This Man Was No Moderate: The Legacy of Cecil Sherman

We are not likely ever to see the like of Cecil Sherman again. No one will be able to understand the history of the Southern Baptist Convention in the twentieth century without reference to him. No one who had a meaningful encounter with him will ever forget him. Cecil Sherman may have led the moderate movement in the SBC, but this much is clear — Cecil Sherman was no moderate.

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A Feast from John 4, Courtesy of Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was, by any fair measure, one of the greatest preachers of the twentieth century.  His ministry at Westminster Chapel in London ranks among the most influential in Christian history.  “The Doctor,” as he was known, was a master expositor and a most effective communicator.  He was also firmly grounded in historic Christian orthodoxy, with a clear commitment to Reformation doctrine and a deep concern for the vitality and integrity of evangelical Christianity.

Now, more than a quarter-century after his death, fifty-six previously unpublished sermons on John 4.  The sermons, preached in 1967 and 1968, represent Lloyd-Jones at his best.  Living Water: Studies in John 4 [Crossway] is a gift to us today.  If you have not started your collection of writings by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, start now.  Living Water is a good place to start.

An excerpt:

Now I want to add a few words here as an aside.  I am speaking to people who in name, I have no doubt, are evangelical people and evangelically minded.  I think the greatest charge that can be brought against evangelicals in the last ninety years or so, since the 1870s, is that we have grievously failed at this point.  We have tended to reduce this glorious gospel, and the life that it gives, to just a question of forgiveness, as if everything happens when a person makes a decision, as though that is the beginning and the end of the gospel.  The glory, the bigness, the greatness, the complete intellectual satisfaction, has not been preached and expounded as it should have been.  Indeed, evangelical people have often been charged, and I am afraid it has been a true charge, of being afraid of the intellect.

The Modern Age vs. The Bible?

The very essence of the age we call modern represents a challenge to authority.  Ultimately, the greatest authority an anti-authoritarian age must topple is the authority of the Bible as the Word of God.  In Ancient Word, Changing Worlds: The Doctrine of Scripture in a Modern Age, authors Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt offer an unprecedented combination of analysis and collected primary readings.

Nichols and Brandt have done the church a great service with this book.  I especially appreciate the combination of source readings and evaluation found in the book.  It is accessible to students at any college or seminary level, and will help interested laypersons to understand what is really at stake in terms of modern challenges to biblical authority.  Finally, I appreciate the fact that Nichols and Brandt draw conclusions, rather than to simply trace patterns and make vague suggestions.  They, too, understand what is at stake.  Their coverage, we should note, continues into the postmodern era.  The readings are chosen very carefully and make for fascinating reading, even when the texts have been read before.  This is a truly important book.  Ancient Word, Changing Worlds should find its way to every pastor, seminarian, and educated layperson’s book list.

An excerpt:

Whichever approach, higher criticism starts with the presupposition that the Bible or even particular books of the Bible are composites, made up of various strands.  From the perspective of higher criticism, authors of biblical books function more like editors who cleverly and creatively weave the strands, coming from a variety of sources, together.  Advocates of higher criticism see their task as teasing the strands apart.

How to Use a Study Bible

One of the most memorable purchases I made as a teenager was The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible in its original King James Version edition, complete with…

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