To someone like myself who has been brought up in the evangelical tradition there is but one Doctor – Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He was the hero and he was the Moses like figure who led his people through the hard and lonely decades of the Twentieth Century. He was, it is said, the last Puritan. His influence on the conservative evangelical world was almost absolute and it all came to head in 1996 when he called on evangelical folk to a “call to decision”. He caused controversy when, at the National Assembly of Evangelicals organized by the Evangelical Alliance, he called on all clergy of evangelical conviction to leave denominations which contained both liberal and evangelical congregations. As a significant figure to many free churches, Lloyd-Jones had hoped to encourage those Christians who held evangelical views on subjects such as the atonement, regeneration and the inspiration of Scripture to withdraw from any churches which did not share these beliefs. Many evangelical people in Wales including the dear brothers and sisters in Aberystwyth at the Church where I was bought up followed the Doctors marching orders. New Welsh evangelical congregations were established at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Llangefni, Colwyn Bay, Waunfawr and Talsarnau. But not all responded positively to his call.
At the crucial meeting in 1966 when he gave his address John Stott, who was chairing the meeting, was supposed to give a word of thanks to Lloyd-Jones after the address and then bring the meeting to a close; but instead John Stott went straight into a reply explaining how he disagreed which portions of Lloyd-Jones’ address. The leading evangelical Anglican John Stott, refuted the stance of Lloyd-Jones by stating that his opinion was against history and the Bible. This crucial meeting in the history of the Protestant Church saw the seed sown of a sort of cold war type schism within the evangelical world, a schism we here in Wales still have to cope and deal with today.
In the next post I hope to discuss the implications of this event on the churches of Wales, and specifically its influence on Welsh evangelicals’ attitude and stance towards politics and social action. Also, from the outset here I should note that of what he did, mainly exegetical preaching, he did it like no other, my words are not to be read as an attack on the man but rather an honest discussion about his lasting influence on the Welsh church scene today.