The favorite doctrine of sudden conversion is practically
a complete evasion of the necessity of repentance. Suddenness is regarded as the
rule, and not the exception, in order to get rid of any process preliminary to
faith. And on what ground do they establish this rule? Merely on the
instances of sudden conversion recorded in Scripture. True, there are
cases not a few of sudden conversion recorded in Scripture, and there
have been such instances since the Book of God was sealed. There was a wise and
gracious design in making them thus marked at the outset. They were intended, by
their extraordinary suddenness, to show to all ages the wondrous power of God.
But was their suddenness designed to indicate the rule of God's acting in all
ages? This it will be as difficult to establish, as that the miraculous
circumstances attending some of them were intended to be perpetual.
All quotes are from
advocated the idea that conversion was a "detailed and extended process."
The work of conversion includes what we might
expect to find detailed in a process. There can be no faith in Christ
without some sense of sin, some knowledge of Christ-such as never was possessed
before-and willingness, resulting from renewal, to receive Him as a Savior from
sin. If a hearty intelligent turning to God in Christ be the result of
conversion, it is utterly unwarrantable to expect that, as a rule, conversion
shall be sudden. Indeed, the suddenness is rather a ground of suspicion than a
reason for concluding that the work is God's. The teaching of Christ, in the
parable of the sower, warrants this suspicion? They who are represented as
suddenly receiving the word with joy are those who, in time of temptation, fall
away. Suddenness and superficiality are there associated, and with both
ephemeralness. In the experience of some, whose conversion was sudden, there
was, as in the case of the Apostle of the Gentiles, an after-process, intended
to prepare them for useful service in the church. And is it not the fact, that
those, who were most remarkable, in latter times, for their godliness and their
usefulness, were the subjects of a detailed and extended process, before
attaining to "peace and joy in believing"?
paradox in Kennedy's position is that he had a double-standard. In
the case of unregenerate infants, he had no qualms about assuming their
"sudden" regeneration in infancy and "suddenly" baptizing them and receiving
them into the church membership. But now, some of those, perhaps, whom he had
baptized were hearing the Gospel as preached by Moody and were professing
conversion. The fact is, most all the arguments Kennedy mounted against Moody
would have more appropriately applied to Kennedy's baptizing of unregenerate
Kennedy was also greatly upset that some of his fellow
Ministers were supportive of Moody. He
"Hundreds of ministers have I seen,
sitting as disciples at the feet of one [Moody], whose teaching only showed his
ignorance even of 'the principles of the doctrine of Christ' . .
Kennedy also griped about the hymn singing and the
use of musical instruments, using the same arguments used by the
Campbellites (who derived from the Pedobaptists via Thomas and Alexander
Campbells in the early 1800s, who were Scottish Presbyterians).
The singing of uninspired hymns even in
moderation, as a part of public worship, no one can prove to be
scriptural; . . . The use of instrumental music was an additional
novelty, pleasing to the kind of feeling that finds pleasure in a concert. To
introduce what is so gratifying there, into the service of the house of God, is
to make the latter palatable to those to whom spiritual worship is an
offense. . . . And yet it is not difficult to prove that the use of
instrumental music in the worship of God is unscriptural . . .
Of course, Kennedy was very much disturbed about the use
of "the inquiry room," a practice used by both Moody and Spurgeon in
dealing with concerned souls, and he also complained about "public
Kennedy had "the sky is falling" attitude about
Moody's evangelism, even fearing dire consequences to his Pedobaptist sect and
their practice of baptizing infants as if they were the children of
I look on my Church, in a spasmodic state,
subject to convulsions, which only indicate that her life is
departing, the result of revivals got up by men. It will be a sad day
for our country if the men, who luxuriate in the excitement of man-made
revivals, shall with their one-sided views of truth, which have ever been the
germs of serious errors, their lack of spiritual discernment, and their
superficial experience, become the leaders of religious thought and the
conductors of religious movements. Already they have advanced as many as
inclined to follow them, far in the way to Arminianism in doctrine, and
to Plymouthism in service. . . . And if there continue to be
progress in the direction in which present religious activity is moving, a
negative theology will soon supplant our Confession of Faith, the good old
ways of worship will be forsaken for unscriptural inventions, and the tinsel of
a superficial religiousness will take the place of genuine godliness.
Mr. Kennedy is the ?yper who was "resurrected" by
Pedobaptist Iain Murray of The Banner of Truth in his unfortunate
book, The Forgotten Spurgeon, and in other writings, and with whom Mr.
Murray "takes sides" against both Spurgeon and Mr. Moody in regard to
evangelism. Evidently, Mr. Murray is infected with the same type of religious
paranoia about "sudden conversion" as Mr. Kennedy, which may account for
Murray's zealous opposition to public invitations. Pedobaptists obviously
do not appreciate the invasion of the plain Gospel of salvation by faith as
preached by Spurgeon and Moody into the adult souls of those who were assumed to
have been regenerated when they were infants.
If you have nothing better
to do with your time, you may read Mr. Kennedy's spiel of palabber at the
following ultra-Calvinist website:
Instead of viewing men such as Moody and Spurgeon as enemies on account
of their preaching of "sudden conversion" thru believing in Christ for
salvation, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Murray, and other hypers might more appropriately
say with Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” If they had
their way, evangelism would be strangled to death by nineteenth century
hyperism. -- Bob L. Ross
granted to copy and use this article.
By request, names are added to
my Email List, or removed
Publishers of C. H. Spurgeon's Sermons &
Send your snail-mail address for a printed Price List.
Publications, Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501
Phone: (713) 477-4261.
Fax: (713) 477-7561