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Charles Spurgeon’s Defense Of Calvinism:
Examined And Refuted With Holy Scripture

Dan Corner

Permission to reproduce entirely only.

 

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a famous Baptist minister who, among other things, pastored the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, smoked cigars* and wrote a Defense Of Calvinism. [*This fact about his cigar smoking has been concealed in our day, but the older pre-1940 Spurgeon biographies include a chapter on his smoking (http://www.spurgeon.org/). See quote regarding this at the end of this article.] One hundred years after his death, Spurgeon is still favorably quoted and much respected by the uninformed, present-day church crowd.

Because this same man wrote an article entitled, A Defense Of Calvinism and that same article is sometimes submitted as proof for that theological system, it must, therefore, be tested (1 Thess. 5:21) with the Scriptures, which is final authority for the Christian (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Below are my findings.

[All quotes from Spurgeon are from The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Curts & Jennings, Cincinnati -- Chicago -- St. Louis, 1898, Vol. I. All quotes from John Calvin are from Institutes of the Christian Religion, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989, translated by Henry Beveridge.]

 

I. Charles Haddon Spurgeon shockingly declared Calvinism is the gospel and Arminianism is heresy:

“And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else” (p. 172)

COMMENT: Everyone who knows that the Bible does not teach Calvinism needs to be informed that Spurgeon believed this way, BEFORE they are tempted to favorably quote this man as an authority in a sermon, article, private conversation, etc! For Spurgeon to declare Calvinism as the gospel and Arminianism as heresy immediately reflects his overall darkened understanding of the entire Scriptures! Proof for this statement will soon be shown.

 

II. Charles Haddon Spurgeon denied a basic Scriptural truth about falling away taught by the Lord Jesus and further added that he abhor[s] such a message:

“... nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor” (p. 172).

What Does The Bible Teach About Falling Away?

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today yes, tonight before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same (Mark 14:27-31, NIV).

The KJV renders the words “fall away” in Mark 14:27 as offended and the NKJV translates this as stumble. The reader should be advised that it is the same Greek word found in Mk. 4:17, and the same person of Luke 8:13 where both the KJV and NKJV use “fall away”:

“But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away” (NKJV).

“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (KJV).

These Scriptures prove that the Lord’s apostles (or saints) did fall away after they were called, with Peter disowning Jesus three times. Though those eleven apostles all came back to the Lord, other children of God, like Solomon and Saul, turned away and never returned. Spurgeon, by his own admittance, abhors this Scriptural truth! Remember this the next time you hear his name.

Getting back to Luke 8:13, also remember that Jesus taught people “fall away” after they believe. In other words, it is impossible to “fall away” unless one first believes. This is Jesus’ interpretation and is not open to another!

Spurgeon can’t comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called. But the real gospel, as outlined in the Scriptures and which Paul preached, states that a Christian can even believe in vain:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4, NKJV).

Clearly then, there are conditions attached to the real gospel of grace. Furthermore, it is definitely possible for a real Christian to believe in vain, according to the word of God. This also makes the following Spurgeon quote wrong since the Apostle Paul did NOT preach, as Spurgeon represents him:

 

“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach today, or else be false to my conscience and my God” (p. 167).

(Many other Scriptures could be cited which prove the Bible teaches that the believer’s security is conditional. For a much more exhaustive answer on this, see our 801 page book entitled, The Believer’s Conditional Security. ISBN 0-9639076-0-3. Contact us at: Evangelical Outreach, P. O. Box 265, Washington, PA 15301. Our book also documents that Augustine believed in Purgatory and promoted Mary worship. This was the real, unvarnished Augustine from whom John Calvin drew his doctrines and who Spurgeon shockingly exalts as the intermediate link to the Apostle Paul!)

 

III. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was so convinced about the Calvinistic view of falling away that he strangely concluded that “the Bible is a lie” and he himself will become an “infidel,” if he ever came to believe that even one saint of God has ever “fall[en] finally”:

“If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally” (p. 172).

COMMENT: Of course, the Bible is not a lie, but instead the proven word of the living God. All C. H. Spurgeon needed to do was accept the clear teaching of Scripture on the believer’s security, as upsetting as it might be to him. Spurgeon and other once saved, always saved (OSAS) teachers are actually placing a snare before all who listen to their message of an unconditional security for the believer. Please note what the Scriptures teach about an extreme, over sense of security:

 

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12, NKJV).

Do not be haughty, but fear

Moreover, true grace teaching declares the following:

 

"You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.' Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again" (Rom. 11:19-23, NKJV).

IV. By his own admittance, Spurgeon's personal belief in the Calvinistic doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints" prevented him from becoming of all men most miserable:

“I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable thing in them to be able to get through a day without despair. If I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort” (p. 173).

