‘Baptist Life & Thought’ Category

Kettering Issue 2 Now Available for Download

January 30th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Church History

By Dustin Bruce

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The latest issue of Kettering: A Newsletter for the Andrew Fuller Center of Baptist Studies is now available for download. In Issue no. 2, you will find a number of insightful pieces relating to Baptist History, including an editorial from Fuller Center Director, Dr. Michael Haykin,and an excerpt from a Fuller sermon entitled, “The Qualifications and Encouragement of a Faithful Minister.” Also, you will find an article from Haykin on Benjamin Davies and another by Dr. Steve Weaver on the subject of “Baptist as Puritans.” A number of book reviews, as well as coverage of the most recent Andrew Fuller conference, are also included.

Download your copy today. And as always, help us spread the word!

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

“May the God of Samuel Pearce be my God!”

January 30th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Prayer

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Samuel Pearce’s (1766–1799) only pastoral charge was at Cannon Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, England. Here he labored for the conversion of many of the illiterate poor of Birmingham who had been drawn to the city because of work in the factories of the Industrial Revolution. He saw some 335 converted and baptized during his ten-year ministry. His passion for the lost found outlet in other venues: preaching in neighboring villages; writing tracts for Muslim sailors and dock workers in London; ardently supporting the first missionary society, the Baptist Missionary Society that sent William Carey to India in 1793 (Carey was one of his closest friends); going on an arduous mission to Ireland for six weeks and preaching to Roman Catholics.

In short, his friend Andrew Fuller saw him as a paradigm of missionary spirituality. No wonder Fuller prayed: “May the God of Samuel Pearce be my God!”

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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.

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

January 20th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History

Baptists and WarComing soon from Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, a collection of essay 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 by Gordon L. Heath and Michael A.G. Haykin.

From the back cover:

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 response to Baptists in America to the War in Vietnam. Essays 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.

Mini-Conference: “The Legacy of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)”

January 14th, 2015 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians

By Steve Weaver

Fuller Legacy Mini-Conference

In a few weeks, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies will host a mini-conference that will consider the legacy of Andrew Fuller. 2015 marks the bicentennial of Fuller’s death so it is appropriate The Andrew Fuller Center devote some time to assessing his legacy. As an added bonus, the conference date of February 6th is the 261st birthday of Fuller. The conference will be hosted on the third floor of the Legacy Hotel on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference is open to all students, faculty, and staff of the seminary and Boyce College.

Schedule:

9:00 – 9:20am – “Why Andrew Fuller?” with Michael A.G. Haykin

9:30 – 10:30am – “Fuller and the 19th Century Southern Baptists” with Greg Wills

11am – 12pm – “C.H. Spurgeon: a Fullerite?” with Steve Weaver

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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 between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

“Duties Derived from Doctrine”

January 8th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Eminent Christians

By Evan D. Burns

In a sermon entitled, “The Future Perfection of the Church,” Andrew Fuller unpacked his meditations on Ephesians 5:25-27

Christ—loved the church, and gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.[1]

The very first sentence of his sermon is a perceptive statement about the relationship between apostolic doctrine and apostolic instruction, particularly in this case, as it relates to Christian marriage.  Fuller observed that moral imperatives are always rooted in and grow out of redemptive indicatives.  Here is part of his introduction:

It is a distinguishing feature in the apostolic writings, that motives to the most ordinary duties are derived from the doctrine of the cross.  Who but an apostle would have thought of enforcing affection in a husband to a wife from the love of Christ to his church?  We are, undoubtedly, hereby taught to act, in the common affairs of life, from Christian principle; and I am inclined to think that our personal Christianity is more manifest in this way than in any other.  It is not by a holiness put on on religious occasions, as we put on our Lord’s-day dress, that we shall prove ourselves to be Christians; but by that which is habitual, and which, without our so much as designing it, will spontaneously appear in our language and behaviour. If the apostle’s heart had not been full of Christ, he would have thought of other motives than this; but this, being uppermost, presented itself on all occasions. We may be thankful that it was so on this, especially; for we are hereby furnished with a most interesting and affecting view of the salvation of sinners—a salvation originating in the love of Christ, and terminating in their being presented to him without spot, and blameless.[2]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 243.

[2]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 243-44.

On “Presentism” in Historical Research

December 9th, 2014 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Historians

By Nathan A. Finn

In 2014, I have been blessed to finish a couple of major writing projects. I wrote a book titled History: A Student’s Guide, which will be part of Crossway’s Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series (Crossway, forthcoming January 2016). In that book, I address the topic of “presentism,” which I define as any attempt to read present assumptions back into the past. Presentism is a perennial struggle for the historian; after all, our own context invariably affects how we study past contexts. The most famous work on presentism is Herbert Butterfield’s oft-cited classic The Whig Interpretation of History (1931). In fact, among historians, “whiggish” is a common adjectival synonym for presentism.

