Saturday, March 24, 2007

Catherine Booth: Adaption of measures

I found this afternoon a book of sermons called Aggressive Christianity by Catherine Booth. These sermons were taken down in shorthand and appear in the book as she preached them.

This one, Adaption of Measures relates well to a post I recently published on the BBB.

    People contend that we must have quiet, proper, decorous services. I say, WHERE IS YOUR AUTHORITY FOR THIS? Not here. I defy any man to show it. I have a great deal more authority in this book for such a lively, gushing, spontaneous, and what you call disorderly, service, as our Army services sometimes are, in this 14th of Corinthians than you can find for yours.
      The best insight we get into the internal working of a religious sevice in Apostolic times is in this chapter, and I ask you - is it anything like the ordinary services of to-day? Can the utmost stretch of ingenuity make it into anything like them? But even that is not complete. We cannot get the order of a single service from the New Testament, not can we get the form of government of a single church.

      Hence one denomination think theirs is the best form, and another theirs; so Christendom has been divided into so many camps ever since; but this very quarelling shows the impossibility of getting from the New Testament the routine, the order, and the fashion of mere modes. They cannot get it, because it is not there!!

      Do you think God had no purpose in this omission? The form, modes, and measures are not laid down as in the Old Testament dispensation. There is nothing of this stereotyped routinism in the whole of the New Testament. Why? Now there may be some who may have difficulties in this matter.
      I said to a gentleman, who came to me with this and that difficulty about our modes and measures,
        I will meet your difficulties by bringing them face to face with the bare principles of the New Testament. If I cannot substantiate and defend them by that I will give them up for ever. I am not wedded to any forms and measures.

        To many of them I have been driven by the necessities of the case. God has driven me to them as at the point of the bayonet, as well as led me by the pillar of cloud, and when I have brought my reluctance and all my own conventional notions, in which I was brought up like other people, face to face with the naked bare principles of the New Testament, I have not found anything to stand upon! I find things here far more extravagant and extreme, than anything we do, looked at carefully
      Here is the principle laid down that you are to adapt your measures to the necessity of the people to whom you minister: you are to take the Gospel to them in such modes and habitudes of thought and expression and circumstances, as will gain for it from them a HEARING. You are to speak in other tongues - go and preach it to them in such a way as they will look at it and listen to it! Oh! In that lesson we read what beautiful freedom from all set form and formula there was!


    Peter Kirk said...

    Thanks! Just got back from a service which was rather like a rock concert in musical style, and with a woman preacher. This is our weekly service intended mainly for youth - but several of us not at all youth really like it. Certainly "lively, gushing, spontaneous, and what you call disorderly, service", and a good attempt at "you are to take the Gospel to them in such modes and habitudes of thought and expression and circumstances, as will gain for it from them a HEARING."

    Kevin Knox said...


    Amen, Suzanne. I had no idea Booth was so right on about the church. Wow.

    And, glad to see bloglines flag your blog again. :-)

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    Booth's sermons have a lot of good content. I am looking forward to posting more.