A Pull Between Medicine And Pastorate

If D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s life were a novel it would be panned by critics as too unrealistic. Because his life is a historical reality we are left to wonder at the providential energy that could have effected such an astonishing career. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the son of a middle-class Welsh dairyman who fled to London to avoid bankruptcy. After distinguishing himself as a medical student, young Martyn attracted the attention of Sir Thomas Horder with a daring diagnosis made possible after an examination of the patient’s spleen. Lord Horder was the most celebrated doctor in England, chiefly because he was called to the deathbed of King Edward VII. After disputing the young Welshman, Horder made Lloyd-Jones his chief clinical assistant (at age 23) when later developments vindicated the original diagnosis.

The events that transported Martyn Lloyd-Jones from a glamorous Harley Street medical practice to a pastorate in an impoverished Welsh mining town make for a magnificent biography. After agonizing for a year over a call to the ministry, he decided he could be of more use to the Lord in medicine. That resolve was shattered one evening as he came from a London theater. “As we came out of the theater suddenly a Salvation Army band came along playing some hymn tunes. There is a theme in Wagner’s opera Tannhauser, the two pulls—the pull of the world and the chorus of the pilgrims—and the contrast between the two. I know exactly what it means. When I heard this band and the hymns I said, ‘These are my people, these are the people I belong to and I’m going to belong to them.’ ”

A more felicitous match between biographer and subject could scarcely be imagined. Author Iain Murray is himself a distinguished preacher, church historian, and editor. (He was Lloyd-Jones’s assistant at Westminster Chapel for several years, and he made early efforts to gather data for this biography.) His efforts were slowed by the great man’s aversion to any personal publicity. Although a fervent advocate of Lloyd-Jones’s doctrine position, Murray shows restraint in allowing him to speak for himself through extracts from sermons and interviews. The book is an electrifying apologetic for the powerfully theologized pulpit emphases of the Reformers and the Puritans. Such an approach was in eclipse when Lloyd-Jones began his ministry. The renaissance of interest in Reformed theology is due in no small way to this man; he himself would attribute the resurgence to the sovereign grace of God.

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This work takes the reader only to the beginning of Lloyd-Jones’s long ministry at Westminster as G. Campbell Morgan’s successor. Give us more, Mr. Murray—and please do not keep us waiting long.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899–1930, by Iain H. Murray (Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1983; 394 pp., $ 15.95). Reviewed by Ronnie Collier Stevens, Faith Evangelical Bible Church, Gramercy School, Morehead City, N.C.

Nuclear holocaust and christian hope is one of a growing number of recently published studies on the Christian faith and the challenge of peacemaking in a nuclear age. The authors, Ronald Sider and Richard Taylor, are both pacifists, and they argue that the only legitimate response to the threat of nuclear war is a radical commitment of love.

“Never in the history of the planet has there been a more desperate need for Jesus’ way of costly love for enemies,” they write. “Jesus taught us to love, not to hate; to heal, not to kill; to pray for our persecutors, not to destroy them.” Because of the growing possibility of nuclear war—a war that would result in greater destruction than ever experienced in all previous wars—the authors suggest that the only hope for the future of the world lies in giving up the contemporary military system of defense and replacing it with a nonmilitary defense system.

The Soviet threat is real, Sider and Taylor tell us, but they suggest that the only morally and biblically legitimate method of protecting national interests is through a civilian-based defense (CBD) involving nonviolence, noncooperation with the enemy, active resistance, participation of the masses, and the power of good will.

The book is divided into four parts: the threat of nuclear war, biblical theological perspectives on war, the making of peace, and the development of a biblical system of national defense. Despite the title, it should be emphasized that this study does not focus on nuclear weapons policy issues. The heart of the book is Part II, which presents a nonviolent-resistance approach to peacemaking. Building on this approach, the last half of the book discusses how Christians can become agents of peacemaking.

Sider and Taylor argue that the theory of just war, which has been the most widely accepted approach to peacemaking among Christians, is no longer valid in a nuclear age. They argue, correctly, I think, that all-out nuclear war between the superpowers would create such massive and indiscriminate destruction that it would violate the traditionally recognized criteria for just wars. But the authors are not content with discounting the legitimacy of the just war doctrine for nuclear weapons; they argue that the doctrine is unacceptable for conventional violence as well. Four reasons are given for discounting the just war approach: it has failed to stop violence among Christians, the criteria have not been applied consistently, the early Christians were pacifists, and the teachings of Jesus support nonviolent resistance.

