Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Spurgeon and Evolution: things to consider

Many Christians today try to use Spurgeon as one example of how a Christian can hold to an Old Age Earth. Here's what they are referring to (although few even know WHERE he said it, I suspect):

III. Then, thirdly, this election is ETERNAL. "God hath from the beginning chosen you unto eternal life." Can any man tell me when the beginning was? Years ago we thought the beginning of this world was when Adam came upon it; but we have discovered that thousands of years before that God was preparing chaotic matter to make it a fit abode for man, putting races of creatures upon it, who might die and leave behind the marks of his handiwork and marvellous skill, before he tried his hand on man. But that was not the beginning, for revelation points us to a period long ere this world was fashioned, to the days when the morning stars were begotten; when, like drops of dew, from the fingers of the morning, stars and constellations fell trickling from the hand of God; when, by his own lips, he launched forth ponderous orbs; when with his own hand he sent comets, like thunderbolts, wandering through the sky, to find one day their proper sphere. We go back to years gone by, when worlds were made and systems fashioned, but we have not even approached the beginning yet. Until we go to the time when all the universe slept in the mind of God as yet unborn, until we enter the eternity where God the Creator lived alone, everything sleeping within him, all creation resting in his mighty gigantic thought, we have not guessed the beginning. We may go back, back, back, ages upon ages. We may go back, if we might use such strange words, whole eternities, and yet never arrive at the beginning.

End quote.

Consider that Spurgeon was making a point about Election in Eternity, not about Creation. That was what his whole sermon was about: election, not about science at the time or more clearly, evolution's so-called science. The context matters.

Secondly consider that this was preached just five years after his conversion, in 1855.

Thirdly consider this more thorough treatment he gave regarding Evolution:

At one of the memorable gatherings under "The Question Oak," a student asked Mr. Spurgeon, "Are we justified in receiving Mr. Darwin's or any other theory of evolution?

The President's answer was:—"My reply to that enquiry can best take the form of another question,—Does Revelation teach us evolution? It never has struck me, and it does not strike now, that the theory of evolution can, by any process of argument, be reconciled with the inspired record of the Creation. You remember how it is distinctly stated, again and again, that the Lord made each creature 'after his kind.' So we read, 'And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.'
"And again, 'And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.'
"Besides, brethren, I would remind you that, after all these years in which so many people have been hunting up and down the world for 'the missing link' between animals and men, among all the monkeys that the wise men have examined, they have never discovered one who has rubbed his tail off, and ascended in the scale of creation so far as to take his place as the equal of our brothers and sisters of the great family of mankind.
"Mr. Darwin has never been able to find the germs of an Archbishop of Canterbury in the body of a tom cat or a hilly goat, and I venture to prophesy that he will never accomplish such a feat as that. There are abundant evidences that one creature inclines towards another in certain respects, for all are bound together in a wondrous way which indicates that they are all the product of God's creative will; but what the advocates of evolution appear to forget is, that there is nowhere to be discovered an actual chain of growth from one creature to another,—there are breaks here and there, and so many missing links that the chain cannot be made complete. There are, naturally enough, many resemblances between them, because they have all been wrought by the one great master-mind of God, yet each one has its own peculiarities.
"The Books of Scripture are many, yet the Book, the Bible, is one; the waves of the sea are many, yet the sea is one; and the creatures that the Lord has made are many, yet the Creation is one. Look at the union between the animal and the bird in the bat or in the living squirrel; think of the resemblance between a bird and a fish in the flying fish; yet, nobody, surely, would venture to tell you that a fish ever grew into a bird, or that a bat ever became a butterfly or an eagle. No; they do not get out of their own spheres.
"All the evolutionists in the world cannot 'improve' a mouse so that it will develop into a cat, or evolve a golden eagle out of a barn-door fowl. Even where one species very closely resembles another, there is a speciality about each which distinguishes it from all others.
"I do not know, and I do not say, that a person cannot believe in Revelation and in evolution, too, for a man may believe that which is infinitely wise and also that which is only asinine. In this evil age, there is apparently nothing that a man cannot believe; he can believe, ex animo, the whole Prayer-book of the Church of England! It is pretty much the same with other matters; and, after all, the greatest discoveries made by man must be quite babyish to the infinite mind of God. He has told us all that we need to know in order that we may become like Himself, but He never meant us to know all that He knows."

End quote.

~ Spurgeon Archive

This was a response written in 188, 32 years later.

Clearly Spurgeon grew in his faith and knowledge of the Scriptures. Living in the dawning years of modern "science",  he learned about Evolution, so as a young 21 year old preacher and a fairly new convert, he still had some erroneous thinking that had to be cleared away by Scripture, and cleared they did.

I also find it problematic to use one sentence and say Spurgeon was an evolutionist of sorts (that is what Old Age Earthers are, it's a type of evolution). It's taking one statement and turning him into an evolutionist. That's akin to what folks do with Scripture; taking one verse out of its context and intent, and using it to promote a wrong view. Certainly Spurgeon isn't on par with Scripture nor is he even close, but those who take him out of context and take him early on without view to the rest of what he has stated in order to justify their unbiblical view of the Beginning, is indeed the same.

2Pe 3:18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 

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