Review: Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (DVD Documentary)

The set comes with three DVDs, the primary one consisting of the 1:40 long film looking at the life (but primarily the preaching ministry) of Lloyd-Jones.

After viewing the film, I was motivated to climb back into the pulpit this coming Lord’s Day and preach the power of the Gospel afresh with the aid and help of the same Holy Spirit that filled the Doctor. If this film does anything, it helps to safeguard the power of preaching for another generation, especially in a time when preaching is lightly regarded.  

 

I had an opportunity to review the brand new full-length documentary entitled Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly (with one reservation which I will discuss in a moment).

After viewing the film, I was motivated to climb back into the pulpit this coming Lord’s Day and preach the power of the Gospel afresh with the aid and help of the same Holy Spirit that filled the Doctor. If this film does anything, it helps to safeguard the power of preaching for another generation, especially in a time when preaching is lightly regarded.  Would that all young men today would preach with the same conviction that Lloyd-Jones had when he climbed into the pulpit of Westminster Chapel in London and opened his Authorized Version Bible!

This film was recently debuted at the Gospel Coalition conference in Orlando where many of the guests featured on the DVD documentary were speaking, preaching, and lecturing. I have to say, there was a great amount of excitement and buzz about the release of Logic on Fire. I, however, wanted to place the documentary in our church library permanently, so I ordered the DVD set and watched it from home with my wife, and I am glad that I did.

The set comes with three discs, the primary one consisting of the 1:40 long film looking at the life (but primarily the preaching ministry) of Lloyd-Jones. The set also comes with dozens of short extras and featurettes, as well as five post-cards suitable for framing. More than that, the set comes with small 120-page book containing background information, photographs, Lloyd-Jones’s retirement letter to his church, and even some printed sermons of Lloyd-Jones!

For around $39, I will say that this was a very good bargain.

The film itself was very well done and expertly filmed.  It was colorful, insightful, and inspiring as famed-preacher after preacher discussed the impact of Lloyd-Jones’s ministry on their own lives, the powerful way in which Lloyd-Jones preached the Gospel in his own generation, and how the Welsh doctor-turned-preacher trusted in the sovereignty of God to work conversion in the lives of thousands of men, women, and children.

Anyone in the Reformed community will recognize many of the special commentators in the film such as R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Kevin DeYoung, and many more. Each man, in turn, gave DMLJ a well-deserved commendation as a Bible preacher. I deeply appreciated the way the film spliced in audio clips of his sermons to give the audience a flavor of his voice, passion, and cadence.

Personally, I found the insights of Iain Murry (DMLJ’s biographer and former assistant at Westminster Chapel) some of the most interesting, as well as that of DMLJ’s daughters and relatives. I was, after all, interested in learning more about the Doctor himself, who (in the sovereign plan of God) was the pastor of my own personal mentor and friend, Dr. Wilfred Bellamy. For this reason, much of what was presented hit “close to home” for me. I have a personal, linear connection with the Doctor and wanted to soak that Gospel power into my very pores!

So was the documentary a success? Well, I suppose it depends on what you are hoping for in this film.

First, let me say that theologically I am very favorable towards the Calvinism held by the Doctor. No problem there. He is a great hero to me, not only  in what he preached (the Gospel) but the way he did it (exposition). In this way, Logic on Fire was “speaking my language” throughout. My heart went “Ooo!” and “Aah!” in moment after moment. His book Preaching and Preachers, is in my estimation the very best around. I am quite sympathetic to the man and his mission. So this film was my camp talking shop among ourselves.

But herein is my critique…

Logic on Fire is, in some ways, an hour and a half of this: man after man, quote after quote, lauding and praising a stalwart preacher who – at the end of his own life – insisted to his close friends that he was nothing more than a sinner saved by grace. True to form, Logic on Fire does an excellent job of highlighting the God-centered approach of this impassioned preacher, but it did not do enough to show Martyn Lloyd-Jones as a real three-dimensional person.

In this sense, Logic on Fire verges on hagiography. It felt more like a eulogy in some places than a true biographical documentary; most spoke about him as though it would have been foul play to mention a weakness. The viewer will be quite convinced by the end of the show that DMLJ was an important preacher and a powerful Gospel herald, but he will have no better sense of the man as a flesh and blood human being – after nearly 100 minutes of commentary – than when he first pressed play.

Didn’t he ever struggle?

Didn’t he ever lose his way? Didn’t he ever battle depression like Spurgeon or the temptations of the flesh like Augustine? Didn’t he ever lose his temper like Luther, or feel alone and God-forsaken like David Brainerd? Didn’t he ever have a professional setback like Jonathan Edwards who was fired from Northampton’s church, or make a dreadful error like John Calvin in putting Servetus to death? Didn’t he ever get mad at the deacons, or throw the offering plates on the way out of church? Didn’t he ever feel like the writer of Psalm 13?

If so, Logic on Fire doesn’t tell us about it. The protagonist of this film is nearly invincible. He is always “on fire” and indefatigably “logical.”

In fact, by the end of the film I had that same sinking feeling that I get whenever I read a biography that is 100% laudatory; it’s a dreadful feeling that I will never be able to live up to a man like this. He seemed too big. Larger than life. A giant without a shadow.

My life (I must admit) is filled with trial, pain, and disappointment. My congregation’s growth rate is more like a 10-year glimpse of the Dow Jones average, than the straight up, Everest-like climb to greatness that Lloyd-Jones’s church apparently experienced.

In fact, the best part of the film (in my judgment) was the last few minutes chronicling the death of DMLJ by way of cancer. Ironically, there was a disease even the famed Doctor could not cure. Finally, we saw in the closing scenes a man who was really mortal after all. I could tell that my wife tuned in closer in these moments and even began to tear up. Finally, we saw a fully-developed personality; a man at peace with his mortality, and recognizing his own smallness before going into the eternity he preached.

Sadly though, these truly touching moments came very little and very late. In this way, I wish that Logic on Fire had shown us a more authentic view of the sinner saved by grace that Martyn Lloyd-Jones knew himself to be.

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Brooksville, Florida. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.