COMMENT: Dear friend, please know that truth, as recorded in the Bible, and not what makes us happy should be our quest. Some doctrines in the Bible are disturbing, like eternal, conscious torment awaiting the lost beyond the grave, but it is still true. Truth can be disturbing at times.

Also, Spurgeon took part of a Scripture from the KJV out of context and somehow in his mind connected it to the Calvinistic perseverance of the saints, a teaching which is not found in Scripture. Below is what the Apostle Paul actually wrote and which Spurgeon used out of context:

 

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19, KJV).

Paul was teaching there that a Christian’s hope in Christ, extends beyond the grave and is in no way even slightly connected to the perseverance of the saints, as Spurgeon suggests.

Furthermore, as already cited, Spurgeon wrote:

 

“It must be a very commendable thing in them [Christians who believe they can fall from grace] to be able to get through a day without despair.”

But Paul and the other early Christians were not overcome with despair, as Spurgeon suggests should come to rejecters of the perseverance of the saints doctrine as they were. Instead, they walked in the fear of God themselves, as they also worked out their salvation with fear and trembling:

 

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12, KJV).

Regarding falling from grace, the apostle Paul clearly believed such did occur to some of the Galatians, who were at that same point, alienated from Christ:

 

“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:2-4, NIV).

Calvinism’s Evanescent Grace

How could Spurgeon, or any Calvinist, truly be sure of Heaven himself? Though they might speak or write of salvation assurance, such really isn’t consistent with Calvinism! According to that theology, Spurgeon and other Calvinists might have been merely reprobates all along and have only been given by God an evanescent grace, as Calvin termed it:

 

“... Experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence, it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption .... there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith .... Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their mind to this extent .... there is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent” (3.2.11, Institutes).

In light of John Calvin’s teaching, the salvation assurance that Calvinists speak of is merely empty words, since they won’t really know until the very end of their lives if they were elect or not! Perhaps God just granted them an evanescent grace in which they feel saved but really aren’t. [By this teaching, Calvinists shockingly portray the God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2) as forcing untrue feelings on some people, in order to deceive them!]

 

V. Charles Haddon Spurgeon clearly contradicts the message of Scripture again! This time he believes there will be more people in Heaven than in hell:

 

“I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to ‘have the pre-eminence,’ and I cannot conceive how He could have the pre-eminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise” (p. 174).

The Lord Jesus taught the MAJORITY will perish!

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are MANY who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are FEW who find it" (Mt. 7:13,14, NKJV).

COMMENT: According to the Lord Jesus, there are only two groups of people with many of them going to destruction, and only few being saved in the end. Furthermore, the wide gate and broad way leading to destruction also implies that more people are on that road and will enter through that gate into that eternal destiny than will enter the narrow gate into life. Dear reader, if YOU are like most people, you too are on your way to eternal damnation. If so, you need to turn from your sins and put your faith in Jesus for your salvation, Acts 20:21. Also, it is ONLY a trusting, submitting and ENDURING faith in the Lord Jesus that will bring us into God's Kingdom:

 

"And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Mt. 10:22, NKJV).

"For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Heb. 3:14, NKJV).

"Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death" (Rev. 2:10,11, NKJV).

Please note: the second death is another name for the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). So being faithful until death is necessary for salvation's sake, according to the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of once saved always saved, eternal security or the perseverance of the saints can NOT be true, according to the Bible. So don't be deceived by that teaching.

Furthermore, Spurgeon again used a Scriptural clause about Christ having the pre-eminence for his defense of Calvinism. Notice how it is actually cited in the Scriptures:

 

"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18, KJV).

The context of that verse reveals that Spurgeon has again misused Scripture for his own purpose and faulty defense of a false theology.

 

VI. Charles Haddon Spurgeon contradicts John Calvin's teaching about the non-elect infants being damned to Hell, even though he considers himself a Calvinist and Calvinism as the gospel:

"I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to Paradise" (p. 175).

But John Calvin did NOT teach that all infants go to Paradise upon death! In contrast to Spurgeon, John Calvin taught that non-elect infants would be condemned:

 

"Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother's womb, suffer not for another's, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence, it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt" (2.1.8. Institutes).

"I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infants children in eternal death without remedy, unless that it so seemed meet to God?" (3.23.7. Institutes).

At this point, Spurgeon's defense of Calvinism seems to be more like a refutation to Calvinism. Moreover, Spurgeon opposed infant baptism, which Calvin believed in:

 

"In 1864, he preached a sermon against infant baptism and offended a large group of evangelicals who had been his supporters."

Regarding infant baptism, Calvin taught the following:

"Everyone must now see that paedobaptism, which receives such strong support from Scripture, is by no means of human invention."

VII. Charles Haddon Spurgeon considers Scriptural truth that Jesus died for ALL people who ever lived to be the most monstrous iniquity that could be imputed to a pagan deity!

