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

Special Pre-Conference: Martyrdom in the Early Church

August 14th, 2015 Posted in Ancient Church: 2nd & 3rd Centuries, Church History, Conferences, Persecution

Join us Monday, 14 September 2015, in Louisville, KY for a pre-conference co-sponsored with the Center for Ancient Christian Studies on “Martyrdom in the Early Church: Reality and Fiction.” The event is free to all students, faculty, and friends.

This event will precede our annual two-day conference that will be held on September 15-16, 2015 on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. To learn more and to register for the conference, click here.

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“In order that we too might be imitators of him”: The Death of Polycarp and the Imitation of Jesus

August 4th, 2015 Posted in Ancient Church: 2nd & 3rd Centuries, Biblical Spirituality, Church Fathers, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Historians, Persecution

By Shawn J. Wilhite and Coleman M. Ford

The Martyrdom of Polycarp offers an eyewitness account to the death and martyrdom of Polycarp from the church at Smyrna to the church at Philomelium (Mart.Pol. Pref.). As the narrative unfolds, some of the motifs that emerge relate to imitation. That is, the narrative of Polycarp’s death evoke the reader to imitate the death of Polycarp (Mart.Pol. 1:2).

This AD 2nd century event details three different martyrdom accounts. It praises the nobility of Germanicus, who fought with wild beasts and encouraged the “God-fearing race of Christians” through his death (Mart.Pol. 3:1–2). It discourages the concept of voluntary martyrdom as Quintus “turned coward” when he saw the wild beasts. Such voluntary pursuit of martyrdom does not evoke praise from fellow sisters and brothers because the “gospel does not teach this” (Mart.Pol. 4).

However, the narrative details the “blessed Polycarp” and his noble death (Mart.Pol. 1:1). These events are aimed to demonstrate how the “Lord might show us once again a martyrdom that is in accord with the Gospel” (Mart.Pol. 1:1). So, the narrative models for the reader a martyrdom that is worthy of imitation as it is patterned after “the Gospel.”

The Martyrdom account portrays Polycarp as a model of Christ’s life. For example, Polycarp waited to be passively betrayed (Mart.Pol. 1:2). The night before Polycarp’s betrayal, he is praying with a few close companions (Mart.Pol. 5:1). He prays “may your will be done” prior to his arrest (Mart.Pol. 7:1; cf. Matt 26:42). Furthermore, Polycarp is betrayed on a Friday (Mart.Pol. 7:1) and seated on a donkey to ride into town (Mart.Pol. 8:1)—similar to the “triumphal entry” and garden of Gethsemane events. On the verge of death, Polycarp offers up a final call to the Father (Mart.Pol. 14:3). While Polycarp is tied to the stake, an executioner is commanded to come stab Polycarp with a dagger (Mart.Pol. 16:1). Even the execution offers a similar to the confession of the centurion’s statement “Certainly this man was innocent!” (Mart.Pol. 16:2; Luke 23:47).

Not only do Polycarp and the surrounding events reflect a similar Gospel tradition, the villains in Polycarp’s story are re-cast in light of the passion villains. Polycarp is betrayed by someone close to him (Mart.Pol. 6:1). The captain of the police is called “Herod” (Mart.Pol. 6:2; 8:2; 17:2). The author(s) of the Martyrdom make sure to slow the narrative so that the reader makes the necessary connection to the Gospel accounts by saying, “who just happened to have the same name—Herod, as he was called” (Mart.Pol. 6:2). Moreover, those who betrayed Polycarp ought to “receive the same punishment as Judas” (Mart.Pol. 6:2). There is an army to capture Polycarp, similar to the Gethsemane scene (Mart.Pol. 7:1). The band of captors recognizes the piety of Polycarp in a similar way the group of soldiers bowed before arresting Him (Mart.Pol. 7:2; cf. John 18:6).

The Martyrdom narrative mimics the Gospel passion narratives. Whether it focuses on the personal character traits of Polycarp, the narrative of Polycarp’s journey to death, the secondary, seemingly accidental themes, or even the story’s villains, the Martyrdom of Polycarp is reshaped around gospel tradition.

As the narrative of the death of Polycarp unfolds, Polycarp’s character mimics the Lord so “that we too might be imitators of him” (Mart.Pol. 1:2). The blessed and noble characters of martyrdom are modeled after the narrative of Jesus tradition so as to invite readers to imitate Polycarp as he is imitating the Lord Jesus (Mart.Pol. 19:1).

