26 April 2008

On the Sort of "Politeness" that Stifles Truth

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 an Article titled "The War-Horse," published in the May 1866 issue of The Sword and the Trowel.


en are perishing, and if it be unpolite to tell them so, it can only be so where the devil is the master of the ceremonies.

Out upon your soul-destroying politeness; the Lord give us a little honest love to souls, and this superficial gentility will soon vanish. I could with considerable refreshment to myself pour sarcasm after sarcasm upon religious cowardice. I would cheerfully sharpen my knife and dash it into the heart of this mean vice. There is nothing to be said in its favor.

It is not even humble; it is only pride of too beggarly a sort to own itself.
C. H. Spurgeon


21 comments:

Even So... said...

I'll be using that quote tomorrow for my sermon "Pocket Jesus" taken from 1 Samuel 4...

Mike Riccardi said...

Man... that snippet is short, sweet, and packs a punch!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"On the Sort of "Politeness" that Stifles Truth"

Can one be sympathetic to the pluralistic, postmodernist mindset without stifling or compromising God's truth?

Here's one Christian's perspective:

My Heretical Postmodern Sympathies

My concern is that if one is not careful, then "sympathy" is received or interpreted as affirmation, acceptance, and approval by the one living in opposition to God.

Are polite sympathies such as C. Michael Patton's found in Scripture?

donsands said...

"I would cheerfully sharpen my knife and dash it into the heart of this mean vice."

Is this vice, sarcasm?

This quote is another incredible arrangement of words from the "master pulpiteer", but my brain is coming up a little short here.

Lynn said...

Truth unites...

I read your post. First I'm gonna say this. I hear you. Yep. I do. Next I'm gonna say this: I still think you're wrong. Because, I finally figured out one day, that I was wrong in feeling this way.

I've been there. Really and truly. I have gay friends, I've been acquainted with witches (who were quite nice by the way). I have friends who drink, smoke, all those terrible worldy things we are warned about all our lives...

I grew up pentecostal, then up and went to a private catholic school with heavy postmodern sympathies.

I work with people from all walks of life.

I'm friends with people from all walks of life.

But, while I'll hear them, I don't agree with them. I don't water down the gospel for them, and I don't tell them its okay because they are compassionate, nice do-gooding people. One of my gay friends once asked me if he were to be married (I'm from Massachusetts) if I would attend the ceremony. I told him no. I told him I couldn't celebrate the solidification of that lifestyle because I believed not repenting and abandoning that life would send him to hell.

Wonder of all wonders--he's still my friend. One of my best friends. When he asks I'm still honest. And, I'm still praying for him.

I hate it. I don't think its fair, but I think God has a better handle on these things than me.

Present the Gospel however you like. I can't stop you. But, when its so watered down no one you speak to is able to find the truth with two hands, a high-powered microscope, and search light...its not really the Gospel anymore, and THAT is the danger with postmodern sympathies. Because it always ends up an unrecognizable mess. Relevance is overrated. The gospel is plenty relevant just as it is. Everyone has sin, everyone needs grace. Jesus takes care of both. The end. See, relevant.

People respect honesty and straightforwardness that is delivered with the appropriate attitude. Even if they don't agree, you do them a dis-service by presenting it any other way than God already has.

Water it down and you surely damn them to hell. You don't help them by not hurting their feelings or upsetting their sensibilities.

And, contrary to popular belief..Paul upset a lot of people's sensibilities. Especially in Athens. Why do think the man was beaten, flogged, and writing to people from prison so often? Come now people. Get real. With God, and with the people in your lives. You'll be suprised how fast all that postmodern wracking doubt and confusion dissapears when you do.

Peace.

Carol Jean said...

Lynn said "But, when its so watered down no one you speak to is able to find the truth with two hands, a high-powered microscope, and search light...its not really the Gospel anymore, and THAT is the danger with postmodern sympathies."

Quote of the YEAR!!!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Lynn,

Your post is beautiful music to my ears! I agree with you 100%! Carol Jean is right; that was the quote of the year!

Your disagreement is not with me, but rather with the author of that blog post... C. Michael Patton.

Peace and blessings.

Bryan Riley said...

best definition i ever heard of "humility" was this:

"being willing, and choosing, to be known for who you are."

Lynn said...

truth unites...
sorry for the misunderstanding! i was at work and in a bit of a rush...

Peace.

The Doulos said...

Interesting Spurgeon quote and comment thread here. It brings a question to my mind. If the message of the Gospel and the cross of Christ is offensive to the sensibilities of the natural man (and it is), how then do we think we can or should communicate that message "politely"? To be sure, we must declare the Gospel message with humility and with pleading for sinners to repent. But if we seek to lessen the offense of the cross to unregenerate people in an attempt to be "polite" or "relevant" or a hundred other so-called postmodern virtues, we risk losing the core truth of the message itself. And this we can never do, and remain faithful to the One Who Is the Message.

And it looks like we've found a contemporary Spurgeonette in Lynn. Well said!

The Spokesman said...

There is nothing loving about refusing to speak the truth in love. This ecumenical counterfeit of politeness and gentility towards any viewpoint is extreme cowardice disguised as love. Wishing to remove the offense of the cross "they are enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18). Away with the idea that gathering together any and all aberrant doctrines, holding hands, and singing Kum Ba Yah is pleasing to God.

BTW, Ravi Zacharias told Mark Driscoll that the Emerging Church was a gathering point for all kinds of aberrant Christian doctrinal agendas - "As we talked I asked him what issues were of the greatest concern to him and what he was preparing to focus on in the coming year. Much to my surprise, he said that the Emerging church was a great concern to him because it held a low view of truth and was gaining momentum as a gathering point for all kinds of aberrant Christian doctrinal agendas." Tzatziki with Ravi

SolaMeanie said...

Phil,

Posting this was very rude of you. I love it.

Strong Tower said...

Emergency Spurgeon said. Emergent See. There's no time.

There's no time to be non-offensive. He has given you the ministry of offense. Such is the way of the cross.

bwyoil- Honestly it was my verification code!

Josh & Jocelyn R. Plett said...

Great quote. Best I have seen yet!

Revivalfire said...

What a quote!

We need more of this type of preaching in our pulpits today!

John

John said...

This is off the subject, but is it contextualization to say "Spurgeon is my homeboy?"

SolaMeanie said...

Speaking of Emergent-See posters, I think Phil ought to create one with the Alice-in-Wonderland motif i.e. "Words mean what I want them to mean. No more, no less."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"On the Sort of "Politeness" that Stifles Truth"

How about the sort of Reformed Impoliteness that Stifles and Attacks Literary Fiction?

"But it’s important to remember that Young was writing a theological parable of sorts [The Shack], for his children, not for a seminary faculty. This was never the last word in theology, and it was, from the outset, an experiment in literary playfulness.

Listening to Young in interviews, such as his two Drew Marshall interviews or his God Journey podcasts, it’s easy to see that this is not an emerging version of Phil Johnson."


From Shack Attack

For a less than complimentary critique from a reform blogger, here's Tim Challies review:

"The Shack" by William P. Young

Gordon Cheng said...

Thanks Phil. Basically, we just want to be loved, and straight talk about hell and other gospel matters won't achieve that for us. Spurgeon's reminder is a good one.

Marie said...

> how then do we think we can or should communicate that message "politely"?

Just do it in love.

John said...

Very convicting. Thank you.