Puritan Board Graduate
Midwestern wins bidding war for Spurgeon book collection
By Hannah Elliott
Published October 20, 2006
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (ABP) -- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary recently won a bid to house the Charles H. Spurgeon Collection, a library featuring the works of notable Christian writers and personal essays that belonged to the legendary 19th-century preacher himself.
The collection, which the Kansas City-based seminary bought for $400,000 from William Jewell College in nearby Liberty, Mo., includes 5,103 volumes about literature, theology, travel, biography, science, hymnody, history and humor.
A Midwestern representative said several schools bid for the library. The second-place bid was $360,000, she said, but she declined to name the other schools that the seminary outbid.
"We are thrilled with this acquisition," Midwestern President Philip Roberts said in a press statement. "The Spurgeon library is a jewel for research as well as a monument to one of the Baptist and Christian world's more effective proclaimers of the truth of Christ. Spurgeon was a giant for the cause of the Gospel...."
Known for his extraordinary preaching ability, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was the most prominent English Baptist pastor of the 19th century. A Calvinist and a prolific author and orator, he remains a highly influential figure among all Baptists, but especially those of the Reformed theological tradition.
He preached his first sermon in 1851 at the age of 17. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon became the pastor of New Park Street Chapel in Southwark, London -- England's largest Baptist congregation.
Under Suprgeon's leadership, the church continued to grow rapidly. It soon built a new sanctuary that accommodated nearly 5,000 worshipers, and changed its name to the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle. By the time of his death in 1892, he had preached almost 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, anecdotes and devotions.
William Jewell College housed Spurgeon's private library for more than a century. The college bought it in 1905 after what is now the Missouri Baptist Convention announced it would sell the collection in London for 500 British pounds. After the purchase, the S.S. Cuban carried the books to New Orleans, from where they were transported by train to Kansas City.
Midwestern officials said the new volumes will arrive on the seminary campus by Nov. 15. Parts of it will be displayed immediately in existing rooms, and the rest will be catalogued and restored for future use as the centerpiece for a new library.