‘21st Century’ Category

New Book: Baptists and War: Essays on Baptists and Military Conflict, 1640s-1990s

March 19th, 2015 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History

9781625646743Just released from Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, a collection of essays on Baptists and War. These papers, which were originally delivered at the 2011 annual conference of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, were compiled and edited by Gordon L. Heath and Michael A.G. Haykin. The book is available for purchase now from the publisher and on Amazon. For a PDF flyer with all the book details see here.

Description from Publisher:

While Baptists through the years have been certain that “war is hell,” they have not always been able to agree on how to respond to it. This book traces much of this troubled relationship from the days of Baptist origins with close ties to pacifist Anabaptists to the responses of Baptists in America to the war in Vietnam. Essays also include discussions of the English Baptist Andrew Fuller’s response to the threat of Napoleon, how Baptists in America dealt with the War of 1812, the support of Canadian Baptists for Britain’s war in Sudan and Abyssinia in the 1880s, the decisive effect of the First World War on Canada’s T. T. Shields, the response of Australian Baptists to the Second World War, and how Russian Baptists dealt with the Cold War. These chapters provide important analyses of Baptist reactions to one of society’s most intractable problems.


“Conflict challenges the Christian conscience, fostering divergent responses. Hence Baptists have commonly sought peace, sometimes to the extent of condemning war outright, but equally they have often believed that justice required the taking up of arms, even with enthusiasm. The detailed and penetrating international studies contained in this book illuminate contrasting attitudes over the centuries, showing how war has put Baptists to the test, spiritually as well as materially.”
–David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland,

“Baptists have had a varied approach to war from the Pietist/Reformed tensions of four hundred years ago to the reactions to the Vietnam War. This work explores the theme in different time periods and, using a number of individuals as case studies, opens the past so the reader can reflect on the present. The volume is an important contribution to both Baptist studies and the Christian approach to war and peace.”
–Robert Wilson, Professor of Church History, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Canada


Book Review of Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury by Andrew Atherstone

February 16th, 2015 Posted in 20th Century, 21st Century, Books, Church History, Historians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Andrew Atherstone, Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2014), viii+152 pages.

welbyWhat drew me to this unauthorized biography of Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, was frankly the author, Andrew Atherstone, currently Tutor in History and Doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Having profited greatly from books that he was written in the past, I looked forward to the same in this sympathetic biography.

Welby was born into wealth and was very successful in the world of finance—he was a treasurer in the oil industry and had a salary of £100,000 per annum in 1989; but the compulsion of the Spirit and constraints of the gospel led him to train for vocational ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. During the early days of his Christian life after a distinctly evangelical conversion he was deeply shaped by the Vineyard as it found expression in the ministry of Holy Trinity Brompton.

His first ministerial charge was at Chilvers Coton in the diocese of Coventry. This diocesan locale proved to be important for Welby’s long-term career. The destruction of Coventry and St. Michael’s Cathedral in 1940 during World War II had led to the formation of the Community of the Cross of Nails (so named because of three medieval nails from the destroyed cathedral that were fused into a cross after the bombing), which came to focus on reconciliation projects in trouble spots around the world. In time, reconciliation became a defining hallmark of Welby’s ministry.

From Chilvers Coton, Welby went to Southam, Warwickshire, as the rector of Sr. James, where he became increasingly concerned for parish renewal, the relationship between theology and ethics, and the ministry of reconciliation. The latter frequently took him to Africa, where he faced mortal danger more than once, especially in Nigeria where violent clashes between Muslim and Christian were becoming more and more frequent in the 2000s.

Welby has insisted that he is “an orthodox Bible-believing evangelical,” for whom Scripture is “my final authority for all matters of life and doctrine” (p.90). But his concern for reconciliation has also led him to seek to preserve the unity of the Anglican communion despite recent deep divisions over women’s ordination and the question of same-sex marriage. There is no doubt that the latter issue will definitely test his abilities as Archbishop, for, in the final analysis, same-sex marriage is incompatible with a high view of Scripture.

