THE DOWN GRADE CONTROVERSY
By David John Stewart
London's mightiest Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, printed a series of articles in 1887 denouncing the liberal theology of his time . . .
In 1887 Spurgeon printed a series of articles denouncing liberal theology in The Sword and the Trowel. The articles declared that the "new theology" had put the Church on the "Down Grade." They became the spark that ignited the fire storm that swept through the Baptist Church. But the roots of the down Grade Controversy go back some years before its actual ignition in 1887. Actually, several cultural, philosophical, and scientific events that took place in Victorian Britain played a preliminary role. They created a general ehtos that proved conducive to the reception of the "new theology."
SOURCE: The Down Grade Controversy | The Reformed Reader
Interestingly, one of the biggest heretics of modern times, Dr. John MacArthur Jr., has written about Spurgeon's DOWNGRADE CONTROVERSY in his own work titled, ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL (1992). You can read an excerpt of MacArthur concerning the issue at: http://www.reformedreader.org/spurgeon/dgc.htm
I do not write this article to be unkind toward Mr. MacArthur, not at all. I respect other's right to disagree with my beliefs and views. However, I am obligated as a born-again believer who loves the Lord Jesus Christ to contend for the faith. John MacArthur is teaching some dangerous doctrines, which need to be exposed, because he has his own DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY which differs greatly from the historical Baptist position, which is the Biblical position I might add. MacArthur subtly attempts to support his heretical doctrines by misquoting great men of the past. He can't use the Bible as a Primary Authority because his teachings are unbiblical, so he misquotes great men of the past as a Secondary Authority. Namely, MacArthur has misquoted Charles Spurgeon and Harry Ironside. Clearly, these men DIDN'T agree with John MacArthur's Lordship Salvation views.
Here are some of Dr. John MacArthur's DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY teachings . . .
DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY NUMBER ONE — LORDSHIP SALVATION
There is much CONTROVERSY today over the matter of Biblical repentance. In sharp contrast to the plainest teachings of Scripture that salvation is WITHOUT WORKS, there are many today who say that trusting upon the Lord for forgiveness of sins is NOT enough to be saved. They claim that a sinner MUST cease from their sinful lifestyle and commit their life to Jesus Christ in total obedience to be saved. That is a false gospel.
Dr. MacArthur’s position on Lordship Salvation has been made very clear in his published book, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS. He has also made statements in some of his other published writings and tapes that relate to this subject, some of which are quoted below:
“The Greek word translated 'belief' is not referring merely to intellectual attainment or mental acquiescence but a wholehearted acceptance of everything that is implied in the claims of Christ. You need to believe that Jesus is God and that He died for your sins, committing your whole life to Him in sacrifice and serving Him as Lord.” (Assurance of Victory—1 John 5, Moody Press, p.12).
“Submission to the will of God, to Christ’s lordship, and to the guiding of the Spirit is an essential, not an optional, part of saving faith” (EPHESIANS, p. 249).
“Saving faith is a placing of oneself totally in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1-8, p. 205).
Dr. MacArthur confuses repentance with the fruits of repentance, and confuses faith with that which faith ought to produce. He confuses saving faith (which takes place in a moment of time—Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 1:13) with discipleship (which is a lifelong process). As Miles Stanford has said, “Lordship salvation is not the childlike faith of John 3:16. It rightly insists upon repentance, but wrongly includes a change of behavior IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. No one questions that there must be a sincere change of mind, a turning from oneself to the Saviour, but Lordship advocates attempt to make behavior and fruit essential ingredients of, rather than evidence of, saving faith” (Miles Stanford, in his review of The Gospel According to Jesus).
John MacArthur, as do Jack Chick and Ray Comfort, preach a perverted gospel that ignores the plainest teachings of Scripture that God IMPUTES Christ's righteousness to the believer by faith . . . “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whomGod imputeth righteousness without works.”
The false doctrine of Lordship Salvation is epidemic in our churches and Bible seminaries today, having even corrupted the once great Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. If you want to talk about DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY, look no further than the utterly unbiblical teaching of Lordship Salvation.
It was Charles Spurgeon who stated:
"You must not expect that you will be perfect in 'repentance' before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. 'Repentance' is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. God gives the salvation himself..."
SOURCE: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0044.htm (Charles Spurgeon, from a sermon titled, REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE, preached at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, on September 23, 1855)
DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY NUMBER TWO — DENYING THE REDEEMING POWER OF JESUS' PHYSICAL BLOOD
Ironically, the very article that Spurgeon.org uses in an attempt to justify John MacArthur's heresy on the blood condemns him. Here are the very words of John MacArthur (close to the bottom of his own letter):
"It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins, but the work of redemption Christ accomplished in pouring it out." —Dr. John MacArthur
Now here is what the precious Word of God proclaims . . . “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Over and over, from Genesis to Revelation the Bible echoes the importance of the literal, physical blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
John MacArthur Jr. and R.B. Thieme Jr. teach that Jesus' blood soaked into the ground at Calvary, and has no efficacy by itself. MacArthur has defended himself, claiming that he never said the blood wasn't important, but that it's only important in the sense that it represents the death of Christ on the cross. However, this is NOT what the Word of God teaches. The Bible proclaims that it is Jesus' LITERAL, PHYSICAL BLOOD that redeems us from sin.
We read in Exodus 12:13, “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” The Lord was looking for THE BLOOD, literal blood; not the dead lamb. Hebrews 9:12 declares, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but BY HIS OWN BLOOD he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” The bloodless theology of John MacArthur is a DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY from what the Word of God plainly teaches. Revelation 1:5 states, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins IN HIS OWN BLOOD.”
The Old Testament highpriest entered into the holy-place once a year to atone for the sins of the people. Hebrews 9:7 states, “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.” If the highpriest entered into the holy of holies without blood, God killed him. It wasn't enough for the highpriest to slay the lamb and then enter into the holy place without the blood. Why in the world would John MacArthur, or anyone else, even dare to teach that Jesus entered into the heavenly Holy Place without His blood? Hebrews 9:23-24 tells us, “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” According to the Scriptures, the Old Testament tabernacle and the work of the Old Testament highpriest were a PATTERN on these things in Heaven. Jesus is our heavenly Highpriest (Hebrews 5:15-16). Jesus entered into the Holy Place in Heaven, BY HIS OWN BLOOD (Hebrews 9:12).
Anyone who dares teach that Jesus' literal, physical blood has no saving power to redeem is teaching a DOWNGRADED THEOLOGY, and damnable heresy at that.
A False Plan of Salvation