David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The First forty Years 1899-1939 David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 by Iain H. Murray

This two-volume work by Murray is surely the definitive biography on the life of the famous Welch preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In nearly 1200 pages of text Murray traces the life and ministry of this man of God, who in many ways was the final link between the modern church and the great eighteenth century English preachers.

Lloyd-Jones’ legacy is somewhat uneven. On the positive side, he welded enormous influence in the effort to return evangelical preachers to sound doctrinal and theological preaching. His expositions of the New Testament epistles are legendary. He preached almost 400 sermons on the book of Romans before his health broke while preaching through chapter 14. The Doctor was an enthusiastic Calvinist and a strong supporter of the writings of the Puritans.

On the negative side, MLJ was at times influenced by his Calvinism and Puritanism to go beyond Scripture. This is most evident in his views on revival. He cut his spiritual eyeteeth in the Calvinistic Methodists denomination, which, while being relatively sound doctrinally, takes a highly mystical approach to the Christian life and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Calvinistic Methodist were deeply involved in The Welch Revival of 1904, and although he was too young to be involved there is a sense in which MLJ never “got over” this revival. He spent the rest of his life looking for another such “movement of the Spirit.” This pursuit greatly affected his view of the Christian life and the church. MLJ’s commentaries on Romans vividly proves this point. Having read the first six commentaries on Romans, covering chapters 1 through 8:4, I was quite impressed with how biblical most of the teaching was. I could not believe that within a few years after his death the very church that MLJ had pastored had become Vineyard. But volume seven which contains MLJ’s teachings on revival and the Holy Spirit explained it all. At this point MLJ all but laid his Bible down and turned to the experiences of past revivals of the church. He then developed his pneumatology on the back of these experiences. The result was calamitous. What a lesson for us all. Here was a man who attempted to base his whole ministry on Scripture but he had a blind spot. And unfortunately that blind spot has caused great damage.

Nevertheless, if you are a fan of the Doctor, and want to understand his ministry, these two volumes are without peer.

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