19 April 2008

On the Broad-Minded Spirit of Sadduceeism, and How to Answer It

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "The Charge of the Angel," A sermon delivered 8 July 1888 in the morning service at the Met Tab..


HE second persecution of the church, in which all the apostles were put into the common prison, was mainly brought about by the sect of the Sadducees. These, as you know, were the Broad School, the liberals, the advanced thinkers, the modern-thought people of the day.

If you want a bitter sneer, a biting sarcasm, or a cruel action, I commend you to these large-minded gentlemen. They are liberal to everybody, except to those who hold the truth; and for those they have a reserve of concentrated bitterness which far excels wormwood and gall.

They are so liberal to their brother errorists, that they have no tolerance to spare for evangelicals.

We are expressly told that "the high priest, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) were filled with indignation." That which had been done deserved their admiration, but received their indignation. Such gentlemen as these can be warm at a very short notice, when the doctrine of the cross is spreading, and God the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with signs following. Let them display their indignation, it is according to their nature.

To them the only answer which God gave was spoken by his angel: "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." Argument will be lost upon them; go on with your preaching. They have lost the faculty of believing: go and speak to the people. They are so given over to their doubts, that it is like rolling the stone of Sisyphus to persuade them to faith. They are so eaten up with objections, that to attempt to answer all the questions they raise would be as vain as the labor of filling a bottomless tub.

Go on with your preaching, you apostles; but address yourselves mainly to the people. Extend as widely as possible the range of the truth, and thus answer the opposition of its adversaries. It is better to evangelize than to controvert. The preaching of the word of life is the best antidote to the doctrine of death.

Clearly enough, if they had known it, and had been capable of seeing it, these blind Sadducees were answered at every point when the apostles were brought out of prison and bore witness to their Lord. Here was the creed of the Sadducees: they said that "there was no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit"; but these apostles stood up and witnessed to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. What did they make of that?

An angel had come from heaven and had brought these apostles out of prison. Then there were angels.

As these apostles were set free while the sentries remained standing before the doors, and those doors were afterwards found fastened, if there were no spirit, assuredly materialism had acted in a singular fashion.

Every item of their negative creed had been made to fall like Dagon before the ark. The Lord always arranges Red Seas for Pharaohs. All that the apostles had to do was to go on with their preaching, and this they did; for "daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
C. H. Spurgeon


18 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

"If you want a bitter sneer, a biting sarcasm, or a cruel action, I commend you to these large-minded gentlemen. They are liberal to everybody, except to those who hold the truth."

Priceless. When the truth is an affront and a challenge, it must be sneered at, lest it gain a foothold.

This is what's happening in the academy vis-a-vis Intelligent Design. I recommend the new Ben Stein movie "Expelled" in this regard. Because ID strikes at the heart of a pillar of atheism, the "large minded" naturalists wish to shut it down; tar it with derision; silence it. I hadn't seen this connection to Sadduceeism before. Another tip of the hat to Spurgeon.

Ye Olde Mike said...

May you be infested with the fleas of a thousand camels if ever you stop providing our weekly dose of Spurgeon. This is wonderful and helpful as I prepare to meet with a pair of 'Jehovah's Witnesses' this afternoon.

What an encouragement this blog is!

donsands said...

Excellent exhortation from the pastor for us to keep on speaking the truth.

With all the watering down of God's truth going on today from these modern day "Sadducee's", and all the resentment for those who will not water it down with them, these words from Spurgeon are edifying, and we need to be built-up and encouraged. Mucho gracias mi amigo.

Polycarp said...

With every one of the fabulous gems from Spurgeon you post here on the weekends, I continually think it cannot get any better, or more accurate, than the one in which I am presently reading each and every week...until the next week comes along!

Gee, I just wonder how this piece would go over among contemporary readers if it were republished as an article in CT (under a different name)?

Mike Riccardi said...

What I can't understand is how the emergers read something like this and not go, "Uhh... it sounds like he's talking about us." I mean... seared consciences? Willful ignorance?

Polycarp said...

Simple answer Mike...most of them do not, nor likely ever will, read Spurgeon or any teacher of the truth. They certainly won't see what He is saying until they either come to faith in the Lord Jesus (for the hordes among them who are simply lost and unregenerate) or submit to his authority (for the ones who are prodigals and heretcs). For the ones who have made that terminal plunge into wholesale apostacy, they will certainly have no desire in this life, or in eternity, to read and embrace the glorious truth declared by Spurgeon nor the very Word of God for that matter.

Rick Frueh said...

Let us always remember that after the council had arrested them again and beaten them, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name.

The grace is His, the name is His, the gospel is His, the power is His, and indeed we are His, unworthy recipients of His eternal grace. We have nothing about which to feel resourceful or savvy or erudite, we are unprofitable servants speaking on His behalf in hopes that the Spirit will persuade sinners.

The modern day Sadducees mock and resist at their own peril and with no delight from us, for our delight is in the Lord and His Word.

