01 April 2006

Our sentiments exactly

posted by Phil Johnson

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote Monday space to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. Once again this week, we bring you Spurgeon early, so you can savor his wisdom over the weekend. (And don't forget to change your clocks tonight, if you're in one of those flexible time zones.)

Here a beleaguered Spurgeon replies to critics who dismissed him with mockery and wrote off his prophetic words of caution in the "Downgrade" controversy as the befuddled ravings of a bitter old man. This comment was the leading entry in the "Notes" section of the February 1890 issue of The Sword and the Trowel:

"Words of Love and Soberness"

A CERTAIN newspaper paragraph very kindly attempts to comfort "Mr. Spurgeon at his worst stage of depression concerning the doubts of the day," by the assurance that religion can never pass away.

We can assure our friend that we never thought it could. No fear as to the ultimate victory of the truth of God ever disturbs our mind. We are sure that the doctrines of the gospel will outlive all the dotings of "modern thought."

The trouble is that, for the moment, error is having its own way in certain parts of the visible church, where better things once ruled; and, worse still, that good men will not see the evil, or, seeing it, wink at it, and imagine that it will do no very great deal of harm. It is ours to give warning of a danger which to us is manifest and alarming; and if the warning makes us the butt of ridicule, we must bear it.

Our protest is, no doubt, regarded by some as a piece of bigotry, and by others, as the dream of a nervous mind. Neither conjecture is correct; but we speak the words of love and soberness.

An American, who enquired of certain leaders in the "Down-Grade" what they thought of Spurgeon's conduct, was informed that sickness and age had weakened his intellect. This has been their contemptuous method all along; but facts are not to be set aside by such remarks.

Be the protester what he may, he declares his protest to be solemnly needful, and he begs for attention to it. It may be the old truth is in the minority, and that those who uphold it are thought to be troublers in Israel, and causers of false alarm: but we are none the less confident that, when good men return to their better selves, they will see differently. Bitterly will some regret that they allowed matters to drift, and drift, till they had wrought incalculable mischief.

We have spoken in saddest earnest. It is no pleasure to us to stand apart, and refuse complicity with what we judge to be a great crime. Our witness is on high. The Lord will judge between us and the enemies of the faith in his own good time!

C. H. Spurgeon


Time has certainly vindicated Spurgeon. Everything he warned about in the Downgrade episode ultimately did come to pass. The mainstream of the evangelical movement in this postmodern generation is now following the very same disastrous path taken by the modernists of Spurgeon's generation. We have again a multitude of careless souls whose only response to warnings about the drift is scorn, abuse, and dismissal. The blogosphere abounds with examples of this.

But history is a harsh teacher. She always severely punishes those who refuse to learn her lessons.

Phil's signature

9 comments:

chamblee54 said...

A prophet is not without honor, save in his own land.

David said...

"Tracing the state of evangelicalism from the Puritan age to his own era, Shindler noted that every revival of true evangelical faith had been followed within a generation or two by a drift away from sound doctrine, ultimately leading to wholesale apostasy. He likened this drifting from truth to a downhill slope, and thus labeled it "the down-grade.""

Everything old is new again. Exactly how is then or today any different than the time of Judges?

Steve said...

There is nothing new under the sun.... same ole same ole just wrapped in other names!!! Interesting is is not?

4given said...

I am new to the blogosphere by a mere 3 months. I have been told I am aggressive. oops. I have learned way too many things the hard way and in certain times I may get easily annoyed with stupidity. Why should I? I have been stupid and have much to learn. Being in defense of the Word of God brings forth inescapable ridicule. I just happen to do it... not as well as others. Is "fair play" possible in this world when truth is at stake? I like what Douglas Wilson says in regards to our tendency to be mislead because we "cover all quotations from Scripture with three layers of our high gloss holyspeak varnish..." What has that accomplished?
Okay, so I am reading a book that goes well with what Spurgeon is saying right here: "The trouble is that, for the moment, error is having its own way in certain parts of the visible church, where better things once ruled; and, worse still, that good men will not see the evil, or, seeing it, wink at it, and imagine that it will do no very great deal of harm. It is ours to give warning of a danger which to us is manifest and alarming; and if the warning makes us the butt of ridicule, we must bear it."
You all have probably already read it. "A Serrated Edge: A brief defense of Biblical satire and Trinitarian skylarking." by Douglas Wilson.
If not, get it.
It reminds me of people like... Carla and Phil Johnson who "...put the conscience of another on the spit and roast it to a nutbrown discomfort."
Who flee from covering "all Scriptures with three layers of highgloss holyspeak varnish" and tell it like it is like a couple of "jolly Juvenalians".
For some weird reason, that is the kind of stuff I like to read. It makes me grow... sometimes uncomfortably out of my "zone"... my "bubble."
I read their stuff and "POP"... there goes my nice comfy bubble.
Keep it up. I have much to learn.

Donnie said...

Hear, hear Phil and Charles.

Carla said...

In case anyone was wondering about my earlier comment and assuming I'd lost my mind, let me assure you I have not.

I honestly thought Phil's comment at the beginning of this post was an April Fools prank. And I fell for it - then once I realized it wasn't a prank, well you can imagine how goofy I feel.

Anyway, just wanted to clear that up. :o)

Phil Johnson said...

Carla,

So do y'all actually set your clocks forward in the spring? I thought once you got inside the arctic circle, you have 18 hours of daylight during the summer anyway.

Carla said...

Yes Phil, those folks within the circle that #cough# pay attention #cough# to such important things, actually do set their clocks ahead in the spring. :o)

CraigS said...

As David pointed out, this has been going on since Adam was a boy. The duties of a Christian don't change whether everyone is walking with him or not.

But it depends on where you are as well. My own country, Australia, has always been hard-hearted toward spiritual matters. But there is evidence that something of an awakening is happening. Religion, God and Christ are mentioned in the newspapers in ways that would have been unimaginable 15 years ago.

And, of course, the gospel in Africa, Asia and South America is making huge inroads. There is much to be optimistic about.