Aberavon, Port Talbot, in South Wales where he exercised a powerful preaching ministry from February 1927 to the summer of 1938. Facing a large building debt, the Port Talbot church was spiritually impoverished and majored on a social gospel. This small church of 93 members was transformed by ‘the Doctor’s’ biblical and Christ-centred preaching. Remarkable church growth took place as many were converted. ML-J himself reports, ‘… the church was filled from the very first.There were amazing conversions. In my 11 years the church grew to 530 members and the attendance ran about 850.’2 In other areas of Wales thousands flocked to hear him preach.
From 1938–43 ML-J was an assistant to the Revd Dr Campbell Morgan in Westminster Chapel, London, and then succeeded him as minister in 1943. His influential London ministry continued until March 1968 when he underwent major surgery then formally retired. Until 1980 he exercised a helpful itinerant preaching ministry and prepared some of his material such as Romans and Ephesians for publication. ML-J died on 1 March, St David’s Day, 1981 in London. His anticipation of the glories of heaven was typical of the man who knew the Word of God and the God of the Word so profoundly and experimentally. A couple of days before his death, he wrote on a scrap of paper for the benefit of his family, ‘Do not pray for healing. Do not hold me back from the glory.’3
The major authorised biography of ML-J is provided by Iam H. Murray in two volumes, published in 1982 and 1990. This biographer knew ML-J well and maintained regular contact with him over the years. Murray’s biography of ML-J is valuable for several reasons. First, it is well written and abundantly resourced with primary data and interviews with ML-J, his family and many who knew him closely. Second, the value of the biography is enhanced by placing the ministry of his subject in the wider religious context of the period. Third, it was the first, and still is the only, major biography of ML-J and was completed within nine years of his death.
I am aware that some academics criticise this two-volume biography because it lacks penetrating, critical evaluation of ML-J’s theology and work. There are five observations which are pertinent concerning this criticism. First of all, as ML-J has been grossly misunderstood and, by some, misrepresented, it is a pleasure to have a biographer who is sympathetic to his theological position and aims. Second, Murray respected ML-J’s wish in providing a biography that is substantial both in content and length with ‘ample materials from which the reader could arrive at his own assessments’.4 And that is good scholarship! Third, agreeing that the man ‘cannot be understood apart from his message’, Murray endeavours to ‘bring forward’ the ‘big message’ of ML-J ‘in its God-centredness, in its features which put him in the succession of Calvin, the Puritans, Whitefield, the Calvinistic Methodists and Spurgeon’.5 This point is important in assessing the value of the biography. Fourth, while inevitably selective, the biographer assures us that he has included more rather than less of the extensive material available to him.6 Related to this is the fact that ML-J’s sermons, addresses and Bible study material continue to be published so that this may facilitate over the next decade a more comprehensive analysis and evaluation of his theology. Fifth, let noone imagine that Murray endorsed all the views or actions of ML-J and this is illustrated, for example, with regard to the charismata, baptism with the Spirit and secession, but this biography was not the platform for articulating his own views over against those of ML-J. I urge Themelios readers to engage with this valuable and fascinating biography of ML-J.
Another earlier and smaller (60 pages) outline of ML-J’s life and work was provided by his grandson, Christopher Catherwood, in 1984.7 While helpful, it is weak in terms of theological assessment, thoroughness and even in understanding his grandfather’s approach to some crucial issues.8 Allow me to refer to a useful and necessary contribution provided by Hywel R. Jones in 1991 on the neglected and controversial subject of ‘the Doctor and the British Evangelical Council’ in Unity in Truth.9 This is required reading for those who want to understand post-1966 developments from the perspective of ML-J. Hopefully, the centenary of ML-J’s birth in December 1999 will stimulate additional writing on this remarkable man as well as further evaluation of his contribution and significance.
