Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Training for the ministry

Status
Not open for further replies.

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I am just after listening to the Doctor's inaugural lecture for the London Theological Seminary in 1977. While MLJ was very good upon insisting that natural gifts for public speaking and biblical qualifications for ministry be upheld, much of his vision of ministerial training struck me as radical to the point of being just plain bizarre.

On the issue of languages, I did see his point about only training men in Greek and Hebrew so that they could use their commentaries intelligently. The notion, which he refuted, that you cannot read the Bible unless you know Hebrew and Greek is deeply pernicious. Still, a case could be made that MLJ errs too much in the other direction.

I would be interested to hear what everyone else thinks of the lecture.
 

RickG

Puritan Board Freshman
I listened to a similar lecture a week or two ago. It may have been this one. Amongst other points he made he did state that while rigour is important he leant towards a atmosphere that while fostering learning does not quench life nor sap mental and spiritual energy from candidates. Thus he recommended an approach that did not demand a study of languages that would break a candidate on something that they may not use later, at least to the extent that is sometimes required of them. However it may not have been this lecture itself. Those who have more experience in this may have more to contribute.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I listened to a similar lecture a week or two ago. It may have been this one. Amongst other points he made he did state that while rigour is important he leant towards a atmosphere that while fostering learning does not quench life nor sap mental and spiritual energy from candidates. Thus he recommended an approach that did not demand a study of languages that would break a candidate on something that they may not use later, at least to the extent that is sometimes required of them. However it may not have been this lecture itself. Those who have more experience in this may have more to contribute.

I suspect that it was the same lecture, as he said something to that effect in the above-linked address.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
While MLJ was very good upon insisting that natural gifts for public speaking and biblical qualifications for ministry be upheld, much of his vision of ministerial training struck me as radical to the point of being just plain bizarre.
Daniel,
Your use of the word 'bizarre' suggests to me you misunderstand Dr Lloyd-Jones vision. Let me say upfront I have been deeply influenced by MLJ ministry in a number of areas of my life and theology.

These points may help you understand where MLJ is coming from:
  • It is important to read Iain Murray's excellent 2 volume biography of MLJ to understand his vision fully. See my review which I recently posted on the PB.
  • Dr Sinclair Ferguson recently gave the MLJ memorial lecture. This lecture was based on MLJ 1969 lectures at Westminster Seminary on preaching. Dr Ferguson rightly notes that MLJ's goal was to produce preachers of the Word, not academics. It is important to understand this, otherwise you will not understand why MLJ said the things he said in that 1977 lecture at the commencement of London Seminary.
  • Regarding these 1969 lectures, his lecture The Spirit and The Power gives his vision with tremendous clarity. Note: some of his views sound 'charismatic'. One has to acknowledge this has been a problem - I would say a minor problem. However Iain Murray's other book "Lloyd-Jones: messenger of grace" is very helpful here. He devotes about 1 1/4 chapters to discussing MLJ's legacy in emphasising the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and Christian life. But he devotes another chapter in discussing where MLJ did lack some balance in his teaching on the Holy Spirit. In short, Iain Murray's 2 vol biography, and his follow up book "Lloyd-Jones: messenger of grace" are very very helpful.
  • Coming back to the 1977 lecture at the commencement of London Seminary, MLJ clearly spells out his vision in the last 5-10 minutes.
You said:
On the issue of languages, I did see his point about only training men in Greek and Hebrew so that they could use their commentaries intelligently. The notion, which he refuted, that you cannot read the Bible unless you know Hebrew and Greek is deeply pernicious.
I agree.

You then added:
Still, a case could be made that MLJ errs too much in the other direction.
I agree.
 

RickG

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, MLJ often seems to bring in contradictions but it seems it’s often done very deliberately to almost “shock” those in both entrenched camps, or on both sides of an argument (whatever the topic may happen to be), in order not only to shatter any sacred cows but to try to bring balance on the issue at hand. He most certainly is an academic and encouraged and supported academic endeavours, but all the while eyeing Spirit-filled expository preachers.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Your use of the word 'bizarre' suggests to me you misunderstand Dr Lloyd-Jones vision.

