02 August 2008

Things a pastor isn't (part 2): Lord Vader

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.

In honor of the Fourteenth Lambeth Conference (which ends—at last—this weekend), we reproduce the following article, which Charles Spurgeon wrote during the first Lambeth Conference in 1867. Published in the October issue of
The Sword and the Trowel that year, this article was originally titled "Bishops! Bishops! Bishops!" (We've added some paragraph breaks because we have neighbors with short attention spans, but other than that, this article is complete and unrevised from the original. There's so much more we could say by way of introduction—and really want to say. But let's just leave it at that.)

IF BISHOPS be, as certain ecclesiastics appear to think, the panacea for all the ills of the church, the church in London ought to be in the soundest condition, for the town swarms with bishops as Egypt once swarmed with frogs. English, Scotch, Irish, Colonial, American, all the varieties are abundant, and make their appearance in public too, in processions, and sermons; indulging humanity with beatific visions of lawn and black silk.

Now that they are all here, there is one question which we should like to ask them. Dr. Watts asks the youthful catechumen, "Can you tell me, child, who made you?" Now, your grace of Oxford, Nassau, Quebec, Graham's Town, never mind which, can you tell me who made you? Who made you bishops? Who gave you prelatical power over the ministers of the gospel? Who anointed you to be lords where Jesus says that all are brethren? That the Holy Spirit did it, is impossible, for he did never by a single line in Scripture so much as sanction anything like a prelate; indeed, the office lives in defiance of all inspired canons.

Moreover, my lords, to make short work of a long story, you know as well as any of us, that Lord Palmerston and other prime ministers, made the most of you; indeed, they created all of your Britannic graces; and you know equally well that election by your brethren, and your special call by the Spirit, were all a matter of course, after C'sar's representative had resolved to frock you. You cannot say with the apostle that your office is "not of man, neither by man;" you are the creatures of the civil power, and owe your crowns of rejoicing, in other words, your pontifical mitres, to a decree of the rulers of this world.

Another question we might also trouble you with. We have heard of your being enthroned, in fact, in cathedrals we have seen your thrones; can you tell us where the apostles, pastors, or evangelists appointed by Jesus of Nazareth, were ever enthroned upon this earth? My lords, these men who were not lords, nor prelates, waited for their thrones in heaven, but rested upon far other seats on earth. Your throne is here below, as your dominion is of the earth earthy, but they looked for another kingdom, invisible and eternal.

Did it ever strike you what Bible-reading Christians must think of you and your claims, or what the great Judge of all will say to your pretensions at the last great day? "Right Reverend Fathers in God," when you have to stand like common mortals before the judgment-seat, how will those infamous words of flattery grate in your ears! It will be a dread scene indeed, if the great mercy of God does not forgive you for your arrogance, when your graces will have to give an account for having tolerated such titles as addressed to your sinful selves. You have lived long enough in your sinful dignities, lay them down, drop your titles of pride, go on with your work wherein it may be good, walk humbly before men, and then you may hope to rest in peace.

This is far too much to expect from their lordships, and we do but hint at the path of duty, knowing that it will not be followed. We have a great respect for some of these dignitaries personally, although their office we hold in utter abhorrence, but we must confess to some little amusement, when we found one of them, last Sunday, September 15, magnifying his office at a rate the most surprising, and in a manner the most novel. It is a fact not generally known, that the revolt of the American states from British rule was mainly caused by the absence of bishops in America, in those benighted times; and moreover, the United States as a nation, is not at all what it might have been if bishops had been there from the very dawn of colonisation. If any should doubt this new historical fact, we refer them to the infallible testimony of a bishop, and who can ask for more convincing evidence?

The Bishop of Louisiana, according to the daily papers, "spoke of the manner in which the work of the church was advancing in the colonies and dependencies of the British crown, a matter in which he said he had much experience. If the same had been done for America in days gone by, it might have been a greater and a better country than it was now. For a hundred years there existed in America an Episcopal church without bishops, and the church which had government protection was that which was left without any organisation.

