Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A story from Spurgeon's childhood


Some of young Charles Spurgeon's earliest years were spent with his Grandparents in the village of Stambourne. James Spurgeon, the Grandfather, was the minister of the church. Here is one of the several remarkable stories of Charles' experiences as small boy, taken from C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography:

One of the members of the church at Stambourne, named Roads, was in the habit of frequenting the public-house to have his “drop of beer”, and smoke his pipe, greatly to the grief of his godly pastor, who often heaved a sigh at the thought of his unhappy member’s inconsistent conduct.

Little Charles had doubtless noticed his grandfather’s grief on this account, and laid it to heart. One day he suddenly exclaimed, in the hearing of the good old gentleman, “I’ll kill old Roads, that I will!”

“Hush, hush! my dear,” said the good pastor, “you mustn’t talk so; it’s very wrong, you know, and you’ll get taken up by the police, if you do anything wrong.”

“I shall not do anything bad; but I’ll kill him though, that I will.”

Well, the good grandfather was puzzled, but yet perfectly sure that the child would not do anything which he knew to be wrong, so he let it pass with some half-mental remark about “that strange child.”

Shortly after, however, the above conversation was brought to his mind by the child coming in and saying, “I’ve killed old Roads; he’ll never grieve my dear grandpa any more.”

“My dear child,” said the good man, “what have you done? Where have you been?”

“I haven’t been doing any harm, grandpa,” said the child; “I’ve been about the Lord’s work, that’s all.”

Nothing more could be elicited from little Charles; but, before long, the mystery was cleared up. “Old Roads” called to see his pastor, and, with downcast looks and evident sorrow of heart, narrated the story of how he had been killed, somewhat in this fashion: —

“I’m very sorry indeed, my dear pastor, to have caused you such grief and trouble. It was very wrong, I know; but I always loved you, and wouldn’t have done it if I’d only thought.”

Encouraged by the good pastor’s kindly Christian words, he went on with his story. “I was a-sitting in the public just having my pipe and mug of beer, when that child comes in, — to think an old man like me should be took to task, and reproved by a bit of a child like that! Well, he points at me with his finger, just so, and says, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah? sitting with the ungodly; and you a member of a church, and breaking your pastor’s heart. I’m ashamed of you! I wouldn’t break my pastor’s heart, I’m sure.’ And then he walks away. Well, I did feel angry; but I knew it was all true, and I was guilty; so I put down my pipe, and did not touch my beer, but hurried away to a lonely spot, and cast myself down before the Lord, confessing my sin and begging for forgiveness. And I do know and believe the Lord in mercy pardoned me; and now I’ve come to ask you to forgive me; and I’ll never grieve you any more, my dear pastor.”

It need not be said that the penitent was freely forgiven, and owned a brother in the Lord, and the Lord was praised for the wonderful way in which it had all come about.

The genuineness of the backslider’s restoration is evident from the testimony of Mr. Houchin, the minister at Stambourne who succeeded Mr. Spurgeon’s grandfather, and who has also ascertained from official records the correct way of spelling “Old Roads’ “ name. Mr. Houchin writes: —

“Thomas Roads was one of the old men of the table-pew, — an active, lively, little man, but quite illiterate, — not much above a laborer, but he kept a pony and cart, and did a little buying and selling on his own account …. I found him an earnest and zealous Christian, striving to be useful in every way possible to him; especially in the prayer-meetings and among the young people, opening his house for Christian conversation and prayer. He only lived about four years of my time, and was sustained with a cheerful confidence to the end.

"When near death, on my taking up the Bible to read and pray with him, he said, ‘I have counted the leaves, sir.’ I said, ‘Why! what did you do that for?’ and he replied, ‘I never could read a word of it, and thought I would know how many leaves there were.’ This was very pathetic, and revealed much. We had a good hope of him, and missed him greatly.”

From C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Volume 1, pages 23, 24. Available from Pilgrim Publications.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Akin: on expository preaching


In Danny Akin's article, "Some Reasons I Believe in Seminary and Theological Education," he states the following:

"Southeastern Seminary believes there is really only one valid model for preaching for an effective ministry. That model is exposition. We recognize that exposition can be done in different ways, however, the faithful preaching of God’s Word, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and word by word cannot be neglected if the church is to be dynamic, vibrant and alive."