"That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins of which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!" (pp. 175,176).

COMMENT: Spurgeon, and other Calvinists, deny the truth of the infinite work of Christ as extending to all people, even those who will be lost in the end. Below are a few Scriptures which reveal this definite error in Calvinism:

 

"All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6, NKJV).

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1, KJV).

"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2, NKJV).

"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6, NKJV).

COMMENT: Regarding Rom. 5:6, for a Calvinist to embrace a view of grace and the atonement that will only benefit those that go to Heaven is to say indirectly that those that go to Hell must not be ungodly, since Christ died for all of the ungodly. But of course, those that are thrown into the lake of fire are ungodly (Rev. 21:8; 1 Cor. 6:9,10; etc.). Therefore, Spurgeon's Calvinism is also clearly wrong about the infinite work of Christ.

 

VIII. Charles Haddon Spurgeon presumptuously states that he holds more firmly to Calvinism, which is also known by some as the doctrines of grace, than anyone else:

"There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do ...." (p. 176).

COMMENT: It is shear presumption to make such a comment, for there might have been someone somewhere, that Spurgeon didn't know about, who did hold more firmly to Calvinism than he did.

Moreover, since Calvinism is equated with grace, but is incorrect according to the Scriptures, then Calvinism must be a false grace message. This is especially evident as the Calvinists, and other OSAS proponents, would say David, while in adultery and murder, remained saved all along. Jude warned of those that would turn grace into a license for immorality. Christians are commanded to contend against this perversion of grace:

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 3,4, NIV).

IX. Charles Haddon Spurgeon believed a heresy preacher, like the Arminian John Wesley, could have been an apostle, if more were needed!

"Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines that he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitfield and John Wesley" (p. 176).

COMMENT: How could a heresy preacher be the Lord's apostle? In other words, according to Spurgeon, since Arminianism is a heresy and John Wesley was the modern prince of Arminians, how then could he qualify for the office of apostle? Remember, among other things, apostles teach doctrine and doctrine must be sound:

 

"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1, NIV).

Again, Spurgeon reveals that he was an irrational thinker as he describes Wesley, as a prime candidate for "apostle"!

 

In Conclusion

After comparing Spurgeon's Defense Of Calvinism to the Scriptures, I've found his personal beliefs and arguments for such not only weak, but much worse than that. They are clear contradictions to the Holy Scriptures. Moreover, he flatly contradicted John Calvin, yet all the while claimed to be a strong Calvinist. He also showed himself to be presumptuous and at another time totally illogical by what he wrote about Wesley. With all of this in mind, Charles Haddon Spurgeon had an overall darkened and confused view of the Scriptures, as do others that embrace Calvinism. He, therefore, can NOT be justly branded the prince of preachers like some unwittingly call him, even though he had a large following in his day and is often favorably quoted in our day.

Finally, and most importantly, Spurgeon's gospel of Calvinism and doctrines of grace are NOT the message of the Scriptures. If he truly knew the Scriptures, he could NOT have written such a Defense of Calvinism, as he did. It would have been IMPOSSIBLE. In fact, if Spurgeon really understood the Scriptures he would have been forced to openly renounce and refute Calvinism, as other Christians have. In light of all of this information, no informed Christian, especially one that is an Arminian, should ever quote this staunch Calvinist in a way as to give the impression that he was profoundly informed about the Scriptures. To do so is to actually act in a counterproductive way to the spreading of basic, sound, Christian doctrine, which Spurgeon clearly opposed by believing in and trying to defend Calvinism.

 

 

Spurgeon's Example As A Cigar Smoker

While Mr. Spurgeon was living at Nightingale Lane, Clapham, an excursion was one day organised by one of the young men's classes at the Tabernacle. The brake with the excursionists was to call for the President on their way to mid-Surrey.

It was a beautiful early morning, and the men arrived in high spirits, pipes and cigars alight, and looking forward to a day of unrestrained enjoyment. Mr. Spurgeon was ready waiting at the gate. He jumped up to the box-seat reserved for him, and looking round with an expression of astonishment, exclaimed: "What, gentlemen! Are you not ashamed to be smoking so early?"

Here was a damper! Dismay was on every face. Pipes and cigars one by one failed and dropped out of sight.

 When all had disappeared, out came the President's cigar-case. He lit up and smoked away serenely.

The men looked at him astonished. "I thought you said you objected to smoking, Mr. Spurgeon?" one ventured.

"Oh no, I did not say I objected. I asked if they were not ashamed, and it appears they were, for they have all put their pipes away."

Amid laughter the pipes reappeared, and with puffs of smoke the party went on merrily*.

* William Williams, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Personal Reminiscences (London: The Religious Tract Society, n.d.), 30-32. Quoted from http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cigars.htm.

 
 
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