Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Flounder salespitch of Alleine book


The "Founders Ministries" [which I prefer to describe as the "Flounders Mendacities"] actually is rooted in the 1960s when founder Ernest Reisinger became the primary United States' salesman for the Banner of Truth publications. Ernie formed "Puritan Publications" in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to distribute BT books, and later he turned it over to BT to become the official U. S. branch of BT publications.

One of the books published and promoted by BT was Joseph Alleine's "Alarm to the Unconverted," later retitled, "A Sure Guide to Heaven."

Ernie considered this book to be an "evangelistic tool," and ever since he started the Flounders, it has been one of the books promoted by the Flounders. Now, Timmy Brister, who has joined Flounders leader Tom Ascol's church and has been promoting BT books, is pushing Alleine's book on his blog. Brister makes the bonehead "Twitter" remark that the book was "used by Spurgeon to evangelize the lost."

This is another evidence that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary evidently failed in the training of Brister, for he demonstrates very little grasp of the Gospel of Christ in commending this confusing book, nor does he tell the truth about Spurgeon and the book. Brister may have been mislead by Iain Murray, who has misrepresented Spurgeon in regard to Alleine's book -- as he has misrepresented Spurgeon on several other matters.

I have never considered the book as being worthwhile as an evangelistic tool. But I admit that I was forewarned about the book from reading C. H. Spurgeon's critical comments, and here is an article I wrote about it sometime ago:


I notice that sometime ago, Mr. Iain Murray and the Banner of Truth renamed Joseph Alleine's book entitled AN ALARM TO THE UNCONVERTED and gave it the new title of A SURE GUIDE TO HEAVEN.

In our opinion, it would have been far better and more appropriate to have changed the contents of the book than merely the title. It is not the title that is alarming, but the contents. One brother said those contents should "alarm the converted," they are so misleading.

Why this book has ever attained to the level of being regarded by some as any sort of a "guide to Heaven" and as something to "spur personal evangelism," as alleged in BT's catalog (page 23), is a mystery. On a scale of 1-10, as an evangelistic tool, I would not even place it on the scale at the lowest point. From my observation of the Flounders, I have not noticed that the book has done very much "spurring" of evangelism on the part of the Flounders.

It would come as a surprise to me if anyone was converted by the means of this book. Not that everything in it is bad, but as an evangelistic item, or something to instruct the unconverted in the Gospel, it is practically useless, and it is definitely misleading.

Spurgeon said his mother used to read it to him, and he himself read it, but he says it was "like sitting at the foot of Sinai" and his heart was "hardened" [For Spurgeon's various remarks on the book, see the Autobiography, Volume 1, pages 68, 80, 104; also in the sermon #531, The Warrant of Faith, Vol. 9, page 531; #446, The Old, Old Story, Vol. 8, page 235].

Spurgeon categorized Alleine as a "better preacher of the law than of the gospel" (Warrant of Faith, MTP, Vol. 9, page 531).

The BT has tried to promote Alleine's book for years, and they have utilized and abused the name of Spurgeon to do so. Actually, in the original "Alleine' s Alarm" published by BT, it is actually said that Spurgeon's "views were moulded by its pages" (page i).

However, if his views were molded at all, that could only apply to him before his conversion. The "casting" was soon broken and destroyed, for after a few years of displaying some of the legalist influences of Alleine's book, at the age of 15 Spurgeon heard the Gospel from a simple layman in a Primitive Methodist Chapel, who called upon him to "Look to Jesus," and young Spurgeon was saved as well as being delivered from all of Alleine's alarms.

As a manual of instruction to the unsaved, this book has about as much appeal, accuracy, and practicality as the advisers who took it upon themselves to analyze and advise Job in his trials and suffering.

For instance, the book offers over 20 pages of what is called "directions to the unconverted" (pages 100-124).

Not only would one have to have something on the order of a Bible College education to comprehend these directions, he would also be directed to "labour to get a thorough sight and lively sense and feeling of [his] sins" (page 101). He would also have to "strive to affect [his] heart with a deep sense of [his] present misery"
(page 104).

After being counseled via the sixteen directions on pages 101-124, among which is a suggested prayer consisting of about three pages, the reader -- if he still reading -- is then advised by the author, "I have told you what you must do to be saved . . . Rouse up, O sluggard, and ply your work. Be doing, and the Lord will be with you" (page 124).

Then follows a "Short Soliloquy for the an Unregenerate Sinner" of about 6 pages (pages 124-129)

If the reader has thus far survived all of these directions, the prayer, and the soliloquy, he is admonished that "the Holy Spirit is striving with you. He will not always strive. Have you not felt your heart warmed by the Word, and been almost persuaded to leave off your sins and come to Christ?"

It is no marvel to me that Spurgeon was never lead to Christ and His Gospel by this book, but in the Providence of God he heard the Good News elsewhere from a very simple Christian layman, and simply looked to Jesus for salvation. Read the account of his conversion at this website: Looking unto Jesus.

It seems to be rather consistent that Mr. Murray and the Banner of Truth, as well as the Flounders and Timmy Brister, would promote such a book as Alleine's in view of their opposition to public invitations, wherein all that is required of the hearer is that he look unto Jesus for salvation, as Spurgeon did, and respond in the public invitation to confess Christ as Saviour before others.

I know of more than one church where this book was promoted for reading, and those churches are either in decline or no longer exist! It has never been known to be a productive "evangelistic tool." It rather contributes to confusion of the mind than to the conversion of the soul.

As a much more profitiable item in contrast to Alleine's book, we recommend Gospel sermons by Spurgeon, such as "Forgiveness Made Easy," or "The Old, Old Story," and similar messages which do not call upon the lost person to in effect save himself by his own doings. -- Bob L. Ross


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