Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eph.5:25

Reflecting on what J. J. Murray and I. H. Murray affirmed, I searched the Doctor’s published sermons on Eph.4 where Paul deals with the doctrine of the church, especially her unity.  I was disappointed not to find any reference there to Christ dying for the church in that chapter.  I then read the entire letter of Paul to the Ephesians and there discovered that he dealt with the issue of the atonement within the context of Christian marriage.  The atonement was not his major focus in these expositions, however; his focus was on the Christian understanding of marriage.  This was positioned within the immediate context of the Christian’s responsibilities as a wife, husband, child and employee.[1]  Even when dealing with a subject as practical as marriage, Paul cannot exclude the consideration of doctrine, especially the doctrine of salvation.
Among the very first things he preaches on Eph.5:25-33 is his understanding of the love of God.  He sees it both in particularistic terms and in its universalistic sense.  He writes, “It is the same sort of love wherewith Christ loved the church; indeed, wherewith God loved the world.”[2]  He draws attention to the fact that this is the same Greek root that is used for God’s love (αγαπαω) both in Jn 3:16 and in Eph.5:25.  The love with which Christ loved the church is identical to the love with which God loved the world.  DML-J demonstrates particularism and universalism in his choice of words.  The love with which God loved the world is a love that loved the ugly, the vile, the ungodly, the sinful, the weak, the guilty and condemned.  It was a love that moved outward to another.  This is not a sentimental love, but a love that acted for the good of another/others; it was a love that gave. 
So to teach how husbands are to love their wives, Paul uses the illustration of how Christ loved the church – he gave and gave and gave again.  Christ’s love is a giving love, an outgoing love, a redemptive love.  His love has a particular object – the church.  Christ had already loved the church and had given Himself for her.  God loved the world and gave His only begotten Son for it, indicating that it was precisely the same love each time.  What He did for the world, He did also for the church, and vice versa.  Personalising what He did for the church by giving Himself for her salvation, DML-J proceeds to apply this to the individual, adding, “[Y]es but also ‘for me’, for every one of us as individuals.”[3]  “Every one of us as individuals” is included in Christ’s atoning work on Calvary. 
Bearing in mind that the context here is Christian marriage and the character and quality of the love that a husband ought to show to his wife, DML-J reiterates what he describes as “supreme doctrine ... no higher doctrine.”  A Christian husband is to love his wife sacrificially and without consideration for himself or his welfare.  His love for her is to be exclusive of all others, particular.  I remember hearing Dr John MacArthur[4] translating 1 Tim.3:2 on the qualifications of an elder, that he should be “a one woman man,” more familiarly, “the husband of one wife.”  The relationship is to be exclusive.  DML-J says, “- all that the Lord Jesus Christ did, he did for the church.”  There is no dispute here on either side of the soteriological debate, and DML-J is accurately reflecting what the great apostle Paul had written.  He continues, “He died for the church; He died for nobody else.”[5] 
These are clear and strong words from the Doctor, and, out of their context, they spell out an equally clear particularist understanding of the atonement.  But again his purpose in writing this is to demonstrate from the highest possible source the quality of love with which husbands ought to love their wives.  It is to be a particular love that is focused on their chosen spouses.  Christian men are to choose their love, and then to love their choice – exclusively.  That there is a particularity in God’s and Christ’s love is not disputed, and Paul brings this out here.  By extension, there is also to be a particular love of a husband for his wife.  Election undergirds what the apostle is writing, and election has to do with prior choice. 
It is important to note that when DML-J speaks about Christ dying for the church, he nowhere denies that Christ died only for the church, although the accompanying phrase, “nobody else,” in this sermon context has the potential to point in that direction.  Why, then, did he use this form of words here?  It was to teach these Ephesians, and therefore us, the exclusivity and particularity of marriage love. 
He uses this term in the sense that those whom Christ loved with this particular love and for whom He died effectually received incalculable benefits from that atoning death – they had their sins and guilt atoned for.  Wives also receive great benefits from being loved in that way by their husbands.   
This is not to deny that DML-J believed exclusively in an atonement that benefitted only the elect.  It is the quality of the divine love that is emphasised here.  Husbands are to show quality love to their wives – that’s the Doctor’s focus in these sermons.
