posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from a sermon titled "The Choice of a Leader," preached Sunday morning, 1 August 1875 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London. It sounds like Spurgeon is commenting on the meltdown of Emergent Village and the fumbling confusion that has seized some of the less radical participants in the Conversation who now want to shed their emergenting identity without shedding the postmodern bent that attracted them to the movement in the first place.
Perhaps Spurgeon was exercising the gift of prophecy. In any case, he gives good advice here: don't follow leaders who are constantly tinkering with gospel truth in an effort to keep in step with the times.
hen a man chooses a bad leader for his soul, at the end of all bad leadership there is a ditch.
A man teaches error which he declares he has drawn from Scripture, and he backs it up with texts perverted and abused. If you follow that error, and take its teacher for a leader, you may for a time be very pleased with yourself for knowing more than the poor plain people who keep to the good old way, but, mark my word, there is a ditch at the end of the error. You do not see it yet, but there it is, and into it you will fall if you continue to follow your leader.
At the end of error there is often a moral ditch, and men go down, down down, they scarce know why, till presently, having imbibed doctrinal error, their moral principles are poisoned, and like drunken men they find themselves rolling in the mire of sin.
At other times the ditch beyond a lesser error may be an altogether damnable doctrine. The first mistake was comparatively trifling, but, as it placed the mind on an inclined plane, the man descended almost as a matter of course, and almost before he knew it, found himself given over to a strong delusion to believe a lie. The blind man and his guide, whatever else they miss, will be sure to find the ditch, they need no sight to obtain an abundant entrance into that.
Alas! to fall into the ditch is easy, but how shall they be recovered? I would earnestly entreat especially professing Christians, when novelties of doctrine come up, to be very cautious how they give heed to them. I bid you remember the ditch. A small turn of the switch on the railway is the means of taking the train to the far east or to the far west: the first turn is very little indeed, but the points arrived at are remote.
There are new errors which have lately come up which your fathers knew not, with which some are mightily busy, and I have noticed when men have fallen into them their usefulness ceased. I have seen ministers go only a little way in speculative theories, and gradually glide from latitudinarianism into Socinianism or Atheism. Into these ditches thousands fall. Others are precipitated into an equally horrible pit, namely, the holding nominally of all the doctrines in theory and none of them in fact.
Men hold truths nowadays with the bowels taken out of then, and the very life and meaning torn away. There are members and ministers of evangelical denominations who do not believe evangelical doctrine, or if they do believe it they attach but little importance to it; their sermons are essays on philosophy, tinged with the gospel. They put a quarter of a grain of gospel into an Atlantic of talk, and poor souls are drenched with words to no profit. God save us from ever leaving the old gospel, or losing its spirit, and the solid comfort which it brings; yet into the ditch of lifeless profession and philosophic dreaming we may soon fall if we commit ourselves to wrong leadership.
All this should prevent us, as I think, from taking any man whatever as our leader, for if we trust to any mere man, though he may be right in ninety-nine of the hundred, he is wrong somewhere, and our tendency will be to be more influenced by his one wrong point than by any one of his right ones. Depend upon it in matters of religion that ancient malediction is abundantly verified, "Cursed is he that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm."