Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More Reformed Myths About C.H. Spurgeon

Brother Bob Ross has again hit it out of the park. Having refuted Tom Ascol, James White, and other followers of Iain Murray's strange and extreme Reformed beliefs, Brother Bob takes up his pen again to refute more Reformed myths about Charles Spurgeon and his methods of receiving sinners.

Thanks be to God for Brother Bob Ross for debunking the many myths put forth by the Flounders and their Reformed friends!



We are upon the Anniversary of C. H. Spurgeon's going to be with the Lord on January 31, 1892.

There is perhaps no Christian about whom there has been more legend and mythology perpetuated over the past 150 years than C. H. Spurgeon. And there seems to be no end of it, even among his professed admirers.

I now have in mind the mythology perpetuated in a book, The Great Invitation, by Brother Erroll Hulse, a "Reformed" Baptist pastor of Leeds, England and Editor of the magazine, Reformation Today, and author of several books. I have known Brother Hulse for years, and have heard him preach. He is a fine, decent man, so far as I have known him, but his admirable attributes have not exempted him from perpetuating mythology about Spurgeon.

Brother Hulse has unfortunately not always been accurate in his attempts to categorize C. H. Spurgeon in support of some "hobby horses" related to what Brother Hulse associates with "Reformation" and"Reformed" theology and practice. For example, in another of his books entitled, An Introduction to the Baptists, on page 38, Brother Hulse says that Spurgeon believed the "doctrines of grace" was the only basis for the adequate union of churches during the Down Grade Controversy in the Baptist Union in the 1880s. Actually, Spurgeon never held to any such idea. (See our book on "The Downgrade Controversy" for Spurgeon's own materials on this matter).

Awhile back, I wrote to Brother Hulse to express my disagreement with him:

I must differ with this interpretation of Spurgeon, in the light of what Spurgeon wrote in regard to the Baptist Union and the Down Grade. I thought you might be interested in my refutation of Bro. Iain Murray on his thesis in this regard. . . .

When Mr. Iain Murray of The Banner of Truth published his book, The Forgotten Spurgeon [1966], we wrote a brief notice in our book review column of The Christian Pilgrim. Concerning the "Down Grade Controversy," we said that Mr. Murray's "strong dedication to the Calvinist system" was the occasion for "an endeavor to relate Calvinism to the Down Grade controversy," and we noted that "Spurgeon emphatically denied this when a similar charge was made [by his enemies] during the controversy itself" (The Christian Pilgrim,May 1968, page 13).

While Mr. Murray acknowledges that Spurgeon denied this charge, nevertheless Murray digs up a lot of the materials published against Spurgeon in the 1880s, publishes them, and expresses his agreement with those who made that unjust allegation."

(For more about this matter, see my email of June 17, 2004, ON THE "DOWN GRADE CONTROVERSY," SPURGEON IS MISREPRESENTED BY IAIN MURRAY'S BOOK).

I think Brother Hulse has perhaps been influenced more by Murray than by his own reading of Spurgeon. In fact, Brother Hulse informed that he did not possess Spurgeon's magazine, "The Sword and the Trowel," in which Spurgeon published his comments in denial of the false charges that CHS made Calvinism an issue in the Down Grade.

It also appears that Brother Hulse is the victim of more of Murray's misrepresentation of Spurgeon, this time related to the use of "Inquiry Rooms." This appears to be the case when we consider Brother Hulse's error on this matter which appears in his book entitled, The Great Invitation, in which Hulse likewise apparently relies on misleading materials from Murray.

This book against public invitations has recently been reprinted by Aubudon Press, having been originally published in 1986 by Evangelical Press. Like Murray, Brother Hulse is an ardent opponent of any method of public" appeal" following a sermon which encourages sinners to trust Christ and come forward to make a public profession of faith in Christ during an "invitation" or "altar call."

He has a long list of supposed evils and dangers which he associates with the use of this form of an "appeal." I replied to similar phantasmagoria in a series of articles sent to my email list in 2004. Some of these articlesare on the Internet at our website and also at >><<

Paradoxically, Brother Hulse evidently approves of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' method of receiving people "in his vestry after services" (page 157) but disapproves of receiving people during an"invitation" at the front of church following a sermon. Dr.Lloyd-Jones was also against public invitations, and as an alternative he used this "vestry" method.

