17 July 2011

Are You "Contextualizing"? Or Are You Just Being Worldly?

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

A Word on Worldliness
A Classic Dose of Spurgeon, reposted. This was one of our first-ever doses o' Spurgeon. It's still great.

(First posted 13 February 2006)

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

he following is excerpted from a sermon titled "The Lord's Own View of His Church and People," preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, and first published in 1887.

Timeless relevance

SpurgeonHere Spurgeon responded to the notion—already prevalent in the mid-nineteenth century—that the way to win the world is to cater to worldly tastes. Churches were offering entertainments as a way of "reaching" the unreached. Preachers were adapting their messages in order to tone down the offense of the cross and reflect the prevailing "scholarship" of the times. Those who opposed these innovations and defended the unvarnished gospel (especially Spurgeon) were derided as harsh, unsophisticated, provincial, or brutish troublemakers.

Sound familiar?

What's highly ironic here is that Spurgeon's message is still as relevant and as seasonable as the day he first said these words, but those in his era who were most keen on working hard to "be relevant" became a sad footnote in the history of the evangelical church. Few of them are remembered by name today, and not one of them is remembered primarily for any positive contribution they made to the growth of the church or the advancement of the gospel.

They were trying to get the church to adapt to modernist thought; lots of people in the church embraced this as a wonderful step forward; and modernist ideas finally left almost every major denomination in the world spiritually bankrupt before the middle of the twentieth century.

To add irony on top of irony, modernism is the very thing most Emergent types these days claim they are eager to purge from the church. They want the church to join the post-modern conversation on postmodernist grounds. While claiming to deplore modernism, they have adopted the old modernist agenda almost in toto. See how perfectly Spurgeon's plea applies to what is happening in the church today:

The church should be separate from the world

A-hunk a-hunk o' burnin' blog...The church is a separate and distinct thing from the world. I suppose there is such a thing as "the Christian world"; but I do not know what it is, or where it can be found. It must be a singular mixture. I know what is meant by a worldly Christian; and I suppose the Christian world must be an aggregate of worldly Christians. But the church of Christ is not of the world. "Ye are not of the world," says Christ, "even as I am not of the world."

Great attempts have been made of late to make the church receive the world, and wherever it has succeeded it has come to this result, the world has swallowed up the church. It must be so. The greater is sure to swamp the less.

They say, "Do not let us draw any hard-and-fast lines. A great many good people attend our services who may not be quite decided, but still their opinion should be consulted, and their vote should be taken upon the choice of a minister, and there should be entertainments and amusements, in which they can assist."

The theory seems to be, that it is well to have a broad gangway from the church to the world: if this be carried out, the result will be that the nominal church will use that gangway to go over to the world, but it will not be used in the other direction.

It is thought by some that it would perhaps be better to have no distinct church at all. If the world will not come up to the church, let the church go down to the world; that seems to be the theory. Let the Israelites dwell with the Canaanites, and become one happy family. Such a blending does not appear to have been anticipated by our Lord in the chapter which was read just now: I mean the fifteenth of John. Read verses eighteen and nineteen: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

Did he ever say—"Try to make an alliance with the world, and in all things be conformed to its ways"? Nothing could have been further from our Lord's mind. Oh, that we could see more of holy separation; more dissent from ungodliness, more nonconformity to the world! This is "the dissidence of Dissent" that I care for, far more than I do for party names and the political strife which is engendered by them.
. . . . . . . . . .

The church is to be a garden, walled, taken out of the common, and made a separate and select plot of ground. She is to be a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed, no longer open to the fowl of the air, and the beasts of the field. Saints are to be separate from the rest of men, even as Abraham was when he said to the sons of Seth, "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you."

Come now, my dear friends, are you of this sort? Are you foreigners in a country not your own? You are no Christians, remember, if you are not so. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." That is the Lord's own word to you. Did not he himself suffer without the gate that you might go forth unto him without the camp?

Are you at one with the rest of mankind? Could anybody live with you, and never see that any alteration had taken place in you? Would they think that you were just the same as any other man? Then, by your fruits ye shall be known. If there is no difference of life between you and the world, the text does not address you as the "sister" and the "spouse" of Christ. Those who are such are enclosed from the world, and shut up for Christ.

