One hundred and thirty years after his death, one of Britain’s most famous preachers has been recognised with an academic degree. Charles Haddon Spurgeon never received a theological qualification, but now the Bible college named after him has remedied that.
Last weekend, his great, great-granddaughter, received an honorary degree on his behalf from Spurgeon’s College.
C.H Spurgeon established the Metropolitan Tabernacle at the Elephant and Castle in London as a large, independent Reformed Baptist church. In 1861 it was the best attended non-conformist church of its day.
“Through the power of his sermons, and the message that he took within them, it became the largest church in the world, right in the centre of London, in the middle of the 19th century,” explained Dr Thomas Breimaier, a tutor in doctrine and history at the college.
“He's somebody who had a tremendous impact as a preacher, as a publisher, and as an educator, having founded a college for pastors”, he explained.
Speaking to Premier Christian News, Breimaier said the core of Spurgeon’s gift was to take complex biblical passages, complex theological ideas and make them accessible to anybody.
“That's where the real craft comes in”, he continued. “Spurgeon was incredibly gifted at taking these sort of deep truths and bringing them to what was a largely working class congregation in the south of London”, he said.
In another new development, the impact of Spurgeon’s oratory is coming alive again for modern listeners, as a Premier podcast, which can also be accessed online by visiting premier.plus/spurgeon.
Released weekly, his sermons have been voiced by professional actor Paul Burbridge.
“What I think Spurgeon has to offer is timeless, eternal truths, which were transformative for men and women in the middle of the 19th century in London”, Breimaier continued.
“Those same truths are working and active today”, he added.
“We can listen to and appreciate the legacy of one of history's greatest preachers. You can put on the podcast and shut your eyes and picture yourself sitting in 19th century London at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and take in the preaching of a man who genuinely changed the theological landscape with the gifts that God gave him,” he said.
The award of an honorary degree is possible because Spurgeon’s has become the first theological college in the UK to be granted the power to award its own degrees, in-house.
“The leaders at the college thought that it would be really fitting to recognise Spurgeon for his own contribution to the Christian world and to all these ministries that he founded,” explained Breimaier, “by awarding him our very first degree, a Master in Theology.”