06 August 2006

Hard Words for Postmodern Ears

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following is an excerpt from "Grace Reviving Israel," a Sermon delivered in 1860 at Tottenham Court Road Chapel, London.

henever I look abroad on the aggregate assemblies of religious people, I am obliged to hold a large number of my hearers in supreme contempt. Are you not one day crowding to hear me preach what I think the truth, and another day cramming a place where a man is preaching the very opposite to what I hold to be true?

The fact is, some of you have no idea of what fundamental truth in theology is. The popular cry is for liberality of sentiment, and if a man happens to say a hard word against anything he thinks essentially wrong, he is accounted a bigot directly.

Many of you shrink from the imputation of bigotry, as if it were more awful than heresy in regard to the faith. You would as soon be called a common informer as be called a bigot. I beseech you, do not be appalled at a taunt.

Do not be a bigot, but do not be ashamed of being called one.

A man ought to have stable principles, and not be ever shifting about from one set of opinions to another.

We are often told by some ministers in their drawing rooms, that God will not ask in the day of judgment what a man believed, for if his life has been correct, it will not much matter what doctrines he held.

I am at a loss for the authority on which they base such laxness. I wonder who told them that was the truth. I have read my Bible through, and I have never found a text that could absolve my judgment from its allegiance to my Maker.

I hold, that to believe wrongly is equally as great a sin in the sight of heaven as to act wrongly. Error is a crime before God, and though there is liberty of conscience, so far as man and man are concerned, there is no liberty of conscience with God. You are not free to believe truth, or to believe error just as you like. You are bound to believe what God says is truth, and on your soul's peril be it, that you believe two things that are contrary, or confound the positive and the negative, where faith is the evidence of justification, and unbelief the seal of a sinner's doom.

Methinks God will say to you at last, "Man, I gave thee brains; I endowed thee with reason; how couldst thou suppose thyself less responsible for the use of thy brains than for the use of thy tongue?"

One man says, "Yes;" another says "No," and because it is the fashion to call out "Liberality, liberality, liberality," thou dost assent to both, and joining the crowd thou art sincere in neither.

Thou oughtest rather to say, "I believe that what I hold is true, and if I did not, I should not avow it, and believing it to be true, I cannot hold that the opposite is true, nor can I be continually going to hear one doctrine at one time and another at another; my conscience demands that I distinguish between things that differ."

C. H. Spurgeon


donsands said...

That encouraged my heart, and renewed my mind. Thanks.

"Then he said to me, 'These words are faithful and true'." Rev. 22:6

David B. Hewitt said...

WOW. EXCELLENT. Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for posting this.

Please tell me you have some more like it! I vaguely remember you saying you did a while back.. I hope my memory serves me correctly, and also hope you would answer my request in the positive!

Thanks in advance!

BlackCalvinist aka G.R.A.C.E. Preecha said...

On point. Truly, TRULY on point. I have some people I know need to hear this one real quick.....

The Borg said...


(is it theologically correct to say that in this context?)

Phil Johnson said...


Do a search on Spurgeon here and at my old blog, and you'll find enough similar material from Spurgeon to make a book titled Spurgeon answers the Pomos.

Note to Steve: You should collect that material off my blog and do the book. It would make a great companion to your book on Spurgeon.

Incidentally, here's something that comes up from time to time: I'm not a doctor. I once thought of being a vet. But that's as close as I got to being a doctor. I earned a baccalaureate degree in 1976. Since then I've been too busy with other stuff to go back to school for more degrees.

Dr. Phillip Johnson, of Berkeley and Intelligent Design fame, is older and wiser than I am. He doesn't blog.

The appropriate title for me is not Dr., but "dude," as in "Thanks, dude."

The Dude abides.

Taliesin said...

The Dude abides.

And what's really scary is that in photo, Phil really does look like the Dude.

Been bowling lately? :)

PS - Back on topic: I'd love to see that book get published.

Steve said...

Actually, Phil, I've got a file folder about an inch thick from your old blog alone on this very matter, and it's more than just Spurgeon. I've printed and saved it for a future project I hope to work on.

As for Spurgeon himself, your suggestion ties in to another idea I came up just a few weeks ago, so thanks for the note. And thanks, too, for the link to the book.

I'm with the others above. Your Spurgeon quote deeply inspired and encouraged me. Thanks.

