‘Books’ Category

Book Review: Historical Theology In-Depth by David Beale

March 2nd, 2015 Posted in Books, Church History, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

David Beale, Historical Theology In-Depth: Themes and Contexts of Doctrinal Development since the First Century (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 2013), 2 vols.

historical-theology-in-depthDavid Beale, who taught for thirty-five years at Bob Jones University and is probably best known for his study of Fundamentalism—In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850 (1986)—has put together in these two volumes fifty-seven distinct essays (and four appendices) that cover a good number of the major issues of historical theology from the last two thousand years of church history (chapter 1 in the first volume is an outline of some basic principles of historical theology). The first volume deals with topics from the early second-century Fathers to the late medieval era, with most of the essays focused on the Ancient Church (there are five dealing with Augustine alone) and a good number on the ecumenical councils (chaps. 20–25 and 32). The second volume begins with Luther and ends with “Pagan, Jewish, and Christian Attitudes towards Abortion” (the four appendices deal with the topic of creation).

The essays are mostly basic studies studded with helpful extracts of primary sources and each accompanied by a bibliography: the majority of the essays in the first volume are biographical while half of the chapters in volume two deal with doctrines and movements like the eternal generation of Christ (which Beale rejects in favor of the eternal sonship of Christ), early Baptist theology and the New Divinity. While most of the essays are cast at an introductory level, it is quite obvious that Beale is able to handle the intricacies of historical theology (witness his analysis of the doctrine of eternal generation).

Some subjects are noticeably absent. None of the essays deal with Wesleyan Arminianism (chapter 17 in volume 2 does touch on the holiness movement) and there is little about Fundamentalism, Beale’s forte. There is also nothing on missionary theology—I had hoped Beale might have said something about Fullerism, for example—my obsession! These are helpful volumes that could well serve as a textbook for an introductory survey of historical theology.

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.

“Belle: an 18th-century triumph of humanity”: A Review of Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne

February 23rd, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Books, Historians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

“Belle: an 18th-century triumph of humanity”

A review of Paula Byrne, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice (New York: Harper, 2014), xii+283 pages.

belleA painting now hanging in Scone Palace near Perth in Scotland, once entitled in 1904 as “Lady Elizabeth Finch-Hatton with a Negress Attendant,” provides biographer Paula Byrne with the impetus for recounting the extraordinary story of Dido Belle (1761­–1804), the illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an African slave. Unlike the vast majority of children so conceived, Dido enjoyed privilege and wealth as she was raised by her great-uncle, William Murray (1705­–1793), the first Baron of Mansfield, one of the most eminent jurists of the eighteenth century. Building upon a previous historical piece that identified the black girl in the painting as Dido and a handful of literary texts that relate to her life, Byrne skillfully interweaves the little that we know about Dido with the life of her father, Sir John Lindsay, and the lives of Lord and Lady Mansfield, her adoptive parents. Lord Mansfield was an ardent foe of the slave trade, and Byrne reckons that his love for his adopted daughter was instrumental in convincing him of the evils of slavery and the slave trade.

Mansfield’s ruling in the case of James Somerset in 1772, a slave who had run away from his master in England, been recaptured and sold to a slave trader bound for the West Indies, proved to be a key milestone in the fight against the slave trade by eighteenth-century abolitionists. Mansfield ruled in favour of Somerset’s freedom, and many viewed the ruling as having made slavery illegal on English soil. From there, the logic was obvious: if slavery were wrong in England, how could it be morally right for the English to have slaves abroad? This is the very question, in fact, asked by Fanny Price in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, which, in an appendix, Byrne shows has links to the story of Dido and Lord Mansfield. Byrne knows Austen particularly well, having written two major studies on the English author, one of which, Jane Austen and the Theatre, has been described by historian and biographer Paul Johnson as “the best book on Austen I have ever read.”

Byrne is a consummate researcher and has well researched the historical background of slavery, its accompanying moral degradation, and its tentacles throughout the English economy, especially through the massive consumption of sugar. She rightly notes that the deepest roots of the abolitionist movement were among the Quakers, who by 1760 were disciplining members who participated in the slave trade, and Evangelicals like William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson. In fact, it was arguments based upon principles derived from the Bible that eventually did most to rouse anti-slavery feeling in the British Isles.

