Friday, March 03, 2006

Tiny Banana Republics

The Mystery of Providence

On Reformation 21 There has been a series of posts on the 25th anniversary of the death of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Carl Trueman has posted a criticism of MLJ's legacy. One of the points he made is this:
MLJ's break with Stott and Packer in 1966 was a monumental disaster for British evangelicalism. Those who glorify it as some kind of Waterloo fail to see the long-term damage it did. More like the Charge of the Light Brigade. Now, don't get me wrong -- I am not now, and never could be, a member of a mixed denomination like the Anglican Church; though I am no secondary separatist and happily fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters from such. But in 1966 the kind of `separatism with no doctrine of the church' that emerged on the one side, and the woefully spineless accommodation to the Anglican mainstream on the other, proved hopelessly inadequate for maintaining solid evangelical witness in the ensuing decades. British conservative evangelicalism is only just recovering from the subsequent problems caused by the church equivalents of tiny banana republics created by certain of MLJ's children, and the confusion caused by the weird alliances made by Anglican evangelicals in the 70s and early 80s. Had Jim Packer `come out' in 1966, the main beneficiaries would have been British non-conformists, because MLJ and his closest allies would have found their power checked and, hopefully, redirected to a more constructive path. Instead, a tiny, self-referential culture of separatist evangelicalism was created which has done little more than beat a dignified (and sometimes not so dignified) retreat in the face of advancing modernity.

Though I have benefitted from his published sermons, like many others, I also have had reservations about MLJ's ministry. For example, it seems surprising that such a strong preaching ministry was unable to establish a church at Westminster Chapel that could survive after his departure. The church seemed to collapse very quickly. However, Trueman's comments take us in another direction - Lloyd-Jones' 'children' creating "tiny banana republics" which have been disastrous for British evangelicalism. This resonates with me, but I don't know why. I need to think a bit more. Would anyone else care to comment?

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