My first encounter with Charles Spurgeon was in the US Army barracks in South Korea, way back in 1974. I found him in a box of books published by Banner of Truth, in the hands of a Reformed Baptist from Michigan. As a Chaplain’s Assistant, I quickly noticed the title: An All-Round Ministry. I would later purchase and read it while a student at the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
This year we can celebrate the publication of a Korean translation of Arnold Dallimore’s biography of Spurgeon, and last year, Tom Nettles’s Living by Revealed Truth went to press. Indeed, a waterfall of faithful work flows from the time of the first translated works (The Treasury of the Bible) of Spurgeon in the Korean language (around 1975) until now. A simple name search in the libraries of theological seminaries and Christian colleges in South Korea finds Charles Spurgeon, or "Seupeoljeon" as it is printed and pronounced in Korean, being read widely by students of the Bible. He has become, for many, a mentor for preaching, prayer, spiritual warfare, church growth, and ministry.
South Korea is a country where the majority of Christians practice infant baptism by sprinkling. Although the heritage of American Christianity is well known and influencial, British Baptists remain an unknownbreed. So why does South Korea need to encounter Spurgeon even more in the twenty-first century?
Spurgeon and the Metropolitan Tabernacle can act as a model for the many megachurches in South Korea. The Prince of Preachers teaches no only how to preach, but also how to balance evangelism and social ministry in an urbanized context. Second, Spurgeon's example can serve as a guide for the practice of theological education and the continuation of faithful eveangelical academic works, a much-needed remedy to the mass import of Protestant Liberalism. Fnally, in a nation that frames its Christian history with the Great Pyeongyang Revival of 1907, Spurgeon can provide a healthy integration of Revival and Reformation, as his piety and preaching will guide Christians back to the Bible and the reading of the Puritans.
William T. Purinton (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as Associate Professor of Humanities at Seoul Theological University in Bucheon, South Korea.