In the light of the demise of the earlier monograph series, Studies in Baptist History and Thought that Paternoster used to publish, it is a delight to see that the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage has taken up the mantle of providing excellent scholarly resources exploring key issues in Baptist history and theology. I have reviewed the inaugural volume in the series here, and made mention of the volume of essays for Brian Haymes here.
Further volumes are appearing, and I have just finished Peter J. Morden's book on Spurgeon, 'Communion with Christ and His People': The Spirituality of C. H. Spurgeon. I confess that much of my teenage years were spent reading Spurgeon, whose life story, theological conviction and preaching I found attractive and persuasive in ways that I cannot now possibly imagine. Behind the largely apologetic and hagiographic accounts of his life that I read, one always had the sense of a more complex figure. Morden's book brings out that complexity, and as a result, makes a significant and fully scholarly contribution to our understanding of the Prince of Victorian preachers. Tracing key aspects of Spurgeon's theology in turn (puritanism; conversion; baptism; Bible; prayer; Lord's Supper; acitivism; holiness and suffering), Morden successfully integrates the theology with Spurgeon's life experience, and succeeds in drawing out the influence of puritanism, evangelicalism but also enlightenment rationalism and romanticism on those beliefs as they come to epxression in Spurgeon's voluminous writings. Morden is rightly questioning of certain aspects of Spurgeon's self-presentation (the material on the dubious account of his conversion that he perpetuated in later years is especially instructive). The book makes full use of the largely untapped archival material at Spurgeon's College in London. I enjoyed re-acquainting myself with an old friend, and those who admire or still read Spurgeon, as well as students of nineteenth century history and dissenting/Baptist theology will want to use this book's rich engagement with the primary sources as a model and resource for their own studies. Highly recommended.
E. Anne Clements, Wrestling with the Word: A Woman Reads Scripture is the 2011 Whitley Lecture and offers Clements' reflections on how Christian believers can read the Bible as authoritative even as they become aware of the fundamentally patriarchal dimensions of the text. She draws on her own work on the gospel of Matthew to illustrate a 'hermeneutics of hospitable awareness'.
Anthony R. Cross continues to explore the notion of Baptist Sacramentalism not least in relation to issues of baptism in Should we Take Peter at his Word (Acts 2.38)? Recovering a Baptist Baptismal Sacramentalism. Those who know Anthony's work will not be surprised by the reading of the tradition and Scripture offered here. It would be a good place to start for anyone wanting to understand how Baptists might hold a sacramental view of baptism.
Ian M. Randall has written a short study entitled 'Conscientious Conviction': Joseph Angus (1816-1902) and Ninteenth-Century Baptist Life. This is a typically clear and well researched account of Angus contribution to Baptist life in the 19th century, with a particular focus on his work as Principal of Regent's Park College.
My thanks to the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage for sending these volumes through to me. I wish them well in their ongoing endeavours. Look out for more volumes as they arrive. If you wish to purchase any of them then the links about will take you to the online ordering site.