July 16, 2008

Revisiting A Previous Controversy

Over one hundred and fifty years ago there arose a controversy among the Particular Baptist in London over the successful ministry of Charles H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon, in his twenties, pastored the New Park Street Baptist Chapel, the largest Church in the world at that time. James Wells, in his fifties pastored the Surrey Tabernacle, a successful large Church only one half mile away from Spurgeon's Church. Charles Waters Banks, also in his fifties pastored the Unicorn Yard Chapel and both he and Spurgeon became close friends ministering to each other during the cholera outbreak in London. Wells and Spurgeon were not as close.

Spurgeon's preaching drew criticism from Wells and Banks over the general offer to all sinners for salvation. Though all three were Calvinist, Wells especially criticized Spurgeon over his free offer, called "duty faith." Duty faith implied that all men everywhere are commanded to repent and accept Christ while the Calvinist emphasized limited atonement for the elect only who are commanded to repent after they are regenerated. Wells had successfully argued against the Arminianism of the General Baptist in London and Spurgeon's preaching carried hints of the Arminianism he had fought against.

This controversy would not be known to us today because of the lack of theological severity involved. However the charges of hyper-Calvinism brought against Calvinist by anti-Calvinist preachers has spurred Iain Murray to drag this controversy into the fray to dispel the hyper-Calvinist charges. His book, "Spurgeon Verses Hyper-Calvinism The Battle For Gospel Preaching" has muddied the issue between Calvinst and non-Calvinist. it is my opinion that he has indirectly and unintentionally exposed the ugly heads of Hypo-Calvinism, a first cousin of Arminianism. Since there are hardly any Hyper-Calvinist to fight against, the enemy in the near future will be Hypo-Calvinism, a modern version of Amyraldianism.

However the point I wish to emphasize is that Wells and Banks, prominent Baptist ancients would turn over in their graves at the "free offer" preached by Adrian Rogers. Rogers was no Spurgeon by a long shot. While the controversy was not so severe, if Adrian Rogers had preach his gospel at New Park Street Chapel (Spurgeon would not have allowed it) we all would know about the controversy still today. It would have made a major item in Church history.
Any followers of Dr Rogers, one hundred and fifty years later, would be a new denomination and that denomination would be a inerrant Bible believing Unitarian Church worshiping Jesus only!

ref. review of Iain Murray's book here


Rev. said...

Thanks for letting us know where you stand, brother, but you know a bunch of us 'Calvinists' who tread in Spurgeon's footsteps aren't particularly fond of being told we deny particular redemption and/or the doctrines of grace. Knowing Spurgeon invited Moody to speak from his pulpit, it might not be unlikely he would have invited Adrian Rogers. Who knows?!?

WatchingHISstory said...

oops! That one slipped my mind, Spurgeon did invite Moody to preach for him. That raises a question in my mind as to Spurgeon's Calvinism. Did Moody preach anti-Calvinistic messages?

I don't derive pleasure in questioning the apparent disbelief of particular atonement (doctrines of grace) by many Calvinist today. However isn't it a valid discussion? When the straw man is destroyed and it is seen that there are no hypers then the antis are comming after the hypos. When Steve Gaines preaches often he attacks particular atonement and irresistable grace. He is leaving the old emotive straw man argument of Adrian Rogers behind and comming after you hypos. The path toward unitarianism is developing.

WatchingHISstory said...

When AR resorted to the straw man argument he pictured God holding an infant and deciding it's destiny he was ridiculing Calvinist. However he was exposing his mind to everyone to see that he had no scriptural view of original sin nor of depravity. That baby was not a "clean slate" but "born into sin" and depraved. He was born with a destiny. Rogers maintained an abreivated form of Pelagianism. Most likely Gaines and Moody know this all too well. Spurgeon would have been keen to this and IMO would not have let AR grace his pulpit. It is likely that Spurgeon would let anyone who embraces the BF&M to fill his pulpit.

In fact Lee Or Pollard or any of AR's predessors would have allowed him to preach at Bellevue.

Unfortunately we are not keen on theology rather we want to be thought of fondly. Unity over theology!

Rev. said...

I'm not aware of Moody being an anti-Calvinist (just a non-Calvinist). Had Spurgeon read the booklet, "Predestined for Hell", it would've been unlikely for Adrian Rogers to receive an invitation (IMO).

Questions related to the atonement, etc., are definitely valid for discussion.