Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 6: Cessationism Quenches the Spirit

“Therefore, we may say emphatically that Lloyd-Jones was not a Warfieldian cessationist.

I think it is quite without scriptural warrant to say that all these gifts ended with the apostles or the Apostolic Era. I believe there have been undoubted miracles since then. (The Fight of Faith, 786; Joy Unspeakable, 246)

And when he speaks of the need for revival and for the baptism with the Holy Spirit and for a mighty attestation for the word of God today, it is crystal clear in Lloyd-Jones, he meant the same sort of thing as was meant in Acts 14:3, signs and wonders attesting to the Word of God. “It is perfectly clear…” – (Everything is perfectly clear to Martyn Lloyd-Jones) –

It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders and miracles of various characters and descriptions … Was it only meant to be true of the early church? … The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary—never! – (you can hear him saying it, can’t you?) – There is no such statement anywhere. (The Sovereign Spirit, 31-32)

He deals with cessationist arguments, and says some mighty powerful things, that I can’t imagine Iain Murray would leave out of his biography, which he did. “To hold such a view as Warfield held is simply to quench the Spirit (SS, 46).  Because Iain Murray was publishing it [Warfield] at the time.  Pushing it.  These views, according to their dear father, Dr. Jones, is the quenching of the Holy Spirit!  and he didn’t want to lose his friends any more than he already was losing them, probably, and so he didn’t want them published until he was gone.

~From “A Passion for Christ Exalting Power

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 5: Signs and Wonders

“And now, note, next step, we’re just moving closer and closer in to power evangelism.  Spiritual gifts, healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues, the whole area of signs and wonders, Lloyd-Jones is talking about power evangelism in terms more careful, more clear, more strong than John Wimber ever has, before John Wimber ever thought of it.

He says that spiritual gifts are a part of the authenticating work of revival and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We need the result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is spiritual gifts in their sign form, and it is a “supernatural authentication of the message” (The Sovereign Spirit, 24).

Now, I’m going to back off for a minute, and reflect with you for a minute about what we reformed types have to come to terms with when we love the Word of God and esteem its uniqueness in power.  When we hear Paul say, “Jews desire signs, and Greeks seek wisdom, but  WE PREACH!” I can hear people saying that to Wimber, “WE PREACH! You desire signs, we preach, which is the power of God.” and I can hear them quote Romans 1:16: “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  DON’T DILUTE THE POWER OF GOSPEL BY COMPROMISING IT WITH YOUR SIGNS AND WONDERS AS THOUGH THE GOSPEL WERE TOO WEAK TO SAVE SINNERS!” Do you hear that coming out of Banner of Truth?

Well, it isn’t that simple, is it. And the issue here is not contemporary Vineyard, Third Wave versus Paul; the issue is Paul versus Paul.  Let me try to explain.  Evidently Peter and Paul and Stephen and Philip, who, would you agree with me, were the greatest preachers that the world has ever known.  Evidently they did not think that the attestation of signs and wonders alongside their unparalleled powerful preaching compromised the integrity or the sufficiency or uniqueness of the power of God through the gospel. (Mark 16:20; Acts 14:3; Heb. 2:4). Evidently they didn’t.

Lloyd-Jones is really impressed by this fact.  He says, “If the apostles were incapable of being true witnesses without unusual power, who are we to claim that we can be witnesses without such power?” (SS, 46). And when he said that , he did not mean simply the power of the word. He meant the power of spiritual gifts. And I’ll show you that from a quote:

[Before Pentecost the apostles] were not yet fit to be witnesses … [They] had been with the Lord during the three years of his ministry. They had heard his sermons, they had seen his miracles, they had seen him crucified on the cross, they had seen him dead and buried,  they had seen him after he had risen literally in the body from the grave. These were the men who had been with him in the upper room at Jerusalem after his resurrection to whom he had expounded the Scriptures, and yet it is to these men he says that they must tarry at Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. The special purpose, the specific purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to enable us to witness, to bear testimony, and one of the ways in which that happens is through the giving of spiritual gifts. (SS, 120)

