This week, I have 2 questions related to one of my heroes in the faith, Charles Spurgeon. Those of you who have Storiez know that one of the songs is a biographical sketch of his life. I did that song because I wanted to point people who listen to our music to the saints that God has used to help sharpen and shape the lyrics in the songs. Spurgeon has definitely done this for me. What draws me to Spurgeon's writing is the rare combination of graces that were at work in his life. What I mean by that is the combination of theological depth, bold proclamation of truth, warm- hearted, pastoral concern for souls and a poetic flair in his writing. Each one of those things resonates with me. (The lyricist in me is convinced that Spurgeon would have been a great emcee!) It's rare to find all of those things at work in one person. On top of that, he had a great sense of humor! The God who sovereignly disperses gifts according to His good pleasure saw fit to pour gifts into Spurgeon and the Church is still reaping the benefits to this day. With that said, here are the questions:
"Saw that you like Spurgeon...What's your favorite writing of his and why?"
Hmmm...My answer may change, but at this point I would have to say Lectures To My Students. I love Lectures because it's like sitting in the room with one of the greatest preachers in Church history and gleaning wisdom from him. It's different from his other writings in that it's a little more informal and he deals with practical things related to ministry. His sense of humor really comes through also. The chapters on The Minister's Self-Watch and The Preacher's Private Prayer are worth the price of the book in my opinion. Another favorite of mine is called The Practice of Praise, published by Whitaker House. It looks to be a collection of Spurgeon's sermons that deal with worship and prayer. Excellent stuff. Btw, thanks for the recommendations! The one on Gethsemene was amazing.
For Spurgeon question #2, Anonymous asked:
"Did you know he preached to 10,000 plus members for over 20 yrs without the use of musical instruments in his church? My question is: Do you think he would approve of this "holy" hip-hop thing you're doing?"
Yes, my friend, I have heard about Spurgeon's views on instrumentation. Your second question is interesting. Bear with me as I attempt to answer it. If I could travel back to 1856 and have a conversation with Spurgeon:
Before talking about the "holy hip-hop thing" I do, I would first talk to him about the Lord Jesus Christ, who made me the "holy hip-hopper" that I am. This, my friend, is because the music I do is simply an extension of who I am. And so, before letting Spurgeon hear my music, I would first talk to him about the greatness of the thrice holy triune Jehovah who sits in the heavens and does all that pleases Him for the glory of His great name. I would speak concerning the preciousness, inerrancy, sufficiency and sweetness of the Scriptures, which have made me wise unto salvation.
Then I would speak about that great salvation and how I was once dead in my sins- a blasphemous, prideful hater of God and His people who was comfortable in my rebellion against God and gloried in my shame. I would mention that I wanted nothing to do with God and would have willingly and justly perished eternally in hell under God's righteous wrath had He not intervened. Then, assuming I was able to keep from weeping, I would speak concerning the mysterious, haunting beauty of sovereign electing grace. I would talk about the new birth that the Holy Spirit miraculously worked in me. I wouldn't leave out the wonder of my Savior's redeeming love. I would make explicit references to Calvary and my Lord's bleeding, dying, sacrificial love for a wretch like me. It would be difficult for me to resist speaking of the brilliance and unparalled wisdom and justice of God seen in the reality of Christ's perfect righteousness imputed to sinners by faith alone.
I would talk about the change that God has made in my life and how the glorious resurrection of our Lord corresponds to my being raised to newness of life and the new affections that come along with it. I would talk about my longings for God, cravings for holiness and my Spirit-given love for His person and works. At that point, I would have to confess that I have not progressed in Christ-likeness nearly as much as I would like to and that there is still more idols to smash, sin to kill and self to die to in my life. But then I would quickly mention the confidence I have that the risen Lord through the Holy Spirit will complete what He started in me and safely bring me home to glory where I will worship Christ for eternity, which is the deepest longing of my soul.
Only then might I mention that I am attempting to use the gifts that the Lord has graciously given me for His glory as I communicate the above truths in a context much different than 19th century London. At that point, I would tell him that the Africans who were enslaved in America in his day had children and grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. By the surprising grace of God, some of those great-great grandchildren were redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, in mighty fulfilment of Psalm 145:4.
I would tell him that the musical form he would have associated with "Negro spirituals" had birthed a number of genres of popular music and that one of its descendants- called hip-hop- is a genre that is in many ways ideal for memorably communicating large amounts of truth in a small amount of time. I would talk about a group of theologically minded, Christ-exalting artists that the Lord has raised up within this culture and that, in addition to being students of the Word, many of them regularly read the works of the same puritans that Spurgeon himself read.
I would then mention that they have leveraged this new form of music for the sake of the gospel and that there was as much- if not more- theological depth in one verse of some of these songs than some of the hymns that even he and his congregation were singing (I would tell him I only knew this because I own [and love] his hymnal :) I wouldn't neglect to mention that this same form of music is used by the world to communicate godlessness and filth and that many dear brothers and sisters in the church are concerned with whether or not Christians who were raised in that culture could (or should) use it for God's glory. Then I would shut up, concerned that sin wasn't absent from my many words.
Would Spurgeon approve? Because Spurgeon is merely a man, his approval wouldn't my main concern. It means nothing if Spurgeon applauds while the Lord Jesus boos. Similarly, Spurgeon (and anyone else) can frown all they want as long as my Lord is smiling. Nevertheless, my sneaking suspicion about Spurgeon is that He might answer me in the words of a sermon he preached on Psalm 71:14:
"The world sings. The millions have their songs. Many of them are so absurd and meaningless as to be unworthy of an idiot. Yet these things will be heard from men, and places will be thronged to listen to the stuff. Now, why should we- with the grand psalms we have of David, with the noble hymns of Cowper, Milton and Watts- why should we not sing as well as they? Let us sing the songs of Zion. They are as cheerful as Sodom's songs. Let us drown out the howling nonsense of Gomorrah with the melodies of the New Jerusalem" Charles Spurgeon- The Practice of Praise
grace and peace,