‘Baptist Life & Thought’ Category

“The Sum of All These Rewards”

April 24th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In “Love to God and Divine Things for Their Own Excellency,” Andrew Fuller muses on the pleasures of loving and pursuing God. In very Edwardsean language, Fuller upholds the duty of delighting in God as the soul’s highest joy.

The gospel undoubtedly holds up rewards to stimulate us to duty, rewards addressed to our emulation and thirst of happiness; and if the deists on this account reproach it as a selfish theory, I have no doubt but their reproach is groundless. The gospel ought not to be denominated a selfish theory because it inculcates a regard to ourselves. If, however, it could be proved that we are there taught so to pursue our own interest as that the glory of God shall not be regarded as a supreme, but as a subordinate end, the charge were just. But the rewards contained in the gospel convey no such idea as this, for the following plain reason:—The sum of all these rewards is God himself. Grace and glory are only God’s communications of himself. Hence it follows that such rewards, properly pursued, instead of excluding supreme love to God for what he is in himself, necessarily imply it. Without such a love, as hath been already observed, it is impossible in any right manner to seek either his approbation or blessing.[1]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 2: Controversial Publications, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 728.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.

 

“Andrew Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology: a brief response to Emir Caner”

April 23rd, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians, Historians, Missions

By Michael A.G. Haykin

It was extremely gratifying to see Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) cited as a vital theologian at the onset of the modern missionary movement in Dr. Emir Caner’s recent piece on “Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology” that appeared on the SBC Today website. Usually when Baptists are considered in this regard, the name of William Carey (1761–1834) alone receives mention, and Fuller, who was the theological muscle behind Carey, is forgotten. There were, however, some surprising aspects to Caner’s treatment of Fuller, especially as it relates to Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology. According to the article, Fuller really cannot be considered a Calvinist (something that, by the way, would warm the cockles of the hearts of hyper-Calvinist critics of Fuller like William Gadsby). By 1801, Caner reckons that Fuller had given up the concept of particular redemption for a general redemption, affirmed that “faith is not a gift from God,” and rejected “Total Depravity as articulated by some of his contemporary High [that is, hyper-] Calvinists.”

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

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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.

 

“The Children of the Resurrection”

April 17th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In “The Magnitude of the Heavenly Inheritance,” Andrew Fuller exposited Romans 8:18-23 on the hope of resurrection.  He made the following three main points:

I. Such is the magnitude of the glory to be revealed in us, that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with it.

II. Such is the magnitude of the glory to be revealed in us at the resurrection, that its influence extends to the whole creation.

III. Such is the magnitude of the glory to be revealed in us at the resurrection, that those Christians who have possessed the highest enjoyments in this world were not satisfied with them, but groaned within themselves, waiting for the possession of it.

And then he concluded his sermon with this great meditation on the joy and anticipation of the Christian’s future resurrection:

The terms by which the resurrection of believers is expressed, namely, “the adoption,” and “the redemption of our body,” serve to heighten our ideas of the glorious event…..  From the day they received the Saviour, they received power to become the sons of God; the Lord Almighty, as by a judicial act and deed, put them among his children; but still, the body being doomed to die because of sin, till this dishonour is wiped away there is something wanting to complete the execution of the deed. Our vile body must be changed, and fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, ere we can be actually and fully introduced into the heavenly family. We must put on immortality, before we shall be fit company for immortals. We must be made equal to the angels, ere we can associate with angels. Finally, To be completely “the children of God,” we must be “the children of the resurrection.”

Similar observations might be made on the term redemption, as here applied to the resurrection of the body. This term as familiarized to Christians by the apostolic writings. They had “redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins;” but here the word is used in a new sense, denoting the last act of deliverance, even that of the body, from under the thraldom of death and the imprisonment of the grave. It is in reference to this last act of deliverance that Christ is said to be “made unto us—redemption.”  The redemption of our souls by his blood preceded his being made unto us wisdom, or righteousness, or sanctification; but the redemption of our body, as being the last act of deliverance, succeeds them. The body is a part of Christ’s purchase as really as the soul. It is on this principle that the Corinthians were dissuaded from polluting it by fornication: “Ye are not your own, but bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The resurrection of the body, therefore, is the recovery of the last part of the Redeemer’s purchase, signified by that expressive sentence, so often repeated, “I will raise it up at the last day.”

