Friday, January 25, 2008
REVIEW--Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore
Author: Arnold Dallimore
Publisher: Banner of Truth
Price: 11.99 USD
In the past I have read Iain Murray’s The Forgotten Spurgeon and Spurgeon vs. Hyper Calvinism. Both of these works were excellent at getting to know the theology that drove the man. Yet their purpose was not to tell the life story of the man. Dallimore does just that. He says his goal will have succeeded if many “come to know him better and are both instructed and inspired by his powerful example”.
Dallimore begins his biography by showing the preparation of the man. This serves to help us see the foundation that was built in this mighty man of God. Young Charles had studied and read extensively on the Puritans. Certainly, they (along with Spurgeon’s passion for Scripture) were used by God to develop at a young age the passionate theology of Spurgeon. It is because of the “boy and his books” that Spurgeon became the “prince of preachers” that labored to earnestly contend for the faith.
In this shorter biography Dallimore will lead us from the boy preacher at Waterbeach to the embattled veteran defender of biblical faith against the onslaught of New Theology. We read of his early labors at the New Park Street Chapel to his thriving services at the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle. Dallimore champions throughout this work the exhausting labors of Charles Spurgeon. It is telling that after his death it took many men to carry on that which Spurgeon started and they still were not able to fill his shoes. We are introduced to many friends and even a few in opposition to Spurgeon. We also are honored to meet in these pages Spurgeon’s admirable wife Susannah.
Dallimore closes with a beautiful chapter on Spurgeon’s funeral. He writes as if he were there and takes the reader into the funeral services. I found myself holding back tears, mourning the loss of this wonderful saint. Therefore, I find as I close the book, that Dallimore has succeeded. I feel as if I know Spurgeon better, but more importantly I have been instructed and inspired by his powerful example.
What I Enjoyed:
Probably Dallimore’s best chapter is the conclusion. It was a wonderful idea to close a work on the life of Spurgeon as those that loved him did at his funeral. Dallimore causes the reader to feel as if you are sitting in a seat mourning with the rest of the crowd some 120 years ago. Knowing that Spurgeon’s ministry was based upon “knowing Jesus Christ and him crucified” causes those that are preachers, like myself, to be inspired and instructed. It fills us with a passion and a boldness to do the same.
As you read the biographies of Spurgeon, as well as Jonathan Edwards, one cannot help but feel saddened by a personal lack of labor and fervency in worship of our great God. After reading Dallimore’s work on Spurgeon I am encouraged by the words of McCheyne, "How feeble my spark of Christianity appears beside such a sun! But even his was a borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me."
What I Disliked:
In the beginning Dallimore, in my opinion, seems a little too uncritical in his praises of Spurgeon. This tends to be a theme throughout the work, but that is often to be expected in biographies. I would love to see biographies about men that desire nothing but seeing Jesus magnified having that same desire in honoring the man.
Another smaller area of criticism would be that while Dallimore proposes to give us a “definitive treatment given to his theology and preaching methods”, I do not see that in this work. Iain Murray does a much better job.
Yet for Dallimore’s overall purpose, of being a somewhat introduction to Spurgeon and dealing with his entire life in a short setting, he does a wonderful job. I find it difficult, other than that which is mentioned, to offer much disapproval.
Should You Buy It:
It is a wonderful work, for that reason I give a wholehearted “yes” to buying it. However, if you are wanting to buy a book dealing with his theology and preaching methods, Dallimore might not be the best place to go. I would suggest buying this book to be introduced to Dallimore’s life, but as an accompaniment I must encourage the reader to buy Iain Murray’s works on Spurgeon.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars