Book Review: John Knox and the Reformation by D.M. Lloyd-Jones & Iain Murray

This book review is by Dominic Silla, an M.Div. student at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Banner of Truth, 2011, ISBN: 978-1848711143, 132 pages.

As of October 31st of this past year we entered into the 499th anniversary of the Reformation begun by Martin Luther when he nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church door. Though a towering figure, Martin Luther is hardly the only figure of importance in this period as regards the movement known as the Reformation. I find myself seeking to understand in greater detail the people involved in the Reformation, not just their history but also their importance and their contribution to the Church, as it exists today. This was the reason for originally picking up this text, and I have not been disappointed in doing so.

Published in 2011 by Banner of Truth Trust, the book runs 130 pages long and is split fairly evenly into three sections. The first two sections are addresses given by “the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones” revolving around the importance of looking back to the Reformation and the importance of John Knox to the Reformation movement internationally and not just in Scotland. The final address is “a biological sketch of Knox by Iain H. Murray” (x). Though a short book, it packs a punch in terms of content and its emboldening of the reader to see the contributions of John Knox as a truly international contribution to the Church.

This is my first time reading any content by either author and I am overwhelmed at their understanding and weaving of the story of John Knox throughout the text. Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones masterfully addresses the need of his time and of our own as well of the importance of looking back to not just the Reformers like John Knox, but to do as the Reformers did, to look back to the Scriptures. He writes, for example, “the great thing that stands out about the Reformers was that they were men who went back to the Bible” (19). Dr. Jones, though giving this address in 1960, speaks inspirationally to our own time as the teachings of the Reformation become ever more important distinctive of orthodox Christian teaching, as separated from liberal doctrines that would compromise the integrity of the faith.[1] In a world where secular voices seem to be becoming louder, Dr. Jones words are a comforting reminder and instruction to look to the roots of our traditions and teachings.

Following through, in the second section, Dr. Jones gives the reader a view of the character and certain views of the Reformer John Knox, giving us a handle on what type of man he is. In the closing section however Iain H. Murray, a former assistant to Dr. Jones [2], gives a biographical sketch of the life of John Knox, closing with “What We May Learn from John Knox” (x). This is the icing atop of the cake as I find Rev. Murray closes things and pulls things together quite well as we come to the end of John Knox’s life. The book closes with in its final pages with a quote from John Knox that I find most encouraging and needed today.

“Live in Christ. Live in Christ, and then flesh need not fear death – Lord, grant true pastors to Thy Church, that purity of doctrine may be maintained.”-Pg. 129-130

In a time such as our own, I think the life, the words, and the inspiration presented to us by Dr. Jones and Rev. Murray from the life of John Knox do a great service to the Church itself as we look back over this coming year to the time of the Reformation. May we continue to give glory to God “for his wondrous works to the children of man” (Psalm 107:31b ESV)!

Semper Reformanda!

You can find a copy of the book at the Westminster Bookstore!

[1] This point was specifically driven home to me toward the end of this book as I came across an article in the Washington Post discussing the growth of conservative/orthodox churches and the shrinking sizes of more liberal churches.

[2] George, Timothy (2009). J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future: The Impact of His Life and Thought. Baker. p. 1905. As found on Wikipedia entry under his name (accessed 6 January, 2017)

[6] Psalm 107:31b ESV