Lloyd-Jones: Shepherd’s Teaching Is “Another Gospel”

1. Shepherd removed the scandal from the preaching of justification and its inevitable subjection to the charge of antinomianism. His teaching is a subtle form of legalism and eventually is “another gospel”.

2. His teaching makes assurance virtually impossible as one is never satisfied with one’s works. Assurance is found in Rom. 5:1, 2 and Rom. 8:1 and I Cor. 1:30, “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” Christ is our only righteousness.

3. His teaching is contrary to that of the evangelicals of the last 400 years and he seems to rejoice in this! See Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon and all the great evangelists as well as the great theologians.

4. To teach this to students is tragically wrong.

—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in O. Palmer Robertson and Paul G. Settle, “Minority Report to the Board of Trustees” (May 19, 1980), in the Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees (Part II – Pages 57–98) (May 27, 1980), 17 (Board Minutes), 74.

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  1. Lloyd-Jones was harder on Norman Shepherd than he was on Wesley, even though Wesley dogmatically denied that those once justified would certainly continue to be justified.

    D.M. Lloyd-Jones from “The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors”—“Is there not a real danger of our becoming guilty of a very subtle form of Arminianism if we maintain that correct doctrine and understanding are essential to our being used by the Spirit of God? It is sheer Arminianism to insist upon a true and correct understanding as being essential.

    John Wesley was to me the greatest proof of Calvinism. Why? Because in spite of his faulty thinking he was greatly used of God to preach the gospel and to convert souls! That is the ultimate proof of Calvinism – predestination and election. It certainly comes out quite clearly in the case of the young Howell Harris…. One of the greatest proofs of the truth of the doctrines emphasized by Calvin, what is known as ‘Calvinism’ – though I have already said I do not like these terms – is John Wesley. He was a man who was saved in spite of his muddled and erroneous thinking. The grace of God saved him in spite of himself. That is Calvinist! If you say, as a Calvinist, that a man is saved by his understanding of doctrine you are denying Calvinism. He is not. We are all saved in spite of what we are in every respect. Thus it comes to pass that men who can be so muddled, because they bring in their own human reason, as John Wesley and others did, are saved men and Christians, as all of us are, because it is ‘all of the grace of God’ and in spite of us.”

  2. Dr. Clark,
    Since I am ignorant on the subject, I am wondering how do you view Hewiston’s books on Shepherd? From what little I could dig up they seem like competing narratives with Robertson, et al.

    • As I recall the main argument is that Shepherd was mistreated. Shepherd alleged that during the process. As i read the correspondence & minutes it seems that they (the board & faculty) were more than gracious. Most of the faculty supported Shepherd for most of the period. A minority inside the faculty opposed him. Arguably they were treated worse than Shepherd. Orthodox people from across the Reformed world were shocked that Machen’s seminary was tolerating what we now know to have been the Federal Vision theology. W. Stanford Reid talked of plans to start a replacement in Canada.

      Shepherd’s errors are gross and strike at the article of the standing or falling of the church. That they were tolerated and defended by a majority in the seminary from 1974-81 is remarkable indeed.

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