Three things in particular struck me in Atherstone’s story of Welby’s life thus far: Welby’s concern for unity; in his own words, it is an “absolute essential” (p.113). Sadly, because unity has all too often in the past century been the concern of ecumenical types with a low of scriptural authority, evangelicals have not paid the matter the attention it deserves. But such an attitude is out of sync with both Scripture and the tradition of evangelicalism. The critical question, of course, has to do with the dynamics of making it happen. Then, there is Welby’s early experience with the charismatic movement and Third Wave theology that seems to have given him a life-long desire for revival, which, he would argue, is rooted in the resurrection: “Our hope of revival is based on the resurrection. Again and again in church history churches far worse off than us have, with clear leadership, found new life, and finding it have seen astonishing growth. Personally I believe passionately that it is possible” (p.131). To be honest, I did not expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak in such terms. Yet, his words are welcome and wise.

Third, it is clear that while Welby’s roots are evangelical, he has moved beyond the boundaries of evangelicalism in his practice of the Christian life. For instance, Atherstone notes Welby’s deep indebtedness to both Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality (p.94–97, 143). Reading this, it struck me that Welby typifies so many other evangelicals who have turned to other traditions of piety to enrich their faith. To be sure, it is not the case that we evangelicals have nothing to learn from these traditions. But the questions lay burning in my heart long after I had finished reading this biography: do we not have a tradition of piety that can nurture the deepest recesses of the believer’s heart (forsooth we do) and why is it not being retrieved and taught?

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.

Andrew Fuller on the extent of the atonement: A surrejoinder to Drs. Allen and Caner

April 28th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, 21st Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Current Affairs, Historians, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

I suspect it is a sign of Andrew Fuller’s greatness as a theologian that his thought should occasion differing interpretations. Because of this, the blogosphere (let alone other social media like Facebook and Twitter) is not the best of places to carry on the sort of discussion that drills down into the depths of his thought. Such a conversation is best carried on in face-to-face discussions or through such media as monographs and academic articles.

This being said, let me make one final response to Drs David Allen and Emir Caner regarding their interpretation of Fuller. First of all, let me say that I am very thankful for the thoughtful response of Dr David Allen (“Gaining a Fuller Understanding: Responding to Dr. Michael Haykin”, SBC Today) to my earlier comments on an article by Dr Emir Caner that included a discussion of Andrew Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology (“Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology, pt. 2/3: What Were the Early SBC Leaders’ View of Salvation?”, SBC Today. He is obviously drawing upon his extensive article on “The Atonement: Limited or Universal” in his and Steve W. Lemke, eds., Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2010), 61–107, where he actually refers to Fuller on three occasions. This background to Allen’s remarks may well explain elements of his reply to me: he perceives there to be theological and biblical issues at stake and he is eager to recruit Fuller to defend his position on those theological and biblical issues.

I, on the other hand, am approaching Fuller as an historian: I am not uninterested in the theological and biblical issues, but my main approach to Fuller is as an historian. I really want to understand what he is saying and why and how his historical context shapes his interaction with Scripture. To that end, in addition to reading Fuller’s thoughts, secondary sources beyond Peter Morden’s fine study of Fuller—Offering Christ to the World (Paternoster, 2003), which Caner quotes at second-hand from a piece by Allen—like Gerald L. Priest, “Andrew Fuller, Hyper-Calvinism, and the ‘Modern Question’ ” in my ed., ‘At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word’: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist (Paternoster, 2004), 43–73; Chris Chun, The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in the Theology of Andrew Fuller (Brill, 2012), 142–182; and especially Geoffrey F. Nuttall, “Northamptonshire and The Modern Question: A Turning-Point in Eighteenth-Century Dissent”, Journal of Theological Studies, ns, 16 (1965), 101–123 are absolutely vital to read before pronouncing any sort of magisterial interpretation of Fuller on the convoluted issue of the atonement. For my own take, on this question, see “Particular Redemption in the Writings of Andrew Fuller (1754–1815)” in David Bebbington, ed., The Gospel in the World: International Baptist Studies (Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol.1; Carlisle, Cumbria/Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Press, 2002), 107–128. So: I am writing as an historian, not as a biblical theologian. I am not trying to elucidate what the New Testament says about this issue, but understand what Fuller believed. The question of whether he was right or wrong is another issue as is the question of whether Southern Baptists are his heirs etc.

