By Ian Hugh Clary
In 1959 Arnold Dallimore, a pastor from the small Canadian hamlet of Cottam, Ontario, flew to England to meet with his potential publishers at the Banner of Truth Trust. Dallimore, of course, would go on to publish a monumental two-volume biography of the evangelist George Whitefield. But by the late fifties he had only managed a draft or two that were, in his mind, woefully inadequate. A part of his slew of meetings in the UK involved Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Banner’s Iain Murray was responsible for helping Dallimore make his way around London and first introduced the Canadian pastor to the Doctor after a service at Westminster Chapel. After discussing their shared interest in Whitefield, Lloyd-Jones invited Dallimore to the Carlton Club, the famous gentlemen’s club near the Pall Mall in London. Its membership included many leading Conservative politicians and Lloyd-Jones would likely have kept his membership from his days at St. Bart’s.
I have given this meeting much thought over the past year or so—what would it have been like to eavesdrop on these two men? Both of them would go on to have a massive influence on evangelicalism, and to hear them talk about a range of subjects, from Whitefield, revival, and even the Canadian fundamentalist T. T. Shields, would have been thrilling. At this meeting Lloyd-Jones gave Dallimore advice on how to proceed with an updated draft, where to go in Wales to find information on Howell Harris, and other such things that have made the biography great. He was also a major supporter of the work, even defending Dallimore’s interpretations against his own publishers. The first volume would not come out for over ten years after this meeting, and the second volume another ten after that—altogether Dallimore spent over thirty years of his life labouring over what must be one of the most important books of twentieth-century evangelicalism. We can all be thankful that parts of the telling of Whitefield’s life were hashed out in a posh club near the Pall Mall, London.
Ian Hugh Clary is finishing doctoral studies under Adriaan Neele at Universiteit van die Vrystaat (Blomfontein), where he is writing a dissertation on the evangelical historiography of Arnold Dallimore. He has co-authored two local church histories with Michael Haykin and contributed articles to numerous scholarly journals. Ian serves as a pastor of BridgeWay Covenant Church in Toronto where he lives with his wife and two children.