Is there any record of any preacher in the Bible who practiced expository preaching? I don't see John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, or Paul expounding the Scriptures book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter. Am I overlooking something?

In light of the fact that the Bible does not apparently prescribe or even exemplify a particular method or style of preaching, it is rather unseemly, in my judgment, for "expository preaching onlyists" to be so dogmatic in their esteem for this preference.

Danny Akin is not the first I have read who said as much about this style of preacher, and if Brother Danny Akin and these others are right about "expository preaching onlyism," this would conceivably eliminate even C. H. Spurgeon as having practiced "the faithful preaching of God's Word" in his ministry at his London pastorate from 1854-1892.

I think it is utterly preposterous to insist upon expository preaching "book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse" as the "only one valid model for preaching for an effective ministry" so as to have a church which is "dynamic, vibrant and alive." To me, this is nonsense. If that's what they are teaching the young men at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, then that is another reason why I don't believe seminary training is "all that it's put up to be."

Two of the most notable expository preachers in London in the 20th century, both of whom I knew personally, were Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his successor R. T. Kendall, two very smart gentlemen and good speakers. Their expository preaching was perhaps as good as it comes, yet in due time it helped make Westminster Chapel a virtual "dead, orthodox" religious mausoleum, intellectually impressive perhaps, but apparently of little inspiration in evangelism, soul-winning, and vibrant witnessing to the lost -- such features seen in Spurgeon's ministry.

Kendall reports in his book, In Pursuit of His Glory, that he preached 23 consecutive Sunday mornings on the Book of Jonah (Feb-Oct 1977), 37 consecutive Sunday mornings on Jude (Oct. 1978-Sept. 19 79), 82 consecutive Sunday mornings on James (Oct. 1979-Nov. 1981), etc. I don't think I have enough "grace" to have endured listening to that type of pulpiteering.

If Spurgeon had preached according to this method, we would not have the great sermons to read that we have today. Spurgeon was a textual and topical preacher. His brief expositions of chapters were done prior to his sermons, and you can read some of those expositions in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volumes 38-63.

If expository preaching is the only way one knows how to preach, then have at it. But I would advise young preachers to read Spurgeon's sermons and try to develop other approaches and not get "bogged down" or become slavish to one particular method of preaching the Word of God.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Akin: training Apostle Pauls?


"At Southeastern Seminary we are committed to training Apostle Pauls," says Danny Akin on the July 23, 2008 Between the Times blog.

Akin is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. His statement is a good example of just one of the many common exaggerated opinions about the significance of seminaries. If Danny is committed to training Apostle Pauls, he might like to consider taking his prospective "Pauls" on a field trip to Mars. Chances are he'll make that trip to Mars much sooner than he will matriculate any Apostle Pauls.

But if Danny is just "shoot'n the breeze" with hyperbole, then he's merely doing what seminary promoters have been doing for years -- using exaggerated sales-talk to make young men think they will get a lot more from seminary than the seminary can deliver or ever has delivered.

Seminary is no guarantee for ministerial development. What one gets in seminary usually depends on who's doing the teaching and what they are teaching. The basic problems of the Southern Baptist Convention throughout my life have been brewed by the seminaries and their products. Most of the "isms" seem to be hatched in the nests of seminary professors. Some of the most biblically illiterates I have met had "Dr" before their names and a few "pigtails" after their names. Some of the worst commentaries and theological books were and still are written by seminary professors. Their contributions to soul-winning, evangelism, missions, and church planting are among the least of their accomplishments.

Based on what I have seen come from the seminaries, my opinion is what I told a customer recently in my bookstore. I took down a copy of a good book which covers a great deal of Bible doctrine, and I said, "If you will study this book, and read all the Scriptures given, you will have a better grasp of what the Bible teaches than most men who take a full course in modern seminaries."

We have demonstrated on this blog some examples of how far-fetched some of the esteemed seminary theologians, professors, and some of their offspring are in their teachings. Many of them know just enough about their craft to endanger the souls and lives of those who sit under their teaching and preaching.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Prayers for Tom Ascol


I have been reading the updates about Tom Ascol following his being hit by lightning. Both Charles and I pray that Tom will have a full, complete recovery, and we hope all of our readers will join in praying for him.

