Thursday, March 23, 2006

MLJ: Why "Dialogue" is a Waste of Time and Preaching a Must! (Sorry ECM!)

Came across this remarkable quote this afternoon reading Martin Lloyd-Jones on Romans 11:33-36 from a sermon preached sometime around 1965...

Now that is the trouble with the modern man. It is that man, by nature, is sinful, has got a carnal mind, hates God, and the devil whom he unknowingly serves, has blinded the minds of them that believe not. It does not matter how clever or able he is. The devil has blinded his mind ‘lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them’. That, according to the Apostle and according to the whole of the scriptural teaching, is the one and only explanation as to why men and women do not believe. Therefore what have I to learn from such a man? What has a man who is blinded by the devil got to tell me about these matters? Why should I have a dialogue with him? No, no, I am sorry for him. The man is blinded, he is ignorant, he knows nothing. I have the knowledge which alone can help him. It is not mine, it has been given to me, it has been revealed to me, and it is my duty to tell him. I am doing him a disservice by letting him talk. He is not capable of expressing an opinion. He is in the dark, ‘dead in trespasses and sins’. That is the whole of the scriptural teaching.
But, the modern teaching denies this utterly and absolutely, and this is the spectacle by which we are confronted, that the modern church is paying compliments to the unregenerate man and says, ‘Now we must preach less to you, we have been speaking too much, let us sit down, you talk, I want to listen, I want to learn from you’. I do not hesitate to assert that that is a denial of Christ. Not only do I not learn from the natural unregenerate man, I do not learn from the Hindu or the Muslim, the Confucian or the Buddhist; they have nothing to tell me. The Bible, and the Bible alone, contains the knowledge and it is given by God. And it is our business to call upon the natural unregenerate man to be silent, to listen, to learn. We are to say to him, ‘Hearken unto me’. ‘Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you’. The greatest need in the world tonight is the authoritative proclamation of this one and only gospel.

Cited from Romans: To God's Glory, Banner of Truth, p. 270.


  1. Well said MLJ!! Its amazing that this was preached around 1965! I remember reading 'Preachers and Preaching' and being amazed at what he was was like he was talking about all the problems of the modern church! But I guess its usually the same problems just 'tweeked' to fit the modern culture. "The greatest need in the world tonight is the authoritative proclamation of this one and only gospel." AMEN!!! Preach the Word all you preachers!! We love you for it!

  2. The Devil's Advocate speaks:

    Wow. That seems a bit um... harsh. It doesn't seem to invite the lost to come to Jesus, but it sounds like Jesus has a 2x4 in His hand ready to knock out anyone who refuses to believe. I suppose it has sort of a "Hooray for our team!" feel to it for Christians (which I'm okay with some days), but if I was a Hindu, Muslim, Confucian or Buddhist, I'd be thinking "Where's the door?"

    If everyone we talk to is heading for the door, don't we end up cheering for Jesus while the lost die without Him? Faith comes by hearing, but if no one wants to hear what we have to say, then whence cometh faith?

    Sorry if I rained on the parade a bit, but I'm a fan of both dialogue AND preaching!

  3. I love ML-J and totally agree with the need for authoritative proclamation of God's Word.

    Question: if a church does have this in its preaching, is there not also a place for strongly led, interactive inductive study of the Bible? ML-J did something like this for years on friday nights (his was fairly topical rather than inductive); it only turned into lectures because it got too big. Not that he's our authority, but I think he modelled something that might be very profitable (in fact, we do this at Binbrook Baptist on our Sunday evenings). This is not a 'discussion' but a leader-led study where there is room for questions, and where the focus is uncovering truths in God's Word together.
    Do you think I'm off?

    Contra ECM, our authority is God's Word (you should have been there for our study of 1 Tim 2:11-15 last Sunday PM). We seek to be 'under' it at all points. I also pause and offer exhortations and applications at points. However, questions/comments do come up that I hadn't thought of, and we deal with them as we go. Most here really appreciate the different style.

    Let me know if I'm off here!


  4. derfiter - I think I know what you are pointing to, but I do not think that is what MLJ was saying. To be fair, you should read the entire sermon - I am quoting from what might be the fulcrum of an extended exegesis that I believe entirely backs up his point. And, MLJ was a fearless evangelist, talking to whomever about Christ, so in that sense one could say he was open to dialogue. What he is attacking in the sermon is what the ECM is doing so much of now - accomodation. Telling the lost Buddhist that his way leads to God also. That Buddhist needs the gospel proclaimed to him, not a discussion of how Jesus might lead him to some fake enlightenment.

  5. Ian - I don't see a single thing in what you are suggesting as being in disagreement with the quote.