I also co-authored a Baptist history textbook with Michael Haykin and Tony Chute titled The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement (B&H Academic, forthcoming July 2015). As a historian whose primary expertise is modern history, I wrote four chapters that cover Baptist life since the turn of the twentieth century (as well as a fifth, more prescriptive chapter on Baptist identity). It was at times difficult to write about recent history—especially topics such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Inerrancy Controversy in the SBC—without resorting to presentism. Nevertheless, I tried as hard as I could; the past must be understood as more than mere prologue to the preferred present of the historian.

Recently, I read Philip Sheldrake’s Spirituality & History: Questions of Interpretation and Method (Orbis, 1995), which is an important work that discusses how historians should think about the history of Christian spirituality. Sheldrake offers a great treatment on the threat of presentism that is relevant to the study of Christian history in general and not just spirituality in particular.

The misgivings by some historians concerning the unbalanced effect of present-day issues on our historical perspective (or what is called ‘presentism’) really means that our interpretations must first of all seek to do full justice to the personalities or spiritual cultures of other ages. We must not be excessively influenced by what we find unattractive or peculiar from a contemporary perspective – and there is plenty of such material in the history of spirituality. ‘Presentism’ essentially collapses the past into the present. This has two aspects. Negatively, it will blame the past for not being the present. Augustine’s attitudes in all respects are culturally conditioned and cannot be adopted uncritically in the present. However, that is different from accusing him of the moral fault of being, for example, a male chauvinist (implicitly, he should have known better). Secondly, positively, it will turn some past traditions, uncritically and anachronistically, into images of the present (for example, the Beguines become a ‘feminist’ movement or popular religious poverty movements in the twelfth century become examples of ‘class struggle’) or it will adopt certain people as heroes and honorary members of another century and its concerns (for example, Thomas More was a martyr for an ultramontane understanding of the Church or Meister Eckhart wrote ‘creation-centred spirituality’). No historian can present the absolute truth and so we must settle for offering, as honestly as possible, what we believe to be near to the truth as we can reach, after detailed and rigorous research and reflection (p. 109).

Any good historian strives to avoid presentism; in fact, this is a key difference between professional historians and activists who use the past as an apologetic for their present preferences (think David Barton on the Right or Howard Zinn on the Left). Rejecting presentism is a matter of historical integrity. But as a Christian historian, I want to go a step further and argue that the primary reason I need to avoid presentism in my historical interpretations is because I need to show neighbor-love to those who lived in other times and contexts. They deserve to be understood with the same degree of empathy and nuance than I would want to be understood by others. The most loving thing I can do is interpret the past on its own terms—even when I wish those terms were different.

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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.

“Seek it at the Fountain-Head”

December 4th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Evan D. Burns

In a sermon entitled, “On an Intimate and Practical Acquaintance with the Word of God,” Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) unfolded the bibliocentric piety demonstrated in Ezra 7:10—“Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”  Fuller observed four features of Ezra’s character, which Fuller highly commended for Christian’s to imitate.  Here is what he gleaned from one verse:

  1.  SEEK THE LAW, or will, of God
    1. Seek it.
    2. Seek it at the fountain-head.
    3. Seek the will of God in every part of the Bible.
    4. Seek it perseveringly.
  2. PREPARE YOUR HEART to seek the law of the Lord
  3. KEEP THE LAW.
    1. Dread nothing more than recommending that to your people to which you do not attend yourself.
    2. More is expected from you than from others.
    3. You will attend to practical preaching.
    4. Attend not only to such duties as fall under the eye of man, but walk with God—in your family, and in your closet.
  4. TEACH in Israel the statutes and judgments of God.
    1. Let Christ and his apostles be your examples.
    2. Give every part of the truth its due proportion.
    3. Dare to teach unwelcome truths.
    4. Give Scriptural proof of what you teach.
    5. Consider yourself as standing engaged to teach all that hear you—rich and poor, young and old, godly and ungodly.
    6. Teach privately as well as publicly.[1]

Under the first point, Fuller masterfully contended for seeking the will of God in the Bible alone:

Seek it at the fountain-head.—You feel, I doubt not, a great esteem for many of your brethren now living, and admire the writings of some who are now no more; and you will read their productions with attention and pleasure. But whatever excellence your brethren possess, it is all borrowed; and it is mingled with error. Learn your religion from the Bible. Let that be your decisive rule. Adopt not a body of sentiments, or even a single sentiment, solely on the authority of any man—however great, however respected. Dare to think for yourself. Human compositions are fallible. But the Scriptures were written by men who wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Human writings on religion resemble preaching—they are useful only so far as they illustrate the Scriptures, and induce us to search them for ourselves.[2]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 483-486.

[2]The Complete Works, 1: 483.

