Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones is a name that I suspect will be familiar to most of the readers of this review. He was a medical doctor (indeed a star pupil of Thomas Horder who was the physician to the Queen) who became a Christian minister. He laboured first at a post in his native Wales, called Sandfields. He then went on to become the minister of Westminster Chapel in London and this along with his undoubted preaching gifts gave him a pre-eminence amongst the English Evangelicals of his period.
This book was written shortly after his death and is edited by Christopher Catherwood who was his eldest grandson. Christopher Catherwood is also the son of Sir. Frederick Catherwood (who married Lloyd Jones eldest daughter) and Sir. Fred was a European MEP and wrote a range of most useful books (such as, The Christian in Industrial Society and the Christian Citizen) dealing with practical ethics.
If you are unfamiliar with Lloyd Jones then this book is probably not the first one to read as it does assume some knowledge of his life etc. If I were beginning for the first time then I would pick up the delightfully written two volume biography by the Rev. Iain H. Murray and published by the Banner of Truth. The first of the two volumes is superb at getting across the switch from medicine to the ministry and then the evangelical outreach in a rather difficult first post. From an academic historian perspective both this book and the Iain Murray books are written by those who are very sympathetic to ‘The Doctor’ and gently tackle some of the issues in his work, however, this should not put you off reading them as they will both prove most enjoyable.
This book is a collection of essays from a range of contributors. The first essay is from Robert Horn on ‘His Place in Evangelicalism’ and the authors range widely across the various aspect of his ministry and influence. It is interesting to read James Packer’s article on ‘A kind of Puritan’. Similarly, the ‘Interview’ with Carl Henry provides insights into his thinking and I also liked the fact that ‘An appreciation’ by John Stott was included.
Stott and Lloyd Jones had publicly disagreed about the future of evangelicalism in the UK and whether they should separate from a range of denominations to form a broader union with one another. While the subject is tackled with tact by Stott, I am pleased that they didn’t try to airbrush it out of the book.
The Carl Henry interview sees him disagreeing quite openly with Billy Graham (who he viewed as an honest, sincere and genuine man). Graham had asked ‘The Doctor’ to chair a congress on Evangelism to which Lloyd Jones had agreed provided he stopped the general sponsorship of his campaigns, stopped having liberals and Roman Catholics on the platform and dropped the invitation system. Graham had declined these conditions. Graham after the Glasgow campaign had said that he had enjoyed more fellowship with John Sutherland Bonnell than with most Evangelicals, ‘The Doctor’ had corrected him with the observation that ‘genuine fellowship is only with someone who holds the same basic truths’. It also reminds us that ‘The Doctor’ had disagreed with Keswick and refused to speak at it (something that Iain Murray has clearly not taken to heart) because he considered the Keswick message on sanctification to be unscriptural.
In one of the later articles, GNM Collins gives some recollections on ‘The Friend’. He says that as the war in Europe (WW2) was reaching its closing stages that ‘The Doctor’ had returned to London from a set of speaking engagements in Newcastle so that he could preach a service of thanksgiving in Westminster Chapel on the evening of the day after the cessation of hostilities. This came on May 9th 1945 and the service was held as planned. Collins was in London the next Sabbath and attended Westminster Chapel in the evening and he asked ‘The Doctor’ what text he took at the service. The reply was ‘Hitler’s text’, to which Collins asked ‘Which was..?’ He then quoted Psalm 37 v 35 and 36, ‘I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: I sought him, but he could not be found.’
England is missing its preachers of men like Lloyd-Jones who were able to clearly declare the word of truth with power, clarity and relevance.