Spurgeon, Samuel Sey, and Karen Swallow Prior



Who is Samuel Sey? Well, he’s a guy who has a Twitter following. That’s a generous summary of his contributions. And it’s popular for people to fire pea-shooters at Pulpit & Pen and get a few hundred likes from the same regular gutter-dwellers who always love anything negative about Pulpit & Pen. It’s cheap applause for cheap men.

Although I typically ignore such casting of shade, there’s a brilliant case-in-point of Sey’s gutless, substance-lacking, cheap-applause critique of my article on Charles Spurgeon.



Before I get into the details, I will again quote Charles Pickering:

Far too many want to profess the faith of Spurgeon without undergoing the agony of Spurgeon. Therefore, they rationalize their ungodly allegiances and remain with the crowd. – Charles Pickering

What I laid out, with quotations from Spurgeon and commentary from Pickering, is that Charles Spurgeon was a Separatist who wouldn’t be caught dead at a conference with men who he esteemed to be teaching grievous evils. I stand by it, and until someone comes up with a testimony of Spurgeon from some kind of alternate universe where the Downgrade didn’t happen, I will remain standing.

As for whether or not social justice (as it is currently being taught in evangelicalism, which is exactly how it was taught in the Old Liberalism of a century ago) is a grievous departure of orthodoxy, I simply submit to you the words of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, Voddie Baucham, et al. Their testimonies alone have estimated that this is a matter of serious error. Their testimonies given yesterday at G3 will suffice to demonstrate the error of social justice.

With the error of social justice being established by more than 2 or 3 witnesses of those speaking at G3, I made the proposition that Spurgeon would not then get on stage with those guilty of teaching such error.

For those who think theology is a team sport and for those who seek cheers from the nosebleed cheapseats of Twitter, this was enough to raise ire. Samuel Sey said on Twitter:

Spurgeon’s discernment led him away from people who taught wrongly on gospel issues.



How do I know these men (Piper, Dever, Platt) teach wrong on gospel issues? Just as before, I could cite the words of the Dallas Statement signers, and on this point I can cite the words of Piper, Dever, and Platt who all call social justice a “gospel issue.” If for them it’s a gospel issue…it’s a gospel issue. The moment the Galatian Judaizers considered circumcision a gospel issue it was the moment it became one.

If Sey would have bothered to read the article, he might have an opinion that was articulate. Should he have the literacy of a fruit-fly, or the desire to use it, he would have noticed that virtually all with whom Spurgeon separated claimed to preach the gospel and were “website orthodox” (as much as the term could apply in the 19th Century). In fact, if Sey were historically savvy, he would know that these exact same things he has said about Pulpit & Pen (separating from “gospel-preaching brethren” and so forth) were said about Spurgeon by the very Baptist Union which he left.

After all, Spurgeon did not leave the Union of Socinians or some such thing. He left the Baptist Union. The irony must be lost on Sey.

Sey then claims that my publication is like the “accuser,” or aka, the devil.

I would like to point out for the record that while I made a coherent historical argument for why Spurgeon would not have attended an event with charismatics like Piper or people infusing evangelicalism with liberalism like Dever or Platt, I didn’t call any such men lost. I didn’t anathematize a single soul. Rather, I insinuated none of them were of the devil. In fact, I called them brothers.

Only if Pulpit & Pen aren’t brethren does Samuel Sey not “accuse the brethren.” And if Sey separates from me on the grounds that I do not preach the Gospel or believe it (apparently the only grounds of separation in his view), he speaks in ignorance.

What this means, again in sheer irony, is that Sey has anathematized me for separating in ministry from men who I haven’t gone so far as to anathematize. This is an example of anti-polemics cognitive dissonance syndrome. While I’ve simply argued Spurgeon wouldn’t – and these men shouldn’t – speak alongside those in great error, Sey has likened me to the devil and damned me to hell.

Who’s the Separatist?

I need not belabor the point.

When challenged on Twitter by someone pointing out the obvious – that Sey is being far more unreasonable, hateful, and divisive than Pulpit & Pen – the one who jumped to his defense was none other than Karen Swallow Prior.

Prior is the gay-affirming ERLC research fellow and Liberty University literature professor who is the hero of leftists and atheists who thinks dogs go to Heaven because when you name them it gives them personhood, who wants an end to all modern animal husbandry even if human beings have to suffer, who thinks people in low-income communities shouldn’t have guns, and who has the biblical grasp of a second grade United Methodist Sunday School student.

You can see the thread here.

I would ask anyone observing this necessary conversation about Spurgeon’s Separatism to consider the strange bedfellows of Samuel Sey and Karen Swallow Prior. Certainly, I’m more charitable and more loving than Sey, so I wouldn’t anathematize him – as he has me – for having a well-articulated but diverse opinion, and neither would I insinuate that his theology is the same as Karen Swallow Prior’s.




What I would like to demonstrate is that when the fine and godly Reformed tradition of Separatism is thrown out as an option to withstand our Modern Day Downgrade, and when unity is preferred over purity, you end up with Samuel Sey and Karen Swallow in the same camp, and Charles Spurgeon in another.

[Editor’s Note: Contributed by JD Hall]


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