Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spurgeon's Church

After a horrible Friday night and Saturday morning worrying about our friends, upon their return on Saturday afternoon, we decided to stick with the schedule. We would go to Metropolitan Tabernacle, the church where the late Charles H. Spurgeon pastored.

What an opportunity!! I have read multitudes of Spurgeon's works and even in my early preaching days tried to use some of his illustrations. He was truly a great preacher of his day and God used him to reach London and still uses his works to reach the nations today. In fact, I was surprised to learn that his funeral went on for days and hundreds of thousands came by MT to pay their respects. What an influence!!

As we walked up the steps to the church I couldn't help but notice two signs. One read Metropolitan Taberncale Baptist Church (Spurgeon's). The other one stated that the 11am service was a Teaching Ministry and a 6:30 PM was an Evangelistic service. Funny. I thought the Church was God's not Spurgeon's. And why was there an Evangelistic service in the evening for visitors and a Teaching service for the non-visitors? Traditionally thinking is completely opposite. You try to preach to the heathen on Sunday mornings not Sunday nights. Sunday nights are reserved for teaching those who actually put forth an effort to return to church at night.

I didn't let those little signs detour me though. I was looking forward to a good church service and some good preaching. Somehow, I felt like the pastor would be Spurgeon himself reincarnated up there telling us how to live the Christian life. Exciting.

As we entered the church I knew I was in trouble though. Most of the men were in suits and ties. Now I'm all for someone dressing in a suit if they want. But usually when you see that many men dressed in suits you better hold on. My experience has shown me that the clothes people wear to church do indicate the level of formality one will find in the service.

An usher greeted us and saw we had three young kids under three among us two couples and stated forthright that they would HAVE to go to a separate room. He led us along a corridor beside the main sanctuary to a little room with a video monitor and nice neat chairs all lined up in rows. The audience would hear the songs but only when the sermon was given would they have video relay of the service.

My buddy and I found our way back to the sanctuary. We checked out the books for sell. You would think it would have be Spurgeon's works. And there were a few titles of his but most we from others. The latest was The Dark Side of Christian Counselling. And then, my favorite, a booklet entitled, "Are we Fundamentalists?" I started putting two and two together. I knew this was an Independent Baptist Church. I also was pretty certain of the answer to the question the booklet asked. What I had come to was a hard core true to type, Independent Baptist service. The kind you try to avoid.

We started to take our seats and was handed a KJV Bible and a Psalter. Other people began to file in, and I read the introduction to the Psalter. What the link above failed to reprint on the website but is clearly in the book itself was that the songs in the Psalter did not contain any non- trinitarian, sacramentist, modernistic, nor animistic hymns. I have an idea what a non-trinitarian hymn might be and maybe what a sacrementist hymn might be (anything that sounds Catholic), but what is a modern hymn or even better yet an animistic hymn? Weren't the hymns of Isaac Watts "modern" at some point in history?

The one man show begins. The pastor approaches the podium and prays for...how long? I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said at least 10 minutes. My immediate thought was Jesus and his condemnation of lengthy public prayers. Then, I was ashamed of myself for "judging". I told myself to focus on getting the log from my eye before getting the sliver out of my brother's eye. We sang from the Psalter and the music didn't seem to match well the words. All we had were the words anyway. But I figured this is how they sang in the 1600's and 1700's in London. Go with the flow. Then came the sermon...

You can watch it or hear it, if you like. You'll have to scroll down to the sermon entitled "The New Nationality." But beware it goes on for a solid 45 minutes, or at least it felt it did. And in all fairness some points were not so bad. But I thought I was going to have to burst out loud with laughter when he actually starting pointing out "true" doctrine in the infamous TULIP. He actually brought that up. Honestly, I thought my Reformed/Calvinist friends were past that silly thing. Did he actually say that Jesus only suffered for the saved ones? If you decide to listen to it, let me know what he actually said. I myself can't be bothered to find out.

I didn't take Communion, not that I really wanted to or would have, because you had to see a deacon for a Communion Card to be allowed entrance. Now I believe in closed communion, but I don't think we need to be printing Communion Cards. If you want to practice closed communion and not have any non-Christians there, have a separate service. Guaranteed few non-believers will show up.

My buddy and I returned to retrieve our wives and children. When I heard their experience of the service I lost it. I stated this was in fact a legalistic, Pharisee like, separatist, fundamental, Independent group. I wonder if Jesus would have a few words with them if he'd been there.

The room was for those children and their parents who were not able to worship. They had been given a full page front and back of rules to follow while in the holding cell. Things like no food. Children must be quiet. Children must be in the lap at all times. No moving the sacred chairs. Blah blah blah blah blah. All this sanctimonious nonsense about teaching children how to worship. And what did Jesus say about the little children? If you want your child to learn to worship properly, why not bring him/her to where the action is? And if you do think you need to provide a separate room, why does it have to be like you think the "real" worship service is? If it is a separate room, let the children be. Why not have a room where your kid can cry or scream if s/he needs to but at the same time that allows the parents to not be so self conscious of their loud kid? We've put our kid in nursery before. But she was not expected to sit still with hands folded and be quiet! And why were the parents/children/inmates only aloud to see the pastor perform on stage? That whole one man routine tells me that Bible idolatry and/or personality worship is very close by at this church.

Frankly, if I can help it, I will not be back at Spurgeon's shrine Church again. I hope to let Jesus judge them for their legalism. And it is obvious He will judge me for my lack of spirituality. Because even though I am of the opinion I was sitting in a modern day Christian Pharisee synagogue (Tabernacle as they call it), the place was packed out with hundreds of people in attendance. I simply can not get my head around that. And I have to admit, or so it seems, they must be doing something right, if I do not approve or feel welcome and at home there.

It did my soul good afterward to visit the Bunhill Cemetery, right across from the John Wesley House. What a breathe of fresh air!

1 comment:

Jarröt G. said...

So glad you commented on my blog. I lost this blog and others a long time ago and have not been able to read yours in a while or others.

I liked the post! Sad to hear about such a...empty(if that is a good word) service. I laughed when you spoke about the pastor using TULIP within the service. All the churches I've been to haven't used that term outside of a conference/class where that is being specifically spoken to. Silly to think about it.

I hope all is well with you, I pray for you all deeply(when I remember, if I'm being honest). I look forward to seeing more post!


PS Glad to hear you moved!!!! Ps any "other" blogs being written by those I "know" if you could pass those along. It be great!

PSS I like to use quotations way to much.