By Joy Allmond
What would it be like to read the Bible with Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th-century pastor and author? The recently released CSB Spurgeon Study Bible can give us a taste of diving into God’s Word with the “Prince of Preachers.”
Facts & Trends spoke with CSB Spurgeon Study Bible general editor Alistair Begg about how Spurgeon’s words still reverberate today and what modern church leaders can take away from his approach to Scripture.
Begg (@AlistairBegg) is senior pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on “Truth for Life,” which is heard on the radio and online around the world.
What impact did the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon have on Protestant theology and preaching?
Spurgeon ministered during the Victorian era in the social context of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. He was working at a time when German theological schools were undercutting the notion of biblical authority.
So he tackled cultural issues in his day, not because he was pugilistic, but because he wanted to hold firmly to the truth once delivered to the saints.
That led to his being caught up in controversy—which he didn’t seek. But he was prepared to stand firmly for doctrine and position of evangelical theology.
How does Spurgeon’s high view of Scripture apply to today’s leader?
Spurgeon faced many of the same challenges we face today, because he, too, lived in a society where the authority of Scripture was called into question. Nothing has really changed.
In contemporary terms, we would be a unique generation if we did not have among us those questioning the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.
Some examples include discussions concerning the nature of marriage, monogamy, and family life. These are ultimately questions of whether God’s Word is timeless in its truth.
We’d be hard-pressed to suggest Spurgeon doesn’t speak in a timely way, even centuries later.
How has Spurgeon’s approach to Scripture affected your own preaching?
Many of us make simple things sound really complicated. Few are good at taking difficult subjects and distilling them in a way anyone—regardless of theological training—can digest. But Spurgeon was a master of that.
Another way Spurgeon has influenced my approach is the crucicentric nature of his preaching. He preached about Jesus and His death on the cross, conveying the wonder that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.
No matter where Spurgeon was in the Bible, he got directly to Jesus, because he was convinced the Bible is a book about Jesus—and a book about the salvation offered to us through Christ.
How would Spurgeon study the Bible?
I think every student of the Bible should mirror Spurgeon’s approach to Scripture. He famously said, “Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.” He approached the Scriptures with humility, as it were, on his knees.
In his sermons he spoke about his need for and dependence on studying God’s Word with a humble reverence and respect. He said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”
A high reverence for Scripture, a belief in its usefulness, and a humble attitude are exactly how one would study the Bible like Spurgeon.
JOY ALLMOND (@JoyAllmond) is managing editor of Facts & Trends.