The Capranica

Comments on theology and life

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Monday, December 05, 2005

Nuggets from Lloyd-Jones

One of the books I took along with me to Hawaii was the first volume of Ian Murray's biography of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I have ever so slowly been reading this work over the past year, but while on the deck of the Pride of America cruise ship, while sailing past the coast of Kaua'i, I was able to read a rather large chunk of the first volume. Here are just a few portions I found very interesting: The climate of evangelical Christianity in the 1920s in England (during Lloyd-Jones' first pastorate): A number in Nonconformity sought to arrest the drift [lack of interest in church and church attendance] by a change in church services. There were those, for instance, who, critical of the plainness of congregational worship, looked for some kind of liturgy, with choir, anthem, and organ given a major role. Others, believing that people would not come to church to be 'preached at', wished to turn the sermon into an address 'relevant' to the time, or into an essay replete with many allusions to authors, poets and novelists. The religious press never lacked samples of that kind of preaching. . . In South Wales there was added weight to the argument that traditional methods would not bring the people back to the chapels. 132-133 . . . Dr. Lloyd-Jones had nothing to say about any new programme. To the surprise of the church secretary he seemed to be exclusively interested in the purely 'traditional' part of church life, which consisted of the regulaservicesSservices (at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.), a prayer meeting on Mondays and a mid-week meeting on Wednesdays. Everything else could go, and thus those activities particularly designed to attract the outsider soon came to an end. 135. Interestingly, the church grew substantially and people were deeply affected by Lloyd-Jones' expositions and evangelistic preaching. There is really nothing new under the sun. The seeker sensitive movement comes and goes. I wonder which side contributed more to the current state evangelical Christianity (the lack thereof in general) in England, the seeker movement, or Lloyd-Jones' traditionalism? Which one secularized British religion? On Christianity being distinct from that of the world: The man who comes to church or chapel because he likes the minister as a man is of no value at all, and the minister who attempts to get men there by means of that subterfuge is for the time being guilty of lowering the standard of the truth which he claims to believe. For this gospel is the gospel of salvation propounded by the Son of God himself. We must not hawk it about the world, or offer special inducements and attractions, as if we were shopkeepers announcing an exceptional bargain sale. . . . 142. Lloyd-Jones' selflessness in preaching: References to himself in his sermons were brief and rare. Anything in the way of a testimony to his conversion experience was almost wholly absent. The omission was not aon hisrsight onhis part but the result of deep convictions. There could be no higher privilege than that of being a messenger of the God who has pledged his help and presence to those whom he sends. When, as happened at times, people referred in admiring terms to his self-denial in entering the ministry [he left a promising career as a medical doctor to become a pastor] he repudiated the intended compliment completely. 'I gave up nothing,' he said on one such occasion, 'I received everything. I count it the highest honour that God can confer on any man to call him to be a herald of the gospel.' 150. His position in his first public ministry: For the first eight months of Dr. Lloyd-Jones' ministry at Sanfields he continued in the status of lay-pastor. His position was indeed unusual. According to the prevalent view in his denomination, anyone lacking regular ministerial training was liable to be singularly deficient in qualities necessary for a sustained pulpit ministry. Two or three years of theological training were judged to be necessities. 167. Despite his lack of training, his denomination ordained him rather quickly from being a lay pastor to an ordained minister. But, oh how far we have come in our day and age. Now it is a badge of honor to have little formal education in theology and little is required outside of a classroom degree from a seminary for a man to assume leadership of a local congregation. There are always exceptional men, why don't we, especially in Southern Baptist circles, require more on-the-job training of men before we allow them to become officially installed as pastors [this being said by one who became a 'Senior Pastor' before being 20 years old].


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