Friday, 24 May 2013



 Let me quickly explain the wording of my title. These points will be enlarged upon later in the article.

By 'CH Spurgeon' (CHS) I mean the Victorian English preacher (pictured above) who dominated Evangelicalism in London from the mid 1850's until his early death in 1892.

By 'heretical Calvinist' I but apply the general opprobrium which some have towards Calvinists. I resist the temptation to make it a hyphenated word.

By 'some Twittering Fundamentalists' I refer to a band of men, mostly Independent Fundamentalist  Baptist (IFB) pastors or evangelists who constantly use Twitter to attack Calvinism using the most severe of language. Of course (thankfully) not all IFB follow their example and this article should not be seen to be an attack upon IFB's. This author loves all Christians who love Christ "in sincerity" (Ephesians 6:24)

Lastly, 'round his wee finger' means that Spurgeon appears to have excessively charmed these "Calvinist-are-heretics" boys so that his chief fault, which they severely denounce in others, does not seem to affect their relationship to him.  They still favourably quote him, even within a few quotes of denouncing Calvinists practically into Hell itself.

Let's examine this strange position.


By everyone’s reckoning, CHS exercised a most successful ministry. Not merely in that he had great numbers on his side, (approx 6,000 attended his Sabbath meetings with many having to be turned away) but that he did so by preaching the old gospel of Jesus Christ.  By all accounts, his services were of a most simple kind and in true Protestant fashion – for CHS identified himself on a number of occasions as a Protestant  - centred round the exposition of the word of God.  There were no gimmicks in his meeting. He did not feel he had to stand on his head in the pulpit or swallow a live goldfish to bring in a crowd. No, his method was simply to open up the Scriptures and, in true Calvinist style, let God be God. The strength of his preaching did not lie in his need to yell “until his sides hurt” or any of the stock in trade of the modern pulpiteer.

CHS was mightily used of God in real revival blessing. For the sake of any American readers, British Christians tend to use the word “revival” very sparingly. It is not just a synonym for “special evangelism meetings” as far as we are concerned.  We use it to describe a real lasting work of God that practically changes a whole community. Under God, CHS was part of the great 1859 revival that swept across the UK. Working within this stricter framework, the Banner of Truth have printed what they (rightly) describe as his “Revival sermons.” 

In line with other Victorian preachers, he issued his “penny pulpit” sermon each week. This was read far and near all over the British Empire, across Europe and America. Initially, 62 volumes would be printed (all available as a set or individually from Pilgrim Publications) with the last of the 62 volumes coming in 1917, 25 years after his death in 1892. It was only the shortage of paper due to WWI that prevented further publication at that time. A few years ago another volume was gathered up from hitherto unpublished sermons to make the grand total of 63. Obviously some of these sermons are better than others, but they are all good and soundly Evangelical.

CHS gave us also “The Treasury of David” where he wrote his own thoughts on all 150 Psalms, compiled the best quotes from others (drawing greatly from his large library of Puritan works) and sermon outlines on each verse, as available. My edition is contained in 4 volumes. Many other shorter books flowed from his pen, including a short commentary on Matthew.

His church was a great working church. It had many evangelistic agencies – with several outreach Sabbath Schools, full time colporteurs etc., – and a huge orphanage for homeless children. You can read about it in the huge 4 volume autobiography, still in print, or in the easier read edited version (2 volumes) by the Banner of Truth.

I forbear to go on, although I could. Sufficient has been said to see why we all love Spurgeon, even those Twitterers spoken of above. You will go a long way before you see anyone in the broad Evangelical/Fundamentalist disparage Spurgeon’s ministry. Occasionally, he is assailed (as he was in his life time) by a small runt of Hyper Calvinists, but the other 99.9% of us love him dearly. 


All my previous posts, thus far, have been to put this on record. I spent many long, profitable and happy hours, when free time was available, to go through the 62 volumes of his sermons plus other works on the Ages CD, to document this basic fact. I defy any one to say that CHS was anything less than a full blown Calvinist. In order to combat this, some have sunk to disgraceful depths to try and hide it. Others, obviously not knowing whereof they speak, have just plainly denied it.  The Sword of the Lord magazine carefully edits any Calvinism out of his sermons, without warning. To use a good Scottish word, that is sleekit. (A few years ago, when the Banner of Truth reprinted AW Pink’s early work on the “Sovereignty of God” they edited out several chapters which they considered to be of a Hyper Calvinist strain. But, at least, they sought the permission of Pink’s wife to do so and ethically warned the reader of what they had done and why.) Some of those who deny that CHS was a Calvinist work on this weird and wonderful principle:

[1] Hyper Calvinists believe the TULIP
[ii]  CHS was not a Hyper Calvinist
[iii] CHS did not believe the TULIP

The intellectual suicide of such an approach may be seen if you substitute (say) the word “Trinity” for TULIP and see how you get on. 

Another man once claimed that CHS’s sermon on unconditional election was a fake. There is a wide eyed type of Fundamentalism out there that leaves us shaking our heads in bewilderment.

I will forbear to use any specific quote in this article, referring you to the pages already compiled and/or Spurgeon’s own “Defence of Calvinism” (which says it all).


Reactions differ greatly from man to man.

A/ Some disagree with CHS’s Calvinism but refrain from using words like Satanic or heretic. I believe these are the most consistent ones. They leave themselves a lot of wriggle room and avoid a lot of trouble later on, when articles like this one appear. They can freely quote CHS (or any Calvinist) just the way that this Calvinist can quote the likes of Wesley or HA Ironside etc., i.e. because I do not see these men as heretics. Yes, doctrinally deficient in some areas, but not heretics.

B/ Others, obviously oblivious to the implications, just blast Calvinism out of the water. Coming from a gunslinger strain of Fundamentalism that glories in its hard man talk, they throw words like Satanic and heresy round them like confetti. Of course, they don’t actually come out and say “Spurgeon was a Satanic Calvinist heretic” but if Calvinists are Satanic heretics, then CHS was one too.  Then, sometimes in the next quote, they quote CHS as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Or refer positively to other 5 point Calvinists like William Carey or George Whitefield as if their earlier condemnation did not, somehow, apply. Consider the proof below:


 Yet, Spurgeon is a hero to these same men. While it saddens one of them that the Calvinists are not "cuss words" - yep! the pastor wants us to cuss - yet in another tweet, he referred to BH Carroll the Texan Calvinist as a "Baptist giant." In another full length book, the same man eulogised many of the Calvinist translators of the Geneva Bible as "exceptional Christian leaders and scholars." Another of the above hosts an article on his website that declares: "I have no problem with a Christian who calls himself a Calvinist. By this I mean that I hold no grudge against these folks, and I do not consider their theology outside the realm of fundamental orthodoxy." Yet another of the above hosts a photograph of himself on his website standing reverently at the grave of Jonathan Edwards whom he describes as a great revival preacher. Again another tweet, he described the opening services of Spurgeon's Tabernacle (when, BTW, they expounded the 5 points of Calvinism individually) as #oldpaths i.e. as described in Jeremiah 6:16.

Funny that, isn't it? Let's cuss this Baptist giant, BH Carroll! Let's cuss these "exceptional Christian leaders and scholars" who gave us the forerunner of the KJV. Yes, let's cuss the KJV translators as well.  Let's cuss these people whose hymns we sing! Thank you, John Newton, for writing 'Amazing Grace' but we cuss you, nevertheless! Let's cuss Matthew Henry when we reach for his commentary in our study when preparing a sermon. Let's cuss William Carey when we speak of his missionary endeavours. To get back to the point: Let's cuss CH Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher ever, because he was a Five Point Calvinist. Is there not a verse somewhere in Scripture that speaks about blessing and cursing should not flow out from the same mouth? (There is: James 3:9)

