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é─˙Doctrines are Christé─˘s garmentsé─¨

We will take a momentary break from our holiday frivolity to bring you a final installment from Iain Murrayé─˘s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism. We will return tomorrow with more pointless drivel.

The last of four é─˙Lessons from the Conflicté─¨ with the Hyper-Calvinists of Spurgeoné─˘s day is that doctrine not kept in perspective can become a master rather than a servant. Iain Murray writes:

imgThe final conclusion has to be that when Calvinism ceases to be evangelistic, when it becomes more concerned with theory than with the salvation of men and women, when the acceptance of doctrines seems to become more important than acceptance of Christ, then it is a system going to seed and it will invariably lose its attractive power. As we have seen, in his early ministries Spurgeon was opposed by those who believed that the Hyper-Calvinism of such eighteenth century-Baptists as John Gill represented the purest Christianity under heaven. That interpretation of history he knew to be wrong, not simply because it fell short of Scripture, but because its effect was to reduce endeavors for the conversion of sinners. é─˛During the pastorate of my venerated predecessor, Dr. Gill, this Church, instead of increasing, gradually decreased . . . But mark this, from the day when Fuller, Carey, Sutcliffe, and others, met together to send out missionaries to India the sun began to dawn on a gracious revival which is not over yet.é─˘
   In this connection it is noteworthy that just as renewed understanding of the free offer of the gospel led to the age of overseas missions in England it did also é─ý by different means é─ý in Scotland. As James Walker writes, Boston and the Morrow men é─˛entered fully into the missionary spirit of the Bibleé─˘ and é─˛were able to see that Calvinistic doctrine is inconsistent with world-conquering aspirations and efforts.é─˘ imgRobert Moffat, Scots pioneer missionary in South Africa, was one of the outstanding results of this rediscovery. A Calvinist who made the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly one of the first publications of the infant missions press at Kuruman, Moffat had no hesitation in writing as follows in 1834:
   é─˛I see nothing in the world worth looking after if it has not a direct reference to the gory and extension of the Redeemeré─˘s kingdom; and were we always able to have a lively view of the myriads of who are descending into the horrible pit, our zeal would be proportionate. Much depends on us who have received the ministry of reconciliation, assured that God our Savior willeth the salvation of all.é─˘
   To say this is not to deny that there have been preachers of Hyper-Calvinistic views whose preaching has been used In the conversion of many. Spurgeon was thankful for such men as John Warburton and John Kernshaw, men whose Christ-centeredness often enabled them to rise above their system. But in the hands of the general run of men who regarded Hyper-Calvinism as scriptural he believed the tendency of the preaching was inevitably injurious. By distorting and exaggerating truth the system misrepresented vital doctrines and made them offensive instead of appealing to the wider Christian world. imgHe was convinced that the truths called Calvinistic would never be more widely received among the churches if the impression was allowed to prevail that these truths inhibited earnest evangelism, as they commonly did where Hyper-Calvinism became the accepted tradition. é─˛I have seen,é─˘ he says, é─˛to my inexpressible grief, the doctrines of grace made a huge stone to be rolled at the mouth of the dead sepulcher of a dead Christ.é─˘
   Hyper-Calvinism still exists today but what is needed far more than a renewed controversy on the subject is living evidence that the doctrines of grace are harmonious with true evangelistic preaching. The ministries of such men as Whitefield, Spurgeon, and, more recently, Lloyd-Jones, proved that more than a thousand books could ever do. Such preaching can only come from a baptism of new and deeper devotion to Christ. Much more than a change of opinion is needed. Spurgeon labored all his ministry for purity of doctrine but his final word was always this:
   é─˛What is doctrine after all but the throne whereon Christ sitteth, and when the throne is vacant what is the throne to us? Doctrines are the shovel and tongs for the altar, while Christ is the sacrifice smoking thereon. Doctrines are Christé─˘s garments; verily they smell of myrrh, and cassia, and aloes out of the ivory places, whereby they make us glad, but it is not the garments we care for as much as the person, the very person, of our Lord Jesus Christ.é─˘

é─ţIain Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism (Banner of Truth, 2002), 120é─ý122.

Posted 2009·12·30 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Charles Spurgeon · Church History · Iain Murray · John Calvin · Robert Moffat · Soteriology & the Gospel · Spurgeon v Hyper-Calvinism
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