Spurgeon is the Man Part 1—Introduction

Mark Driscoll » Dead Guys

This week is unofficially “Spurgeon Is the Man” week. In tribute to arguably the greatest Bible preacher outside of Scripture, I will post several blog posts on why he is the man. Shout outs are coming after the last post to all of those who guessed that it was Spurgeon in this post.

Dead guys often make the best mentors.

In our age of new and “improved” theological beliefs that blow like chaff through the church, it is both illuminating and inspiring to draw from the deep well of saints who have faithfully gone before us, and, as Paul said, ran their race well until they saw Jesus face to face. Perhaps my favorite dead mentor is the great English reformed Baptist Bible preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). His biographies have provided some of my most enjoyable and formative reading.

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Spurgeon was the oldest of seventeen children, though nine died in infancy. Due to financial hardship, at the age of eighteen months he was sent to live with his grandfather, who was a strong Calvinistic preacher. At a young age he began reading his father and grandfather’s theological books and listening in on their theological conversations with other men. On one occasion, the visiting preacher Richard Knill prophesied over Charles, “This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes.”

Free public education was not available in his day and so his father paid for a private education for Charles. By the age of ten, Charles was reading the Puritans with great delight. He likely would have attended Cambridge, but because he was a nonconformist (believing the church should not be governed by the state) who did not support the Church of England, the school was not open to him and so he never received a formal theological education. Some of his most formative theological training came not from his pastor, but rather from an elderly school cook named Mary King, who spent considerable time teaching the young Charles reformed theology. Spurgeon began preaching shortly after his conversion to Jesus Christ at the age of sixteen.

He soon became the best-known Bible preacher in the world in his day, and perhaps the best preacher in the history of the church outside of Scripture besides John Chrysostom (347–407). Spurgeon preached up to ten times a week and was heard by twenty million people from his pulpit over the course of his lifetime. Four years after his conversion, at the age of twenty, he was appointed the pastor of London’s famous New Park Street Church, which was previously led by the distinguished reformed Baptist theologian John Gill. Spurgeon was such a magnetic draw that the previously struggling church, which had dwindled to a few hundred people, soon outgrew their building and had to move to Exeter Hall, and then to Surrey Music Hall. Spurgeon often preached to crowds of more than ten thousand without any amplification and his church became the world’s largest by the time of his death.

More Tomorrow.

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