Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spurgeon's Passion For The Truth and Contempt For The Skeptic's of His Day

The following excerpts are from an editorial Charles Spurgeon published in The Sword and the Trowel in 1871, more than a decade before the famous Downgrade Controversy.

Spurgeon makes no effort to disguise his passion for the truth, hide his contempt for the skepticism of the day, or otherwise tone down his rhetoric in order to mollify people who were demanding that he be more "charitable" in his treatment of unorthodox opinions.

He also had nothing but disdain for the notion that uncertainty is a mark of holy humility or a sign of intellectual sophistication that ought to be cultivated.

The arguments Spurgeon employs make it clear that the movement he opposed (nineteenth-century modernism) had a lot in common with the postmodern cynicism that infects the wider evangelical movement today. He leaves little doubt about how he would respond to the writings of Brian McLaren, Steve Chalke, Tony Campolo, the Open Theists, and their fellow post-evangelicals.

Here are some especially poignant excerpts:
That these gentlemen . . . are not liberal, but intolerant to the last degree, is evident, from their superciliousness towards those poor simpletons who abide by the old faith.
Why, it's almost as if he had been reading the latest issue of Christianity Today or surfing through some of the blogs I monitor.
Let half a word of protest be uttered by a man who believes firmly in something, and holds by a defined doctrine, and the thunders of liberality bellow forth against the bigot. Steeped up to their very throats in that bigotry for liberality, which, of all others, is the most ferocious form of intolerance, they sneer with the contempt of affected learning at the idiots who contend for "a narrow Puritanism," and express a patronizing hope that the benighted adherents of "a half-enlightened creed" may learn more of "that charity which thinketh no evil."
Sounds suspiciously like some fellows I know who regularly use "TR" or "RB" (acronyms for "truly Reformed" and "Reformed Baptist") against their adversaries as if those were the grossest of obscenities.
To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints is to them an offense against the enlightenment of the nineteenth century; but, to vamp old, worn-out heresies, and pass them off for deep thinking, is to secure a high position among minds "emancipated from the fetters of traditional beliefs."
Spurgeon was quoting the precise expressions broad churchmen had published. He was clearly the unnamed target of their disdain. The hypocrisy of their subsequent pleas for "charity" was obvious.
Great is their indignation at the creeds which render their position morally dubious. Churches have no right to believe anything; comprehensiveness is the only virtue of a denomination; precise definitions are a sin, and fundamental doctrines are a myth: this is the notion of "our foremost men." For earnest people to band themselves together to propagate what they hold to be the very truth of God, is in their eyes the miserable endeavor of bigots to stem the torrent of modern thought. . . .

The proper course, according to their "broad views," would be to leave doctrines for the dunces who care for them. Truths there are none, but only opinions; and, therefore, cultivated ministers should be left free to trample on the most cherished beliefs, to insult convictions, no matter how long experience may have matured them, and to teach anything, everything, or nothing, as their own culture, or the current of enlightened thought may direct them. . . .

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