So without further ado, today's post will deal with the fact that some revivalistic influences were creeping towards the Tabernacle even while Spurgeon was alive, according to Iain Murray' The Forgotten Spurgeon. As Murray says it,
[T]he influences which brought the change were at work in Spurgeon's own life-time. Even in the wider circle of some of the institutions which he had commenced, practices and methods had gained a footing which he had not authorized and yet which he did not forbid (p. 222).I think it's fair to characterize Murray's argument as saying that Spurgeon was uncomfortable with the new methods Moody and Ira Sankey had introduced to England in their evangelistic campaigns, but Spurgeon was inclined to permit some methodology in evangelistic campaigns associated with his ministry that he would not have tolerated in his church. These campaigns consisted of "special services" that adopted American revivalistic strategies that were prevalent in American fundamentalism. Those strategies included "the belief that music is an essential attractive influence, the appeal for public decisions for christ, the apparatus of the inquiry-room and the subsequent announcement of numbers" (p. 223). Murray quotes Spurgeon in the following passage that characterizes his attitude towards these new methods:
The readiness to regard music as a vital part of evangelism he also condemned. 'Dear friends, we know that souls are not to be won by music,' if they were, he goes on to say, it would be time for preachers to give way to opera singers. In 1882 he declared, 'The heaving of the masses under newly invented excitements we are too apt to identify with the power of God. This age of novelties would seem to have discovered spiritual power in brass bands and tambourines . . . The tendency of the time is towards bigness, parade, and show of power, as if these would surely accomplish what more regular agencies have failed to achieve. Again, in 1888: 'Jesus said, "Preach the gospel to every creature." But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the priest, going to be saved by the music, going to be saved by theatricals, and nobody knows what! Well, they may try these things as long as ever they like; but nothing can ever come of he whole thing but utter disappointment and confusion, God dishonoured, the gospel travestied, hypocrites manufactured by thousands, and the church dragged down to the level of the world' (p. 226).When I first read this critique of revivalistic theology and methodology contributing to the deterioration of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, I wondered if this wasn't just Murray's Calvinistic bias talking. But then I saw these comments from my favorite Arminian, A.W. Tozer.