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September 12, 2017 by  
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Newsletter Update: September 1, 2017 (t)”>(e)”>(d)”>(o)”>
Fri, Sep 1, 2017 4:16 am
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Under The Elmtree
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In This Issue:
*   The Downgrade – Then & Now
*   Leadership Insight – A Tribute
*   Calling a Lead Pastor or Staff
*   Links – Pastoral Resources
*   Scholarships $$ – Transformation for YOU
*  This Date in History – 1752 Liberty Bell
*   Read My BLOG – Doctrine & Downgrade
The Downgrade Then & Now
C.H. Spurgeon faced in his day and met head-on what he labeled the Downgrade. His reference was to the persistent and damaging doctrinal drift from biblical evangelical orthodoxy. He paid a high price for his integrity and courage in confronting this departure from the Word of God. His own brother ultimately broke fellowship with him.
I have posted below the book titled The Forgotten Spurgeon. This title by Ian Murray details this struggle in Spurgeon’s life and ministry. The issue is captured well in the following quote from p.7 of that title:
It is pointless to claim to be merely biblical when the whole question is, ‘What do the Scriptures actually teach on certain issues?’
The mantra of my personal ministry and that of IgniteUS has been, is, and will remain – ‘What does the text say?’ Precise exegesis and a comprehensive Systematic Theology that integrates all of Special Revelation is the task and goal of every serious Pastor/Shepherd. The current theological atmosphere in America lacks much that comes from this practice – consider R.C. Sproul’s recent survey on this topic. Biblical Literacy is critical for anyone that claims to be a ‘defender of the faith once delivered!’
The following article is by Dr. Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City MO. The content is based on Spurgeon’s struggle in this tragic drift from orthodoxy. American evangelicalism is currently in the grip of a similar downgrade. Read the article on the Pelagian Captivity of The Church in the link below.
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As Christians, we are called to share our faith, but we are also called to keep it. Like the Apostle Paul, every believer should aspire to the epitaph, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”


Perhaps no one in Baptist history better kept the faith than the illustrious Charles Spurgeon—especially as seen through the prism of the Downgrade Controversy.


The year was 1887, and Spurgeon was in the winter of life. For more than three decades he had enjoyed singular status as the world’s most well-known preacher, but just over the horizon storm clouds gathered.


The Downgrade Controversy began slowly at first, with three anonymous letters appearing in the March, April, and June (1887) editions of the Sword & Trowel. The three letters (later revealed to be authored by Spurgeon’s friend, Robert Shindler) warned of doctrinal slippage on a downhill slope, thus a downgrade.


While the anonymous letters drew interest, the controversy did not explode until a few months later when Spurgeon directly entered the fray. In the August 1887 issue of the Sword & Trowel, Spurgeon threw down the gauntlet in his six-page editorial entitled, “Another Word on the Downgrade.”


At that time, Spurgeon was less than five years from his death. He was near the height of his popularity in the Baptist Union and globally, but near the depth of his personal anguish.  Physical ailments like failing kidneys and chronic gout wracked his body, and depression plagued his soul. Simply put, he did not need, nor was he much poised for, the conflict he was about to enter. Withdrawing the largest Baptist church in England from the Union would have dire consequences.


Nevertheless, Spurgeon entered his Westwood study, fountain pen in hand, and proceeded to join the battle himself by drafting for publication the six-page article.


I own the original six-page manuscript Spurgeon wrote that day in 1887. It is fascinating to review his words, penned in his hand, with his markings, alterations and emphases. It radiates the spirit of Paul and the urgency of keeping the faith.  The first paragraph especially has taken on immortality:


No lover of the gospel can conceal from himself the fact that the days are evil. We are willing to make a large discount from our apprehensions on the score of natural timidity, the caution of age, and the weakness produced by pain; but yet our solemn conviction is that things are much worse in many churches than they seem to be, and are rapidly tending downward. Read those newspapers which represent the Broad School of Dissent, and ask yourself, How much farther could they go? What doctrine remains to be abandoned? What other truth to be the object of contempt? A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching. The Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth, and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them brethren, and maintain a confederacy with them!


Spurgeon goes on:


The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith… Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her tracks.


Most prophetically, Spurgeon argued true believers cannot be ministry affiliates with those who have compromised the faith. His words portended the schism to come. Spurgeon was a lone voice, but he was the loudest and most revered voice of all, calling for doctrinal fidelity over programmatic confederation.


Spurgeon’s Another Word on the Downgrade landed like a bombshell. It sent shock-waves throughout the Baptist Union and British Evangelicalism. It reverberated throughout the Protestant world.


For decades the press had attacked Spurgeon, but now he would be savaged by his own Baptist Union. Prior to the Downgrade Controversy, if the Baptist Union had a papacy, Spurgeon would have been the unquestioned pope.  But now, his erstwhile brethren brutalized him. They charged him with pugilism, and being a schismatic. They even questioned his sanity with a whisper campaign that his physical maladies had made him mad. Graduates of Spurgeon’s College turned on him, and the leaders of the Baptist Union pilloried him.


Over the next two months, Spurgeon penned two more articles on the Downgrade in the Sword & Trowel. Then, on Oct. 28, 1887, Spurgeon wrote the General Secretary of the Baptist Union, Samuel Harris Booth, to announce his withdrawal from the Baptist Union.


Three months later, in January 1888, the Baptist Union Council voted to accept his withdrawal, and then, the Council of nearly 100 members voted to censure Spurgeon, with only a meager five men supporting the Prince of Preachers.


The Baptist Union adopted a compromise doctrinal statement, which was altogether too weak, neither clear nor comprehensive enough. Though outside the Union, Spurgeon opposed the statement for its obvious deficiencies. Nonetheless, it passed overwhelmingly, by a vote of 2000–7, and can appropriately be interpreted as a second vote against Spurgeon. Most tragically, Spurgeon’s brother, James, seconded the motion to pass the compromise doctrinal statement.


