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The Forgotten Spurgeon Paperback – February 1, 2009
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In this book, Iain Murray expertly covers three of the major controversies Spurgeon had to deal with in his pastoral career. Spurgeon dealt with attacks from both Hyper-Calvinists and Arminians, baptismal regeneration, and finally, the infamous “Downgrade Controversy” where the very Word of God itself came under attack. Throughout this, Spurgeon saw friends and colleagues as well as opponents turn their back on him, insult his motives, and deeply wound him. Murray makes it clear Spurgeon was not made of iron; these attacks wounded him, but even his reputation and comfort was nothing compared to remaining true to the truth of God’s Word.
Besides decisively dealing with any questions as to Spurgeon’s firm Calvinism (and greatly informing the reader on the Prince of Preachers’ theology, Murray’s study cannot help speak to those today struggling with an evangelical church that often embrace compromise and comfort over preaching the Gospel and affirming the inerrancy of the Bible. God, and not fallible mankind, must remain at the core of how we act and what we teach. Over 100 years ago, Spurgeon fought against worldliness creeping into the church, against doctrinal laxity, and against reducing the gospel to a watered-down, squishy type of moralism. It is a fight that has to be fought again in every generation. In that sense, though Murray pulls no punches as to what we can expect in that fight, I found it one of the most uplifting and inspiring books I have read in some time. The Reformed viewpoint of this book is never in question, so if that’s a possible deal-breaker for you, bear that in mind (of course, if you’re looking at a book by Iain Murray from Banner of Truth, you probably know that!).
But above all of that, I believe Spurgeon’s faithful witness and life are an example for any age. I marked up my copy of this book, time and time again finding something that seemed to cut to the heart of modern evangelical attitudes and issues. Thank God for Reverend Murray’s earnest faith, and for Charles Spurgeon’s legacy continuing to be used by God long after the Rev. Spurgeon left this earth, a good and faithful servant to the last.
The first controversy involved Spurgeon's battle over "diluted evangelicalism." The second controversy involved his passionate rebuttal of the God-dishonoring doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The third controversy, the so-called Downgrade movement took place from 1887 until his death in 1892.
Spurgeon rightly opposed hyper-Calvinsim for its failure to promote worldwide evangelism. Indeed, hyper-Calvinism "deviates seriously from Scripture and falls short of Scripture." But Spurgeon also rightly opposed Arminiaism and theological liberalism. Murray maintains with Spurgeon, "Arminianism obscures the nature of grace in salvation, while liberalism assails the inerrancy of Scripture and teaches the insufficiency of the written Word."
Spurgeon makes a strong appeal for men on both sides of the doctrinal controversy: "When some of us preach Calvinism, and some Arminianism, we cannot both be right ... Truth does not vacillate like the pendulum which shakes backwards and forwards. It is not like the comet, which is here, there, and everywhere. One must be right; the other wrong" (p. 57).
Spurgeon was an important man for 19th century England. And Spurgeon remains an inspiration to faithful preachers around the world. His commitment to the truth of Scripture, the framework found in the old-paths of the doctrines of grace, and his courage to proclaim these truths serve to strengthen pastors who find themselves in an ongoing ideological battleground. The Prince of Preachers reminds us, "The doctrine which is now rejected as the effete theory of Puritans and Calvinists will yet conquer human thought and reign supreme. As surely as the sun which sets tonight shall rise tomorrow at the predestined hour, so shall the truth of God shine forth over the whole earth" (p. 190).
The Forgotten Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon is one of the most well-known and beloved preachers of the 19th century. However, according to Iain Murray in this book, much of what Spurgeon stood for was either quickly forgotten or left out in the biographies that immediately followed his passing. "It seemed to me that the Spurgeon of the sermons (which Murray had been studying) was a forgotten man and the more that I read the more the conviction deepened." Pg 4
Spurgeon is often referred to, as the "Prince of Preachers" People tend to see him as a great, sometimes humorous speaker. While this was true, Spurgeon was also dead serious when it came to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout his lifetime, Spurgeon found himself in the midst of three major controversies. The first controversy centered on the weakening evangelicalism that Spurgeon was observing in his day. Spurgeon's preaching was focused on the Doctrines of Grace, while many of his contemporaries saw the Doctrines of Grace as a thing of the past. The second controversy dealt with the subject of Baptism. The third, and perhaps most well known, was the Down-Grade controversy. Murray does a commendable job in navigating through these controversies and showing the reader how Spurgeon dealt with each one. Spurgeon was and is today being used by God to show many their need for a Savior.
This book is very helpful in understanding Spurgeon's theology and what he truly believed. I highly recommend this book so people can have a clearer better rounded view of Spurgeon and appreciate the passion this man had for Christ.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Goes into the "real" life story of Charles Spurgeon.Read more