Now here’s my answer, I wish Lloyd-Jones had given his but I couldn’t find it.  here’s my answer to the question that we must come to terms with, it is utterly essential, of how the power of the Word of God relates to the authenticating function of signs and wonders.  First of all notice the Bible teaches that the Gospel preached is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:23) the Gospel preached is the power of God (Rom 1:16) but, the Bible also says that Paul and Barnabas “remained a long time in Iconium speaking boldly for the Lord,”  Would you dare to equate anybody’s preaching today with that preaching?  That was powerful preaching! They were preaching in Iconium with power, speaking boldly for the Lord, “Who, bore witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

Take all the conflicts today, go back to the New Testament and deal with them there. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s today versus the New Testament.  The issue is, how could preaching and signs and wonders not compromise each other then, not now. Forget now! Forget Wimber, forget everything in the 20th Century, explain Acts.  Explain how you could have the best preaching that ever was preached, described as the power of God unto salvation, and have alongside it God bearing witness with signs and wonders attesting to His word of grace, without saying by that, “My word is insufficient by itself.” Why did God compromise His word, by showing off His power physically? That’s the issue, not today.  Who cares about today, it’s the Bible that matters.

Now here is my effort to understand the Bible, which then maybe would help us today. Could we not say, in putting all this together, that signs and wonders – that is, I mean, healings, exorcisms, and so on – signs and wonders function in relation to the word of God, as a striking, wakening channel for the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the gospel? That may be the most important sentence I’ll give you.  Let me say it again: “Could it be, that signs and wonders function as a striking, wakening, channel, along which, through which, the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the Gospel moves, arrives.  I say emphatically, signs and wonders do not save. I say emphatically, signs and wonders do not transform the heart. I say emphatically, the glory of Christ seen in the gospel is the only power that regenerates, converts, transforms the heart, I base that on 2 Cor. 3:18-4:6. But, evidently, God chooses at times to use signs and wonders along side the regenerating word to win a hearing, to shatter the shell of disinterest, to shatter the shell of cynicism, to shatter the shell of false religion, and to help the heart fix its gaze on the glory of Christ in the gospel (see note 42).  Which, as 2 Cor. 4:4 says, is then like God saying “Let there be light” and boom, there is a new creature.

That’s my best effort at how to account, not for what’s happening today, but for what was happening in Paul’s life, and Philip’s life, and Stephen’s life, and Barnabas’s life, and Peter’s life.  The greatest preaching accompanied by signs and wonders.  Not the greatest preaching, so great it doesn’t need signs and wonders.”

~From “A Passion for Christ Exalting Power

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 4: Some Mighty Demonstration

Baptism With the Holy Spirit is an Authentication of the Gospel

“Now watch this – it comes visibly, he says. It is not just a quiet subjective experience of the church. Things happen, he says,  that make the world sit up and take notice. And now this was tremendously important to Lloyd-Jones. He felt almost overwhelmed by the corruption of the world and by the impotence of the church. And he believed that the only hope was something stunningStunning!  “The Christian church today is failing, and failing lamentably.” He preached these sermons in the fall of ’64 to the spring of ’65, near the end of his ministry, four years before he retired.  I hear, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, a growing disillusionment in Martyn Lloyd-Jones with the effectiveness of the church, even his own church.

The Christian church today is failing, and failing lamentably.It is not enough even to be orthodox. You must, of course, be orthodox, otherwise you have not got a message … We need authority and we need authentication … Is it not clear that we are living in an age when we need some special authentication—in other words, we need revival.  (The Sovereign Spirit, 25)

In other words, revival for Lloyd-Jones was a power demonstration that would authenticate the truth of the gospel to desperately hardened world. In fact his description of that world is remarkably contemporary, referring to the demonic and to new age kinds of things, and then at the end of that quote he says:

This is why I believe we are in urgent need of some manifestation, some demonstration, of the power of the Holy Spirit. (SS, 25)

Now, to be fair, he cautioned against excessive preoccupation with revival.  He warns against being too interested in the exceptional and the unusual, he said, “don’t despise the day of small things.  Don’t despise the regular work of the church and the regular work of the Spirit.” (The Fight of Faith, 384)

But.

I hear that caution as a gesture, that’s called for by reality, but not the heartbeat of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  He was increasingly disillusioned with the “regular” work of the church, so that he goes on now, I think, and says things like this:

[We] can produce a number of converts, thank God for that, and that goes on regularly in evangelical churches every Sunday. But the need today is much too great for that.

In other words, he rejects steady state regular work as adequate.

