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Two New Books of Iain Murray

Category Book Reviews
Date December 8, 2009

Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace1

This is not a summary or rehash of Mr Murray’s two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones,2 also published by the Banner of Truth Trust. Apart from one chapter and a book review, none of this material has previously appeared in print. The book sets out ‘to restate some of the main lessons of the ministry of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, beginning with the preaching of the Word of God’. After summarising what he considers to be various important legacies left to the Church by Dr Lloyd-Jones, the author, who was his friend and for a time his assistant, proceeds through several chapters to consider his subject’s principles and practices with regard to preaching.

A chapter on the nature and necessity of preaching with the unction of the Holy Spirit should be helpful to praying hearers as well as to ministers. The chapter entitled ‘The Evangelistic Use of the Old Testament’ stresses both the need for specifically-evangelistic preaching and the function of the Old Testament in such preaching, inculcating the fear of God and a sense of the evil of sin and so of the need of salvation. Lloyd-Jones insisted that the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the message is the supreme matter in preaching, and that there is much more to preaching than giving an orderly exposition of a passage. However, a short chapter on how he built sermons around well-organised outlines illustrates his conviction that ‘the hardest part of a minister’s work is the preparation of sermons’ and that ‘the Spirit generally uses a man’s best preparation’. After useful notes of an address in which he called for an improved standard of preaching, and a chapter comparing and contrasting him and Spurgeon (in whom he had little interest), the book goes on to deal with more controversial aspects of his ministry.

Lloyd-Jones identified what he called the Baptism of the Spirit with the sealing, witnessing and filling of the Spirit, equating each with a full assurance of salvation given directly and suddenly by the Holy Spirit. His views on ‘the Baptism of the Spirit’ were taken by some as an endorsement of the incipient charismatic movement. Mr Murray discusses the undoubted defects, inconsistencies and unconvincing nature of Lloyd-Jones’ utterances on the subject, which he admits ‘are not ML-J at his best’. But he defends him from allegations of endorsing the charismatic movement, which he suggests had not developed in this country when most sermons relevant to the subject were preached.

Sadly, Westminster Chapel, under the ministry of R T Kendall, descended into extremes of the charismatic delusion which Dr Lloyd-Jones would have abominated. By the divergences of his own teaching on this subject from Reformed doctrine ‘a door was left open’, as Mr Murray puts it, ‘and through that door the “Irvingite disaster” was to be repeated, even within Westminster Chapel itself’. Mr Murray himself presents a more biblical account of the subject and draws some useful conclusions from the discussion.

Another issue which proved controversial was Lloyd-Jones’ opposition to Evangelicals remaining in mixed denominations and looking to gain influence for themselves and the truth by practically treating as brethren those who did not share their submission to the authority of Scripture and were, for example, theological liberals or Anglo-Catholics. His call to separation in the interests of Evangelical union and a witness to truth, and his lack of any proposals regarding an ecclesiastical structure for those who might separate, highlighted the deep divisions among professed Evangelicals and allegedly left those who sympathised with his position without any clear direction.

Mr Murray discusses the historical events and Lloyd-Jones’ motivation, which he suggests was ‘compassion for souls’ rather than ‘a sudden interest in church issues’. We obviously believe that these are not mutually-exclusive motivations and that our Scottish divines were correct in the high place which they gave to the doctrine of the Church and to the biblical pattern of one visible Church in any geographical area, united on the basis of commitment to truth with a unity which finds expression in government as well as in doctrine, worship and practice.

There are 17 pages of brief quotations from Lloyd-Jones on a variety of subjects (after the model of John Duncan’s Colloquia Peripatetica). A book defending Evangelical co-operation with Roman Catholicism as both engaged in the same Christian mission (a view sadly endorsed by Dr James Packer) is reviewed by Iain Murray, explaining Lloyd-Jones’ opposition to ecumenicity and arguing that fundamental to all the fatal errors of Romanism is its theoretical and practical subjection of Scripture to Tradition and the Church.


The Undercover Revolution – How Fiction Changed Britain3

This little volume reviews the lives and writings of several nineteenth and twentieth-century authors to support the thesis that their writing was a major factor in the secularising of British society and was motivated by dislike of the Evangelical truth which most of them knew in their youth. Chief attention is given to Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Hardy, both of whom were nurtured in a Christian environment and subject to religious impressions in their youth but abandoned themselves to lives of unbelief, scoffing and sin, which brought them misery rather than the expected freedom and happiness.

Among others more briefly referred to are Edmund Gosse, also brought up in a Bible-believing home, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, H G Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell. These authors, perhaps subtly and cautiously initially, aimed at undermining the doctrine and morality of Christianity and replacing them with something supposedly more rational and liberating. The testimony of those who knew them best demonstrates that their lives illustrated the futility of their endeavour and, ‘examined by the claim that they were advocates of greater human happiness, . . . were all tragic failures’.

The author contends that these writers, and no doubt others like them, produced a change in the moral standards of the nation, led to the setting aside of the Bible as revelation from God and ‘played a major part in the demoralisation of Britain’. There is no doubt that people were influenced adversely by the fiction which they read and that it was a means of propagating ungodly beliefs and practices – and this is so still. We consider, however, that the major factors in the degeneracy of religion and morals were the capitulation in the Church to rationalism and higher criticism and the reception given in society to the evolutionary hypothesis. Popular fiction contributed significantly to giving currency to these, and behind the success of all these factors was their appeal to the ungodliness of fallen humanity.

A short, useful second part of the book sets out to show that Christianity is not fiction. Sinners will think and live as if fiction were true while rejecting the truth as if it were fiction.

The problem with which Christianity has to deal is far deeper than a matter of intellectual persuasion; and Jesus prepared his disciples for this when he foretold, ‘Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead’ (Luke 16:31) . . . Christianity succeeds by supernatural power.

Whether or not it was fiction that changed Britain, the book serves the author’s purpose of warning readers that ‘words are powerful things and none can be more injurious than many to be found in fiction’. Going behind the scenes into the personal lives of popular authors gives insight into the mind and morality in which much fiction originates and which it helps to foster and promote. This book should be useful reading, particularly for students at secondary school or university.

Notes

    • Lloyd-Jones

      Lloyd-Jones

      Messenger of Grace

      by  Iain H. Murray


      price £16.00

      Description

      Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace1 This is not a summary or rehash of Mr Murray’s two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones,2 also published by the Banner of Truth Trust. Apart from one chapter and a book review, none of this material has previously appeared in print. The book sets out ‘to restate some of the main lessons of […]

    • Image of the Life of Lloyd-Jones
      price £36.50
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace1 This is not a summary or rehash of Mr Murray’s two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones,2 also published by the Banner of Truth Trust. Apart from one chapter and a book review, none of this material has previously appeared in print. The book sets out ‘to restate some of the main lessons of […]

    • The Undercover Revolution

      The Undercover Revolution

      How Fiction Changed Britain

      by Iain H. Murray


      price £4.50

      Description

      Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace1 This is not a summary or rehash of Mr Murray’s two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones,2 also published by the Banner of Truth Trust. Apart from one chapter and a book review, none of this material has previously appeared in print. The book sets out ‘to restate some of the main lessons of […]

Taken with permission from The Free Presbyterian Magazine, December 2009

www.fpchurch.org.uk

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