The Sacred Anointing: The Preaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. By Tony Sargent. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994. 344 pages. Paper, $13.99.
In The Sacred Anointing Tony Sargent bucks two prevailing trends in homiletics. First, he takes a biographical approach to the study of preaching, analyzing the pulpit ministry of Martyn Lloyd–Jones, longtime pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. Studies of great preachers were once common; they are now rare. Second, Sargent claims (following Lloyd-Jones) that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is the most important issue in preaching. Modern preaching suffers, he argues, from too much attention to technique and a corresponding neglect of spiritual power. He accurately observes that most homiletics textbooks give the Holy Spirit secondary consideration at best.
Sargent writes from the perspective of a pastor who has been much influenced by Lloyd-Jones. Yet he does not feel duty bound to endorse all of LloydJones’ views. His excellent research (originating in a D.Min. project) and judicious weighing of evidence make The Sacred Anointing far more than a eulogy for Lloyd-Jones. The book is a solid, challenging work about the nature, purpose, and method of preaching.
The fact that The Sacred Anointing questions several features of contemporary church life makes it doubly worth reading. Lloyd-Jones’ extensive reading, analytical mind, and rigorous logic made him an able opponent of “human-focused” approaches to ministry in the middle third of this century. His concerns are still relevant as the twenty-first century draws near.
Sargent deals extensively with Lloyd-Jones’ doctrine of the Holy Spirit, including his view that there is a second blessing (anointing) to be sought after one’s conversion. Lloyd-Jones considered this second blessing the key to experiencing the spiritual power described, for instance, in 1 Thess. 1:5: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (NAS).
Sargent and Lloyd-Jones may not convince every reader about the reality of a “second blessing,” but The Sacred Anointing speaks a needed word about the absolute necessity of the Spirit’s influence in every aspect of preaching.