The need today is for an authentication of God, of the supernatural, of the spiritual, of the eternal, and this can only be answered by God graciously hearing our cry and shedding forth again his Spirit upon us and filling us as he kept filling the early church. (Joy Unspeakable, 278)

What is needed is some mighty demonstration of the power of God, some enactment of the Almighty, that will compel people to pay attention, and to look, and to listen. And the history of all the revivals of the past indicates so clearly that that is invariably the effect of revival… When God acts, he can do more in one minute that man with his organizing can do in fifty years. (Revival, 121-2)

And I can’t help but wonder if he meant, “my fifty years.”

He so wanted to see this.

What lies so heavily on Lloyd-Jones’ heart is that the name of God be vindicated and the glory of the Lord manifested in the world. “We should be anxious to see something happening that will arrest the nations, all the peoples, and cause them to stop and think again” (Revival, 120). And that was the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The purpose, the main function of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is … to enable God’s people to witness in such a manner that it becomes a phenomenon and people are arrested and are attracted. (JU, 84; SS 17, 35, 120)

~From “A Passion for Christ Exalting Power

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 3: “Picks him up, showers His love upon him”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Gives Exceptional Assurance and Joy

Let’s talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit now.  He believes that this view discourages us, this current evangelical view that equates it with regeneration, discourages us from seeking what the church so desperately needs today, namely, “The greatest need at the present time,” he says, “is for Christian people who are assured of their salvation.” But now, he distinguishes, and he uses Thomas Goodwin here, the “customary assurance,” from the extraordinary, or “unusual” (Joy Unspeakable, 38) or “full assurance” of faith. (JU, 41)

“When Christians are baptized by the Holy Spirit, they have a sense of  power and the presence of God that they have never known before —and this is the greatest possible form of assurance.” (JU, 97).

Now let me give you the best illustration in the book Joy Unspeakable that liberated my people last spring when I was preaching on this, and they were shaking in their pews, wondering what in the world was becoming of me.  This was a kind of watershed Sunday morning** when I shared this illustration.  He get’s it straight from Thomas Goodwin, the puritan.  This is an illustration of the difference between a customary, happy, good walk with God as a regenerate, Spirit-indwelt person, and a person who has been baptized with the Spirit:

“A man and his little child [are] walking down the road and they are walking hand in hand, and the child knows that he is the child of his father [this God and the Christian], and he knows that his father loves him, and he rejoices in that, and he is happy in it. There is no uncertainty about it all, but suddenly the father, moved by some impulse, takes hold of the child, picks him up, fondles him in his arms, kisses him, embraces him, and showers his love upon him, and then he puts him down again and they go  walking on their way.”

That’s it! The child knew before that his father loved him, and he knew that he was his child. But oh! the loving embrace, this extra outpouring of love, this unusual manifestation of it—that is the kind of thing. The Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (JU, 95-6).

And so he says in another place, the baptism of the Holy Spirit carries us, “not only from doubt to belief but to certainty, to awareness of the presence and the glory of God (JU, 87).

Now this is revival:

The difference between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and a revival is simply one of the number of people affected. I would define a revival as a large number, a group of people, being baptized by the Holy Spirit at the same time; or the Holy Spirit falling upon, coming upon a number of people assembled together. It can happen in a district, it can happen in a country (JU, 51).

** John Piper, “You Shall Receive Power till Jesus Comes,” from Acts: What Jesus Did After the Beginning, 1990

“And now let me step back here and give you an illustration to help.  This seemed to help Tuesday night with the deacons.  we were here till almost midnight talking about these things, Tuesday night. And this was real precious, and God was there, it was a wonderful meeting.   I love those deacons. Oh! One of the joys of my life is the ruling counsel in this church, the counsel of deacons. We were just – you were there, weren’t you?  It was great.  Sort of bleary eyed the next morning.

Here’s the illustration, I took it from Martyn Lloyd-Jones…”

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 2: “You MUST read Lloyd-Jones”

Revival Is a Baptism of the Holy Spirit

From the beginning of his life Martyn Lloyd-Jones was, in a sense,  a cry for depth.  If I were to sum up, I almost titled this “A Cry for Depth.” If I ever do anything with it I might title it that.  A cry for depth in two areas—1) in Biblical doctrine and 2) in  vital spiritual experience, so Light/heat. Logic/fire. Word/Spirit. Again and again he would be fighting on two fronts: he would be fighting against dead, formal, institutional intellectualism on the one side, and he would be fighting  against superficial, glib, entertainment-oriented, man-centered emotionalism on the other side. He looked out over the world and thought it was in an absolutely desperate condition and he saw the church as very weak and impotent. He said one wing of the church was straining out the gnats of intellectualism and the other was swallowing the camels of evangelical compromise and careless charismatic teaching (The Sovereign Spirit, 55-7). and for Lloyd-Jones the only hope was historic, God-centered revival.  which is really what I want to talk about this morning.

So my aim is this: to talk about the meaning of revival as Lloyd-Jones’ understood it—the sort of power he was seeking,  what he thought it would look like when it came, and how he thought we should seek it.  And then I’m going to be really risky at the end and ask if he practiced what he preached.

More than any other man in this century, I think, Lloyd-Jones has helped  recover the historic meaning of revival.

A revival is a miracle … something that can only be explained as the direct … intervention of God … Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival (Revival 111-2).

And Lloyd-Jones felt it to be a tremendous tragedy that the historic sense of revival as a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church, had been virtually lost by the time he preached about revival  in 1959 on the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Revival. He said in those lectures, “During the last seventy, to eighty years, this whole notion of a visitation, a baptism of God’s Spirit upon the Church, has gone” (The Fight of Faith, 385).  And then he gives this explanation and with this he begins to part ways with almost the entirety of mainline evangelicalism.

The main theological reason that he said there was a prevailing indifference to historic revival and crying out for it is because people had begun to equate what happened on the Day of Pentecost with regeneration. Now let me read the key quote where he describes this view:

Yes, [Acts 2] was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But we all get that now, (it’s not him talking, he’s quoting the view) and it is unconscious, we are not aware of it, it happens to us the moment we believe and we are regenerated. It is just that act of God which incorporates us into the Body of Christ. That is the baptism of the Spirit. So it is no use your praying to God for some other baptism of the Spirit, or asking God to pour out His Spirit upon the church … It is not surprising that, as that kind of preaching has gained currency, people have stopped praying for revival” (FF, 386).

Revival is when the Spirit comes down, he says, is poured out. And he’s crystal clear that it’s not the same, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not the same as regeneration.  Here’s the quote, key quote:

I am asserting that you can be a believer, that you can have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit … The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that is done by the Lord Jesus Christ not by the Holy Spirit … Our being baptized into the body of Christ is the work of the Spirit [that’s the point of 1 Cor. 12:13], as regeneration is his work, but this is something entirely different; this is Christ’s baptizing us with the Holy Spirit. And I am suggesting that this is something which is therefore obviously distinct from and separate from becoming a Christian, being regenerate, having the Holy Spirit dwelling within you (Joy Unspeakable, 21-3).

And so he laments that by identifying the baptism with the Holy Spirit with regeneration we have made the baptism of the Holy Spirit wholly non-experimental – as the Puritan’s would say — that is unconscious.  You don’t know when it happens,  you only can see perhaps some  later-on moral results from it. That is not, he says, the way it  happened in the books of Acts or the way it was experienced in the early church. (JU, 52). So he spoke with strong words about such a view.  This is very powerful now, knowing where he’s coming from and who his friends were:

Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but definitely to be definitely quenching the Spirit” (JU, 141).

Now just ponder that statement.   Therefore he would say, by implication, virtually the whole evangelical church is quenching the Holy Spirit.  That would be Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s opinion.  Dana told me last night that Warren Wiersbe was told by Martyn Lloyd-Jones that he asked these sermons not to be published before he died.  Well, there’s some real clear reasons for that, I think.  He founded the Banner of Truth publishing house.  It is emphatically cessationist.  Now I don’t know how he felt about that, but in 1972 after he had retired, they published B.B. Warfield.  He’s going to emphatically disagree with this book, in a moment.  And Walter Chantry, The Sign of the Apostles.  His biographer does not do him justice, in my judgment, in the chapter on Cross Winds.  He does not own up to what Lloyd-Jones is saying.  You won’t get the straight picture.  You must read Lloyd-Jones.