"I wish I were more so," cries one. So do I, my friend, and may you and I practically prove the sincerity of that desire by a growing separateness from the world!

C. H. Spurgeon

Incidentally, Spurgeon had hordes of detractors who constantly urged him to tone down his criticism of early modernism. They insisted that he needed to defer to the sensitivities of Christian leaders who were convinced dialogue and compromise were a better response to modernist innovators than the jeremiads Spurgeon frequently delivered. Spurgeon's critics were especially fond of pointing out that he had no seminary training, and had not even gone to college. Many urged him to shut up and let scholars and academicians respond to modernism.

I'm glad he shunned that type of counsel.

Phil's signature


donsands said...

"What's highly ironic here is that Spurgeon's message is still as relevant and as seasonable as the day he first said these words..."

And the "prince of preachers" is, and will be, quite an encouraging brother in Christ for years to come.

I have been reading a book 'The Last Boy', which is the life story of Micky Mantle. This man was very, very ungodly. And one of the points made is that he had those around him who fed his filthiness with laughing and pats on the back.

Thanks for the post.
Lord bless you this week with great joy and peace in His love. Amen. Gal. 6:14

thomas4881 said...

Yes, if you fight against sin you fight against Satan and Satan's world system.

Pastor Jason Woelm said...


Thanks for posting this again.

Came across this old quote from Doug Pagitt: "We want to be friends in the Jesus way, and we need others to transform us so that we may find and join in God’s hopes and dreams for the world. The Emergent imagination is at its most basic level a call to friendship–friendship with God, with one another, and with the world" (An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, pp. 18-19).

I think it speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Boerseuntjie said...

Excellent enduring truth and gladly (Though not joyfully), for this very reason I am shunned amongst the many "evangelicals" of my region in England...

Perhaps and exposition upon one essential and basic word is what is called for amongst the Churches of our God [Looking at Strong’s Concordance]:

From a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564; A CALLING OUT, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially A religious CONGREGATION (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): - ASSEMBLEY, CHURCH.

ἐκ, ἐξ
ek ex
ek, ex
A primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds), FROM, OUT (OF PLACE, time OR CAUSE; literally or figuratively; direct or remote): - after, among, X are, at betwixt (-yond), by (the means of), exceedingly, (+ abundantly above), for (-th), from (among, forth, up), + grudgingly, + heartily, X heavenly, X hereby, + very highly, in, . . . ly, (because, by reason) of, off (from), on, out among (from, of), over, since, X thenceforth, through, X unto, X VEHEMENTLY, with (-OUT). Often used in composition, with the same general import; often of completion.

Akin to the base of G2753; to “call” (properly aloud, but used in a variety of applications, directly or otherwise): - bid, CALL (FORTH), (whose, whose sur-) name (was [called]).

So to my little uneducated understanding a CHURCH is:
A coming together of those Elected unto salvation by merciful Grace Alone, through the work of God the Holy Spirit, according with the good and perfect will of our Father by the imputed righteousness gifted us in Messiah Jesus Alone through the conviction of the Holy Scriptures Alone (Whether read or preached or taught); by means of applying the free gift of Faith Alone.

A CHURCH or CONGREGATION of followers of the teachings of Christ then are of NECESSITY and ESSENCE a people whom are CALLED OUT from something... SIN and the World system associated with sin, and the deeds of sin.

SO that it cannot be said that the Church has ANY business promoting unity or compassion for the world and it's ways ~ as these are in DIRECT and OPEN OPPOSITION to Messiah and His Kingdom and His people, whom He has bid to repentantly trust Him Alone for their salvation from that world system and it's lusts and desires.

THE CALLED OUT ~ I notice that this is a term which signifies past, present and future FULFILLMENT; praise our Great I AM we need fear no evil for we have the victory in Him!

Your fellow bondslave according with the free gift of everlasting love and mercy determined to save and deliver such a sinners as I am,

Tyrone said...

Titus_2:1 "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine."