Charles Spurgeon, the prominent Baptist pastor, was ministering in England during the time of the American Civil War. Tragically, during this time many professed Christians in the South were slaveholders. As for Spurgeon, he made his view on slavery very clear. Here’s an example, Spurgeon said:
I do from my inmost soul detest slavery . . . and although I commune at the Lord’s table with men of all creeds, yet with a slave-holder I have no fellowship of any sort or kind. Whenever one has called upon me, I have considered it my duty to express my detestation of his wickedness, and I would as soon think of receiving a murderer into my church . . . as a man stealer. (The Reason Why America Burned Spurgeon’s Sermons and Sought to Kill Him, The Spurgeon Center)
As you could imagine, because of his stance, Spurgeon wasn’t winning any popularity contests in the American South. Actually, quite the opposite, Spurgeon was hated by many. On April 10, 1860, one Southern paper published the following referring to Spurgeon:
“If the Pharisaical author should ever show himself in these parts, we trust that a stout cord may speedily find its way around his eloquent throat” (Ibid)
Well, if you can’t get your hands on the man, you do the next best thing. You burn his books! Spurgeon’s sermons were widely published and sold in his lifetime. Yet, all over the South there were “Spurgeon bonfires” where his books and sermons were torched.
Spurgeon Scholar, Christian George, noted the following:
In 1860, an article entitled “Mr. Spurgeon and the American Slaveholders” offered the following words: “Southern Baptists will not, hereafter, when they visit London, desire to commune with this prodigy of the 19th century. We venture the prophecy that his books in [the] future will not crowd the shelves of our Southern book merchants. They will not; they should not.” In 1889, Spurgeon uttered a prophecy of his own: “For my part, I am quite willing to be eaten of dogs for the next 50 years; but the more distant future shall vindicate me.”
The more distant future did vindicate Spurgeon. His sermons do crowd the shelves of Southern bookstores. As Carl F. H. Henry rightly noted, Spurgeon has become “one of evangelical Christianity’s immortals.” Throughout Alabama, Virginia, and the United States of America, the books of “the notorious English abolitionist” still burn—casting light and life in a dark and dying world. (Why the American South Would Have Killed Charles Spurgeon)