One cannot appreciate ML-J’s theological development without understanding his challenging approach to reading and there are three aspects I want to underline. Firstly, he read privately the whole Bible each year and followed the practice until his death. This was a priority for ML-J and remains a profound challenge and example to us today. Secondly, ML-J read widely, including many major theological volumes of varying theological shades. For example, while his children played on the beach during a summer holiday in the late 1920s, ML-J was only a few yards away but engrossed in Emil Brunner’s The Divine Imperative.10 He then read Karl Barth’s writings concluding, to the surprise of many contemporaries, that Barthian theology was a serious compromise of the Reformed Faith.11 From 1928 he began to read the Bampton and Gifford Lectures annually and he maintained his habit of reading major medical journals. He also read widely on a Bible book before commencing a new series of expository sermons or Bible studies. Before embarking on Romans,12 for example, he declares that he ‘had read, not only the well known commentaries, but also many sermons and addresses on it’.13
Third, he believed ‘that the business of reading is to make one think, to stimulate’14 and one should not accept uncritically the contents of any book except, of course, the Bible. When, for example, in 1931, he read Kenneth E. Kirk’s The Vision of God15 he reports that it ‘had a great effect on me … I found that book absolutely seminal. It gave me a lot of background. It made me think’.16 Years later he remarked, ‘I am convinced a pastor must nourish his mind, it cannot be too well stocked … You will always find that the men whom God has used signally have been those who have studied most, known their Scriptures best, and given time to preparation.’17
Being an avid and wide reader contributed significantly to ML-J’s theological development and this can be illustrated further in identifying specific theological influences upon him. There was clearly from his early years the influence of his denomination, the Calvinistic Methodist Church of Wales, particularly its theology and history. His awareness of the glory of God came gradually in his early teens, especially in 1913 while reading a small booklet describing the ministry of Howell Harris, a leading figure in the eighteenth-century Welsh revival. Four years later in reading the Scriptures he embraced the truth of predestination and taught it vigorously to friends and relatives.18 Reading the history of his denomination with its countless regional, local as well as national revivals stimulated ML-J’s life-long interest not only in church history and historical theology but also in revival.
Alongside his on-going reading of this history, he ‘discovered’ the writings of Richard Baxter in 1925 then other Puritans like John Owen. It was ‘sheer enjoyment’ for him also to read Luke Tyerman’s two-volume Life and Times of George Whitefield. In 1929 he succeeded in purchasing second-hand copies of the two-volume 1834 edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards. ‘I devoured these volumes,’ he explains, ‘and literally just read and read them. It is certainly true that they helped me more than anything else.’19 Only a year earlier ML-J was advised to read James Denney’s The Death of Christ (1903) and P.T. Forsyth’s The Cruciality of the Cross (1909), the latter ‘proved of especial help at this stage’20 in his theological development, despite weaknesses in Forsyth’s doctrine of Scripture. During the war years, 1939–45, the main authors he read were B.B. Warfield (10 volumes), Charles Hodge and J.C. Ryle. Warfield’s writings, as Iain Murray also observes, gave ML-J ‘new insight into the necessity for doctrinal teaching’21 and apologetics.
These various theological influences contributed to confirming ML-J as a conservative evangelical, an unashamed and robust Calvinist and a weighty theologian. It is impossible to understand ML-J apart from his Reformed theology and his influence in this respect on the growing Inter-Varsity Fellowship (IVF) and International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) movements was immense. One example is the Welsh IVF Conference near Aberystwyth in 1951 in which he gave three addresses on ‘The Sovereignty of God’. After providing a careful definition of the title, he explained why the subject was unpopular at that time. He suggested two major reasons, namely, the fact that ‘all doctrine is at a discount’ and this doctrine ‘particularly is disliked because of its implications to man’. A second reason is that ‘human philosophy militates against this doctrine’.22 ML-J also explained why the subject received such little support among evangelicals. The answer is that ‘in their anxiety to present salvation in terms of the person and work of Christ’, they had ‘become unbalanced and tended to forget God the Father. There was a danger of “Jesusology”. The worship of God as three Persons must always be remembered.’23 Emphasising the relevance of divine sovereignty, ML-J argued in four ways:
■ ‘There is no answer to the problem of history’ or world affairs, ‘apart from the sovereignty of God’.
■ It is also ‘necessary for the church’ and will remove ‘the disease of pessimism’ as Christians face the future.
■ The subject is essential in order to put aside subjectivism and ‘return to the knowledge of the sovereign God’ and provide virility as well as stability in the Christian life.
