My Interview with Christopher Catherwood, author of Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century and Grandson of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The ministry of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, has had an increasing impact on my life and the life of my wife. First, his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount was significantly used to help my wife grow in her faith and understanding of Reformed theology some thirty years ago, when she read and discussed it with friends. I’m reading that book now. Second, last year, I read his 1965 book Spiritual Depression and listened to the sermons that made up the book, which was a wonderful experience. We also watched the new documentary about his life and ministry Logic on Fire last year. In addition, I’m using his Walking with God Day by Day: 365 Daily Devotional Selections as a part of my daily devotional reading.
I recently read the new book Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century written by Christopher Catherwood, who is also a grandson of “The Doctor”. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, and would highly recommend it to you; keep scrolling down to read my review.
It is with great joy and respect that I had an opportunity to interview Christopher about the book and his grandfather.
CoramDeo: What are some of your personal recollections of your grandfather?
C.M.S. Catherwood: where can one begin – there are so many! I was his eldest of six grandchildren and he died on my 26th birthday in 1981. My main memories are his effortless kindness and total enthusiasm – he loved to encourage, treated all grandchildren without condescension and spiritually mentored us when we became Christians in our own right – vital to say since God has no grandchildren and I became a Christian as a child through realizing that my ancestry did not get me to heaven! We played croquet together as partners – being slaughtered regularly by the duo of my mother and grandmother – and many word games, and he nurtured the love of history that I have now enjoyed all my adult life.
CD: There seems to have been a resurgence of interest in “The Doctor”, perhaps aided by the release of the documentary Logic on Fire, your book and others, including Steven Lawson’s forthcoming book. Your book speaks about his relevance to us today. Why do you think he is still relevant today, nearly 25 years after his death?
CMSC: This resurgence of interest has been so exciting! Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition have also concentrated upon him recently – hence the endorsements for my book from Mark Dever and D.A. Carson. I think people want real preaching with Biblical unction, with the kind of Christ-centered preaching that epitomized the ministry of Dr. Lloyd-Jones.
CD: I was particularly impressed reading in your book how he approached all doctrine and practice from Scripture, not from a denominational or theological bias. Are there evangelical leaders today that model that example?
CMSC: dangerous question as everyone has their favorite preachers! I don’t know enough American or U.S. or British preachers to know how to answer that question fully, but the kind of ministry that Mark Dever has at Capitol Hill Baptist Church is very much the kind of model for 2015 that is similar to that of the Doctor, which is why I use it as an example in my book.
CD: Similar to the above question, I was impressed with some of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ particular beliefs on topics such as spiritual gifts, the Lord’s Supper, eschatology, etc. You write that he came to those views based on the Scripture. What can today’s pastors and theologians learn from this?
CMSC: Scripture and loyalty to Scripture should trump denominational shibboleths. Do we believe it from the Bible or as part of the package that comes with particular denominational loyalties?
CD: You write that Dr. Lloyd-Jones described himself as a “Bible Calvinist, not a system Calvinist.” Can you explain what he meant by that?
CMSC: Easily! Today we have a major renaissance of Reformed theology in the Southern Baptist convention – folks like Mark Dever and Al Moehler. Historically Reformed = Presbyterian = paedobaptist, but now we see Godly Evangelicals in the PCA coming together with Baptists, ALL of whom believe in the Doctrines of Grace: take The Gospel Coalition led by D.A. Carson (Baptist) and Tim Keller (Presbyterian). Belief and fellowship is based on scriptural unity rather than denominational affiliation.
CD: One final question, what was your particular reason for writing this book, and what you would hope your readers would take from it?
CMSC: My grandfather is not someone one can pigeonhole, and I wanted people to see him as both I and thousands of people in his lifetime saw him, as a giant of the faith who was totally Scripture-based and Christ-centered. And that is how Christians should always be and should be in 2016 and beyond!
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century by Christopher Catherwood. Crossway. 160 pages. 2015.
This short book is written by the eldest grandson of the great British preacher Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who died in 1981. His goal with the book is to “introduce ‘The Doctor’ to a new generation of readers and to help those discovering wonderful biblical truths for the first time learn how to think scripturally for themselves as Christians”. He presents Lloyd-Jones “as a preacher in whom one could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit—what the Puritans called unction—and to show how the Doctor’s message is as relevant today as it was then.” He hopes to show how relevant Lloyd-Jones’ life and thinking are to evangelicals in the twenty-first century.
He begins the book by providing a brief biography of Lloyd-Jones, who was born in 1899. At the age of twenty-one, Lloyd-Jones was a doctor of medicine. He was also Chief Clinical Assistant to the Royal Physician to King George V, Lord Horder, the top diagnostic physician of the day. He married Bethan in 1927. At the age of twenty-six he gave up what would have been a very prominent medical career in London, to become a pastor, though he never attended a theological college or seminary. He served in Aberavon, a run-down part of South Wales, from 1927-1938. In 1938 G. Campbell Morgan asked Lloyd-Jones to become his joint minister at Westminster Chapel in London. When Morgan retired in 1943, Lloyd-Jones became sole minister of Westminster Chapel, remaining there until cancer forced his retirement in 1968. In 1950 he began what still remains one of his best-known sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, the book version of which (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount) I am reading now, and which had a profound impact on my wife’s spiritual growth thirty years ago.
