Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 5:20 PM

Arminians are not the only ones who have charged Calvinists of not being aggressively evangelistic, of apparently being more interested in promoting correctness of doctrine than in evangelization and salvation of lost souls.

Mr. Iain Murray, for years the primary director of the The Banner of Truth Trust, the Scotland-based publishers of many great theological works and writings by notable Calvinistic and Puritan writers, has likewise leveled some very serious, insightful, observations about the lack of evangelism on the part of Calvinists of our time.

In his book entitled, SPURGEON v. HYPER-CALVINISM, Mr. Murray writes in the Preface as follows:

As a Puritan once said, 'The devil does not allow the wind of error to blow long in the same direction.' In the 1960s it seemed to many of us that Spurgeon's continuing significance had to do with his witness to the free-grace convictions of the Reformers and Puritans over against the shallow and non-doctrinal evangelicalism of our day. Thirty years later that witness remains relevant and yet it is apparent that the recovery of doctrinal Christianity is not necessarily our chief need today.

In many churches there has been a real increase in knowledge and a resurgence of Calvinistic belief has occurred across the world. The word 'forgotten' is happily far less applicable to Spurgeon than it was forty years ago. But it may well be that the time has come when we need to be MUCH MORE FAMILIAR with a rather different emphasis in Spurgeon.

While I know of no evidence that Hyper-Calvinism is recovering strength, it would appear that THE PRIORITY WHICH SOUL-WINNING HAD IN SPURGEON'S MINISTRY IS NOT COMMONLY SEEN TO BE OUR PRIORITY.

The revival of DOCTRINE has scarcely been matched by a revival of EVANGELISM. While not accepting the tenets of Hyper-Calvinism it may well be that we have not been sufficiently alert to the danger of allowing a supposed consistency in doctrine to OVERRIDE THE BIBLICAL PRIORITY OF ZEAL FOR CHRIST AND SOULS OF MEN.

Doctrine without usefulness is no prize. As Spurgeon says, 'You may look down with contempt on some who do not know so much as you, and yet they may have twice your holiness and be doing more service to God.'

The danger with Hyper-Calvinism is not so much what it believes, but that IT DOES NOT BELIEVE ENOUGH. By bringing light in the controversy of the 1850s Spurgeon has left a vital testimony and one as 'immensely important' now as it was then.

I think Mr. Murray's 1995 book on Spurgeon demonstrated a very noticeable progress of thought over his first book on Spurgeon of 1966. In a review of his 1966 book, I wrote that Murray's "strong dedication to the Calvinist system is the obvious occasion for a couple of extremes:

"(1) An endeavor to relate Calvinism to the Down-Grade controversy (page 184, 185). Spurgeon emphatically denied this when a similar charge was made during the controversy itself. . . .

"(2) Spurgeon would certainly not share the author's opinion regarding D. L. Moody. Spurgeon and Horatius Bonar defended Moody against the opposition of those times, but the author [Murray] favors the assessment of Moody made by John Kennedy (1819-1884) in his booklet 'Hyper-Evangelism.' Spurgeon, while holding the person of Mr. Kennedy in deep respect and love, saw fit to express in writing his dissatisfaction with Kennedy's booklet (Sword and Trowel, 1875, page 142). Not only so, but Spurgeon preached in the Tabernacle in defense of Moody's message (Sermon #1239, Messrs. Moody and Sankey Defended; or, a Vindication of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith). -- Bob L. Ross in The Christian Pilgrim, May 1967, page 13.

Thirty years later Mr. Murray apparently has at least progressed to holding the same opinion that some of us have entertained for even more years than thirty, namely, doctrinal Calvinism of the 19th century John Kennedy "steroid" variety has found its counterpart in some segments of Calvinist strongholds in our own times.

Opposition by some to the type of evangelism practiced by D. L. Moody and others whose primary emphasis is upon the basic evangelistic, fundamental message of the Gospel; opposition to public invitations; lack of appreciation for the soul-winning efforts by those of less-than-Calvinistic views; in addition, a doctrinal concern which has all but "gone to seed" on the correctness and exactness of theological theoreticalisms -- these have not produced a strong evangelistic outreach to the unsaved. These types have been more evangelistic in the proselytizing to Calvinism of those already converted than in efforts directed at winning the unconverted to Christ.

Over the years, insignficant as we may be, we nevertheless have tried to emphasize the dangers of this sort of Calvinism. Years ago, we published The Killing Effects of Calvinism, a booklet in which we said that "The misuse and abuse of these doctrines will deaden and kill. . . .We know nothing so deadening to spirituality as to run into hyper-Calvinism as a result of a distorted faith regarding the sovereignty of God and related doctrines" (page 1).

We also published Spurgeon's sermon, The Warrant of Faith, as a means of helping to counter the elements involved in this type of "super" Calvinism. We also published the booklet, Regeneration: Strong versus Berkhof, in which we showed the contrast between the Baptist position as advocated by Strong and the "pre-faith regeneration" theory taught by some pedobaptists and advocated by Berkhof. Not too long ago, we published a series of articles on The History and Heresies of Hardshellism in which we showed how some Baptists of the past had "gone to seed" on views which were the foundation of the Hardshell or Primitive Baptist movement which split from regular Baptists in the 1830s.

In more recent times we have been battling the theory of "pre-faith regeneration," which is a certain path to hyperism and evangelistic deadness. We have likewise been battling the opposition to public invitations, which is another certain contribution, we believe, to evangelistic deadness.

We have tried to the maintain the faith once delivered to the saints, as we understand it, and we hope to continue to do so.

We are delighted that Mr. Murray has sounded an alarm as to what he views as the need for "the biblical priority of zeal for Christ and the souls of men." A? the head of a leading publisher of Calvinistic literature, we hope his message will be heard and heeded far and wide by all those it reaches. -- Bob L. Ross


To Ben. Nicholson, Esq. WESTWOOD
April 1, 1882.
DEAR FRIEND,— am the earnest friend and helper of all who preach the Gospel of Jesus; yet I deem it no unfriendly thing to speak the truth, and what I wrote in 1875 I have never seen any reason to alter. Messrs. Moody & Sankey are two blessed men of God, and if their converts on that occasion vanished, it was no fault of theirs, neither would I have had them refrain for an hour—far from it.
The movement in London had (comparatively) no link with the Churches, and fostered
a rival spirit, and hence it did not bring a permanent blessing of increase to the Churches.Still, it brought a great blessing to the Church universal, and revived and encouraged us all.
I would warn Churches against trusting in spasmodic effort, but at the same time against refusing such special help as the Lord puts in their way. There is a medium.
In any case, I am not against  Evangelistic effort, but heartily its advocate. Yours very truly and gratefully, C. H. Spurgeon

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