But, and returning more directly to the atonement, DML-J had a great place in his evangelist’s heart those who made up the rest of mankind.  He goes on to teach that Christ also had a real, compassionate love for all men, and for these He died sufficiently and made atonement for their sins too.  To enter into the benefits of that atonement, they had to trust the Saviour.  For DML-J, Christ’s death was not a mere commercial transaction, a mere pecuniary act on His part; rather it was essentially forensic in character because it dealt with personal debt and guilt; pecuniary transaction dealt only with the impersonal.  In fact, in the same paragraph, DML-J uses the Lombardian paradigm to explain what he meant by these particularistic remarks.  Let him speak for himself.
His death, as Calvin and other expositors remind us, because it was eternal and because He is the Son of God, is sufficient for the whole world; but it is efficient only for the church. His purpose in dying was to redeem the church. He gave Himself for the church, for all who belong to her when she will be complete and perfect and entire. All was known to God from eternity, and the Son came, and gave Himself for the church.[6]
It was in this sense, and in this sense alone, that “He died for nobody else.”  Paul here safeguards the proper breadth of the Gospel, and DML-J does likewise.  Selective reading of the DML-J corpus is natural to dogma-driven theologians but it is essentially disingenuous and unjust for them to do so.  To infer from this that he believed about the atonement what Owen believed is quite erroneous, if not mischievous.  DML-J’s soteriology is balanced and gives due weight to the particular and universal emphases that are found in the actual text with which he is dealing.  This demonstrates his methodology when expounding the text of Scripture. He sticks to his text and says all it has to say.  And he does this with every text he handles, thus bringing out the due emphasis of that text in proper biblical balance.  It is interesting that J. J. Murray and I. H. Murray could only identify his exposition of two passages that they say indicate that DML-J taught limited atonement, and even this is open to question.  A careful reading of his sermons will demonstrate otherwise.  Great care must always be taken that we do not read into another man’s beliefs what we would wish was there, and isn’t.
It is unfortunate that DML-J went beyond what was written when he made this statement, “He died for nobody else,” a practice against which he constantly warned and a principle which at this point he contravened.  It is at least arguable that he allowed his mind to run off on a tangent, preaching as he did from the scantiest of notes; this does happen to preachers at times, especially those who speak in an extempore manner.  This is the only place that I know of where he has made such an extreme and uncharacteristic statement on the death of Christ, despite DML-J's ubiquitous universalism.[7]
As is well known, one or even two swallows do not make a summer, though the Murray's seem to think they do.  They have tried, unsuccessfully, to create an uncharacteristic DML-J position on the atonement in a way not dissimilar to what Pharaoh did to the Hebrews in Egypt where they were expected to make clay bricks without straw.[8]  The Murray's may have a little bit of clay, but they have no straw and they didn't end up with any bricks, either!
Further, it is of particular note that DML-J sees our salvation as something that God does for us and as something that actually happens to us.  It is experiential in character and is described in this sermon in terms of our being “rescued” and “redeemed.”[9]  Had it not been for the sufficiency of Christ’s death for all and its efficiency for the church, we would still be in our sins.  Once the sinner trusts in Christ’s finished work on Calvary, he experiences God’s gracious salvation.  Because election and predestination[10] are not experiential in nature, it is not these that bring the sinner into possession of the benefits of the redemption purchased by Christ; it is the requirement that God has for faith in Christ that does it.  DML-J believes that it was the “precious blood” of Christ that purchased redemption for the world, but it does not become the possession of the elect automatically.  The salvific benefits of Christ’s blood have to be applied by the Holy Spirit and appropriated by the sinner by faith, which is the conduit for receiving it. 
Given that the vast majority of DML-J material on the atonement points in the universalistic direction, this very rare statement in fact proves the thesis I am presenting, and is the exception that proves the rule.  
Dr Alan C. Clifford, who knew the Doctor quite well for no less than eighteen years, explained why he thought DML-J used this uncharacteristic language (“He died for nobody else.”) in his exposition of Eph.5:25 which was delivered in 1959/1960.  At this time the high orthodox Banner of Truth Trust was just being set up, and DML-J was most keen to avoid any rifts with this new Reformed movement.  In an email to me, Clifford suspects that such caution drove him at this juncture.  “Whatever he published on paper, it remains true that he was 'uncomfortable' with LA [limited atonement]. In short, he didn't really believe it.[11]
So, the two passages alleged by J. J. Murray and I. H. Murray to support the view that DML-J believed and preached limited atonement have been found to prove nothing of the sort.  Taken out of context, it could be argued that this is what he believes and teaches.  But kept firmly within the context of his preaching and of these sermons, it has been shown that there was a breadth and width in DML-J’s soteriology that neither of these men would embrace.  Hence, it is pushing language much too far to claim that they and DML-J are on the same side of this controversy.

[1]    Eph.5:22-6:9.
[2]    Selection #107.
[3]    1974:145.
[4]    The meeting was held in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the early 1990s.
[5]    Ibid.
[6]    1974:145, 146.
[7]    Dr Alan C. Clifford in an email dated 17 August 2013.
[8]    Ex.5:18.
[9]    1974:146.
[10]  These undergird and guarantee the success of the Gospel in the world.
[11]  Clifford, dated 27th July 2013.

Monday, 26 August 2013

THE BARTHOLOMEW LEGACY - Remembering the Martyrs

Remembering the Martyrs

But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
(Galatians 4: 29)

Dr Alan C. Clifford

No, this is not about Bartholomew’s maps, nor about Barts Hospital in London. Neither can we aim to provide a biblical character study about the Apostle Bartholomew. Indeed, nothing at all is said about him in the New Testament apart from listing him among the apostles. Yet, during the early twentieth century, his name was known outside the circles of cartographers, tourists and medics. 

One can imagine a scenario somewhere in the West of England in 1923, where a Sunday school teacher tried to introduce his or her pupils to the twelve apostles. On declaring that the Bible tells us absolutely nothing about Bartholomew, an observant lad interjected with “I saw Saint Bartholomew a few days ago!” “Oh where?” To which the lad replied to the startled teacher, “Saint Bartholomew came through with the Cheltenham Flyer express” [the GWR’s new prestige train]. Our young train-spotting scholar then added excitedly, “I got the number - 2915!” 

Yes, we know more about G. J. Churchward’s famous Great Western Railway 2-cylinder, 4-6-0 Saint Class steam locomotives than we know for sure about the ‘saint’ himself. (Incidentally, 2914 was Saint Augustine and 2917 was Saint Bernard, not to ignore that 2923, 2913, 2920 and 2927 were Saints George, Andrew, David and Patrick respectively). Sadly, the superstition of ‘patron saints’ survives long after the last of these engines were scrapped in 1953. For the record (with some thematic link to our subject), Saint class 2903 Lady of Lyons (built in 1907) is credited with an unconfirmed 120 mph on a trial run. (One wonders if the current rebuild of a Saint at the GWR centre at Didcot might lead to a challenge to Mallard’s 1938 world speed record for steam of 126 mph). Whether or not the actual ‘Lady of Lyons’ was a saint (unlike 2904 Lady Godiva), the city of Lyons is associated with early persecution of Christians (177 AD) and later martyrdoms of Huguenots (1553, 1572).  

Apart from legends about his mission to India and Armenia, and his eventual horrific martyrdom (it is said he was flayed alive before being beheaded, miraculous healing properties being later claimed for his skin, hence the link with medicine), nothing is known for sure about the Apostle Bartholomew. Not to forget that imperial Rome was sacked by Alaric the Goth on 24 August 410, the medieval Roman Church appointed this calendar day for the Festival of St Bartholomew. Ironically, it was the later persecuting activities of the Roman Catholic Church that associated St Bartholomew with a most appalling atrocity that bears his name.


During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, following the Protestant Reformation, two outrages were committed against good and faithful Christian people on 24 August. The first - in 1572 - was against French Huguenots (Reformed Christians, Calvinists), thousands of whom were butchered by Roman Catholics in Paris and beyond. This terrible event is known as the St Bartholomew Massacre. Queen Elizabeth I went white as she heard the news. 
The second - in 1662 - was against English Puritans or Nonconformists (Reformed Christians, Calvinists), when around 2,000 godly pastors were ejected from their churches by the then recently-restored Church of England. Queen Elizabeth’s church (in the hands of ‘secret Catholic’ King Charles II) repeated the intolerance of the Pope’s church. Both atrocities led to much suffering and injustice.