Those of you who wish to keep updated on Tom's progress can do so at Timmy Brister's blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008:

On Timmy Brister's blog, he quotes the following from an email by Tom Ascol:

Please pray for me specifically in the following ways:

1. That I will not do or say or neglect anything that will dishonor Christ because of these events.

2. That Donna [Mrs. Ascol] and the kids will be full of faith, hope and joy as we walk this road together.

3. That my faith will not fail, but that it will grow and be strengthened in every way.

4. That the Lord will glorify Himself in specific ways before friends, family, doctors, nurses and others.

5. That God will restore my mental, emotional and physical health; specifically that my central nervous system will be healed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No posts lately


Frankly, there has been little to nothing which has caught my attention lately in relation to the subjects we usually discuss on the Flyswatter. I don't know Charles' whereabouts in recent days, so he will no doubt "account for himself" as to his own lack of posting in due course of time. As for me, I just simply haven't seen anything in recent days that would appear of interest to our readers, and I don't want to bore you with mere filler material.

The Flounders, for example, seem to be at a rather low ebb in recent days. Their National Conference was not up to expectations, Timmy Brister's move to Florida has evidently not been a 'picnic,' Tom Ascol has been hit by lightning (literally), and prayer is requested on his behalf for a quick recovery.

So there's not been much "inspiration" from the Flounders' current difficulties for us to post any comments about them.

The only "significant" thing I have noticed lately is that Ruckman -- who at nearly age 87 continues to be a leading entrepreneur for all manner of merchandise in "defending" the 1611 translators of the KJV -- is once again running for President. He also ran in 1992 and reportedly got "1611" votes.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Caner Chastises Young SBCers

Is Caner referring to young bloggers such as wet-behind-the-years Timmy Brister who publicly trash SBC presidents? Or is he referring to his own pastor who "inherited" a big church?


From OneNewsNow - 7/7/2008

Caner chastises young So. Baptists

The president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary is discouraged by the many young leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) who seem to demand positions of leadership.

Dr. Ergun Caner is a former Muslim who converted to Christ as a teenager, and now serves as president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, which was founded by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell. Dr. Caner is also known as a leader among young Southern Baptists.

However, Caner says it appears that many young pastors and leaders feel they are entitled to positions of leadership and privilege, without paying a price. "We're sort of a Rehoboam movement," he contends.

Rehoboam was an ancient king of Israel and son of King Solomon. When Solomon died, the elders instructed Rehoboam on what to do next. But Rehoboam rejected the wise counsel of the elders and listened to the bad advice of his contemporaries.

"I think by and large, we have an entire generation of guys my age and younger, who inherited churches that run 2,000 [in membership] but have never grown a church that runs 2,000," Caner warns.

That gives them a sense of entitlement, asserts Caner. He says to go around "crowing" about something one did not have anything to do with, and saying "see what I've done," is ridiculous.

Instead, Caner encourages younger SBC leaders to learn from those who led the conservative resurgence in the denomination, such as the late Dr. Adrian Rogers and Dr. Paige Patterson.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Galyon's garbling of Gano


Our sometime poster and professed friend to the Pedobaptist "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinists, the Rev (otherwise known as James Galyon), has an item on his website which appears to be a garbling of the 18th century Baptist, John Gano.

Rev excerpted some comments from Gano's 1784 Circular Letter to churches in the Philadelphia Association, but he "dotted out" one of the most significant statements by Gano -- especially in the light of Rev's admiration for those in the "Reformed" camp who are aberrant on regeneration, as represented by the likes of J. I. Packer and the Flounders.

Here is how the Gano item reads in regard to "the call" in Effectual Calling (I have highlighted the significant part which Rev "dotted out"):

"I. The call. This is an act of sovereign grace, which flows from the everlasting love of God, and is such an irresistible impression made by the Holy Spirit upon the human soul, as to effect a blessed change. This impression or call is sometimes immediate, as in the instance of Paul and others; though more ordinarily through the instrumentality of the word and providence of God."

Rev's excerpt reads as follows:

"This is an act of sovereign grace, which flows from the everlasting love of God, and is such an irresistible impression made by the Holy Spirit upon a human soul, as to effect a blessed change. . . ."