In vain that church pleaded with the government of England for redress. Archbishops and bishops pressed the matter upon the attention of the crown, and year after year the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel made strenuous efforts to remedy the evils; but while it was allowed to the Roman Catholic Church to have what bishops she pleased in her discretion, the sons and daughters of the Church of England were left without the ministrations which were pledged to them at their baptism. Nothing so much us this strengthened the Americans for their struggle against this country; nothing induced them more than this to look with interest upon the struggle for independence, and to delight in seeing the secular power scattered into fragments, until at length it entirely disappeared."

He who doubts must be a heretic indeed. Receiving the episcopal statement for truth, we see the proper method of securing our colonies to us for ever. Should Australia grow perverse, or Canada become restive, our government cannot do better than double or treble the dose of bishops. We shall heartily concur in the plan of sending off Oxford, and Salisbury, and others, to Botany Bay, and hope they may prove a blessing abroad, for they are the reverse at home. But no, we are supposing what cannot possibly occur, these colonies can never grow rebellious, for they have imbibed the specific, they are blessed with bishops; even Natal has its Colenso.

We venture to predict that when the Christian church returns to her pristine purity, it will be difficult for her young members to believe the profane history in which the existence of officers, such as those meeting at Lambeth, will be recorded. The unsophisticated mind of an enlightened Christendom in another two or three centuries, if time keeps on its axles so long, will be staggered at the possibility of the past existence of many things in our professedly Protestant church, but at nothing more than at the creation of prelates, and the reverence given to such unscriptural lordlings by avowed believers in the lowly Jesus.

If all Christians will at this present, search the word of God as to the true position and office of a Christian bishop, the present swarm of bishops may not have come together in vain. Otherwise, we can only repeat the answer which we gave the other day to the question, "What will be the end of this synod of bishops?" We ventured to predict that it boded no good to anybody, and was only one wheel in the machinery by which it is hoped to re-establish a universal Popedom, under certain modifications. First the fusion of all Anglican episcopacy, then union with the Greek church, and then with the Roman; this we suspect to be the full programme, not perhaps endorsed by all, but clearly in the minds of those who pull the strings, that is to say, the Ritualists, to the music of whose pipes of Pan the broad church, and many of the evangelicals, are made to dance. May the Lord deal with them and their manœuvres according to his wisdom.
C. H. Spurgeon


FX Turk said...

I find your lack of faith disturbing ...

trogdor said...

The closing section about how the Anglican system appears to be nothing more than an attempt to re-fuse under Roman rule is eerily prescient, considering who is now in command in Rome.

DJP said...

Best. Tag-team. Ever.

But I won't really be happy until Chantry comes and insists repeatedly that the pastor is, in fact, Lord Vader, and persists until someone threatens to hug him.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

The Anglican Communion is a slow motion theological and ecclesiastical train wreck happening right before our very eyes.

The Church cannot heal this crisis of betrayal by Archbishop Orombi:

"The crisis is about authority - biblical authority and ecclesiastical authority.

The American decision disregarded biblical authority by violating clear biblical teaching against homosexual behaviour. For this reason, the Church of Uganda and other Anglican provinces broke communion with the Episcopal Church in America in 2003, and we continue in that state of broken communion today."

Bishops ask Archbishop of Canterbury for an 'orderly separation’:

They said that the Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, would fail to avert a schism because liberals were determined to press ahead with their pro-gay agenda.

Instead, they called on Dr Williams to acknowledge that there were now two distinct Churches and negotiate an “orderly separation” to preserve a traditional identity for Anglicanism.

Liberals warned that such an action could lead to civil war in the Church.."

My conclusion: Mainline liberal protestants and postmodern emergers are wolves in sheep's clothing. True shepherds must vigorously contend against these wolves to protect their flocks.

