Archive for May, 2011

“Baptists and War” Conference Website

May 26th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

The conference website for this year’s Andrew Fuller Conference “Baptists and War” is now online.  You can view the schedule, speaker bios, and register online.

Conference 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.

What should I read first in Andrew Fuller?

May 11th, 2011 Posted in Andrew Fuller

A friend just asked me: “before jumping in and trying to read the whole of Andrew Fuller’s works, what would you recommend to start with?”

Well, without being self-promoting I would first of all recommend reading my edited The Armies of the Lamb: The spirituality of Andrew Fuller (Dundas, Ontario: Joshua Press, 2001). This is a great entry point into Fuller: there is a small bio, an essay on his piety (the heart of all of his writing, preaching, and living), and a judicious selection of his letters. Letters are always a tremendous way to understand a person.

Then, assuming you have access to the three-volume Sprinkle reprint [The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 1988)], you need to read the following to begin:

1.      The “Memoir” by Fuller’s son Andrew Gunton Fuller in vol. I (pages 1–116): this is fabulous for the diary extracts. The whole diary is not there—we hope to have this in the new critical edition—but there is enough to reveal the tenor of his life and thought.

2.      The nine circular letters that Fuller wrote for the Northamptonshire Baptist Association on key theological and practical issues: vol. III, 308–66. These would were an annual custom where the association would ask one of her ministers to draft such a letter on behalf of the association and it would be sent to all of the churches in the association.

3.      Strictures on Sandemanianism (vol. II, 561–646). A rebuttal of a significant theological error. But in the course of it, Fuller explores a lot of theological ground.

4.      The Atonement of Christ, and the Justification of the Sinner, edited Andrew Gunton Fuller (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.): this is a compilation of Fuller’s thoughts on two key issues.

5.       Sample his sermons in vol. I of his Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller.

Blessings on you as you read!

Andrew Fuller’s self-understanding

May 10th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Dominating my academic thinking for a number of years now has been the Andrew Fuller Works project, which seeks to produce a critical edition of all of the works of Andrew Fuller. At the heart of it is Fuller’s self-understanding as an English Christian, a Baptist, and an Anglo-American Reformed pastor-theologian. Understanding Fuller is a central key to understanding the Anglo-American Baptist scene in the nineteenth century. By no means the only key, but a central hermeneutic. Witness the admiration of such theologians as Jesse Mercer, the Manlys and James Petigru Boyce, Christmas Evans, and CH Spurgeon for Fuller, not to mention men like Thomas Chalmers and Archibald Alexander.

Why should I write?

May 7th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

There are workshops aplenty on learning how to write. And occasionally I have been asked about developing writing skills. But a much more important question is this: why should I write?

Here is a nugget of wisdom from my early Particular Baptist forebears on why they wrote their tracts and their confessions.

In a word, they said, it was “the honor of God, the love of his Truth, zeal for his Name, and…the saving of souls from death” that motivated their writing [Heart-Bleedings for Professors Abominations (London, 1650), 15]. Worthy motives—indeed the very best.

PS Among those who took responsibility for these words were John Spilsbury, William Kiffin, Henry Forty, Thomas Patient (Heart-Bleedings, 16). Anyone writing on these men today has a lot of hard work to do: so many ephemeral pamphlets and broadsheets went abroad under their names in those halcyon days for the Baptist cause. Seventeenth-century scholarship is, I think, a lot more difficult in this regard than the study of the eighteenth.

Speaking the truth in love in a day of theological declension

May 6th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

In one of his books, Francis Schaeffer depicts the two problems that can afflict those desiring to be true to the Christian Faith in days when biblical truth is under attack. On the one hand, some become hard and brittle in their response to errorists and develop low tolerance levels. Such men and women become schismatics and dare to break fellowship over secondary, even tertiary, issues. The history of the Church in North America in the twentieth century is strewn with such.

But there is another danger. In such times, the desire to be balanced and to act in love can lead to a latitudinarianism that has lost any geographical sense of where the boundaries of orthodoxy lie. Such people, albeit, I trust, acting out of good motives, become so tolerant that they do not realize they are no longer faithful gatekeepers. They fail in affirming the boundaries that guard the core of biblical Christianity and thus betray what has been entrusted to them. As Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., has rightly noted, “A word that can mean anything means nothing. If ‘evangelical identity’ means drawing no boundaries, then we really have no center, no matter what we may claim.” [“Reformist Evangelicalism: A Center without a Circumference,” in A Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times, ed. Michael S. Horton (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 146].

I have never forgotten being told by one who was entrusted with an important charge that as he got older in the Christian life, there was more and more that was simply grey and unclear. I am thoroughly convinced now that at work in such a life was a loss of biblical priorities and imperatives and the emergence of an unhealthy latitudinarianism.

For the past thirty years or so Evangelicalism has found herself increasingly embattled within as she is being forced to engage with what are concessions to the spirit of the age that imperil the gospel. And no surprise, we are seeing the emergence of a latitudinarian spirit that is deeply disturbing. Let us guard the gospel and affirm the clear boundaries of the Faith—and let us do so with love. “Speaking the truth with love”: both are needed.

William Vidler, eighteenth-century Universalist

May 4th, 2011 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought

Just read F.W. Butt-Thompson’s study of William Vidler (1758–1816), a nemesis of Andrew Fuller, and by successive degrees a Calvinistic Baptist who turned Universalist and then Unitarian. His church, Butt-Thompson tells us, eventually became “an Ethical Society without any distinct Christian bias” [Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society 1 (1908), 42–55, quote at page 54]. I am looking forward to Chris Chun’s treatment of the controversy between Vidler and Fuller—that has so much contemporary significance—at ETS this November in San Francisco.

Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society available online

May 4th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Just accessed the entire series of the Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society volumes from 1908–1921 at BiblicalStudies.org.uk. You can work with the individual articles or download the entirety as a .zip file containing all of the .pdfs and an index. The download is big (65 MB) but worth the time and effort. For Baptist historians it is like gold as it contains a lot of primary sources docs. Thanks to Rob Bradshaw for doing this.

HT: Sean Winter.

Interview with Generations Radio

May 2nd, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. Haykin was recently interviewed by Dave Buehner of Generations Radio about his recent book on the early church fathers. You can listen to the interview here.

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