The Spokesman said...

mike riccardi: What I can't understand is how the emergers read something like this and not go, "Uhh... it sounds like he's talking about us."

2 Timothy 3:13 - "But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

Not long ago there was a shocking confession from Willow Creek in which they admitted that what they were doing wasn't really working. But do you think that they will repent and get better? No! The Bible says that they will proceed from bad to worse. This is the case with Willow Creek and will be with the postmodern movements. Instead of abandoning their seeker-sensitive and emergent philosophies they are only going deeper into them. Willow Creek has recently had Serpent-sensitive Brian McLaren as a speaker at one of their conferences.

Sam said...

Unfortunately, the Saducees weren't particularly liberal. In fact they were very strict and literal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadducees

I know that's not really the point of the passage above, but I think it's worth pointing out so this error doesn't get propogated.

The Spokesman said...

Sam: Unfortunately, the Saducees weren't particularly liberal. In fact they were very strict and literal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadducees

Actually the Sadducees were very liberal - "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all" (Acts 23:8). The fact that they were strict and literal doesn't nullify their being liberal.

Stefan said...

...And since liberal religionists don't have the Gospel, they need to save themselves by their own works, just like the Saducees.

Phil:

They are liberal to everybody, except to those who hold the truth.

Admit it: you relish digging up these jewels from Spurgeon week after week! I can just picture you chuckling as you find each weekend's juicy morsel to post.

VcdeChagn said...

I hadn't seen this connection to Sadduceeism before. Another tip of the hat to Spurgeon.

An interesting comparison. I never really thought about it that way.

I went to see Expelled yesterday and reviewed it on my site. It has its flaws but overall is a pretty good representation of what is going on in academia.

semper reformundo said...

Actually, The Sadducees were much more conservative in their context...they only accepted the Torah as authoritative, while the Pharisees were much more liberal both in their acceptance of the Prophets and the Writings; also in their "seeking after smooth things" - something self-proclaimed conservatives and fundamentalists always say about groups they label "liberal." Poor Spurgeon; he didn't have N.T. Wright to read in his day and had no idea. :~(

The Spokesman said...

semper reformundo: Actually, The Sadducees were much more conservative in their context...they only accepted the Torah as authoritative, while the Pharisees were much more liberal both in their acceptance of the Prophets and the Writings

You actually prove the liberalism of the Sadducees; and Spurgeon as right and Wright as wrong!

The Sadducees only accepted the Torah as authoritative in order that they might not be boxed in with sound doctrine. They were sure that the Torah didn't teach the resurrection, nor angels, nor spirits, when in fact it teaches and affirms all three. Even the Torah wasn't really authoritative to them! Jesus used the Torah to silence them when they proposed a hypothetical situation that was supposedly irreconcilable if there were a resurrection. "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God...But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Matthew 22:29, 31-32).

Sam said...

The Spokesman -- 'liberal' is not a synonym for 'wrong'.

The Saduccees were apparently very literal, rather than liberal, in their interpretation of the law, and rejected the Pharisee's oral tradition.

As I understand it it's not clear that they only accepted the Torah, but they might have done. Even if they did, that could be a conservative or a liberal error. You are supposing that they came to the OT with the idea that there is no bodily resurrection, and then messed around with Scripture.

It's just as likely that they came to their view on the resurrection from a poor, can't-see-the-wood-for-the-trees reading of Scripture.

Regardless, it seems silly to label people who were probably ultra-conservative and literal as liberals.

Polycarp said...

SR: I need N.T. Wright for my spiritual life about as much as I need Doc Kevorkian for my physical life!

Tom Coughlin said...

O how right on Spurgeon is, and many of us have tasted the vitreol of our liberal friends.

I once was in a church with a liberal pastor who was interim for a short time. "Such a sweet man, a nice man, a kind man, a lover of old people, sick people, and such a smile" they folks would say.

I confronted him on a sermon one day as I was able to read through his niceness, and I challenged his message on the virgin birth, which of course led to the authority of scripture, which then led to his own schooling at McCormick in Illinois. Let's put it this way.
He wasn't nice to me anymore. A scowl would always be on his face when we were alone. he hated when I sat in the first pew, and when we were alone he told me so.
I was sure to get there early every week!
Actually I did feel sad for the man. I think that at one point he felt his walls crumbling down in one of our conversations, and he just blurted out "Do you expect me to throw away all of my schooling, all that I had learned? That is what I would have to do if I accepted what you say is true."
My response was simple. "if your first three doctor's opinions are wrong, and your fourth doctor is correct, and suggests that you don't need the surgery after all, would you let them cut you anyway, since you invested so much time at their office?

Last time I saw him he still didn't like me, er...or really the gospel!

Polycarp said...

Tom: so sorry to hear of this experience; I had a similar experience w/ a liberal pastor some time ago. Well, just remember that you were not there by accident, of course, and as he stood before you preaching a damnable heresy, your face and your very presence, after making your declaration of truth, was a sermon of conviction unto itself! A mirror if you like!