Catherwood, Christopher. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 160 pp. $17.99.
History & Biography
Christopher Catherwood, grandson to the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones, has written an accessible and introductory biography of Lloyd-Jones. Catherwood’s unique view, as both an intimate of Lloyd-Jones and an academic, gives the reader an inside look into Lloyd-Jones’ life and ministry. Though at times overly protective of his grandfather’s legacy, Catherwood’s book overall is well worth the read. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, known as The Doctor, is someone worth studying today. His love of Scripture, preaching and, most of all, of Jesus Christ make him a pastor worth learning from and emulating.
The book’s chapters are divided up by both moments of significance in The Doctor’s life as well as by important theological assertions made by Lloyd-Jones during his life. Chapter one gives an overview of the importance of Lloyd-Jones’ ministry and theology; chapter two and three look at how he entered into prominence both in England and around the world; chapters four and five—probably the most important chapters of the book—cover Lloyd-Jones’ thoughts on preaching, the Holy Spirit, and the centrality of Scripture; chapter six covers the “Controversy of 1966” and Lloyd-Jones’ fight for evangelical unity over denominational loyalty; chapter seven explores both The Doctor’s own family and his theology on family; chapter eight looks at the church community Lloyd-Jones cultivated; and chapters nine and ten seek to tie up loose historical ends and place him in his proper historical place. If you are looking for an overview and introduction to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, this is probably the best one out there.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
This introduction to Martyn Lloyd-Jones has the great potential to bless you as a leader. Below are four things this book did for me, and I think could very well do for any church leader.
First, this book encouraged me to be a better preacher. Lloyd-Jones called preaching “logic on fire.” You get the sense throughout this biography that Lloyd-Jones cared deeply not only about correct biblical exegesis but also that preachers convey a passion for what they are preaching. No fan of gimmicks, Lloyd-Jones wanted preachers to be filled with truth and passion all fueled by the Holy Spirit. I want to be that kind of preacher.
This book inspired me to be a more rigorous biblical thinker. Throughout the book, Catherwood explicitly and implicitly conveys how much The Doctor cared about good biblical thinking. He demanded good thinking of those who disagreed with him; he wanted folks to show how through Scripture he was wrong. You also see in his preaching and writing, someone who cares deeply about his ideas coming from Scripture, not himself. I want to be that kind of biblical thinker.
This book made me hungry for old books. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a contemporary, he died in 1981, but could have easily been in ministry during the Puritan-golden-age of the 18th century. The Doctor loved the puritans and his preaching and theology finds its roots in the theology of John Owens and others. He shows the winsomeness of puritan theology. I want to be rooted like The Doctor.
Finally, and most importantly, this book propelled me into the writing work of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. After reading this biography, I bought 4 of his most famous works. They have not disappointed. He is a clear writer, thoroughly biblical, and feeds this pastor’s soul. If you’re looking for a place to find spiritual nourishment, this biography will give you a map to such a place.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones died in 1981 but his faithful leadership, preaching ministry and fidelity to Jesus is still reverberating around the world. This biography will open up his world to you. It is sure to bless and encourage you.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
If you’re looking for a place to find spiritual nourishment, this biography will give you a map to such a place; It is sure to bless and encourage you.