■ ‘You can have no doctrine if this is not right’ as it is ‘the foundation doctrine of all Protestant and Reformed theology’.24
By the late 1930s his growing theological stature and compelling preaching gifts made ML-J a likely candidate for academic theological teaching. As early as 1933 he gave a series of lectures on preaching and pastoral work in his denomination’s theological college in Bala, North Wales, and there was a widespread conviction that he should have been appointed as Professor in this college in 1938. ML-J was invited to become Principal of London Bible College when it opened in 1943 but he declined the invitation.25 He lectured and preached in numerous other colleges over the years including Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. In the former he delivered a series of addresses in 1947 on Apologetics, subsequently published as Truth Unchanged, Unchanging.26 Along with others, ML-J was instrumental in establishing Tyndale House, Cambridge, for biblical research and he gave a considerable amount of time in the early 1950s to strengthening the doctrinal position of the IVF. But his vision for a theological change extended to the church at large and, as one way of achieving this, he encouraged publishing companies to make available old and new books of quality to the Christian public.
But it was as a preacher, not as a lecturer or theologian, that ML-J was better known. ‘A powerful evangelist’ was how the British Weekly27 described ML-J whereas Emil Brunner claimed he was ‘the greatest preacher in Christendom’.28 For Carl Henry, ML-J was ‘one of Britain’s great evangelical churchmen’, ‘a dedicated and disciplined expository preacher’.29 According to ML-J, because the kerygma and didache need to be declared and declared authoritatively to both sinners and saints, preaching is ‘the primary task of the Church’30 and there is ‘no substitute for it’. ‘And the work of preaching’, he emphasises, ‘is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.’ To this he adds, ‘the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and … it is obviously the greatest need of the world also’.31
But what is true preaching? Essentially it is ‘the delivery of a message from God’32 to the congregation in which the preacher is an ‘ambassador for Christ’ and ‘the mouthpiece of God and of Christ’. The idea that the preacher should entertain and amuse the congregation was anathema to ML-J. ‘He is there … to do something for these people; he is there to produce results of various kinds, he is there to influence people … his preaching is meant to affect the whole person at the very centre of life.’33
The act of preaching, too, received close attention from ML-J. Authentic preaching involves ‘the whole personality of the preacher’,34 ‘a sense of authority and control over the congregation’.35 The element of freedom and control by the Holy Spirit is of the very essence of this act of preaching as well as interaction and interplay between preacher and congregation.36 Seriousness, liveliness, zeal, and a sense of concern, warmth, urgency37 and the element of pathos are also essential in preaching. Interestingly, ML-J felt that this is one aspect which was ‘most lacking’38 in his own preaching ministry. This pathos arises from a love for the people and the realisation of that God has done for us in Christ. He laments: ‘We do not know what it is to be carried away, we no longer know what it is to be moved profoundly.’39
Another vital feature of preaching is power. ‘True preaching, after all,’ he insists, ‘is God acting. It is not just a man uttering words: it is God using him … He is under the influence of the Holy Spirit … (1 Thess. 1:5).’40 His more famous definitions of preaching are: ‘Logic on fire! Eloquent reason!… theology on fire … theology coming through a man who is on fire.’41 And ML-J warns that it is possible to be knowledgeable and thorough in sermon preparation yet ‘without the unction of the Holy Spirit you will have no power and your preaching will not be effective’.42 However, this power ‘is entirely the gift of God’.43 When God empowers, the preacher himself is conscious of the fact as well as the congregation. In fact, hearers ‘sense it at once … they are gripped, they become serious, they are convicted, they are moved, they are humbled. Some are convicted of sin … and begin to delight in the things of God’.44 In this respect the preacher’s responsibility is to seek the Lord. ‘Seek Him always … expect Him … seek this power’.45 ML-J’s biblical conviction regarding the necessity of the Spirit’s power to accompany the preaching of the Word was strengthened by his extensive knowledge of earlier generations of preachers like the Protestant Reformers, the Puritans, eighteenth-century men like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Damel Rowlands, Howell Harris, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd and many others who knew in a glorious way this divine empowering in their ministries.46
ML-J’s pneumatology is Reformed, stimulating and, at least in two areas, controversial. The Reformed character of his pneumatology is illustrated especially with regard to the necessity, priority and nature of regeneration. The total depravity and total inability of all sinners renders regeneration necessary if they are to be made alive to God. This supernatural, inward and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit is prior to any human response to the gospel. And this emphasis upon the rebirth should be shared, ML-J argues, by all evangelicals. ‘The evangelical is a man who emphasises the rebirth: a new beginning, born of the Spirit, new life in Christ, and partakers of the divine nature’.47 ML-J proceeds to warn us that ‘as men cease to be evangelical, they put less and less emphasis upon regeneration, and they tend to put more and more upon the activity of the human will and the decision of the individual person. But the evangelical sees everything in terms of regeneration, the action of God.’ This is a challenging point. In turning to the more controversial aspects of ML-J’s pneumatology, it is helpful to place his teaching within the religious and academic context of the period.
