26 September 2010

The [Post]modern Missional Strategy

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 sermon ttitled "No Compromise," preached 7 October 1888 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

his is the suggestion of the present hour: if the world will not come to Jesus, shall Jesus tone down his teachings to the world? In other words, if the world will not rise to the church, shall not the church go down to the world? Instead of bidding men to be converted, and come out from among sinners, and be separate from them, let us join with the ungodly world, enter into union with it, and so pervade it with our influence by allowing it to influence us. Let us have a Christian world.

To this end let us revise our doctrines. Some are old-fashioned, grim, severe, unpopular; let us drop them out. Use the old phrases so as to please the obstinately orthodox, but give them new meanings so as to win philosophical infidels, who are prowling around. Pare off the edges of unpleasant truths, and moderate the dogmatic tone of infallible revelation: say that Abraham and Moses made mistakes, and that the books which have been so long had in reverence are full of errors. Undermine the old faith, and bring in the new doubt; for the times are altered, and the spirit of the age suggests the abandonment of everything that is too severely righteous, and too surely of God.

The deceitful adulteration of doctrine is attended by a falsification of experience. Men are now told that they were born good, or were made so by their infant baptism, and so that great sentence, "Ye must be born again," is deprived of its force. Repentance is ignored, faith is a drug in the market as compared with "honest doubt," and mourning for sin and communion with God are dispensed with, to make way for entertainments, and Socialism, and politics of varying shades. A new creature in Christ Jesus is looked upon as a sour invention of bigoted Puritans.

It is true, with the same breath they extol Oliver Cromwell; but then 1888 is not 1648. What was good and great three hundred years ago is mere cant to-day.

That is what "modern thought" is telling us; and under its guidance all religion is being toned down. Spiritual religion is despised, and a fashionable morality is set up in its place. Do yourself up tidily on Sunday; behave yourself; and above all, believe everything except what you read in the Bible, and you will be all right.

Be fashionable, and think with those who profess to be scientific—this is the first and great commandment of the modern school; and the second is like unto it—do not be singular, but be as worldly as your neighbours. Thus is Isaac going down into Padan-aram: thus is the church going down to the world.

Men seem to say—It is of no use going on in the old way, fetching out one here and another there from the great mass. We want a quicker way. To wait till people are born again, and become followers of Christ, is a long process: let us abolish the separation between the regenerate and unregenerate. Come into the church, all of you, converted or unconverted. You have good wishes and good resolutions; that will do: don't trouble about more. It is true you do not believe the gospel, but neither do we. You believe something or other. Come along; if you do not believe anything, no matter; your "honest doubt" is better by far than faith.

"But," say you, "nobody talks so." Possibly they do not use the same words, but this is the real meaning of the present-day religion; this is the drift of the times. I can justify the broadest statement I have made by the action or by the speech of certain ministers, who are treacherously betraying our holy religion under pretence of adapting it to this progressive age.

The new plan is to assimilate the church to the world, and so include a larger area within its bounds. By semi-dramatic performances they make houses of prayer to approximate to the theatre; they turn their services into musical displays, and their sermons into political harangues or philosophical essays—in fact, they exchange the temple for the theatre, and turn the ministers of God into actors, whose business it is to amuse men.

Is it not so, that the Lord's-day is becoming more and more a day of recreation or of idleness, and the Lord's house either a joss-house full of idols, or a political club, where there is more enthusiasm for a party than zeal for God? Ah me! the hedges are broken down, the walls are levelled, and to many there is henceforth, no church except as a portion of the world, no God except as an unknowable force by which the laws of nature work.

This, then, is the proposal. In order to win the world, the Lord Jesus must conform himself, his people, and his Word to the world. I will not dwell any longer on so loathsome a proposal.

C. H. Spurgeon


Clubbeaux said...

Wow. Talk about timeless truth. This is a more relevant sermon than 97% of the ones preached last Sunday.

Steve Berven said...

Pretty said that this trend is as long-lived as this. Even in his time he saw it. I wonder if this is a "timeless" trend that has plagued the church since its inception?

Even many of Paul's letters spoke against succumbing to "ticklish" doctrines that pleased the ear but put the soul in peril.

The bigger problem seems to be that more and more churches are less and less open to correction in this area.

Brad Leake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad Leake said...

Absolutely incredible.

Christopher said...

That just goes to show that Truth is timeless. A well preached sermon from 50 years ago or 500 years ago will still be relevant today.

Word Verification: Suringi. Sounds like some form of spicy food.

donsands said...

I thank the Lord for CH Spurgeon, and his courage. May we have the same courgae in our day, when these actors, instead of ministers, are growing worse and worse, and out of control. Amen.

"the hedges are broken down, the walls are levelled, and to many there is henceforth, no church except as a portion of the world"

Ihad a discussion with a pomo type of Christian, and he said, "We need to break down the walls of doctrine that keeps people out of the Church." I said, "We need strong walls of doctrine to keep the Gospel pure, and so new converts will be genuine. And the truth will keep us safe."

It's a human-centered view vs. a Christ-centered view, I think, that is the bottom line disagreement.

Strong Tower said...

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance... Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Tale as old as time... then some body bends... learning you were wrong... duty and the yeast...

Off to the curboard with you...

CGrim said...

Except for an archaic word or two, this could have been written tomorrow.

CGrim said...

donsands wrote: "It's a human-centered view vs. a Christ-centered view, I think, that is the bottom line disagreement."

Agreed. A great many people (even well-meaning, faithful Christians) think that Christianity is all about getting people saved. Which, yes, is partially true. After all, Christ paid a costly price to achieve those ends.

But the greater purpose in the end (both for Christ's death and our salvation) is about God's glory, not about us. I think we need to remind ourselves about that constantly. Salvation of humanity is not an end in itself, it is a means to greater glory to God.

Thomas Louw said...

The more thing change the more they stay the same.
Wow! It’s seems his taking on the church growth movement.
I wonder if the biggest cause of this way of thinking is not the direct result of the lazy and scared pew warmers. The church on Sunday is firstly, according to my limited understanding there to teach, instruct and facilitate the growth of believers, to equip them to evangelize and love your neighbour, and by this draw the unbeliever to the community