Archive for March, 2011

The fallout of Montanism: looking to canon, creed, and bishop (overseer/elder)

March 31st, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

While I do not always agree with Jaroslav Pelikan, he is without doubt the doyen of 20th century church historians. Here is his reflection on the fallout of the Montanist controversy.

Pelikan is noting that as a result of the controversy, the church rightly judged Montanism to be obsolete for she “looked increasingly not to the future, illumined by the Lord’s return, nor to the present, illumined by the Spirit’s extraordinary gifts, but to the past, illumined by the composition of the apostolic canon, the creation of the apostolic creed, and the establishment of the apostolic episcopate.” [The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (The Christian Tradition, vol. 1; Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 107].

Very true as an historical reality–its biblical validity is another question. And here I am thinking of the episcopate. The New Testament clearly supports both the looking to canon and creed. But does it support the idea of the historic episcopate?

New “A few acres of snow” post: Math and the Future of Religion

March 29th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. Haykin has written a new piece for the “A few acres of snow” feature. The newest post analyzes a recent article on the decline of religion in Canada by Daniela Syrovy. Check out “Math and the Future of Religion” and feel free to interact with the post in the comments section below.

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research and Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.

Free PDF Lecture on the Making of the KJV

March 21st, 2011 Posted in 17th Century, Church History, Conferences

Dr. Michael Haykin recently gave the Staley Lectures at Charleston Southern University on the history of the King James Version of the Bible.  These lectures were given in commemoration of the 400 year anniversary of the publication of the King James Version in 1611.  Dr. Haykin’s lecture notes are now being made available here for free download.  They will be available in the future on the Papers page of this website.

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research and Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.

Free PDF Lecture on St. Patrick

March 17th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. Haykin recently lectured in one of his classes about the life and ministry of St. Patrick.  On this St. Patrick’s Day, he is offering his notes for this lecture for free download.  He has titled the lecture for this occasion:  “Remembering Patrick and His Confession on March 17, 2011.”  We hope you enjoy this survey of Patrick’s life.  It will be available in the future on the Papers page of this website.

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research and Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.

Archibald Alexander on Andrew Fuller

March 12th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Andrew Fuller’s writings were widely read in America throughout the nineteenth century. As Archibald Alexander (1772–1851) remarked of his influence in a book review of the standard print copy of the Fuller corpus: “Few men of the last age, have left a deeper impression of their labours on the public mind, than Andrew Fuller.”[1]

[1]The complete works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, with a Memoir of his life”, The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, 18, no.4 (1846), 547.

A reflection on a quote by George Smeaton

March 12th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

My dear friend Stephen Yuille recently posted a statement by George Smeaton (1814–89), who studied at Edinburgh University and was part of the group of friends which included Robert Murray McCheyne and the Bonar brothers, and whom I best know as the author of a fine book on the Holy Spirit. See here for more details on Smeaton: Catherine Dickie, “Rev Prof George Smeaton”, ninetysix and ten (

This is the quote Stephen posted on FB: “To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of a whole kingdom from temporal evil.” See

Of course, there is a truth in this that escapes the modern who thinks only of this world.

But, I wonder if the whole idea is framed wrongly. In Micah 6:8 the prophet says, “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The Smeaton quote seems to leave no room for what the prophet sees as the Christian walk—for surely, this is fulfilled in the followers of the Christ. Are we not to do both: seek the conversion of sinners and see temporal justice done?

I fear that it was the sort of thinking in the Smeaton quote that allowed both the Presbyterians and Baptists to argue for the “spirituality” of the Church in the 19th century and leave undone those things in the social realm that ought to have been done. C.H. Spurgeon, so often a great guide, and here he does not fail us, would have none of it, and refused to sit down to the Lord’s Supper with a slave owner!

Put the Smeaton quote in context thus and see the problems with it: “To convert one sinner from his way is an event of greater importance than to end the abomination of slavery or to end the murder of all of the babies being aborted.” Put like that, we see the problems with the quote: it has set up a false dichotomy. Better to do both, as Micah says: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with…God.”

The “AnaBaptist” meeting-house in Charleston

March 12th, 2011 Posted in 18th Century, Baptist Life & Thought

This past week my wife and I visited Charleston, South Carolina, for the third time. It is a city that we love. I was speaking on the 400th anniversary of the KJB at Charleston Southern University, their Staley Lectures. It was a great honour to be there, to speak on the KJB, and renew old friendships, with Dr Peter Beck, and make new ones, with the brothers in the Religion Dept. especially.

