Book Review ...

Evangelism: A Reformed Debate

The James Begg Society, 67 Ffordd Garnedd, Y Felinheli, Gwynedd, N. Wales, LL56 4QY, United Kingdom

The God-hating revivalist Dwight L. Moody preached a god who loves everyone ("He loves you and gave Himself up for you. Can you give a reason for hating Him?"), a god who wants to save everyone ("He wants you to come, and if you come you can drink. ... That is what God wants to do. He wants to give you something. ... There isn't any one but He wants him to be free. ... He wants to do this for you. He wants to save you."), and a god who is knocking at the door of everyone's heart and pleading for acceptance ("... you will find that the Son of God, that Jesus is at the very door of your heart knocking for admittance ... That is the Son of God coming to you at the midnight hour, pleading with you to accept Him. ... If you will only accept Him, He will do this for you." -- excerpts from an 1877 book of Moody's sermons entitled For All People).

Any true believer will easily see the heresy in such words. If you read Moody's sermons, you will see that these are common themes. Clearly, this is blasphemy. Clearly, this shows that Moody was an agent of Satan.

If this is so clear, then why is it that when Moody came to Great Britain, many who claimed to be Calvinists promoted and defended Moody and his revivals? (Charles Spurgeon had this blasphemer speak from his pulpit and even preached an entire sermon in defense of Moody.) It was (and always is) due to a fatal misunderstanding of what the gospel is.


that one of the defenders of Moody's blasphemy who also participated in the Moody revivals in Scotland was the well-known Horatius Bonar? The James Begg Society has recently published a book entitled Evangelism: A Reformed Debate that sets before the reader the debate that went on in 1874 and 1875 between Bonar and another Scottish minister, John Kennedy of Dingwall, over the Moody revivals in Scotland. Note that the more well-known minister (Bonar) was the one in bed with the whore church and is held up in modern Calvinism as one of the "fathers in the faith," while Kennedy remains in relative obscurity, branded as a Hyper-Calvinist.

This book contains the contents of three pamphlets. The pamphlet that started the debate was Kennedy's Hyper-Evangelism: 'Another Gospel,' Though A Mighty Power, which stated that Moody was preaching another gospel. Bonar countered with The Old Gospel: Not 'Another Gospel,' But The Power Of God Unto Salvation, which stated that Moody was preaching the true gospel. The last pamphlet was Kennedy's response entitled A Reply to Dr. Bonar's Defence of Hyper-Evangelism.

It is here I will depart from the conventional format of a book review. The rest of the review will consist almost entirely of quotes from Kennedy and Bonar and will include Bonar in the Heterodoxy Hall of Shame. These quotes are very telling. We who are outside the camp have heard the words of Bonar repeatedly from the mouths and pens (and typewriters and computers) of compromisers. It is important for the Christian reader to realize that the promotion of Satan's lie by those who are professedly Reformed is not new.  (Please note that this is not a blanket endorsement of Kennedy.)


The following is from Kennedy's Hyper-Evangelism: "Hundreds of ministers have I seen, sitting as disciples at the feet of one whose teaching only showed his ignorance even of 'the principles of the doctrine of Christ' ... My objection, to the teaching to which I refer, is, that it ignores the supreme end of the gospel which is the manifestation of the Divine glory; and misrepresents it as merely unfolding a scheme of salvation adapted to man's convenience. ... Men, anxious to secure a certain result, and determined to produce it, do not like to think of a controlling will, to whose sovereign behests they must submit, and of the necessity of almighty power being at work, whose action must be regulated by another will than theirs. Certain processes must lead to certain results. This selfish earnestness, this proud resolve to make a manageable business of conversion-work, is intolerant of any recognition of the sovereignty of God. 'Go to the street,' said the great American evangelist, to a group of young ladies, who were seated before him, 'and lay your hand on the shoulder of every drunkard you meet, and tell him that God loves him, and that Christ died for him ...' ... After some strong sayings about the necessity of regeneration, in one of the leader's addresses, the question was put, 'How is this change to be attained?' And the speaker answered the question by saying, 'You believe, and then you are regenerated' ... To these, such doctrine will bring all the peace they are anxious to obtain. But what is the value of that peace? It is no more than the quiet of a dead soul, from whom has been removed an unintelligent sense of danger. ... But on this wakeful state of mind, was brought to bear, a system of doctrine, that ignored those aspects of the truth, which are most offensive to 'the natural man,' and that, while offering something that seemed plausible to an unenlightened conscience, seemed to conserve the old heart's imagined independence of the sovereign and almighty grace of God, and by ignoring repentance preserved to it its idols. The gospel, modified to suit the taste of unrenewed men, was welcome. ... With still greater grief, should I look on my Church, in a spasmodic state, subject to convulsions, which only indicate that her life is departing, the result of revivals got up by men. ... Already they have advanced as many, as inclined to follow them, far in the way to Arminianism in doctrine, and to Plymouthism in service. They may be successful in galvanising, by a succession of sensational shocks, a multitude of dead, till they seem to be alive, and they may raise them from their crypts, to take a place amidst the living in the house of the Lord; but far better would it be to leave the dead in the place of the dead, and to prophesy to them there, till the living God Himself shall quicken them. For death will soon resume its sway. Stillness will follow the temporary bustle, and the quiet will be more painful than the stir."


