On 18 October 1966, Dr Martyn Lloyd–Jones, minister of Westminster Chapel and probably the greatest preacher of the20th century, addressed a densely packed meeting in London and made an impassioned appeal for evangelicals who were divided up among the denominations to come together ‘as a fellowship or association of evangelical churches’ and to stand together for the gospel. The chairman, John Stott, feared that many people would be stirred into action and, although he had already given his own views earlier in the meeting, he arose at the end of the address, not to close the gathering, but to contradict what had just been said.His words were ‘I believe history is against what Dr Lloyd–Jones has said … Scripture is against him.’Basil Howlett was there that night. In this fascinating account he tells the story of what led to his presence at Central Hall and the resulting outcome for his life and ministry. It is a story that characterises a generation of evangelical thinking in Britain. The events of that night and the division that followed are a guide to understanding the evangelical world as we know it today.
“Like Basil Howlett and many others I witnessed the events of 18th October 1966 and had my life changed for ever. What exactly happened on that date? What led up to it? What have been the long–term consequences? Why does every Christian need to know about it?In his book, the author answers all these questions. He does so in a style which is autobiographical, engaging, moving, perceptive,instructive and accurate. For anyone who wants to understand Evangelicalism today, reading this book is a ‘must’.” ~ Stuart Olyott, Pastor, missionary and author
One of the most significant events which was to shape the future of evangelicalism in the UK was the appeal made by Dr Martyn Lloyd–Jones on October the 18th 1966 for evangelicals to leave their mixed denominations in order to form an association of evangelical churches. How that call was to be viewed has been the subject of debate over the ensuing 50 years. Was it a tactical mistake or a biblical necessity? What is different about this book is that it is highly personalised, told from the perspective of an ordinary Baptist pastor who heeded the call, paid the price and didn’t regret it for a single moment as subsequent events bore witness to the unfailing faithfulness of God to those who act according to their conscience in line with Biblical principle. This book helpfully reminds us what a dreadful state the church was in back then. Theological liberalism was far more aggressive than it is now and maintaining a clear evangelical stance was far from easy. Neither was it an easy decision to leave the security of buildings and pensions in secession. Such men were far from ‘hot heads’ (John Stott’s phrase), they were thoughtful and principled and deserve the honour and respect of a younger generation. While one may not always agree with the entailments the writer draws for being an evangelical in a mixed denomination, there are questions raised which need to be faced by those of us who are in such position: What are the limits to denominational loyalty? How can discipline be exercised in such a denomination? How can we promote genuine evangelical unity? Is there any point an evangelical will say ‘enough’ and take decisive action? This book is a ‘must’ for all those who not only wish to understand the past but are concerned for the future.
A thoughtful and honest autobiography that helps us to understand the state of evangelicalism in the 20th century, with particular concern to the pressure from liberalism and problems regarding Christian unity. An eye-opening and provoking read. And fun too!
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