To read my 4+ page response in its entirety, please download the full PDF here.


Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

Introducing the Ministry of Evan D. Burns

March 18th, 2014 Posted in 21st Century, Missions

By Steve Weaver

Evan BurnsThose who read this blog on a regular basis are not strangers to Evan D. Burns. Evan is one of our most faithful contributors to the blog, regularly providing excerpts from the writings of Andrew Fuller, Adoniram Judson, and others. What you may not realize is that, while he is working on a Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Evan and his family are also serving as missionaries in southeast Asia. Evan is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

A few months ago, the Burns put together the video below for their supporters to inform them about their ministry.

Video Description: Evan and Kristie Burns, and their two sons, live in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Evan works with the Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and Training Leaders International, to train Christian leaders from around SE Asia. This video shares about some of the needs in the region and the work that Evan and his family are doing to meet those needs.

To get in touch with Evan about his ministry, just leave a comment below and I will forward it along to him.


Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children.

Boston Not Jerusalem

April 30th, 2013 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, 21st Century, Current Affairs, Puritans

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

The Boston Marathon bombing represents a society that is worlds apart from the Boston inhabited by the Puritan Increase Mather (1639-1723). Abhorrent evils perpetrated in any city—like the Newtown shooting, 9/11, and the Oklahoma City bombing—raise the very human question: why? Each generation has to wrestle with new and complicated manifestations of wrongdoing. Increase Mather had no category for making sense of how two Chechen brothers could plant explosives at a massive annual foot-race. However, perhaps his response to the calamities of Boston in his day could help us gain perspective on the city’s recent catastrophe.

In many ways, modern-day Boston has failed to live up to Mather’s lofty aspirations for the city. Mather, the former minister of the historic Second Church and President of Harvard from 1685-1702, planned for Boston to become the new Jerusalem—God’s holy society on earth. But even in his day, Boston was far from heaven. The seventeenth-century New Englanders intimately knew suffering. The reason many of them came to New England was to flee religious persecution. If they survived the long voyage, they faced the threat of frequent and devastating plagues.

But it was the attacks from the native New England tribes that evoked one of Mather’s fullest reflections on the evil of his times, An Earnest Exhortation to the Inhabitants of New-England (1676).[1] In this treatise, Mather blamed the tragedies on the sins of Boston’s citizens: “What shall we say when men are seen in the Streets with monstrous and horrid Perriwigs, and women with their Borders and False Locks…whereby the anger of the Lord is kindled against this land (9)!” He’s just getting warmed up. He listed Boston’s iniquities and warned that unless the citizens reform their lives, “New-England hath not seen its worst dayes.” For Mather, Boston’s prosperity and its demise was contingent on its righteousness before God. Thus, his solution for eradicating Boston’s suffering was to recruit its citizens to significant moral reform.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking (or should be thinking if you’re not): so far, Mather is not helping us understand evil today! But briefly give him a little grace. As a result of these events, Mather ministered to many hurting people: “Is it nothing that Widdows and Fatherless have been multiplyed among us?” He wanted to see evil and its effects eliminated just as much as those impacted by the Boston Marathon bombings. However, no earthly city could ever be righteous enough to completely evade adversity—all of mankind is fallen. His solution was geographically misguided.

Mather placed his hope in the right city, but he located it in the wrong place. Revelation 21:2-4 describes how the new Jerusalem will come:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

Boston is not the New Jerusalem—it does not exist on earth. The events from last week’s race testify to the sad reality that evil still afflicts the city four-hundred years later. Ever since Babel, mankind has had the tendency to rely on the kingdoms that we can construct. We like our societies because they reflect us rather than God. However, despite our best efforts, we cannot create the righteous kingdom that will bring us peace.

