Here are two quotes from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (surely one of the most thrilling speakers to ever have been recorded: go to the ML-J recordings trust web site to see what I mean).

From: “Revival: An Historical and Theological Survey” in Puritan Papers, v.1 (this paper was read in 1959):

…We are told that must not talk about revival because we need reformation first. You cannot have revival, it is said, without prior reformation. You must be right with respect to your doctrine before you have a right to pray for revival. So we must concentrate on reformation alone. [Follows some discussion of the historical relationship between reformation and revival]

…There are people who say, “You have no right to talk about revival, you have no right to expect revival until people become Reformed in their doctrine.” The simple answer is that George Whitefield received his baptism of power in 1737, but did not become a Calvinist in his theology until 1739, when he was out in America. Revival had come to him, and through him to many others, before his doctrine became right. Exactly the same thing happened to Howell Harris in Wales. He had his great baptism of power in 1735, and it was only two or three years later that he came to see the truth doctrinally. Once more, therefore, I would use this argument. If you say that God cannot give revival until first of all we have had a reformation, you are speaking like an Arminian, you are saying that God cannot do this until we ourselves have first done something. That is to put a limit upon God. It is to lapse into Arminian terminology and thinking, and to deny the fundamental tenet of the Reformed position. If you truly believe in the sovereignty of God, you must believe that whatever the state of the church, God can send revival. As a sheer matter of fact, that is what God did in the eighteenth century. There was the church under the blight of deism and rationalism, and generally dissolute in her living. That was true of the clergy and the leaders; and among the Nonconformists there was a deadness resulting from the Arianism that had even infected a man like Isaac Watts. In the midst of such conditions God did this amazing and astonishing thing, even while some of the men He used were still confused in their doctrinal views. It is amazing that any man holding the Reformed position can be guilty of such a contradiction as to say that you cannot have revival unless you have reformation first. Such a man should never speak like that; he has no right to put in conditions. Revival is something that is wrought by God in sovereign freedom, often in spite of men.

And from: “Puritan Perplexities: Lessons from 1640-1662” in Puritan Papers, v.2. This paper was originally read in 1962

…concerned as we all are, or at any rate should be, with a true revival of religion, with a manifestation of the power of Almighty God amongst us, with a shaking and a bringing together of the “dry bones,” with a demonstration of the power of God and an authentication of His most holy wordóconcerned as we are about that, we must realize that there is nothing more urgently important than that we should examine ourselves. Some kind of reformation generally precedes revival. There are certain conditions in this matter of revival, and God has so ordained it, as history shows us clearly, that before He pours forth His Spirit upon a people, or upon an individual, He first prepares that people or that individual. It is inconceivable that great blessing should be given to a Laodicean, backsliding, or apostate Church without a preliminary work of repentance. It is vital, therefore, that we should address ourselves to this whole problem of the condition and state of the Crhuch in order that we may obey the leading and prompting of the Spirit of God and prepare ourselves for the much longed for and looked for outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

Iain Murray records in his two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones (I don’t have it with me: I believe it’s the chapter in the second volume called “The Best of Men”) that Lloyd-Jones had a habit of speaking very positively. It is rather remarkable as you read his sermons the number of things than which nothing could be more important! (To be thoroughly fair, though, that concept is often limited with something along the lines of, “in this whole matter of our ______”.) Mr. Murray also remarks that on occasion Lloyd-Jones could argue quite strongly for the impossibility of anyone holding a position, which he might himself have held, and perhaps not even that long previously. From 1959 to 1962 is certainly not a tremendously long time: and yet consider these statements:

1959

If you say that God cannot give revival until first of all we have had a reformation, you are speaking like an Arminian, you are saying that God cannot do this until we ourselves have first done something.

1962

Some kind of reformation generally precedes revival. There are certain conditions in this matter of revival, and God has so ordained it, as history shows us clearly, that before He pours forth His Spirit upon a people, or upon an individual, He first prepares that people or that individual.

1959

If you truly believe in the sovereignty of God, you must believe that whatever the state of the church, God can send revival. As a sheer matter of fact, that is what God did in the eighteenth century. There was the church under the blight of deism and rationalism, and generally dissolute in her living. That was true of the clergy and the leaders; and among the Nonconformists there was a deadness resulting from the Arianism that had even infected a man like Isaac Watts.

1962

It is inconceivable that great blessing should be given to a Laodicean, backsliding, or apostate Church without a preliminary work of repentance.

1959

It is amazing that any man holding the Reformed position can be guilty of such a contradiction as to say that you cannot have revival unless you have reformation first. Such a man should never speak like that; he has no right to put in conditions. Revival is something that is wrought by God in sovereign freedom, often in spite of men.

(Do notice that the quotes are not sets: 1962 quotes contrasts with what is above and below.)

Now this sounds like a pretty frank contradiction. From 1959 to 1962 it would definitely seem that Lloyd-Jones has altered his opinion, or forgotten it, or been seized with a new leading idea. Can there be any doubt that he has drawn different conclusions from the teaching of history? Has he not fallen into what he at one point called Arminian terminology and thinking? But let us engage in a little game: let us do all we can to be medieval and “save the appearances”. Bonus points to anyone who guesses what other medieval practice is being followed here.

Notice a few facts before hooting that you knew that the Doctor’s anti-intellectualism (Carl Trueman’s word) would result in him becoming illogical. First, he states and argues very vigorously that you cannot say that reformation must precede revival. Second, note that reformation in 1959 is conceived of in primarily (not exclusively) doctrinal terms. Third, notice that in 1962 it is Laodiceanism, backsliding, apostasy that is conceived of as an hindrance to revival. When these points are taken into consideration, it is evident that while there is undoubtedly a verbal difference in Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ statements, conceptually the difference may not be so unbridgeably vast. Doctrinal Calvinism is not a necessary antecedent condition for revival, indeed, doctrinal Calvinism would regard that view as quite non-Calvinistic. But moral and spiritual earnestness is necessary to revival: God pours water on those who are thirsty. And if we go further afield in these papers, we discover that in 1959 he spoke of two parts of revival, a stirring up of those who are in the Church (including the conversion of some who merely formal professors), and then a welter of conversions among those who are not. And if we postulate further that in 1962 his usage of the word “revival” had narrowed to that latter part, we may quite easily see that the contradiction is entirely verbal. Thus in 1959, he spoke of revival as including what in 1962 he had come to more narrowly call reformation. Now obviously, one cannot claim that reformation is a necessary antecedent condition to reformation! But even in 1959 he had stated quite vigorously that revival affects the church first of all. So it is a question of definitions: if we think of revival as God awakening a comatose church, then certainly nothing precedes it; if we think of revival as God doing a remarkable work of conversion in the community surrounding the church, then according to Lloyd-Jones in 1959 and 1962, reformation in the church does come before that. We can then distinguish some stages in the Doctor’s vocabulary: in 1959 reformation would be defined as: a return to Calvinism in the doctrinal realm, and revival is a work of God in two stages, one primarily in the church, and the other primarily in expanding the church. In 1962, though, reformation is conceived along the lines of repentance and a return to earnestness, and is thus more closely parallel to the first stage of 1959-definition revival, whereas by 1962 that word has been appropriated to the second part of that remarkable work of God. So I think that we shall not be forced to hypothesize an intervening brain fever or mini-stroke: no, Dr. Lloyd-Jones has simply become more precise in his vocabulary.

2 Responses to “Reformation, Revival and Appearances”

  1. Lauren Says:

    This is a most excellently exciting idea, that they use Arminian reasoning who would claim post-conversion doctrinal corrections are necessary for true salvation. Poof and pooh bah.

  2. py3ak Says:

    Ah, indeed. We must apply the thing we are saying to the thing we are saying and the fact that we are saying it.

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