27 November 2011

Winning People and Conquering Them Are Opposite Goals

Spurgeon explains rule one of missional ministry
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 a sermon titled "Independence of Christianity," preached on Sunday morning, 31 august 1857, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens."

ur missionaries and our clergymen have assumed a kind of superiority and dignity over the people; they have called themselves clergy, and the people laity; and the result has been that they have weakened their influence.

I have thought it right to come amongst my fellow men, and be a man amongst men, just one of themselves, their equal and their friend; and they have rallied around me, and not refused to love me. And I should not expect to be successful in preaching the gospel, unless I might stand and feel that I am a brother, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh. If I cannot stand before them thus, I cannot get at their hearts.

Send me, then, to India as one of the dominant ruling race, and you give me a work I cannot accomplish when you tell me to evangelise its inhabitants. . .

I had rather go to preach to the greatest savages that live, than I would go to preach in the place that is under British rule. Not for the fault of Britain, but simply because I, as a Briton, would be looked upon as one of the superiors, one of the lords, and that would take away much of my power to do good. Now, will you just cast your eye upon the wide world? Did you ever hear of a nation under British rule being converted to God? Mr. Moffat and our great friend Dr. Livingstone have been laboring in Africa with great success, and many have been converted. Did you ever hear of Kaffir tribes protected by England, ever being converted?

It is only a people that have been left to themselves, and preached to by men as men, that have been brought to God. For my part, I conceive, that when an enterprise begins in martyrdom, it is none the less likely to succeed, but when conquerors begin to preach the gospel to those they have conquered, it will not succeed, God will teach us that it is not by might.

All swords that have ever flashed from scabbards have not aided Christ a single grain.

Mahommedans' religion might be sustained by scimitars, but Christians' religion must be sustained by love. The great crime of war can never promote the religion of peace. The battle, and the garment rolled in blood, are not a fitting prelude to "peace on earth, goodwill to men." And I do firmly hold, that the slaughter of men, that bayonets, and swords, and guns, have never yet been, and never can be, promoters of the gospel. The gospel will proceed without them, but never through them.

"Not by might." Now don't be be fooled again, if you hear of the English conquering in China, don't go down on your knees and thank God for it, and say it's such a heavenly thing for the spread of the gospel—it just is not.

Experience teaches you that, and if you look upon the map you will find I have stated only the truth, that where our arms have been victorious, the gospel has been hindered rather than not; so that where South Sea Islanders have bowed their knees and cast their idols to the bats, British Hindoos have kept their idols, and where Bechuanas and Bushmen have turned unto the Lord, British Affairs have not been converted, not perhaps because they were British, but because the very fact of the missionary being a Briton, put him above them, and weakened their influence.

Hush thy trump, O war; put away thy gaudy trappings and thy bloodstained drapery, if thou thinkest that the cannon with the cross upon it is really sanctified, and if thou imaginest that thy banner hath become holy, thou dreamest of a lie.

God wanteth not thee to help his cause. "It is not by armies, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."

C. H. Spurgeon


Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donsands said...

What an incredibly wise minister of Christ. Thanks for sharing this full and deep thought from the "prince of preachers".

"when conquerors begin to preach the gospel to those they have conquered, it will not succeed"

This is America's problem as well. We set up our military in another nation and act like we rule, and we don't expect these people to dislike us?
We need to take care of our own, as a nation, and a nation with the Holy Writ as our foundation. America isn't the Church, but we are a unique nation.

Have a great week in our Savior's truth. The truth that he loves, and nothing in the universe can seperate us from that love. (Rom.8)

Anonymous said...

Awesome sermon snippet from The Prince of Preachers! Thanks Brother Johnson!

Anonymous said...

This is even borne out in the expansion of "Christianity" (Catholicism) in early and medieval Europe. Conquered people groups changed religions but their hearts were never changed. The people changed religions if their leaders changed and the RCC claimed great victories and converted countries when in truth they knew nothing of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Spurgeon, I think, conveys his own criticism of the attitudes of his time--age of Enlightenment, or Modernity. Looking at his time period, perhaps we can rightly critique the Westernization that served as a primary element in what some missionaries were doing. Of course, Dr. Livingstone was one of the more effective missionaries because he understood and maintained a passion for the culture in which he was working.