September 9, 2020
Charles Haddon Spurgeon lived from 1834 - 1892. He became known as the "Prince of Preachers." Coming out of the Reformed Baptist tradition, he was a vocal opponent of the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies of his day. As a result, many in the larger Christian church spoke out against him. As a side note, Spurgeon spoke out early, often, and forcefully against slavery, which cost him dearly in support among American Baptists. Biblical truth was of utmost importance.
Answering criticism of Spurgeon, the evangelical Anglican bishop of Liverpool, J.C. Ryle said this:
Dislike of dogma is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specifically among young people. It produces what I must venture to call a "jellyfish" Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power.
While written over a century ago, Ryle's observation reminds me of the cliché, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." That is the exact point of the book, "Jesus and Gin," by Barry Hankins, which compares our cultural/political/religious landscape today with what was happening 100 years ago. Different players…same dynamics. Through it all, devoted followers of Jesus Christ hold the solid ground upon which they stand.
Back to Ryle and "jellyfish" Christians:
Jellyfish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, "No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine."
I am thankful for people, like Ryle and Spurgeon, who held their ground against the erosion and dumbing-down of Biblical truth and essential tenets of the Christian faith. I admire and respect folks who carry on that sacred work today.
Besides the obvious afflictions of poor Biblical theology from liberal pastors, teachers, and denominations, there's been a rise from other sources, as well. The prosperity gospel, Black Lives Matter, conservative politics, critical race theory, seeker-sensitive worship, and consumer driven ecclesiology are but a few. Beware of the jellyfish.
I'm reminded of what Paul says in Romans 5:8, "But God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That's the gospel. Plain and simple. I don't know why people sometimes think they need to complicate things. Ponderous.
Let's hold the ground for Biblical truth. Let's not fall for trends or distractions. Let's not get carried away by fear or every wind of doctrine. I close with a wise observation by Samuel Sey:
2020 Isn't Much Different From Last Year or Every Other Year:
This world is dying…
We're all dying…
The world is full of sin…
We're all full of sin…We're not in control…
But No Matter the Year, God is Always in Control.
This is always a good thing…so this is a good year!
Much Love and Affection,