Wediculous, vewy wetched and wepwehensible


JP: Pyromaniacs: Manly Men.


Lots of people are talking these days about the church’s failure to reach men. The problem is an old one. To a large degree it is rooted in the eighteenth-century tendency of post-puritan preachers to temper hard truths and cushion the message as much as possible.

Victorian-era preachers added an extra layer of complexity to the problem with their love of flowery rhetoric. Grandiloquence. Turgid oratory. Bloated, high-sounding language designed to impress listeners with the speaker’s sophistication rather than rouse consciences with the power of God’s Word.

Pulpits became soft places where men loved to show off their refinement. Manly passion was deemed vulgar and lowbrow.

Charles Spurgeon abhorred that trend. He exemplified the opposite style. In fact, when Spurgeon first took his pastorate in London, one of the earliest caricatures published in the London newspapers about Spurgeon pictured him casting the shadow of a young lion from his pulpit—and it contrasted him with a typical Anglican clergyman, who cast the shadow of an old woman.

Spurgeon hated the effeminate tendencies of the Victorian pulpit, and he did everything he could to model a different trend. He said it’s OK to be meek, and we ought to work hard at being gentle. But, he said, don’t be “indifferent to truth and righteousness. God [does not choose] milksops destitute of backbone, to wear his glory upon their faces. We have plenty of men made of sugar, nowadays, that melt into the stream of popular opinion; but [men like that will] never ascend into the hill of the Lord.”

When Spurgeon lectured his students on preaching, he cautioned them strongly against adopting effeminate mannerisms. He said,

Abhor the practice of some men, who will not bring out the letter “r,” such a habit is “vewys wuinous and wediculous, vewy wetched and wepwehensible.”

Comment: Sounds like Elmer Fudd: “Watch the woad, wabbit!”. Phil Johnson continues with this important conclusion:

The Bible says the church ought to be led by men, and every man in the church ought to aspire to be like the perfect man, Jesus Christ. And that involves, among other things, the manly proclamation and defense of the truth of Scripture; as well as aiming to be living reflections of the kind of character He embodied—including, of course, the fruit of the Spirit, courage, conviction, compassion, zeal for the truth, and the kind of gentleness that keeps those characteristics in proper balance, as opposed to nullifying them.

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