While this book is largely a search for the biography of Dido, Lord Mansfield also comes across as a remarkable figure. He was able to rise above the racism endemic in eighteenth-century English society and social mores, and both in his home and in the courtroom do what was good, right and just. A movie version of book, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as Dido) and Tom Wilkinson (as Lord Mansfield), was released here in the US last May.

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.

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.

Book Review: The Quest for the Trinity by Stephen Holmes

February 9th, 2015 Posted in Books, Church Fathers, Church History, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Stephen R. Holmes, The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012; xx+231 pages.

the quest for the trinityA part of an ever-growing body of recent literature on the most important doctrine of the Christian Faith, that is, that the true and living God is a triune Being, this comprehensive study by Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St. Andrews, is a solid critique of the direction of much of this literature. As Holmes notes, many theologians in the twentieth century, especially in the latter half, believed that the doctrine of the Trinity had been neglected, even lost, and they sought to recover it. As Holmes adeptly shows, though, this recovery by the likes of Karl Barth, Karl Rahner, and John Zizioulas has given rise to a perspective on the Trinity quite at odds with what had prevailed in Christian thinking and devotion from the patristic era to the end of the eighteenth century. The reason for this Holmes deftly shows to have been the fact that twentieth-century thinkers regarded the patristic understanding of the Trinity, which Christian tradition had assumed to be correct down to the rise of biblical criticism in the eighteenth century, as deeply problematic. The Fathers’ insistence on the simplicity and ineffability of the divine being, the fact that the three divine hypostases are distinguished by the eternal relations of generation and procession, and that the entirety of Scripture bears witness to the Triune God have basically been ignored by modern writers. And the result, in Holmes’ opinion, can hardly be described as a “Trinitarian revival.”

Holmes first looks at the biblical witness to the Trinity (p.33-55) and rightly stresses that the Patristic development of the doctrine of the Trinity is “largely a history of biblical exegesis” (p.33). Some of their exegesis seems odd to early twenty-first-century readers, but Holmes helps us make sense of their hermeneutics and also shows why it can be regarded as viable. He then turns to the actual development of the patristic understanding of the Trinity, which rightly occupies a significant amount of his book (p.56­–143). Critical to his argument here is his cogent demonstration that there is a unified patristic witness about the Trinity, contra the common, but very wrong, assumption that the Greek Fathers, personified in the Cappadocians, and the Latin Fathers, personified in Augustine, took two very different and conflicting pathways of thought about God.

Chapter 7 looks at the medieval doctrine of the Trinity and the debate over the filioque (p.147­–164), where Holmes argues that neither position in the latter should be regarded as doing “violence to the received orthodox and catholic tradition” (p.164). While this reviewer personally sees the filioque as a correct development, I think Holmes is right in his emphasis here. Chapter 8 (p.165–181) tracks the story from the Reformation to the close of the eighteenth century. The period after the Reformation is often ignored in the history of Trinitarianism, and Holmes’ careful, though succinct, attention to this era is very welcome. The final chapter (p.182–200) looks at Trinitarian thought in the last two hundred years—the speculative nature of much of it in the nineteenth century after G.W.F. Hegel and F.D.E. Schleiermacher and then the supposed recovery in the twentieth century.

Has Holmes proven his case? This reviewer thinks so: twentieth-century theologians have clearly regarded the patristic synthesis as deeply problematic and taken thinking about the Trinity in very different directions from the received tradition. If so, what is needed then is a true ressourcement, in which the Fathers’ thinking on the Trinity is carefully delineated and its significance for the present day cogently argued.

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.

Book Review: Edward VI: The Last Boy King

February 2nd, 2015 Posted in Books, Historians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Stephen Alford, Edward VI: The Last Boy King (London: Allen Lane, 2014), xii+98 pages.

edward viStephen Alford’s adroit use of a wide variety of sources contemporary to Edward VI makes this a delightful biography to read, one of the first in the new series initiated by Penguin Books, “Penguin Monarchs.” In a concentrated space of less than a hundred pages, Alford ably documents not only the power politics that surrounded Edward—two of his Protestant uncles attempted coups and paid the price for their treason—but also Edward’s devotion to learning—by his death he was reading and writing fairly fluently in Latin, Greek and French—and his love of such things as astronomy and various court festivities (though firmly Protestant, Edward did not share the later distaste by some Puritans of the latter). Alford is also able to capture another dimension with regard to Edward through his commentary on various contemporary portraits of Edward—one by Guilim Scrots of Edward at fourteen is particularly striking. These mini-studies provide further aid the reader’s understanding of the way Edward appeared to those who knew him.

