S. Lewis Johnson (1915-2004)

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by bookslover, Mar 14, 2019.

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  1. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Anyone on the board have an opinion regarding him? I know he attended Dallas Theological Seminary and taught there, but his thinking and preaching appear to have been somewhat deeper than your standard second-generation dispensationalist.

    I have a friend who has been fairly well impressed by him over the years.

    About 1,500 of his sermons are available for listening here: www.sljinstitute.net.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  2. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I have benefited very much from Dr. Johnson. He was a brilliant scholar, yet a very able and understandable lecturer and preacher. He defended Calvinistic soteriology with everything he had, even to the point of going up strongly against what he called, I believe, “modified Calvinism”—i.e., Amyraldianism.

    I highly recommend him.
  3. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    I discovered him while studying Romans 5:12-21 and imputation. I read several of his sermons on this subject and they were very solid and very helpful.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I believe there have been a number of threads on SLJ here in the past.

    He had to leave DTS around 1976 or 1977 because he had come to embrace particular redemption and wouldn't keep quiet about it. (That was when Dr. Walvoord was still in charge. I think they may have loosened up on that in recent decades.) He finished up his career at TEDS. He also eventually abandoned pretrib and (at least by his own definition) dispensationalism, although he remained an ardent premillennialist who believed that Scripture teaches that Israel is to be resorted to the promised land.

    With that background in mind, it's helpful to know when a particular series was given as some of the older material doesn't reflect his mature views on particular redemption or the rapture and maybe a few other things here and there. The website has messages from roughly the mid or late 60s to the late 90s if not later, and no date is listed online or in the transcripts. There is a document in the S Lewis Johnson Appreciation Society group on Facebook that gives dates for the major series.

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  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    If he had committed more of his material to writing, I think he might have an even wider influence. (His former student Dan Wallace has said that SLJ was a perfectionist in this regard.)

    As it is, his tapes were circulated widely back in the day and continue to influence preachers and laypeople alike.

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  6. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    I just heard the first of his 51 sermons on Romans. He mentions that they were in the middle of a heat wave in Dallas, so he started that series in the summer. He also mentions the NASB, so he began that series any time after 1973. Internal evidence for the win!

    UPDATE: Turns out his Romans series was preached in 1980 and 1981. A woman on the S. Lewis Johnson Facebook group is working to figure out when his sermons were preached. Seems to me Johnson would have kept sermon lists - wherever those may be now.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I referred to said document in my previous post. I've added several dates to it, but Lynda is responsible for most of it. She has probably listened to a few hundred more messages than I have. I think I might have suggested that knowing when a message was preached would be helpful, but I probably also doubted that the dates could be ascertained for so many of the series. But SLJ went off on a lot more rabbit trails and asides than many expository preachers do today. (Some of this may be because many of the messages were given on weeknights rather than Sunday mornings, and so were perhaps a little less formal.) There are enough references to current events to figure what year(s) most of the longer series were preached if not the "miscellaneous messages." There is a document in the FB group on the humor of SLJ that is derived from these asides as well as illustrations.

    I haven't listened to SLJ regularly in a number of years. But it's helpful to know if a sermon was preached in 1968 or 1988 as he changed his views on particular redemption, the pretrib rapture and maybe a few other things. But those were the major ones that I can think of offhand.

    Pastor Mike Abendroth was able to gain the permission of SLJ's heirs and edited (or adapted) "Discovering Romans" which is based on the Romans series. My understanding is that he is working on Colossians now. Occasionally I listen to his podcast. I was somewhat distracted when I heard it, but I think I heard him say a while back that Zondervan, which had published the Romans volume, had taken a pass on Colossians and that he was looking for another publisher.

    Believers Chapel would be the place to ask for a list of sermons. But most people will never make it through the 1500+ they have posted, which presumably includes all of the messages he preached there, plus some preached elsewhere, such as the Bunyan Conferences. He preached or taught at many different places through the years, churches, homes, etc. so an exhaustive list may not exist. Having such an exhaustive list is arguably a "modern" phenomenon except for those who may have kept exhaustive diaries.

    I remember coming across a church in either Oregon or Washington State where he had given a series of messages in the early 80s. I may have them on a drive somewhere. There is a site called Voices for Christ which has a lot of Brethren and similar preaching that has a lot of SLJ messages. But I think most if not all of those are from Believers Chapel. He also had a local radio broadcast in Dallas. I think that may have been independent of his ministry at Believers Chapel, meaning that it wasn't just recorded sermons. If so, I don't know whether or not recordings survive. He also pastored one or two other churches in the Dallas area before Believers Chapel started in the late 60s. I understand that he had some things on his computer but I don't know whether or not anyone has gotten access to that. I understand they did finally move his books from his house a few years ago. Apparently most of them went to Believers Chapel, but some were made available at an estate sale. Dan Wallace made a FB post about picking up one or two.

    BTW, the Believers Chapel website has all of his sermons, while the SLJ site does not. I gave up asking why. (Ditto for the mobile app.) The SLJ site used to have them, but some were not uploaded when it was redesigned a few years ago. One or both entities was working on correcting errors in the transcripts.

    A new and improved website that in some respects is inferior to the old one reminds me of what happened with F.N. Lee's site after he died. The new one has pictures, etc. but a huge amount of content is missing.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
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