01 November 2008

Unity at All Costs?

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 "A Fragment Upon the Down-Grade Controversy," an article published in the November 1887 issue of The Sword and the Trowel, at the height of the "Down-Grade" controversy.




o pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus. If we are prepared to enter into solemn league and covenant for the defense of the crown-rights of King Jesus, we cannot give up the crown-jewels of his gospel for the sake of a larger charity. He is our Master and Lord, and we will keep his words: to tamper with his doctrine would be to be traitors to himself.

Yet, almost unconsciously, good men and true may drift into compromises which they would not at first propose, but which they seem forced to justify. Yielding to be the creatures of circumstances, they allow another to gird them, and lead them whither they would not; and when they wake up, and find themselves in an undesirable condition, they have not always the resolution to break away from it. Especially in the company of their equally-erring brethren, they are not inclined to consider their ways, and are not anxious to have them remarked upon; and, therefore, in this brief paper we venture to make an earnest appeal from brethren assembled, to brethren at home in their studies quietly turning over the matter.

As much as possible we beg them to forget the obnoxious reprover, and to look the state of affairs carefully in the face, and see if it strikes them as it does us. We will put it plainly, not to provoke, but to be understood.

As a matter of fact, believers in Christ's atonement are now in declared religions union with those who make light of it; believers in Holy Scripture are in confederacy with those who deny plenary inspiration; those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death, and a future restitution for the lost.

Yes, we have before us the wretched spectacle of professedly orthodox Christians publicly avowing their union with those who deny the faith, and scarcely concealing their contempt for those who cannot be guilty of such gross disloyalty to Christ. To be very plain, we are unable to call these things Christian Unions, they begin to look like Confederacies in Evil. Before the face of God we fear that they wear no other aspect. To our inmost heart, this is a sad truth from which we cannot break away.

It is lawful to unite with all sorts of men for good and benevolent and necessary purposes, even as at a fire, Pagan and Papist and Protestant may each one hand on the buckets and in a sinking ship, heathen and Christian alike are bound to take turns at the pumps. For useful, philanthropical, and political purposes, united action is allowable among men of the most diverse views in religion. But the case before us is that of a distinctly religious communion, a professed fellowship in Christ. Is this to be made so wide that those who contradict each other on vital points may yet pretend to be at one?

Furthermore, we should greatly object to the shifting about for heresy which some speak of; but in this case the heresy is avowed, and is thrust forward in no diffident style. No words could be more explicit had they been selected as a challenge. We have not to deal with those tares which were like the wheat, but with thorns and thistles which declare themselves openly. Whether the Down-Grade evil has operated on few or many is a question which may be waived: it has operated manifestly enough upon some, and they glory in it. Yet professedly sound believers are in full accord with these outspokenly heterodox men, and are linked with them in set and formal union. Is this according to the mind of the God of truth?

The largest charity towards those who are loyal to the Lord Jesus, and yet do not see with us on secondary matters, is the duty of all true Christians. But how are we to act towards those who deny his vicarious sacrifice, and ridicule the great truth of justification by his righteousness? These are not mistaken friends, but enemies of the cross of Christ. There is no use in employing circumlocutions and polite terms of expression:—where Christ is not received as to the cleansing power of his blood and the justifying merit of his righteousness, he is not received at all.
C. H. Spurgeon


7 comments:

Matt said...

You sure that wasn't Robert H. Schuller?

donsands said...

"These are not mistaken friends, but enemies of the cross of Christ."

Paul wept for these same enemies in his time.
Surely they have multiplied in our generation, and our task to contend to keep the Gospel pure is even greater in some ways, and our tears need to be great as well.

And perhaps not literal tears, but a heartfelt sorrow for those who will stand before the Lord on that day, and not clothed in the grace, mercy, and righteousness of Christ.

I wish I was bold and humble as Spurgeon was. To be unashamed of the Gospel, and yet no how unworthy I am.

"But for the grace of God, there go I."

Great to have you back.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Spurgeon:"Yet, almost unconsciously, good men and true may drift into compromises which they would not at first propose, but which they seem forced to justify. Yielding to be the creatures of circumstances, they allow another to gird them, and lead them whither they would not; and when they wake up, and find themselves in an undesirable condition, they have not always the resolution to break away from it."




As true today as it was back then.

Stefan said...

Feeling confused? Muddle-headed? Disoriented? Not sure where the ancient path or the good way is (Jer 6:16)? Take Elixir of Spurgeon once a week, to make everything crystal clear and help you find your way again.

Gilbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gilbert said...

You know, I am so tired of Spurgeon holding back, and then having his words become irrelevant in short time...

...I just shake my head. It's the same stuff over and over again. Whether it's called the "Down Grade", "Emergent", "Word Faith", I think it's fair to say that Satan is the greatest environmentalist of them all, completely recycling the same sins of heresy from one generation to the next. We try to make the Gospel this or that, instead of letting it be what it is. It would be so much nicer to take a sanding tool to smooth all these rough edges, but it is those edges that make the Gospel the only way of salvation and grace.

I take no pleasure in watching other people heading for Hell, and I am disturbed by so many people I know who are currently the walking dead. I pray that I can deliver the Gospel message to them, before it is too late. Donsands:

"I wish I was bold and humble as Spurgeon was."

While the pen is your hand, add me to that list.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Interestingly, I just read that Spurgeon was censured by a vote of 2000 to 7 for making criticisms of this nature.

For whatever reason, I thought he universally beloved. When I read that Spurgeon was censured, I immediately thought of Machen.

Wow. 2 of my favorite theologians in the last century were booted.