29 October 2006

How Would Spurgeon Respond to the "New Perspective on Paul?"

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. This excerpt is from "Everywhere and Yet Forgotten," a sermon preached on July 29, 1860, at Exeter Hall, London.


here is something so enticing and yet so flimsy in the modern theological school,that I feel constrained to warn you constantly against it.

Its mystery is absurdity, and its depth is pompous ignorance. There is no theology in it; it is a futile device to conceal the want of theological knowledge.

A man with an education that may be complete in every department except that in which he should excel, stands up and would teach Christians that all they have learned at the feet of Paul has been a mistake, that a new theology has been discovered, that the old phrases which we have used are out of date, the old creeds broken up.

Well, what shall we do to this wiseacre and his fellow sages? Serve them, wherever you meet them or their disciples, as Job did Zophar: laugh at them, dash their language to pieces, and remind them that the best things they tell us are only what the fishes of the sea, or the fowls of the air, knew before them, and that their grandest discoveries are but platitudes which every child has known before, or else they are heresies that ought to be scouted from the earth.

C. H. Spurgeon



31 comments:

Carla said...

As always, a most timely quote. Thank you for posting this.

Todd H said...

I love it - instead of: "what would Jesus do?" we get: "what would Spurgeon say?" Hooray for the 19th century!!!!

Matthew said...

Massive influx of ardent Wright supporters in 3... 2... 1...

Kristie said...

Excellent quote.

Norman said...

I hope to God you don't mean what it seems you are insinuating here.

To describe Wright with such words as "absurd", "pompous ignorance" and "wiseacre" makes my stomach sick this early AM.

I think it would be only fair to Wright to say something about the context of this statement and to whom Spurgeon directed it. Then your readers could make their own judgement about whether the shoe fits.

As it is put here it is so unfair - I have no words for it.

Libbie said...

Oh Mr Spurgeon, mincing your words like that? I feel you should come out and say what you really think.

Matthew - well-called.

Jon from Reidville, SC said...

It is amazing how that the Word of God is relevant in all ages. And further that men who are saturated in the word of God are relevant in all ages.

The Clinging Vine said...

...teach Christians that all they have learned at the feet of Paul has been a mistake, that a new theology has been discovered, that the old phrases which we have used are out of date, the old creeds broken up.

Amazingly on-target!

Like the man said, there's nothing new under the sun.

David said...

what exactly is the "new perspective on Paul"?

CJD said...

Good question, David. An amalgation of various views, especially regarding the nature of Judaism post Cyrus. Proponents' views are as varied as there are proponents.

The one Zophar-like quality of Spurgeon's quote above is this: the notion that what "all [Christians] have learned at the feet of Paul" is somehow older than a mere 500 years, more objective than all previous readings, and is exegetically unassailable. Now, that's laughable.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

If you want to make yourself persona non gratis with the biblical studies bloggers from the UK just tell them you find E.T. Wright dull reading.

The E.P. Sanders thing never would have happened without that unpleasant business in Europe in the early forties. It is a post-holocaust reading of Paul.

CJD said...

c. stirling's comment above needs a little refinement: Sanders' idiosyncratic desire to make Christianity and Judaism less antithetical is easily contextualized as a post-Holocaust reading. But his work on Paul and the Law, as well as the common ANE Jewish approach to it (the Law) merely elaborates upon a rich subtext that had always existed in the readings of Paul from some degree or another (especially in Reformed camps) well before the 1940s.

H K Flynn said...

(Phil, sorry for interrupting your Spurgeon thread, but, per your request to put our challenges to you over at Pulpit, I've asked you to comment on two specifics concerning James, the diatribe and verse 26.

If you don't have time now, that's fine, but let me know so I won't interpret your unwillingness to comment specifically on these two issues as a white flag type retreat from James, or from a portion of James.)

Libbie said...

HK Flynn, I believe Phil is away this week, if that helps..

Libbie said...

Would this be an appropriate moment to mention rule 4 (I think)?

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

cjd said:
"Sanders' ... elaborates upon a rich subtext that had always existed in the readings of Paul from some degree or another ..."


