Historia ecclesiastica
The Weblog of Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin & friends

An initial reading plan of Andrew Fuller

February 5th, 2016 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Reading Church History Lists

By Michael A.G. Haykin

I was recently asked by a brother who had purchased Andrew Fuller’s Works where and what to begin reading. I suggested first off, his circular letters, especially these:

  1. Causes of Declension in Religion, and Means of Revival (1785)
  2. Why Christians in the present Day possess less Joy than the Primitive Disciples (1795)
  3. The Practical Uses of Christian Baptism (1802)
  4. The Promise of the Spirit the grand Encouragement in promoting the Gospel (1810)

Then his Edwardsean work in which you see Fuller the theologian of love:

  1. Memoirs of Rev. Samuel Pearce (1800)

His ordination sermons are also gems, especially:

  1. The Qualifications and Encouragements of a Faithful Minister, illustrated by the Character and success of Barnabas
  2. Spiritual Knowledge and Holy Love necessary for the Gospel Ministry
  3. On an Intimate and Practical Acquaintance with the Word of God

Finally, the best of his apologetic works, his rebuttal of Sandemanianism:

  1. Strictures on Sandemanianism (1810).

Tolle lege!

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Book Review: History: A Student’s Guide

January 28th, 2016 Posted in Books, Church History

By Dustin Bruce

Finn, Nathan. History: A Student’s Guide. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. 111 pp. $11.99.

Nathan Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University and Fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center, has written an excellent primer on the discipline of history and the nature of the historian’s task. This volume forms part of the “Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition” series, published by Crossway under the editorial guidance of David Dockery. In keeping with the aim of the series, Finn examines history from the perspective of a Christian worldview, drawing insights from the Dutch Kuyperian tradition and the Lutheran tradition. Years of experience teaching history, completing an undergraduate and Ph.D. in history, and a thorough analysis of historiographical literature, provides Finn with insights and anecdotes that make for an enjoyable and informative read.

Finn’s audience is primarily the undergraduate student interested in history as a major or minor. As such, it is written to serve as something of a supplementary text that introduces readers “to the discipline of history from the perspective of a Christian worldview that is shaped by the great tradition and is in dialog with other key voices in the field” (18). Not meant as a comprehensive introduction, the volume contains an introduction and four chapters. Though short, at roughly 90 pages of text, the writing is characterized by a “lucid brevity” that leaves the reader feeling satisfied and not underserved. Quality footnotes allow eager students access to further resources.History

In the Introduction, Finn begins a discussion of how a Christian worldview affects history and the historian’s task. “Christians,” he argues, “should be keenly interested in studying the past since the very truth of the Judeo-Christian tradition is dependent upon certain historical events” (19). Furthermore, the great commandments of Matthew 22:34–49 serve as parameters for historical inquiry.

In chapter one, “Understanding History,” Finn lays out basic information, including the different between the “past” and “history.” He defines history as “the task of reconstructing and interpreting the past” (26). Other fundamentals are described, such as the difference between primary and secondary sources. Chapter two includes an overview of different “schools of history,” including an analysis of each school from a Christian perspective. The concept of “historiography” is also covered.

Chapter three, “Faith and the Historian,” picks up the controversial question of how one’s faith should influence one’s work as a historian. Finn rejects both a providentialist and naturalistic approach, arguing for an approach that recognizes the historian’s evidence comes from general revelation, where one cannot know the mind of God with certainty, and yet, must be tempered by the truths revealed in the Biblical storyline (73). Finn draws further insight from the Lutheran concept of vocation, before proposing Christian historians adopt a “bilingual” approach by developing the ability to serve academic and religious audiences. Chapter four, “History: An Invitation,” largely serves as an encouragement for students to pursue the study of history from a Christian perspective. Finn offers examples of how history and history degrees can be used both vocationally and in service to the church.

History: A Student’s Guide will undoubtedly serve students well as an introduction to the field of history and the task of the historian. It is small enough to be assigned as a supplementary text to a course without overburdening students, but comprehensive and compelling enough to warrant a close reading. Finn’s work may very well be used of God to inspire the next generation of Evangelical historians.

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Audio: The Life of Andrew Fuller by Pastor Harry Dowds

January 26th, 2016 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Podcast

The Life of Andrew Fuller

by: Pastor Harry Dowds

Presented on Thursday, 19th March 2015 at The Irish Baptist Historical Society (from http://www.irishbaptistcollege.net/?p=ibhsa)

The Life of Andrew Fuller

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Books At a Glance Interviews the Authors of The Baptist Story

January 5th, 2016 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Podcast

Books At a Glance has posted a recent interview with Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A. G. Haykin, authors of The Baptist Story. 

Books At a Glance (Fred Zaspel): 
Hi this is Fred Zaspel executive editor here at books at a glance. Today we are talking with three authors Tony Chute, Nathan Finn and Michael Haykin about their new book The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement, a new textbook on Baptist history. We’re glad for the book. Were glad for them to be with us. Welcome you guys. Thanks for coming.

Click here for the full interview.

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Book Review: What is the Incarnation?

December 29th, 2015 Posted in Books, Christology


William B. Evans, What is the Incarnation? (Phillipsburg. NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013; 31 pages.

Evans IncarnationI have a long-standing tradition of reading a book relating to Christology around the time of Christmas. This year it was a booklet rather than a book, a part of the series Basics of the Faith, whose general editor is Sean Lucas, namely, What is the Incarnation? by William B. Evans, the Eunice Witherspoon Bell Younts and Willie Camp Younts Professor of Historical Theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina.

Evans covers a tremendous amount of ground in the small compass of this booklet (a mere 26 pages): from the integral links between the person of Christ and his work (p.6–8), in which he draws upon insights from Athanasius and Anselm, to the sinlessness of the humanity assumed by the Son of God (p.24–25). Along the way, he delineates the biblical witness to the person of Christ (p.10–12), rightly pointing out that “the incarnation is a foundational assumption of the New Testament writers” (p.12), discusses the question of images of Christ (p.25–27), and summarizes six major Christological positions that Christian thought and reflection ruled to be heretical—Ebionism (the denial of the deity of Christ), Docetism (the denial of the humanity of Christ), Arianism (the reduction of Christ to a the rank of a “lesser” god, who is in fact a creature), Apollinarianism (which affirmed that the second person of the Godhead took the place of the human mind and soul of Christ), Nestorianism (the failure to maintain the integral unity of deity and humanity in the person of Christ), and Eutychianism (which so identifies the deity and humanity of Christ that Christ’s humanity is all but swallowed up by the deity) (p.13–16).

Evans identifies the creedal statement issued by the Council of Chalcedon (451), “one of the great watersheds in early church history” (p.16) as the Ancient Church’s definitive statement on the incarnation. This statement, which essentially affirmed the reality of the two natures, divine and human, in the one person of Christ—a union “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation”—held sway among Western theologians to the time of the early modern era in the seventeenth century (p.18). It was only then that theologians proposed radically different conceptions of the incarnation like the “kenotic” theory, which employed Philippians 2:7 to argue that Christ gave up all of his divine attributes when he became man.

All in all this is an extremely helpful summary of key details and issues relating to what Paul calls “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim 3:16), a work that would be ideal for a series in Sunday School or a mid-week Bible study.

Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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Interview with Michael Haykin and Matthew Barrett on “Owen on the Christian Life”

December 15th, 2015 Posted in Biblical Spirituality, Puritans

Drs. Michael Haykin and Matthew Barrett were recently interviewed by Dr. Fred Zaspel of Books at a Glance. Click here to listen or read a transcript of the interview, as they discuss the Puritans, John Owen, and the Christian life.

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Advent Rediscovered

December 14th, 2015 Posted in Church History

A recent article by David Roach of Baptist Press cites Dr. Michael Haykin on the historical roots of Advent: http://www.bpnews.net/45996/advent-rediscovered-by-southern-baptists.

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Has Marcion Invaded our Churches?

December 1st, 2015 Posted in Persecution

By Dr. David Barker

Marcion, a 2nd C AD theologian, rejected the OT (and some of the NT) because he viewed it as “pre-Christian” or “less-than-Christian.” The question needs to be asked as to whether the church has continued this thinking by avoiding lament psalms in general and rejecting curse (imprecatory) psalms in particular. In both the liturgies of mainline churches as well in the Scripture reading practice of evangelical churches the following section of Psalm 139 is commonly left out (a confession made to me by a worship leader in one of our Baptist churches):

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them as my enemies. (vv. 19-22)

To omit this section and other “psalms of violence” in our rhythms and practices of prayer and worship does the following:

  • It refuses to affirm the full authority of the Bible. Yes, these psalms are poetic and hyperbolic, but that is part of what it is to affirm all Scripture as “God-breathed.”
  • It disobeys the Apostle Paul’s instruction to sing the psalms; and there does not seem to be an exception for the supposed “less-than-Christian” ones. If fact, he used imprecation himself (Gal 1:8-9), as did Jesus and other NT writers.
  • It removes the voice of the victims of violence and makes them/us “speechless and apathetic in the face of the overwhelming power of their suffering” (Erich Zengler, A God of Vengeance? [Westminster John Knox], 85).
  • It marginalizes a voice of worship when the Apostle Paul said of God, “’It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom 12:19 quoting Deut 32:35).
  • It fails to recognize the multi-faceted nature of God’s character described in both violent and anti-violent texts found in both Testaments.
  • It fails to embrace the Abrahamic Covenant, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” (Gen 12:3) as a legitimate inheritance of the church (Rom 4:16-17; Ga 3:29).

So, when it comes to ISIS and other movements that propagate terror, violence, and brutality, a voice of worship of God is:

Arise, O LORD!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
(Ps 3:7)

Yes, we refer vengeance/justice/judgment back to God. No, it is not a prayer for personal vengeance (Jesus’ teaching to love our enemy [cf. Prov 25:21] comes into play here).

Marcion was declared a heretic because of his view of Scripture. I wonder if we have unwittingly allowed Marcion back into the church.


David Barker serves as academic dean and vice president of academics and student affairs, Heritage Theological Seminary, Cambridge, ON. This article originally appeared on the seminary’s blog.

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Book Review: God’s Love for Muslims: Communicating Bible Grace and New Life

November 25th, 2015 Posted in Books, Current Affairs, Missions

Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, God’s Love for Muslims: Communicating Bible Grace and New Life (London: Metropolitan Tabernacle, 2015), 95 pages.muslimscoverart

For many in the West today, the very terms Islam and Muslims provoke fear, even hatred, and terrorist acts like the very recent Paris and Mali attacks only serve to reinforce these deep emotions. On the very day when news broke about the horrific attacks in Paris I received this new book by Ibrahim Ag Mohamed, the assistant pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in the heart of London. The author, whose roots are among the Tamasheq, the nomadic shepherds of the Sahara known to the outside world as the Tuareg, is deeply familiar with Islam—in fact, before his conversion, his devotion to Islam led him to burn the Scriptures. But, as he has said, the Scriptures “I had burned came and burned my heart.”

His profound familiarity with Islam, and also his extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, is evident throughout this handsomely-produced book in which he deals with Muslim beliefs and practice (9–42), their misunderstandings about the Christian Faith (43–83), and then how believers in the West especially can help Muslims come to true faith in the Lord Jesus (84–95). While much more could be said in each of these sections, what Mohamed includes is germane and very much to the point, and the result is an extremely helpful handbook for Christians to learn about Muslims, some of whom are now their neighbours. The final section, in which Mohamed provides details on how to develop true friendships with Muslims and share the gospel with them, is extremely helpful.

Noteworthy aspects of the book also include Mohamed’s excellent discussion of violence within the Qur’an and its advocacy by many Muslims (38–42), how the Qur’an views women (29–30), and his emphasis on the importance of faith in the Triunity of God: “without the doctrine of the Trinity, there would be no salvation, because only the God-man, Christ, could offer a sufficient sacrifice to atone for the sins of men and women” (51–54, quote from page 54). One small lacuna is that there is very little said about the history of Islam. A few pages could have easily been devoted to outlining this history. If a second edition is done, such could be easily added.

Given the global situation in which we find ourselves today, a work like this is gold! Highly recommended!

Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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Audio from Andrew Fuller Conference 2015 Now Available

November 16th, 2015 Posted in Conferences, Persecution

Plenary sessions from the 2015 Andrew Fuller Conference are now available for download at the links below. The conference was held September 15-16 and examined the theme of “Persecution and the Church.”

Also available for download is the preconference which dealt with “Martyrdom in the Early Church: Reality and Fiction.” This pre-conference was co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Christian Studies.

Breakout sessions from the main conference will be posted soon.  



Session 1 – Jarvis Williams


Session 2 – Greg Cochran


Session 3 – Bryan Litfin


Session 4 – Panel Discussion



Session 1 – Tom Schreiner


Session 2 – Brian Vickers


Session 3 – Bryan Litfin


Session 4 – Jason Duesing


Session 5 – Steve Weaver


Session 6 – Nathan Finn


Session 7 – Benjamin Hegeman


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