And if those secular witnesses outside the Church proclaim: "Look at how Christians fight amongst each other! They are a quarrelling bunch! Jesus said for people to love one another and these Christians are not loving each other; they are fighting each other! No way do I want to become a Christian!" Then that is the price that must be paid. What alternative is there?

Stefan Ewing said...

Let's pray for those dissenting Anglicans who take the Gospel seriously, many of whom are gathered together in churches in the cities where we live.

A significant number of prelates chose intra-Anglican ostracism this year over lawns, tea parties, and bonhomie.

Stefan Ewing said...

The tension is ancient, between Anglicans who are devoted to the Evangel versus those who are devoted to the Episcopacy (Low Church versus High Church).

The Anglican church in BC expelled its first cleric in the 1870s (one Edward Cridge, a pioneer missionary and the province's senior churchman, after the newly appointed bishop), because he spoke out against a fellow reverend's advocation of High Church ritualism.

Speaking of churches, it's time to go to mine!

Douglas said...

I went to St Johns Anglican Church with my wife yesterday and it was a very good message from 1 Peter 1:13-2:3 They will have it online later. I have only been to that church a few times but so far I have heard some well-rounded reformed theology and the people are warm and friendly.

The pastor, Wally Behan, had just been to what is called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Jerusalem. Here is his report of the Conference (mp3). The conference was mentioned yesterday morning by Wally and some others that had gone, including a visitor from England (sorry, forgotten his name) that was at Church yesterday got up and spoke about the conference and what is happening in the global Anglican Church. I can say that there is something exciting going on for the good, for the cause of the LORD Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Yesterday afternoon several of the Anglican Churches in Christchurch and from the surrounding areas gathered at St Matthews in St. Albans, a suberb of Christchurch to discuss further what is happpening in the global Anglican Church. Very interesting. A DVD was handed out afterwards with a Rev. David Short of St. John's Shaughnessy, Vancouver, making some observations, and he interviews J. I. Packer about what is going on. If you would like to see David Short and J. Packer then you can go to this website St. John's Shaughnessy and scroll down to here: Anglican realignment overview video to watch and listen to the set of videos that include the interview with J. I. Packer.

There is some form persecution going on for a lot of Anglicans in different places who stand for the "true-truth." Is persecution a refiners fire?

Hope this is a blessing for you all.

Barbara said...

I commented on an earlier post regarding the fact that I am a former Episcopalian...but their continued divergence from the Word of God here in the US reached a level that made me uncomfortable even before He saved me. Now it's absolutely untenable and painful to see what they - as a group, the few dissenting individual congregations aside - are doing to our ever-precious Gospel in the name of secular humanism and personal pride.

And then there's this. One must, in testing the spirits as John cautioned us to do, recognize the fact that anyone who claims to build a church and proclaim a faith on a Christ whose cross and sovereignty they deny are liars. Call 'em what they are, what John called them, what they call God with their statements and refusals to believe that He meant what He said. Liars.

Add to that the joint Hindu service along with other interfaith "worship" services, the Muslim Episcopal priest who practices both faiths, not to mention Spong and Jefferts-Schori, etc, etc, etc. Brian McLaren and Rob Bell may not like it since the Anglicans are so "religious," but the Anglican Communion has led this emergent postmodernism movement for a number of years now, and the McLarens/Bells of the world are simply grabbing onto their coattails.

Douglas, you mention the persecution of the Anglicans who are standing up for the "true-truth". That persecution will apply to anyone who stands up for the "True-truth," regardless of denominational affiliation. I do believe it is the cross spoken of by the same One who bore our sins on one, and for whose name the hearts of His brethren break in the face of such displays of disrespect.

Tom Chantry said...

Dan, you have no idea the power of the dark side! Join me, and we will rule the universe together and stamp out manhugs!

Rick Frueh said...

I am confused by Spurgeon's comments about securing the colonies and the Revolutionary War. What did he mean since I've read it several times and still am somewhat confused.