Yes, and I learned how to do deconstruction from Francis Schaeffer a decade before my first encountered with a Derrida disciple. Schaeffer learned it from VanTil and VanTil learned it from ...

Sharon said...

Yeah, what Libbie said!

David said...

For Phil's discussion of the "new Paul" stuff, go here.


http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/new_p.html

Google. It is an amazing thing

no2salvation-by-process said...

"Its mystery is absurdity, and its depth is pompous ignorance. There is no theology in it; it is a futile device to conceal the want of theological knowledge.

Theology = The Study of God. Why do you need to study Him, when if Born Again, He lives with you and in you through the Holy Spirit? If Born Again we are now in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. John 14:18 "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

"A man with an education that may be complete in every department except that in which he should excel, stands up and would teach Christians that all they have learned at the feet of Paul has been a mistake, that a new theology has been discovered, that the old phrases which we have used are out of date, the old creeds broken up.

I will repeat what I said earlier before it was rudely deleted. We don't learn anything at Paul's feet, we learn at Jesus Christ's feet, through Paul.

1 Cor 1:12 "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

1 Cor 3:4 "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?"

1 Cor 3:21-23 "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your's; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's; 23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."

Let no man glory in men - including Spurgeon, for he is not without error.

n2sbp

joey said...

n2sbp,

no one is saying that Spurgeon was without error. no one is worshipping Spurgeon.

was is wrong for the author of Hebrews to draw attention to the heroes of faith? was it wrong for Solomon to encourage us to learn from those wiser than us? or that to hate the correction of others is foolish? for me to ignore the biblical wisdom and correction of someone like Spurgeon because of an assumption that "me and jusus" have it all figured out would be the height of arrogance. I cannot speak for you though, perhaps you have it all figured out.

no2salvation-by-process said...

Joey

"No one is saying that Spurgeon was without error. no one is worshipping Spurgeon."

Do you now speak for all those involved with this blog? I would suggest that Mr Johnson and his colleagues have a different view and opinion of Spurgeon from you.

I will leave you with this Scripture to meditate on:

1 John 2:27 "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."


If you are Born Again you don't need any Spurgeons, nor any other man to teach you.

"I cannot speak for you though, perhaps you have it all figured out."

Correct, I have it all 'figured out', but only because The Lord through His Spirit and His Word (not Paul's word) have taught me, so that I cannot boast, er just like Paul.

n2sbp

joey said...

well...congrats. As for me, I will continue to try to work out my salvation with fear and trembling

SolaMeanie said...

I wish there was a Lewisian way to respond to this using Spurgeon. (Lewisian as in C.S. Lewis). In reply to a question about Norman Vincent Peale and the Apostle Paul, Lewis reportedly said "I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling."

What rhymes with Spurgeon besides sturgeon?

Phil Johnson said...

No2: "If you are Born Again you don't need any Spurgeons, nor any other man to teach you."

Since you apply 1 John 2:27 that way, why do you post nonsense like this? If you're right, we don't need YOU as a teacher, either, and in either case, your teaching is certainly not superior to Spurgeon's.

no2salvation-by-process said...

"If you're right, we don't need YOU as a teacher, either, and in either case, your teaching is certainly not superior to Spurgeon's."

You're right, and I don't want to be your teacher, I want to set you free from your religion and the men of religion you put your faith in, so you can stand on your own two feet with Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:27 is telling you straight, now can you handle it or do you need someone to hold your hand for the rest of your life.

It's time you people tucked into some beef steak and chucked the babies milk bottle away.

n2sbp

Josh said...

n2sbp,

If the 1 John passage you quoted actually meant what you think it means, then why would John write it? His statement would be self-refuting since he would be teaching Christians that they don't need to be taught.

SolaMeanie said...

Dear No2,

If you think anyone here worships Luther, Spurgeon, Calvin, MacArthur, or any other Christian leader from today or days gone by, you need a refresher course in reading comprehension. Some additional education in rightly dividing Scripture might be beneficial as well.