Spurgeon, the “Lion in Winter,” was prophetic, if not popular. He said, “I am quite willing to be eaten of dogs for the next fifty years, but the more distant future shall vindicate me.”


Indeed, Spurgeon has been vindicated. The British Baptist Union is a shadow of its former self. Moreover, Spurgeon’s Downgrade foreshadowed the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy of the 1920s and the great SBC Controversy at the end of the 20th century. Doctrinal decay always brings dire consequences.


The controversy cost Spurgeon dearly. It cost him his friendships. It cost him his reputation. Even his own brother disowned his decision. Yet, for Spurgeon, to remain within the Union would be tantamount to theological treason.


Less than five years later Spurgeon would die. Against his previously stated wishes, his supporters erected a massive burial tomb in the Norwood Cemetery. Ensconced on the front of it, beneath the marble replica of his likeness, is a marble Bible, open to II Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”


Indeed, Spurgeon kept the faith, and his accomplishment must be our aspiration—to keep the faith even when confronted with our own Downgrade Controversies.



Leadership Insight –  A Tribute to a Transformation Warrior


On Sunday August 19, 2017 Pastor Tim Kraynak (age 49) entered his eternal rest. Tim was what I describe as a Transformation Warrior. His every breath was focused on honoring Jesus Christ and being God’s agent of Transformation in the work of the kingdom. He delighted in seeing individual believers transformed and the church as a body as well. His labors sought to accomplish this with excellence.


Transformation – is the objective and observable positive change in the life of a disciple into the character and likeness of Jesus Christ. The principles and precepts of God’s Word are the directives for this change and they are applied in the routines of life consistently with joy. The change is measured objectively based on behavior that reflects obedience to the Scripture, ‘all that Jesus has commanded’. This process is accomplished in the context of transparency and vulnerability with accountability and is lived out in a ‘life in community’ context within the body of Christ.


Tim connected with IgniteUS by reading our News Letter. I was working with a church in Elizabethtown PA. Tim called and asked if I would meet with him. He drove to E-Town and we met for 3 hours in McDonald’s. He was a virtual sponge, seeking to absorb every facet of the Transformation Process IgniteUS provides. His attitude was one of enthusiasm and delight. He had finally discovered a process that would equip him to see God transform the church he pastored in Skillington PA, Berks Bible Church.


He applied with precision the principles that lead to transformation. I had been seeking a man to assume my role as CEO of IgniteUS. Tim met every criterion that I had established with one exception – he did not have a doctorate. He subsequently sent me an email requesting that I serve as a reference – he was applying to the Ph.D. program at Lancaster Bible. I sent him a message which said ‘You just put the final nail in your coffin’. I told him that was the final item I had been waiting on to ask that he assume my responsibilities with IgniteUS when I step down. He met with our Board and we went forward with that assumption.


Tim, as he did with all things, worked diligently in his doctoral studies. In October of 2015 Tim was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Lancaster granted him his Ph.D. Tim pursued every treatment option provided. At one point it appeared that he was on the way to a cure. Not to be.


I do not weep readily, but I wept on Monday morning August 21, 2017 when I learned of Tim’s death. He is a man of godly character. He is a man with a heart to shepherd God’s people and see them transformed into the fullness of the character and conduct of Jesus Christ. He was a godly husband and a devoted father to his children. It has been my great privilege to know and serve with him. I love him. I will miss him. He was and is a true Transformation Warrior. Until we meet again Sir!


Calling a Lead Pastor – “We are going to go it alone!”  These words spell trouble ahead for any church that adopts this attitude in calling a Lead Pastor. This is the response of many churches when they face the challenge of calling a Lead Pastor. The results are more often than not nothing short of tragic. A key factor in this process is FIT – – the man fits the church and the church fits the man. The higher the degree of FIT the higher the probability there will be a lasting and fruitful pastoral tenure.

There is a better way. The Process that IgniteUS Provides to the local church applies multiple Assessment tools in discovering the current ministry profile of the church and the corresponding profile that the new Lead Pastor should meet.
If you or a church you know of is preparing to call a Lead Pastor or any other Staff personnel, I urge you to contact us. We have testimonials from churches that have used our ministry in calling a pastor. Our Process is Theological – the church is a Theological organism. We provide ‘Letters of Affirmation’ from churches that have used our process with great satisfaction. Our fees are very reasonable (less than 1/3 of other providers of this service) and the call of a Lead Pastor and Staff is one of the single most important factors in the future ministry of a church. 803 413 3509 or


Links  – Pastoral Resources


One of the objectives of this News Letter is to provide resources for pastors and the church that are beneficial, theologically orthodox, and encouraging. What does it mean to be ‘Orthodox’? My prayer is that the following links do just that. God’s best to all who serve in this capacity and do so with passion, diligence, and integrity!


The message by Dr. Hershael York on ‘What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Preaching?’ is 5 minutes long. You will be brought to your knees with gratitude for the privilege of preaching if you watch this powerful message. Just Do IT!! IgniteUS prays for the church and her pastors.


Scholarships $$ – Transformation for YOU – The most frequent reason I am given for pastors and churches not engaging the Leadership Development Process is Funding. We have generous Scholarships that provide funding for those who are earnest in their desire to see God bring Transformation to the pastor as a Leader and the church as a Disciple Making ministry. Contact us for details – 803 413 3509 or

This Date in History  – 1752 The Liberty Bell is brought to Philadelphia.


BLOG “Doctrine & Downgrade”. Read and respond. THANKS!!

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IUS Update This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site. THANKS!

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