Friday, April 18, 2008

What "gospel"?


I have been seeing comments for quite awhile by some of the Flounders, such as Tom Ascol, about "recovering the gospel."

What "gospel" are they talking about? This kind of talk reminds me of some the past self-proclaimed "restorers," "reformers," and "recoverers" who propagandized in the same manner, and they eventually produced sects and cults. For instance --

Alexander Campbell talked about "restoring the gospel." So did Joe Smith and Herbert W. Armstrong. Now we have the Flounders talking along the same lines.

I just wonder what they mean by the "gospel"? Are they talking about their little theological theoretical "system," or are they talking about the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ, as expounded by the Lord in John 3:14-18?

If they are referring to the latter, then why are they wasting time and money on promoting anything other than that Gospel? It seems to me that they are more interested in promoting their theological "system" than in promoting the Gospel of Christ. They appear more interested in making proselytes to their theological "system" than they are interested in winning the lost by means of the Gospel of Christ.

But if they truly have the Gospel of Christ in mind, perhaps we can be of some help:

We publish a book of 35 sermons in English and in Spanish by C. H. Spurgeon exclusively on the Gospel. It's called "The Gospel According to C. H. Spurgeon."

I suggest to Tom Ascol and his "Reformed" brethren who are trying to "recover the gospel" that they get copies of this book and make use of it in their "recovery" efforts. Instead of wasting thousands of dollars on pedobaptist DVDs and so many "Reformed" conferences "preaching to the choir," I believe they would do much more for the cause of the Gospel if they invested in the distribution of Spurgeon's book -- especially to those who speak at their conferences, as they seem to need it most. So few of them demonstrate that they have a good grasp of the Gospel.

The fact is, we just recently provided 552 copies of the book to a Christian Radio ministry in Columbus, Ohio at a bargain price and the books were distributed at a special meeting of the ministers in that area.

We have been publishing and promoting these sermons by Spurgeon in various formats for nearly forty years, and I'm rather surprised that the "Reformed" brethren have not stumbled upon this Gospel by now, if they indeed are trying to "recover" the same Gospel as preached by Spurgeon.

I rather think they have less in mind, however, than that Gospel. It appears they are more obsessed with promoting their little theoretical "system" than the promotion of the more significant Gospel of Christ.

Spurgeon Gave Prominence to the Gospel, or
How to Attract a Congregation

I believe that the best, surest, and most permanent way to fill a place of Worship is to Preach the Gospel, and to preach it in a natural, simple, interesting, earnest way.

The gospel itself has a singularly fascinating power about it, and unless impeded by an unworthy delivery, or by some other great evil, it will win its own way. It certainly did so at the first, and what is to hinder it now? Like the angels, it flew upon its own wings; like the dew, it tarried not for man, neither waited for the sons of men. The Lord gave the Word; great was the company of them that published it; their line went forth throughout all the world, and the nations heard the glad tidings from heaven.

The gospel has a secret charm about it which secures a hearing: it casts its good spell over human ears, and they must hearken. It is God's own word to men; it is precisely what human necessities require; it commends itself to man's conscience, and, sent home by the Holy Spirit, it wakes an echo in every heart.

In every age, the faithful preaching of the good news has brought forth hosts of men to hear it, made willing in the day of God's power. I shall need a vast amount of evidence before I shall come to the conclusion that its old power is gone.

My own experience does not drive me to such a belief, but leads me in the opposite direction. Thirty years of crowded houses leave me confident of the attractions of Divine truth: I see nothing as yet to make me doubt its sufficiency for its own propagation. Shorn of its graciousness, robbed of its certainty, spoiled of its peculiarities, the sacred Word may become unattractive; but decked in the glories of free and sovereign grace, wearing the crown-royal of the covenant, and the purple of atonement, the gospel, like a queen, is still glorious for beauty, supreme over hearts and minds. Published in all its fulness, with a clear statement of its efficacy and immutability, it is still the most acceptable news that ever reached the ears of mortals. You shall not in my most despondent moments convince me that our Lord was mistaken when he said....


From The Sword and The Trowel, August 1883.


At Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:27:00 AM, Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Brother Ross,

As I have followed the Founders, I too have observed a pattern, especially with Dr. Ascol, in equating the resurgence of Calvinism with the recovery of the Gospel.

In his current post, for example, Ascol several times mentions:

-"the reformed resurgence"

-"the resurgence of...reformed theology"

-"the resurgence of Calvinism"

-"the [this] resurgence" (several times)

However, at the post's end, he writes these words:

"There is a real recovery of the Gospel taking place."(bold mine)

Founders, I contend with you, Brother Bob, equates the rising popularity of their brand of Calvinism with recovering the Gospel itself. From my standpoint, this may be the most arrogant, self-display of theological elitism I have observed in my 25+ years as a minister of God's Word and preacher of the Gospel in the SBC.

It is for that reason alone I have deep concerns about the gaining acceptance of Founders' Calvinism in the SBC.

And, under our Lord's grace, I commit to do what I can to offset such a puffy, bloated, biblically insufficient mindset that prefaith regeneration is a definitive recovery of the "lost Gospel" among Southern Baptists.

Prefaith regeneration is indicative not of Calvinism per se. And as you continue to demonstrate to the chilled reception of Founders toward you, Brother Bob, the "born again before faith" theology as you so aptly capture it, is certainly not descriptive of the mighty Spurgeon's powerful evangelistic preaching.

Rather prefaith regeneration primarily shows its ugly face on the dozens of tiny, rotting, steepled buildings all over the state of Georgia, frozen over from the evangelistic ice-age of the anti-missionary Baptists of the 19th Century. Would Founders have us embrace this "primitive" Gospel message? It seems that way.

And I suppose as long as young Calvinists keep Founders as a model, not to mention "in your face" Calvinists like James White in their daily theological diet, we will hope for no end to this resurgence of Calvinism [read recovery of the Gospel] anytime soon.

Grace, Brother Bob. With that, I am...


At Saturday, April 19, 2008 2:16:00 PM, Blogger Stephen Garrett said...


I too saw this citation when I read Tom's blog. I reacted the same way you have and am now ready to post my own thoughts on this self styled "reformation."

I have just recently published another chapter on the "Hardshells and the Great Commission" together with some writings on "before faith regeneration" together with this writing on the "reformation."

Keep up the good work Bob! Charles! I am enjoying your work and I do pray the Lord uses you much further for many years.

God bless


At Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:14:00 AM, Anonymous Hugh Donohoe said...

"They" are just saying nothing more than J. Gresham Machen said. To paraphrase, Calvinism is not a version of Christianity, IT IS CHRISTIANITY! That type of thinking is what is making them want to "restore" the true Gospel. Which "they" would say is monergistic.

At Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:01:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


peter lumpkins said...

Founders, I contend with you, Brother Bob, equates the rising popularity of their brand of Calvinism with recovering the Gospel itself. From my standpoint, this may be the most arrogant, self-display of theological elitism I have observed in my 25+ years as a minister of God's Word and preacher of the Gospel in the SBC.

If you are familiar with the rise of Campbellism and its alleged "restoration" of the Gospel, you have somewhat of a parallel to the Flounders.

Both Alexander Campbell and Ernest Reisinger, and now Tom Ascol, talk about the "lost" Gospel, or terms to that effect. The Campbellites considered their movement to be a "restoration" of the true Gospel, and the Flounders are simply following the same concept.


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