Those in the early church saw patterns to imitate in the life of Jesus in regards to how to conduct oneself in the wake of impending martyrdom. Today, many Christians are faced with how to imitate those patterns as well. Both in America where persecution comes in word and thought, and in places like Syria where martyrdom is a real and present danger, reading Polycarp and other early Christian martyr stories empowers believers to follow the ultimate pattern which is Christ.

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headerJoin us on September 15-16, 2015 on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for this conference on Persecution and the Church in order to learn from examples from church history  and around the globe that will encourage believers today to face persecution.

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David S. Dockery’s Endorsement of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

July 22nd, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

Three weeks from today (on August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by David S. Dockery, president of Trinity International University.

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The Baptist Story is a masterful work by three superb Baptist historians.  Tony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin are to be commended for providing us with an even-handed, incisive, well-organized, and accessible survey of the larger Baptist family. Readers will be introduced to both general and particular Baptists, as well as revivalists and landmarkists, fundamentalists and liberals. In doing so, they will gain a fresh appreciation for the contributions of thoughtful theologians, practical pastors, along with faithful missionaries and martyrs. This full-orbed, carefully researched, and well-written look at the expansion and development of Baptists over the past four hundred years will certainly become a standard resource for the study of Baptist history for years to come. It is with much enthusiasm that I gladly recommend this work.

David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

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Peter Beck’s Endorsement of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

July 15th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

One month from today (on August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by Peter Beck, associate professor of Christian studies at Charleston Southern University.

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The Baptist story is long and often convoluted. Numerous histories have been written over the course of their 400 years. Each new volume proffers its own interpretation of the data and furthers the cause and concern of the author. While honest, this has not always been helpful, and often fails to provide today’s Baptists with a modern account of their tale that informs the mind and encourages the soul.

The Baptist Story, as told by Haykin, Chute, and Finn, changes all that. The authors give us an irenic yet thorough reading of our collective past. They admit the nuances of a faith that boldly defends and exemplifies liberty of conscience while explaining the facts. While the authors concede that their goal was not to provide THE definitive telling of the Baptist story, they may have done just that. Haykin, Chute, and Finn are to be commended for their effort, thanked for their grace, and congratulated for their contribution to the cause of Christ and the history of the Baptist people. The Baptist Story always encourages, sometimes challenges, and never disappoints.

Peter Beck, associate professor of Christian studies, Charleston Southern University

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

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David Bebbington’s Endorsement of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

July 8th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

In about five weeks (August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by David Bebbington, professor of history at the University of Stirling.

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“The Baptists have grown from a small and mainly marginal body in seventeenth-century England into a strong and sometimes influential set of denominations across the world. While the core of this account of their development concentrates on the history of the two-thirds of the world’s Baptists who live in the United States, there is also coverage of England, Canada, Germany, and the rest of the world. So this volume provides a concise but comprehensive summary of the course of Baptist life over the last four centuries.”

David Bebbington, professor of history, University of Stirling

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

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Jason Allen’s Endorsement for The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

June 30th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

In about six weeks (August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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“Respected church historians Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin have served the church well with their book The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement. Though intended as a textbook, their fine work is accessible to most every reader, including those in nonacademic settings. For all interested in Baptist history, I heartily recommend The Baptist Story.”

Jason K. Allen, president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

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“What is Christian Love?”

June 25th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

Throughout the works of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), there is a predominant theme of love—love to God and love to man.  In a sermon entitled, Nature and Importance of Christian Love, Fuller preached on his meditations from John 13:34-35.  Before he delineated the nature of Christian love, he first discussed what it is not.  He said:

  1. It is not mere good neighbourhood, or civility between man and man.
  2. It is not mere friendship.
  3. It is not mere respect on account of religion.
  4. It is not mere party attachment.
  5. It is not that excessive and mistaken attachment which shall lead us to idolize and flatter a minister, or to exempt each other from the exercise of faithful discipline.
  6. It is not mere benevolence itself.[1]

So then, he asked, “What is Christian love?”  And Fuller answered his own inquiry thus:

It is complacency in the Divine image.—It is a union of heart, like that of Ruth to her mother-in-law. Christian love is love for Christ’s sake.  This last remark, I suppose, furnishes a clue for its being called “a new commandment.” The old commandment required benevolence, or love to our neighbour; but this is complacency in Christ’s image, or the love of Christians as such. And being introductory to the New Testament or gospel dispensation, under which the church should be composed of believers only, it is suited to it. Personal religion is now to be the bond of union. This was never so expressly required before. This is more than love to our neighbour, or benevolence; this is brotherly love, or complacency in each other as brethren in Christ, Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1. This is genuine charity, 1 Cor. 13.[2]

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[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 523.

