Reflecting on Spurgeon’s Calvinism

Reflecting on Spurgeon's Calvinism

C.H. Spurgeon was an avowed Calvinist, but there was much more to this man and his ministry than a single doctrinal system.

This is the seventh and final article in the series “C.H. Spurgeon on the Doctrines of Grace,” which discusses Spurgeon’s views on Calvinism as seen in his preaching and writing.

One risk of an article series such as this is that it can paint a very one-sided picture. It must be recognized that the promotion of Calvinism was not the primary purpose of Spurgeon’s ministry.

Spurgeon’s life was dedicated to expounding the Word of God and reaching the lost with the Gospel. His unabashed Calvinism simply came out of these two convictions. He found in the doctrines of Reformed Theology a Biblical framework from which to preach the richness of God’s grace in salvation.

I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else. [1]

Rather than being seen as overly academic or as a hindrance to fervent evangelism, Spurgeon believed that these Reformed teachings were vital in communicating the Good News.

In his autobiography he records his thoughts on the relationship between Calvinism and the Gospel:

I do not believe we can preach the Gospel if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor can I comprehend a Gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a Gospel I abhor. [2]

Rather than stiffly adhering to a particular doctrinal system, Spurgeon endeavored to preach the truth he found in Scripture.

We had better far be inconsistent with ourselves than with the inspired Word. I have been called an Arminian Calvinist or a Calvinist Arminian, and I am quite content so long as I can keep close to my Bible. [3]

Spurgeon taught what he found them Scripture and was dedicated to preaching the whole counsel of God. While he freely preached Calvinist doctrine without apology, his primary purpose was to point others to Jesus.

If your sermon does not happen to have the doctrine of election, or the doctrine of final perseverance in it, let it always have Christ in it. Have a road to London, a road to Christ, in every sermon. [4]

Preach Christ and Him Crucified

This seal was embossed on the bound volumes of Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle sermons

Preaching Christ crucified was the foundational aspect of Spurgeon’s incredible ministry. He was a firm believer in teaching Scriptural doctrine, and so he happily preached the doctrines known as Calvinism on many occasions. These theological truths were a means by which he was able to point others to salvation in Christ.

In picturing the day of his own funeral, Spurgeon said to his congregation:

…when you see my coffin carried to the silent grave, I should like every one of you, whether converted or not, to be constrained to say, “He did earnestly urge us, in plain and simple language, not to put off the consideration of eternal things. He did entreat us to look to Christ. [5]

This day would come almost 20 years later, on January 31, 1892. Even after death, Spurgeon’s ministry has continued to this day through his many volumes of sermons. Spurgeon has proven himself to be an unrivaled pastor-theologian, and we would do well to learn from his example.

[1] C.H. Spurgeon and David Otis Fuller, C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, (Zondervan Pub. House, 1946), 52.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid, 73.
[4] Eric W. Hayden, Searchlight on Spurgeon: Spurgeon Speaks for Himself, (Pilgrim Publications, 1973), 83
[5] Searchlight on Spurgeon, 225.

Clayton Kraby
Written by Clayton Kraby
I'm a Pastor in North Dakota and created to help make theology accessible for the everyday Christian. You can find me on Twitter @ClayKraby.