Spurgeon’s Quest for Clarity in Preaching

Of the many gifts God gave Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), one was a conviction as to the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God. As such, his forty years of pastoral ministry was marked by a quest for clarity in proclaiming that authority and sufficiency.

“Thou book of vast authority! thou art a proclamation from the Emperor of Heaven; far be it from me to exercise my reason in contradicting thee. Reason, thy place is to stand and find out what this volume means, not to tell what this book ought to say. Come thou, my reason, my intellect, sit thou down and listen, for these words are the words of God.“[1]

He did not take total umbrage in understanding the times (for he was quite adept at the practice), but he did this to help the church understand how to apply the gospel.

“Be much with the silly novels of the day, and the foolish trifles of the hour, and you will degenerate into vapid wasters of your time; but be much with the solid teaching of God’s word, and you will become solid and substantial men and women; drink them in, and feed upon them, and they shall produce in you a Christ-likeness, at which the world shall stand astonished.”[2]

This quest differentiated him from other preachers of the day who seemed more concerned with impressing listeners with rhetorical and oratorical expertise, fueled by a desire to be seen as one with intellectual and academic dexterity.  The critique often levied toward the practice of academic writing and speaking is that it’s “confusing and dense, that it suffers from a lack of clarity and concision.”[3] Spurgeon sought to communicate the lofty aspects of theological thought in a way that the one of average or below average intellect could comprehend. Spurgeon not only taught but exemplified a pastoral passion to provide the Scriptures clearly! Spurgeon practiced and equipped young pastors to preach clearly and persuasively.

To read the rest, go to the Spurgeon Library website at Midwestern Seminary here.

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