Spurgeon was solidly on the side of “simple people who believed in plenary inspiration” and the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. And he was willing to align himself in battles for truth with gospel-loving Christians…with whom he differed on important but somewhat lesser matters. Spurgeon was a fighter and a lover. In this, he is instructive to us on where and how to draw battle lines.
Charles Spurgeon should not be interpreted as a theological sadist, deriving pleasure from pummeling his doctrinal opponents. That he was a notable defender of the faith, is without question. He fought against baptismal regeneration and the undermining of essential evangelical doctrines, which he saw as threats to the gospel. He was outspoken and took strong stands on many issues, but his primary target was false teachings that tinkered with the fundamentals of the faith, doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, and the reality and horrors of Hell. Beyond that, he enjoyed a rather broad communion with fellow gospel-lovers with whom he disagreed on secondary or tertiary doctrines. If one loved and treasured the gospel, Spurgeon claimed him as a friend.
Spurgeon fearlessly defended truth while displaying gospel unity. One example is evident in his book review of The Doctrines of Annihilation and Universalism, viewed in the Light of Reason, Analogy, and Revelation by Thomas Wood of the Wesleyan Conference. Spurgeon writes, “part of his [Wood’s] argument bears hard upon Calvinists, but we can very well endure all that he can say on that point, and yet thank him for service rendered in slaying the deadly error.” Spurgeon was a Calvinist. Wood was Arminian. Significant differences stand between Calvinism and Arminianism. Spurgeon even closely equated Calvinism with the gospel. That said, even with his high regard for Calvinistic theology, he was most concerned about the “deadly error” which undermined the gospel. In fighting the serious errors of annihilation and universalism, he was one with his fellow gospel advocate, Thomas Wood.
Spurgeon valued Wood’s book, finding essential agreement with its main arguments. To deny eternal punishment for the wicked was to cut at the heart of the gospel that saves men from such judgment. Spurgeon, the Calvinist, understood the stakes and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Thomas Wood, the Arminian, in opposing damnable heresy.
Reflecting on Wood’s book Spurgeon wrote,