02 May 2010

A Word about Evan-jellyfish

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 Broken Fence," a sermon preached near the end of Spurgeon's ministry but first published in 1913, two decades after his death.



    religion which is all excitement, and has little instruction in it, may serve for transient use; but for permanent life-purposes there must be a knowledge of those great doctrines which are fundamental to the gospel system.

I tremble when I hear of a man's giving up, one by one, the vital principles of the gospel and boasting of his liberality.

I hear him say, "These are my views, but others have a right to their views also." That is a very proper expression in reference to mere "views," but we may not thus speak of truth itself as revealed by God. That is one and unalterable, and all are bound to receive it.

It is not your view of truth, for that is a dim thing; but the very truth itself which will save you if your faith embraces it.

I will readily yield my way of stating a doctrine, but not the doctrine itself. One man may put it in this way, and one in another; but the truth itself must never be given up.

The spirit of the Broad School robs us of everything like certainty. I should like to ask some great men of that order whether they believe that anything is taught in the Scriptures which it would be worth while for a person to die for, and whether the martyrs were not great fools for laying down their lives for mere opinions which might be right or might be wrong?

This broad-churchism is a breaking down of stone walls, and it will let in the devil and all his crew, and do infinite harm to the church of God, if it be not stopped. A loose state of belief does great damage to any man's mind.

We are not bigots, but we should be none the worse if we so lived that men called us so. I met a man the other day who was accused of bigotry, and I said, "Give me your hand, old fellow. I like to meet with bigots now and then, for the fine old creatures are getting scarce, and the stuff they are made of is so good that if there were more of it, we might see a few men among us again and fewer mollusks."

Lately we have seen few men with backbone; the most have been of the jelly-fish order. I have lived in times in which I should have said, "Be liberal, and shake off all narrowness ; but now I am obliged to alter my tone and cry, "Be steadfast in the truth."

The faith once delivered to the saints is now all the more attractive to me, because it is called narrow, for I am weary of that breadth which comes of broken hedges. There are fixed points of truth, and definite certainties of creed, and woe to you if you allow these stone walls to crumble down.

I fear me that the slothful are a numerous band, and that ages to come may have to deplore the laxity which has been applauded by this negligent generation.

C. H. Spurgeon


44 comments:

CAUGHTNOTTAUGHT said...

I'm a lazy, slack dog myself. I became sure that God was reaching out in grace to me only by hearing the stories of how Jesus did things. It impressed my impressionable mind that he was able to make good on things like miracles. When he claimed to be able to forgive sins that also sent a shiver down my, er, spine. And it was by listening to these terrific things he said that I came to trust him, which I did, alas, long before I learned to be a bigot. I was set free by the "very truth" long before I knew the right things about it.

Boerseuntjie said...

AMEN and AMEN!

Here in the United Kingdom it has certainly become the case that an "evangelical" is such in None but the title.

They have a great joy in their "Fellowship" - but diplore any who would REALLY and ACTUALLY put their faith wholly upon the Evangel Itself as the Reformers so wonderfully stated (SOLA Scriptura!).

They join in a "faith" but when one says SOLA Fide -well then Doctrine itself is to be blamed for the divisions - I say RIGHTLY so, my Doctrine is None but that which is Exhalted in Him who is the Truth and from His Scriptures Alone.

Let every man be found a liar - but our boast is Only in our Triune YAHWEH. For without His merciful dealings with wretches such as I am...

Judgement and Destruction would be my inheritence - So I look unto Him who Alone can save and transform my desperately wicked heart.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Your fellow bondslave by the mercy gifted us Alone in Messiah Jesus Alone,
W

truth mission said...

Mr Spurgeon spoke to his time and yet being "dead" he still speaks

Disciple of Jesus Christ said...

Thanks for the great post!!

I wonder why Spurgeon could not get rid of cigar when he had such a deep theology...

Be in Peace!
Jdisciple†

donsands said...

"The prince of preachers".

Thanks.

"I wonder why Spurgeon could not get rid of cigar when he had such a deep theology..."

Why do you have to ask a silly question? When you say you have such deep theology.

Disciple of Jesus Christ said...

