Worth Reading - 4/20

The evening of October 19, 1856 commenced a season of unusual suffering for Spurgeon. His popularity had forced the rental of the Surrey Garden Music Hall to hold the 12,000 people congregated inside. Ten thousand eager listeners stood outside the building, scrambling to hear his sermon. The event constituted one of the largest crowds gathered to hear a nonconformist preacher — a throwback to the days of George Whitefield.

A few minutes after 6 o’clock, someone in the audience shouted, “Fire! The galleries are giving way! The place is falling!” Pandemonium ensued as a balcony collapsed. Those trying to get into the building blocked the exit of those fighting to escape. Spurgeon attempted to quell the commotion, but to no avail. His text for the day was Proverbs 3:33, “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked” — a verse he would never preach again.

An eyewitness recorded, “The cries and shrieks at this period were truly terrific. . . . They pressed on, treading furiously over the dead and dying, tearing frantically at each other.” Spurgeon nearly lost consciousness. He was rushed from the platform and “taken home more dead than alive.” After the crowds dissipated, seven corpses were lying in the grass. Twenty-eight people were seriously injured.

The depression that resulted from this disaster left Spurgeon prostrate for days. “Even the sight of the Bible brought from me a flood of tears and utter distraction of mind.” The newspapers added to his emotional deterioration. “Mr. Spurgeon is a preacher who hurls damnation at the heads of his sinful hearers . . . a ranting charlatan.” By all accounts, it looked as if his ministry was over. “It might well seem that the ministry which promised to be so largely influential,” Spurgeon said, “was silenced for ever.”
Many readers will know historian David Bebbington’s standard definition of evangelicals as Protestant Christians marked by biblicism, crucicentrism (the centrality of Christ’s work on the cross), activism, and conversionism. I have argued – and continue to argue in my forthcoming biography of George Whitefield – that for eighteenth-century evangelicals, an emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit was also a defining mark, one that set them apart from their forebears more than biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism.

I agree with Swaim that the term evangelical, as used in the media, obscures fundamental differences between those lumped together as people who “feel strongly about their faith.” There are at least four types of Christians who often get cast as evangelicals who really are not evangelicals, if that term has any meaning.

3. An essay on the importance of reading as a discipline of the Christian life:

Lots of people ask me on a regular basis how I read so much. My answer is that the only way I can keep up with my reading habits is to discipline myself to read. I typically read two books or more a week. Lately, that number has been significantly down as I’ve been busy with the many ministry activities. I notice the less time I have to read that the more I feel overwhelmed. Self-feeding is a very important aspect of ministry. It’s one of the reasons Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:13, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” Notice what Paul says here. He says bring me my “cloak” and his “books, and the parchments”. We don’t know what books the Apostle Paul was talking about here, but the parchments were the Scriptures. Paul wanted godly books to read and his Bible. This shows that the Apostle Paul, a man who wrote thirteen books in the New Testament, who likely had what we would consider today multiple Master’s Degrees and likely two Ph.D.’s still saw his need to read godly material and to read and study the Scriptures.

4. My mentor, Dr. Daniel Heimbach, did an interview for the school. Here's what he said about his life as a professor and a moral witness for Christ in culture:

Q: When a student completes your class, what do you want him or her to walk away with at the end of the semester?

A: I want every student to leave my class loving Jesus, the Word of God, God’s holiness, love and glory more than ever before. Also, to be filled with a well-informed passion to engage the world in moral witness more faithfully, fruitfully and relevantly than ever before.

Q: We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?

A: I teach Christian ethics, which is essential to the Great Commission. I see Christian ethics as being, not just part of the Great Commission, but as understanding the whole thing the right way.

True ethics—God’s one and only true and real way of ordering good and bad, right and wrong, righteousness and wickedness, blessing and cursing, justice, punishment, and accountability, wisdom and foolishness, including God’s purposes, direction, and goals, and what the Bible refers to as “the ways” of God—is the ocean of rightly ordered reality in which we swim as Christians. Understood this way, Christian ethics is what the Great Commission is all about.