Posts Tagged ‘Charles Spurgeon’
I have been reading the excellent book, Killing Calvinism, in which the author states from John Piper that the Calvinist should make George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon your examples for Calvinistic ministries and not John Calvin. Piper said that the reason for this is that Whitefield and Spurgeon were known for soul winning but Calvin was not. A great point. I will have a review coming of this book soon.
I do agree. I love the ministries of Whitefield and Spurgeon. While I don’t agree fully with their Calvinism and I believe they were not consistent with their Calvinistic theology in regard to preaching the gospel to the lost, I do admire them greatly. In fact, I named my second born son after Charles Spurgeon. I named him Haddon Spurgeon. I would love for my Haddon to be a man of God who also preaches with fire to the lost. Oh that he would be a great man of prayer! Oh that my little boy would grow to be a godly disciple of the Lord Jesus!
In my own life, it is men of God such as Whitefield, Spurgeon, Wesley, or Leonard Ravenhill who capture my heart more than any theologian. I appreciate great theologians and their labors for the kingdom. I have no doubt that the Church needs great theologians but I love when theology and fire mix together. Wesley was such a man. He would ride on his horse and would read from theology books. Wesley could read in both Greek and Latin. He would often spend hours reading from various Latin works. His journals reflect a deep thinker yet they show his heart for the lost. John Wesley was a deep man of faith, a man of intense prayer. He and George Whitefield would pray for hours. They would converse together about their ministries and yes they did debate theology but they loved Christ and loved His kingdom. Later John Wesley would preach the funeral of his great friend, Whitefield, and if you read his sermon, it is a heart-moving praise of the great saint of God.
Sadly, theologians often are not know for soul winning. Soul winners are often men of fire but sometimes they are not known for their theology. I would love to see God raise up both in one. We need to be soul winners who love the Word of God, who long to see the lost saved but who also love the precious doctrines of Scripture. We need to do both, set apart Christ as Lord but also to be able to answer all those who question our faith (1 Peter 3:15). We need to watch both our life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). Doctrine and life go hand in hand. We need both the mind of a theologian and a heart of an evangelist. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses for Christ both in our lives and in our words (Acts 1:8).
John Piper is absolutely correct: make great soul winners your model. Make Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, and even great saints such as J. Edwin Orr as models of men of God who loved the Word of God and loved souls. We need to learn, as they did, that we should glorify God with our hearts and with our passions. God can greatly use this for His glory and I pray that He does.
From time to time I read on a Calvinist blog or a site that the logical end of Arminianism is universalism. Therefore, so the writers imply, that if they embraced Arminianism then they would likewise embrace universalism since this is the Arminians logical end.
For me, if I were to embrace Calvinism, I would embrace hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism is the logical end. If you follow TULIP correctly, the logical end has to be hyperism. I recently even heard a Reformed Bible teacher lecturing on hyper-Calvinism and he lamented that despite the success of the “young, restless, and reformed” movement, he believed that history showed that with the rise of Calvinism also followed hyper-Calvinism as young, zealous Calvinists go beyond the bounds and take Calvinism to places that Calvin never intended the theology to go to (though I think that Calvin was not always consistent). This Reformed teacher warned that the next movement he saw on the horizon would be a rise in hyper-Calvinism.
Now for those who don’t know what hyper-Calvinism is (as some Arminians tend to think that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists), hyperism is the following:
The prefix “hyper” may be used generically to refer to anything that is considered “extreme” or which goes beyond the accepted norm. There is therefore a sense in which one may refer to Calvinistic views regarded as going beyond normal Calvinism as “hyper.” This non-technical use, usually as a pejorative term, has been applied to a variety of theological positions which fall outside mainstream Calvinism:
- that God is the source of sin and of evil
- that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
- that it is wrong to evangelize
- that God does not command everyone to repent
- that there is no common grace, i.e. God only cares for his elect and has nothing but hatred for the non-elect.
- that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord over it, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
- that only Calvinists are Christians
I believe that the following is actually consistent if you logically follow TULIP. Think about it. If you hold to total depravity as taught by Calvinism than this means that mankind is dead in their sins like a corpse and even with the grace of God, they cannot respond to His call, they cannot hear His voice. God must regenerate them first to give them spiritual life so that He can give them the gift of faith. Now if this is true then it follows that God must do the complete work of regeneration and this means that God is the one who has chosen whom He will save and whom He will damn. Before you run away from that by saying that God merely passes over the non-elect, even if He does do this, He still has not chosen them and condemns them in theirs sins. It is not their sins then that condemn them to eternal hell but the sovereign will of God (Romans 9:22).
If God then is the One who elects whom He will save and whom He will condemn, it logically follows that He sent Jesus Christ to bear the sins of the elect. This limits the atonement to only the elect and none more. Further, whom Jesus died for on the cross will come to Him by His irresistible grace (John 6:44) and will be saved forever (John 10:27-29).
Now I had a Bible college professor who was a Calvinist and he always said he was a TULIPER. He added E and R for evangelism and responsibility to avoid hyper-Calvinism.
Yet hyper-Calvinism is very logical. Very coherent. Consider evangelism. Consider just a bit from a hyper-Calvinist blog I follow on Acts 17:30 (a passage that both Arminians and Calvinists use to teach that God commands all to repent):
Acts 17:30 is an exhortation to idolators to turn from their idolatry in light of the holiness and coming judgement of God. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry… Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious… Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (vs. 16, 22, 29) The context of Paul’s sermon to the men of Athens does not expound on the glad tidings of the gospel, nor is there a directive command to believe on Christ in the hope of eternal life.