Mather was right that God will entirely eradicate all evil and its consequences in his new Jerusalem. However, this is not a city that mortals can build.  Instead, we must rest our hopes for peace on the King of the new Jerusalem, Jesus Christ, who will lovingly assemble this city for his people.

[1]Increase Mather, An Earnest Exhortation to the Inhabitants of New-England (Boston: John Foster: 1676). You can access the full text here: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/etas/31/


Ryan Patrick Hoselton is pursuing a ThM at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaclyn, and they are expecting their first child in August.


Two new works on Covenant Theology in its Baptist expression

April 8th, 2013 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Puritans, Reformation, Theology

By Jeff Robinson

One of the theological questions I have been asked most often during my first 24 months as pastor has been some version of this query: Do Baptists believe Covenant Theology or is that just a Presbyterian thing? My answer (which is consistently “Yes, Baptists have historically believed Covenant Theology that obviously differs a bit from our Presbyterian brethren”) has puzzled some and made others curious enough to launch your own study of my conclusion. But my dear friend Mike Gaydosh at Solid Ground Books in Birmingham, Ala., the city where my family lives, has recently published two books that will provide plenty of grist for that mill and will provide substantive historical and biblical answers to the question of Baptists and their relationship to Covenant Theology.

The first work is titled The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology: A Comparison Between Seventeenth-Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism by Pascal Denault. The point of pressure separating the Baptist and non-Baptist version of Covenant Theology is, of course, the subjects (the who?) of baptism. In the concise span of 140 pages, Denault’s work provides a brilliant historical, biblical and theological defense of believer’s baptism and provides an excellent overview of the consistent, biblical Covenant Theology which the Calvinistic (Particular) Baptists of 17th century England espoused. Denault surveys British Particular Baptists who held to Covenant Theology such as Benjamin Keach and John Gill and also shows biblically how paedobaptists misinterpret the continuity between the promises given to Abraham in the OT and baptism in the NT and arrive at the conclusion that baptism replaces circumcision as the sign of membership in the covenant people of God. The author traces the points at which historic Baptists and their fellow Puritans parted ways on issues of the continuity and discontinuity between the old and new testaments and argues forcibly that Baptists more consistently held to a biblical version of Covenant Theology.

Edited by Earl M. Blackburn, the second work, Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive, is a multi-author work and includes chapters from contributors such as Justin Taylor, Fred Malone and Walter Chantry. Like the Denault book, this work is brief in compass (161 pages, including three appendices) and each of the five well-written chapters examines a separate issue related to the covenants of Scripture, ranging from baptism to the question of the existence of a covenant of works. Blackburn opens with an excellent overview of Covenant Theology and Malone follows with a discussion of biblical hermeneutics and Covenant Theology. This work, like Denault’s book, offers a well-done overview of the Baptist version of Covenant Theology and I heartily recommend them both for your spring or summer reading.

To order, see the Solid Ground Christian Books website at http://www.solid-ground-books.com/index.asp. Phone: (205) 443-0311.


Jeff Robinson (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church. Jeff is the author of the forthcoming book, The Great Commission Vision of John Calvin. Jeff is also a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

A Family History of Sabbatarianism

April 1st, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, 21st Century, Andrew Fuller, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Dustin Bruce

Hearing bits of anecdotal family history is one of the most interesting parts of holiday gatherings. When aspects of family history intersect with theological concepts, I find them even more fascinating. Recently I enjoyed learning of the Sabbatarian practices my grandparents experienced as children in the early twentieth-century rural south.

Growing up in a devout Baptist family, my grandfather was not allowed to work or attend any worldly amusements on the Lord’s Day. Slight exceptions were made to allow for some cooking and feeding of animals. Work was not allowed, but the Sabbath was not to be spent frivolously. Fishing and hunting, common pastimes in rural Alabama, were simply out of the question. 

