Charles Spurgeon’s Statements on War. A lesser discussed side of the Famous Pastor

British theologian Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) is one of the most highly respected pastors ever. His books and teachings are still used and taught today in modern churches and Christian Universities. He was a powerful evangelist in his country. But there is a side of Charles Spurgeon that many Christians even today avoid talking about. He was very anti-war.

Charles lived in England, which at the time was the dominant world super power in the 19th Century. The British Empire was one of the world’s largest empires, and Spurgeon was a citizen of it. The British were always looking for a new country to conquer and colonize and Spurgeon was a vocal critic of it. This was not a popular view at the time and still seems to be taboo today. Most others in Britain supported the foreign policy of expanding the British Empire. Spurgeon said some of these quotes.

The British Empire in 1920

The great crime of war can never promote the religion of peace. The battle, and the garment rolled in blood, are not a fitting prelude to ‘peace on earth, goodwill to men’. And I do firmly hold, that the slaughter of men, that bayonets, and swords, and guns, have never yet been, and never can be, promoters of the gospel. The gospel will proceed without them, but never through them. “Not by might.” Now don’t be fooled again, if you hear of the English conquering in China, don’t go down on your knees and thank God for it, and say it’s such a heavenly thing for the spread of the gospel – it just is not. (Independence of Christianity, a sermon preached at Royal Surrey Gardens music hall, August 31, 1857, during the Indian Mutiny.)

Long have I held that war is an enormous crime; long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale. (India’s Ills and England’s Sorrows, preached after the Indian Mutiny on September 6, 1857.)

We are up to the hilt advocates for peace, and we earnestly war against war. I wish that Christian men would insist more and more on the unrighteousness of war, believing that Christianity means no sword, no cannon, no bloodshed, and that, if a nation is driven to fight in its own defence, Christianity stands by to weep and to intervene as soon as possible, and not to join in the cruel shouts which celebrate an enemy’s slaughter. . . . Today, then, my brethren, I beg you to join with me in seeking renewal. (From An All-Round Ministry, a college address in 1880).

The Lord’s battles, what are they? Not the garment rolled in blood, not the noise, and smoke, and din of human slaughter. These may be the devil’s battles, if you please, but not the Lord’s. They may be days of God’s vengeance but in their strife the servant of Jesus may not mingle. We stand aloof. Our kingdom is not of this world; else would God’s servants fight with sword and spear. Ours is a spiritual kingdom, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. (War! War! War! A sermon preached at Royal Surrey Gardens music hall, May 1, 1859.)

War is to our minds the most difficult thing to sanctify to God. The genius of the Christian religion is altogether contrary to everything like strife of any kind, much more to the deadly clash of arms. . . . Now I say again, I am no apologist for war, from my soul I loathe it, and I do not understand the position of a Christian man as a warrior, but still I greatly rejoice that there are to be found at this present day in the ranks many of those who fear God and adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour. (A Peal of Bells, a sermon preached on July 7, 1861.)

This other person wrote an article about Spurgeon and his anti war views.

Most of Charles Spurgeon’s criticisms were against British brutality in India. The British brutally crushed all mutinies in India that challenged British Rule of India. Also the British were fighting wars in neighboring Afghanistan from 1839-1919 killing thousands of Afghans but never able to conquer them. Spurgeon was no doubt criticized by his fellow British as being “un-patriotic” and was probably also criticized by fellow Christians for daring to criticize their country’s military actions and foreign policy.

How are things different today? Back in 2002 the US was preparing to invade and destroy Iraq. Many Christian leaders like D James Kennedy and others vocally supported a US Invasion of Iraq. Many Christian Leaders wrote a letter with Richard Land from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2002 giving “Christian Support” to the George W Bush Administration to invade Iraq as some kind of “Christian Just War” As many American Christians learned, Iraqi Christians were killed in the initial 2003 bombing of Iraq in March 2003.

Even after the Iraq War many Christian Leaders in the USA such as Pat Robertson and John Hagee still advocate for the USA to start more wars with countries such as Venezuela or North Korea. Like when Pat Robertson has said the US should kill the President of Venezuela in 2005. Hagee has called for bombs to drop on Iran and North Korea in some sermons.

Christians who opposed the war in Iraq were called un-patriotic by Christians and Non-Believers alike. They were called silly insults like a Saddam Hussein supporter. Nothing really changed since Spurgeon’s time. Such as Afghanistan and empires invading and failing there.

Christians, especially from the US and England should re-read Spurgeon and his anti war statements. There is much to learn


7 responses to “Charles Spurgeon’s Statements on War. A lesser discussed side of the Famous Pastor”

  1. Exce6poibts here, including if not esp the first – that this adamant position of Spurgeon is greatly neglected.
    Mostly, the people who rally around war have never been in the midst of one.
    If this world is not ours, why should we be fighting for it? But I do see the desperate action of believers like Dietrich Bonhoffer who tried to kill Hitler. What do you think?
    Thank you for the solid resources Joseph. On point once again brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When it comes to Dietrich Bonhoffer and his association with the group that tries to kill Hitler, we get into some gray area. I am unable to make an opinion, because I was never in his situation.
      Thank you for reading this article Lisa Beth. I have shared some of these Spurgeon quotes on war with some people at my church who are very pro war and also fans of Spurgeon at the same time. They would post Spurgeon Quotes on their facebook page and at the same time post how they want the USA to invade Venezuela. Then I would share that Spurgeon would not approve of that war mentality

      Liked by 1 person

      • While I believe in self-defense, so many believers lack discernment. Spurgeon aside, imagine Jesus gathering His followers to invade another country.
        Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world”. But many believers live like this world is their Kingdom.
        I suspect most Christians will be fighting the antichrist and demanding their constitutional rights while missing out on God’s eternal purposes.
        Looking forward to your next post!

        Liked by 1 person

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