'I've been reading through some sermons that MLJ published under the title Spiritual Depression,' said David Shedden, a student coming to the end of a one year course in theology at PTS. 'I couldn't believe what I was reading near the end of the book. I'd always taken MLJ to be radically conservative in everyway.'
Shedden refers to MLJ's sermon, Learning to be Content, a sermon on Phil4:10-12. The sermon series was written for publication in the early 1960s. The following extended quote is at the heart of Shedden's thesis that perhaps MLJ was more radical than we tend to assume:
'It is characteristic of this particular generation in which we live to find a tendency on the part of large numbers of people to feel that the Christian gospel has been a hindrance to the forward march of mankind, that it has been a drag on progress, that it has been nothing but "the dope of the people". They say that it (Godliness with contentment is great gain, 1Tim6:6, cf Matt6:34) is a doctrine which has taught people to put up with all kinds of conditions whatever they may be, and however disgraceful and unjust. There has been a violent political reaction against the gospel of Jesus Christ because people have so misinterpreted this kind of text as to put it in this way:
"The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate, God made them, high or lowly, And order'd their estate"
Now that is just rubbish and a blank denial of what the apostle teaches here... "The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate". Were men meant to be like that and to stay like that for ever? The Bible never teaches that; it does not say than man should be content to remain in poverty, that he should never endeavour to 'better' himself. There is nothing in the Bible that disputes the proposition that all men are equal in the sight of God and that all are entitled to equality of opportunity.'
p 279, Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1965.