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While the first two criticisms are most assuredly true, the last two are open to debate, particularly the thesis that Jesus enjoins nonviolent resistance à la Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mohandas Gandhi. While such a view may be correct, we should recognize that it deviates significantly from the historic view of Christian (vocational) pacifism based on nonresistance. Moreover, biblical scholars disagree on what the New Testament teaches regarding violence and resistance. No less a theologian than Reinhold Neibuhr held that there was no support in Scripture for the doctrine of nonviolent resistance. Thus, before adopting or rejecting the peacemaking suggestions of the last half of the book, readers would do well to ponder the implications of the different theological perspectives on war. War: Four Christian Views (ed., Robert G. Clouse, IVP, 1981) will provide a useful introduction to the debate.

Written in the genre of advocacy books, this study is primarily concerned with providing a solution to the predicament of war in general and nuclear war in particular. The aim is noble: to provide hope for the world as countries continue to participate in the aimless and wasteful nuclear and conventional arms races. The problem won’t be solved by wishful thinking, however, but will require a careful and dispassionate illumination of the moral predicament posed by an imperfect international system where national security is ultimately dependent on the governments of sovereign states. A denuclearized world would, certainly, be a more humane and secure world, but the weapons are here. A world without gunpowder would similarly be more desirable, but the invention of gunpowder cannot be disinvented. Because the instruments of violence cannot be eliminated, they must be managed and controlled—and that is the task of diplomacy. It is interesting that in a volume dealing with a Christian approach to peacemaking there should be no discussion of international politics or the relationship of the instruments of force to the settlement of interstate disputes. To be sure, peace is a spiritual gift from God. But it is also a concrete goal, requiring the diligent persistence of God’s people in moderating the political tensions in which international violence breeds.

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Christians concerned with peacemaking will find this carefully and extensively footnoted book of help. By setting forth a radical approach to peacemaking grounded in an ethic of nonviolent resistance, Sider and Taylor have provided a fresh and provocative study that can strengthen the current debate among Christians about how to implement the peacemaking mandate. But those who are looking for an examination of the moral issues surrounding the nuclear dilemma of nuclear deterrence should look elsewhere, including the pastoral letter on nuclear weapons drafted by the U.S. Catholic Bishops titled “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.”

Nuclear Holocaust and Christian Hope, by Ronald J. Sider and Richard K. Taylor (IVP, 1982; 492 pp., $8.95 pb). Reviewed by Mark R. Amstutz, chairman, Department of Political Science, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

It was with mixed feelings that I approached the Verdict on the Shroud, subtitled “Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” I was afraid it would be an overly enthusiastic, blindly biased proclamation of the shroud’s authenticity as Jesus’s burial garment by a couple of Christians who were themselves not scientists.

The book, however, produced a pleasant surprise. While neither Kenneth Stevenson nor Gary Habermas have scientific backgrounds, they have presented carefully and clearly the evidence gathered by the Shroud of Turin team, as well as those investigators who preceded them.

Beginning with an assessment of the two pitfalls likely in any approach to the shroud—that is, either instinctive disbelief or idolatrous worship—the authors argue that a truly unbiased approach assesses only the scientific evidence of the shroud’s authenticity as an actual burial cloth of first-century origin. It is a consideration of history, archaeology, the testimony of the Scriptures, as well as the facts of human anatomy and physiology that evaluates the case for the shroud as the authentic burial garment of Jesus.

Squarely confronting the most skeptical views of the Shroud of Turin, the authors lead the reader to three inescapable conclusions: (1) the shroud is an actual burial cloth of a first-century Jew; (2) the Jew was Jesus Christ; and (3) Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead.

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Each point is arrived at after a clear and concise presentation of the evidence and a logical step-by-step argument that I found fascinating, and that deepened my appreciation for what our Lord went through to redeem us. It is impossible to study the shroud without becoming aware of the terrible torture the Romans inflicted on him.

I was filled with joy when I finished the book. Having a scientific background, I have always wished for some extrabiblical empirical evidence for the Lord’s existence on this earth. But I believed without it, never expecting in this life to find it. Here, however, is a possibility—a strong possibility—for such evidence, not only for his physical existence, but for his resurrection as well.

There should be a note of caution, however. As one might expect, there are strong arguments against the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, not the least of which is the lack of carbon 14 dating. Apparently too much material was needed for the test, and the shroud’s owner at the time would not allow it (the shroud was recently inherited by the Roman Catholic church). The actual date of the shroud is therefore yet to be determined.

But even if a carbon 14 date reveals it to be something other than a first-century artifact, it certainly has iconic value in that it does represent the Lord in his suffering and turns our eyes on him and what he went through for us.

I do recommend this book, with its many color prints, as valuable reading for pious Christians.

Verdict on the Shroud, by Kenneth Stevenson and Gary Habermas (Servant, 1981; 220 pp., $12.95). Reviewed by John Young, Saint Athanarius’s Academy of Orthodox Theology, Goleta, California.

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