"Why do you have to ask a silly question? When you say you have such deep theology."

Please, show me where I asked a question. Thanks.

Be in Peace!

DJP said...

"Disciple of Jesus Christ"

That's it.

No more comments from you for at least a week. Learn what this blog is about. Be silent. Read. Learn.

Then, on or after 5/10/10, interact meaningfully and appropriately.

Or just leave.

Those are your two (2) choices.

Others: please, leave him be. No further responses.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

I like that: "the Broad School."

Michael said...

Love it! Thanks for posting this gem.

Gordan said...

Sobering thought there: the blood of the martyrs cries out against the jellyfish.

stratagem said...

Dan: THANK YOU for that last comment!

All: Could this have been written in the 19th century? It sounds EXACTLY like what is going on today in the Church! I guess there is no sin that is original.

Strong Tower said...

We are not bigots, but we should be none the worse if we so lived that men called us so. I met a man the other day who was accused of bigotry, and I said, "Give me your hand, old follow. I like to meet with bigots now and then, for the fine old creatures are getting scarce, and the stuff they are made of is so good that if there were more of it, we might see a few men among us again and fewer mollusks."

Priceless!

Are the doctrines of grace the truth or just a truth? Is Calvinism the Gospel, or is it just another show on Broadway?

donsands said...

"Is Calvinism the Gospel"

Is it Christ Himself? The Gospel is Christ Himself, who gave Himself for me.

I know where you're coming from, but I have a difficult time saying "Calvinism is the Gospel".

I don't believe John Calvin would enjoy that too much.

Just a quick thought from a Calvinist.

Stefan said...

Strong Tower:

I know what you were getting at, but I have to agree with Don's sentiments.

And now I have to get the image of a Broadway musical on church history out of my head. Yech!

stratagem said...

Maybe he really meant to say "Calvinism accurately describes the Gospel."

Disciple of Jesus Christ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Violation = extension of ban to 5/11/2010. Repeated violation = permanent ban.

Note well the wording in my previous comment. This is an opportunity to learn.

Come back with the same approach, and the result will be a permanent ban.

Strong Tower said...

@donsands

Aye!

He gave himself in a kinda muddled way. Such a muddle that we claim that Calvinism and Arminianism are mere opinions. They're just systems and neither captures the Gospel correctly. So we cannot say that one is the Gospel and the other isn't. They're just opinion. If one did, we would call the other a non-gospel. I get that. I agree with Spurgeon, we shouldn't allow the facets of either system to be taught as opinion, for that will only foster liberalism and unbelief.

@stratagem- "Calvinism accurately describes the Gospel."

Yeah, better, I guess. Now would that mean that Arminianism doesn't and according to Spurgeon constitutes mere opinion that should not be tolerated?

Does Spurgeons' razor apply to eschatological systems, too?

donsands said...

"He gave himself in a kinda muddled way." -strongT

Nope.

Here's an Arminian who preached the gospel that we preach.

"Wesley probably lacked both the oratory and some of the fire of Whitefield, but no one has ever seriously questioned his anointing. Wesley had power, and under his preaching men were slain of the Lord. Even the boisterous Whitefield was alarmed at this, but he was more alarmed when within days, the same phenomena attended his own meetings.

John Wesley preached with revelation. "His spiritual insight was hardly less than terrible. He seemed to see into men's souls, to put his finger upon the hidden sin, the unconfessed fear."-Leonard Ravenhill

And really the good news of Christ Jesus being crucified for sinners, and being raised from the dead, isn't Calvin's gospel, nor Arminius' gospel. It is Paul's gospel though, because he was a chosen vessel of our Lord, and wrote his epistles God-breathed.

Hey, Strong T, I think it's great you have your mind set the way you do for yourself.

I have a few incredible Arminian friends, who love Christ, and I feel unworthy to tie their Nikes. Not that i don't argue with them. They in fact call me "the flaming Calvinist".

maybe I'm weak because i don't equate Calvinism with the gospel. Hopefully one day I'll see it.

SteveJ said...

"The spirit of the Broad School robs us of everything like certainty."

Yes, and the Muslim jihadist has the same level of certainty and the same disdain for liberal-mindedness as Mr. Spurgeon.

