Tuesday, February 13, 2007

D. R. Davies XVIII: 'On To Orthodoxy'

D. R. Davies had written one book before On To Orthodoxy. That book had not even found a publisher. Davies expected that On To Orthodoxy would be still-born, especially in the context of the outbreak of war. Yet the press welcomed it with open arms. Of nearly forty reviews, only, by Dr. Selbie in the Congregational Quarterly, was unfavourable, and that provoked an angry reaction from many readers. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, writing in The Christian World, praised the book:

"The utter futility of all that has so often passed as gospel during the past hundred yearsb is made terribly and tragically clear. Surely this is what is needed above all else at the present time. And especially, first and foremost, in the Churches. That complacent optimistic view of man and his nature that has so long controlled and directed thought and preaching must be given up, and must be replaced by the tragic view which is taught everywhere in the Bible."
Among the letters Davies received was from a missionary in Africa whose ministry had been re-awakened by reading the book.
However, it would be wrong to state that Davies, in spite of the title of his book, had become orthodox in the sense of evangelicalism. Indeed, in On to Orthodoxy, Davies was very careful to deny that he was a 'Fundamentalist,' although he felt that if the choice was between 'fundamentalism' and liberalism he would choose fundamentalism as being truer to man. Lloyd-Jones, writing to his wife about On to Orthodoxy was unsure of Davies' salvation: "He, like Brunner and Barth falls short of the real thing. I feel he has had some kind of 'intellectual conversion' and nothing more. And yet - on the negative side he is excellent."
The mention of Emil Brunner and Karl Barth says much. Had the book been entitled On to neo-Orthodoxy, the title would have been more apposite. Davies was a part of the Neo-Orthodox reaction against liberalism within Welsh Congregationalism, with Professor J. E. Daniel of Bala-Bangor College and Vernon Lewis of Memorial College, Brecon. Realising the futility of liberalism, these men stopped short of the truth. The result was that when young men attended these colleges after the war, they found no evangelical witness there.



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