March 13, 2009

Pride in the Pulpit

For a year now something has been haunting me, and it is just now that I have actually felt a desire to express my concerns.

Over the years, I have watched great men of God (who have been used mightily to preach and proclaim God's truth) slip slowly into a practice of using their popularity and following to push their own personal convictions regarding non-essential doctrines. They use the pulpit to preach themselves--to preach their own personal convictions regarding doctrines that great men of God have differed on throughout the history of the Church.

I want you to read this portion of a transcript from a conference that was attended by over 3,000 pastors and leaders; and, as you read it, picture any man (an elder in your church, a leader of a bible study or Sunday school class) saying these exact words and ask yourself if this would be a man you would be comfortable with leading your flock at your church. Here is what was said, verbatim:

“Now that leads to my title: `Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a premillennialist’ [laughter and applause] Now it's too late for Calvin, but it's not too late for the rest of you.

And if Calvin were here he would join our movement. [laughter]”

“But bottom line here, of all people on the planet to be pre-millennialist it should be Calvinists; those who love sovereign election. Let's leave amillennialism for the Arminians."

Some of you may know who said these introductory lines and I hope you do not allow your loyalty to this man to cloud your discernment.

Read this again, as if it had been said by a young pastor in a local church. Look at the term "self-respecting". Think about that. Self-respecting? Are we to be self-respecting? Look at the phrase, "It's too late for Calvin, but it's not to late for the rest of you." What's too late for Calvin? Think about him saying "join our movement". These are sad and, frankly, scary words coming from a man who thousands look to for spiritual guidance and leadership.

If one takes away all the humor and the rhetoric--what he is saying, to over 3,000 church leaders who will return to shepherd their flock is, "Anyone who does not believe the way I believe regarding these doctrines is an idiot!"

"Join our movement?" Oh really, John: Exactly what "movement" is that?

"...pride will grow in the pulpit. It is a weed that is dreadfully rampant. It needs to be cut down every week, or else we would be standing up to our knees in it. This pulpit is terrible soil for pride. It does not grows well; and yet I scarcely know whether you will ever find a preacher of the gospel who will not confess that he has the greatest temptation to pride. I suppose that even those little known ministers, who are very good people, and who have a little city church, with some six people attending it, have a temptation to pride. But whether that is true or not, I am quite sure wherever there is a large assembly, and wherever there is a great deal of excitement and admiration concerning any preacher, then surely there is a great danger of pride. And, you can count on it, that the more proud a man is the greater will be his fall in the end. "

C.H. Spurgeon

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