A number of academics have debated the subject of Spirit-baptism in considerable depth since James Dunn’s seminal work, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, was published in 1970. This was the first academic work in the United Kingdom to interact with Pentecostal and charismatic teachings. Geoffrey Lampe’s God as Spiritin 1977 was a significant liberal contribution that pointed in the area of Unitarianism. Thomas Smail wrote extensively in Theological Renewal journal between 1975 and 1983. His 1988 book, The Giving Gift, represented his developed pneumatology and re-evaluation of earlier charismatic teaching. Over recent years studies in Luke-Acts have been extensive and fruitful with useful contributions from scholars like Max Turner,48 R.P. Menzies49 and Gordon Fee.50 There is evidence to suggest that ML-J was at least aware of these early developments in academic pneumatology. All that he taught and wrote on the subject, however, including Spirit-baptism and the charismata, was through sermons and Bible studies at Westminster Chapel, London.
Within the general religious context, one needs to note the emergence of the charismatic movement in the early sixties with its emphasis on post-conversion Spirit-Baptism and charismata. Many charismatics, early in the 1970s, gradually tended to reject the Pentecostal doctrine of Spirit-baptism evidenced by tongues and preferred to understand it as being initiatory for all Christians. But was ML-J a charismatic or a Pentecostal? The answer is a negative one because his views were formulated and taught several years before the charismatic movement emerged. He also insisted that ‘the need for prophets [and apostles] ends once we have the Canon of the New Testament. We no longer need direct revelations of truth; the truth is in the Bible.’51 Nor was ML-J a Pentecostal for he rejected the idea of Spirit-baptism as a ‘second-blessing’ or as evidenced by tongues. For ML-J, the Holy Spirit can come in power upon a preacher or individual Christian or church several, or even many, times and without tongues or other extra-ordinary gifts. Although charismatics and Pentecostals have both claimed him as an advocate of their views, a careful reading of ML-J establishes that they have misunderstood him.
In looking briefly here at his doctrine of Spirit-baptism, one needs to appreciate there is development in his understanding of the subject and, at times, some ambiguity in what he says, as well as the terms he employs, concerning it. For this reason alone one can easily misunderstand his teaching. Remember, too, that he explained his view of the baptism with the Holy Spirit on three main occasions. The first was a series of five sermons on Ephesians 1:13 preached in 1955; second, 15 sermons on Romans 8:15–16 preached in late 1960 and early 1961; third, in 1964–65 when he preached 24 sermons on John 1:26, 33.
Perhaps it is ML-J’s Joy Unspeakable: the Baptism with the Holy Spirit52 published in 1984 which is better known to Christians; the content of this book and Prove All Things53 were preached by him as a series of sermons in 1964–65. From Joy Unspeakable a number of important principles emerge. First, a person can be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and converted to Christ without having been baptised with the same Spirit.54 Second, Spirit-baptism for ML-J ‘is something that happens to us’55 but not automatically56 for it is ‘given’ and ‘it is the Lord who does it’. This point he establishes from the Acts narratives.57 A third and ‘still more important’58 principle for ML-J is that Spirit-baptism is ‘clear and unmistakable’, personally and corporately recognisable so is different in this respect from regeneration. Here he appeals to Acts 2:4, 6–7, 12–13; 4:8, 31; 6:3–5, 8, 10; 8:17–18; 10:44–47; 11:15–18 and 19:2–6. Interestingly, he employs the term ‘revival’ interchangeably with that of baptism in the Holy Spirit and uses illustrations from the 1904–1905 revival in Wales and then other Christians in different periods such as John Wesley, Henry Venn and Charles Simeon. The interchangeable use of these two terms is significant.