Gospel invitations are particular and not general because Jesus came to call the sick who have need of the Physician. This gospel call excludes the self-righteous. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus only came to preach glad tidings to the meek, the brokenhearted, the captives, them that are bound, and all that mourn… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (See Isaiah 61:1-3)
Now what hyper-Calvinists often vent against the most is the idea of “duty-faith.” This is the teaching that it is the duty of unbelievers to place their faith in Christ for salvation. They see this as a false teaching and against the gospel of Christ. For example, this hyper-Calvinist blog post that compares the words of Charles Spurgeon (who preached against hyper-Calvinism) and his predecessor, John Gill found here. You’ll notice that the writer pits Gill against Spurgeon time and time again. Gill was against duty-faith. Gill followed through on his Calvinism and he believed that whom God had elected, they will be saved. We need not call people to repent. God will save His elect in His time by His means.
John Gill stated this against preaching a universal gospel call:
To which I answer, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, no, not to the elect: they are chosen to it, Christ has procured it for them, the gospel publishes and reveals it, and the Spirit of God applies it to them; much less to the non-elect, or to all mankind; and consequently this doctrine, or God according to it, is not chargeable with delusion and insult. When this author goes about to prove any such offers, I shall attend to them; and if he can prove them, I own, I must be obliged to think again.
He followed through. Gill was consistent.
I applaud those Calvinists who are not consistent. I do. I am friends with several brothers like that. In fact, in many ways they are Arminians in their gospel approach. They preach as I do, that Christ shed His blood so that men can come and be saved. They do as I do and preach the gospel to all men (Mark 16:15). They have no thoughts about whether or not this person is elect or not. They, like I, leave that to God. They preach God’s salvation to the lost and allow the Spirit to do His work (John 16:8-11). Yet they are not consistent.
Now let me state that if Arminianism leads naturally toward universalism, my question is this: which God would you rather serve? The God who loves all and desires all to be saved (or has saved if universalism were correct and the natural end of Arminianism) or the God who condemns people in their sins before time began and offers them no hope at all apart from His sovereign election?
In closing, I believe both hyper-Calvinism and universalism are wrong. I believe they are extreme views. If universalism is the logical end of Arminianism then I am happy to be an inconsistent Arminian as I am sure that many of my Calvinist brethren are happy to be inconsistent Calvinists. Dr. Robertson McQuilkin always exhorted his students to “find the center of biblical tension and stay there.” I say “amen” to that.
I found the following quotes interesting from Charles Spurgeon on prevenient grace. His statements are akin to what we Arminians believe about the prevenient grace of God that enables sinful humanity to be saved despite our total inability to save ourselves. He states in his sermon (#656) on this subject:
Now let me show you how God’s grace does come to work on the human heart so as to make it good soil before the living seed is cast into it, so that before quickening grace really visits it the heart may be called a good heart, because it is prepared to receive that grace.
I think this takes place thus: first of all, before quickening grace comes, God often gives an attentive ear, and makes a man willing to listen to the Word. Not only does he like to listen to it, but he wants to know the meaning of it; there is a little excitement in his mind to know what the gospel tidings really are. He is not saved as yet, but it is always a hopeful sign when a man is willing to listen to the truth, and is anxious to understand it. This is one thing which prevenient grace does in making the soul good.
In Ezekiel’s vision, as you will recollect, before the breath came from the four winds the bones began to stir, and they came together bone to his bone. So, before the Spirit of God comes to a man in effectual calling, God’s grace often comes to make a stir in the man’s mind, so that he is no longer indifferent to the truth, but is anxious to understand what it means.
With the exception of effectual calling here, the Arminian finds comfort in Spurgeon’s words about the prevenient grace of God. Spurgeon, in his sermon on the warrant of faith, states:
“If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate.”
There is no doubt that Spurgeon was a Calvinist. He stated so himself. I have read enough of Spurgeon to know that he was a Calvinist but he was not consistent with his Calvinism. For instance, Spurgeon disagreed with the Calvinists of his day over the free offer of the gospel and he used “Arminian” texts to teach that it is the duty of the Church to preach the gospel to all and to call all to repentance. Spurgeon battled the hyper-Calvinists of his day (and rightfully so) with a passion to preach the gospel to all and to call all to salvation. Spurgeon was firm in his view regarding unconditional election but I believed he erred in his approach to evangelism by seeking to argue that God made a bona fide call to salvation to all. This is simply untrue if God has elected a few to salvation while reprobating the majority.
Yet Spurgeon was correct to argue for a universal call to salvation and he was correct in his views regarding regeneration, that faith leads to salvation and not to the false teaching that God must first regenerate a person in order for them to exercise the gift of faith. This view is based on Calvinistic assumptions rather than Scripture and Spurgeon was quick to point that out it seems.
For more information, I recommend the article by Bob Ross on regeneration in which he shows Spurgeon’s views regarding this issue. You can find it here.
This is a link to Randy Alcorn’s blog in which he blogged on Charles Spurgeon’s depression. I would encourage you to read it in its entirety. Alcorn does a good job of showing that depression is not foreign to Christians. We all live in a fallen, sinful world and it is not uncommon for our hearts to be heavy. How can we not have heavy hearts when we see the sin that abounds, the number of abortions, the state of our nations, wars, famines, etc.? Spurgeon battled depression and we can learn from his experience even if we ourselves do not battle depression.
You can find the last post here.
Open air preaching is not very popular today and is often maligned by people including those who claim to follow Christ. It is viewed today as a poor form of evangelism, a type of evangelism that has lost touch with true evangelism, etc. But few realize that great men of God such as John Wesley, George Whitefield and even Charles Spurgeon himself advocated open air preaching. While you might argue that their time was a very different time, God’s Word promises us that salvation comes through the hearing of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17). Open air preaching is useful to present the gospel and it almost always opens the door for conversations about the gospel.
You can read Spurgeon’s lecture on open air preaching here.