Alford is quite aware of the importance of religious issues for Edward—he was firmly committed to the faith of the Reformation personified in the work of men like Thomas Cranmer and Hugh Latimer. In a lengthy discussion of Edward’s important document “My device for the succession,” drawn up in the final months of his life so as to secure a Protestant monarchy after his death, Alford notes that guiding Edward was “one question only”: “Who was best qualified after his death to rule England and Ireland as defender of the faith and Supreme Head of the Church of England…?” (p.76–77). Yet, there is really very little said about the monumental religious changes that Edward’s reign brought to the English state.

Alford does cite a portion of an intriguing sermon preached by Latimer after the downfall of Edward’s uncle, Thomas Seymour, who had married Henry VIII’s widow, Katharine Parr. But it seems that this extract is primarily introduced to draw attention to the fact that it took two blows by the executioner’s axe to decapitate the traitor (p.42). Cranmer is mentioned a number of times, but nothing said about the religious changes his archbishopric had brought to English religious life beyond the fact that the revolutionary “[c]hange had come from the top” (p.45). This remark may well reflect the relatively recent revisionist opinion that Protestantism was very much an elite affair in England until well into Elizabeth’s reign, an opinion belied in part by the large numbers of Bibles circulating in England during the reigns of both Edward and his father, Henry VIII and also in part by the many “common folk” who perished for their evangelical convictions during the reign of Edward’s Roman Catholic sister, Mary I.

On the other hand, Alford provides the reader with an excellent character study of “the last boy king” of England, which reveals a young man increasingly assuming the reins of power when he died at the age of fifteen. Had he lived he might have proven to be a formidable monarch and major religious player in England and even beyond.

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.

Book Review: George V and George VI

January 26th, 2015 Posted in 20th Century, Books

By Michael A.G. Haykin

David Cannadine, George V: The Unexpected King (London: Allen Lane, 2014), xiv+121 pages; and Philip Ziegler, George VI: The Dutiful King (London: Allen Lane, 2014), viii+94 pages.

George VThese two brief biographies are two of the first offerings in a new series being published by British publishing giant Penguin Books, “Penguin Monarchs.” The series will cover all of the English monarchs from William the Conqueror (including, interestingly enough, Oliver Cromwell, though neither the Empress Matilda nor Lady Jane Grey) and four Anglo-Saxon kings (though not Alfred). The series will take four years to complete and the biographies will be released in groups of five (the others released with these two are Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Charles I). Reading these two biographies back to back—their reigns covered the years 1910 to 1952—one clearly sees the way these two men, father and son, were critical to the adaptation of the British monarchy to the vicissitudes and democratization of the twentieth century.

George VINeither expected to be king—George V’s older brother Eddy died in 1892 at 28 and George VI’s older brother Edward VIII abdicated after less than a year as king—and thus both had challenges when they came to the throne. In George V’s case it was a lack of proper preparation to be monarch; in his son’s case, George wrestled with a painful stammer that made public speaking agony for him and a genuine loathing of being in the limelight. And in both cases, they faced major challenges, in particular global wars: George V was king during World War I and his son was monarch during World War II. Neither biography glosses over their faults and weaknesses—George V’s failure as a father to George VI, for example, is duly noted as is George VI’s lack of charisma—but both men were successful kings. A key word that comes through in both of biographies is “duty.” Both monarchs knew what was expected of them and they did their duty.

Both men were also practicing Anglicans—though neither biographer makes much of this fact (though, see Cannadine’s reference to George V’s “understated Anglicanism,” page 105). Ziegler’s conclusion to his biography of George VI is especially moving: “He was high-principled, sober, loyal, reliable, honourable, extraordinary in his ordinariness. …He was a good king; more important than that, he was a good man” (page 83).

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.

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.

