I love Martin Lloyd-Jones.
Not everyone does mind you.
He can be somewhat of an acquired taste.
But the collection of his lectures which comprise the volume “The Puritan’s, their Origins and Successors” is worth selling one of your kids to buy. It is just massively informative.
These lectures, delivered annually over the period of 1959 to 1978, are a wonderful set of reflections on Church history (in terms of English Puritanism) that are just chock full of incredible and useful insights. Not the least of these, is the lecture from 1969 titled “Can We Learn From History”. It is worth the price of the volume itself. Which in fact IS pricey – one of the Banner of Truth’s more costly gems for some reason.
Anyway, hock your favorite squirt gun, sell the dog to the local butcher, raid your kid’s piggy bank(s) and buy it. You won’t regret it – ever.
I take that back. The thing that is regrettable about this book is the cover. There is this atrocious picture of Lloyd-Jones which virtually everyone responds to negatively. “Mr. Happy” is the title most often given to it and you really do imagine him being the inspiration behind some of the Brothers Grimm more frightful creatures. Buy the book, burn the dust cover and THEN thank me.
Anyway, tucked away near the end, is this call from Jones to re-examine how it is we draw the lines of Evangelical unity. A call which spills over into the example of one 17th century attempt.
I think you’ll find it utterly fascinating.
From D. Martin Lloyd-Jones’ 1969 Lecture on the Puritans – The Puritans, Their Origins and Successors, pages 234-235.
“In 1654 Oliver Cromwell – with his idea of Toleration – and the Parliament called upon the divines to define what should be tolerated or indulged among those who profess the fundamentals of Christianity. If effect they said, we have all these division and sects and groups; what are the fundamental of Christianity on which we can have fellowship together? So a committee was set up and the members of the committee were these: Mr. Richard Baxter, Dr. John Owen, Dr. Thomas Goodwin, Dr. Cheynel, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Reyner, Mr. Nye, Mr. Sydrach Simpson, Mr. Vines, Mr. Manton, Mr. Jacomb. As I said earlier, Baxter tried to short-circuit the whole proposal at the beginning by saying that nothing was necessary but the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Commandments. But that was rejected. Then they proceeded to work, and they produced 16 Articles which they felt stated the fundamentals on which, and on which alone, true fellowship is possible between Protestant Evangelical people. Here they are –
1 – That the Holy Scripture is that rule of knowing God and living unto Him which whoso does not believe cannot be saved.
2 – That there is a God who is the Creator, Governor and Judge of the world, which is to be received by faith, and every other way of knowledge of Him is insufficient.
3 – That this God who is the blessed Creator is eternally distinct from all creatures in His Being and Blessedness.
4 – That this God is One in Three Persons or subsistences.
5 – That Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and Man without the knowledge of whom there is no salvation.
6 – That this Jesus Christ is the true God.
7 – That this Jesus Christ is also true man.
8 – That this Jesus Christ is God and Man in one Person.
9 – That this Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, who by paying a ransom and bearing our sins has made satisfaction for them.
10 – That this same Lord Jesus Christ is He that was Crucified at Jerusalem, and rose again and ascended into Heaven.
11 – That this same Jesus Christ being the only God and Man in One Person remains forever a distinct Person from all saints and angels notwithstanding their union and communion with Him.
12 – That all men by nature were dead in sins and trespasses, and no man can be saved unless he be born again, repent and believe.
13 – That we are justified and saved by grace and faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.
14 – That to continue in any known sin upon what pretence or principle soever is damnable.
15 – That God is to be worshipped according to His own will, and whosoever shall forsake and despise all the duties of His worship cannot be saved.
16 – That the dead shall rise, and that there is a day of judgement wherein all shall appear, some to go into everlasting life and some into everlasting condemnation.
“They were the16 points. We have the authority of Richard Baxter for saying that it was Dr. John Owen who worded those Articles, that Dr. Reynolds was the scribe and that Mr. Marshall, a sober, worthy man did something, but the rest were little better than passive.
“Now these Articles were designed and intended to exclude not only Deists, Socinians and Papists, but also Arians, Antinomians, Quakers and others. What I am asking is this: Cannot we accept those as fundamentals? Are those not sufficient? We remember, of course, that bishops, deans, etc., etc., had been abolished at hat time, and therefore did not need to be mentioned; and also that they did not have to contend with a ‘higher critical’ attitude to the Scriptures. They were agreed also in their attitude toward ‘tradition’, Their object was to define the irreducible minimum on which evangelical people could work together. We, today, need to elaborate some of these statements in view of our peculiar circumstances; but, still, I suggest, we should seek the minimum definition and not the maximum. Then, united on that basis, we can as brethren work together, and meet together for discussion of the matters on which we differ, and for our mutual edification.”