Archive for the ‘Martin Lloyd-Jones’ Category

You know, Wilberforce, I have not the slightest idea what that man has been talking about

October 29, 2009

There is a well-known story which seems to me to supply a perfect illustration of this point. It concerns two great men, William Wilberforce the leader in the movement for the abolition of slavery, and William Pitt the Younger, one time Prime Minister of Britain. They were both brilliant men, they were both politicians, and they were very great friends. But William Wilberforce was converted and became a Christian, while William Pitt, like so many others, was but a formal Christian. William Wilberforce was very much concerned about his friend. He loved him as a man and was greatly concerned about his soul. He was most anxious therefore that Pitt should go with him to listen to a certain preacher, a London clergyman of the Church of England named Richard Cecil. Cecil was a great evangelical preacher, and Wilberforce delighted in his ministry, so he was ever trying to persuade Pitt to go with him to listen to Cecil. At long last Pitt agreed to do so. Wilberforce was delighted and they went together to a service. Richard Cecil was at his best, preaching in his most spiritual and elevated and exalted manner. Wilberforce was enjoying himself, and feeling lifted up into the very heavens. He could not imagine anything better, anything more enjoyable, anything more wonderful; and he was wondering what was happening to his friend William Pitt, the Prime Minister. Well, he was not left long in a state of uncertainty as to what had been happening, because, before they were even out of the building Pitt turned to Wilberforce and said, `You know, Wilberforce, I have not the slightest idea what that man has been talking about’. And he hadn’t, of course. As a man can be tone deaf to music, all who are not Christians are tone deaf to the spiritual. That which was ravishing the mind and the heart of Wilberforce conveyed nothing to Pitt. He was bored, he could not follow it, he could not understand it, he did not know what it was about. A man of great brilliance, a man of great culture, a man of great intellectual ability, but all that does not help l `The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (I Corinthians 2: 14). Richard Cecil might as well have been preaching to a dead man. The dead cannot appreciate these things, neither could William Pitt. He himself confessed it. It is not what Wilberforce says about him; it is what he said about himself.

Martin Lloyd-Jones, Romans 8:5-17, p.10

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Controversy

December 12, 2008

Lloyd-Jones never took the title fundamentalist, and it would be inaccurate to identify him with that movement. Yet such was his opposition to liberalism and his call to separation in 1966 that one of his defenders feels constrained to say, “American readers must not imagine that Lloyd-Jones was a militant fundamentalist of the sort they are familiar with.”20 Indeed, Lloyd-Jones had reservations about the pattern of North American fundamentalism. While preaching in Toronto, Canada, in 1932, Lloyd-Jones encountered T. T. Shields (1873–1955), pastor of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church in that city and probably the leading Canadian fundamentalist of that time. Shields had heard Lloyd-Jones on the radio and was eager to meet him. The account of their meeting, as recounted by Lloyd-Jones, is rather extraordinary. The Welsh pastor related to the Canadian that he was troubled by the ceaselessly controversial aspect of Shields’s ministry. Lloyd-Jones said, “You can make mincemeat of the liberals and still be in trouble in your own soul.” Shields argued, “Do you know, every time I indulge in what you call one of these ‘dog-fights’ the sales of the Gospel Witness go right up.

What about that?” Lloyd-Jones replied, “I have always observed that if there is a dog-fight a crowd gathers, I’m not surprised. People like that sort of thing.” According to Lloyd-Jones, he closed the conversation by saying, “Dr. Shields, you used to be known as the Canadian Spurgeon, and you were. You are an outstanding man, in intellect, in preaching gift, in every other respect, but…in the early twenties you suddenly changed and became negatory and denunciatory. I feel it has ruined your ministry. Why don’t you come back! Drop all this, preach the gospel to people positively and win them!” Shields did not change his approach, but he maintained a respect for the other man. He later urged Lloyd-Jones to return to Canada in 1933 and supply Shield’s pulpit in his absence. This account is related in Murray, The First Forty Years, pp. 271–73, 283. Lloyd-Jones also recounts this incident without mentioning Shields’s name in Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), pp. 259–61, although he warns immediately afterward of the danger of being too irenic in preaching.
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19 See Iain Murray, “The Story of the Banner of Truth Trust,” Banner of Truth,
November 1993 (special edition), pp. 15–23.
20 Raymond Lanning, “Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Doctor,” in More Than
Conquerors, ed. John Woodbridge (Chicago: Moody, 1992), p. 209.

For those who are discerners and attack the (very real) faults of the church – watch your soul! “You can make mincemeat of the liberals and still be in trouble in your own soul.”