Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) and Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism
by John Brencher
267 pp.; $49.99, paper
In the opinion of many who heard him personally, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the greatest preacher of his day in the English-speaking world. And also maybe in the Welsh-speaking world. Yet as the experience of early evangelical history suggests, the permanent legacy of powerful preachers is hard to measure.
The influence of George Whitefield, probably the most effective public speaker of any sort in the English-speaking world over the last three centuries, has been much harder to specify than that of his contemporary (and, despite difficulties, friend) John Wesley. Wesley, though by no means a shabby preacher, left a concrete, researchable legacy not only in Methodism but in paradigm-shaping evangelical initiatives like lay-preaching, small-group meetings, and the publication of hymns. By contrast, Whitefield left a style of preaching that, however influential, was much more difficult to measure. Similarly, it is not surprising that nearly a quarter century after the death of Lloyd-Jones, memories of his influence linger powerfully, but the exact character of his enduring influence is difficult to state with precision.
Lloyd-Jones' memory has been kept before the evangelical public by a remarkably thorough biography from his younger friend, Iain Murray (2 vols. of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones,1982, 1990). It is certainly a concrete legacy of great importance that Lloyd-Jones encouraged Murray in the founding of the Banner of Truth Trust, which has continued to supply the Christian reading public with a nourishing diet of classics, admonitions, and history from an evangelical Calvinist standpoint.
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