[2]Fuller, Complete Works, 1:523.

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Part I of a review article of Peter J. Morden, The Life and Thought of Andrew Fuller (1754–1815)

June 8th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

Part I of a review article of Peter J. Morden, The Life and Thought of Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) (Studies in Evangelical History and Thought; Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire: Paternoster, 2015), xxii+232 pages.

life and though of andrew fullerIn this year, the bicentennial of the death of the significant Baptist pastor-theologian Andrew Fuller, it is right and proper to have an academic biography of the English Evangelical leader. And this new work by the Vice-Principal of Spurgeon’s College nicely fits the bill. Having already written extensively on Fuller—see especially his Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist life (2003)—Morden is well equipped to write this biographical study.

After a brief introductory chapter that sets out the current state of Fuller studies and lays bare Morden’s own Evangelical convictions, chapter 2 details Fuller’s early life in the context of the 18th-century Particular Baptist community of which he was a part. This is well-trodden ground, but Morden does well in establishing the larger historical context and then examining Fuller’s own narrative about his conversion. With regard to Fuller’s conversion and early Christian experience, scholars are dependent for their information upon some letters Fuller wrote between 1798 and 1815: two to a Scottish friend Charles Stuart, then one in 1809, and then finally two more at the close of his life to “an unnamed friend in Liverpool” (so Morden names the correspondent, page 33, n.122). The “unnamed friend in Liverpool” was actually Maria Hope, the sister of Samuel Hope (1760–1837), a well-known Liverpool banker and extremely wealthy. They both had links to the Baptist cause at Byrom Street, Liverpool, and he was a strong supporter of the Baptist Missionary Society. Morden stresses that Fuller’s narrative of his early life in these letters, which were written between thirty and forty-five years after the events they describe, reveal a man deeply shaped by the contours of 18th-century Evangelicalism.

Chapter 3 charts Fuller’s entry into pastoral ministry in the 1770s and his theological development during that decade and the one that followed, which saw the publication of his first major work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation (1785/1801). This book was the definitive response to the High Calvinism that dominated far too many Particular Baptist circles in the British Isles and that had been hegemonic in Fuller’s own Baptist experience up until his conversion. Making good use of various unpublished manuscripts, Morden delineates not only the argument of the book, but also why Fuller left behind this version of Calvinism, which Fuller later castigated as “false Calvinism.” The latter Morden locates in Fuller’s biblicism (almost definitely the major reason from Fuller’s own point of view), his reading of Puritan literature and especially that of his older contemporary Jonathan Edwards, and his friendship with like-minded pastor-theologians like John Ryland, Jr. and John Sutcliff of Olney. Again Morden stresses that by the time Fuller published his Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, the core tenets of 18th-century Evangelicalism, shared by men of widely-differing ecclesial convictions, were now his (p.67).

The shape of Fuller’s ministry at Kettering, where he moved in 1782, and the way Fuller answered various attacks on the theology of The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation constitutes Chapter 4. Morden helpfully touches on some aspects of Fuller’s life hitherto rarely examined, such as Fuller as a man of prayer. What Fuller told Robert Fawkner at the latter’s ordination in 1787, he sought to make a reality in his own life: “Give yourself up to the word of God, and to prayer” (cited p.74). This chapter also breaks new ground in Morden’s analysis of Fuller’s tendency to depression between 1782 and 1792 (p.103–109). Normally I am chary of trying to psychologically analyze men and women of previous generations; we often have difficulty enough trying to figure out what people sitting across from us are thinking let alone people of the past, which, to quote L.P. Hartley, “is a foreign country.” But Morden skillfully draws upon Fuller’s unpublished diary to argue his case. And Fuller himself once observed of himself, “I was born in a flat [i.e. minor] key” (cited Andrew Gunton Fuller, Andrew Fuller [London, 1882], 79).

To be continued.

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

To download the review as PDF, click here. To see other book reviews, visit here.

