Charles Spurgeon on Christian Liberty

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is considered by some to be the greatest preacher in history. Once the pastor of the largest Protestant church in the world, he was also a champion for Christian liberty.

While this blog is devoted to Christian naturism (or biblical naturism), C.H. Spurgeon had nothing to say on the matter. However, I found an excerpt from a lengthy letter that he wrote to the Daily Telegraph on September 23, 1874, responding to his critics about cigar smoking. I thought his arguments and logic for smoking to the glory of God to be very powerful. I also surmised that one could insert naturism in place of cigar smoking, and that the same point could be made in the same flow of logical thinking.

First, here’s the quote untouched:

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to smoke tobacco is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin. Together with hundreds of thousands of my follow-Christians I have smoked, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it. There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. The expression “smoking to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.1

Spurgeon also said thist: Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God.2

As I read this quote, it became quite apparent that as Spurgeon smoked cigars to the glory of God, I practice naturism to the glory of God. As surely Spurgeon used the cigar smoking and camaraderie that comes with that practice as an opportunity to be a light and example to others that may never enter a church building, I do the same with naturism.

But there are always critics and people who will project their own sin onto others and call out what others do in Christian liberty as if it were sin. So let’s apply and adapt the quote from Spurgeon, replacing smoking with practicing naturism and see how that would read:

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to {practice Christian naturism} is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin. Together with hundreds of thousands of my follow-Christians I have {been socially nude}, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it. There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. The expression “{practicing naturism} to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing {times I have obtained through social nude fellowship} I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.

And: Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that {chaste social nudity} makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to {practice Christian naturism} to the glory of God.

I don’t know what Spurgeon would think of me changing his words, but I think the same could be said of naturism as he said about cigar smoking. I am against any pharisaic and legalistic adding the precepts of man to the commands of God. I hope you’re with me on that!

________________________________

1 G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, vol 5 (London: Cassel, 1923), 138-40.

2 Quoted in Justin D. Fulton, Charles H. Spurgeon, Our Ally (Chicago: H. J. Smith & Co., 1892), 345.

4 thoughts on “Charles Spurgeon on Christian Liberty

  1. John

    Thanks for your excellent articles! They are of great encouragement to me. Your logic and scriptural reasoning confirm what I’ve been processing this last year. Please don’t stop writing! I look forward to them with interest.

    Like

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