Saturday, April 15, 2006

Same Story, Different Century

It pains me unspeakably to see this eminent "winner of souls" rousing the energies of thousands of Christians to engage in personal wrangling and strife, instead of inspiring them, as he might, to sustained and heroic effort to carry the good news of God's Gospel to our fellow-countrymen.
cited in Iain Murray's The Forgotten Spurgeon, p. 167.
John Clifford, president of the English Baptist Union, spoke these words concerning Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1888. Over the previous year, Spurgeon had exposed the infiltration of liberalism into the Baptist Union. When evangelicals failed to stand firm for orthodox, biblical doctrine, Spurgeon ultimately withdrew from the union in October of 1887. In January of 1888, the Union censured him.

What's the point?

On Friday, Christianity Today published an article on the atonement that was intended to defend the orthodox truth that Christ's substitutionary sacrifice was intended to satisfy God's righteous wrath towards sinners. What's so controversial about that?

Well, the author, Mark Dever, was so obnoxious as to outline his disagreement with folks who repudiate this view of the atonement (or at least muddy the waters by their unwillingness to articulate it). He even (horrors!) named names. At least one of those people thinks we need to avoid defending biblical truth on certain days of the year.

Phil Johnson exposes the hypocrisy of this nonsense. I suspect Spurgeon would be proud of both Dever and Johnson.

You can read a summary of Spurgeon and the Downgrade Controversy here.


franklin said...


Don't know if you've seen it but McKnight and Johnson have an exchange at - I enjoyed reading the exchange. Here's the link (hope it's okay to give it):

ben said...

Thanks for that heads up. Doesn't seem as though McKnight is really interacting with Dever too much, but I thought this comment from Johnson was rather insightful:

"Moreover, Scot’s reaction to Dever’s article seems to be yet another indication that people with firm and settled convictions on the matter are really not welcome to participate in this “conversation” after all. Steve Chalke can say whatever he likes, because while provocative and occasionally insulting, he’s not really dogmatic. In McKnight’s words, There is a lot of Tom Wright in Chalke, for what it’s worth, that raises the value of [his] book.' Plus, 'Chalke’s own life is in motion, and this book represents a spot where he is or was…' I.e., he’s not really come to any firm conclusions about anything, so whatever he wants to say is OK.

"On the other hand, people like Dever ought to just sit down and shut up. Especially during 'Holy Week.' "