Saturday, 30 March 2013

Was Lloyd-Jones an Amyraldian?

This post focuses on the preaching ministry of one of British evangelicalism’s greatest twentieth century preachers, Dr David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981).  It is conducted on the understanding that his commitment to the historic reformed faith is not being questioned, which means that he embraces the biblical doctrines of election and predestination.  Most Christians in the West know of the Doctor’s reformed credentials, and he is accepted as a bona fide reformed minister.  Indeed, he designates his position as “conservative evangelical. 

This post refines its focus to what is not as well known of his theological position, yet is a position that is evident in all his published evangelistic sermons.  DML-J[1] self-designates as a man of prayer and an evangelist.  Evangelism played a major role in his fifty-four years of preaching ministry.  Assumptions have been made as to the particular theology that he held, but these assumptions do not appear to be well grounded.  That DML-J believed and preached the doctrines surrounding the divine sovereignty is all things, especially in salvation, is beyond question.  Salvation is of the Lord, he teaches frequently.  He stresses the divine initiative in salvation, and directs the attention of his hearers to Christ and to Christ alone.

What is less well known of DML-J’s theology is what he believed about salvation, or as the theologians describe it, soteriology.  His soteriology is mis-understood and at times mis-represented by those who claim his as their mentor and they as his disciples.  This  mis-understanding takes the shape of a high Calvinist position in which, because he believes in the divine sovereignty in salvation, he inevitably believed in ‘limited atonement,’ as perceived by the high orthodox.  

DML-J believed that the atonement was limited in its saving effectiveness to those who believe the Gospel and trust Christ as Lord and Saviour, the elect.  In parallel with this clearly revealed Scriptural doctrine he also believed that, as revealed in Scripture, there is a universal aspect to the atonement which means that the Gospel may, indeed must, be preached to all men everywhere in the assurance that there is saving blessings to be had to any and to all who turn from their sins and trust the Saviour.  It is effective for these because it is offered to all men everywhere.  The design of God in the atonement was to make salvation available to the human race, a salvation that is sufficient to save all of humanity, and simultaneously to make that same salvation effective in the lives of those who trust Christ alone.  Provision has been made for the reconciliation of the whole world, and out of that world the elect will infallibly be saved.

As one who has been an avid reader and student of DML-J for some forty years, I have grown in my admiration for the man and his message.  This brings its own challenges because the author must be aware of personal bias in favour of the subject under discussion.  Of course, this is not a biography of DML-J, so the dangers of this happening are lessened and the temptation to write a hagiography are reduced; however, given the subject matter of this study and the author’s commitment to the biblical Gospel, the opposite danger of denigration is thereby omitted.  So an attempt will be made to present an objective a view as possible of the subject of this work.

[1]   Throughout this book, the abbreviation, DML-J, will be used for convenience when referring to Dr
    D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.