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All articles in category Guest column

July 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: Oiling the hinges of the lion’s cage

C. H. Spurgeon famously likened the Bible to a caged lion. To defend it, he said, all we need to do is let it out. But this requires us to open the cage door, and that is no trivial task. Last month (extending Spurgeon’s allegory) I suggested that to open the door involves three steps; (1) we must find the key; (2) we must oil the hinges; and (3) we must open the door wide enough for the lion to get out. In the first Guest Column we saw that the key is the Bible’s own doctrine of Scripture, namely, that ‘all scripture is breathed...

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June 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: Spurgeon and the caged lion

Asked how he would defend the Bible, C. H. Spurgeon famously likened it to a caged lion. He declared: ‘Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself … He no sooner goes forth in his strength than his assailants flee. The way to meet infidelity is to spread the Bible. The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible’ (at British and Foreign Bible Society meeting, 5 May 1875). Let me say immediately that I agree totally with the great preacher, but his wisdom is misapplied if we respond with passive inaction when the Bible comes under...

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May 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: A Christ-centred pastor

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man who went at all of life full-on. He laughed and cried much; he read avidly and felt deeply; he was a zealously industrious worker and a sociable lover of play and beauty. Christ and the Bible Spurgeon was soaked in scripture. You can pick almost any sermon — and most of his letters — to prove the point: scriptural images, idioms, and references crowd Spurgeon’s every paragraph and seemed to spill out of him in an entirely natural and unforced way. It was really the natural consequence of having the highest and warmest view of the Bible. For Spurgeon,...

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April 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: A man full of life

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man who went at all of life full-on. He laughed and cried much; he read avidly and felt deeply; he was a zealously industrious worker and a sociable lover of play and beauty. He was, in other words, a man who embodied the truth that to be in Christ means to be made ever more roundly human, more fully alive. Mr Great Heart It takes no great insight to see that Spurgeon in his ministry was a big-hearted man of deep affections. His printed sermons and lectures still throb with passion. At times the emotional freight of his sermon would...

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March 2018
Articles > Guest column

GUEST COLUMN: Spurgeon’s fainting fits

It comes as a surprise to some that Charles Spurgeon had a lifelong battle with depression. His reputation as a famed and powerful preacher, his cheery wit, and his sheer manliness might lead us to imagine there could never be a chink in his Victorian Englishman’s armour. It shouldn’t be a surprise, of course: life in a fallen world must mean distress, and Spurgeon’s life was indeed full of physical and mental pain. Aged 22, as pastor of a large church and with twin babies at home to look after, he was preaching to thousands in the Surrey Gardens Music Hall when pranksters yelled ‘Fire!’...

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February 2018
Articles > Guest column

Benjamin Morgan Palmer

In writing about Christians and slavery (Guest column, ET January 2018), I suggested that men and women from an earlier era were, like us, people of their time. Therefore, cultural and social factors affected their view of many things, including slavery. So, we should not judge them by 21st century standards. Some were eminently godly Christians, even though they defended slavery. We can understand why some today find that hard to accept, since slavery is wrong and the slave trade wicked in the extreme. In an attempt to explain this apparent contradiction, I offer this brief sketch of one such man, Benjamin Morgan Palmer. Pastor...

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December 2017
Articles > Guest column

Christians and slavery

Evangelicals rightly celebrate William Wilberforce. His Christian beliefs motivated his historic effort to secure the abolition of the slave trade, in the British empire, in 1807 (see ET, December 2017). What we don’t talk about so much is how a number of godly Christian leaders, particularly in the Southern USA in the nineteenth century, supported slavery either directly or indirectly. It is perhaps even more painful to admit that, for a time in the eighteenth century, George Whitefield owned slaves. Blind spots How could godly Christians accept slavery? Some people unfamiliar with Whitefield or American Christian leaders of the Southern states — men like Benjamin...

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December 2017
Articles > Guest column

William Wilberforce and the abolition of the slave trade

This month marks the end of Kingston upon Hull’s year as the UK’s City of Culture. One part of Hull’s celebrations has been remembering William Wilberforce, ‘the friend of humanity’ and Hull’s ‘most illustrious son’. Wilberforce’s untiring efforts to abolish the slave trade were rewarded with that famous Act of Parliament of 1807, an event which historian G. M. Trevelyan called ‘one of the turning events in the history of the world’. William Wilberforce was born in Hull on 24 August 1759. He dedicated his life, to a great extent, to the abolition of the slave trade and ultimately of slavery itself. He said, ‘I...

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October 2017
Articles > Guest column

Still not known

It is the glorious privilege of every believer to be able to say, ‘I know the Lord’. But how well do we know him? That is the issue we began to look at last month. The Saviour is ever with us, as he promised, and his Spirit is ever active within us. Yet our understanding and experience of the Lord is far from what it could be. The disciples had walked together with Jesus for three years, heard the most amazing teaching, seen wonderful displays of compassion and power, spent quiet times in conversation together with him and heard his sublime prayers. Life with Jesus...

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September 2017
Articles > Guest column

A desire to know Christ

‘It is a wonderful thing to know Jesus!’ We would all agree with that. It is something we sing about and rightly rejoice in. Indeed, it is what God promised his people: ‘No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, Know the Lord, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more’ (Jeremiah 31:34). Every believer who has their sins forgiven has a knowledge of the Lord. Jesus confirmed that in John 17:3: ‘This is eternal life: that they may...

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August 2017
Articles > Guest column

Coping with suffering

In responding to suffering, some Christians have wrongly thought that God can only meaningfully comfort us if he suffers with us in his divine nature and experiences our pain (ET Guest Column, July 2017). This is a tempting point of view, but it is the wrong answer to suffering, because God is transcendent and immutable and not acted upon or changed by his creation. He cannot suffer as God. However, his impassibility is good news for men — especially when we consider God’s ultimate answer to sin and suffering is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Innocent Christ Man’s instinctive question to suffering...

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July 2017
Articles > Guest column

Right and wrong answers to suffering

Suffering is a reality we all experience. Although it is used by some to reject God’s existence, when properly understood, it confirms just how much we need God. But what kind of a God do we need? It is important that we find a thoroughly biblical answer to this question, because many sincere people have proposed wrong answers. Chief among these is the idea of a ‘suffering God’. This is not a new idea. Forms of it arose and were rejected by the early church, for example, patripassianism. New versions became popular in the 20th century with the rise of modern psychology and the tragedy...

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