J.C. Ryle on Novel, Spasmodic, and Hysterical Christianity
I came across this gem in the Introduction to his classic Holiness.
There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distated for anything old and regular, and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true. There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational, and exciting, and rousing to the feelings. There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram-drinking, and the “meek and quiet spirit” which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten (1 Pet. 3:4). Crowds, and crying, and hot rooms, and high flown singing, and incessant rousing of the emotions are the only things which many care for. Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is “clever” and “earnest,” hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully “narrow and uncharitable” if you hint that he is unsound!
J.C. Ryle wrote this in 1877: eerily prophetic, alarmingly true. If you have not read Ryle’s Holiness, I strongly suggest you do. In my opinion, it is the best book ever written on Christian devotion.