Welcome to the Spurgeon Library!

Geoff Chang March 13, 2024

The Spurgeon Library exists to promote Jesus Christ by remembering the life and legacy of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. It is the premier center of Spurgeon scholarship, housing nearly 6,000 volumes from Charles Spurgeon’s personal library, along with many one-of-a-kind artifacts, documents, books, and more. Through our collection, we seek to tell the story of Spurgeon’s life and ministry to encourage Christians to follow his example of faithfulness and perseverance.

Why are Spurgeon’s books in Kansas City?

In 1887, five years before his death, Spurgeon sounded the alarm about the growing tolerance of theological liberalism within his Baptist denomination. Through a series of articles published in The Sword and the Trowel, he denounced modernism as “a new religion” that was “no more Christianity than chalk is cheese.” This new teaching did not deal merely with social or cultural issues, but questioned
the very heart of Christianity. “The Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth.” For his stand, Spurgeon was publicly censured by the Baptist Union and viewed as antiquated and out-of-touch with the times.

Several years after his death, Spurgeon’s sons decided to sell portions of his estate, including their father’s library. But for a year, the books sat unpurchased. Some books were given to the Pastors’ College. The Baptist Union took books relating to Baptist history. But the heart of his library remained, consisting of Puritan works, commentaries, books of church music and preaching, and all the most important parts of a pastor’s library. Why could they not find a buyer? The reason can be found in a letter from Champlin Burrage to E. Y. Mullins when he heard that Mullins was interested in the library.

“I hope you have not been tricked in buying it. I believe the library has been for sale here for a year or more, and none of the booksellers here evidently would give much for it… I judge [it consists] largely of old Puritan commentaries, etc., which today are almost worthless. Spurgeon evidently was no scholar and I fear he did not buy books that are worth much today. If you had asked my advice on this matter, I would have been glad to tell you, and even now, if I were you, I would let that other college have the whole library and save your money for better uses.”

Evidently, Spurgeon’s evangelical, Reformed, Puritanical theology was not “worth much” to London pastors and denominational leaders in the early 20th century. But the Missouri Baptists still believed it was worth something and as it turns out, “that other college” was William Jewell College. And so, in 1906, the collection came to William Jewell, where it resided for a century. During those years, visitors and researchers could access the books in the basement of the William Jewell library. Under the leadership of the late Gary Long, the Friends of the Spurgeon Library held events and raised funds to preserve the books.

Then in 2006, it was purchased by Midwestern Seminary, and the beautiful Spurgeon Library was
dedicated in 2015, beginning a new chapter in Spurgeon scholarship for the 21st century. Then in the summer of 2023, after extensive conversations, Midwestern reached an agreement with Spurgeon’s College UK to acquire the Heritage Collection, the largest collection of Spurgeon-related manuscripts, documents, letters, pulpit notes, newspaper cuttings, artifacts, and many other primary sources.

Today, the Spurgeon Library on the campus of Midwestern Seminary exists to tell the story of the life and ministry of C. H. Spurgeon and to promote research and publications for the growth and health of churches. This place exists because we believe that the biblical gospel that Spurgeon preached continues to be a timeless treasure. Our prayer is that your time here would strengthen your resolve to hold fast to that gospel in our day, just Spurgeon did in his.

Self-Guided Tour Instructions

The self-guided tour will follow the nine paintings that line the perimeter of the library and provide nine lessons from Spurgeon’s life and ministry. Each lesson will also highlight various items throughout the library for your perusal. In all this, as pictured in the glass doors of the entrance to the library, our prayer is that you would not look to Spurgeon, but through Spurgeon, to the Savior he adored.

Next – The Lesson of the Snowstorm: Spurgeon’s Conversion