Can anyone shed some light on that for me? Thanks.

Solameanie said...

Yoda of Borg are we. Assimilate you we will. Futile is resistance.

Udarnik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BJ Irvin said...

"I am confused by Spurgeon's comments..."

It would appear to me that Spurgeon is employing a bit of sarcasm. Poking fun a the Bishop of Louisiana who said that the Brits lost America for a lack of Bishops there.

Phil Johnson said...

Rick F. "I am confused by Spurgeon's comments about securing the colonies and the Revolutionary War."

BJ Irvin: "It would appear to me that Spurgeon is employing a bit of sarcasm. Poking fun a the Bishop of Louisiana who said that the Brits lost America for a lack of Bishops there."

Right. I believe Spurgeon is describing Bishop R. H. Wilmer, a southern loyalist, still sour over the South's defeat. It seems he made some some public comments blaming the Church of England for being slow to appoint American bishops in the colonial era, implying that this was one of the direct causes of the Revolution--or at least that if proper bishops had been in place, they could have persuaded colonists not to revolt.

Oh--and Wilmer's initials stand for "Richard Hooker." I guess his mum and dad were Anglicans, too.

Spurgeon was mocking him for his historical naivete.


I met Wally Behan years ago. I actually visited him in his home (for lunch, as I recall) during one of my first visit to NZ, around January of 1988. He's a very bold yet gracious man and a good expositor. You can listen to his sermons online. I knew he'd be at GAFCON instead of Lambeth. Greet him for me.

Rick Frueh said...

Spurgeon - the architect of the modern revealing of the unsupported positions by use of sarcasm. I guess God invented it in the book of Job!

Thanks for the commentary.

Douglas said...

"Greet him for me."

Phil, I did that this evening after the meeting. Wally said thanks and he was encouraged. He said Charles Spurgeon was friends with J. C. Ryle? I didn't know that.

I was talking to Rob Harrod, the current pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church here in Christchurch, he was at the meeting tonight, I have met Rob a couple of times and have heard him preach and he is very good too. He is an Aussie now living here in Christchurch. Anyway, he said you are coming to Aussie next year? And James White? Why don't you two guys come to Christchurch while you are in Australia? It is only a hop and a skip and a jump across the Tasman from Aussie to NZ. I'd love to visit Australia again, we lived over there for fifteen odd years and made some very good friends. But alas I am unable to leave New Zealand again.

The speaker at church tonight was Vaughan Roberts from St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford and his talks, among others, are available here if anyone is interested.

I am listening to this one "Guidance and the Sovereign God Sun 27" at the moment and it is very good.

Apparently Vaughan Roberts is here in New Zealand, partly as a holiday and partly as the guest speaker at the Latimer Conference 2008 Hamilton in the North Island of New Zealand. But he came to Christchurch first and spoke tonight and will be speaking again tomorrow night at St Stephens and I am not sure why it's being held there, but because there is a combining of some of the Church's here St Stephens has a bigger building which is more than able to accommodate all the extra folks. I think.

"Vaughan is rector of St Ebbe's, Oxford, UK and author of many books including Turning Points; True Worship, God's Big Picture and Battles Christians Face. He is Vice-Chairman of Proclamation Trust an organisation that aims to teach the Bible to preachers in order that they can in turn teach it to others and he is a founder of '9:38' which encourages people to consider full time ministry."

My wife and I watched the whole set of videos of David Short and J. I. Packer "Anglican realignment overview" this afternoon and it was the lady whose name I didn't catch that interviewed them both. Tears came to my eyes a couple of times.

Stefan Ewing said...

If you want to hear more by Reverend Short, he spoke at the reFocus Canada 2008 conference at Willingdon Church, Vancouver. Links to the session notes, audio, and video are here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finding this, Phil. Cradle Episcopalian here, at least until 2003 when the Episcopal Organzation went Scripture-optional. Now I don't know whether to hang with GAFCON or move on.