Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Evangelical Unity

It is forty years since the sad rift between evangelicals was sparked by an address on evangelical unity by Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones. Today I’m blogging some of the more pertinent parts of his appeal, confident that they raise issues for us today, issues that the forty years of sad disunity ought not to obscure.

One of the major themes within MLJ’s address was the nature of the Church herself. Here are some quotes (any emphasis added will be mine) on this very issue from the address (which quotes are by no means a comprehensive statement of his ecclesiology).

‘Are we content, as evangelicals, to go on being nothing but an evangelical wing of a church?[1]...Are we content to be an evangelical wing, making our protests, exerting our influence, hoping that we can gradually infiltrate so that others may come to see the wrongness of their ideas and the correctness of ours?’

The church, surely, is not a paper definition. I am sorry, I cannot accept the view that the church consists of articles or of a confession of faith. A church does not consist of the Thirty-Nine Articles. A church does not consist of the Westminster Confession of Faith. A church does not consist of the Savoy Declaration. A church consists of living people. You cannot have a church without living people. You can have a paper constitution with a majority in that church denying that very constitution. That is no longer a church as I see it … So I say we must come back and realize that this is our basic view of the Christian church, and that what we need, above all else at the present time, is a number of such churches, all in fellowship together, working together for the same ends and objects. They are one already in their views, in their faith, in their ideas, and they must not, as our general secretary so excellently put it, divide upon secondary, subsidiary, and non-essential matters.’

[1] It must be stressed that MLJ was referring to a ‘territorial, comprehensive, national church’ as was envisaged by the ecumenical movement, a church that would include the Roman Catholic Church. We must judge for ourselves whether the Dr’s comments apply also to the ‘ecumenical mix’ of modern day denominations.


Steve Timmis said...

Good and helpful musings Pete. MLJ certainly did ask pertinent questions, many of which have yet to be answered. BTW, do you have the recordings of the SitC talks? It would be good to get them on the website, so if you could let me have them?

Pete said...

Thanks Steve
Re. the SitC talks, apologies for the delay but I'm having problems formatting them to be small enough to realistically be downloaded from a website. This problem emerges from me being not much of an expert at this sort of thing. When the problem is sorted I'll email them on to you or Steve Johnson.

Dave Williams said...


Thanks -do you mind if I reference your blogs on my blog as I've been disucssing this theme? But nowhere near as eloquently as the Dr!

Pete said...

Please do. Think I'll have a look at your blog myself.