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 1: “I was never the same again”

This is a transcript of the biographical message given at the 1991 Pastor’s Conference on Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God, (Wayne Grudem [an Eau Claire native!] was the main speaker):

Sources

First a word about sources.  They’re almost out of these downstairs, but buy what’s left.  The 2 volume biography is where I got everything I know about his life, by Iain Murray, Banner of Truth.  And then, these three books are my three sources basically for what I’m going to say, Revival, Crossway, Joy Unspeakable and The Sovereign Spirit [also titled Prove All Things], Harold Shaw Publishers in this country. [Joy Unspeakable and The Sovereign Spirit were published together under the title The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit].  If you want a 20 page outline of his life Five Evangelical  Leaders by his grandson, real fun book to read about Stott, and Lloyd-Jones, and Schaeffer and Packer and Billy Graham, little mini biographies.  I hope you all have or will have Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones I’m just going to dip into here for a few quotes that seem to me crucial.  And, uh, this is the Bible.  Which is in everything.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones The Preacher

In Preaching and Preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Preaching has been my life’s work … to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called” (PP, 9).  and even as I read it again, it makes tingles go up and down my backbecause I have been privileged by God to be called to preach, I can’t get over the awesome privilege of having been called by the living God to herald his truth.

Many called him the last of the Calvinistic Methodist preachers because he had Calvin’s love for truth and sound reformed doctrine.  He was thoroughly calvinistic and reformed, and on the other side fire and passion.  For thirty years he preached at the Westminster Chapel in London. Usually that meant three times on a weekend, Friday evening,  Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Most of his time then was spent getting ready for that as well as speaking elsewhere during the week.  He said at the end of his career, “I can say quite honestly that I would not cross the road to listen to myself preaching” (PP, 4).

But most other  prople who heard him did not share that opinion.  J. I. Packer, when he was was 22 years old as a student heard Lloyd-Jones during the ’48-49 years and said that he had “never heard such preaching.” It came to him “with the force of electric shock, bringing to at least one of his hearers more of a sense of God than any other man”  (FEL, 170).  They did have a kind of falling out later on which is sort of sad, but Packer, never, never stopped praising Lloyd-Jones.  Not to this day in fact I recommend the book by Samuel P. Logan called Preachers and Preaching, I believe, something like that and Packer writes Why Preach as the lead essay and it’s dynamite and it’s got more of Lloyd-Jones in it.

Many of us have felt this electric shock though we never knew him personally, though we can hear him on tape, if you want to,  we felt it even coming through his books.  I can remember as a student in 1967 going to Urbana  with my fiancé Noel, and hearing George Verwer, as he always does, hold up a book and say, “This is the most important book that’s been written” in whatever amount of time he says.  And he held up in that time the two volume work by Martyn Lloyd-Jones’  on the Sermon on the Mount and he said, “This is the greatest book that has been written in this century.”  well he had no right to say that, because he doesn’t read all the books, but I said, “that is an amazing statement.”  I went home and in the summer of 1968 I read those 2 volumes through before I went to seminary, that was between college and seminary. and I was never the same again.  I was primed for the theology I discovered at seminary by this awesome picture of the Lord.   “the greatness and weight of spiritual issues” (The Preacher and Preaching, 7), is what Packer said very few men have been able to duplicate.

A Sketch of His Life

Just a real brief sketch of his life.  His path to Westminster was unique. He was born in Cardiff, Wales, in December 20, 1899. Then he moved to London with his family when he was 14 and went to Medical School St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, got his M.D. in 1921.  his supervisor said he was “the most acute thinker that he’d ever known” (FEL, 56).

He had a profound conversion experience during the 1921-23 year, and his  passion to preach just exploded so strongly that he left behind the medical career never to return in any official way.

He took a church in Sandfields, Aberavon , and  married Bethan Phillips, January 8, 1926, and  they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, over the course of their marriage.  He stayed there I think about 12 years

And then he was in Philadelphia, preaching  and G. Campbell Morgan was in the audience, sitting in the back, the pastor of Westminster Chapel, and heard this young man preach, and felt, “I must seek this man to be my associate at the Westminster Chapel” and he did seek him and through a series of events, got him to come, that was September 1939 and in 1943 G. Campbell Morgan retired and until 1968 the preaching pastor of Westminster Chapel was Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

He retired in 1968, worked on his writings for 12 years as well as speaking, and then died in his sleep March 1, 1981.

Quote: D.A. Carson on Democracy

I’ve had this thought in scattered glimpses over the years, never as cogently as Carson puts it here.

From Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson, p. 127

“Christians cannot possibly view democracy as “the cure” for the world’s ills.  For many pragmatic and moral reasons, we may concur that, granted attendant structures and liberties, it is the form of government least unaccountable to the people and least likely to brutalize its citizens without some eventual accounting.  It is a form of government most likely to foster personal freedoms, including, usually, freedoms for Christians to practice and propagate their faith.  But it has also proved proficient at throwing off a sense of obligation to God the Creator, let alone the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is another way of saying that it is proficient at fostering idolatry.

Review: Christ and Culture Revisited

Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson

good analysis and critiques, lacking a clear prescription

Christ and Culture Revisited is rigorous and academic, dealing with complex philosophies and cultural analysis across a wide spectrum. Carson deals with a wide range of relevant literature, and this is a thorough, if somewhat difficult book to read.

He takes his springboard from Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, and his famous five part paradigm for understanding how Christians relate to their surrounding cultures. Carson is convinced “that the famous Niebuhr typology, as useful as it may be for some purposes, drives us toward mutually exclusive choices we should not be making.” (vi) This is because some of Niehbur’s categories are “too broad, if one is trying to limit oneself to the forms of confessional Christianity that explicitly and self-consciously try to live under the authority of Scipture.” (10) The deeper problem is that Niehbur presents the Bible as offering “a number of discrete paradigms,” (41) that is, different options to choose from depending on who you are and where you live. The Bible, however, is a unity, and “we should be attempting a holistic grasp of the relations between Christ and culture, fully aware, as we make our attempt, that peculiar circumstances may call us to emphasize some elements in one situation, and other elements in another situation.” (43) Carson then sketches out the main points of a unified Biblical Theology, emphasizing that a correct view must take all into account, not pick and choose.

He deals specifically with post-modernism, and the post-modern view of cultures, especially “perspectivalism,” agreeing that there are only two kinds of people on the world, those who acknowledge their perspectivalism and those who don’t.

He deals with more “church/state” related issues in the chapters on “Secularism, Democracy, Freedom and Power,” and the longest chapter on “Church and State.” He concludes with an analysis of several different options being proposed today, and subjects them to his analysis.

I found that most of the book was a thorough, detailed way of saying “it’s complicated,” and trying to demonstrate that a Christian view of culture can and must be incredibly nuanced. This is sometimes in criticism of too sweeping of a view (Niebuhr’s) or in defense from post-modernism’s claims that we are not sophisticated enough. Although he does offer his sketch of Biblical Theology as the template for a unified view of how to relate to culture, I walked away from this book thinking “okay, it’s nuanced and complicated,” but without a very clear idea of exactly how to engage.

Carson says in the preface :”The release of this book in paperback format coincides with the publication of The Intolerance of Tolerance. I envisaged the two books together from the beginning. In many ways the Intolerance volume builds its argument on the assumption of many positions defended in the book you hold in your hand: it won’t hurt to read the two together, the first one to establish a framework for thinking faithfully about Christ and culture, the second one to tease out practical implications along one exceedingly sensitive axis.” (vii)

Perhaps my feeling of something lacking is due to this, and I just need to read Intolerance to finish the picture. I do recommend this book as a very challenging read, forcing one to think deeply about philosophy, culture, and the Bible.

Logic on Fire: why I transcribe sermons

I have spent and plan to spend significant amounts of time transcribing sermons, even though the sometimes the manuscripts of many of those sermons are readily available online.

Why?

Several reasons.  The simplest is merely the fact that the actual preached message is different from the manuscript, and often the differences are noteworthy.

There is a fascinating underlying reason, though, and it relates to the nature of preaching, and prophesying.  Both John Piper and Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed that prophecy can occur in preaching when the preacher goes “off script.”  They have labored in the Word, and in total reliance on the Holy Spirit have constructed a manuscript of a sermon to be preached.  Nevertheless, Lloyd-Jones counseled, and Piper practices, reliance on the Holy Spirit in the pulpit, with an openness to new words and phrases that are not in the manuscript, that the Holy Spirit supplies that have particular power, insight, application and authority.  This happens all the time in Piper’s sermons.  Piper often goes off-script in his preaching, and these excursions are often the most insightful, powerful, sometimes entertaining, parts of his messages.  How often that is prophecy, and how often it is merely Piper, I won’t attempt to assess here.  This is just my reason for so highly recommending that a person listen to the audio sermon, not just read the manuscript.