What are you trying to say? Outside of what is recorded in Scripture, no one is to say or write anything? Do you honestly think those of us who either post here or the blog administrators consider extra-biblical authors/teachers on a par with Scripture? Do you think that pastors or Bible teachers should just read Scripture with no comment? Should I throw out my hymnal for fear that I am worshipping the late Fanny Crosby?

Read what Scripture says about being contentious and pray about it a while.

no2salvation-by-process said...

To Josh,

"If the 1 John passage you quoted actually meant what you think it means, then why would John write it?"

It means what it says or perhaps you have a more 'enlightened' meaning. Whatever it is, it will be your interpretation and not The Truth. This verse means exactly what it says. Furthermore, John didn't write it, anymore than he wrote the Book of Revelation. The Lord Jesus Christ does the writing through His brothers and friends - John being one of them.

"His statement would be self-refuting since he would be teaching Christians that they don't need to be taught."

Only newcomers or disciples need teaching, not Born Again Sons of God. Once we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which we receive at Baptism) we have no need of men. Why would we, we have Jesus Christ with us full time? John 14:18 "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
This is what John is talking about and why I said to Mr Johnson that it's time for Christians to stand on their own two feet with The Lord Jesus Christ.

n2sbp

no2salvation-by-process said...

Dear Mr Solemeanie,

"If you think anyone here worships Luther, Spurgeon, Calvin, MacArthur, or any other Christian leader from today or days gone by, you need a refresher course in reading comprehension. Some additional education in rightly dividing Scripture might be beneficial as well."

I am not saying they're worshiping these men (what were you saying about comprehension?) but I am saying they're putting their faith in these men. They are used as guides, as realiable sources, when plainly they are not, including Spurgeon. In reality they are all men of religion and not to be relied upon at all and for all the reasons I have stated to Josh above.

"What are you trying to say?"

I am not trying to say anything, I am stating it plainly and clearly.

"Outside of what is recorded in Scripture"

There is nothing outside of what is recorded in Scripture, and there is only one problem with Scripture as we have it today and that is religious contaminations of it through the ages. Especially Babylonian contaminations by members of The Whore's organisation in Rome via the Vulgate translation.

Your comments on the above statement will reveal how qualified you are at rightly dividing the Word of God.

"No one is to say or write anything?"

They can write and say as much as they like provided it is The Truth. If it's not then it must be revealed for what it is - error, lies and/or a non-gospel. Unfortunately, much of mainstream 'Christianity' is guilty of teaching the latter.

"Do you honestly think those of us who either post here or the blog administrators consider extra-biblical authors/teachers on a par with Scripture?"

This is a strange question and is best answered with another question: If what is written is not on a par with Scripture what is the point of it?

"Do you think that pastors or Bible teachers should just read Scripture with no comment?"

I think pastors should do what Holy Scripture tells them to do and that is the job of overseeing - watching over their flocks. Overseeing, as in the first century Church, is allowing an egalitarian congregation to get on with it. The job of teaching should fall to those with that Spiritual gift as laid down by The Lord through Paul in Corinthians.
If a pastor doesn't have the gift of teaching then you can see how major problems can arise with heretical teaching - all too common in many, if not all, denominations.

"Should I throw out my hymnal for fear that I am worshipping the late Fanny Crosby?"

No, not at all, but I would check every hymn for heretical wording.

n2sbp

SolaMeanie said...

I've got a better idea to wade through this, no2. You're pretty verbose with your polemic. Now, how about getting specific by answering a series of questions. If I can't be around on a given day to respond to you, I am sure others here will as they can.

1. Please enlighten us by showing precisely where the owners of this blog or its contributors are proclaiming false doctrine.

2. If the Bible has been so horribly corrupted, please tell me which version of Scripture has your approval. I think I have an idea already, but I'll let you inform us. If you know where the original autographs are, please share this information.

3. You say that "born again Sons of God" need no teaching. Just how do you define "disciple?" Do you mean to say that disciples of Jesus aren't born again? At what point does a born again Christian reach this spiritual metamorphosis of not needing any teaching? (I'll say this right now..your interpretation of the 1 John passage is wildly distorted - especially when the context is considered and when we take the counsel of God as a whole).