These two expressions of ‘politically-correct’ religious tyranny (Roman Catholic and Anglican) reveal the darker side of Christian history. In the long battle between the Light and darkness, it has always been ‘right forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne’. Yet, in His sovereign wisdom and providence, Almighty God uses such atrocities to promote His everlasting kingdom, as surely as the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son brought salvation to the world.  


First, the facts:

1. The spread of the Reformation in France saw numerous conversions among the nobility as well as the general population. Among John Calvin’s numerous correspondents was Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France.

2. After a decade of religious war (following the massacre of a Reformed congregation near Vassy by soldiers of the Catholic Duke of Guise), a peace-promoting marriage between the Protestant Henry of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France) and Margaret of Valois, sister of King Charles IX took place at Notre-Dame, Paris on 18 August 1572.

3. The Protestant aristocracy were invited for the occasion, including Admiral Coligny. Much admired by the young Charles IX, he proposed policies which advanced the interests of both the French monarchy and the French Reformed Church.

4. Jealous and fearful of this influence, the Duke of Guise and the queen mother Catherine de Medici hired an assassin to kill Coligny. An attempt while the Protestant leader was walking the streets of Paris failed, only leaving him wounded. Gravely concerned, Charles IX promised an investigation and punishment for the plotters.

5. The king’s sympathy created panic among the Catholics, who did all they could to counter Coligny’s influence. Catherine, the Duke and Henri de Anjou (later Henri III) managed - after prolonged psychological pressure - to persuade the feeble-minded monarch that Coligny was really a threat to royal power. On Saturday evening, 23 August, confused Charles lost his temper: “If you want to kill Coligny, I agree, but then kill all the other Huguenots, so that no one will be able to blame me on account of his death!”

6. At 3 am, the Duke and his men surprised and assassinated Admiral Coligny at his lodging. Mortally wounded, he was thrown from his window, his head being kicked on the ground by the Duke. All the other Protestant leaders were killed by the royal guard. Sadly, the young Henry of Navarre instantly professed to be a Catholic to avoid death. While returning to the Reformed party soon afterwards (his evangelical convictions yet doubtful), this was sadly a ‘conversion’ he repeated in later years to gain the crown of France. 

7. Urged on by priests and nuns, the Paris mob attacked Huguenots in their homes for three consecutive days. In the ensuing horror, it is estimated that at least ten thousand lost their lives in the city. The streets flowed with blood and dead bodies were thrown into the Seine. Urged on by Charles and Catherine, the atrocity spread to the provinces. The total number of victims is hard to estimate accurately - 30, 000 might be a conservative figure. It should be said that the Bishop of Lisieux forbad such killing in his diocese. But he was a rare exception.

Second, who were the guilty?

Charles IX surely. He was no match for all the intrigue surrounding him. Yet clearly overwhelmed with remorse, this weak individual suffered acutely. Two years later he died in agony, seeing blood everywhere. Refusing to see his mother at his death bed, he found a measure of comfort through his faithful Huguenot nurse. Catherine herself, a political schemer, had been married to an unfaithful Henri II. An Italian Catholic, and disciple of Machiavelli, she ruthlessly retained her influence. She hated Henri of Navarre and the Protestants, yet died unhappy and almost unnoticed in 1589. Providing the real dynamic behind the Bartholomew massacre, the Duke of Guise was a fanatical Catholic. His partner in the crime, Henri de Anjou, later Henri III, eventually turned against the Duke, having him assassinated at Blois in 1587. Then there’s the Paris mob. Hating their Protestant neighbours for their godly and prosperous life-style, they were stirred up by fanatical priests to kill and plunder. With all restraint gone, the basest human instincts took over.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy was the chief culprit in the atrocity. Always in favour of persecution, the Vatican viewed religious toleration as an unpardonable sin. Pope Pius V had written accordingly to King Charles IX in 1569:

Your majesty must consider as certain that this (namely the restoration of public order) will never take place, as long as the whole kingdom will not accept unanimously and keep faithfully the one and same Catholic religion. In order to reach that goal with God’s help, it is necessary that Your Majesty act without mercy against God’s enemies, his own rebellious subjects, and punish them with the rightful pains and torments stated by the law (cited in Jules M. Nicole, ‘Black Bartholomew’, Christian Graduate, December 1972 (25: 4), 111).

