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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Gathering of the Mob at Lausanne

Interesting to see in the December 2010 edition of Southern Cross (Sydney Episcopalian Newspaper) that Bishop Glenn Davies returned from the Lausanne Conference on Evangelism with some pluses and minuses for what he observed. His positive mark for the conference was the broad commitment to evangelism. His negatives were not identified.

The Lausanne Conference is a periodic event having the stamp of Dr Billy Graham. Dr Graham had approached Dr Lloyd-Jones around the middle of last century for his involvement in a similar type conference in Rome but Dr Lloyd-Jones declined. In considering the later Lausanne conferences it is difficult to see what benefit it provides other than as an opportunity to 'back-slap' and encourage one another in the great commission we ought to be doing anyway compelled by love for our Lord Jesus Christ, to see God glorified and a concern for the lost.

Reading Part 2 of Iain Murray's autobiography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones has given me some insight into the good doctor's concerns about an aspect of Dr Billy Graham's ministry and aspirations for the Church in the 20th Century. By and large the Church was on the slide in that century and it was a time when Evangelicals were failing on many fronts to the extent that the Church lost its impact and influence of society generally (I posted blogs a little while back citing - "The Decline of Evangelicalism in Nineteenth-Century England" by R. J. Sheehan in Issue 278, November 1986, of The Banner of Truth). Obviously the rot had set in during the 19th Century and it continued to eat away in the following century.

The great concern for Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the strong push toward ecumenism in the United Kingdom and, one after another, Evangelicals were being seduced into embracing Liberals for the cause of unity at the expense of the authority of the Scripture. Such an outcome was to show the soft underbelly of those who professed to be Evangelical and, in effect, it showed they were not truly Evangelical. The same situation applies today and I suspect what Bishop Glenn Davies was reluctant to comment upon has its nexus in the same bondage of Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals that Martyn Lloyd-Jones had concerns about last century.

That said, the Sydney Episcopalian Diocese is not without question as to what side of the fence it rests. I am certain Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones would have problems with the Diocese based on his address to the Westminster Fraternal at Welwyn on 19 June 1963. Quoting Haggai Ch 1, Dr Lloyd-Jones raised a series of issues for the Church and I cite them from point 5 to quantify my charge:

"(5) The blatant unbelief in the official churches is coming into the open. And there is evidence of a subtle change of emphasis in evangelical thinking — an acceptance of looser views of the early chapters of Genesis and of miracles, a new atmosphere in book-reviewing, a disinterest in doctrine and a tendency to gloat in scholarship. (6) There is the whole moral condition of the country. There is need of prophetic statement but we seem to be living in our 'cieled houses' [sic]. (7) There is an appalling need of evangelical preaching. Evangelicalism is concentrated in the Greater London area. We forget the appalling conditions that prevail in the great bulk of the country.

This is a great challenge and unique opportunity. It is we alone who can give the message. But we seem to be ineffective and silent. . . Our Statements are tepid and harmless. Evangelicals in all the major denominations are in the same position
." (see page 413 of the autobiography)

Because of the current failure of Moore Theological College (the Diocesan school of thought) to uphold the Word of God on origins it places itself and the Diocese in the same camp as the wilting band of so-called Evangelicals of the 19th and 20th Centuries which Dr Lloyd-Jones had concerns about.

Rev Michael Jensen counts regard for integrity of God's Word in Genesis Ch 1 (and, by extension, Exodus 20:11 and 31:17-18) as a secondary issue and is thus prepared to allow Jesus Christ, Creator, to be robbed of his glory in creation. Given that Bishop Glenn Davies is of the same school of thought he ought not be pointing out the splinter in the eye of non-Evangelicals at the Lausanne Conference without taking the plank out of his own.

It remains for me to find the plank resident in my own eye.

Sam Drucker


Critias said...

I wonder what criterion young Jensen uses to say that some parts of the Bible need attract less attention than others. I don't pick it up from Paul, who declared that ALL scripture is good for teaching; ALL!

So, what is Mick saying? Well, he's saying this: that God didn't need to reveal his creative action propositionally, or, perhaps, he couldn't, so part of the Bible is, what was the Holy Spirit thinking!

He's saying that God doesn't need to indentify the point and place of connection between his will, his word, his Son, and his creation; which is what the creation account does.

Added to that, he's saying that the very act that God uses throughout the scriptures to identify his 'credential' as our God, doesn't make a real point. This is one of God's acts where he shows us who he is; not tell us, not kid us, not suggest by telling us what didn't happen, but SHOWS us.

Thanks Michael, but do I listen to you or should I be obedient to the scriptures?

sam drucker said...

When addressing the crisis of ecumenism confronting Evangelicals last century Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones considered the spectre of schism and asserted that people who do not believe the essentials of the faith cannot be guilty of schism. He went on and said:

'They are not in the church. If you don't believe a certain irreducible minimum, you cannot be a Christian, and you are not in the church. Have we reached a time when one must not say a thing like that? Have evangelicals so changed that we no longer make an assertion like that?'

'irreducible minimum hmm! Now that is something worth unpackaging in today's climate.

Sam Drucker