This is vintage Spurgeon: an utter denial that he could possibly be mistaken, that he might have misapprehended, misinterpreted or misapplied something along the line. Impossible! For him, to be cocksure is to manifest a high Christian virtue.

This is a mind hermetically sealed against any progress of thought. How can their be progress when all is placed outside the realm of questioning.

Mike Riccardi said...

Yes, and the Muslim jihadist has the same level of certainty and the same disdain for liberal-mindedness as Mr. Spurgeon.

So what?

It's not our certainty that makes the Gospel true. It's truth that makes us certain.

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

Looks like there are some evanjellyfish in the water.

So Steve J, what can we be sure of? Is there anything that we can afford to be "bigots" (obstinate and intolerantly devoted to our beliefs) about?

Mike Riccardi said...

How can their be progress when all is placed outside the realm of questioning.

With the things we can be absolutely sure about, no further progress is needed. We would only need "progress" if we hadn't yet attained the end for which we were progressing. In the case of clear, unmistakable, absolute truth, to call for further progress is to demean the clarity of that truth.

Strong Tower said...

One thing to be admired by Wesley is that he did preach a clear gospel. So did Whitefield. Both let each other know that they thought the other was teaching crass heresy and blasphemy. They never reconciled, even though Wesley preached Whitefield's funeral. Whether they called one another brothers is beside the point. We can be in error, we just do not have the right to be wrong.

My point is just this don, if Spurgeon was correct, and I believe he was, then two opposing doctrines, mutually exclusive in their truth claims, cannot stand at the same time. Either one is true and the other false, or they are both false. It is the later that Spurgeon, I think, was addressing. If we claim that opinions merit the same level as doctrine then all doctrine, true and false become true. Or to say it another way, not worth anything more than what is false. If we allow to be preached and taught for doctrine the opinions of men we have no truth at all even if what we are teaching is riddled with truth. Allowing falsehood to stand equal with it makes truth to be of no greater worth.

"The faith once delivered to the saints is now all the more attractive to me, because it is called narrow, for I am weary of that breadth which comes of broken hedges. There are fixed points of truth, and definite certainties of creed, and woe to you if you allow these stone walls to crumble down."

Paul simply said, "Learn from us not to go beyond what is written." Anything more than that comes from the evil one. So what then, can competing soteriologies stand? Can any competing doctrine stand. Or, isn't the fact that we allow secondary and tertiary doctrine to creep in a sign that we have no real appreciation for the hedges and walls. I agree that any one can, at any time, teach what they clearly believe is only opinion. The problem that I have is when people say that they can hold a diversity of opinion and justify it by Scripture as being doctrinal. That itself denies what Scripture clearly teaches as Paul made clear. We do not have the liberty to teach wood, hay, stubble, but are commanded to assay all things and only to build with proven materials. So... I take Spurgeon at face value just as I do Paul and Jesus, for he said we will all be judged for every idle word spoken. We do not have the freedom to hold opinions on the same level as doctrine. We can have opinions we just cannot teach them as if they were not. So there are multiple schools of eschatology... which one is correct? If none, then none can be taught... not as doctrine. They can be examined as mere opinion, but not as doctrine. Only those points of eschatology that are clear, as Spurgeon said, can be taught, then. Same is true of our theology, or soteriology, or ecclesiology or any ology you wish to bring up. The point is that triage is a false view, whether it is the idea of Mohler, or of MacArthur. We allow liberty in the non-essentials but one of the essentials is disallowance, as Spurgeon pointed out, of teaching which is not settle fact. Or as Paul taught Timothy, commanding him to command other not to teach fables. So there is no triage, all doctrine is essential, but there is much that can be opined about. Just do not claim that it is truth or of the same value as truth, nor allow it to ascend to the seat of authority in the pulpit to be taught as anything other that the opinions of men. As soon as you do that you have raised the wall and all on the outside of it are ememies of the faith.

Gilbert said...
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Gilbert said...

"This is vintage Spurgeon: an utter denial that he could possibly be mistaken, that he might have misapprehended, misinterpreted or misapplied something along the line. Impossible! For him, to be cocksure is to manifest a high Christian virtue."

