‘Baptist Life & Thought’ Category

5 Minutes in “Baptist” History

October 29th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Podcast

By Dustin Bruce

If you are unfamiliar with Ligonier’s “5 Minutes in Church History” podcast, then I certainly recommend giving it a listen. Host, Dr. Stephen Nichols, does a fantastic job teaching church history in an engaging and accessible way. It’s the kind of podcast that appeals to a graduate student in theology or a faithful churchgoer interested in learning more about “our family history,” to borrow Dr. Nichols’ phrase.

There is one particular episode I would recommend for readers of the AFC blog. In an Episode released on August 5th, “Lon to Phil,” Dr. Nichols introducers listeners to two Baptist confessions of faith, the 1689 London Baptist Confession and the 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith.

Spend five minutes with Dr. Nichols as our Presbyterian brother tackles the question, “what do Baptists believe?”

Update: There were some challenges to the details of the episode, which Dr. Nichols addressed here.


Andrew Gifford baptizes Mrs. Deschamps

October 27th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Baptist Life & Thought

By Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin

On June 19, 1748, the London Particular Baptist Andrew Gifford (1700–1784) noted the following in the minute book of his church:

A wonderful appearance of providence at baptism. Mrs. Deschamps had been long disabled from walking alone by a rheumatic gout, but sometimes after the Lord was pleased to call her by his grace, she told the writer this: She was convinced that baptism by immersion was both her duty and privilege. He endeavoured to evade it and dissuade her from it as not absolutely necessary to salvation, but, not…satisfied with his arguments, she, after some time, solemnly demanded it of him as a minister of Jesus. Upon this the church was consulted, and after solemn searching the Lord it was agreed that if she persisted in the demand, it should be complied with. To this the pastor, A.G., was forced to comply—with great reluctance, fear and trembling, lest it should be attended with any ill consequence. To this she said, “Don’t you be afraid, I am persuaded God will prevent any scandal…” Accordingly the ordinance was administered. Unable to walk, she was carried down into the water. She went out of the water well and rejoicing and triumphing in the Lord Jesus. Blessed be his name. …Sister Deschamps was so lame as to be carried down into the water. She went up out of it without the least help, rejoicing.


Coming Soon: A Bitesize Biography of Samuel Pearce by Michael Haykin and Jerry Slate

September 21st, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Missions


David S. Dockery’s Endorsement of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

July 22nd, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

Three weeks from today (on August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by David S. Dockery, president of Trinity International University.


The Baptist Story is a masterful work by three superb Baptist historians.  Tony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin are to be commended for providing us with an even-handed, incisive, well-organized, and accessible survey of the larger Baptist family. Readers will be introduced to both general and particular Baptists, as well as revivalists and landmarkists, fundamentalists and liberals. In doing so, they will gain a fresh appreciation for the contributions of thoughtful theologians, practical pastors, along with faithful missionaries and martyrs. This full-orbed, carefully researched, and well-written look at the expansion and development of Baptists over the past four hundred years will certainly become a standard resource for the study of Baptist history for years to come. It is with much enthusiasm that I gladly recommend this work.

David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

Peter Beck’s Endorsement of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

July 15th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

One month from today (on August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by Peter Beck, associate professor of Christian studies at Charleston Southern University.


The Baptist story is long and often convoluted. Numerous histories have been written over the course of their 400 years. Each new volume proffers its own interpretation of the data and furthers the cause and concern of the author. While honest, this has not always been helpful, and often fails to provide today’s Baptists with a modern account of their tale that informs the mind and encourages the soul.

The Baptist Story, as told by Haykin, Chute, and Finn, changes all that. The authors give us an irenic yet thorough reading of our collective past. They admit the nuances of a faith that boldly defends and exemplifies liberty of conscience while explaining the facts. While the authors concede that their goal was not to provide THE definitive telling of the Baptist story, they may have done just that. Haykin, Chute, and Finn are to be commended for their effort, thanked for their grace, and congratulated for their contribution to the cause of Christ and the history of the Baptist people. The Baptist Story always encourages, sometimes challenges, and never disappoints.

Peter Beck, associate professor of Christian studies, Charleston Southern University

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

David Bebbington’s Endorsement of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

July 8th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

In about five weeks (August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by David Bebbington, professor of history at the University of Stirling.


“The Baptists have grown from a small and mainly marginal body in seventeenth-century England into a strong and sometimes influential set of denominations across the world. While the core of this account of their development concentrates on the history of the two-thirds of the world’s Baptists who live in the United States, there is also coverage of England, Canada, Germany, and the rest of the world. So this volume provides a concise but comprehensive summary of the course of Baptist life over the last four centuries.”

David Bebbington, professor of history, University of Stirling

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

Jason Allen’s Endorsement for The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement

June 30th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians

In about six weeks (August 15, 2015), The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin will be released. Below the cover image is the endorsement by Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


“Respected church historians Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin have served the church well with their book The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement. Though intended as a textbook, their fine work is accessible to most every reader, including those in nonacademic settings. For all interested in Baptist history, I heartily recommend The Baptist Story.”

