John Jones, Talsarn — the people’s preacher
Alan C. Clifford
Charenton Reformed Publishing, 300 pages, £9.99
Star rating : 1
The first half of the nineteenth century in Wales was a time of spiritual growth, church planting, dynamic preaching and the beginnings of theological decline. John Jones of Talsarn was one of a notable group of preachers, of whom little is known to those of us who do not read the marvellous Welsh of this period and could not read the vast biography of John Jones, written by Owen Thomas and published in 1874.
Dr Alan Clifford has done us a service in giving us the essence of the man and his remarkable preaching. He has also given us a sweet brief biography of his wife and another of his son, and these, along with extracts and descriptions of his subject’s preaching, help to give the book warmth and piety.
Alan also uses John Jones to promote his own convictions of a universal purpose to the atonement and to fret about full blown hyper-Calvinism, limited atonement, over-orthodoxy, Owenite ultra-orthodoxy, over-refined orthodoxy, dogmatic high-Calvinist thinking, the commercialist view of limited atonement, etc. Oh, he does go on!
There are several appendices on Jones’ theology and Edward Williams’ gospel, as well as a review written by the author which argues for a universal purpose of the atonement.
I thought these were intrusions and distractions from the narrative. I doubt whether believing in the limited design of the atonement was the key to Spurgeon’s extraordinary success or that the allegedly different view of the purpose of Christ’s redemption said to be held by the subject of this biography was the reason for God’s blessing on him.
I love the free offer of the gospel, the truth of the cosmic triumph of the cross, and the reality of God’s desire that all should repent and come to Christ. I also love the truth of a specific and fully effective atonement.