Friday, April 3, 2009

Review of The Forgotten Spurgeon

Author: Iain Murray

Pages: 254 pages

Publisher: Banner of Truth

Price: 8.40

Genre: Biography/Church History/Pastoral

Quick Summary:

In The Forgotten Spurgeon Iain Murray analyzes the three great controversies in Charles Spurgeon’s ministry. The first issue is his stand against the “diluted Gospel fashionable in the London to which the young preacher came in the 1850’s”. The second issue is Spurgeon’s famous Baptismal Regeneration debate in 1864 (comparatively little attention is given to this issue). The third issue is the one that some believe may have killed him: The Downgrade Controversy.

Iain Murray’s hope in this book is to recover the historical Spurgeon; hence it’s title The Forgotten Spurgeon. As Murray tells upon reading much of Spurgeon he discovered, “that Spurgeon of the sermons was a forgotten man and the more I read the more the conviction deepened. By which I mean that despite the modern encomiums bestowed on him as ‘the prince of preachers’ and despite the anecdotes which still survive in the evangelical world about his abilities and his humor, some of the most important aspects of his ministry have been forgotten” (4). And it is these “important aspects” that Murray hopes to recover.

What I Liked:

Perhaps my favorite writer of Christian history is Iain Murray. Some might accuse him of adding his own theology to history; I prefer to think that is what helps Murray make history come alive for us today. In my opinion Murray accomplishes his objective; he does indeed recover some of the important aspects of Spurgeon’s ministry. He also shows how some of these same issues are plaguing our own day. Especially telling are the sections on the Downgrade Controversy. Throughout this work Murray appears to be faithful to history, faithful to Spurgeon, and faithful to Jesus.

What I Disliked:

I tend to agree with Spurgeon on all three of the issues of focus in this book, therefore, I may not be in a position to say what I disliked. Perhaps, someone of a more Arminian bent might rail against some of Murray’s (mostly Spurgeon’s) comments on Arminianism. I personally found the book helpful—others might think Murray did not deal effectively enough with history.
Also, the color scheme on the cover is hideous. I know it's shallow to say that but it's really that hideous, it must be mentioned.

Should You Buy It?

If you are interested in Spurgeon then most certainly, but be certain to also purchase Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism. If you are interested in the Calvinism and Arminianism discussions then this book will be of interest to you. Those that study church history will benefit as well. I also think church leaders need to read this book; it is a needed corrective to some of our modern ills.
A little tip on buying it; if you want it new get it here, but you can find a used copy cheap on EBay or Amazon.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
UPDATE: To see the updated edition of this book that Steve refers to in the comments go here. Cover looks much better!


  1. Mike! This is Steve B. I head up Banner of Truth here in the U.S. and I couldn't agree with you more, about the book AND that cover. But I've got good news for you - this book has been completely reset and reprinted with a new cover. We just received the shipment in our U.S. warehouse. Unfortunately, given the bigger size and all, the price had to go up, but I think you'll like it a lot more. Email me your email address and I'll send you the new cover, or you can see it now on our website at My email address is:
    Steven Burlew, Manager
    Banner of Truth
    P.O. Box 621
    Carlisle, PA, 17013 USA

  2. Steve,

    Thank you so much for visiting. And I am really glad to hear that the book has been updated. That cover was pretty hideous--hopefully more people buy the updated version it looks pretty eye-catching.



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