Paul Doutell said...

I wish the Dude would do more traveling teaching, say, something like conferences where he would teach each day for a week or so. I really do.

Carla Rolfe said...

Phil, dude sir...

excellent, just excellent. thank you for posting this.

Carla (not a dude, or dudette, just boring ole Carla)

Rob Steele said...

El Duderino, I (not being into the whole brevity thing) consider you a monster of erudition, advanced degrees or no. That and $3 will get you latte.

Caddiechaplain said...

Dude, Phil,
This couldn't have been a more timely post in light of your recent bloggings on the EC. But, sadly, EC is not the only movement that is moving toward error. Current so-called evangelical churches are doing a pretty good job of it as well.

Thanks again . . . . Ron

4given said...

I have a question that this post caused me to think about.
Since I am a woman that posts on a public blog, and statistically I get more comments from men... Am I to be concerned with that? As a woman, I too should be "stable in my principles, and not be ever shifting about from one set of opinions to another."
As I have posted on my blog, when I write, it is not because I think I know everything. I have SO much to learn. My way of thinking things through and learning is in writing it out. That is why I take sermon notes. Not to fill up a journal, but to learn. I do not post articles on a blog as though I think I am some great theologian. I want to be questioned Biblically, challenged Scripturally in my thinking. Not for the purpose of becoming some kind of puffed up scholar or authority over men in the Word, but primarily to get to know this God I serve and love... and to be able to pass on these Truths to my children and encourage other women.
As a woman that embraces the truth of the complimentarian view... I know that God has given me a brain and my husband is not to be my brain since I do have my own.
But I want to make sure I am using my brain for His glory in the blogosphere. I have several people holding me accountable, like my husband and pastor, and when I type I do so with trembling fingers. I have made many mistakes... especially when I first started blogging. But I do genuinely believe that what I hold is true because it is in the Word of God. But how far do I go on the blogosphere with defending truth?... knowing, of course, that I have much to learn and that I am a woman.
If you have written on this, please point me to it.

donsands said...


Seems to me that you are using your brain for His glory. Keep on.

" ...be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. 15:58

DJP said...

In this case, not just "Dude," but "Du-u-u-ude!"

So fitting, hard-hitting -- not the tone one hears most often from Spurgeon.

Carrie said...

This was a great excerpt from Spurgeon. I needed it.

Unfortunately, I don't think everyone has the fortitude to be called a bigot even if they know they are not.

Name-calling seems to be the best way for certain groups to keep their opponents quiet.

Adjutorium said...

"We are often told by some ministers in their drawing rooms, that God will not ask in the day of judgment what a man believed, for if his life has been correct, it will not much matter what doctrines he held."

That is what Rick Warren says about doctrine doesn't he? Is Rick Warren postmodern too?

"How can this evangelical pastor, who has emerged as the most recognized Protestant leader in the world, one who is looked to for spiritual insight and guidance by millions, miss the mark so widely? Perhaps the key is in his view of doctrine. In The Purpose Driven Life Warren wants us to have no doubt that, when we stand before the Lord, “God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him” (p. 34)? On the contrary, what we believe is of utmost importance. Did the Holy Spirit inspire the Bible for us to ignore what it teaches? Are the words of Jesus insignificant? Are the doctrinal truths of the New Testament epistles nothing more than filler? Concerning salvation, it does matter what you believe about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, sin, judgment, the gospel and so forth. Warren is doing a great disservice to the church of God. As he minimizes the content of the gospel, trivializes Scripture, belittles doctrine and replaces them with psychology, mysticism and worldly wisdom we are reminded of Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
The Gospel According to Warren

Frank Martens said...

Hahaha, everyone's doing the "dude" now.

Hey, great post by the way. Spurgeon just nails it so well.

And by the way, I profusely appologize for my sisters tongue tied incident at Grace Life the other day. She told me she couldn't find words and just asked the simple and went and sat down. Maybe it's the "dude".

Unknown said...

This is a most timely post for me, and much needed.

Thank You!

Solameanie said...


I hesitate to use the term "dude" because I respect you too much! (smile)

However, I am concerned about the effects being called "dude" or "dudester" by others might have on you.

Note to Phil's friends...if you happen to catch him either humming or singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, pull him aside and begin deprogramming immediately.