KANSAS CITY – Though there were no Zoom calls and live streaming back during the cholera outbreak in 1854, seminary leaders continue to marvel today at how legendary British Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon, who wasn’t even 20 years-old at the time, ministered during a crisis.
Nearly 130 years after his death, and amid today’s COVID-19 pandemic, C.H. Spurgeon is the subject of various related stories, podcast discussions, a recent online event, entitled “24 Hours with Charles Spurgeon” that drew evangelicals from around the world, and volumes of material in The Lost Sermons of Spurgeon.
Geoff Chang, the newly named curator of the Spurgeon collection at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, discussed how the well-known pastor remained faithful to his ministry at New Park Street Chapel in London during a difficult time.
“It was a pretty scary time because people didn’t know how they were getting sick,” said Chang, April 15. Chang, who will begin his duties at Midwestern Aug. 1, shared some of his research with MBTS President Jason Allen on the podcast Preaching and Preachers, entitled “Spurgeon and the Cholera Outbreak.” Chang also wrote an article on Spurgeon’s response to the crisis that broke out in an area of London and reportedly killed 616 people.
Though it is difficult to find sermons from the pastor during that outbreak, Chang said there are other Spurgeon sermons during future outbreaks. There is one particular sermon by Spurgeon in 1866 titled “Voice of the cholera,” Chang noted, and he points to Spurgeon.org to research other messages.
“That sermon is striking,” said Chang, who currently serves as associate pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Ore., and graduated on May 1 with his Ph.D. in historical theology from MBTS.
In that sermon, Chang said, Spurgeon focuses on the sovereignty of God. “He gives His people a vision for what God is up to, that this isn’t sort of the course of nature but it is coming to them at God’s hand,” he said.
“He doesn’t connect the plague to any particular sin,” Chang continued, “but he does connect it to the fact that we live in a fallen world.”
Jason Duesing serves as provost and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Seminary, and he is the general editor of The Lost Sermons volumes four and seven that are due out in November. In 2017, B&H Academic began what will become a multi-volume series publishing all 400 of Spurgeon’s “lost sermons” in partnership with Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College.
During the past two years, Duesing has studied some of the earliest sermons of the pastor. In a May 14 blog post, “On First Looking Into Spurgeon’s Sermons”, Duesing shared about his experience with reading sermons Spurgeon delivered as a teenager from 1851-1854. At the time, Spurgeon was a pastor at Waterbeach, near Cambridge, in England. The sermons, Duesing noted, had been recorded in notebooks.
“These sermons are more than the early ‘trial-runs’ of a young preacher,” wrote Duesing. “Yes, Spurgeon was 16-19 years old at the time, but even then, his God-given gifts of genius and zeal were on display.”
24 hours with Spurgeon
During a recent online event, “24 Hours with Charles Spurgeon,” Duesing noted that reading Spurgeon’s sermons “always turns into a doxological event for me as he, even as a young preacher, always pointed to Jesus Christ and directs one’s heart and mind upward to Him.”
Seminary faculty and students, along with other evangelicals from around the globe – the U.K, New Zealand, and Australia – partnered together with Spurgeon’s College in London for the May 8-9 event, a seminary media release reported.
Participants read and discussed selections from Spurgeon’s sermons, letters, and other works via Zoom, the release noted. Six faculty members and students from Midwestern Seminary participated in the event by reading from The Lost Sermons series.
Phillip McCormack, principal of Spurgeon’s College, London, shared how Spurgeon’s sermons and writings continue to impact Christians today, especially during this recent COVID-19 crisis.
“While Spurgeon’s writings were the initial focus,” McCormack said in the release, “we wanted each reader to focus upon the biblical principles that Spurgeon had been speaking on and offer a contemporary application, especially in the context of a global pandemic.”
McCormack also noted that Spurgeon “has left the whole Christian church a rich legacy and treasure-store of material that continues to bless God’s people because the spiritual principles contained in the Bible are timeless.”
To view the “24 Hours with Charles Spurgeon,” go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqJkxquIQYErJAJwI5a6RVA. To learn more about The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon, visit https://mbts.cc/lostsermons-4, and to learn more about The Spurgeon Library, visit www.spurgeon.org.