I would lay it down as a basic proposition that the primary task of the Church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically, it is not to make him happy. I will go further; it is not even to make him good. These are things that accompany salvation; and when the Church performs her true task she does incidentally educate men and give them knowledge and information, she does bring them happiness, she does make them good and better than they were. But my point is that those are not her primary objectives. Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God. This really does need to be emphasised at the present time, because this, it seems to me, is the essence of the modern fallacy. It has come into the Church and it is influencing the thinking of many in the Church—this notion that the business of the Church is to make people happy, or to integrate their lives, or to relieve their circumstances and improve their conditions.
Category Archives: Books
David Ceri Jones, who edited the book, recently took notice of several less than enthusiastic reviews on his blog. He singles out Iain Murray for his “predictably critical” review and his “customary scepticism.” Graham Harrison is also rebuked for his “fairly predictable criticism” of the book.
Mr. Jones then points us to Carl Trueman’s review that is described as having “rapier like accuracy.” Trueman, of course, comes shining through with his comments about Iain Murray’s review: “This is predictable and standard Banner fare.” I’m not that familiar with David Ceri Jones, but I can say that Carl Trueman’s review of Iain Murray’s review was rather – predictable.
But the real kicker comes at the end of the blog post where there is a link to a “more balanced review” on Amazon. I suppose the “balance” is best illustrated by the reviewer’s comment that Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s “impact is unnoticeable when placed against the impact of say Rowan Williams, Hans Kung, Karl Barth etc.” Rowan Williams? Are you serious? Maybe the reviewer really meant Rowan Atkinson?
What are we to make of this? Apparently, “predictable” is bad and “balanced” is good. And in this case, bad and good seems to be indicated by what the reviewer personally thought of Dr. Lloyd-Jones. I have no problem with Iain Murray or Graham Harrison sticking up for their friend and colleague if they think he was unfairly treated by people who weren’t there or didn’t know him. This is certainly “predictable” and forgivable.
But what is unforgivable is how Iain Murray and the Banner of Truth are dismissed as party hacks. There was no mention of a favorable review by Andrew Roycroft on the Banner of Truth website. Likewise, Iain Murray had this to say, “This book is not to be recommended to those who want an introduction to Dr. Lloyd-Jones. For those who already have some familiarity with his writings it will give some help in some areas.” This is quite different from the accusation that “Murray unfortunately feels unable to recommend the book to Banner readers…”
Carl Trueman’s comments might also have been different if he had just read what Iain Murray actually said, rather than going off half-cocked about how history is written. What Murray really said was,
“Consideration of his personality, its strengths and weaknesses, are interesting and debatable, but without what he believed there can be no real engagement… Why not? Probably the explanation lies in the statement that the contributors and a ‘team of historians’, and historians who, for the most part, are working in the university context where ‘beliefs’ are not to be judged as true or false, any more that Scripture is to be judged true or false. Today’s ‘scholarly’ standpoint has to be neutral objectivity. Certainly not all eleven contributors write from this standpoint…”
Murray then goes on to give three examples from the book in which this takes place.
Trueman, however, instead of interacting with the examples given, talks about the Holocaust and just belittles Mr. Murray’s approach as “very simplistic” and “somewhat useless”. If you’ve read Iain Murray’s introduction to his biography of Jonathan Edwards, you know exactly what he’s talking about. Modern writers tend to dismiss or diminish Edwards’s religious beliefs altogether, while still claiming to objectively write on their subject. This is what Mr. Murray is talking about.
Now, during the month of March, you can download Authentic Christianity for free from Logos Bible Software. You can also sign up to win the 10-volume Selected Works of Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Click here for this offer.
Carl Trueman has weighed in and given us his opinion of the new Engaging with Martyn Lloyd-Jones book. It’s a very good, even-handed review, in spite of the reviewer.
Kevin DeYoung has posted a review of Preaching and Preachers on his website. The review is written by Ligon Duncan and is part of the 40th anniversary edition of the book. After you finish that one, you might also want to read this one. Or you might want to read even more and read yet another.
There’s also a review of Born of God, the new Banner of Truth title.
Another new book, Engaging with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, has some new reviews. Still no word on availability in the USA.
You can also read the Contents and Foreword at IVP.