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Book Review of Pneumatologie in der Alten Kirche by Wolf-Dieter Hauschild and Volker Henning Drecoll

June 3rd, 2015 Posted in Biblical Spirituality, Books

Wolf-Dieter Hauschild and Volker Henning Drecoll, Pneumatologie in der Alten Kirche (Traditio Christiana, vol.12; Bern: Peter Lang, 2004), lx+372 pages.

9783906768731During the past century, it was sometimes said that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit was the “Cinderella of theology,” given the way that it had been neglected by both systematicians and ecclesiastical historians. Well, if that were a truism for much of the twentieth century, it certainly is not now. Pneumatology has received an enormous amount of attention on both the popular and scholarly levels. Nevertheless, there are still significant areas where there are gaps in our knowledge. This reader by two well-known German patristic experts (Hauschild’s doctoral work was focused on pneumatology—his 1967 dissertation, Die Pneumatomachen, is a standard study of the Pneumatomachian controversy) fills in one of those lacunae: it is a substantial annotated compilation of all of the key sources in the patristic era that deal with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Divided into three major sections—“The Spirit and history: church and scripture,” “God and man: illumination, sanctification, and blessedness,” and “The Spirit and God: the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, God”—the various patristic sources are given in their original languages (Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac) with a corresponding German translation. It is good to find authors often ignored in patristic compilations, authors such as Aphrahat (c.280–c.345) and Macarius (fl. 380–410). A helpful introductory essay on patristic pneumatology provides a necessary orientation for this collection of sources. There is also a lengthy bibliography of secondary sources on all of the figures included in the volume. This is a tremendous resource, highly recommended for all serious students of the patristic doctrine of the Spirit; it would be especially helpful as a textbook in a doctoral seminar on pneumatology in the Ancient Church.

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

To download the review as PDF, click here. To see other book reviews, visit here.

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Announcing the 2015 Conference: Persecution and the Church

June 2nd, 2015 Posted in Church History, Conferences, Historians, Persecution

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We are pleased to announce the conference theme for this year’s conference is Persecution and the Church. We believe this is a timely topic as the church is experiencing persecution globally. The topic will be approached from biblical, theological, and historical perspectives. The conference will be held on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on September 15-16, 2015.

From the conference website:

Jesus Christ plainly told all who followed him as their Lord and Savior that they would suffer persecution—and in the history of the church over the past two thousand years this has undoubtedly been the case. There is clear evidence that along with the globalization of Christianity over the past two hundred years, the persecution of the church has likewise intensified.

In this timely conference, we will be looking at this history of persecution and its contemporary manifestations from a biblical and theological standpoint. The goal of the conference is to enable participants to be both more informed and more prayerful. To that end, this conference will conclude with a concert of prayer for the persecuted church.

Speakers:

  • Jason G. Duesing (Professor of Church History and Academic Provost at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
  • Nathan A. Finn (Dean of the School of Theology and Missions and Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition at Union University)
  • Ben Hegeman (Adjunct Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Houghton College)
  • Bryan M. Litfin (Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago)
  • Thomas R. Schreiner (Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology and Associate Dean of the Southern Seminary School of Theology)
  • Brian Vickers (Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Biblical Theology at Southern Seminary)
  • Steve Weaver (Senior Fellow of Andrew Fuller Center and Adjunct Professor of Church History at Southern Seminary)

Schedule:

Tuesday, September 15

11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Conference Check-In
1:30 p.m. General Session I: Brian Vickers
“Persecution and Paul”
3 p.m. General Session II: Tom Schreiner
“Persecution in Revelation”
5:30 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. General Session III: Bryan Litfin
“Roman Persecution of the Ancient Church”
8:30 p.m. General Session IV: Jason Duesing
“The Persecution of the Anabaptists”

Wednesday, September 16

8 a.m. Breakfast (Optional $5 add-on)
9 a.m. General Session V: Steve Weaver
“Baptists and Persecution in Virginia”
10:30 a.m. General Session VI: Nathan Finn
“Communist Persecution of the Church, 1917-1989″
Noon Lunch
2:30 p.m. Short Papers
5:30 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. General Session VII: Ben Hegeman
“The Church and Islam”
8:15 p.m. General Session VIII
“A Concert of Prayer for the Persectued Church”

You can learn more about the conference and register here. We hope to see you there!

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