Fourth, he argues for the fact that, apart from Ephesians 5:18, the term ‘filled’ is interchangeable with baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is in his exposition of Ephesians 5:18 where ML-J provides a more rigorous analysis of the way in which terms like ‘full’ or ‘filled’ are used in the NT. He distinguishes two usages of the term ‘full’ or ‘filled’. For example, Luke 1:41, 67; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31 and 13:9 he understands as a ‘special endowment, a special filling with the Spirit …’,59 ‘an abrupt and sudden enabling’ equipping a Christian for a specific task. Another usage of the term he discerns in Acts 6:3; 7:55; 11:24 and 13:52 as ‘an account of a state or condition’.60 Ephesians 5:18 is also included in this usage by ML-J where he notes that the verb is present imperative with regard to an ethical injunction. By contrast, he insists that the baptism with the Spirit is sovereignly bestowed by the Lord and is never the subject of a command in Scripture or within the ability of the Christian to achieve himself. This two-fold distinction by ML-J in the use of the term ‘full’ or ‘filled’ is described by Michael Eaton as both a ‘continuous’ and an ‘aoristic’61 filling with the Spirit. I fear that the relationship between the two kinds of filling is not always discussed consistently by ML-J but he understands the aorist usage as being interchangeable with Spirit-baptism but not necessarily.62 He does regard the filling of Acts 4:31 as ‘another baptism’ and 9:17 as Paul’s baptism with the Spirit. In order to strengthen the interchangeable use of terms like ‘full’ and ‘filled’ with Spirit-baptism, ML-J rightly emphasises the important distinction between the ‘regular’ and the ‘exceptional’ or the ‘indirect’ and ‘direct’ work of the Holy Spirit. This he sees illustrated in Acts 2 and in other revivals in the history of the church where the Spirit’s ‘regular’ work in convicting and regenerating coincides with the ‘exceptional’ degree of the Holy Spirit’s power granted sovereignly to the church in periods of revival. He insists that those who identify baptism with the Spirit with conversion ‘rarely, if ever at all, speak about revival … There is no room left for revival in that teaching.63
Fifth, other terms like ‘sealing’, ‘earnest’64 and ‘bears witness’ (Rom. 8:16) are also for ML-J interchangeable with ‘baptism’ with the Holy Spirit.65 Perhaps it is more accurate to say that he regards these different terms as all referring to the same spiritual experience but highlighting different aspects of the experience such as assurance, profusion and power.
Finally, ML-J is clear that the ‘primary purpose and function’ of baptism with the Spirit is ‘to enable us to be witnesses to the Lord Jesus Christ’66 and he uses Luke 24:45–47; Acts 1:5, 8; 2:32; Hebrews 2:3–4 and 10:14–15 to establish and illustrate the point. In other words, its purpose is not primarily for sanctification but for power in witness and preaching. Such baptism gives ‘an unusual sense of the presence of God’; and divine glory, ‘a sense of awe’, a humbling of oneself, a deep assurance of God’s love to us in Christ as well as joy, ‘love to God’ and ‘light and understanding concerning the Bible’.
From this brief overview of his teaching on Spirit-baptism, it needs to be emphasised that ML-J was not a charismatic. He highlighted divine sovereignty with regard to this subject and rejected any form of conditionalism or human agency for obtaining the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Sadly, what is not understood by some Christians in relation to ML-J’s teaching is that for him revival and baptism with the Holy Spirit refer to the same work of God. The terms are interchangeable. The only difference is that the former is extensive and corporate while the latter is personal but still christocentric and empowering for witness, and love, to Christ.
There are weaknesses and ambiguities in ML-J’s position but there are also strengths and insights which need to be reflected upon. I encourage you to engage seriously and fairly in a biblical and theological assessment of his pneumatology.
1966 and all that!
