Pastor Bob O'Bannon
It’s good to have heroes. The danger of course is that we might idolize our heroes, which is always to be avoided, but it’s also easy to go to the other extreme and downplay the outstanding godly example set by saints who have come before us. Most likely all of us have a hero of one kind or another, even if it’s just an athlete or rock star. The question is whether our heroes are truly worthy of the title.
One of my heroes has always been Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Born in Wales, he lived from 1899 to 1981 and was most famous for his role as pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. As a young man, Lloyd-Jones was on his way to an illustrious career as a medical doctor, when he gave it all up for the Gospel ministry — hence his nickname, “The Doctor.”
The Doctor is well known in reformed circles, and especially among reformed pastors, who almost universally revere and respect Lloyd-Jones’ straightforward preaching style. On the one hand, Lloyd-Jones was a staunch traditionalist, known as a modern-day Puritan, and on the other hand, Lloyd-Jones was an intellectual, known to make the Gospel plausible to a sophisticated urban audience in London.
The average Christian, however, probably has not heard of The Doctor, or at least knows very little about him. That could change with the upcoming release of a documentary about Lloyd-Jones’ life — “Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.” The film will debut on April 13 at the Gospel Coalition’s national conference in Orlando.
What is it that makes The Doctor a kind of hero to me? His fearlessness in the pulpit; his lifelong example of integrity and godliness; his ability to interact with the prevailing non-Christian philosophies of the day; ironically, his almost certain disdain for the idea of being called anyone’s “hero;” and his books, all of which are compilations of his sermons and lectures, but which read so extraordinarily well.
If you’re interested in knowing more about The Doctor, I suggest an intro biography written by Iain Murray called Messenger of Grace (not to be confused with the better but very lengthy two-volume biography by the same author), or read one of the best compilations of his sermons, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure. You can even listen to Lloyd-Jones’ sermons here.
The other option is to wait for this documentary, which will hopefully make Lloyd-Jones a new hero to many more Christians looking for inspiration to follow Christ without compromise.