21 March 2012

A Reader's Review of "Charles Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers"

I am, once again, thankful for my friends at Christian Focus Publications, who included me in another "book review blog tour". This time around, the book is "Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers" (a Trailblazer biography for children) by Christian Timothy George. I had the honor of reading about one of my heroes in the faith: the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Many have profited from this man's teaching and preaching... his sermons, devotionals, books and commentaries continue to bless hundreds (if not thousands) of people each year, and I am numbered amongst these countless benefactors. I will continue to rely on Spurgeon for equipment and edification in the years to come and encourage others to look to him for guidance.

This book is separated into 10 chapters, each one representing a chapter of Spurgeon's life. Such life-events as his conversion (chapter 2), his marriage to Susannah Thompson (chapter 5) and the disastrous collapsing balcony at Surrey Music Hall (chapter 6) are included along with familiar biographical information (such as his bouts with depression and gout, the founding of The Pastor's College and The Stockwell Orphanage, and the advent of The Downgrade Controversy).

Overall, the book was very well-written. Here is an example of the author's masterful manipulation of words:

"Closing her eyes, she touches the window to feel the fury of the winter weather. A shiver runs down her spine. Snowflakes dance outside, following the wild movement of the wind. She dreams of dancing too, dancing outside in the snow, to the rhythm of the icy air."
The one problem I had with the book was the liberty the author took "fictionalizing" Spurgeon's bio... until I realized Trailblazer books were historical fiction. With historical fiction, the challenge is providing enough historical detail to remain true to the subject and characters, while providing entertaining fictional themes to draw the reader in. I understand that biographies usually lack color and dialogue, so in order for an author to make characters compelling, mere historical information is not adequate for the purposes of telling the story. I appreciate Christian George's artistry in weaving a tall-tale about the Queen of England in with the life of The Prince of Preachers (chapter 1 and 10), culminating in the harmonization of life events in a character-driven conclusion.

What is especially helpful about this book is that it seeks to teach the young reader biblical truth and ethical values. Throughout the story, there are moments where the author presents an interaction between Spurgeon and another character. His wisdom and humor shine through to us as we witness pastoral advice and charisma. George's book is also useful in that it includes multiple appendices, including a timeline of major historical events with significant moments of Spurgeon's life.

Overall, I would say this is a great introduction to the life and ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I look forward to reading this to my children and will encourage them to read it themselves when they are able. Christian George does a great job of grabbing the attention of the reader and holding it throughout the entire book.

Here are a few books that Charles Spurgeon wrote:

Check out these Spurgeon links:
The Spurgeon Archive
Spurgeon Gems
Spurgeon Quotes

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product... that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE DIGITAL COPY OF THE BOOK. CLEAR ENOUGH?

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