Jason K. Allen, president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Pre-order the volume from Amazon here.

“What is Christian Love?”

June 25th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

Throughout the works of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), there is a predominant theme of love—love to God and love to man.  In a sermon entitled, Nature and Importance of Christian Love, Fuller preached on his meditations from John 13:34-35.  Before he delineated the nature of Christian love, he first discussed what it is not.  He said:

  1. It is not mere good neighbourhood, or civility between man and man.
  2. It is not mere friendship.
  3. It is not mere respect on account of religion.
  4. It is not mere party attachment.
  5. It is not that excessive and mistaken attachment which shall lead us to idolize and flatter a minister, or to exempt each other from the exercise of faithful discipline.
  6. It is not mere benevolence itself.[1]

So then, he asked, “What is Christian love?”  And Fuller answered his own inquiry thus:

It is complacency in the Divine image.—It is a union of heart, like that of Ruth to her mother-in-law. Christian love is love for Christ’s sake.  This last remark, I suppose, furnishes a clue for its being called “a new commandment.” The old commandment required benevolence, or love to our neighbour; but this is complacency in Christ’s image, or the love of Christians as such. And being introductory to the New Testament or gospel dispensation, under which the church should be composed of believers only, it is suited to it. Personal religion is now to be the bond of union. This was never so expressly required before. This is more than love to our neighbour, or benevolence; this is brotherly love, or complacency in each other as brethren in Christ, Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1. This is genuine charity, 1 Cor. 13.[2]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 523.

[2]Fuller, Complete Works, 1:523.

Part I of a review article of Peter J. Morden, The Life and Thought of Andrew Fuller (1754–1815)

June 8th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

Part I of a review article of Peter J. Morden, The Life and Thought of Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) (Studies in Evangelical History and Thought; Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire: Paternoster, 2015), xxii+232 pages.

life and though of andrew fullerIn this year, the bicentennial of the death of the significant Baptist pastor-theologian Andrew Fuller, it is right and proper to have an academic biography of the English Evangelical leader. And this new work by the Vice-Principal of Spurgeon’s College nicely fits the bill. Having already written extensively on Fuller—see especially his Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist life (2003)—Morden is well equipped to write this biographical study.

After a brief introductory chapter that sets out the current state of Fuller studies and lays bare Morden’s own Evangelical convictions, chapter 2 details Fuller’s early life in the context of the 18th-century Particular Baptist community of which he was a part. This is well-trodden ground, but Morden does well in establishing the larger historical context and then examining Fuller’s own narrative about his conversion. With regard to Fuller’s conversion and early Christian experience, scholars are dependent for their information upon some letters Fuller wrote between 1798 and 1815: two to a Scottish friend Charles Stuart, then one in 1809, and then finally two more at the close of his life to “an unnamed friend in Liverpool” (so Morden names the correspondent, page 33, n.122). The “unnamed friend in Liverpool” was actually Maria Hope, the sister of Samuel Hope (1760–1837), a well-known Liverpool banker and extremely wealthy. They both had links to the Baptist cause at Byrom Street, Liverpool, and he was a strong supporter of the Baptist Missionary Society. Morden stresses that Fuller’s narrative of his early life in these letters, which were written between thirty and forty-five years after the events they describe, reveal a man deeply shaped by the contours of 18th-century Evangelicalism.

Chapter 3 charts Fuller’s entry into pastoral ministry in the 1770s and his theological development during that decade and the one that followed, which saw the publication of his first major work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation (1785/1801). This book was the definitive response to the High Calvinism that dominated far too many Particular Baptist circles in the British Isles and that had been hegemonic in Fuller’s own Baptist experience up until his conversion. Making good use of various unpublished manuscripts, Morden delineates not only the argument of the book, but also why Fuller left behind this version of Calvinism, which Fuller later castigated as “false Calvinism.” The latter Morden locates in Fuller’s biblicism (almost definitely the major reason from Fuller’s own point of view), his reading of Puritan literature and especially that of his older contemporary Jonathan Edwards, and his friendship with like-minded pastor-theologians like John Ryland, Jr. and John Sutcliff of Olney. Again Morden stresses that by the time Fuller published his Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, the core tenets of 18th-century Evangelicalism, shared by men of widely-differing ecclesial convictions, were now his (p.67).

The shape of Fuller’s ministry at Kettering, where he moved in 1782, and the way Fuller answered various attacks on the theology of The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation constitutes Chapter 4. Morden helpfully touches on some aspects of Fuller’s life hitherto rarely examined, such as Fuller as a man of prayer. What Fuller told Robert Fawkner at the latter’s ordination in 1787, he sought to make a reality in his own life: “Give yourself up to the word of God, and to prayer” (cited p.74). This chapter also breaks new ground in Morden’s analysis of Fuller’s tendency to depression between 1782 and 1792 (p.103–109). Normally I am chary of trying to psychologically analyze men and women of previous generations; we often have difficulty enough trying to figure out what people sitting across from us are thinking let alone people of the past, which, to quote L.P. Hartley, “is a foreign country.” But Morden skillfully draws upon Fuller’s unpublished diary to argue his case. And Fuller himself once observed of himself, “I was born in a flat [i.e. minor] key” (cited Andrew Gunton Fuller, Andrew Fuller [London, 1882], 79).

