Theology Fashionistas and CH Spurgeon

Here is a snippet taken from a letter from one of my favourite Baptists, the inimitable C.H. Spurgeon, to the Scots Presbyterian Alexander Whyte, with whose writings I spent a delightful summer a few years back that issued in a book on his piety. It was written on September 13, 1884, at the height of the Down-grade controversy. “I am beginning to be banned as a stupid old fogey, who sticks in the mud & will not advance. …When they [those ridiculing Spurgeon’s theology] have gone round the whirligig they will pass some of us again, but they will there and then again begin to be behind us, & not before us as they dream.”

To all things there is a season. And so it is with theology—even the good solid theology of a Spurgeon. It is biblical truth. Of that there is no doubt. But such truth is not always in fashion. Right now, we are on the crest of a small wave of interest in Calvinist theology—Oh to make the most of this opportunity. But it is not always so.

And so it proved to be in Spurgeon’s day. He lived on the eve of a great depression and Calvinism was going out of fashion. And there are fashionistas in theology as much as in any other human sphere of activity or thought—people not terribly interested in truth, but passionate about being in style and not considered “a stupid old fogey.” The worst thing in the world in their books would be to be branded by such a label. But Spurgeon’s analysis was spot on: in the things of theology, the world’s passing fancies are not the ultimate judge of what is best. Rather: the Word of the Monarch is.

And frankly, when all is said and done, if the King deems your embrace of the latest theological fashion to come down the runway to be treason, not matter how mild—that is utterly disastrous for that is the only judgement that counts.