Steve Nichols:
It’s my pleasure to visit once again with my good friend all the way from Columbia, South Carolina, and before that Wales, Dr. Derek Thomas.

Dr. Derek Thomas:
Thank you, Steve. Always good to be with you and especially on this program.

SN:
Well, let’s jump in. We talk about the Mount Everests of church history all the time: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon. Let’s shine a spotlight on someone who may not get attention all the time, but whom you think would be helpful for us to remember and learn a little bit about. Who would that be?

DT:
You know, I thought about this a lot. And a thousand people came to mind. And then I got a little nervous because you are the historian. I think for me, it would be Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Now he does get attention in some quarters, maybe less here than in my home country of Wales.
He died in 1982 or 1983. I was ordained in ’78. So we overlap just briefly. I heard him preach maybe a dozen times, met him personally a couple of times, shook hands with him. He grew up within ten or fifteen miles of where I grew up. And he’s buried within ten miles of where my mother currently lives.

SN:
Did you first hear him when you were in college? Is that right?

DT:
Yes. I was a recent convert. He came to Aberystwyth, which was my alma mater. He came every year, every summer, and preached in Welsh in the afternoon and in English in the evening. They had to find the largest chapel. For Wales, these are big numbers: I would say there were fifteen hundred to two thousand people at both events.
He had a way of preaching that I really haven’t heard since. It would begin very low-key, introducing a lot of facts, very interrogative, asking a lot of questions, diagnosing like a doctor—like an old-fashioned doctor—asking what the symptoms were and so on before prescribing the remedy.
I heard him preach on Psalm 8: “What is man?” He would talk about man’s great achievements. And, of course, in the early seventies, man had just landed on the moon. So that was always an illustration. And advances in science and medicine and exploration and so on. The great achievements.
Then contrasting all of that with man’s sinfulness and depravity. It would all lead to a gigantic sort of crescendo of the gospel. I remember being in one of these chapels up in the balcony, riveted by the sermon, and his nasal voice, a very distinctive voice. And I was telling myself at a certain point, “Breathe.” Because I’m holding my breath, and I need to breathe now because I’m just wanting to hear what the next word is.
He had a massive impact on an entire generation, or two generations, of preachers in Britain, for sure. My introduction to his writings were the two volumes of the Sermon on the Mount. And then those publications of his sermons on Romans and Ephesians; they were being published every Christmas in the seventies. So every Christmas I would read yet another volume. I don’t think there’s anything quite like them, except the great Puritan volumes of extensive sermons on just one verse at a time. He was a great man.

SN:
I remember we had a conversation before about Lloyd-Jones. And you were mentioning how he preached through the bombing of Britain. At one point, I believe dust had come on him from a bomb that had gone off. The secretary went up and brushed the dust off, and he continued preaching.

DT:
That must have been absolutely phenomenal to have seen.

SN:
Thank you for sharing, Dr. Thomas, about this great figure of the twentieth century, the Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.