LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s commitment to live and minister in light of all Scripture provides a model for all Christians, said Baptist historian Tom Nettles, who recently published a biography on the 19th century British Baptist preacher.
“Spurgeon’s ministry grew out of a love for the Scripture and a love for doctrine that everyone should share,” said Nettles, professor of church history at Southern Seminary, in an interview about his 700-page book, Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
According to Nettles, this love for Scripture should be especially true for pastors. Spurgeon let Scripture dictate all he did, and pastors today should seek a similar role for Scripture in their ministries.
“It should be everything,” Nettles said. “You shouldn’t do anything that Scripture doesn’t condone. You shouldn’t avoid anything that Scripture doesn’t condemn. You shouldn’t preach anything that you could not verify with Scriptural exposition.”
Nettles glimpsed Spurgeon’s commitment to Scripture by focusing his research on Spurgeon’s monthly publication, Sword and Trowel, which Nettles thinks previous biographies have overlooked.
Spurgeon served as pastor of New Park Street Chapel, later named Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, 1854-1892.
“He wrote most of those, and so he explains month-by-month what’s going on in Metropolitan Tabernacle or in other churches” said Nettles. “You get all these little views about how he viewed church life. … I think that adds a depth to Spurgeon’s life that sometimes I didn’t find in other biographies.”
The underused Sword and Trowel is not the only thing previous Spurgeon biographers have overlooked. According to Nettles, Spurgeon’s theological ability and consistency has not received its proper due. This, in fact, is what gave Nettles the title for the book.
“Spurgeon has not been taken seriously enough as a theologian who governed his life and his ministry on the basis of theological principles,” Nettles said.
“Some historians have not sorted out the fact that he had a very strong theology of evangelism, and a strong theology of human responsibility as it related to divine sovereignty,” Nettles said. “There were theological reasons for what he did. That’s the reason I’ve titled the book Living by Revealed Truth.”
Spurgeon’s trust in God’s sovereignty played an important role in how he reacted to the profound suffering and tragedy in his life, Nettles said.