Another "Down-Grade Controversy" By George Stroh, Senior Pastor October 5, 2009
"... What has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
(2 Corinthians 6:15)
Circa 1887, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the "Prince of Preachers", was engaged in what was know as "The Down-Grade Controversy". Afraid of losing denominational unity and continued prosperity, many of the Baptist Union Churches were ignoring a slow, but steady departure away from the truth of Scripture in their pulpits.
Spurgeon stood nearly alone in confronting this "down-grade" of the Word of God and eventually withdrew from the Baptist Union denomination. He wrote: "It is a great grief to me that hitherto many of our most honored friends in the Baptist Union have, with strong determination, closed their eyes to serious divergences from the truth. I doubt not that their motive has been in a measure laudable, for they desired to preserve peace, and hoped that errors, which they were forced to see, would be removed as their friends advanced in years and knowledge. But at last even these will, I trust, discover that the new views are not the old truth in a better dress, but deadly errors with which we can have no fellowship. I regard full-grown 'modern thought' as a totally new cult, having no more relation to Christianity than the mist of the evening to the everlasting hills." (C.H.S., November 23, 1887)
Shortly before his death in 1892, Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote "The man, so lately a faithful man of God, compromises with worldlings, and to quiet his own conscience invents a theory by which such compromises are justified and even commended. He receives the praises of 'the judicious'; he has, in truth gone over to the enemy."
Today we are confronted by another "Down-Grade" controversy-- an assault on the systematic, expository teaching and preaching of God's Word. There is a popular and growing movement to "do Church differently" with less time devoted to sound doctrinal teaching and preaching. In its place, we are told that the Church must become more "culturally relevant" and do whatever is necessary to meet the "felt needs" of the unbelievers, especially the younger people, in our post-modern culture.
Scripture, however, tells us that the unbeliever, as well as the believer, desperately needs to hear the Gospel and more of God's Word, not less. Rather than becoming culturally relevant, the Church must stand in sharp contrast to a corrupted, sinful culture. Then the light of God's Word can illuminate and expose spiritual darkness and unbelief. But when the Word of God is not faithfully taught, spiritual darkness prevails, even in the Church. Jesus warned the Church at Ephesus; "...But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent." (Revelation 2:4,5). Maranatha!