It is interesting to note how quickly the practice of keeping the Lord’s Day has faded from the church culture. Area churches that would have encouraged Sabbath keeping just 70 years ago likely have no current members who give the concept much thought. The shift away from Sabbatarianism has been so swift and decisive that my grandfather’s childhood experience in this area more closely resembles that of Andrew Fuller’s than my own.

In an 1805 letter to a friend, Fuller defends the practice of keeping the Lord’s Day. Responding to doubts as to its observance, Fuller asks, “If the keeping of a Sabbath to God were not in all ages binding, why is it introduced in the moral law, and founded upon God’s resting from his works. If it were merely a Jewish ceremonial, why do we read of time being divided by weeks before the law?”[1]Fuller possessed a theological conviction that compelled him to set apart the Sabbath as a holy day to the Lord. He instructs, “The first day then ought to be kept as the Lord’s own day, and we ought not to think our own thoughts, converse on our own affairs, nor follow our own business on it.

One wonders if Fuller first learned this Sabbatarian practice as a child growing up in the home of Particular Baptist parents. Like my grandfather’s mother, Fuller’s mother may have prevented him from hunting or fishing or attending to other worldly amusements, setting an early example of keeping the Lord’s Day.

Anecdotal family history is interesting, but should also be instructive. Like other types of history, learning of the religious beliefs and practices of those who form my family tree should cause me to reflect on whether I am being more or less faithful in my Christian walk. Feel free to share any interesting examples of your family’s religious history in the comments below.

[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 828.


Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a ThM in Church History at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

Diarmaid MacCulloch: All history writing is autobiography

February 25th, 2013 Posted in 21st Century, Books, Church History, Current Affairs, Historians, Reformation

By Ian Hugh Clary

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch give a lecture on the history of Christianity and sexuality. MacCulloch is a church historian from Oxford who specializes in the English Reformation. As an evangelical, I find that his interpretation of history squares with my own, so I was perplexed by his talk.

For those who may not know, Prof. MacCulloch is an out-of-the-closet homosexual—just check the acknowledgements section of his masterful biography of Cranmer. He is also an advocate in the Church of England—where he was once an office-bearer—for gay rights. He recently left the church and now considers himself a “friend” of Christianity. As you can imagine, his lecture provoked questions. I believed that I would hear a very careful handling of sources, though admittedly there may be revisionist elements. I was wrong in my assessment.

Before I explain why, I should say that MacCulloch is an exciting lecturer—the hour or so he took in his first talk went by quickly. He addressed the role of sexuality from the Old Testament to the late Middle Ages; it was fast-paced and he covered a lot of ground, but it was never confusing or boring. I could only imagine what it must have been like to take one of his classes.

As the lecture progressed, however, I became troubled. From beginning to end, MacCulloch gave a large polemic against traditional interpretations of scripture and history. I also became more and more incredulous. This was not due to hearing an historian defend gay rights, that doesn’t shock me—it’s commonplace in academia. My upset was due to my hearing one of the world’s leading ecclesiastical historians be so shaped by his personal bias that it allowed him to crudely handle texts and history. As for scripture, MacCulloch used Boswell’s hermeneutic, alluded to gay relationships between figures like David and Jonathan, and drove a wedge between the sexual ethics of Jesus and Paul (saying the latter was the more liberal); all of this has long since been repudiated by scholars like Robert Gagnon. MacCulloch was dishonest to his audience by making his case seem so open and shut, when such is far from the case.

MacCulloch based his historical arguments on Hellenization that he argued infected the early church so that it denigrated the physical world and thus sexuality. He also hammered against the celibacy that has so dominated the western church. While I have sympathies with his views of monastic celibacy, he did not give a rounded view of the early church on the goodness of sex and marriage—the work of David Hunter offers a needed corrective. Though I was not able to attend his second lecture the next day, a friend told me that MacCulloch also did not deal with the Puritans and their views of sex, marriage, and the body—the Puritans, as Leland Ryken and others have shown, had a healthy view of sex, and were not Platonists in their view of the material world.