Let me give an example: he states in the lecture that the seminary is to have no exams. To any disinterested listener, that point struck one as most peculiar.

It is important to read Iain Murray's excellent 2 volume biography of MLJ to understand his vision fully.

I read it about 14 years ago. I no longer own it or have the volumes to hand. I will check if the edited collection Engaging with Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the subject.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Let me give an example: he states in the lecture that the seminary is to have no exams. To any disinterested listener, that point struck one as most peculiar.
Is MLJ violating a Biblical requirement for ministerial training?

To the best of my knowledge, MLJ view of ministerial training was the same as Spurgeon's.
Engaging with Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I am unsure if this book will give the balance one needs. See https://banneroftruth.org/uk/resour...yn-lloyd-jones-a-review-by-graham-harrison-1/
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
To understand Dr Lloyd-Jones' address properly, you have to see it as a conscious response to J. Gresham Machen's inaugural address at Westminster Theological Seminary, fifty years earlier. Lloyd-Jones was very familiar with Westminster, having corresponded regularly with several faculty, and delivered his famous lectures on preaching and preachers there. His comments on Biblical Languages are a clear riposte to Machen's insistence that without excellence in Biblical languages, you cannot excel as a preacher. Both are probably hyperbolic statements: it's certainly true that you can be an excellent preacher without any knowledge of the Biblical languages, but equally true that almost any preacher worth his salt should want to know exactly what God's Word says, for which the best grasp of the original languages possible is highly desirable. Otherwise, how can you weigh different translations, or even commentaries when you have no means of evaluating what they say? For example, in Psalm 121:1 "I lift up my eyes to the hills from whence doth come mine aid" is a statement in the KJV and a question in the NKJV. Knowing which is correct requires some Hebrew (or trust in whatever resource you are using).

What struck me on reading both addresses, however, was that great men inevitably found institutions that reflect themselves. Machen's original Westminster was designed to be strong in languages and apologetics (by the man who wrote a primer on Greek and was latterly professor of apologetics); Lloyd-Jones' London Theological Seminary focused on Biblical Theology and Church History, especially the history of revivals, reflecting his own interests.

On the value of exams, modern pedagogy has some sympathies with Lloyd-Jones. Exams may measure certain kinds of learning (languages would be a good example), but they often foster activities that don't produce long-term benefit (last minute cramming). Students learn far more by writing papers. And students are often far too interested in their grades, which exams and graded papers certainly fosters.

Another significant difference between the two schools was instruction by highly educated professors (WTS) vs full-time pastors (LTS). Again, as someone with a Cambridge PhD who has also been a pastor during most of my years of teaching, I understand the value (and drawbacks) of both sides. And again, both designs reflect their founders - Machen, the highly educated scholar, and Lloyd-Jones, the self-taught polymath.

Perhaps the resolution is somewhere in between: the ideal is surely pastor-scholars, who are highly trained experts in their specialist subjects, while having significant personal experience of pastoral ministry and a deep orientation toward the church rather than the academy in their teaching and writing. At least, that's what I want to be when I grow up.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Students learn far more by writing papers. And students are often far too interested in their grades, which exams and graded papers certainly fosters.

A professor friend of mine always gave his undergrads essay assignments, which they hated. They whined to him to give them a multiple choice exam. He gave them a 1 question exam with 25 choices (a. through y.). They never asked again.