Since Pedobaptist "Reformed" theology on regeneration, as taught by Shedd, Berkhof, Packer, and their disciples, denies the necessary use of the "instrumentality of the Word" in the act of regeneration, when we quote a Baptist writer we include his comments which reveal that he holds the Baptist view on Effectual Calling, that it is by BOTH the Word and the Spirit.

Gano's view contrasts with the Pedobaptist Reformed Hybrid Calvinist view that regeneration is a "direct operation" of the Spirit without the instrumental use of means (the Word).

We therefore consider Rev's "dotting out" of that particular statement on "instrumentality" from Gano's circular letter to constitute a garbling of Gano's teaching on the New Birth. In fact, Galyon's "dotting" leaves out one of the most significant elements of Effectual Calling specified in our Baptist Confession of Faith -- namely, the instrumentality of the Word of God.

Friday, July 04, 2008

No stats on Founders' FC '08?


It's been about a week since the Flounders National Conference of 2008, and still there has been no report of the number in attendance -- at least, not that I have seen.

I was told by one who attended all sessions that the attendance was "down" (less than 100 registered), and that there was talk of moving the 2009 Conference to Florida. Perhaps nearby Disney World will add enhancement for families to attend, gas prices permitting.

The Conference was "live-streamed" on the Internet, and Tom Ascol's assistant pastor, Timmy Brister, claims "over 3000 viewers" tuned in. Considering the fact that this evidently includes "repeat" visits by the same persons from Tuesday thru Friday, it would appear that "3000" might be considerably reduced as to the actual number of persons who viewed the Internet streaming. In fact, I think I was there four or five times myself, so that alone would reduce the number to less than 3000 actual persons. I would estimate that a few hundred probably watched some of the Conference on the live streams, considering the factor of "repeat" tune-ins.

Why have there been no statistics reported by the Flounders? They have been concerned about reported stats in the Southern Baptist Convention, but they do not seem to be so keen about reporting on the FC 'o8 attendance.

And I wonder -- who was in attendance? Was Dr. Mohler in attendance? Danny Akin? Tom's "debate buddy," James White? We know that Tom Nettles was there, and he apparently read a short paper on Daniel Marshall (1706-1784). I watched some of that.

My guess is that the Flounders have "cooled" considerably since the passing of Ernest Reisinger, and the subsequent ongoing blundering of his successor(s) and their money-wasting projects. Reisinger, of course, had far more influence and acceptance with the Pedobaptist Reformed sect, and
his absence may account for what appears to be less interest by Pedobaptists in the Flounders.

At any rate, we are still waiting on the actual statistics of how many registered for the Flounders' conference.

Dr. John L. Dagg on liquor


A couple of years ago there was some "heat" among SBC bloggers and others over the use of alcoholic beverages. Since the Flounders' Tom Ascol did not seem to "cotton" to an SBC resolution on the matter, I thought it was rather paradoxical to read on Tom's website the attitude of one of Tom's alleged "heroes of the faith," Dr. John Dagg (1794–1884), on what Dagg called the "pernicious beverage."

The following is from Dr. Dagg's brief Autobiography which is published in the back of his Manual of Theology, and may be read here.

Pages 13, 14 of Dagg's Autobiography:

In August, 1812, I attended the meeting of the Ketocton Association, to which our church belonged; and was distressed to see the free use made of ardent spirits, by the ministers and members. There was also distressing evidence, that the principal deacon of our church indulged freely in the use of the pernicious liquor; though we had no proof that he was guilty of gross drunkenness. These facts induced me to prepare a query, which the church, at my request, sent up to the Association, at its next meeting. "At what point between total abstinence from ardent spirits, and intoxication by them, does the use of them become sinful?" The temperance reform was then unknown, and the notion of total abstinence was so little understood, that the bearing of my query was not apprehended. In replying to it, the Association replied, that moderation was necessary in the use of ardent spirits. This was the doctrine of the times, in which multitudes of Christian professors, including ministers of the gospel, were victims of intemperance. The deacon just referred to, I assisted afterwards, to exclude from the church; and, some time after, while lying on his hearth, in a state of intoxication, he was roasted to death by the fire. . . .

