The Prince of Preachers?

Fair warning: This post will not have a true conclusion. There is no deep theological musing nor application in this post either. In fact, this post is mostly conjecture. Now, on with the show. 

I have often referred to Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) [adding the date seemed more scholarly] as the “Prince of Preachers.” Now, I did not come up with this term. In fact, I believe the first time I ever heard the term was either during a sermon by Dr. Josh Buice or in a Baptist History class in seminary. I looked up the origin of the term “prince of preachers”, and the first link I was given was a wiki page for Joseph Prince. You were way off, google. From what I gather, however, [and I am sure Christian George could correct me if I am wrong], is that he was coined the “prince of preachers” after his death. This, then, brought about the question in my mind, “Would Spurgeon had liked that term?” Would he humbly reject it, be ok with it, or demand to be called something like “The Titan of Textual Preaching?” That was dumb. Sorry. Anyway, as I was reading a biography of Charles Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore, I came across a section that spoke of Spurgeon’s objection to and protest against the term “Reverend.” This is a term that I, too, do not particularly like, but I think my reasoning is different than his. His is legitimate. Mine is “it makes me sound old and that maybe you might expect too much out of me.”

Dallimore noted, “Spurgeon rejected the title reverend. He said it was a remnant of Romanism that the Reformers ought to have dropped. But his publishers inserted it before his name at the head of his printed sermons, and the fact that for some years he did not forbid it was probably a concession to those who felt they were honoring him by using it. Finally, in 1865, he had the practice stopped. He urges his students to use instead the scriptural term pastor.”[1] What I gather from this is that Spurgeon did not necessarily have an issue with titles, but rather the use of unscriptural titles.

Interestingly though, Spurgeon did use the term “Prince of Preachers.” But it was not in reference to himself. In his 1873 sermon on the Beatitudes (also referred to as “The Most Blessed Teaching” in the book God Will Bless You; a compilation of various sermons from Spurgeon), Spurgeon said, “One enjoys a sermon all the better for knowing some of the preacher. It is natural that, like John in Patmos, we should turn to see the voice which spake with us. Turn hither then, and learn that the Christ of God is the Preacher of the Sermon on the mount. He who delivered the Beatitudes was not only the Prince of preachers, but he was beyond all others qualified to discourse upon the subject which he had chosen. Jesus the Saviour was best able to answer the question, “Who are the saved?” Being himself the ever-blessed Son of God, and the channel of blessings, he was best able to inform us who are indeed the blessed of the Father.” [2] 

Here we see that Spurgeon refers to Christ as the true Prince of Preachers. This is what sparked this inquiry in my mind. Spurgeon did not like the employment of terms in reference to his position to be outside of those which scripture has laid out. In addition, he referred to Christ as the “the Prince of Preachers.” Now I ask your honest opinion, do you believe Spurgeon would have us continue to employ the term “prince of preachers” in association with his name? I fully understand it is an endearing term to honor a great man of faith. What say you, brothers?

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[1] Dallimore, Arnold. Spurgeon: A Biography. Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh. 2014 ed.  p.48.

[2] http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/3155.htm