Although Pope Pius V had died by the time of the Bartholomew massacre, his successor Gregory XIII welcomed news of the event, ordering Te Deums to be sung in all the churches. He also had an infamous medal struck to commemorate the Church‘s triumph over ‘heresy’. 

Naturally, King Philip II of Spain rejoiced that Protestantism had been thus suppressed in France. His own scheme to humble Queen Elizabeth I and Protestant England found eventual fruition in the Spanish Armada of 1588, a scheme which, in the merciful providence of Almighty God, ended in ruin.

Not all Catholic princes rejoiced. The Emperor Maximilian II, Charles IX’s father-in-law expressed deep sorrow over the cruelty displayed. Even Charles’ wife, daughter of the emperor, the devoutly-Catholic Elizabeth of Austria pleaded tearfully with her husband that some Protestants who had taken refuge in her room might be spared. The liberal and tolerant Chancellor of France, Michel de l’Hospital was so overwhelmed with grief that he died shortly after the massacre.

Third, what effect did the massacre have on the Lord’s Reformed people in France?

Having observed that over many years the French Reformed churches had provided ‘a vast multitude of most zealous and faithful martyrs, far more in number and quality of sufferers for the Gospel, than in any one of the Reformed Christian nations in Europe’, the English Presbyterian historian of the Huguenots, John Quick (1636-1706) provides a judicious and moving assessment of the aftermath:

The churches after the Parisian massacre were at a stand. That deluge of Protestant blood, which was then shed had exhausted their best spirits. Multitudes were frighted out of their native land, ... and others were frighted out of their religion. In such a dreadful hurricane as that was, no wonder if some leaves, unripe fruit, and rotten withered branches fell to the earth, and were lost irrecoverably. However, a remnant escaped, and, which was no less than a miracle, generally the ministers, God reserving them to gather in another harvest. And the churches in many places revived. God staying the rough wind in the day of His east wind, and giving them a breathing time, a little reviving under their hard bondage (Synodicon in Gallia Reformata, 1692, i, p. lx).

John Quick goes on to outline the sad effects of Henri of Navarre’s ‘Paris is worth a mass’ apostasy by which he obtained the throne of France as Henri IV in 1593 . Yet never entirely forgetting his former Protestant friends, he granted them the tolerant provisions of the Edict of Nantes in April 1598. In the decades that followed, the Reformed churches of France flourished until further persecution descended on them during the reign of King Louis XIV. However, we may conclude that this history assures us beyond all doubt the truth of our Saviour’s words that, despite all the persecution of all the ages, ‘the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church’ (see Matt. 16: 18), the true Church of the Reformation and all who faithfully profess the pure truth of the everlasting Gospel.


Following the end of the Cromwellian era, pent up resentment and revenge burst on the heads of the Puritans. Their attempts to complete the English Reformation proved a disappointment. The restoration of Church and Monarchy prompted appallingly brutal persecution. The regicides were arrested and disembowelled. The Act of Uniformity, coming into force on St Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August 1662, drove around two-thousand puritan clergy from their livings. Many were to experience imprisonment. The day was known as ‘Black Bartholomew’. Clearly the date was deliberately chosen, an intimidating reminder of the French Bartholomew massacre ninety years earlier. J. C. Ryle said of the Act of Uniformity:

Taking all things into consideration, a more impolitic and disgraceful deed never disfigured the annals of a Protestant Church. ... To show the spirit of the ruling party in the Church, they actually added to the number of apocryphal lessons in the Prayer Book calendar at this time. They made it a matter of congratulation among themselves that they had thrust out the Puritans, and got in Bel and the Dragon (‘Richard Baxter’ in Light from Old Times, 1890, 1902 rep. 316-7).

