I have enjoyed reading and listening to Martin Lloyd-Jones for many years. i have enjoyed JI Packer’s books. I have enjoyed Iain Murray’s works and I enjoy reading Carl Trueman. How ironic that they have all come together in conflict!
Trueman’s recent contribution to J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future: The Impact of His Life and Thought has caused a series of responses between Murray and Trueman. Why? Because Trueman’s chapter in the book honoring the life and ministry of Packer focuses heavily upon 1966 when Lloyd-Jones made his plea to evangelicals to leave mixed denominations to form a new gathering, and Packer (and John Stott) refused. For Trueman, this was a disastrous time for British conservative evangelicalism, from which it is only now recovering. His criticism of Lloyd-Jones is that the call was unrealistic because Lloyd-Jones had no ecclesiology. Trueman writes:
Lloyd-Jones appears to be offering little more than an evangelical, anti-Roman form of the very doctrinal indifferentism he rightly saw as the poison of 1960s mainstream ecumenism, albeit with a central hardcore of very, very basic evangelical doctrines and a strong intuitive knowledge of who and what should be kept out as illegitimate.
Trueman also suggests that Lloyd-Jones had meet, in Packer, a theological equal and that this threatened Lloyd-Jones. Again Trueman writes:
Davies argues that Lloyd-Jones could not stand competition and could not bear not to be in overall control, and he provides various highly suggestive anecdotes as examples of this tendency. Given this, a split with Packer was always a likely outcome: after all, Packer was the only man within Lloyd-Jones’s orbit who could pose a serious challenge to his leadership because of both his intellect and, crucially, his grasp of the history and theology of the Reformed tradition.
Murray has responded to this heavily in the most recent Banner of Truth Trust magazine. He has dismissed Trueman’s analysis as being false and a misrepresentation of the facts. Trueman has responded on the Reformation21 blog to Murray.
Having read both articles and the book chapter, I think Trueman and Murray have much to say and contribute about a very interesting part of British evangelicalism and two great British churchmen. Murray seems to have been upset at Trueman’s criticism of Lloyd-Jones, although I think the criticism has some teeth. Trueman also criticizes Packer – especially for not leaving the Anglican Church and taking the leadership of the evangelical wing of the church.
Of course, both Lloyd-Jones and Packer had / have faults – big ones. They were fallen, sinful human beings But both were / are great men of God, saved and redeemed by the grace of God, and both who gave their lives to declaring Jesus Christ as Lord of all – and both spent their lives imploring people to give their lives to Jesus.
In the midst of historical reflection, disagreements, misrepresentations, lets not lose sight of the fact that the wider Church is richer because of the ministries of these men and we are fortunate to have their writings as an encouragement to us.