Archive for July, 2007

Theology Fashionistas and CH Spurgeon

July 13th, 2007 Posted in Uncategorized

Here is a snippet taken from a letter from one of my favourite Baptists, the inimitable C.H. Spurgeon, to the Scots Presbyterian Alexander Whyte, with whose writings I spent a delightful summer a few years back that issued in a book on his piety. It was written on September 13, 1884, at the height of the Down-grade controversy.

“I am beginning to be banned as a stupid old fogey, who sticks in the mud & will not advance. …When they [those ridiculing Spurgeon’s theology] have gone round the whirligig they will pass some of us again, but they will there and then again begin to be behind us, & not before us as they dream.”

To all things there is a season. And so it is with theology—even the good solid theology of a Spurgeon. It is biblical truth. Of that there is no doubt. But such truth is not always in fashion. Right now, we are on the crest of a small wave of interest in Calvinist theology—Oh to make the most of this opportunity. But it is not always so.

And so it proved to be in Spurgeon’s day. He lived on the eve of a great depression and Calvinism was going out of fashion. And there are fashionistas in theology as much as in any other human sphere of activity or thought—people not terribly interested in truth, but passionate about being in style and not considered “a stupid old fogey.” The worst thing in the world in their books would be to be branded by such a label. But Spurgeon’s analysis was spot on: in the things of theology, the world’s passing fancies are not the ultimate judge of what is best. Rather: the Word of the Monarch is.

And frankly, when all is said and done, if the King deems your embrace of the latest theological fashion to come down the runway to be treason, not matter how mild—that is utterly disastrous for that is the only judgement that counts.

“The Life of Religion”

July 12th, 2007 Posted in Uncategorized

I have always loved reading the histories of local churches: they record the joys and triumphs, struggles and challenges of believers whose names are not recorded in the story of the Great Tradition of the Church, but whose names are written on the hands of the Crucified One and inscribed in that great Book of the Blood-bought brothers and sisters of the Lamb.

Quite recently I was given a copy of the history of St. George Baptist Church, St. George, Ontario: 150 Years: St. George Baptist Church, 1824-1974 ([St. George, Ontario]: [St. George Baptist Church, 1974]). My attention was drawn to a statement of faith at the beginning of the book (p.3) and this clause: “The life of Religion consisteth in Communion with God and Christians.”

There are some today who find this incongruous since they have erected a linguistic distinction between religion—which is a bad thing—and “communion” with God or relationship—which is a good thing. For some, they are like east and west: the twain shall never meet. Such a view finds these words of the St. George statement of faith utterly contradictory: by definition, religion can never entail relationship.

Of course, at a fundamental level the problem here is the failure to understand language as it has been used in the past. But is there more? Does such a view as outlined above assume that the Christian message is only about relationship? If so, is there not more? If the heart of Christianity is communion—is it not the case that this communion/relationship is expressed in times of formal and informal worship? Does it not involve catechism and creed? In other words: the Christian religion is the inevitable result of Christian relationship and those Baptist forebears of St. George were on to something us moderns (or should I say post-moderns?) need to embrace.

Interview with Guy Davies

July 9th, 2007 Posted in Uncategorized

I recently did an on-line interview with Guy Davies. You can find it here: Blogging in the name of the Lord: Michael Haykin.

A Caveat to My Appreciation for Dr. Packer

July 3rd, 2007 Posted in Uncategorized

A few posts ago I posted an appreciation of Dr. Packer and the impact of his writing upon me. In light of some very helpful feedback about that post I need to make it clear that my deep and heartfelt appreciation of Dr. Packer does not entail endorsement of all that Dr. Packer has written.

I suppose my appreciation is similar to when I cite Dr Packer’s writings in my own writings. I do not add a caveat that I disagree with his position vis-a-vis such things as ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together). Would my quoting, say something from his Knowing God, mean that I endorse everything that he has written? Of course not.

So it was with my appreciation. It was a genuine appreciation for the blessing that Dr. Packer’s writings have been to me and not an endorsement of all of his views.