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Why Downgrade is a Problem with the Pastorate

Polemics Report

People have asked many times, ‘What is Downgrade?’ I started using the word incessantly and intentionally a little over a year ago in the hopes that the term would catch on (which it wildly has) and begin to frame our understanding of the modern evangelical slide in historic terms.

The Downgrade, as a descriptor for the not-altogether-new phenomena we are experiencing in evangelicalism, is a throw-back to a similar environment among the Baptists and other Nonconformists in the life and times of CH Spurgeon. Two articles published in Spurgeon’s Sword and Trowel monthly magazine leveled charges against his fellow evangelicals, chiefly the Presbyterians, Baptists and Independents. Written by Spurgeon’s friend, Schindler, the first two articles indict their fellow churchmen for – in the lack of persecution from the Church of England – neglected doctrinal matters and reverence for excitement, fun and frivolity. This was causing, in Schindler’s estimation, a “Down…

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