This is the glory which shall be revealed in us, with which the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared: this is the great crisis of creation, to which all that precedes it tends, as to its last end; and the result to which believers, who have possessed the richest communications of grace in this life, look with earnest expectation.[1]


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 340-41.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.

 

“We Reap on Zion’s Hill”

April 10th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

After a life consumed in service to Christ, on April 12, 1850, Adoniram Judson entered his heavenly rest.  Judson’s eminent biographer, Francis Wayland, comments on the effect of Judson’s heavenly-minded piety on his life and virtue.

In treating of his religious character, it would be an omission not to refer to his habitual heavenly mindedness. In his letters, I know of no topic that is so frequently referred to as the nearness of the heavenly glory.  If his loved ones died, his consolation was that they should all so soon meet in paradise.  If an untoward event occurred, it was of no great consequence, for soon we should be in heaven, where all such trials would either be forgotten, or where the recollection of them would render our bliss the more intense.  Thither his social feelings pointed, and he was ever thinking of the meeting that awaited him with those who with him had fought the good fight, and were now wearing the crown of victory. So habitual were these trains of thought, that a person well acquainted with him remarks, that “meditation on death was his common solace in all the troubles of life.”  I do not know that the habitual temper of his mind can in any words be so well expressed as in the following lines, which he wrote in pencil on the inner cover of a book that he was using in the compilation of his dictionary:

“—In joy or sorrow, health or pain,
Our course be onward still;
We sow on Burmah’s barren plain,
We reap on Zion’s hill.”[1]


[1]Wayland, Memoir, 2:381-382.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.

Uneducated Ministers?

April 3rd, 2014 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

Sometimes theological education can be downplayed as though it were an unnecessary hobby for left-brained seminarians.  Unfortunately, rigorous biblical/theological training can be disparaged and treated as peripheral for “real” ministry to “real” people with “real” problems.  Doctrine divides, Jesus unites; deeds, not creeds; practical application, not propositional truth… so goes the post-modern, anti-authoritarian mantra.  One of the most oft-cited examples supposedly in support of this anti-intellectualism is that Jesus chose uneducated simpletons to be his disciples, not the highfalutin scribes and Pharisees, as though pure spirituality corresponds to untrained simple faith.  However, this is not the case.  Eckhard Schnabel explains in Early Christian Mission vol.1, 277-278:

The calling of the twelve disciples in Galilee must not be burdened with the view that Jesus called uneducated Galileans to the task of preaching and teaching.  It is rather probable that Jesus’ disciples, including the fishermen Simon and Andrew, were educated.

According to John 1:44, Peter, Andrew and Philip came from Bethsaida, an up-and-coming town that was granted the status of a polis in A.D. 30 and was located in the vicinity of the Greek city Caesarea Philippi.  Rainer Riesner argues that people “who grew up in such close proximity to a Hellenistic city must have spoken more than a few scraps of Greek.  Thus John 12:21 presupposes that Philip could speak Greek.”  Andrew, Philip and Simon had Greek names, which may not be coincidental.  Riesner observes, “The Galilean fishermen in Jesus’ group of disciples belonged not to the rural lower class but to the vocational middle class.  As the latter had religious interests, we may assume a certain degree of education in the case of the disciples such as Peter and John….  We may assume that several disciples came from that segment of the Jewish people who displayed religious interests and that they received, like Jesus, a good elementary education in the parental home, in the synagogue and in elementary school.”  A Jew who came from a pious background “had a solid, albeit one-sided, education.  He could read and write and he could retain large quantities of material in his memory by applying simple mnemonic devices….  Whether a boy of the lower classes received an elementary education depended on two preconditions:  the piety of the father and the existence of a synagogue in the village.”