In the Q & A I shocked myself by raising my hand. Seemingly without control I stood and asked, “If you will allow me to ask a personal question, that is not at all meant to be cheeky, I wondered how you view your reading of history in light of your own personal story and struggles in the church. Could traditional historians not accuse you of allowing your own bias to inappropriately control your historiography, as you have accused Augustine?” He was gracious in his response, and even acknowledged the importance of the question. He replied that “all history writing is autobiography.” I found this so perplexing to hear from a scholar who has been such a model historian to me. For one who could appropriate the findings of Catholic revisionists like Eamon Duffy, yet do so while being true to the English Reformation and vindicating earlier historians like A. G. Dickens, I was disappointed to hear him justify a reading of history that would not square with his earlier historiographic methods.

Professor MacCulloch serves as a reminder to all of us: as historians, now matter how great or prestigious, we must be aware of our personal biases and strive towards objectivity. While pure objectivity is impossible, I do believe that historians can put forth a body of work that can withstand scrutiny from specialists. And while my autobiography may lurk, I cannot allow it to so colour my work that it misleads readers.


Ian Hugh Clary is finishing doctoral studies under Adriaan Neele at Universiteit van die Vrystaat (Blomfontein), where he is writing a dissertation on the evangelical historiography of Arnold Dallimore. He has co-authored two local church histories with Michael Haykin and contributed articles to numerous scholarly journals. Ian serves as a pastor of BridgeWay Covenant Church in Toronto where he lives with his wife and two children.

Ian Clary on “Church History on the Ground”

November 9th, 2012 Posted in 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Books, Church History

Rivers of Living Water: Celebrating 125…Dr. Haykin recently collaborated with Ian Clary on a history of the 125-year-old Hughson Street Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario, “Rivers of Living Water”: Celebrating 125 Years of Hughson Street Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario, 1887-2012. Ian wrote about his experience working on this project and the value of local church histories here. Be sure to check out his suggestions for both beginning and professional historians, along with his plea to churches, seminaries and other Christian institutions to publish histories regularly.

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


The seminary and piety: a surrejoinder

August 10th, 2012 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Current Affairs

If we define a faithful minister of the Word along the lines of Acts 6, a man devoted to the Word and prayer, it seems to me that in the twentieth century faithful orthodox seminaries have done fairly well in training men in one half of this equation: the Word. But what of the other? Well, I think many leaders in former generations expected these things to be caught by osmosis even though Jesus responded positively to the disciples’ request that he teach them how to pray. Spirituality needs to be “taught” and handed on.

And while all professors in a seminary need to approach their specific subjects with an answerable spiritual frame, it is not wrong for some to focus on spirituality. Given the fact that spirituality and spiritual formation are increasingly huge engagements for both our larger cultural “moment” and within the boundaries of the Church, it is not unrealistic to ask certain men to specialize in the praxis of spirituality and the history of biblical spirituality.

As an historian, I feel the latter is very important: during the course of the twentieth century for a variety of reasons many of those who loved the Scriptures as the inerrant Word of God and faithfully upheld biblical orthodoxy failed to pass on the rich piety of their forebears in the Reformation, Puritan, Pietist and early Evangelical traditions. And surely this is one of the reasons why certain communities within the broad stream of twentieth-century English-speaking Evangelicalism became enamoured of the Spirit and talked as if they were the first to discover him since the Pentecost: they looked around and saw a tradition that seemed to have little place for piety, experience, and dare I say it, rapture (no I am not talking about an eschatological item!). Incidentally, here is where a man whom Carl has been writing about in recent days, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is so helpful: his balance of Word and Spirit is admirable (re other matters Carl has raised about the Doctor, this is not the place to go into those, though I agree with Carl that the recent collection of essays on the Doctor is by and large a welcome addition to the books on that remarkable servant of God).

Maybe, I need to take up Carl’s offer and we can do a book together on this subject of the seminary and piety—and maybe Dr Lucas, if he is so inclined, could also be involved!