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Basic Christianity— with an Oxbridge Accent

Having recently arrived in the States after spending many years in evangelical circles in the United Kingdom, I was most interested to read Bruce Hindmarsh's piece [September/October].

So many of his observations on the kind of evangelicalism which is associated with John Stott were accurate and perceptive that it came as a surprise to see two major faux pas in what he wrote, the one factual and the other, on his own admission, quite speculative. Both concern the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The factual error is that Lloyd-Jones did not call on evangelicals to leave their denominations at the Evangelical Alliance meeting in Central Hall, Westminster in 1966 which was chaired by John Stott. What the Doctor said then was known in advance to those who had invited him to speak and it is now published in Knowing the Times (Banner of Truth Trust [1989], pp. 246-57). He called evangelicals to come together, not uttering one word about separation. His message was positive and was pro-unity and not separatist let alone schismatic. To tell the truth, he believed that evangelicals were already guilty of the sin of schism because they were separated church-wise from each other. It was in 1967 that he issued the call to withdraw and this was in the interests of "gospel purity" as David Bebbington rightly noted.

Secondly, Hindmarsh speculates on what might have happened if Lloyd-Jones' call had been heeded and envisages the possibility that he would, Machen-like, have led "Reformed evangelicals into an 'Orthodox Anglican Church.'" To anyone who knew Lloyd-Jones this is not credible. First, he had no ambition to be a leader of any denomination. He confessed he had no blueprint for ecclesiastical structures and no gift for administration. That oversight on Hindmarsh's part is perhaps pardonable. But to entertain the notion that Lloyd-Jones could become a leader of an "Anglican Church", even an "orthodox" one, requires a stretch of the imagination ...

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