Some readers may be unfamiliar with this sad incident which was ‘to dramatise a fracture in the evangelical world’,67 at least in Britain. Briefly, ML-J was invited by leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals to address its second Assembly in October 1966 on the subject of Evangelical Unity.68 The request was that ML-J should repeat in public what he had already shared privately with the NAE Commission.
In his introduction to the subject, ML-J explained that the doctrine of the church is prominent in the NT and that it needed to be addressed in view of alarming ecumenical trends. At the heart of his address were three major questions. First, are evangelicals content to be ‘nothing but an evangelical wing of a church’69where the majority have liberal views of the Bible and theology? The second question raised by ML-J concerned the nature of the church. Is biblical doctrine of the essence of the church?70 Does not the church consist of converted people? His third major question concerned schism and his argument that only Christians can be guilty of this sin but then only within the context of a true visible church when they divide over persons and secondary issues.71
The closing part of his address constituted a practical challenge to his audience. ‘What reasons have we for not coming together?’72 ‘I am a believer,’ he continued, ‘in ecumenicity, evangelical ecumenicity. To me, the tragedy is that we are divided.’73 He emphasised that the Holy Spirit will only bless the Word, not churches where the essential doctrines of the Word are denied. Despite the problems, Christians must act courageously like their forefathers for the sake of the truth and the true church. The burden of this major address was not secession but evangelical unity and obedience to the NT. The chairman of the meeting, John Stott, had earlier in the meeting expressed his own view yet after ML-J’s address he again spoke but this time contradicted the views of ML-J. ‘I believe history is against what Dr Lloyd-Jones has said … Scripture is against him … I hope no one will act precipitately.’74 A sad moment indeed.
What is disappointing is the way that ML-J’s call for evangelical unity has continued to be misunderstood and misrepresented since 1966. One expects the media to get it wrong, even some Christian newspapers. The Christian75 weekly newspaper and The Life of Faith76 weekly both misrepresented the message of ML-J in emphasising secession and the plan to form a united church. It was left to the English Churchman77 to put the record right: ML-J ‘was not putting forward some negative scheme into which we are to be reluctantly forced, but rather was pointing us to the glorious opportunity of taking positive action because we realise we ought to if we are to be true to our evangelical convictions’.
What about the authors of popular books who refer to the 1966 incident? Christopher Catherwood, grandson of ML-J, in his readable Five Evangelical Leaders appears confused and refers to ML-J’ ‘vision of a united evangelical church’.78 Later, Catherwood sees the ‘tragedy of the split’ as being divided over what was ‘essentially an ecclesiastical issue’.79 But the prior and major issue for ML-J was the gospel itself; it was from the gospel that he insisted on the importance of the nature and unity of the Church. Soteriology and ecclesiology were inextricably bound together in the theology of ML-J. More recently, Clive Calver and Rob Warner wrote a volume entitled Together We Stand80 marking the 150th anniversary of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK. Again, however, the 1966 division is dealt with in a disappointing way and some of the reported details are wrong. For example, ML-J is supposed to have argued for ‘a single united evangelical church’81 but that was not what ML-J wanted. Nor is it accurate to speak of ML-J’s ‘impassioned eloquence … in the heat of the moment’.82 I am afraid that even in this book ML-J is pictured as the culprit who shattered evangelical unity in the UK from 1966 onwards.
As an example of academic writing with regard to ML-J and 1966, I turn to Alister McGrath. In an interesting article entitled ‘Evangelical Anglicanism: A Contradiction in Terms?’,83 McGrath makes only a fleeting reference to 1966 and ‘the separationist programme outlined and commended by’ ML-J. Again, McGrath misunderstands what ML-J wanted in his 1966 appeal. Acknowledging that ‘one of the most attractive features of Lloyd-Jones’s vision’ was ‘the emphasis placed upon doctrinal purity’ he wrongly assumes that ML-J wanted ‘an evangelical denomination’.84 What ML-J wanted, and on biblical grounds, was a ‘fellowship or an association of evangelical churches’. ML-J admired Cromwell’s attempt to find an expression of unity between Protestant churches which tolerated differences over church government. ML-J did not care ‘whether he is a Presbyterian, Baptist or Independent or Episcopalian or Methodist as long as he is agreed about the essentials of “the faith” ’.85 He certainly did not want a new denomination: ‘If I had wanted to start a denomination,’ ML-J explained only five weeks after his 1966 Assembly address, ‘I would not have left it till now.’86 What McGrath fails to do in this chapter is to engage with ML-J’s plea for doctrinal fidelity to the Bible and the gospel message as it relates to the nature of the Church.
