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Spurgeon's Calvinism...

We all know that in England the Particular Baptists triumphed (we do, trust me!).

We also all know that they were Calvinists, some of them so much so that it made them hyper, hyper-Calvinist that is.

And we all know that Spurgeon was a Particular Baptist.

So it has been interesting to read Underwood's take on developments among Victorian Baptists .  Here's a chunk from page 204...


More than once Spurgeon prayed "Lord, hasten to bring in Thine elect, and then elect some more."  He seems to have used this phrase often in conversation, and on his lips it was no mere badinage.  With its definite rejection of a limited atonement it would have horrified John Calvin.  Towards the end of his life, Spurgeon said to Archbishop Benson, "I'm a very bad Calvinist, quite a Calvinist - I look to the time when the elect will be all the world."


Hmm, Spurgeon tending to Arminianism or even Universalism?  Now there's a view you don't read every day.


  • There's a story - possibly in Chadwick's History of the Church in Victorian England but it's a long time since I read it - that Spurgeon wanted as part of a tour to preach in Tring. There were three Baptist churches in Tring. However, all three intitially rejected his request. One wouldn't have him in their pulpit because he was a Calvinist, another because he was the wrong sort of Calvinist, the third because he was a revivalist. In the end the third church let him preach on condition that he behaved himself.

    Hence presumably the song 'It don't mean the thing if you can't preach in Tring'.

    Spurgeon apparently donated a sum of money to the newly formed D+1 after their ejection from the predecessor of D+2, though D+1 were General Baptists at the time and only joined the Particular Baptists later because they couldn't get General Baptist preachers any more. That's the D+1 resident historian's take on events anyway. Then came the Baptistanschluss and wiped out all the differences.

    I thought the General Baptists won, but I'm really a confused URC emigre with Charismatic Anglican leanings (and trained by an ecumenical partnership to boot), so I'm probably wrong in mistakenly believing what may in the fulness of time turn out to be an accurate misconception.

  • I think the "G Baps" as my notes abbreviate them probably did really win, but I've always been taught that the "P Baps" did.

    The story this end of D is that D+1 seceded (or however you spell it, stropped off in nowadays speak) from D+2's predecssor after a deacon's visit to one Mr Stenson who had been absent for several Sundays, being busy building his mine. He went and set up his own chapel opposite (D+2)-1. I also got the impression that they wanted to join the P Baps because they'd fallen out with the G Baps of whom D and(D+2)-1 were members. Not a lot's changed in that respect has it those darned G Baps won't give us any money for a minister...

    Part of the research is meant to be questioning the story we acquire, and the fact that most folk neither know nor care about G Bap/P Bap differences and are possibly more bothered by the 'how' (is that the right word?) of atonement than the 'who' it's for.

    All good fun.

    Of course one wonders whether the good Mr Spurgeon ever sang the venerable Mr Dennis's finest ...!

  • I'd have to double check the dates, but I think Mr Stenson, the local pit owner was ejected by his stroppy congregation of miners in the early 1860's. D+1 stropped off towards the end of the following decade, possibly over local debates on predestination (but there's no direct evidence of that).

    The 1860s entry against Stenson's name in the GBap members' register said "Love not the world". Mrs Stenson's said "Never did take up her place" (at communion) (though, as they say, that's only the version of the people who wrote the history).

    History's potent stuff isn't it? You've only got to look at what's been left out of most family history (mine included - e.g. the great grandfather who lived on an estate behind our house with an unfavoured great uncle who I never knew about) and why particular stories are told the way they are to see there's an official version - and something much more complicated.

  • There is a Mr William Stenson buried in Dibley's graveyard in a very grandly decorated grave. According to D's booklet on said repository for Baptist bones, his dates were 1771 to 1861. Is this the same one? Or is it his father? Local myth is that this is the stroppy Mr S (but then I gather neither D+1 or D+2-ish had graveyards so we probably got anyone and everyone...).

    The memorial bit of the grave made a useful table to rest things on when we had on open air service there last year!!

  • I don't know, but we both know a man who would!

    The Mr S we've been talking about was 'visited' by the deacons of D+2 in 1859 and 'excommunicated/whatever Baptists do' in 1860.

    Funny, but encouraging, how these things take on reduced significance over the years. My father-in-law is now the secretary of the Congregational church that his grandfather was ejected from before WWI for his theological convictions (probably by several branches of my family who were also deacons and trustees at the time). A church not unknown to one D Yeo Poulton, I would add. This incidentally was more to do with the wideness of God's mercy than with its mode, so nothing to do with your subject (but intriguing given your original quote from Spurgeon).

    I suspect Mr Dennis never sang anything written by Spurgeon on the basis that Spurgeon never sang anything of his.

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