More than a Social Gospel

Spurgeon never preached anything approximating a social gospel. Social renewal and economic betterment were not at the heart of the gospel for Spurgeon. Rather, the gospel Spurgeon preached was one of personal salvation and spiritual renewal, leading to a transformed life that expresses itself in good works of benevolence. Christian social concern comes into play as a demonstration of the Christian’s renewed nature, a manifestation of the character and love of Christ, and a vindication of the gospel message. In the August 1883 Sword and the Trowel he writes, “It seems to us that our Lord gave more prominence to cups of cold water, and garments made for the poor, and caring for little ones, than most people do nowadays. We would encourage our friends to attend to those humble unobtrusive ministries which are seldom chronicled, and yet are essential to the success of the more manifest moral and spiritual work.”     

For those who embrace the social gospel, social ministry is at the heart of the gospel. For Spurgeon, social ministry flows out of the gospel. Spurgeon believed ministry to the poor, though not the gospel itself, nonetheless enhances the witness of the gospel. In this sense, social concern serves gospel ministry. It serves the preaching of the gospel by validating the message and providing a tangible expression of Christ’s love toward those in need. In this way, the two are inextricably linked together.  

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