I did an interview with Guy Davies, the exiled preacher, that is available here
Guy's blog is well worth frequenting.
The title of this post is an allusion to Martyn Lloyd-Jones conversation with T. T. Shields (an Englishman who ministered in Toronto and became known as the "Canadian Spurgeon").
Lloyd-Jones met Shields during a summer visit to Toronto in the early 1930s. The incident is recorded by DML-J in his Preaching and Preachers, and also by Iain Murray in the first volume of his outstanding biography of the Doctor.
Lloyd-Jones felt that the older man had ruined his ministry by becoming excessively negative and obsessed with polemics. It would not be unkind to say that temperamentally it was T. T. Shields contra mundum.
The conversation was summed up by three incisive remarks by Lloyd-Jones. In reply to the comment that the circulation of his writings went up when he dealt with polemical matters Lloyd-Jones said that two dogs fighting in the street will always draw a crowd.
Shields responded with two remarks. There was biblical precedent for his actions in Paul's denouncing of Peter. Lloyd-Jones countered this by saying that the effect of Paul's rebuke was the winning of Peter. That could not necessarily be said by Shields in his attack on opponents. Shields appealed to Lloyd-Jones' medical background. As a doctor he would see the need for radical surgery. Of course, Lloyd-Jones agreed, but there is such a thing as a "surgical mentality."
In this exchange the Welshman made a telling remark that "you can make mincemeat of the liberals and still be in trouble in your own soul".
A few reflections:
1. How can you avoid a preoccupation with error? I mean the kind of preoccupation that leads to an excessively negative ministry. What are the warning signs? Or are such men so bound by their own perspective that they are happy to justify their calcified ministry. Lloyd-Jones discerned this kind of unhelpful development in Shields. So how can you keep yourself from a "surgical mentality"?
2. Why is it that older ministers generally go in two directions? Some seem to become hardened and increasingly negative. Others become increasingly soft and indulgent.