Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lloyd-Jones: The Christianity Today Interview (Part 2: On the State of Evangelicalism)

Q: What great emphases do evangelicals too much neglect?

A: To me, the missing note in modern evangelicalism is the matter of godliness, or what was once called spirituality. We evangelicals are too smug, too self-satisfied, too healthy. The notion of being humbled under the mighty hand of God has gone. We live too much in the realm of a pseudo-intellectualism and an emphasis upon the will. The heart is being ignored. I see no hope until we return to the great emphasis of Jonathan Edwards who, though a brilliant intellect and outstanding philosopher, put ultimate emphasis upon the heart. By the heart I mean the whole man, with special emphasis on the emotional element. Today a vague sentimentality has replaced deep emotion. People are no longer humble; there is little fear of the Lord. Modern evangelicalism is very unlike the evangelicalism of the eighteenth century and of the Puritans. I'm unhappy about this. The genuine evangelicalism is that older evangelicalism.

Q: Was it not also intellectually and theologically powerful?

A: Tremendously so. But today we have a pseudo-intellectualism that is theologically shallow. We need both brilliant theological comprehension and the warm heart. When I first came to England evangelicalism was nontheological, pietistic, and sentimental, and I stressed engaging the intellect to its maximum. But now many evangelicals are far too conscious of their intellects; some are preoccupied with secondary things like the Christian view of art or of drama or of politics.

Q: You would surely want the Christian intellectual dimension to be strong enough to expose the shallowness of all speculative alternatives to the great truths of revelation?

A: Of course. But that alone is not enough. The most important chapter in the Bible today from the standpoint of modern preaching is I Corinthians 2. Without the demonstration of the Spirit's power, all theology leads to nothing. My key verse, in a sense, is Romans 6:17, "Ye have obeyed from the heart the form of sound words delivered unto you." While truth comes primarily to the intellect it must move the heart, which then, in turn, moves the will. Today many people go no farther than having the form of sound words; others place their emphasis upon decision. Both approaches ignore the heart.
This interview gets better every time I read it. Here's part 1 if you missed it.

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