C. H. Spurgeon, Biblical Inerrancy, and Premillennialism: A Review Article -- By: John C. Whitcomb

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 07:2 (Fall 1986)
Article: C. H. Spurgeon, Biblical Inerrancy, and Premillennialism: A Review Article
Author: John C. Whitcomb


C. H. Spurgeon, Biblical Inerrancy, and Premillennialism:
A Review Article

John C. Whitcomb

Lamplighter and Son, by Craig Skinner. Nashville: Broadman, 1984. Pp. 269. Cloth. $11.95.

Many who consider Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) to have been one of the greatest pastor-teachers in all of church history would be surprised to learn that he was the father of twin sons who also became preachers of God’s Word. If Charles Haddon could be called “the forgotten Spurgeon” (as one prominent biographer, Iain Murray. entitled his book), how much less remembered are his two sons!

One of his sons, Thomas (1856–1917), spent many years in Australia and New Zealand, built the largest regular Free Church congregation in the southern hemisphere in Auckland (p. 53), and finally succeeded his father as pastor of the great Metropolitan Tabernacle of South London (1894–1908). The predictably hopeless task of effectively filling the shoes of his father was complicated not only by physical weakness but also by the jealousy and strong opposition of his father’s younger brother, James A. Spurgeon, who had served well in the Tabernacle for several years as a copastor (pp. 99-111; but cf. p. 92). Others were brought into the conflict, including the noted American Bible teacher, A. T. Pierson (pp. 100-105).

In 1898, during a Pastors’ College conference, the huge Tabernacle burned to the ground (pp. 160-64). The rebuilding project was one of Thomas Spurgeon’s greatest achievements (p. 220). Nevertheless, crowds were much smaller in the new building (p. 164), and “he held the fort with a diminishing following for years until his health made the task impossible” (p. 219). German bombs destroyed the building in 1941 (the reviewer saw it in this condition in September, 1945). It was rebuilt on a smaller scale in 1959; and then began a ten-year decline to practically a handful of people (cf. Arnold Dallimore, Spurgeon [Chicago: Moody, 1984] 243). Since 1970, however, it has been the center of a significant teaching and outreach ministry led by Peter Masters. The present reviewer was privileged to participate in the School of Theology as well as pulpit ministries there in 1980,1982,1983, and 1984 and appreciates the firm doctrinal position of the Tabernacle leaders today.

While Lamplighter and Son exhibits significant biographical depth (Skinner’s ten years of research are manifest in the sometimes lengthy 616 endnotes and 36 pages of photographs), the value is somewhat tarnished by “imaginative reconstruction of inner thoughts and private conversations” (Foreword by Barrington R. White; cf. p. 223). Furthermore, it is disappointing to find th...

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