Led by Richard Baxter and others, the Presbyterians made up around two-thirds of this godly company. They were the ‘cheated party’. Being honourable monarchists and moderate revolutionaries did not shield them from the wrath of King and Bishop. They had the misfortune to trust the word of a King who had few of his father’s virtues but several of his vices. Having promised ‘liberty to tender consciences’ at Breda in 1660, Charles soon forgot such seeming magnanimity by the time he reached London. However, with the Restoration, the fruits of the Puritan Revolution were not entirely lost. The new monarchy was never to have the power of the old. The Star Chamber and the High Commission were never revived. Taxation was never again levied without parliamentary consent. 

If England was safe from anarchy, she was not secure from the relentless intrigue of the Roman Catholic Church. While Puritans suffered for nearly thirty years, England’s Protestantism remained threatened. However, even the Cavalier Parliament was too strongly Protestant for King Charles II whose sympathies for popery were known. Indeed, in 1670, the King entered into a treaty with Louis XIV of France to curb the aspirations of the Dutch Calvinist, William of Orange. 

Unknown to Charles’ protestant ministers, the secret clause of the shameful Treaty of Dover (1670) was signed by the Catholic members of the Cabal, Lords Arlington and Clifford. Louis hereby promised to supply Charles with French troops and money if, at an opportune time, Charles would declare himself a Roman Catholic. The article’s chilling words actually read: ‘The King of Great Britain being convinced of the truth of the Catholic Faith, is determined to declare himself a soon as the welfare of his realm will permit.’


If Englishmen had retreated from the anarchy and repression of the revolutionary era, they were not about to forget the danger of Romanism. Parliament maintained the necessity of a protestant church and a protestant monarchy. Roman Catholic influence in the persons of Charles II and James II - the sons of Henrietta Maria - was firmly checked. After the failure of the ill-fated Monmouth rebellion of 1685, it was the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 that finally ensured a protestant constitution and succession when William and Mary ascended the throne. Constitutional monarchy thus replaced Stuart absolutism. Protestant safeguards were enshrined in the Bill of Rights (1689) and later in the Act of Settlement (1701). With the passing of the Toleration Act (1689), persecuted Nonconformists became legally-worshipping Protestant Dissenters. 

With the aid of Huguenot regiments formed from refugees driven out of France at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), William of Orange finally rescued this country from the popish menace when he defeated James II at the battle of the Boyne in 1690. During the eighteenth century, England’s Protestantism was reinforced by the Methodist Revival. Until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 and the restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales in 1850 (after which Cardinal Manning effectively declared war on protestant England), one may say that the zealous Protestantism of Puritan England continued to exert its liberating power.

Three centuries later, in an age of ecumenical and multi-faith apostasy, we must ensure by God's grace that the essential protestant legacy of the puritan period is maintained. We dare not imagine that the Church of Rome has changed: as surely as she meddled in British politics in the seventeenth century, so she is active in the heart of Europe today.  In view of the UK visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, we cannot deny that these dark forces are still at work. Let us never forget the significance of 24 August. May all who name Christ as Lord and Saviour (and others who value religious liberty) be careful to honour His godly servants of the Reformation era, determined still to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).


Dr Edmund Calamy (1671-1732) published An Abridgement of Mr Baxter’s History of His Life and Times with An account of the Ministers...who were Ejected after the Restoration of King Charles II (1702). Integral with his ministry, Calamy clearly felt called of God to transmit the heroic faith of Baxter and his brethren: “To let the Memory of these Men Dye is injurious to Posterity”. His Abridgement involved great courage, and it provoked a storm. At a time of continuing Anglican-inspired hostility to the heirs of the Puritans, this inspiring material marked out Edmund Calamy as ‘the Champion of Nonconformity’.

Apart from modest attention from nonconformist scholars, Dr Calamy is a largely unsung hero of a depressing period in English church history. While he never had the impact of his hero Richard Baxter (and how many could claim that until George Whitefield appeared in 1735?), Calamy shared most of Baxter’s convictions, a good deal of his piety and an equally-strong pastoral and evangelistic commitment. In addition, besides documenting the sacrifice of the ejected ministers of 1662, he perhaps more than any other preacher and theologian transmitted Baxter’s wonderful legacy to the eighteenth century and beyond.