Albeit briefly, McGrath refers to the 1966 event in his Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity87 but repeats the same factual errors in viewing ML-J’s address as centring on separatism and asking evangelicals to ‘form a denomination of their own’.88 McGrath is guilty of these errors again in his biography of James Packer.89 Stephen Clark has provided a detailed critique of McGrath’s understanding of this event and challenges ‘those areas in which Dr McGrath is demonstrably inaccurate’.90 ML-J was not arguing for Independency versus Anglicanism. Although opposed to the modern tendency to insist upon bishops within ecumenical circles, ML-J declared in 1971 that ‘for the sake of evangelical unity among evangelicals, I would even be prepared to consider at any rate the possibility of some form of modified episcopacy for the sake of unity’.91 Nor was ML-J advocating separation per se in 1966 or a ‘pure’ church or isolationism. His primary concern was to uphold the uniqueness of the revealed gospel and he concluded rightly that it was in the area of the doctrine of the Church that this concern had become most acute.
To appreciate this primary concern of ML-J for the gospel, it is important to recognise that a major shift occurred between 1954 and 1966 in the attitude of evangelicals towards ecumenism. The formation of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in August 1948 was a watershed for church relations as well as eventual theological change and ML-J recognised this. In his 1966 address he refers to the WCC which presented ‘an entirely new situation … a situation today such as has not been the case since the Protestant Reformation … denominations are telling us … they are prepared to reconsider their whole position’.92Another significant feature was the neutrality of the Evangelical Alliance with regard to the WCC. From 1954 onwards, too, the evangelist Billy Graham co-operated with non-evangelicals in his evangelistic missions. This again served to compromise the gospel. Vatican II Council (1962–65) was also to exercise a profound influence in Rome’s new favourable relations with Protestants (now only ‘separated brethren’) and world religions. The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, made an official visit in March 1966 to the Pope in the Vatican. Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey issued a Common Declaration aimed at ‘a restoration of complete communion of faith and sacramental life’ between their two churches. The first step was the establishment of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Joint Preparatory Council (1967–68) out of which came the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) from 1971 onwards. Other church mergers were also being negotiated so that ML-J could tell the 1966 Assembly, ‘You are familiar with what is happening between the Anglicans and Methodists, between the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists … during this present year.’93 Not only was the situation opportune for an ongoing, wide expression of evangelical unity but the situation called for evangelicals to be together in an association of churches which preserved rather than compromised the doctrines of the faith and the gospel. That was the concern of ML-J.
ML-J refused to allow the gospel to be neglected or compromised and that is what led him to make his famous 1966 call for evangelical unity. He wanted unity in the gospel rather than in a new denomination. For ML-J it was a gospel issue, not an ecclesiological one. How could evangelicals continue in denominations where nothing was done to discipline those who modified and denied the gospel?
One final word. For ML-J ‘the greatest need of the hour’ is not secession or schemes of unity but ‘an … outpouring of the Holy Spirit in … revival. Nothing else throughout the centuries has ever given the Church true authority and made her, and her message, mighty. But what right have we to pray for this, or to expect that he will honour or bless anything but the truth that he himself enabled the authors of the Old Testament and the New Testament to write? To ask him to do so is not only near blasphemy but also the height of folly. Reformation and revival go together and cannot be separated. He is the Spirit of truth, and he will honour nothing but the truth.’94
The 1966 incident will not be understood from ML-J’s perspective unless it is appreciated that the Word is primary, supreme, sufficient and entirely trustworthy. Nevertheless, the Spirit upon the Word is needed to make it effective and powerful. The issues of 1966 will not go away; they are still with us, perhaps more urgently so. A new generation of students and church leaders need to face the challenge of ML-J’s teaching.
1 Alternatively called Calvinistic Methodist. This local church was a mission church under the supervision of the denomination’s Forward Movement.
2 Christianity Today (8 February 1980), 28.
3 Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith 1939–1981, Vol. 2, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1990), 747.