While Hulse condemns "invitations" on the grounds that their use is not"warranted" in Scripture, one wonders if Hulse could demonstrate that Dr. Lloyd-Jones' system of receiving people "in his vestry" has any more scriptural precedent or "warrant" as a method for people professing faith in Christ?

The fact is, Hulse confides that "there is no evidence at all to suggest that a standard form or practice was ever devised, suggested or practiced either in the Old or New Testament" (page 111).

This simply means, according to Hulse, that there is no form, method, or practice which is specifically "warranted" in the matter of making initial professions of faith.

If that be the case, then the "vestry" method to hear professions of faith, which is approved by Hulse, is no more "scriptural" than any other system whereby people confess faith in Christ. If the "invitation" method is condemned by Hulse for lack of scriptural "warrant," then it follows that the "vestry"method is condemned by the same standard. So how can Hulse sanction the method used by Lloyd-Jones and at the same time proscribe against the"invitation" method? Does he have a double standard?

As for the suggestion, implication, or allegation that Spurgeon opposed the"Inquiry room" system, this is completely contrary to the facts of history. Spurgeon opposed the abuse of this method, but no more than he opposed the abuse of Baptism, the Lord's Supper, prophecy teaching, or someother matter. (See my email article of June 5, 2006, "Spurgeon and the Inquiry Room").

Spurgeon advised his own Pastors' College students to use the Inquiry Room:

It is shocking to think that there are ministers who have no method whatever for meeting the anxious, and if they do see here and there one, it is because of the courage of the seeker, and not because of the earnestness of the pastor. From the very first you should appoint frequent and regular seasons for seeing all who are seeking after Christ, and you should continually invite such to come and speak with you.

In addition to this, hold numerous inquirers meetings, at which the addresses shall be all intended to assist the troubled and guide the perplexed, and with these intermingle fervent prayers for the individuals present, and short testimonies from recent converts and others.

As an open confession of Christ is continually mentioned in connection with saving faith, it is your wisdom to make it easy for believers who are as yet following Jesus by night to come forward and avow their allegiance to him. [From Lectures to My Students, Second Series, pages 186, 187, 190].

Even when he warned against the abuse of this method, He did not oppose a method which he himself used. For instance, he said, "Enquiry rooms are all very well . . . ," and "Sometimes shut up that enquiry room . . ." (The Soul Winner, page 15; An All-Round Ministry, page 372). Those statements do not constitute a rejection of the inquiry room, but rather the abuse of it.

For more on this, see my email article: SPURGEON'S "INQUIRY ROOM "WAS A FORERUNNER TO THE "INVITATION" or "ALTAR CALL"[06/05--2006].

Other Errors by Hulse:

It is not now my purpose to critique the entire book by Hulse, but I will just say that this error about Inquiry Rooms is not the only error in the book. Hulse's other errors include the following:

1. In his deprecation of D. L. Moody, Hulse (per Iain Murray) recalls that John Kennedy opposed Moody and that Spurgeon "defended" Kennedy. This is not at all exactly the case, for Spurgeon defended Moody's preaching and methods. It is true that Spurgeon wrote respectfully of Kennedy as to his sincerity, but he definitely did not share Kennedy's opposition to Moody. He said --

"We are very sorry that our esteemed friend, Dr. Kennedy, issued a pamphlet severely criticising the labours of Messrs. Moody and Sankey, whom we judge to be sent of God to bless our land in an unusual degree" (The Sword and Trowel, 1875, page 142).

The fact is, Spurgeon preached an entire sermon in defense of Moody and his message (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 21, Year 1875,#1239, page 337).

2. Hulse has an entire chapter in which he raises the preposterous question, is the public invitation "a new evangelical sacrament?" Such a suggestion as that, within itself, indicts Hulse's treatise as polemically illogical, if not the fanatically irrational.

No one, to my knowledge, who favors or uses invitations to accommodate peoples' confessing Christ as Savior has ever suggested that response to an invitation constitutes being saved. Hulse himself even acknowledges the fact that Billy Graham, Luis Palau, and R. T. Kendall all deny that responding to an invitationis "equal to the new birth" (page 108).

