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Tim Keller: Gospel Polemics, Part 1

September 26, 2011

D.M. Lloyd-Jones once had a memorable encounter with T.T. Shields, the pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto, and a leading defender of orthodoxy against the growing liberal theology of the churches in Canada. Shields regularly attacked other church leaders in both his preaching and his writings. Lloyd-Jones shared virtually the identical theological positions with Shields, but he believed “that the Baptist leader was sometimes too controversial, too denunciatory and too censorious. Rather than helping young Christians by the strength of his polemics against liberal Protestants and Roman Catholics, Lloyd-Jones believed that Shields was losing the opportunity to influence those whose first need is positive teaching.” (I. Murray, D.M. Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, p.271). We should recall that Lloyd-Jones was quite willing to engage in polemics himself. He and John Stott clashed publicly over whether evangelicals should remain in the Church of England. (Lloyd-Jones said they should not.) And yet Lloyd-Jones opposed making polemics a major part of one’s ministry, and challenged Shields.

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