To be continued.

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.

Fuller’s Blessed Death in the Lord

May 14th, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality

By Evan D. Burns

Last Thursday many evangelicals remembered the bicentennial anniversary of the death of the great Baptist theologian, Andrew Fuller (1754-1815).  Fuller’s theology and spirituality has affected me personally in numerous ways.  Probably the first and most enduring influence of Fuller on my own piety has been his heavenly-mindedness.

A vision of heaven and the promised reward of being forever with the Lord captivated Andrew Fuller’s soul.  From the sweetness of his heavenly meditations he penned the funeral sermon for Beeby Wallis at Kettering in April 1792.  Wallis was a deacon of the Baptist church in Kettering.  He served as the first treasurer of the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS).  Fuller preached on “The Blessedness of the Dead Who Die in the Lord”.  Though intending to eulogize and memorialize Wallis, Fuller spent the majority of his sermon expounding on biblical themes such as the need for Christian perseverance, the promise of rewards, heavenly rest, earthly labour, true blessedness, and the inevitability of death.  Fuller sought to strengthen the hearts of his mourning hearers who had followed Christ even amidst affliction.  He did this by elucidating the aforementioned themes, specifically the promises of heavenly rest and rewards.

Fuller’s chief text upon which he meditated for this sermon was Revelation 14:13, which says, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”  Fuller began by stating the original telos of this passage: “The original design of the passage seems to have been to support the afflicted followers of Christ in times of persecution.”[1]  Yet, he said that though this passage was originally intended “to arm the holy martyrs against the terrors of death”[2], it does seem that it could be generally applied to Christians under other degrees of affliction as well.

First, he discussed the character of those “who die in the Lord”.  They are necessarily united to Christ, as in a marriage union where two parties are united by mutual affection, common pursuits, and identical causes.  So, death is the introduction of the believer’s full union with Christ.  And being in this union, he described believers who die as abounding in good works just as a branch necessarily bears fruit since it is united to the vine.  Second, Fuller said that part of the blessedness observed in this passage comes from the voice from heaven, which demonstrates that heaven values the saints’ homecoming whereas fallen man values worldly prosperity and security.  Third, that John was commanded to write down this verse indicates the enduring blessedness of its promise for believers of all ensuing generations.  Fourth, Fuller said that the phrase, “from henceforth,” refers to the time of their souls’ departure from the body in physical death.  Fifth, two aspects of this post-death blessedness are rest from labours and the glorious reward of good works.  And, it is in this fifth observation that Fuller expounded two predominant themes: rest from labour and rewards of grace.

Fuller designed this funeral sermon  to encourage afflicted Christians to hope in future reward and to rejoice for those who have died and entered in to that eternal joy.  Fuller carefully knit pastoral application with theological specificity, validating his preeminence as a pastor-theologian.  He successfully demonstrated how rest from labour and reward for grace-empowered work are heavenly realities, which Christians should joyfully anticipate.  In heaven, Christians will rest from all the labour they experience in this life in opposition to sin and the curse.  But, their work will not cease; they will be perfected and supremely worshipful as they serve God with infinite gladness.  Christians are saved not only from God’s just wrath but are also saved for eternal joy in God.  Fuller longed for this heavenly rest in God, and even in his dying hours, he sought to experience the reward through prayer to God:

When under great anguish, he one day said to his son, “All misery is concentrated in me!”—“Bodily misery only, I suppose, father?”—“Yes: nothing else.”  But the expression which he used to Mr. Blundell of Northampton, was the most characteristic of any of which I have been informed—“My hope is such that I am not afraid to plunge into eternity!”  On the Lord’s-day morning on which he died, May 7, 1815, he said to his daughter Sarah, “I wish I had strength enough . . . She asked, “To do what?” He replied, “To worship, child.” Soon after, his daughter Mary entering the room, as soon as he understood who it was, he said “Come, Mary, come and help me.” He was then raised up in bed, and for the last half-hour appeared to be engaged in prayer.  His children surrounded his bed, listening attentively, to catch, if possible, the last words of their dying parent: but nothing could be distinctly heard, but, “Help me!” Then, with his hands clasped, and his eyes fixed upwards, he sunk back and expired.[3]


[1]Andrew Fuller, The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller with a Memoir of His Life by Andrew Gunton Fuller, 3 vols., ed. J. Belcher (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1845; repr., Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1988), 1:152.

[2]The Complete Works, 1:152.

[3]John Ryland, The Work of Faith, the Labour of Love, and the Patience of Hope, Illustrated; in the Life and Death of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, Late Pastor of the Baptist Church at Kettering, and Secretary to the Baptist Missionary Society, from Its Commencement in 1792, Chiefly Extracted from His Own Papers, Extracted by John Ryland, D.D. (London: Button & Son, Paternoster Row, 1816), 550.


Evan Burns (Ph.D., 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. He also works as the Director of the M.A. in Global Leadership program at Western Seminary.