Book Reviews

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century by Christopher Catherwood

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of the greatest preachers of the twentieth century. He pastored the Westminster Chapel in the heart of London for nearly three decades. His pulpit radiated the truth around the world, making him one of the most influential ministers on the planet by the end of his ministry.

Iain Murray’s two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones remains the gold-standard work on the Doctor. At nearly 1,300 pages, it is a massive treatise, meticulously documenting the great man’s life and ministry.

I worked through Murray’s two-volume biography years ago, but understand why some find it a bit intimidating. That is why I was glad to see Lloyd-Jones’ grandson, Christopher Catherwood, complement Murray’s biography with his new Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Reflection for the 21st Century.

Catherwood begins by telling the broad contours of Lloyd-Jones’ life.

Before the Doctor was a great preacher, he was a great physician. He enjoyed one of the most promising medical careers in all of England. After earning his medical degree from the prestigious St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, he became the Chief Clinical Assistant to the Royal Physician of King George V, Lord Horder.

Yet, Lloyd-Jones began to sense God’s call to ministry,and he wrestled with the “physician’s dilemma.” His desire to pursue ministry displaced his desire to practice medicine.

In his Preaching & Preachers Lloyd-Jones reflected, “We spend most of our time rendering people fit to go back to their sin! I want to heal souls. If a man has a diseased body and his soul is all right, he is all right to the end; but a man with a healthy body and a distressed soul is all right for sixty years or so and then he has to face eternity in Hell.”[1]

In 1927, at the age of 26, Lloyd-Jones entered in the gospel ministry, returning to Wales as pastor in Sandfields, in Aberavon. It was a small, tired part of Wales, but Lloyd-Jones heart was to minister to his people.

In short order, the Doctor’s preaching gained notoriety throughout Great Britain, and in America. So much so, that in 1938 G. Campbell Morgan invited Lloyd-Jones to become his preaching associate at the Westminster Chapel, one of the leading churches in all of Great Britain. Upon Morgan’s retirement in 1943, Lloyd-Jones became the sole pastor, a role he held until cancer forced his retirement in 1968.

In his fine biography, Catherwood offers a topical, theological biography of the Doctor. Catherwood peers into different aspects of Lloyd-Jones ministry, singling out aspects of his greatness. Catherwood also engages knottier aspects of Lloyd-Jones ministry, including the Doctor’s openness to the spiritual gifts, and his proposed evangelical pullout of 1966.

While Catherwood’s entire book is well done, three aspects of Lloyd-Jones life and ministry struck me anew.

Relentlessly Biblical

First, Catherwood underscored the Doctor’s relentless Biblicism. Lloyd-Jones framed this theology more textually than systematically, and as he did he resisted theological labels. This is due to the fact that Lloyd-Jones was first an expositor, an exegetical thinker.

Catherwood observes, “The Doctor was not a man that could be pigeonholed! The quest for the correct interpretation of Scripture took him, as always, to a position that was Christ-centered and Bible-based, not to the human-made formulae of which denominational statements and creeds are based.”[2]

Intentionally Evangelistic

Though Lloyd-Jones is best known for his expositional preaching, he was also a fervent evangelist. He crafted his sermons with both believers and unbelievers in mind, and his Sunday evening sermons were explicitly intended for the lost.[3] This aspect of Lloyd-Jones ministry is often overlooked, given the Doctor’s renown as an expositor.

But as all who visited his vestry inquiring about their souls would know, it is fitting that the Doctor’s gravestone in Wales reads, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”[4] The Doctor pointed men to the Great Physician, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Primacy of Preaching

Lloyd-Jones commitment to preaching shows up repeatedly throughout his ministry. Whether it was his preaching through the Luftwaffe’s air raids during WW II, or his pushing to the side anything that would detract from the preaching of the Word—like, in his estimation, choirs—the Doctor held high the priority of the pulpit.

Catherwood notes the Doctor’s assertion that “True biblical preaching appeals to the heart (our emotions), to our mind (our intellect), and to our will (we do something as a result of it). And that, “This unique combination was at the heart of all of his preaching—the logic on fire and its application with the employment of our will.”[5]

In Conclusion

This past summer I had occasion to visit Westminster Chapel and reflect anew on God’s unique work through Lloyd-Jones. I’m grateful the Doctor, though dead, continues to speak, and that his influence reverberates well beyond the grave. May Catherwood’s work only amplify this trend.


[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1971)

[2] , Christopher Catherwood, Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015) 135.

[3] 31

[4] 65.

[5] 36.

topicsBook ReviewsMartyn Lloyd-Jones

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