In his wonderfully current book, An All-round Ministry (online), are recorded the annual lectures of C. H. Spurgeon to his preacher's college in London. In "How to Meet the Evils of the Age" (1877), Spurgeon addressed himself to four evils. The first is "the return of superstition." This seems in principle to correlate with something of the postmodern mentality today. And though he aimed his guns at Ritualism, a sort of pastiche of Roman Catholic mysticism and protestant Anglicanism, his words still offer wisdom for us in how we hold to our beliefs. He says:
This superstition, too, is in harmony with the innate idolatry of the human heart; it offers gratification to the eye and to the taste, it sets up a visible priest and outward symbols, and these man's fallen heart craves after. It offers to save men the necessity of thought by offering an outward service, and furnishing a priest to do their religion for them; but, alas! it takes man off from the real and spiritual, it consoles him without true regeneration, and buoys him up with hope though he has not submitted himself to the righteousness of Christ.
What is the Remedy?
In short, he says, "I have only one remedy to prescribe, and that is, that we do preach the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in all its length and breadth of doctrine, precept, spirit, example, and power." I fear that we today (and I wonder if this applies to us ministers as well!) no longer fully believe in the simple power of the gospel to change the hearts of men? Our adherence to the truth may be nothing more than lip-service. Spurgeon goes on to unveil what was his conviction as to how mighty is such gospel truth:
The gospel, if it were fully received through the whole earth, would purge away all slavery and all war, and put down all drunkenness and all social evils. In fact, you cannot conceive a moral curse which it which it could not remove. And even physical evils, since many of them arise incidentally from sin, would be greatly mitigated [alleviated], and some of them for ever abolished. The spirit of the gospel, causing attention to be given to all that concerns our neighbour's welfare, would promote sanitary and social reforms, and so the leaves of the tree which are for the healing of the nations would work their beneficial purpose. KEEP TO THE GOSPEL, BRETHREN, AND YOU WILL KEEP TO THE ONE UNIVERSAL, NEVER-FAILING REMEDY [emphasis mine].
Even as hunger lies at the bottom of some fevers and maladies, it can be once again corrected by food. "Give the bread of life to the multitude, and the maladies and diseases of fallen humanity will be divinely removed; I am sure it is so."
I hope we are as well!