Page 29 of the Autobiography:

Soon after my settlement in Philadelphia, it became necessary to give a practical proof of my opposition to the use of ardent spirits. The ministers of the Association were accustomed to meet every three months at some one of the churches. A sermon was delivered by a brother appointed at the previous meeting. After the sermon, the ministers dined with the pastor; and, in the afternoon, in a ministerial conference, criticised the sermon for the common benefit. In the first meeting of this sort that I attended, my heart was pained to see ardent spirits set out on the pastor's side-board, and the guests partaking freely. At subsequent meetings the same custom was observed.

At length it became my turn to entertain the ministers meeting. The best food that the market afforded, I gladly provided for the table; but my conscience would not permit me, to offer the pernicious beverage. The effect, I think, was good. So far as I know, the decanter was never seen afterwards at a minister's meeting.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Calvinist evangelists?

"Where are the Calvinist evangelists?"

On the Pyromaniacs blog of July 2, 2008, Phil Johnson, who has long been John MacArthur's "righthand man," reprints an article which he first posted on June 1, 2005.

The significance of that date in relation to The Calvinist Flyswatter is that it was posted several months before Charles launched the Flyswatter and also before I had ever posted anything on anybody's blog.

Neither Charles nor I were the "creators" of the type of critical analysis of modern Reformed "Calvinism" which some have perceived as "anti-Calvinism." Phil Johnson voices the same type of analysis of "Calvinism" which The Flyswatter has simply applied to specific cases which exemplify characteristics which Phil enumerates in his blog.

Here is an excerpt from Phil's post:

Non-evangelism. Among more mainstream Calvinists, there are certainly some outstanding men who are earnestly evangelistic (Piper, MacArthur, and even Sproul). But it would be stretching things more than a little bit to insist that modern Calvinism as a movement is known by its passion for evangelism. Where are the Calvinist evangelists? I can think of only one outstanding example: John Blanchard. (There are surely more, but at the moment I can't think of any other famous Calvinists now living who have devoted their ministries primarily to evangelism). Of course, I fully realize that the Arminian caricature of historic Calvinism as anti-evangelistic is a total lie. But one could hardly argue that evangelism is a key feature of modern Calvinism. Neither the writings we produce nor the conferences we hold focus much on evangelism.

Polemicism. Today's rank-and-file Calvinists are more in the mold of Pink, Boettner, and J.I. Packer than they are like Spurgeon or Whitefield. In other words, modern Calvinism is producing mostly students and polemicists, not evangelists and preachers. That's because Internet Calvinism is simply too academic and theoretical and not concerned enough with doing, as opposed to hearing, the Word (
James 1:22). To a large degree, I think that's what the medium itself encourages.

For the rest of the post, click here for "Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism."

Lack of evangelism is perhaps the primary reason most Calvinist churches decrease and eventually even decease. This is especially true of Calvinist Baptist churches, for the Calvinist Baptist churches of my generation have been somewhat inclined to non-evangelism, if not anti-evangelism. Many of them oppose public invitations to accept Christ and other methods of evangelistic effort which seek faith-decisions from the unsaved. They think the "totally depraved" are just too "dead" for things of that sort, despite the power of the Word and Spirit to convict and draw them to Christ.

Phil Johnson refers to Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, and Blanchard as "evangelistic." If these are the best examples of Calvinist "evangelism," then the Calvinism of this era is not really very evangelistic -- at least from what I have observed.

If I really set my mind to it, and looked back at the record of more than 50 years of observation, I could probably come up with the names of at least 50 to 100 Calvinist churches which have deceased, and some others which are "lisping toward the starboard side." Why have they gone by the wayside?

Primarily, I think, for lack of evangelism. And why so? Primarily, I think, for "going to seed" in their obsessive emphasis on "sovereign grace," "the doctrines of grace," "reformed theology," etc. They can rattle off "the five points of Calvinism," but they are rather mum on promulgating the "A-B-C's" of the Gospel.

If your church or group is "Calvinist," just take inventory of what evangelism it has done in the past and what evangelism it is doing now. Take inventory on where and how the converts to Christ are being made, and consider whether or not they are the results of the evangelism of professing "Calvinist" churches and preachers?