Catherwood discusses controversies in Lloyd-Jones’ ministry, including a 1966 Evangelical Alliance meeting in London in which he made his views public on whether evangelicals should stay within doctrinally mixed denominations. This led to his permanent split with a young J. I. Packer, though he and John Stott would later reconcile.
Lloyd-Jones described himself as a “Bible Calvinist, not a system Calvinist.” One of the main points of Catherwood’s book is that you do not have to agree with Lloyd-Jones in terms of his conclusions (on baptism, the Lord’s Supper or eschatology, for example), but it is wise to employ his method, which is that all doctrine and practice should originate in Scripture.
Catherwood also discusses Lloyd-Jones global impact, including the United States, where his influence is perhaps greater now than when he was alive. He ends the book by stating “We do not need to follow the Doctor in all his practices, but his principles remain as relevant and as Bible-based and Christ-centered as always.” I say “Amen” to that.
Walking with God Day by Day: 365 Daily Devotional Selections by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Crossway. 400 pages. 2003.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years and one of the twentieth century’s leading voices in evangelical doctrine and preaching. But he is perhaps more popular and influential these days than ever before due in part to the new film project Logic on Fire and the new book Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century by his eldest grandson Christopher Catherwood. This year I have read his classics Spiritual Depression and am working through his wonderful Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Recently, I began using this daily book of readings.
Walking with God Day by Day is a daily devotional containing short excerpts from many of Lloyd-Jones’s books. The daily readings will cover a number of subjects such as salvation, the Gospel, revival, the Kingdom of God, knowing God, the victory of faith, and many more. The reader is told where the reading came from, in the event that they want to check out that particular resource. In addition, each reading ends with a helpful “Thought to Ponder”. For example, in a reading from God the Holy Spirit, the thought to ponder was: “Notice the names or the descriptive titles given to the Holy Spirit.”
I very much look forward to my daily time with “the Doctor” in 2016, and I think you will too.
- The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The next book from Steven Lawson in the “A Long Line of Godly Men Profile” series will be on “The Doctor”, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It will be released February 15. Can’t wait for this one.
- Spiritual Depression. My favorite book I read last year was Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1965 classic Spiritual Depression. It will be available in the Kindle format for the first time on January 12.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at Chapter 18: Christ Fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. “The Doctor” says:
- Our Lord claims that He is the fulfillment, in and of Himself, of that which was taught by the Old Testament prophets.
- I feel increasingly that it is very regrettable that the New Testament should ever have been printed alone, because we tend to fall into the serious error of thinking that, because we are Christians, we do not need the Old Testament.
- Let us also observe, very hurriedly, how Christ fulfils the law. This again is something so wonderful that it should lead us to worship and adoration. First, He was `made under the law’. Though He is eternally above it, as Son of God He came and was made under the law, as one who had to carry it out.
- What was happening upon the cross was that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was enduring in His own holy body the penalty prescribed by the holy law of God for the sin of man.
- One of the ways in which the law has to be fulfilled is that its punishment of sin must be carried out. This punishment is death, and that was why He died.
- Unless you interpret the cross, and Christ’s death upon it, in strict terms of the fulfilling of the law you have not the scriptural view of the death upon the cross.
- By so dying upon the cross and bearing in Himself and upon Himself the punishment due to sin, He has fulfilled all the Old Testament types.
- Jesus Christ, by His death and all He has done, is an absolute fulfilment of all these types and shadows. He is the high priest, He is the offering, He is the sacrifice, and He has presented His blood in heaven so that the whole of the ceremonial law has been fulfilled in Him.
- But we go a step beyond this and say that He fulfils the law also in us and through us by means of the Holy Spirit.
- The prophets have been fulfilled in and through our Lord Jesus Christ; and yet there still remains something to be fulfilled.
- In His death, resurrection and ascension the whole of the ceremonial law has been entirely fulfilled.
- Seeing it all fulfilled and carried out in Him, I say I am fulfilling it all by believing in Him and by subjecting myself to Him. That is the position with regard to the ceremonial law.
- What of the judicial law? This was primarily and especially for the nation of Israel, as God’s theocracy, in its then special circumstances.
- There is then no longer a theocratic nation, so the judicial law has likewise been fulfilled.
- That leaves us with the moral law. The position with regard to this is different, because here God is laying down something which is permanent and perpetual, the relationship which must always subsist between Himself and man.
- The moral law, as interpreted by the New Testament, stands now as much as it has ever done, and will do so until the end of time and until we are perfected.
- What then is the relationship of the Christian to the law? The Christian is no longer under the law in the sense that the law is a covenant of works. But that does not release him from it as a rule of life.
- We tend to have a wrong view of law and to think of it as something that is opposed to grace. But it is not. Nor must the law be thought of as being identical with grace. It was never meant to be something in and of itself.
- The law was given, in a sense, in order to show men that they could never justify themselves before God, and in order that we might be brought to Christ.
- We must never separate these two things. Grace is not sentimental; holiness is not an experience.
- What is the will of the Father? The Ten Commandments and the moral law. They have never been abrogated.