If CHS, the Five Point Calvinist, is indeed a veritable heretic (Satanic and all) as charged, then the Bible is very clear as to how he is to be treated. Obviously 120 years after his death, the first and second admonition is now beyond him, but his books and statements and any positive references to him must be positively REJECTED (Titus 3:10)  Spurgeon, I remind you, did not merely hold to Calvinism, but did much to promote it. Perhaps more than any man who ever lived. Reread his statements in the earlier posts. CHS taught it in his theological college (another achievement) and reprinted the 1689 Baptist Confession that succinctly articulates it. 


 Or, to widen it out considerably, how they dealt with any Calvinist, including John Calvin himself. Think of John Wesley who fought many battles with the Calvinists within his hybrid Methodist movement. He returned the favour by saying a few nasty things about Calvinism, but he still spoke highly of Calvin and retained his firm friendship with George Whitefield. I quote: "I believe Calvin was a great instrument of God; and that he was a wise and pious man..." HA Ironside eschewed some of the doctrines of Calvinism, but still found it in his heart to list John Calvin among "those mighty reformers whom God raised up." Again, lets move a little closer to the IFB circles from whence many of these tweets come. Jack Hyles (see the "cuss" tweet above) could say:  "God raised up Luther, Calvin and others and turned literally millions of people to personal faith in Christ...." Of course, it is possible that in years to come, people may quote the cusser above when he described the Calvinists on the Geneva Bible committee as "exceptional Christian leaders and scholars" etc. and think that all was well. However, it must be said, that I am unaware of anywhere where Ironside or even Hyles (who had a gunslinging mentality) etc., urged their folk to cuss Calvinists or damned them into the deepest hell as Satanic heretics. We all have our little spats from time to time and things said hastily may be as quickly and even quietly withdrawn. However, we are dealing here with men who constantly attack Calvinists and (it seems) try to outdo one another in the ferocity of their language. 


These men who write so much against Calvinism and yet quote them favourably send out mixed signals. Their trumpet, in this matter, gives a most uncertain sound. Personally, despite this article, I think such people effectively do much to promote Calvinism by quoting CHS and others so much. It was in a good Dispensationalist assembly of which I have the fondest of memories that that I first heard the name of AW Pink. Who was this "Arthur Pink"? Within months, I was reading his classic "The Sovereignty of God." I don't have to agree with everything anyone wrote. I accept that there is a cross argument here i.e. that I may help promote Arminianism by quoting John Wesley or singing his brother's hymns. Fair enough, but only to a point. You won't see me cussing either Wesley up and down the Internet. Or Ironside or Tozer. I keep my "Satanic heresy" for people who deserve it and I don't quote them favourably in the next few tweets.

There is an argument that runs like this: If your Pastor or Evangelist can read, study and profit so much from Spurgeon and other Calvinists, then so can you. Ignore his gun slinging rhetoric. We have a saying in Belfast that "He thinks he is the fella in the big picture" To be honest, it is all foam. Pure street theatre. Just because he glares at his congregation and bangs the pulpit means absolutely nothing. To some it looks good and maybe sounds good, but you soon get used to it and it becomes the roar of a toothless tiger. How can a man be a Baptist giant and a Calvinist worth cussing at the same time? Where does that leave the rest of the Baptists? If your giants are pathetic Calvinists, where does that leave the rank and file? I used to get pretty angry when some of these boys wrote what they did. Now, to be honest, I laugh. Yes! I laugh. OK, I still have a go back at them on Twitter. That's just me. But I just point out the pretty obvious. 

Forgive the length of this article. See it as a tweet on steroids. Let's have your thoughts, but do try to leave any insulting remarks out of it. The above article will show that it just doesn't work. I don't move in your revered circles and you are only as authorative to me as far as you are consistent with the Bible and your other statements. Thanks for reading.

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