Monday, May 17, 2010

Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Wesleyan Methodists have much to learn from this late Welsh Calvinistic Methodist. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) preached behind the pulpit of Westminster Chapel in London for 30 years. In 1971 his book, Preaching & Preachers, was published, the result of a series of lectures he gave on expository preaching during the 1960's at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. This book is timeless—making it a classic—and is as much needed today as it was 40 years ago.

In this series of lectures Lloyd-Jones gave his opinions (read: strong opinions) and critique (read: withering critique) of contemporary preaching in his day. It isn't for the squeamish. Lloyd-Jones called it like he saw it, and he had plenty he didn't enjoy seeing. For one, the Doctor hated the concept of entertainment in the church. All a worship leader needs to do is read Lloyd-Jones' views on worship to begin to squirm uncomfortably in his seat. For another, the Doctor vigorously disagreed with the prevailing notion that a preacher had to preach on the felt needs of a congregation. Lloyd-Jones was punctilious: the congregation didn't know what they needed so it was the preacher's job to tell them what was important. The genius of the book is the counter-cultural call to action: the preacher is a prophet of righteousness, not one to tickle the ears of his hearers.

It isn't necessary to agree with the Doctor on every point to be rebuked, exhorted, consoled and emboldened by his unapologetic stand for expository preaching. This is exactly what Lloyd-Jones accomplishes, teaching a preacher to expound the oracles of God. Preaching & Preachers isn't a homiletic handbook that teaches a novice how to construct a sermon. Rather it delves into the philosophical underpinnings and spiritual preparation that Lloyd-Jones felt was indispensable for an expositional preacher. He gives broad advice on preparing a message.

And for the record, this is one Wesleyan Methodist who is glad that Calvinistic Methodist was given the opportunity to share.