A Holy Nuisance

J.I. Packer has strong words for those who don't feel called to agitate for reform
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A dramatic moment in the history of British evangelicalism came on October 18, 1966. At the Evangelical Alliance's National Assembly, free-church patriarch Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave the opening address. He proclaimed that the ecumenical movement had created a new situation for evangelicals in participating churches. Evangelicals could no longer be content as a wing of a national church that may have an orthodox confession, he said, but which tolerated and promoted liberalism.

Some took the speech to be a ringing call for Anglican evangelicals to leave their disordered (though never disorderly) church. John Stott, the assembly's chairman, stood up to oppose Lloyd-Jones. "I believe history is against what Dr. Lloyd-Jones has said," Stott averred. "Scripture is against him … I hope no one will act precipitately."

J. I. Packer heard about the exchange that very evening. A woman who had been at the meeting telephoned and, without saying hello, began to speak: "Jim, is John Stott mad?"

The next day, Dr. Packer was at a committee meeting in London, and the chairman asked him, "Did you know that last night your friend Martyn Lloyd-Jones went off his rocker?"

Madness was the hermeneutical key of the day. However, ever since 1966, says Dr. Packer, interpreting Lloyd-Jones's speech has been "elusive." He urges those who really want to know what was said to consult the transcript of the talk found in Knowing the Times, a 400-page compilation of Lloyd-Jones speeches (Banner of Truth).

The question of evangelical participation in liberal and ecumenical denominations is a perennial one. On page 46, Dr. Packer explains why he and his friends recently walked out of an Anglican synod in British Columbia. (Simply put, the New Westminster Synod ...

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