Book Review: The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo by Brendan Simms

January 19th, 2015 Posted in Books, Historians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Brendan Simms, The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo (London: Allen Lane, 2014), xx+127 pages.

simms

The Napoleonic Wars, a global conflagaration, came to an end at the climactic Battle of Waterloo (Sunday, June 18, 1815), when some 140,000 men under the commands of Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley (1769–1852), the 1st Duke of Wellington and a relative of John and Charles Wesley, clashed and decided the future of Europe. There have, of course, been no end of books about the Napeolonic Wars and the Battle of Waterloo, but now a new book by Brendan Simms, Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, looks at a key aspect of the battle—from Simms’ point of view, the key aspect—the defence of the farmhouse and orchard of La Haye Sainte by the King’s German Legion, an elite Anglo-German unit, established in 1803 of mostly Hanoverians (recall that the monarch of England, George III, was also the Elector of Hanover). Some of its officers were British and commands were usually given in English. In fact, their uniform was that of the distinctive green jackets of the British light infantry.

Simms gives an almost minute-by-minute account of the way a little less than 400 riflemen of this elite unit under the command of Major George Baring held up the advance of the most formidable army in Europe—nearly all of them veterans from former battles and wars of Napoleon—for the entire afternoon of June 18. It is a remarkable story, one that Simms tells well in a book that is hard to put down. Simms notes that there were ideological factors that enabled these men to stand at their post in the face of overwhelming odds, especially their determination to fight “French tyranny.” It is interesting that the recent terrorist attacks in France have evoked from some in high quarters the statement that the French response not to be cowed by Muslim fundamentalists is in line with France being a home of democracy—an obvious reference to the French Revolution. That is certainly not the way anyone in Europe viewed France in the wake of the sanguinary events of the French Revolution. It was not democracy but the tyranny of Napoleon that emerged from the revolutionary fervor of the 1790s. When Napoleon’s war machine had overrun Hanover, these brave men were determined to do something for the cause of their homeland’s liberty and thus the King’s German Legion was formed. In the final analysis, Simms reckons that it was a a sense of “honor” and trust in their officers that were the main determinants in the courage of these 400 men.

When the remnant of the King’s German Legion finally had to relinquish control of the farmhouse in the early hours of the evening—Baring refused to throw away his men’s lives needlessly—Napoleon had no time to capitalize on his taking the farmhouse, for Wellington’s Prussian allies under the command of Field Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742–1819) arrived and helped save the day. As Wellington said after the battle to a civilian who interviewed him, the battle was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.” Indeed, without the 400 at La Haye Sainte there might have been no victory and subsequent European history would have been quite different with no century of peace to be shattered by World War I. On such relatively “small” events does the large wheel of history sometimes turn.

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.

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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.

Coming September 2015: Owen on the Christian Life by Matthew Barrett & Michael A.G. Haykin

January 19th, 2015 Posted in 17th Century, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians

Coming in September 2015 from Crossway. By Matthew Barrett and Michael A.G. Haykin: Owen on the Christian Life.

Owen on the Christian Life

New Book of Poetry by Michael A.G. Haykin

December 17th, 2014 Posted in Biblical Spirituality, Books, Poetry

By Steve Weaver

sweetnessofgod

Michael A.G. Haykin, director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, has released a new book. That’s not news. However, this book differs from the typical historical works for which he is widely known. This new release from Borderstone Press is a collection of poetry written by Dr. Haykin over the past four decades. The collection is beautifully titled, The Sweetness of God: Poetic Reflections on the Grace and Love of the Triune God. The title reflects two specific emphases of Haykin’s teaching, which I remember from my time as one of his students. First, the use of the term “sweetness” in church history is a topic that has long fascinated him. Second, the subtitle’s explicit reference to “the Triune God” reflects an emphasis in Haykin’s teaching on the self-disclosed nature of the God who is eternally three in one. Together, the title combines these two emphases in a way that illustrates Haykin’s personal piety and affection for the Triune God revealed in Scripture.

Haykin describes the work as follows: “The poems in this collection were written over a lengthy period of more than thirty-five years, from the mid-1970s to the present day. They seek to express, in ways not accessible to an historian’s prose, my experience of the delights and paradoxes of being a believer in and follower of the Triune God.”

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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.