Thursday, December 11, 2008

Spurgeon: "Down Grade" began with "Calvinists"


Apostasy from Christian truth begins with those who profess themselves to be Christians.

Just for the record, the "Down Grade" of the latter 1800s began with Presbyterians, according to Spurgeon.

Evidently, C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) believed that the "Down Grade" Controversy originated with some of the professing "Calvinists" of his day.

Spurgeon published an article in his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel, March 1887 issue, which focused upon issues which quickly became identified as the Down Grade Controversy.

The article was by one of Spurgeon's assistant ministers and biographers, Robert H. Shindler, who alleged that the Presbyterians ["Calvinists"] were the "first" to initiate the "Down Grade" -- which was the degradation of what Spurgeon called the "central evangelical truths" of Christianity (The Sword and the Trowel, April 1887, page 195).

Here are Shindler's words, quoted from pages 123 and 126:

The Presbyterians [i. e. "Calvinists"] were the first to get on the down line. . . . The principal cause of the quicker descent on "the down grade" among the Presbyterians than among other Nonconformists, may be traced, not so much to their more scholarly ministry, nor altogether to their renunciation of Puritan habits, but to their rule of admitting to the privileges of Church membership. Of course their children received the rite of baptism, according to their views of baptism, in infancy. They were thereby received — so the ministers taught, and so the people believed — into covenant with God, and had a right to the Lord's table, without any other qualification than a moral life.

Some modern Hybrid Calvinists, such as the Flounders, have been misled to think that the "Down Grade" was somehow a controversy involving "Calvinism" and "Arminianism," as Pedobaptist Iain Murray craftily suggests in his book, The Forgotten Spurgeon (page 185).

Even Baptist Errol Hulse was evidently carried away into dissimulation by Murray on this matter (An Introduction to the Baptists, page 38).

But Spurgeon said, "We care far more for the central evangelical truths than we do for Calvinism as a system," -- and --

"The present struggle is not a debate upon the question of Calvinism or Arminianism, but of the truth of God versus the inventions of men. All who believe the gospel should unite against that 'modern thought' which is its deadly enemy" (S&T, April 1887, pages 195, 196) -- and --

"Certain antagonists have tried to represent the Down Grade controversy as a revival of the old feud between Calvinists and Arminians. It is nothing of the kind. Many evangelical Arminians are as earnestly on our side as men can be." (S&T, December 1887, page 642).

If the Sword and Trowel article was correct in saying the Presbyterians were the "first" to "get on the down line," then the Down Grade began with the Pedobaptist Presbyterian Hybrid Calvinists of that age -- preachers who held to the theory of "regeneration precedes faith." This theory is common with the Pedobaptist Presbyterians who believe that their babies get "regenerated" before they are even old enough to experience faith in Christ.

While the Flounders and some other "Reformed" Baptists don't baptize babies, nevertheless they have adopted the Hybrid Calvinism of "regeneration precedes faith."

So -- just for the record -- Spurgeon believed the Down Grade began with the Pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinist Presbyterians.


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