Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote Monday space to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.
The following is excerpted from an excellent sermon titled "The Old, Old Story," preached on Sunday Evening, March 30th, 1862 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
The sermon includes a simple, straightforward explanation of the atonement, highlighting the principle of penal substitution.
Then, responding to the new thinkers of his day who were intent on reimagining the gospel from a fresh perspective in order to make it more compatible with "modern thought" and more appealing to people in that generation, Spurgeon said:
There are some things to be said for the gospel which proclaims the atonement as its fundamental principle. And the first thing to be said of it is, that in comparison with all modern schemes how simple it is! Brethren, this is why our great gentlemen do not like it, it is too plain.
If you will go and purchase certain books which teach you how sermons ought to be made, you will find that the English of it is this,pick all the hard words you can out of all the books you read in the week, and then pour them out on your people on Sunday; and there is a certain set of people who always applaud the man they cannot understand.
They are like the old woman who was asked when she came home from Church, "Did you understand the sermon?"
"No;" she answered, "I would not have the presumption;" she thought it would be presumption to attempt to understand the minister.
But the Word of God is understood with the heart, and makes no strange demands on the intellect. Now, our first commendation on the doctrine of the atonement is, that it commends itself to the understanding. The way-faring man, though his intellect be but one grade beyond an idiot, may get a hold on the truth of substitution without any difficulty.
Oh, these modern theologians, they will do anything to spirit away the cross! They hang over it the gaudy trappings of their elocution, or they introduce it with the dark mysterious incantations of their logic, and then the poor troubled heart looks up to see the cross and sees nothing there but human wisdom. Now I say it again, there is not one of you here but can understand this truth, that Christ died in the stead of his people.
The whole sermon is well worth reading. One thing seems perfectly clear: Spurgeon had no time for modernists who wanted to retool the gospel to suit the tastes of Victorian society. He likewise would have little sympathy with "postmodern Christians" who think the gospel needs an overhaul to make it relevant today. Spurgeon was singularly unimpressed with the arrogance of new perspectives and emerging paradigms that demanded wholesale revision of the gospel message, the atonement, or the doctrine of justification by faith, or other fundamental doctrines of Christianity.
I think he was right.