Such a suggestion by Hulse about the invitation's becoming a"sacrament" is simply indicative of the utter bankruptcy of his argumentation against public invitations.

3. Another error by Hulse is his assertions about the role of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) in relation to invitations. In previous materials, it has been demonstrated that Finney did not originate the public invitation, and that Finney's adopting the use of the "anxious seat" was not the same "inquiry room" method used by both Spurgeon and Moody. See my email article, SPURGEON on FINNEY [9/2/2006]

In closing --

My foregoing remarks do not mean that I object to everything in Hulse's book or that all of his material is without legitimacy, for he does cite what appears to be some cases of the actual abuse of the public invitation. But his errors, his extreme polemical assertions, and veritable absurdities are so prevalent that they make the book a spectacle of futility. -- Bob L. Ross


At Thursday, February 01, 2007 12:35:00 PM, Anonymous John the Missionary said...

Bravo, Bob!

I have forwarded this to at least ten people at the IMB. Thank you for staying on the "truth patrol."

John the Missionary

At Friday, February 02, 2007 4:31:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


Bob to Charles:

The "Flounders" have already indicted the SBC as an "unregenerate denomination," and now they are saying SBs have "lost the Gospel."

Proselytizing movements or sects operate by the same "pattern," deprecating and discrediting the larger group of Christians from which they seek to draw away disciples after themselves. The "Flounders" find certain issues by which to deprecate the larger SBC in accord with this pattern of proselytizing.

TOM ASCOL of the "Flounders" blog asks, "Have we lost the Gospel?" and goes on to say that the "Founders Ministries, of which I am the Executive Director, is committed to working for 'the recovery of the Gospel'".

This apparently amounts to the old "restoration"-like claim, Charles, that the "real" or "true" Gospel is to be found among the "Flounders" in contrast to perhaps most other Southern Baptists, and that Ascol and "Flounders" are taking the lead as "recoverers" or "restorers."
This comes down to mean HYBRID CALVINISM.

And where have Baptists heard this before? Is this not the same old proselytizing tune of the "reformers" and "restorers of the gospel" -- Campbellites -- of the 1830s, the Mormons of the same period, and of course Herbert W. Armstrong's sect in the 1900s?

But might it actually be the case, Charles, that the "Flounders" need the Gospel for themselves? How many of them are really preaching the simple Gospel of salvation by grace thru faith?

Many of them -- if not most of them whom I know personally -- say they were converted under what they later learned to discredit as "easy believism," "synergism," or "decisional regeneration." Have they "left their first love"?

By all appearances, they demonstrate more zeal and interest in the controversial theoretical theological issues than to the "first principles" of Christianity. For example, could a lost sinner truly find the simple, unfettered Gospel of salvation thru faith in Christ on the "Flounders" website or blog, or at a "Flounders" church? Or would they be side-tracked to look for a "pre-faith regeneration" experience rather than being directed to simply believe on Christ for salvation? (John 3:14-18).

At Friday, February 02, 2007 5:58:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Brother Bob, Hello!

You said,

Is this not the same old proselytizing tune of the "reformers" and "restorers of the gospel" -- Campbellites -- of the 1830s, the Mormons of the same period, and of course Herbert W. Armstrong's sect in the 1900s?

The method is strangely similar, isn't it.

Many of them -- if not most of them whom I know personally -- say they were converted under what they later learned to discredit

Makes you wonder how they could be saved under a "lost gospel," doesn't it? Most all of them were saved with a gospel that they now decry as being "lost." What strange logic these hybrid/hyper/neo/extreme "reformed" Calvinists have!


At Wednesday, June 27, 2007 4:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Bob-

You are very knowledgable about Spurgeon. Can you give me a snail mail address so I can send you a book?

Can you refer me to any original source materials describing how Spurgeon used the inquiry room? Do you know of any photos or etchings - I'm only aware of one Moody inquiry room etching. I'm trying to get all the photos and etchings possible of 19th century ministers using the inquiry room.

Thank you.

Patrick McIntyre


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