The view that Jesus had untutored disciples is a romantic and entirely unwarranted one.  Note, for example, the calling of Matthew-Levi, a tax collector….  A tax collector belonged to the higher levels of society.  His position presupposed not only that he was wealthy but also that he had…education.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.

Audio of Conference on Adoniram Judson Now Online

March 31st, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Missions

By Steve Weaver

We have posted the audio of our recent mini-conference with Dr. Jason Duesing (Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) on the conference page (see left hand column). There are two lectures on the life and ministry of Judson and a Q&A session with Dr. Duesing.

The audio of the lectures are below:

Lecture 1: The Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson, Part 1:  Conversion, Consecration, & Commission, 1788-1812 (MP3)

Lecture 2: The Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson, Part 2:  Baptism, Burma, & the Bible, 1812-1850 (MP3)

Q&A: Q&A on the Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson(MP3)

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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.

Are Baptists Reformers, Radicals, or Restorationists?

March 25th, 2014 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Historians, Puritans, Reformation

By Nathan A. Finn

If you spend much time studying Baptist history and thought, you know that a perennial debate concerns Baptist origins, early theological influences, and any bearing those topics might have on the nature of Baptist identity. Some scholars argue that Baptists are second or third generation reformers who are rooted in a mostly puritan identity. Barrie White and Tom Nettles come to mind as exemplars of this view, which is the majority position among historians. Other scholars argue that Baptists, though clearly emerging from English Separatists, are at least influenced by the evangelical wing of the Radical Reformation. William Estep and Ian Randall are two representatives of this school of thought. Still other historians argue that Baptists are evangelical restorationists: Doug Weaver makes this case. Some Baptist scholars opt for an eclectic or polygenetic approach to this question, notably Curtis Freeman.

I wonder to what degree one’s own theological and/or spiritual presuppositions play into how a scholar views this issue. Granted, none of the aforementioned categories are Landmark, so presumably their historiographies aren’t totally theologically driven. Still, does one’s understanding of issues like predestination, ecumenism, church and state, and church and culture affect where one “lands” on this question? I think this is at least possible in some cases.

For my part, I can see why different scholars champion each of these approaches. The historical genesis of the earliest English Baptists was most definitely in English Separatism and by the time of the Civil War the English Baptists were thinking in broadly puritan categories. However, at least some of the earliest General Baptists and perhaps a few of the earliest Particular Baptists had some affinity with some Anabaptists. And, of course, both Anabaptists and Baptists held to baptistic ecclesiologies, which would at least lend itself to the understandable (if not always charitable) assumption that the groups were connected in some ways. Baptists on the whole might not be restorationists, but there is no doubt there is a restorationist streak among some Baptists—how else does one explain the spiritual pilgrimages of John Smyth and Rogers Williams or the existence of the Independent Baptist movement? These factors are why I resonate with a more polygenetic approach to early Baptist theological identity, while still holding to English Separatist historical origins.

How do you think we should think about Baptist origins and/or identity? Are we puritans who got straightened out on the sacraments? Are we the more respectable wing of the Radical Reformation? Are we sane restorationists? Or, especially since the early eighteenth century, are we really just dunking evangelicals? I’m thinking out loud more than I am making any particular arguments, so I would love to hear your thoughts about this question.

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Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

 

Spurgeon’s Missiology: “Go and Teach Them”

March 13th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon equally upheld a passion for converting lost souls and for making disciples of all nations.  In his sermon, “The Missionaries’ Charge and Charter,” on April 21, 1861, Spurgeon unpacked the role of teaching disciples in missions, as commanded in the Great Commission:

First, my Brethren and very briefly, indeed, a few things about the COMMAND.  And we must remark, first, what a singularly loving one it is….  It is the voice of love, not of wrath. “Go and teach them the power of My blood to cleanse, the willingness of My arms to embrace, the yearning of My heart to save! Go and teach them. Teach them no more to despise Me, no more to think My Father an angry and implacable Deity. Teach them to bow the knee, and kiss the Son, and find peace in Me for all their troubles, and a balm for all their woes. Go—speak as I have spoken—weep as I have wept; invite as I have invited; exhort, entreat, beseech and pray, as I have done before you. Tell them to come unto Me, if they are weary and heavy laden, and I will give them rest….