Among the places we visited was the Charleston Museum, where they had an exhibit for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. A number of things caught my attention: a collection of snuff boxes reminded me of the one that Andrew Fuller passed around at the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society to collect monies for that; George Washington’s baptismal cup; and a confederate soldier’s uniform in which you could see the bullet hole that killed the wearer when he was literally shot through the heart by a sniper.

There was also a map entitled “A plan of Charles Town from a Survey of Edwd Crisp Esq in 1704.” On the map there was a building, marked S, which designated the locale of what was called the “AnaBaptist” meeting-house. This was, of course, the first building of what is now the First Baptist, the mother church of the SBC.

There was no indication of the religious affiliation of Crisp. But it was probably not Baptist. Rarely did the Baptists term themselves Anabaptists. They did not wish to be identified with those denominated by that term in the 16th century. Nor did they admit to what the term designated: they were not re-baptizers, for they believed that anything but believers’ baptism by immersion was not a true baptism.

Looking for the truth: a biblical mean by John Ryland

March 12th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

A great nugget of wisdom from the younger John Ryland (1753–1825):

“It w[ould] be well if all Christians w[ould] labor earnestly after the investigation of truth, without being unduly influenced either by their attachment to old ideas and phrases on the one hand, or by the affectation of novelty on the other…”[1]

[1] Letter to Samuel Hopkins, February 21, 1803 (Personal possession of Craig Fries, Amsterdam, New York).

Henry Saville’s Patristic Sacrifice

March 11th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Among the King James Bible translators was Sir Henry Saville (1549–1622), who was a mathematician and patristics scholar as well as being the warden of Merton College. When he was drafted to work on the translation of the Gospels, Acts and Revelation—he was a part of one of the Oxford translation companies—he shelved a massive project of a critical edition of the works of John Chrysostom. According to Anthony Walker, the author of the life of John Bois, another of the King James Bible translator, Saville was such a sedulous scholar that his wife “thought herself neglected’ and coming to him one day, as he was in his study, saluted him thus, “Sir Henry I would I were a book too, and then you would a little more respect me.” Ouch! All too real a danger for scholars and would-be researchers…brothers and sisters, take warning!

Not long before Saville finished the Chrysostom volumes, he fell ill. His wife’s response was: “if Sir Harry died, she would burn Chrysostome, for killing her husband.” When Bois, who was present, remonstrated with her, she asked, “Who was Chrysostome?” When he answered, “One of the sweetest preachers since the apostles times,” she relented, and said “she would not do it for all the world.” In the final analysis, she perceived the value of her husband’s work, but he should have given her some idea of this long before it got to this point. Or maybe he did, and she did not hear him.

Whatever the case, these two exchanges sound so familiar to all engaged in scholarship, and are a powerful reminder of the need to maintain a due sense of priorities.

For the texts cited, see The Life of that famous Grecian Mr. John Bois 5.14 in Ward Allen, trans. and ed., Translating for King James (Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University Press, 1969), 141¬142.

Roots needed

March 6th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

In 1990 the Christian publication The Door—a.k.a. the Wittenberg Door—did an interview with Dennis Prager, a practising Jew who at the time was one of the most widely listened to and respected commentators and talk show hosts in Southern California. Part of the interview revolved around the impact of secularism. Asked what was the fruit of secularism, Prager stated, among other things, “the death of roots” and “rootlessness.” As he went on to say about the States—and the same would be true of Canada: “Unfortunately we have many people in this country, Jewish and Christian, who loathe their roots. Rootlessness is a guarantor of the decline of the individual and then of society. People need roots…”[1]

How true this is. Remembering and celebrating our past as Christians—and even lamenting aspects of that past—is not the only way to renewal and blessing, but it is one. And as this quote reminds us: to forget our roots is the pathway of spiritual folly and one sure way to spiritual decline. As Walter Wright, a past president of Regent College, has put it: “At the heart of wisdom is building on the accumulated wisdom of the ages.”[2]

[1] “A Civilization That Believes in Nothing”, The Door, 114 (November/December 1990), 12.

[2] “Wisdom: Learning and Unlearning”, The Regent World, 9, No.1 (Winter 1997), 2.