posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following Spurgeon excerpt is from "Christ Lifted Up," a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, 5 July 1857, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens, London.Foreword
by Phil Johnson
was impelled to post the following Spurgeon excerpt because of a sermon series currently getting a lot of publicity and kudos from the scions of the "relevant" approach to preaching:
The ad campaign alone was appalling enough. Then I heard portions of the actual sermons on Way of the Master Radio this week, and I have to say these are the most horrifically abominable sermons I have ever heard from any quasi-evangelical pulpit. The level to which this stuff has sunk is so inane that it's impossible to parody.
I say this in all seriousness: the guy who preached this Seuss series should resign from ministry and spend the rest of his life pleading with God for mercy. If you think I am exaggerating, listen to the series for yourself.
John MacArthur used to say if you're using Scripture as a springboard to say whatever you want rather than teaching your people what the Bible actually says, you might as well exegete "Little Bo Peep." And he did a 90-second parody of how that could be done using the style of preaching so many contemporary evangelicals seem to favor. MacArthur, of course, was using a classic reductio argument, employing an example no one (or so we thought) would ever seriously consider imitating. Here's an audio clip:
Brethren, we need to get back to the gospel. Here's Spurgeon:
he minister ought to preach Christ in opposition to mere morality. How many ministers in London could preach as well out of Shakespeare as the Bible, for all they want is a moral maxim. The good man never thinks of mentioning regeneration. He sometimes talks of moral renovation. He does not think of talking about perseverance by grace. No, continuance in well-doing is his perpetual cry.
He does not think of preaching "believe and be saved." No; his continual exhortation is, "Good Christian people, say your prayers, and behave well, and by these means you shall enter the kingdom of heaven." The sum and substance of his gospel is that we can do very well without Christ, that although certainly there is a little amiss in us, yet if we just mend our ways in some little degree, that old text, "except a man be born again," need not trouble us.
If you want to be made drunkards, if you want to be made dishonest, if you want to be taught every vice in the world, go and hear a moral preacher. These gentlemen, in their attempts to reform and make people moral, are the men that lead them from morality.
Hear the testimony of holy Bishop Lavington, "We have long been attempting to reform the nation by moral preaching. With what effect? None. On the contrary, we have dexterously preached the people into downright infidelity. We must change our voice; we must preach Christ and him crucified; nothing but the gospel is the power of God unto salvation."