Another reason for this relates to preaching versus writing, which I’m sure has been adequately developed on books on preaching, but I’ll just sketch it out here.  God gave us a book, in writing, the graphe.  It is authoritative, and never changes.  Nevertheless, he also commanded that his people continue to preach the message, not just hand out the book.  He created us with voice boxes, not just esophagi.  He gave us lungs to speak with, not just to breath.  He gave us tongues to enunciate, not merely to taste and swallow.  He made us so that we could communicate with audible spoken words, not just thought-out-written-down words.  And he commands us to continue to communicate it this way.

Writing out transcripts enables one to capture a little bit more of the audible communication.  Italics can be added, all caps can be used.  Nowadays we can format the transcript to more fully capture the inflections of the preached word, as well as the specific words that aren’t in the manuscript.

I still highly recommend listening to the actual sermons.  I can’t recommend it highly enough!  There are times that chills go down my back listening to Piper preach, that I don’t get at all from reading the later book or the manuscript online.  Nevertheless, in an effort to make a little bit more of that available, I intend to keep transcribing certain messages and selections from them, Lord willing, a significant amount of his biographical message on Lloyd-Jones that I think is incredibly relevant more than 20 years later.

Stay tuned 🙂

Martyn Lloyd-Jones and the Charismatic Movement

“God must do a new thing”

From Chosen By Goda collection of essays reflecting on Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his legacy, edited by Christopher Catherwood.  Chapter 15: The Encourager, by Henry Tyler, 246-8.

In the late ’60’s I had become involved much more with what is commonly known as the charismatic movement, and I never ceased to marvel at how informed the Doctor was about this.  When we met he would ask me endless questions about what was happening among the various ‘house churches’ that were springing up in many places, and when communes and communal living became the fashion among some he wisely pointed out the dangers of breaking the natural family unit, illustrating this with examples from church history.  On one occasion he asked me if I had heard or met an Anglican minister who had received some prominence in the press for his healing ministry.  He knew all about him and how he had come into that new measure of the Spirit in his ministry, and he urged me to go and hear him for myself.

The Doctor had some reservations about the charismatic movement in general – for instance with the tendency of charismatics to compromise with Rome; in no way would he ever countenance that.  He felt too that the time given to singing in charismatic meetings was inordinately long.  I tried to explain that this was not mere singing for singing’s sake but prolonged worship and delighting in God. I don’t think I ever quite succeeded tin convincing him on this point!  On one occasion, thinking that it would please him, I told him how the charismatics were now singing many psalms and portions of scripture.  He gave me a wry smile and said, ‘Good.  Perhaps they will now stop singing those awful choruses.’

But these apart, the Doctor was glad of the renewed emphasis upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He welcomed the gifts of the Spirit but needed to be assured that they were genuine and not spurious.  He told due of his pleasure in reading an article by Arthur Wallis which appeared in Theological Renewal, where the writer had argued scripturally and cogently for the baptism of the Spirit as a distinct and separate work of the Holy Ghost coming upon the people of God.  Arthur Wallis had written this article to counteract teaching which sought to explain the baptism of the Spirit which we received in first coming to Christ, or, as the Catholics believed, at baptism.  This was a view that the Doctor felt to be unscriptural and he was greatly encouraged to see such a view refuted in print by a leading figure among the charismatics.

I think back upon the many times that the Doctor encouraged me in my ministry among charismatic churches, urging me to go on expounding the Scriptures, emphasizing the need to maintain the balance between the Word and the Spirit.  From time to time he graciously told me that he had heard of my minister in various parts of the country.  He had also heard adverse reports and frequently he said to me, ‘Do not pay too much attention to the criticisms – Press on with God and work for His glory.’ This was a tremendous encouragement at a time when many former friends seemed to be less friendly!

In the later years of the Doctor’s life my colleague, Terry Virgo, and I had reason to visit him in his home in Ealing.  We shared fully with him our vision to see the church restored.  He made some very significant comments upon the state of the church and concluded with this statement: ‘Evangelicalism is dead.  God must do a new thing.’ His conviction that the only answer for the church was the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven in revival grew increasingly and never faded in any way.  Right to the last it was his hope, his prayer and his desire.