Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote Monday space to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.
In Spurgeon's day, as in ours, certain esteemed and influential doctors of divinity insisted that evangelical theology must be overhauled and refashioned to suit the spirit of the age, or else become irrelevant. Then, like now, one of the favorite targets of their tinkering was the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Modernists desperately wanted to tone it down. They were emphatic in their demand that the offense of the cross needed to be removed in order to reach people living in those genteel and "modern" Victorian times.
Specifically, they hated the concept of propitiationthe biblical truth that Christ's atonement was a sacrifice offered to God, to appease His righteous anger against sin. Modern minds found that idea unsophisticated and harsh and therefore disagreeable. Modern theologians proposed a way around that difficulty: Why not emphasize only the self-sacrificial aspect of Christ's death and re-frame the atonement as an example for believers to follow, rather than a payment to God on their behalf?
Then, as now, some "evangelicals" were willing to consider such a compromise. Here is Spurgeon's response to that kind of thinking, taken from one of the last things he ever wrote, a little booklet titled "The Greatest Fight in the World":
On the proposal that we tone down the atonement
We are told that we ought to give up a part of our old-fashioned theology to save the rest. We are in a carriage travelling over the steppes of Russia. The horses are being driven furiously, but the wolves are close upon us! Can you not see their eyes of fire?
The danger is pressing. What must we do? It is proposed that we throw out a child or two. By the time they have eaten the baby, we shall have made a little headway; but should they again overtake us, what then? Why, brave man, throw out your wife!
'All that a man hath will he give for his life'; give up nearly every truth in hope of saving one. Throw out inspiration, and let the critics devour it. Throw out election, and all the old Calvinism; here will be a dainty feast for the wolves, and the gentlemen who give us the sage advice will be glad to see the doctrines of grace torn limb from limb. Throw out natural depravity, eternal punishment, and the efficacy of prayer.
We have lightened the carriage wonderfully. Now for another drop. Sacrifice the great sacrifice! Have done with the atonement!
Brethren, this advice is villainous, and murderous; we will escape these wolves with everything, or we will be lost with everything. It shall be 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth', or none at all. We will never attempt to save half the truth by casting any part of it away.
A personal note: Sorry about my lax posting since the new bloglaunch. I do intend to post more regularly, but I have been laid low by flu symptoms this past week, and I decided to take advantage of the group-blog situation by giving myself a rest.
For those who have asked, I do remember that we left a couple of threads dangling (one on cessationism, the other on the mosaic law.) I fully intend to get back to both subjects eventually, but given my schedule between now and March 15, I'm not keen to get back into a subject that's likely to spawn a thousand comments, so I'll prolly wait till sometime after the Ides of March.