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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 Ground of Self-Denial

November 20th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Evan D. Burns

On May 10, 1836, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) preached his only English sermon in Burma; it was for the ordination of the missionary printer, S. M. Osgood (1807-1875).  This lengthy sermon is a definitive presentation of the inherent relationship in Judson’s spirituality between the example of Christ and Christian minister’s mandatory self-denial in imitation of Christ.  Preaching from John 10:1-18 about Christ as the Good Shepherd, Judson began by saying that though Christ is the “Exemplar” of all his people, he is especially the “Exemplar” of his “subordinate shepherds.”  He urged Osgood to “look continually to the chief Shepherd” for emulation.  First, Judson instructed, the minister ought to imitate Christ’s wholesale denial of worldly desires.  Christ gave up his life for the good of his flock, and in the language of disinterested benevolence, Judson said the minister ought to imitate Christ by surrendering all worldly ambitions, pleasures, and gains “that he may, by all means, save some.”  Second, Judson taught that the minister ought to imitate Christ by showing affection and brotherly love to the flock.  Third, Judson said the chief duty of a minister in imitation of Christ is to indiscriminately call out Christ’s elect; then once they come in through the universal preaching of the gospel, the minister ought to make disciples through teaching them to observe the commands of Christ, of which the minister ought to be the greatest example of obedience.

Though the minister’s chief duty should be doing good, Judson went on to elaborate on the dominant motivation of such duty.  He explained that Christ’s “supreme regard to his Father’s will” and “the love of God” were the controlling themes of Christ’s life.  Judson tied Christ’s example of supreme love to the Father and a supreme desire to please the Father to the responsibility of the minister to esteem the will of God above all other good things.  He said no good works of self-denial or charity “are truly estimable, but just so far as they spring from regard to the will of God.  All true virtue has its root in the love of God.  Every holy affection looks beyond self . . . and finds its resting place in God alone.”  Then he went on to wax eloquent about God’s God-centeredness and righteous love for himself above everything else.  In light of God’s supreme happiness in God, Judson said it was fitting that Christ would “have supreme regard to the will of the Father,” greater than his regard for perishing souls.  Therefore, every minister must submit to the will of God.  In light of Christ’s example of supreme submission to the infinitely wise and loving will of the Father, the most God-centered Being in the universe, Judson issued a decisive verdict for his spirituality of self-denial:  “On this ground we rest the doctrine of self-denial, renunciation of self-interest, abandonment of self.  Still further, even our compassion for souls and our zeal for their salvation must be kept in subordination to the supreme will of God.”[1]  In his self-denying imitation of Christ, “Judson was indeed a Gethsemane soul.”[2]


[1]Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D., vol. 2 (Boston: Phillips, Samson and Company, 1853), 486-94.

[2]John Brush, “The Magnetism of Adoniram Judson,” Andover Newton Quarterly 2, no. 3 (January 1, 1962): 3.

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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.

The Excellent Usefulness of Hope

November 6th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In a circular letter, entitled, “The Excellency and Utility of the Grace of Hope,” Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) argued from Scripture that hope in rest and reward in the next life rouses the minister to be active in the Lord’s service in this life.  Here are some great excerpts on the usefulness of hope in adversity and ministry:

Hope, or an expectation of future good, is . . . one of the principal springs that keep mankind in motion. It is vigorous, bold, and enterprising. It causes men to encounter dangers, endure hardships, and surmount difficulties innumerable, in order to accomplish the desired end. . . .  God, who knows our frame, and draws us with the cords of a man, condescends also to excite us with the promise of gracious reward, and to allure us with the prospect of a crown of glory. . . .[1]

Moreover, as servants of God, you have a great work to do.—Though the meritorious part of your salvation has been long since finished, yet there is a salvation for you still to work out. By prayer, by patience, by watchfulness, and holy strife, you have to overcome the world, mortify sin, and run the race set before you. Hope is of excellent use in this great work. It is well denominated a “lively hope.” Its tendency is not to lull the soul asleep, but to rouse it to action. We trust, dear brethren, that the hope of which you are partakers will more and more animate your breasts with generous purposes, and prompt your souls to noble pursuits. For this you have the greatest encouragements surely that a God can give! God will employ none in his service without making it their inestimable privilege. They that plough for him shall plough in hope. Mansions of bliss stand ready to receive you, and crowns of unfading glory to reward you; therefore, beloved brethren, “be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”[2]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 308-09.

[2] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 314.

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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.

400-Year-Old Lessons from English Baptists and Persecution

October 30th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History

By Steve Weaver

In the forthcoming 9Marks journal titled Vanishing Church?, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin has an article offering lessons from the 17th-century English Particular Baptists. The article went live today on the 9Marks website. The article is titled “400-Year-Old Lessons from English Baptists and Persecution” and focuses on the experiences of three individuals:  John Bunyan (1628–1688), William Mitchel (1662-1705), and Abraham Cheare (d. 1668). The subject of persecution is a vital one for the church today as Haykin summarizes:

There are countless lessons we can learn from saints long-dead, particularly should our times increasingly approximate theirs. Like Paul speaking of Old Testament Israel to the church at Corinth: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). He says something similar to the Christians in Rome: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).

So it is with our 17th-century English Baptist brethren. They were determined to obey God where God had spoken clearly no matter the cost; they recognized that suffering is a means that God uses to sanctify us; they were conscious that no persecutor is ever able to hurt physically any of God’s children without divine sovereign permission; and they were aware that suffering for Christ’s sake is a means of bringing glory to their great Savior. For all of these reasons, they would have regarded persecution and even martyrdom as a gift to the Church.

Be sure to read the article in its entirety and check out the other articles in the upcoming journal.

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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 between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.