Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spurgeon Mistaken in the Downgrade Controversy?

I recently read a blog post where a Southern Baptist pastor tried to make the point that Charles Spurgeon did not handle himself in a manner befitting a minister of the gospel in what was called "The Downgrade Controversy". We see the same sorts of problems creeping into our churches today--a lack of concern for sound biblical doctrine, a lack of care in proper interpretation of scripture, and a willingness to cave in to cultural demands rather than a conviction to stand on the truths of scripture. I highly commend an excerpt from John MacArthur's book Ashamed of the Gospel if you're looking for background on this controversy. I found the following to be most thought provoking.

Some who abandoned the faith did so openly, Shindler said. But many purposely concealed their skepticism and heresy, preferring to sow seeds of doubt while posing as orthodox believers. "These men deepened their own condemnation, and promoted the everlasting ruin of many of their followers by their hypocrisy and deceit; professing to be the ambassadors of Christ, and the heralds of his glorious gospel, their aim was to ignore his claims, deny him his rights, lower his character, rend the glorious vesture of his salvation, and trample his crown in the dust."

Thus within only a few decades, the Puritan fervor that had so captured the soul of England gave way to dry, listless apostate teaching. Churches became lax in granting membership privileges to the unregenerate. People who were, in Shindler's words, "strangers to the work of renewing grace" nevertheless claimed to be Christians and were admitted to membership—even leadership—in the churches. These people "chose them pastors after their own hearts, men who could, and would, and did, cry 'Peace, peace,' when the only way of peace was ignored or denied."

And this, friends, was written about the church about 120 years ago. Sounds eerily similar to what we see today, huh?

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