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Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, reviewed by R. T. Kendall

Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Media Gratiae, 2015). Matthew Robinson, director.  3 disc DVD set with 5 postcard prints and cloth-bound book (128 pages).

Logic on Fire is a documentary film about the life and ministry of the greatest preacher of the twentieth century, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I hope that all Christians, especially ministers, will view it. He was known by all as “the Doctor” because he was a physician before he entered the ministry. Following G. Campbell Morgan, he became the minister of Westminster Chapel (1938-1968). His close relationship with the renowned Lord Horder, the king’s physician, is given space in the film; it is essential to understanding the Doctor. Having learned to diagnose patients by going “from the general to the particular”– ruling out what would be a false diagnosis or illness, Dr. Lloyd-Jones approached Scripture in much the same way; he ruled out what a text could not mean and came to understand what it does mean. He became possibly the greatest Bible expositor of all time.

What struck me most about watching this film – which gripped me from the start – is how they emphasized the importance and urgency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the main reason every person under the sun should view it. If viewers are unconverted or unconcerned about their souls and final destiny before they watch this they will be changed afterwards. For the Doctor was chiefly an evangelist. One of the most striking statements in this video was made by Christopher Catherwood, one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s grandsons, explaining that the Doctor’s ministry was not only “not seeker friendly”; it was in fact “seeker unfriendly”. Really? Yes, because an unsaved person should be uncomfortable not comfortable in church! If people would leave in anger after hearing the Doctor he would observe that it is “a good sign” that God is dealing with them. People like this usually return sooner or later in tears and repentance.

Therefore the great benefit of watching his video is that one will gain a fresh grasp of the Gospel and, almost certainly, imbibe a lot of good theology without realizing it. This video has the potential of changing lives like the Doctor’s books have done.

One of the best things about this video is that the viewer can get a glimpse of Martyn Lloyd-Jones the man. We are taken through his medical training, we see him in his first pastorate in Wales and then what it was like at Westminster Chapel during World War II. It is not long before you realize that the Doctor had an extraordinary mind, the kind that perhaps comes along once in a century. The video contains several interviews with people, some of whom knew him. One must admit that the doctor was a bit eccentric. You never saw him except in a three-piece suit, even when he went to the beach with his family! Andrew Davies noted that many preachers tried to imitate his ways and some even wore a suit when going to the beach!

Much space is rightly given to Iain Murray, the doctor’s biographer. I played and replayed some of his cogent comments. And yet the most heart-warming part of the documentary is interviews with his two daughters Elizabeth Catherwood and Ann Beatt. I could go on listening to them for hours. You become immediately aware also of the rare quality of their minds. Each one of the six grandchildren is interviewed. I was moved by his grandson Jonathan Catherwood; he recounts how the Doctor was so patient with him during his teenage years when he was off the rails. From Jonathan we also learn that the Doctor loved to watch wrestling, a fact that used to shock some of the more proper saints at Westminster Chapel!

The doctor was no cessationist.

These things said, I have to report that this video is an incomplete picture of the Doctor. Whereas he would love everything in it, he would be most unhappy with what is not in it. He always called himself “a Calvinistic Methodist”, which the film notes. But by this he meant a strong adherence to the sovereignty of God and stressing the immediate and direct witness of the Holy Spirit. Although this film faithfully demonstrates the doctor’s unashamed Calvinism, it glosses over his teaching on the Holy Spirit – the theological issue nearest to his heart. For example, Pentecostals and Charismatics in Britain always knew that the Doctor was their true friend. But you would never know it by watching this film. It would seem that those with a cessationist teaching controlled this documentary. Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders in Britain were not interviewed. Some still living could have given glowing testimonies of their rapport with Dr. Lloyd-Jones and how he encouraged them. “I’m an eighteenth century man” (referring largely to John Wesley and George Whitefield) “not a seventeenth century man” (referring to the Puritans), he would often say. The doctor was no cessationist. And yet none who were interviewed – most of whom did not even know the Doctor – extolled his views about the Holy Spirit. The most disingenuous part of the film is allowing a leading American cessationist to speak about the doctor but who elsewhere ridicules him for “always chasing after the anointing”. The irony is, Dr. Lloyd-Jones wanted that anointing more than he wanted anything in the world.

Reviewed by R. T. Kendall


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Listen to and download 1,600 sermons, without cost, by Dr. Lloyd-Jones at the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust.


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Category: Church History, Fall 2015

About the Author: R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. Educated at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Oxford University, Kendall is the author of more than 60 books, including Total Forgiveness: Achieving God's Greatest Challenge (Charisma House, 2010), Understanding Theology: The Means of Developing A Healthy Church in the Twenty-first Century in 3 volumes (Christian Focus), Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 (Paternoster, 1997), and Holy Fire: A Balanced, Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives (Charisma House, 2014).

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