- Spurgeon, Charles Haddon
- (183 4 - 1892)conservative British Baptist leader and theologianCharles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834, at Kelvedon, Essex, England. His father and grandfather were both Congregationalist ministers. He experienced a personal conversion to Christ at age 15. His own study of the Bible soon convinced him that there was no biblical basis for infant baptism and at age 16 he was baptized by immersion.He preached his first sermon at age 17 and three years later, in 1854, became pastor of New Park Street Church in London. His oratorical skills attracted large crowds to his Sunday services. On the Day of National Humiliation that followed the Indian Mutiny, Spurgeon addressed a crowd of 23,000, possibly the largest religious gathering in the history of the country. In 1861, his congregation built the Metropolitan Tabernacle, where he preached for the rest of his life.In 1856, Spurgeon opened a Pastor's College to train Baptist leaders. He started his own magazine, Sword and Trowel, and his weekly sermons were published as the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit and widely reprinted in several languages.Spurgeon rose to prominence as Protestants were dealing with the new findings of biology and geology and with modern biblical criticism, which he opposed. In another disturbing development, the British Baptist Union in 1873 dropped its former doctrinal statement to pave the way for a planned union of General Baptists (who favored Arminianism) and Particular Baptists (who backed strict Calvinism).In 1887, Spurgeon charged that the union was on the "down grade," in a state of moral and doctrinal decay. He claimed that there had been a decline in prayer meetings in the churches, that ministers had developed worldly habits such as attending the theater, and that unorthodox beliefs were being preached from Baptist pulpits, denying the Trinity, affirming universal salvation, and denigrating the authority of the Bible. Spurgeon's early articles provoked a defensive reaction from members of the union, and in November 1887, he and his Metropolitan Tabernacle withdrew.Spurgeon refused to build another Baptist association, and few churches left the union, but he managed to keep the "down grade" controversy alive until his death on January 31, 1892. in the years since his death, Spurgeon has been admired as a leading modern exponent of Calvinism. His writings and sermons are still in print, the Metropolitan Tabernacle remains as a large London congregation, and the Sword and Trowel continues to appear regularly.Further reading:■ Ernest W. Bacon, Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1967)■ Lewis Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 1992)■ Charles Haddon Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1962); , Lectures to My Students (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1975).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.