27 March 2006

More from Spurgeon on the postmodern spirit

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote Monday space to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.

Someone recently asked me how long I can go on posting Spurgeon's comments about modernism. "Do you really believe the trends Spurgeon fought against were the same kind of thing as today's postmodern, post-evangelical, 'emerging' approaches to Christianity?" my friend asked.

Answer: Even if I lived well into my eighties, I could probably post Spurgeon excerpts twice a week from now until I die and still not run out of material where Spurgeon was declaring his contempt for modernism. All of it would demonstrate conclusively that the various paradigm-shifts convulsing the evangelical movement today are nothing but recycled versions of the same old errors that were being foisted on church leaders by so-called "advanced thinkers" in the Victorian era. That movement ultimately grew stronger despite the opposition of Spurgeon and others like him. Modernism finally commandeered most of the mainstream denominations, then quickly piloted them to their demise.

It's hard not to notice that Spurgeon was on the same side of all these issues—and he was saying exactly the same kinds of things—as those who are most troubled about the drift today. There's little question that Spurgeon would have appreciated and sympathized with "Slice of Laodicea"; he would have been scoffed at and derided as an intolerant "TR" ("Truly Reformed") by certain small-minded critics who apparently cannot imagine a more scathing insult; and he would have been mocked and dismissed by more "enlightened" minds who (in the name of catholicity) reject and exclude every person who raises any biblical concern about the direction they want to go.

Incidentally, no editorial work, revisions, contextualizing, or translation is necessary to make Spurgeon's criticism of modernism sound like it fits what is happening today. It does fit, because in the big picture of things, what is happening today is not really a very great "paradigm shift" at all. It's merely the next big skirmish in the age-old war for truth.

Everything old is new again.

Phil's signature

The Need of Decision for the Truth
From a College Address, by C. H. Spurgeon
From the March 1874 Sword and Trowel

Some things are true and some things are false.

I regard that as an axiom; but there are many persons who evidently do not believe it. The current principle of the present age seems to be, "Some things are either true or false, according to the point of view from which you look at them. Black is white, and white is black according to circumstances; and it does not particularly matter which you call it. Truth of course is true, but it would be rude to say that the opposite is a lie; we must not be bigoted, but remember the motto, 'So many men, so many minds.'"

Our forefathers were particular about maintaining landmarks; they had strong notions about fixed points of revealed doctrine, and were very tenacious of what they believed to be scriptural; their fields were protected by hedges and ditches, but their sons have grubbed up the hedges, filled up the ditches, laid all level, and played at leap-frog with the boundary stones.

'Post-'what?The school of modern thought laughs at the ridiculous positiveness of Reformers and Puritans; it is advancing in glorious liberality, and before long will publish a grand alliance between heaven and hell, or, rather, an amalgamation of the two establishments upon terms of mutual concession, allowing falsehood and truth to lie side by side, like the lion with the lamb.

Still, for all that, my firm old-fashioned belief is that some doctrines are true, and that statements which are diametrically opposite to them are not true,—that when "No" is the fact, "Yes" is out of court, and that when "Yes" can be justified, "No" must be abandoned. I believe that the gentleman who has for so long a time perplexed our courts is either Sir Roger Tichborne or somebody else; I am not yet able to conceive of his being the true heir and an impostor at the same time. Yet in religious matters the fashionable standpoint is somewhere in that latitude.

We have a faith to preach, my brethren, and we are sent forth with a message from God. We are not left to fabricate the message as we go along. We are not sent forth by our Master with this kind of general commission—"As you shall think in your heart and invent in your head as you march on, so preach. Keep abreast of the times. Whatever the people want to hear, tell them that, and they shall be saved." Verily, we read not so. There is something definite in the Bible. It is not quite a lump of wax to be shaped at our will, or a roll of cloth to be cut according to the prevailing fashion.

Your great thinkers evidently look upon the Scriptures as a box of letters for them to play with, and make what they like of, or a wizard's bottle, out of which they may pour anything they choose from atheism up to spiritualism. I am too old-fashioned to fall down and worship this theory. There is something told me in the Bible—told me for certain— not put before me with a "but" and a "perhaps," and an "if," and a "maybe," and fifty thousand suspicions behind it, so that really the long and the short of it is, that it may not be so at all; but revealed to me as infallible fact, which must be believed, the opposite of which is deadly error, and comes from the father of lies.

Believing, therefore, that there is such a thing as truth, and such a thing as falsehood, that there are truths in the Bible, and that the gospel consists in something definite which is to be believed by men, it becomes us to be decided as to what we teach, and to teach it in a decided manner. We have to deal with men who will be either lost or saved, and they certainly will not be saved by erroneous doctrine. We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and he will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods; neither will he give us a reward, and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee."

We stand in a very solemn position, and ours should be the spirit of old Micaiah, who said, "As the Lord my God liveth, before whom I stand, whatsoever the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak." Neither less nor more than God's word are we called to state, but that we are bound to declare in a spirit which lets the sons of men know that, whatever they may think of it, we believe God, and are not to be shaken in our confidence in him.

C. H. Spurgeon

The remainder of this excellent lecture by Spurgeon is available here.


thearmoury said...

We'll assume by this that you'll continue posting into your eighties (jn) ... wait, what blog am I at here?...

P.S. - "Everything old is new again..."


Matthew said...

Uh, whoa...

Let the flaming begin. ;)

Dan B. said...

The entire lecture is definitely worth reading! Spurgeon is right on, there is certainly nothing new under the sun. Great post.

donsands said...

Marvelous words. I grateful that we have such teachings reserved for us in our age; it's essential really.

I listened to Focus on the Family today, and they interviewed a college student, and asked him what he thought about truth, and he said, he believed in an absolute truth, and that his may be different from someone elses. (paraphrased)
We have drifted too far methinks.

Aspiring Girl said...

Makes me think of the new "Woman's movement" i.e. Feminism. Woman have fought to make themselve "equal" to men (whatever that means), by rejecting their uniqueness and womanhood. Feminism is neither new or progressive, but rather old and regressive: look at the Greek culture surrounding the early church.
Old ideas wrapped in "new" paper.
I also like Spurgeon's comment that there is absolute truth as well as absolute falsehood. Good 'ole common sense.

Anonymous said...

"There's little question that Spurgeon would have appreciated and sympathized with 'Slice of Laodicea'"

I was with you until the above comment. I have little use for chronic self-righteousness posing as apologetics, and this is what SoL serves up on a regular basis.

csledford said...

I read the entire lecture. It was fantastic. I'm new to this blog. It is one of my top 5 to read. I really enjoy the link to the church history site.
I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I've always thought that the struggles Spurgeon faced in his day were almost identical to the battles we face today in standing for the truth. This blog continues almost on a daily basis to confirm that.

donsands said...


"Chronic self-righteousness"?

That sounds a little unreal to me, at least for the whole of what they are trying to do.
To disagree is one thing, but to label someone self-righteous?
Have you tried to contact anyone at that Blog?

Anonymous said...