Review: Martyn Lloyd-Jones – A Family Portrait

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Family Portrait by Christopher Catherwood

“The private man behind the Great Man”

Christopher Catherwood is the grandson of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and he has set out to give a familiar perspective on this very public figure. Whereas Iain Murray’s David Martyn Lloyd-Jones the First Forty Years 1899-1939 (v. 1) and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 (v. 2) are the definitive biography at the present time, Catherwood set out to “complete the picture; to portray the private man behind the Great Man.” (p. 15) As described throughout the book, Lloyd-Jones had an intimate relationship with all of his family, especially his grandchildren, and this colors everything Catherwood writes, as he reflects on his experiences growing up and relating to this “Great Man.”

The general outline of Lloyd-Jones’s life is preserved, though the private side is emphasized. Those who aren’t familiar with his life will not be lost – they will be able to follow his upbringing, schooling and medical career, the first church in Aberavon, and his transition to Westminster in London. The major “events” are covered – the Puritan Conferences, his involvement with IFES, his preaching on the Holy Spirit and “charismaticism” (as found in The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit), and the fallout with John Stott and J.I. Packer when Lloyd-Jones made a call to “come out” of evangelically compromised denominations (particularly The Church of England). In all these subjects Catherwood is highly sympathetic to his grandfather, as is to be expected.

The last chapter is entitled “Grandfather” and is the longest chapter in the book. It really is a testament to the man. So many preachers have a vibrant pulpit, or an active ministry, but sadly neglect or hurt those closest to them. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was not this type of man. The evident love and admiration that his grandson has for him, and the many stories and examples of how he lived that out in his family, are inspiring and moving.

I recommend this book because I recommend Martyn Lloyd-Jones, as a preacher, an expounder of the Bible, and as an example for us to follow. Also recommended is 5 Evangelical Leaders also by Christopher Catherwood, which gives a broader perspective of Lloyd-Jones, Packer, and Stott, as well as Francis Schaeffer and Billy Graham.

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