In the third place, I would ENLARGE UPON HIS VERY NATURAL SUGGESTION. This prudent steward said, “Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land. Must I bring your son again unto the land from where you came?” If she will not come to Isaac, shall Isaac go down to her? This is the suggestion of the present hour—if the world will not come to Jesus, shall Jesus tone down His teachings to the world? In other words, if the world will not rise to the Church, shall not the Church go down to the world? Instead of bidding men to be converted and come out from among sinners and be separate from them, let us join with the ungodly world, enter into union with it and so pervade it with our influence by allowing it to influence us. Let us have a Christian world.
To this end let us revise our doctrines. Some are old-fashioned, grim, severe,
unpopular. Let us drop them. Use the old phrases so as to please the obstinately orthodox but give them new meanings so as to win philosophical infidels who are prowling around. Pare off the edges of the unpleasant Truths of God, moderate the dogmatic tone of infallible Revelation—say that Abraham and Moses made mistakes and that the books which have been so long in reverence are full of errors. Undermine the old faith and bring in the new doubt. For the times are altered and the spirit of the age suggests the abandonment of everything that is too severely righteous and too surely of God.
The deceitful adulteration of doctrine is attended by a falsification of experience. Men are now told that they were born good, or were made so by their infant Baptism and so that great sentence, “You must be born again,” is deprived of its force. Repentance is ignored, faith is a drug in the market as compared with “honest doubt,” and mourning for sin and communion with God are dispensed with to make way for entertainments, and Socialism and politics of varying shades. A new creature in Christ Jesus is looked upon as a sour invention of bigoted Puritans. It is true, with the same breath they extol Oliver Cromwell. But then 1888 is not 1648. What was good and great two hundred years ago is mere cant today. That is what “modern thought” is telling us. And under its guidance all religion is being toned down. Spiritual religion is despised and a fashionable morality is set up in its place. Do yourself up tidily on Sunday—behave yourself. And above all, believe everything except what you read in the Bible and you will be all right. Be fashionable and think with those who profess to be scientific—this is the first and great commandment of the modern school. And the second is like unto it—do not be singular, but be as worldly as your neighbors. Thus is Isaac going down into Padan-aram—thus is the Church going down to the world.
Men seem to say—It is of no use going on in the old way, fetching out one here and another there from the great mass. We want a quicker way. To wait till people are born again and become followers of Christ is a long process—let us abolish the separation between the regenerate and unregenerate. Come into the Church, all of you, converted or unconverted. You have good wishes and good resolutions. That will do—don’t trouble about more. It is true you do not believe the Gospel but neither do we. You believe something or other. Come along. If you do not believe anything, no matter. Your “honest doubt” is better by far than faith. “But,” you say, “nobody talks so.” Possibly they do not use the same words but this is the real meaning of the present-day religion. This is the drift of the times.
I can justify the broadest statement I have made by the action or by the speech of certain ministers who are treacherously betraying our holy religion under pretense of adapting it to this progressive age. The new plan is to assimilate the Church to the world and so include a larger area within its bounds. By semi-dramatic performances they make Houses of Prayer to approximate to the theater. They turn their services into musical displays, and their sermons into political harangues or philosophical essays—in fact, they exchange the temple for the theater and turn the ministers of God into actors, whose business it is to amuse men. Is it not so, that the Lord’s Day is becoming more and more a day of recreation or of idleness, and the Lord’s House either a house full of idols, or a political club, where there is more enthusiasm for a party than zeal for God? Ah me, the hedges are broken down, the walls are leveled and to many there is henceforth no Church except as a portion of the world, no God except as an unknowable force by which the laws of nature work.
This, then, is the proposal. In order to win the world, the Lord Jesus must conform Himself, His people and His Word to the world. I will not dwell any longer on so loathsome a proposal.”
-C.H. Spurgeon 1834-1892