The One Book: Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching

I don’t remember how I came across the book but I do remember the warming light of its content breaking into my immature thinking when I started reading it.

There was a moment, early in my Christian walk, where in hindsight I can now see what was the beginnings of a slide into Hyper-Calvinism. This slide looked like me taking more interest in the doctrines of grace rather than in offering the Gospel of grace. I was increasingly contented in not calling people to repentance and faith because I had wrongly applied Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Yet in God’s divine mercy, I was rescued from the freezing coldness of this heartless heresy through Iain Murray’s book Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.

 

I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I see someone asking a Christian author to sign a book; there’s something about it that just seems so antithetical to who we are as Christians. It’s not a sin, just one of those things that feels odd. That being said, there is one book I do have signed by the author and it’s a book I dearly love because of it’s impact on me.

There was a moment, early in my Christian walk, where in hindsight I can now see what was the beginnings of a slide into Hyper-Calvinism. This slide looked like me taking more interest in the doctrines of grace rather than in offering the Gospel of grace. I was increasingly contented in not calling people to repentance and faith because I had wrongly applied Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Yet in God’s divine mercy, I was rescued from the freezing coldness of this heartless heresy through Iain Murray’s book Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.

I don’t remember how I came across the book but I do remember the warming light of its  content breaking into my immature thinking when I started reading it. I couldn’t put it down. And it seemed like after I finished each chapter I found myself repenting and praying, “Lord, help me to love those who are lost like Spurgeon did. No, help me love the lost like you do!”

The book itself focuses in on an early controversy in the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. A lot of folks are probably aware of Spurgeon’s battle against the rise of Arminianism in his own day, but far fewer are aware that the Prince of Preachers fought on a different front, that of Hyper-Calvinism, shining the light of Scripture on this equally destructive theology.

The Hyper-Calvinism of Spurgeon’s day expressed itself in both explicit as well as implicit ways. Explicitly, “the idea that all men should be called to faith in Christ” was appalling. To the Hyper-Calvinist, “Christ is only the savior of the elect and therefore it cannot be the duty of the non-elect to believe in him for a salvation not provided for them. To assert the opposite was stigmatized as a ‘duty-faith‘ error.”[1] In thus denying that a universal call is required they instead claimed that Scripture only warrants an invitation to those who are under the subjective experiences of conviction, those who are “heavy-laden”.[2]

Spurgeon forcefully responded that such an approach put the cart before the horse. “In our own day certain preachers assure us that a man must be regenerated before we may bid him believe in Jesus Christ; some degree of a work of grace in the heart being, in their judgment, the only warrant to believe. This also is false. It takes away a gospel for sinners and offers us a gospel for saints…. Brethren, the command to believe in Christ must be the sinner’s warrant, if you consider the nature of our commission. How runs it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ It ought to read, according to [the Hyper-Calvinists], ‘preach the gospel to every regenerate person, to every convinced sinner, to every sensible sinner.’ But it is not so; it is to every creature’.”[3]

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