Note, too, how exceedingly plain is the command, “Go you, teach all nations.”…  Why, it is the mother’s work with her child! It is the tutor’s work with the boy and with the girl—“go you and teach.” How simple! Illustrate; explain; expound; tell; inform; narrate! Take from them the darkness of ignorance; reveal to them the light of Revelation. Teach! Be content to sit down, and tell them the very plainest and most common things. It is not your eloquence that shall convert them; it is not your gaudy language or your polished periods that shall sway their intellects….  Go you and teach them first the very simplicities of the Cross of Christ!…

There has been heroism in every land for Christ—men of every color and of every race have died for Him; upon His altar has been found the blood of all kindreds who are upon the face of the earth. Oh, tell me not they cannot be taught! Sirs, they can be taught to die for Christ; and this is more than some of you have learned. They can rehearse the very highest lesson of the Christian religion—that self-sacrifice which knows not itself, but gives up all for Him. At this day there are Karen missionaries preaching among the Karens with as fervid an eloquence as ever was known by Whitefield! There are Chinese teaching in Borneo, Sumatra, and Australia, with as much earnestness as Morison or Milne first taught in China. There are Hindu Evangelists who are not ashamed to have given up the Brahmian thread, and to eat with the Pariah, and to preach with him the riches of Christ!… Well was that command warranted by future facts, when Christ said, “Go you, teach all nations.”

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.

Judson’s Farewell Hymn

March 6th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Hymnody, Poetry

By Evan D. Burns

Yesterday, at the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, a mini-conference was held on Adoniram Judson (1788-1850).  In honor of Judson, below is a portion of the farewell hymn written by Mrs. A. M. O. Edmond in 1846 for his final commissioning back to Burma.  Here is part of the hymn sung by the assembly in Boston:[1]

Fare ye well, O friends beloved!
Speed ye on your mission high;
Give to lands of gloomy error
Living truths that never die.
Tell, O tell them,
Their redemption draweth nigh.

Bear abroad the gospel standard,
Till its folds triumphant wave,
And the hosts of sin and darkness
Find forevermore a grave:
Till, victorious,
Jesus reigns, who died to save.

Fearless ride the stormy billows,
Fearless every danger dare;
Onward! in your steadfast purpose,
We will follow you with prayer.
Glorious mission!
‘Tis the Cross of Christ ye bear.

Though our parting waken sadness,
‘Tis not all the grief of woe;
There are tears of Christian gladness
Mingling with the drops that flow.
‘Tis for Jesus
That we freely bid you go.

 Man of God! once more departing
Hence, to preach a Saviour slain,
With a full, warm heart we give thee
To the glorious work again.
Faithful servant,
Thou with Christ shall rest and reign.


[1]John Dowling, The Judson Offering, 287-288;  Robert T. Middleditch, Burmah’s Great Missionary, 400-401.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.

Fuller on Reading the Scriptures

February 27th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians

By Evan D. Burns

Andrew Fuller carefully explained the usefulness and spiritual benefit of prayerfully reading the Scriptures, as opposed to reading commentaries in substitution of meditation.  He said that reading assists prayer, and prayer assists reading.  Here are some suggestions he gives for reading the Bible prayerfully:[1]

  • Read Scripture prayerfully at set times each day, preferably in the mornings.
  • Let reading the Scriptures precede prayer, and then let prayer spur on more reading.
  • Maintain a tender, humble, holy frame of mind.
  • Pause, think, pray, and apply to your meditations to your daily life.
  • Only use commentators/expositors when you cannot resolve a difficult issue, and that only after thinking hard by yourself.
  • Writing down interesting thoughts fixes them to memory.

[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 788.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 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.