Tuesday, November 25, 2008

...is evangelicalism on the new downgrade?

Please read the following with eyes wet with tears... burdened for the church in America.

Consider the current state of things: The Emergent Church is apostate; the Emerging Church pragmatic; the Seeker-Sensitive Church irrelevant; the vast Evangelical Church a ship without a rudder and staggering as drunks in the fog. Christian music companies and publishing houses are either owned by nonbelievers or in the process of being bought up by them. The gospel is being sold as cheap retail goods and marketed like a manmade widget for mass production. And in the midst of such ecclesiastical gimmickry, doctrinal disorder, and evangelistic uncertainty, where are the men of God - pastors - charged as servants of Christ Jesus the Lord that are willing not to be defined by the times in which they live, but by the truth they claim to love?

Have those called by God to "preach the Word in season and out of season" forgotten their solemn charge and sacred duty to "guard the trust" and "contend for the once for all delivered to the saints faith"?

As our nation is facing economic collapse, something of greater currency and value is being depleted around us: the treasure house of biblical ministry.

The culture, for some, is the new hermeneutic through which all ministry must now be interpreted; drawing a crowd is taking precedence over the command of the gospel; if one affirms the doctrines of grace and the doctrines of election and reprobation, he is labeled a hyper-Calvinist by those whose house is built upon the sand of Arminius. People want change, but they don't cry for Reformation or Revival. 

Read the following excerpt from brother Spurgeon of the battle he was fighting during his day which came to be known as The Downgrade Controversy. May it be a sober and stern warning for us today; for we beloved, are on the downgrade once again.

by C.H. Spurgeon
"The case is mournful.

Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. A plain man told us the other day that two ministers had derided him because he thought we should pray for rain. A gracious woman bemoaned in my presence that a precious promise in Isaiah which had comforted her had been declared by her minister to be uninspired. It is a common thing to hear working-men excuse their wickedness by the statement that there is no hell, "the parson says so." But we need not prolong our mention of painful facts. Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her track. Attendance at places of worship is declining, and reverence for holy things is vanishing; and we solemnly believe this to be largely attributable to the scepticism which has flashed from the pulpit and spread among the people. Possibly the men who uttered the doubt never intended it to go so far; but none the less they have done the ill, and cannot undo it. Their own observation ought to teach them better. Have these advanced thinkers filled their own chapels? Have they, after all, prospered through discarding the old methods? Possibly, in a few cases genius and tact have carried these gentry over the destructive results of their ministry; but in many cases their pretty new theology has scattered their congregations. In meeting-houses holding a thousand, or twelve hundred, or fifteen hundred, places once packed to the ceiling with ardent hearers, how small are the numbers now! We would mention instances, but we forbear. The places which the gospel filled the new nonsense has emptied, and will keep empty.

This fact will have little influence with "the cultured"; for, as a rule, they have cultivated a fine development of conceit. "Yes," said one, whose pews held only here and there a worshipper, "it will always be found that in proportion as the preacher's mind enlarges, his congregation diminishes." These destroyers of our churches appear to be as content with their work as monkeys with their mischief. That which their fathers would have lamented they rejoice in: the alienation of the poor and simple-minded from their ministry they accept as a compliment, and the grief of the spiritually-minded they regard as an evidence of their power. Truly, unless the Lord had kept his own we should long before this have seen our Zion ploughed as a field.
The other day we were asked to mention the name of some person who might be a suitable pastor for a vacant church, and the deacon who wrote said, "Let him be a converted man, and let him be one who believes what he preaches; for there are those around us who give us the idea that they have neither part nor lot in the matter." This remark is more commonly made than we like to remember, and there is, alas! too much need for it. A student from a certain college preached to a congregation we sometimes visit such a sermon that the deacon said to him in the vestry, "Sir, do you believe in the Holy Ghost?" The youth replied, "I suppose I do." To which the deacon answered, "I suppose you do not, or you would not have insulted us with such false doctrine." A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of his glory, and man of his hope.

It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide
by the faith once delivered to the saints should fraternize with those who have turned aside to another gospel. Christian love has its claims, and divisions are to be shunned as grievous evils; but how far are we justified in being in confederacy with those who are departing from the truth? It is a difficult question to answer so as to keep the balance of the duties. For the present it behoves believers to be cautious, lest they lend their support and countenance to the betrayers of the Lord. It is one thing to overleap all boundaries of denominational restriction for the truth's sake: this we hope all godly men will do more and more. It is quite another policy which would urge us to subordinate the maintenance of truth to denominational prosperity and unity. Numbers of easy-minded people wink at error so long as it is committed by a clever man and a good-natured brother, who has so many fine points about him. Let each believer judge for himself; but, for our part, we have put on a few fresh bolts to our door, and we have given orders to keep the chain up; for, under color of begging the friendship of the servant, there are those about who aim at robbing THE MASTER.

We fear it is hopeless ever to form a society which can keep out men base enough to profess one thing and believe another; but it might be possible to make an informal alliance among all who hold the Christianity of their fathers. Little as they might be able to do, they could at least protest, and as far as possible free themselves of that complicity which will be involved in a conspiracy of silence. If for a while the evangelicals are doomed to go down, let them die fighting, and in the full assurance that their gospel will have a resurrection when the inventions of "modern thought" shall be burned up with fire unquenchable."


The Blainemonster said...

Steve, you said that "The culture, for some, is the new hermeneutic through which all ministry must now be interpreted." Sad, sickening and true.

CHS said, "Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her track." And America has fallen into line as well. My daily prayer is that God would keep me on the track of Truth in this landscape awash with false Gospel, where so many participate in "godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge."

May God help us.

Charles Fry said...

It is sad and sickening to see the state of the church today.

Great men like C.H. Spurgeon and Archibald Brown spoke against the Church for its entertainment practices many years ago. I wonder what they would think about it today!?

I posted a sermon written by Brown on the Preaching Today Blog. Here is the link.


It's a lengthy post but well worth the read.

melissa said...

Nobody says it quite like Spurgeon. "Thieves hate watchdogs..." Reminded me of the prosperity gospel folks who call us heresy hunters.

musicmike said...

Thanks for posting the sermon by Archibald Brown. I think that it says much that pertains to our modern day.

Concerning our day, it seems that there is a tightrope to walk when it comes to music and the arts. I believe that the Lord wants His people to use their talents for him whether that be painting, acting, singing, or playing an instrument. I think that sometimes those things can be used in a Christian setting to communicate a Christian message.

I don't think that the church should be trying to put on bazaars, huge theatrical events, and the like to win the world. The simple preaching of the gospel is what God will use to accomplish that great work.

I would love to hear from others here as to how you encourage artistic folks to use their talents from God and yet not allow your local church to fall prey to the entertainment mentality.

Derek Joseph said...

So much is sad these for the Church these days. Persecution overseas, stupidity (to apostasy... or laziness) here.

But lest we forget, Jesus made a promise: "I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it"(Matt. 16:18).

Jesus is King. He reigns. He governs history. He is rescuing his people. He is sanctifying them. He is making sure that his word goes forth and bears fruit.

So yes, things often look bad. And they are bad. But Christ is King and he is reigning - saving all of his sheep by spreading his word.

gigantor1231 said...


I can recall being labeled as one of the 'watch doggies' of the Word of God. I feel that I am in good company when I hear that Spurgeon was called the same;

" A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness."

Although this is a light affliction I still consider it a blessing to be mocked, ridiculed and persecuted for His names sake! Perhaps I am doing something right when I encounter such resistance.
Thanks for your faithful exposition Steve.