4 Ibid., xix.
5 Ibid., xxiv.
6 Ibid., xxi.
7 C. Catherwood, Five Evangelical Leaders, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984), see 51–109.
8 Ibid., see, e.g., issues related to 1966 on 83–89.
9 Evangelical Press, edited by H.R. Jones; see 7–19.
10 Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years 1899–1939, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), 254.
11 Ibid., 291.
12 He began this exposition in October 1955 and ended it abruptly with his illness in 1968.
13 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 6. The New Man (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1972), xi.
14 Murray. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years 1899–1939, 157.
15 Published in 1931 as the 1928 Bampton Lectures.
16 Murray. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First Forty Years 1899–1939, 254.
17 Ibid., 154.
18 Ibid., 60.
19 Ibid., 254.
20 Ibid., 192.
21 Ibid., 286.
22 Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Vol. 2, 239.
23 Ibid., 239–40.
24 Ibid., 239–40.
25 See, e.g. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Vol. 2, 92.
26 Published in the UK in 1951 by James Clarke and reprinted by Bryntirion Press in 1989.
27 Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Vol. 2, back cover.
28 Ibid., 329.
29 Christianity Today, xxiv.3, (8 February 1980), 27.
30 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, (Hodder & Stoughton, 1971), 26.
31 Ibid., 9.
32 Ibid., 53.
33 Ibid., 53.
34 Ibid., 81.
35 Ibid., 83.
36 Ibid., 84.
37 Ibid., 89–92.
38 Ibid., 92.
39 IIbid., 93.
40 IIbid., 95.
41 IIbid., 97.
42 IIbid., 319.
43 IIbid., 324.
44 IIbid., 324–25.
45 IIbid., 325.
46 See, e.g. ibid., 315–24.
47 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989), 332.
48 See, e.g., Max Turner, The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts: Then and Now, and Power From On High, (Paternoster Press, 1996).
49 R.P. Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts, (Sheffield Academic Press, 1994).
50 Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, (Hendrickson, 1994).
51 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Christian Unity, an Exposition of Ephesians 4:1–16, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1980), 183–86, 189–91.
52 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable: the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, (Kingsway Publications, 1984).
53 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Prove All Things, (Wheaton, Harold Shaw Publishers 1985).
54 Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable, 25–48.
55 Ibid., 44.
56 Ibid., 50.
57 Ibid., 50–51.
58 Ibid., 52.
59 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974, 1986), 40–54.
60 Ibid., 46.
61 M. Eaton, Baptism with the Holy Spirit, (IVP, 1989), 184.
62 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose: an exposition of Ephesians 1:1 to 23, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1978), 264.
63 Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable, 269–70.
64 Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose, 301.
65 Ibid., 299–310.
66 See Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable, 81–110.
67 D.W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: a history from the 1730s to the 1980s, (Unwin Hyman, 1989), 267.
68 The address is included in, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times, 246–57.
69 Ibid., 251.
70 Ibid., 251–52.
71 Ibid., 253.
72 Ibid., 254.
73 Ibid., 255.
74 Vol. 2, 525.
75 21 October 1966, 1.
76 27 October 1966.
77 28 October 1966.
78 Catherwood, Five Evangelical Leaders, 87.
79 Ibid., 89.
80 Hodder & Stoughton, 1996.
81 Calver and Warner, Together We Stand, 127.
82 Ibid., 65.
83 R.T. France and A.E. McGrath (eds.), Evangelical Anglicans: Their role and influence in the Church today, (London, SPCK, 1993), 10–21.
84 Ibid., 16.
85 Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Vol. 2, 511.
86 Ibid., 530.
87 Hodder & Stoughton, 1994.
88 McGrath, Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity, 37–38.
89 A.E. McGrath, To Know and Serve God: a Biography of James Packer, (Hodder & Stoughton, 1997), 121–27.
90 S. Clarke, ‘Rewriting the 1960s: Is Dr McGrath right?’ Foundations 41 (Autumn 1998), 33–42.
91 Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times, 353.
92 Ibid., 248.
93 Ibid., 248–249.
94 Ibid., 163.
D. Eryl Davies
Principal of the Evangelical Theological College of Wales