He was quite certain he could be mistaken, but not about the Bible. His confidence in the narrow truth rested on God's holy Word, the Bible. Many others of religions think they're sure. Jesus rising from the dead with hundreds of witnesses seeing him afterwards, and what he is done in my life, is the trump card.

If people believed nothing was absolutely true, there would be complete and utter anarchy. Think about it.

donsands said...

"This is vintage Spurgeon: an utter denial that he could possibly be mistaken, that he might have misapprehended, misinterpreted or misapplied something along the line." Steve

Amen.

The Bible is God's Word. And His Word is truth.

"We accept Christianity in all its distinctive doctrines on no other ground than the credibility and trustworthiness of the Bible as a guide to truth; and on this same ground we equally accept its doctrine of inspiration." _BB Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol 1.

Strong Tower said...

"...Calvinism with the gospel. Hopefully one day I'll see it...

Sometimes it is best to define terms. I suppose that if we limit the definition of the Gospel to the kerygma, then many who hold to false definitions of the terms used in it would find a home in the Gospel camp. And they are most welcome or for the first thirty years of my Christian life I would have to consider myself as an unbeliever. But I know that wasn't true. I think that is where Whitefield was with Wesley. Passionate love for Christ and passionate preaching are often found in ignorance. The disciples preaching bore fruit even while Christ had not yet gone to the cross. Where Whitefield parted ways was when it came to defining those terms.

Mike Riccardi said...

ST & Don,

The reason that it's so difficult to answer the question about whether Calvinism is the Gospel and whether Arminianism is heresy is because, as Phil recently showed, Arminianism is inherently inconsistent. That is, all Arminians are really closet Calvinists where it matters.

So when Arminians preach the Gospel, people can get saved through their preaching because their preaching is not thoroughly consistent with their theology. And thank God for that, because nobody needs another Charles Finney.

donsands said...

Tower,

I appreciate your response.

I have a non-reformed friend, who loves the Scriptures, and would probably make a similar statement from his side.

He believes the Scriptures teach, without a doubt, election in a different way than I do, and you do. He loves the Lord, and truly loves the Word of God, and esteems the Bible.

I agree, that there is only ONE truth. And so does he.

But, we see it with a difference.

Now, if we go to the extremes, the liberals, or the ultra-Calvinists, then we all agree with CH Spurgeon.

I hope that makes sense.

Now to get ready to watch '24' with my wife.

SteveJ said...

If you have proof your belief is correct, or if evidence places it beyond a reasonable doubt, then go ahead and be certain. Be a dogmatist. Don't wring your hands about this "belief anarchy" that supposedly results when one discards theological dogmatism.

But neither Spurgeon nor any of you legitimately possess such certainty in the realm of ultimate meanings (though you may think so). You have faith -- which is fine. But call it what it is. You look forward to a day when faith becomes sight, but it's not sight today.

Gilbert, would you mind telling me where I can discover the identity of these hundreds of witnesses? Who are they? What are their names? Did they pass on any writings? Do you have one word from any one of them?

donsands said...

And one quick Scripture verse from our brother Simon Peter:

"Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand..."

There are some things hard to understand. And we must always have a fear of twisting them.

I believe there are many teachers in both camps who fear the Lord, and want to keep the truth pure.

And there are many, many more, who do not fear, and so twist the truth, in one degree or another.

24 starts in 16 minutes.

Mike Riccardi said...

But neither Spurgeon nor any of you legitimately possess such certainty in the realm of ultimate meanings (though you may think so).

That's simply an assertion based on your own preconceived epistemology, which I don't receive. The legitimacy of my certainty doesn't stand or fall on some sort of evidence that you evaluate and deem as sufficient or insufficient, valid or invalid. The legitimacy of my certainty comes from the Word of God as He's revealed it in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, which we receive by the testimony of the Spirit of God Himself, who has revealed these things that we may know the things of God (1Cor 2:12). In fact, later on in that passage, Paul goes so far as to say that as believers, we have the mind of Christ, that we might appraise all things (1Cor 2:15-16).

You have faith -- which is fine. But call it what it is. You look forward to a day when faith becomes sight, but it's not sight today.

