KANSAS CITY (BP) – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s launch of the new Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching expands the seminary’s “For the Church” vision by what its president, Jason K. Allen, said will be “an international hub” for Spurgeon studies, biblical preaching, the study of historical theology, pastoral ministry locally and globally “for the church at large.”
Calling the events leading up to the center’s announcement and impending construction a “kairos moment” during the seminary’s annual trustee meeting in Kansas City on Oct. 20-21, Allen expressed his appreciation for Bill and Connie Jenkins of Paoli, Ind., whose generosity enabled Midwestern to move forward with the $2.5 million construction project to house the Spurgeon Library.
The Spurgeon Library includes Spurgeon’s personal collection of more than 6,000 books and hundreds of artifacts, letters and assorted materials. Midwestern Seminary acquired the Spurgeon collection in 2006 from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., where it had resided for approximately 100 years.
The announcement comes on the heels of B&H Publishing’s July 23 press release of Christian George’s discovery and forthcoming publication of more than 400 of Spurgeon’s previously unpublished sermons. George, a Spurgeon scholar who began serving as curator of Midwestern’s Spurgeon Library in August 2014, will head the Spurgeon Center.
“Without hesitation, I can tell you that this is the most significant development in Spurgeon studies in over 100 years,” George said. “We believe that the Spurgeon Library and the Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching will become a global destination – a steeple, if you will, under which scholars and students of the academy may gather but also pastors, missionaries and congregations.”
Noting that one of the center’s goals is furthering the cause of Christ as Spurgeon did, George said, “We at Midwestern believe that God is raising up future ‘Spurgeons’ who will impact this generation with the timeless truths of the Christian faith…. We at the Spurgeon Center are looking not only to Spurgeon, but through Spurgeon, to the Christ who is at the very center of our Center.”
Through the center and library, Midwestern will continue its mission to be a seminary that “stands with the church and for the church,” George said.
In a related initiative called The Spurgeon Scholars, the center will offer a limited number of scholarships to full-time residential students called to pastoral ministry. They will study with George and receive writing, publishing and ministry opportunities.
Additionally, the Spurgeon Center will sponsor the annual Charles Spurgeon Lectures on Biblical Preaching with a goal of equipping attendees for expositional preaching.
Calling the center “ground zero” for future Spurgeon studies, Allen, in his Oct. 28 blog post “Reconsidering Charles Spurgeon,” cited theologian Carl F. H. Henry who called Charles Haddon Spurgeon “one of evangelical Christianity’s immortals.”
“No one is indispensable in Christ’s Kingdom,” Allen wrote, “but certain individuals are irreplaceable. Charles Spurgeon was one such individual.” Spurgeon is an exemplar of pastoral ministry, Allen noted. Everything he did was “for the church,” he said.
Spurgeon was a “genius” who “devoured books, possessed a photographic memory, and once testified of simultaneously holding eight thoughts in his head,” Allen wrote in his blog, extolling Spurgeon as a preacher who served as pastor of the largest Protestant church in the world; an author of almost 150 books; a humanitarian who “hurled himself at the great social ills of the day,” launching more than 60 social ministries designed to meet both physical and spiritual needs; and a soul-winner who “relentlessly preached the gospel and consistently won sinners to Christ.”
“Spurgeon’s mystique is … due to his indefatigable ministerial work ethic,” Allen wrote. He was a pastor/preacher who “embodied all that is right about biblical ministry,” including “biblical faithfulness, evangelical fervor, self-sacrificial ministry, power in the pulpit, social awareness and defense of the faith.” In short, Allen said, Spurgeon embodied the traits and qualities “the contemporary church must recover in the 21st century.”
The Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching will be constructed in the space that formerly served as the seminary’s chapel auditorium. The project is set to begin in late fall with the completion slated for June 2015.
“I truly believe that God has worked in this, is working in this in a powerful way…to serve His church,” Allen said.