Sunday, July 31

M. Lloyd-Jones on Evangelical Unity

John Stott just passed away 3 days ago at the age of 90. An important and largely positive figure in the church for over half a century, he was also unfortunately part of an attempt to tear down necessary theological walls. At the risk of not being read, I am quoting in it's entirety a December 2005 POST from Guy Davies' blog, Exiled Preacher. The true church has suffered for too long from far too much accommodation. The message of the cross was never meant to "appeal" to the masses. But to hear so many today, one would think that's exactly the point toward which we Christians should be pressing. The opposite it true. Here is one voice presenting a clarion call to resist such compromise. I hope you will take the time to read this entire post. It explains a critical attitude which has prevailed since WW2, one about which all believers in Jesus Christ must be aware. Guy writes: 

2006 Will be the 25th anniversary of the death of Welsh Evangelical leader Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The great preacher has left a controversial legacy behind him. Next year also marks the 40th anniversary of his famous 1966 address to the Evangelical Alliance on "Evangelical Unity". Ironically, that address was the cause of great division in UK Evangelicalism. Much has been written about the events of this period and it is essential to get our facts right.
A Call for Evangelical Unity 

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones had long been concerned about the position of Evangelicals within the mixed denominations. He has been involved in Ecumenical discussions in the 1950’s, and he did not like what he saw. But most Evangelicals were content to remain in their theologically mixed denominations, having fellowship with other Evangelicals through the Evangelical Alliance and other agencies. 

In October 1966 the Evangelical Alliance convened a conference to discuss the issue of Christian Unity. Lloyd-Jones had already expressed his views to leaders of the EA in private. He was given opportunity to speak his mind in public. 

Lloyd-Jones argued that the setting up of the World Council of Churches in 1948 and the whole Ecumenical Movement had created an entirely new situation. The ambition of this movement, he argued is to create “territorial, comprehensive national churches” in which all the denominations could unite. He asked, “Are we content with just being an evangelical wing in a territorial church that will eventually include, and must, if it is to be a truly national and ecumenical church, the Roman Catholic Church?

Lloyd-Jones suggested that it was quite wrong for Evangelicals to be divided from each other by remaining in their denominations. 
You and I are evangelicals. We are agreed about these essentials of the faith and yet we are divided from one another…we spend most of our time apart from one another, and joined to and united with the people who deny and are opposed to the essential matters of salvation. We have our visible unity with them. Now, I say, that is sinful. 
Finally, “the Doctor” urged evangelicals to seize the historic opportunity to come out of their denominations and come together “as a fellowship, or an association, of evangelical churches”. 

Lloyd-Jones’ argument sounded so persuasive that the chairman John Stott was genuinely concerned that Evangelical ministers would leave the Church of England the next morning. He used his position as chairman to flatly contradict what “the Doctor” had said. 
I believe history is against what Dr Lloyd-Jones has said…Scripture is against him, the remnant was within the church not outside it. I hope no one will act precipitately… 
Alister McGrath, in his biography of J. I. Packer, wrote that, “‘the shadow of 1966’ has lingered over English evangelicalism ever since.” He is right, Lloyd-Jones made Evangelicals face up to the challenge of the Ecumenical Movement. Are we only to be a “wing” within this great Movement, or shall we stand together united in the gospel? These matters have become even more urgent with the advent of “Churches Together” - (A UK-wide ecumenical body). We are now in the position of Churches being affiliated to the Evangelical Alliance, the Baptist Union ( a theologically mixed denomination) and Churches Together. Evangelicalism has become just one theological option that is no more or less valid then Catholicism or Liberalism. This is what happens when we fail to think through the challenge of the Ecumenical Movement. 

Lloyd-Jones subsequently withdrew from the Evangelical Alliance and threw his weight behind the BEC. The BEC was founded in 1952 as an Evangelical response to the founding of the WCC in 1948. The founders were T. H. Bendor-Samuel and E. J. Poole-Connor of the FIEC and representatives of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches in Scotland and Ireland. The BEC was robustly anti-ecumenical, but also stood for Evangelical unity. The BEC was re-launched as Affinity in 2004. 

A Call for Separation 

A call to secede from the denominations was implicit in Lloyd-Jones’ 1966 call for Evangelical unity. In 1967, the Doctor gave the main address at the BEC Conference on “Martin Luther and his message for today.” He challenged Evangelicals who had wavered over their involvement in the denominations to consider their position. 
So I close with an appeal. The position round and about us is developing rapidly. The ecumenical movement is advancing day by day, and it is traveling in the direction of Rome. But it is not only heading to Rome, it is heading towards an amalgamation of so-called world religions, and will undoubtedly end as a great World Congress of faiths… 

What then are evangelicals to do in this situation? I reply by saying that we must heed a great injunction in Revelation 18:4: ‘Come out of her my people!’ ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ Come out of it! But also come together into an association such as the BEC that stands for the truth and against compromise, hesitation, neutrality and everything that ministers to the success and plans of Rome and the ecumenical movement. Come out; come in! 
But Lloyd-Jones’ call was not heeded by all evangelicals. 

A Policy of Evangelical Integration 

In 1967 the first National Evangelical Anglican Congress met in Keele. John Stott was conference chairman. Stott, who, as we have seen, publicly disagreed with Lloyd-Jones in 1966, was determined that Evangelical Anglicans be fully involved in their denomination. Prior to the conference he set out his agenda: 
It is a tragic thing, however, that Evangelicals have a very poor image in the Church as a whole. We have acquired a reputation for narrow partisanship and obstructionism. We have to acknowledge this and for the most part we have no one but ourselves to blame. We need to repent and change. 
The Liberal, Anglo-Catholic Archbishop Ramsey was invited to address the conference. He told these Evangelicals that they should put experience before doctrine and that they should turn their backs on their old exclusive stance. The Archbishop stated that, “We are all called as Christians and as Anglicans we should be learning from one another.” 

The Conference responded to this call and accepted that all who were involved in ecumenical dialogue “have the right to be treated as Christians.” John Lawrence, who had long worked for a change of attitude among Evangelical Anglicans was well satisfied with the result: 
Now this wall is down Evangelicals will be heard in a new way, but this would not have happened if they had not shown that they are now ready to listen to others. 
As Lloyd-Jones had warned, this policy meant that Evangelicals had reduced themselves to being a mere wing in the great ecumenical project. Can we be content with that? Is it right to assume that Liberals who deny the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ “have the right to be treated as Christians?” 

We Stand alone Together! 

The attitude of Evangelicals to the ecumenical project is one of the pressing issues that we have to face in the 21st Century. Our stance should be that of the US 101st Airbourn Division, immortalised in the Band of Brothers TV series, "We stand alone together".

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