That's taking one passage out of context at the expense of another, which says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

We are to have "assurance" and "conviction."

That word, "conviction," is elengchos in the Greek, whose semantic range includes: conviction, proof, exposition, revealing. So faith is the exposing or the revealing of that which is not seen.

So faith is not accepting something blindly, as you seem to suggest. Faith is trusting in what you know to be true, as it has been revealed to you by God.

Mike Riccardi said...

Should have included this at the end of the second to last paragraph: "Faith is the means by which we see the unseen."

SteveJ said...
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Rachael Starke said...

Steve,

Are you honestly challenging the faith and beliefs of a group of people as expressed on a blog on the Interweb???

Let's face it. We can't know for certain that Mike Riccardi isn't in fact an aged talking monkey retired from the Soviet Space Program with a lot of time on his hands. In fact, wouldn't it be a whole lot more humble to just assume that we can't know for certain who he is, and whether he really means what he says, let alone whether anything he's saying is true or not?

To be so dogmatic about your assertion that what Mike says is false really just seems offensively arrogant.

Trevor said...

Is this "Broad School" an actual thing? Or was Spurgeon giving capitalization for further effect in his writing? Honest question. :-)

Gordan: That indeed is a sobering thought. Although..."For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." - 1 Cor. 1:25. Forgive me if that is mildly out of context, but I hope you get my point. God will triumph even over the "jellyfish".

I have a feeling the banhammer is going to come crashing down pretty soon...stick to relevant discussion folks. (DJP: I tried to help!)

SteveJ said...

"Are you honestly challenging the faith and beliefs of a group of people as expressed on a blog on the Interweb???"

No, I'm not. I'm challenging the dogmatic certainty of Spurgeon's statements. And the idea that deviating from such a stance makes a person of faith a mere "evan-jellyfish."

Mike's beliefs may very well be true. I will say, though, that there's enough reasonable doubt to deny that he's a Soviet monkey. (We can be dogmatic about that.)

Mike Riccardi said...

You assume up front that these 66 books are the revealed Word of God. You don't really know this to be true.

Actually, I do.

Obviously angels did not descend from heaven and hand you a Bible in the sight of multiple witnesses.

That's your standard of evaluation of truth claims that you have so arrogantly decided is objective enough to be automatically assumed as a universal epistemology. As I said before, I reject any such epistemology that would require such a display.

No, you have accepted certain fallible propositions about the Bible from others --

Stop right there. I don't care that you qualified this as a "guess" later on. You guessed wrong. And it's extremely arrogant of you to have assumed as much.

...at first, probably from the lips of authority figures you deemed more informed than yourself. They convinced you that the Bible's divine authority was a necessary corollary to your relationship with Jesus (a relationship you prized and did not wish to jeopardize).

And this is just hogwash. Entirely off base.

Under normal circumstances, people don't believe a book when its pages contain stories about...

Of course not. That's precisely what makes the authoritative revelation of God in His Word supernatural.

I do love that passage in Deuteronomy 25, though. Makes me chuckle every time.

Trevor: ...stick to relevant discussion folks.

Trevor, I've been terrible at staying on topic before, as we've all seen. But I think here we're on topic. Spurgeon is railing against evanjellyfish who are dogmatic about their uncertainty (heh), and Steve is challenging that based on his own flawed epistemology. I'm responding with what I believe to be a Biblical one. On topic, no?

Rachael: We can't know for certain that Mike Riccardi isn't in fact an aged talking monkey retired from the Soviet Space Program with a lot of time on his hands.

Shhhhhhh!!!! Никто не должен знать об этом!

And I'm not even kidding, my word verification is "spiedrol."

DJP said...

Trevor (DJP: I tried to help!)

Thanks, but surely it's Phil's or Frank's turn.

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan, if you think I'm off topic, please just let me know and I'll cease and desist. Apparently my discernment on that matter isn't as keen as I'd like it to be.

Johnny Dialectic said...

That is, all Arminians are really closet Calvinists where it matters.

Oh, brother.

I do mean "brother", but I also mean "Oh."

Strong Tower said...

"Now to get ready to watch '24' with my wife."

Now that's interesting. That is exactly why I didn't respond last night again last night.