Book Review: The Forgotten Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon is quoted today in all types of corridors within Christendom. Various statements from within his poetic, powerful, and Christ-centered sermons are lauded by Arminians and Calvinists alike. As a result many today wonder if Spurgeon was a type of third party theologian, devoid of doctrinal controversy and strong theological conviction. Ian Murray aims to bring to light some of the specifics of Spurgeon’s life and ministry that have been strangely overlooked:

“The only way to deal with Spurgeon’s theology is to accept it or forget it: the latter is what I believe has largely happened in the 20th century. And Spurgeon without his theology is about as distorted as the cheap china figures of Spurgeon which were offered for sale by charlatans more than a century ago.”

In The Forgotten Spurgeon Murray interacts with Spurgeon’s thought and teaching. The overt aim is not biographical; however, the historical contexts from which these various scenarios arise cannot be avoided. What follows is an informative and interesting survey of one of history’s most impactful ministries.

The book is centered on three major controversies in Spurgeon’s ministry.

The first was during Spurgeon’s younger years and centered upon his dealing with a diluted gospel message. Spurgeon’s Calvinism sparked outrage among the religious as they had thought such theology was already laid to rest. His popularity only served to fuel this controversy.

The second controversy sprang forth from a sermon that he did on Baptismal Regeneration in 1864. This resulted in a prolonged debate on matters outside of just the role of baptism with respect to salvation.

Finally, Spurgeon encountered, in his later years, what was called the Down-Grade movement. This effort to dilute the gospel of its heavenly distinctiveness served to consume the elder Spurgeon until his death at age 57.

The truth of the matter is that Spurgeon was embroiled in controversy from the day he began preaching. His messages were biblical and so therefore theological. This, along with his corresponding popularity, caused a significant reaction by those around him. The Forgotten Spurgeon is a helpful book in restating the record and helping us to see Spurgeon as more than a happy, soul-winning, quote machine. He was a pastor, a preacher, an ambassador for Christ, and so therefore, a defender of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You may pick up a copy of this (inexpensive) book at Westminster Bookstore or Amazon.