While Spurgeon and MLJ didn't have the linguistic training, most (almost all) preachers aren't them.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
To understand Dr Lloyd-Jones' address properly, you have to see it as a conscious response to J. Gresham Machen's inaugural address at Westminster Theological Seminary, fifty years earlier. Lloyd-Jones was very familiar with Westminster, having corresponded regularly with several faculty, and delivered his famous lectures on preaching and preachers there.
Iain, I agree with much of what you say, and the lecture by Sinclair Ferguson I previously mentioned also gives helpful insights into MLJ's time at WTS. However, I would say the issue is a little deeper. MLJ ministered all his life in the UK (not the USA) and the pressing issues of spiritual decline in the UK pressed greatly on his heart. That, I think, is the fuller context. In terms of preaching and training in the ministry MLJ stood in the tradition of Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards. Further, he was greatly influenced by the Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales (Banner of Truth produced a 2 volume set on this movement over a decade ago). Thus I think the Spurgeon-Edwards-Welsh Calvinistic heritage was his greatest influence. In terms of the Princeton heritage MLJ valued the work of B.B. Warfield but he also believed the Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales balanced the Princeton tradition with their emphasis on the experiential work of the Spirit.

I would also add his 1959 lectures on Revivals give an important insight into his approach to ministry. In fact I would suggest listening to his Preaching and Preachers lectures and listening to his sermons on Revival would give the fullest insight in his approach to ministry.
Perhaps the resolution is somewhere in between: the ideal is surely pastor-scholars, who are highly trained experts in their specialist subjects, while having significant personal experience of pastoral ministry and a deep orientation toward the church rather than the academy in their teaching and writing.
I am sure this is right. In some ways Joel Beeke has carried on MLJ heritage and he is president of a seminary which does PhD's.

Daniel, @Reformed Covenanter you made this comment in another forum about MLJ famous sermon in 1980.
"I listened to it earlier - even then, he preached with such power."
This surely is the most weighty issue here.

Just another insight into MLJ conviction. Here is a summary of his lecture on John Knox. He gave this in Scotland in 1960. He is basically saying what a preacher of the Word should be like:
Did not Mary Queen of Scots fear the prayers of John Knox more than she feared the English soldiers? Of course she did! Why? Because he was a powerful man in prayer ... Is not that the kind of man we need today? Where is the power, where is the influence, where is the authority? These reformers were only men like us ... but they were men of prayer, who lived in the presence of God and who knew they could do nothing without Him.

What is the test of preaching? I tell you; it is power! ‘Our gospel came to you’ says the apostle 1 Thess 1:5 ‘not in word only, but also in power’ ... Do you think John Knox could make Mary Queen of Scots tremble with some polished little essay? They were preaching to the congregation ... to change people. ... Prophetic! Authoritative! Proclamation! Declaration! ... Was John Knox a matey, friendly, nice chap with which whom you could have a discussion? Thank God he was not! Scotland would not be what she has been for four centuries if John Knox had been that kind of man. ... thank God prophets are made of stronger stuff! ... such a man was John Knox with the fire of God in his bones and belly! He preached as they all preached, with fire and power, alarming sermons, convicting sermons, humbling sermons, converting sermons, and the face of Scotland was changed. ...

Should I try and draw certain lesson for ourselves? The conclusion of all this is that righteousness and righteousness alone, exalts a nation, and there is no righteousness without a preceding godliness. The times are cruel; the world is in a desperate plight; there is an appalling moral breakdown before our eyes ... Our position is not hopeless, for God remains, and with God nothing shall be impossible. The conditions could not have been worse than they were immediately before the Reformation, yet in spite of that the change came. Why? Because God was there and God sent it. So the only question we need to ask is the old question of Elisha face to face with his problem: ‘where is the Lord God of Elijah’? And I want to ask that question this evening: Where is the God of John Knox? He who can give us the power, the authority, the might, the courage, and everything we need. ... let us go in His name with boldness unto the throne of grace, and as certainly as we do so we shall obtain the mercy that we need for our sinfulness and unfaithfulness, and we shall be given the grace to help us in our time of need, in our day and generation. The God of John Knox is still there, and still the same, and thank God, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Oh, that we might know the God of John Knox!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top