And what did Horatius Bonar, eminent "Calvinist," say about this false gospel Moody was preaching? In his pamphlet, The Old Gospel, he said that it was "a work not of man, but of God; not the product of excitement or religious panic, but of a soberly preached gospel; not the result of error, but of truth; not the beguilement of the impressible and unstable into a superficial and sentimental religiousness, but the winning of souls to God by the almighty power of the Spirit, through instruments which man may underrate, but which God has owned. ... Two classes objected: First, the worldly, who disliked all intensity of religious emotion. Then some hyper-Calvinistic brethren were alarmed at the fervent appeals of evangelists, who, perhaps, in the warmth of love for dying men, might have used indefensible expressions, and so incurred the displeasure of their calmer brethren, whose zeal for orthodoxy made a man an offender for a word, and who unfairly charged others with impugning or undermining doctrines which the accused held as honestly as the accusers. ... Suppose I accept the facts, repulsive as some of them look, I do not see how they warrant the conclusion that the work cannot be divine. Offenses will come; but is the gospel of none effect because of them? Can the Holy Spirit not work by poor and defective instruments? He wrought not only by the Calvinistic Whitefield, but the Arminian Wesley. ... Among the hundreds of brethren connected with this movement, are there none of whom better things can be said, -- things more in accordance with the charity which 'thinketh no evil?' ... The assumption of spiritual superiority is always unbecoming, but specially so when rebuking a brother. ... I have myself (as I have already stated) heard such full and fervent confession of sin at Mr. Moody's meetings, and such solemn addresses concerning this at our 'converts' ' meetings, that I can give my testimony as to the inaccuracy of the charge. We do confess sin and seek forgiveness; we teach the converts to do the same. I have seldom heard anyone cast himself more entirely upon God for pardon and for strength and wisdom than 'the leader.' ... I bear willing testimony to the blessed effects among my own people by Moody's teaching and Sankey's singing; and I know of at least one sorrowful soul who never either heard the one or the other, but was mightily helped even by imperfect reports in her passage through the dark valley and across the river. ... Of unsound doctrine I have heard nothing. That extreme statements may have been made, and one-sided views of truth occasionally exhibited, I might admit ... The judgment here passed upon us is rather too intolerant to commend itself to dispassionate onlookers. It needlessly repels, by taking the worst view of men and things, when censures less one-sided and words less discourteous might have secured at least a patient hearing. The writer has not done justice either to himself or his cause. He has struck too keenly and too rashly. He might have hit some blots, and, with less indiscriminate condemnation, might have at least prevented the recoil which his sharp words must produce. But he has invaded territory on which only Omniscience can set its foot. He has judged the heart. ... He has said too much, and he has not said it well. No word of love to brethren breathes through these pages. ... To be contending for God, even under a mistake, is not so serious as contending against Him, even though this last hostility may plead the best of motives, -- zeal for the honour of Him whose doings in the land are the subject of question."

QUOTE (II) ...

A portion of Kennedy's reply follows:

"To them the new element in the doctrine seems to be what accounts of the fruit. The greater power is ascribed to that which was awanting in their own previous teaching, and they mingle the novelty with 'the old gospel' in order to increase their usefulness. Of this tendency Dr. Bonar's pamphlet affords sufficient evidence. I am quite ready to allow that, in the addresses of those who hold the views to which I refer, there will be found statements that seem to contradict those which are objectionable. This, however, does not prove that the bearing of the teaching, as a whole, is not what I indicated. The telling part of the doctrine may be that which is unscriptural, and all the more is it helped to be so by the mixture of what tends to recommend it to acceptance. The measure of truth it contains merely serves, in many cases, to throw the conscience off guard. It seems to some, as if the utterance of an occasional statement, that is both indefensible and dangerous, can be quite counteracted by other statements, from the same source, that are confessedly scriptural. But in such a case, the character and tendency of the teaching are not determined by the counterpoise of truth. The sound doctrine cannot be intelligibly apprehended and honestly believed, if what is utterly inconsistent with it is both held and proclaimed. A breach in the wrapping exposes the contents of a parcel. To that opening the eye must be directed that would discover what the envelope enclosed. An occasional erroneous statement, breaking wildly through the bounds of possible orthodoxy, exposes the spirit of one's teaching, and is the index of its practical tendency. ... But here again I am at issue with the great 'evangelist,' who, in the hearing of hundreds, said, 'Jesus loved Judas Iscariot as surely as he loved Simon Peter.' Will Dr. Bonar deny that this was said? Or will he homologate the statement if he knows that it was uttered? I am at issue, too, with him and with those who responded to him when he asked, at the close of a great meeting in Glasgow, 'If there was any hindrance to the conversion of all present that night.' 'None,' was the unhesitating reply, given in a firm tone, heard over the whole palace. The same question was put to Dr. Bonar, and then to Mr. Sankey, and the same answer was given. ... In one paragraph of his pamphlet, he gives the epitome of his views. He does so in order to show that they differ from those which I condemned. He might not have taken the trouble of writing his creed, and it would have been wise to refrain from the attempt; for no one placed him on his defence, and what he has given is, after all, very far from being satisfactory. For his statement of doctrine raises questions not a few. ... These are the things on which I have insisted, and on the ground of which I am called a Hyper-Calvinist. ... If, because I am determined thus to preach the grace of the Triune Jehovah, I am to be called a Hyper-Calvinist, let me never cease to be branded with the name."



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Heterodoxy Hall of Shame