4. The believers in Acts are recorded as "devoting themselves" to the apostles' teaching. Are these people described in that passage not fully saved believers in your view, and somehow lacking because they're "not standing up on their own two feet?" Did you ever stop to think that perhaps the Holy Spirit teaches through men now and then as His Word is proclaimed or exegeted?

You've really set yourself up with all sorts of landmines. The things you have said here are a classic example of someone who seemingly operates like a loose cannon, and instead of denigrating Bible teachers, you would be well served to sit under one for a while.

no2salvation-by-process said...

Mr Solameanie,

"I've got a better idea to wade through this"

Yes, men and their ideas - that's the problem, or better, men leaning on their own ideas: "Prov 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

"You're pretty verbose with your polemic."

What is a 'polemic? Sounds like a highfalutin (I love that Yankee word) Bible intellectual's word to me and as far removed from the Truth or the Simplicity that is in Christ 2 Cor 11:3 as the equator is from the north pole.

As for my verboseness, you should not be surprised, either we speak with The Lord's authority and with Godly confidence or we don't. This is why you people need your theologians and I don't. I have Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, the question is, do you?

"Please enlighten us by showing precisely where the owners of this blog or its contributors are proclaiming false doctrine."

2 Thess 2:7-12 "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Paul, here, is telling us and warning us about the Babylonian Mystery Religion - the mystery of iniquity, and it was already very active in first century. 2,000 years on and 2 billion members and most of them deceived. Now notice verse 11, God (not Satan) shall send them a strong delusion, not weak, but strong - a strong delusion.

Now, the lost or unsaved don't believe in anything apart from themselves, but religious people do believe and oh how they believe, and with such great zeal. The problem is, what do they believe? The Lord tells us in no uncertain terms - a lie. Religion and its non-gospel.

"If the Bible has been so horribly corrupted."

There are no 'ifs' about it.

"Please tell me which version of Scripture has your approval."

Any version that has The Lord's approval. Any version not polluted by deluded men of religion. Any version that tells us God is love, mercy and forgiveness and that all men will be saved - even deluded wretches. Any version that is as near to The Truth as possible i.e. not a modern translation.

"You say that "born again Sons of God" need no teaching."

Your standard of comprehension is letting you down again. I didn't say Born Again Sons of God need no teaching, in fact, I didn't say anything, I qouted 1 John 2:27 which states clearly we need no man to teach us.

"Just how do you define "disciple?"

I don't, Scripture does. A disciple is rebuked by Jesus Christ - "get thee behind me Satan", and fearfully denies Jesus Christ three times.

A Son of God is born of the Spirit, can and does become an Apostle and heals people with his shadow and has no man teaching him.

"At what point does a born again Christian reach this spiritual metamorphosis of not needing any teaching?"

Poor comprehension again and I am staggered that you are asking this question. A Born Again Christian doesn't reach any Spiritual metamorphosis, he has already reached it at Baptism: Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

"Do you mean to say that disciples of Jesus aren't born again?"

You said it and so does Scripture. No man can enter The Kingdom of God unless he is Born of the Spirit, and the twelve disciples were not Born Again or Born of the Spirit until Pentecost when afterwards they were no longer disciples.

"I'll say this right now..your interpretation of the 1 John passage is wildly distorted - especially when the context is considered"

1) It's not my interpretation.

2) It's only distorted to you, because you don't want to accept what The Lord says in this verse. 1 John 2:27 stands alone and in context just as John 3:16 stands alone and in context. There are many other scriptures that also stand alone and well you know it and would use if it suited you.

"The believers in Acts are recorded as "devoting themselves" to the apostles' teaching."

I have concordanced Acts and the word 'devoting' or 'devoted' doesn't show up. I sense you're now clutching at straws. I will need the Scripture to comment on it.

"You've really set yourself up with all sorts of landmines. The things you have said here are a classic example of someone who seemingly operates like a loose cannon."

Er. like John the Baptist perhaps or Paul, or even The Lord Jesus Christ. I bet the Pharisees thought He was a loose cannon too - a regular trouble maker He was.

"Instead of denigrating Bible teachers, you would be well served to sit under one for a while."

I would never denigrate a Bible teacher, so what does that tell you?

n2sbp