19 August 2006

Why It Is Not Necessary to Adapt the Gospel for Postmoderns

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.

The following excerpt is from "The Preacher's Power, and the Conditions of Obtaining It," chapter 11 in
An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students.


rethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God's grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible.

We shall not fall into the error of that absent-minded doctor who had to cook for himself an egg; and, therefore, depositing his watch in the saucepan, he stood steadfastly looking at the egg. The change to be wrought is not for the Divine chronometer, but for the poor egg of human thought. We make no mistake here; we shall not watch our congregation to take our cue from it, but we shall keep our eye on the infallible Word, and preach according to its instructions.

Our Master sits on high, and not in the chairs of the scribes and doctors, who regulate the theories of the century. We cannot take our key-note from the wealthier people, nor from the leading officers, nor even from the former minister.

How often have we heard an excuse for heresy made out of the desire to impress "thoughtful young men"! Young men, whether thoughtful or otherwise, are best impressed by the gospel, and it is folly to dream that any preaching which leaves out the truth is suitable to men, either old or young. We shall not quit the Word to please the young men, nor even the young women.

This truckling to young men is a mere pretence; young men are no more fond of false doctrine than are the middle-aged; and if they are, there is so much the more necessity to teach them better. Young men are more impressed by the old gospel than by ephemeral speculations.

If any of you wish to preach a gospel that will be pleasing to the times, preach it in the power of the devil, and I have no doubt that he will willingly do his best for you. It is not to such servants of men that I desire to speak just now.

I trust that, if ever any of you should err from the faith, and take up with the new theology, you will be too honest to pray for power from God with which to preach that mischievous delusion if you should do so, you will be guilty of constructive blasphemy.

No, brethren, it is not our object to please men, but our design is far nobler.
C. H. Spurgeon


10 comments:

Yankeerev said...

As the old saying goes, "There is nothing new under the sun." Spurgeon's Words are more than appropriate for today. I am also reminded of my reading of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Biography by Ian Murray. How similar the scenarios were and Lloyd-Jones' responses are...

Thanks for the post...I needed that!

Taliesin said...

Thanks Phil for another lesson from a man for all seasons. One of the things (there we actually several) in this was the following:

Our Master sits on high, and not in the chairs of the scribes and doctors, who regulate the theories of the century. We cannot take our key-note from the wealthier people, nor from the leading officers, nor even from the former minister.

It is neither modernism/post-modernism, nor traditionalism ("tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living"), but the Scripture that is our rule and guide.

Learning Grace said...

I've often wondered, having not studied the other books calling themselves scriptures, whether they speak with such timelessness as the Bible. Ecclesiastes was written close to 3000 years ago and it could have been penned as a response to the modern era, and now to the post-modern era.

I think that if you preach to please the crowd, you will be popular... but only while the crowd is on its particular fad (which can be as short as 30 seconds)... but if you preach God's word, you will always be relevant.

DJP said...

And there's the divine irony: we've often seen the pattern that those who stick to the Word, rather than chasing down the current fad, actually end up being ahead of the curve.

Charlie said...

It is indeed sad that most of Evangelicalism has sold out the doctrines of grace in favor of the church growth model. Doctrine doesn't seem to matter as much as experiencing something, whatever it is one experiences. It's not surprising that the church growth model was pioneered by charismatics like Donald McGraven and Peter Wagner.

Bob said...

Every week I look forward to reading the weekly dose of Spurgeon after I come home from sunday worship....thanks

thebluefish said...

we so need to gorge ourselves on the doctrine of grace, again and again

James Kubecki said...

Amazing, isn't it, that the most radical idea in the church today is to trust in the Word of God?

Though there are some, there aren't nearly enough Spurgeons around today, willing to take a stand for Truth.

"If any of you wish to preach a gospel that will be pleasing to the times, preach it in the power of the devil." Wow.

Lee Shelton said...

"I trust that, if ever any of you should err from the faith, and take up with the new theology, you will be too honest to pray for power from God with which to preach that mischievous delusion if you should do so, you will be guilty of constructive blasphemy."

So, how many blasphemers do we have in pulpits today? I think there are more than we care to admit.

bob hyatt said...

Just a question... Would you preach a word-for-word Spurgeon sermon to a group of unchurched folks?

You might want to present the same concepts while changing some of the language, yes?

If the point is to be understood, then using words you are reasonably sure your audience gets would be in the best interest of whatever message you are presenting.

I'm in full agreement with Spurgeon's statement- "We shall not adjust the Bible for our age."

I'm in full disagreement with your title "Why it is not necessary to adapt the Gospel for Postmoderns."

C'mon Phil- you are sophisticated enough to know there's a difference between contextualization and "changing the Bible."

I preach the Gospel.
I preach in words postmoderns get.
I try to avoid speaking in ways my audience might not get (different than "might not like", by the way).
This means I sound very different in a church in Portland Or, made up of many formerly-churched and unchurched people than in many of the Baptist churches of my past.

I think you guys present a false choice here...