‘Books’ Category

Book Review of Christians Under Attack: Struggles and Persecution Throughout the World

May 18th, 2015 Posted in Books, Church History, Conferences, Current Affairs

Christians Under Attack: Struggles and Persecution Throughout the World (Miami, FL: Mango Press with The Associated Press, 2015).

christians under attackAfter reading the stories and accounts in this recent journalistic overview of persecution, there seems little doubt that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today. Ranging from Lebanon to China, Nigeria to Pakistan, it is a story of atrocity after atrocity perpetrated against professing Christians: from Muslim drive-by killings of Christians at weddings in Cairo and northeast Nigeria to suicide bombers killing worshipers in Pakistani churches. In many parts of the Middle East, ancient Christian communities are being annihilated (see also the recent article, “The Plight of the Christians”, The Wall Street Journal, (Saturday/Sunday, May 16–17, 2015), C1–2).

All of the accounts are recent ones by AP journalists. Replete with numerous color pictures, this is a difficult book to read, but it is also vital for those of us in the West who are seeking to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Here we are reminded of the cost of discipleship and that there are some things more precious than life itself, namely commitment to the Triune God. There are some accounts here with happy endings in this world (e.g., the freeing of Meriam Ibrahim, p.123), but most await the justice of the world to come. There are also some disturbing accounts of Christian retaliation. For example, in the Central African Republic professing Christians have been involved in massacring Muslims, after Muslim rebels killed hundreds of Christians (p.83–91). Reading this account of the religious violence in the Central African Republic reminded me of the horrors of the French religious wars in the late sixteenth century.

A quote from an Iraqi Christian housewife, Sahira Hakim, at the very beginning of the book opposite the table of contents, though, helps set this matter of persecution in context: “We Christians are like roses. If you remove them from a garden, it will not be beautiful anymore.” Yes, indeed! True Christianity is a thing of beauty; remove it from a society and culture, and there will eventually be a deadly wasteland.

The gravity of this subject has prompted The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies to take for its conference theme this coming September 15–16, 2015, the matter of persecution in the history of the Church. Do join us as we reflect about this subject from both biblical and historical vantage-points, and spend time in prayer for the persecuted church. There is also a pre-conference round-table discussion on “Martyrdom in the Ancient Church: reality and fiction” on Monday evening, September 14, which will be co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Christian Studies. A 3-hour credit hybrid course attached to the conference with classes during the day on Monday, September 14, is also being offered.

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: Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History by Richard M. Hannula

May 11th, 2015 Posted in Books, Church History, Eminent Christians

Richard M. Hannula, Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2015), 319 pages.

radiantIt is deeply encouraging to find Christian historians and authors beginning to recognize the important role played by women in the history of God’s people, and pen both popular and more academic studies of this important subject. This recent book by Richard Hannula, the principal of a Christian High School in Tacoma, Washington, is a popular approach written especially for young people. It sketches the lives of some fifty Christian women. Some are well-known, like Perpetua and Monica, Sarah Edwards and Edith Schaeffer, while others, like Erdmuth von Zinzendorf and Bilquis Sheikh, are little known. But all of them, through Hannula’s adroit hand, have something to teach present-day believers. The life of Lady Jane Grey, for example, reveals a “sturdy faith in Christ” and a robust grasp of the vital truths at the heart of the Reformation (p.132). Eta Linnemann, a twentieth-century German higher critic, who was converted from liberal theology, reveals the bankruptcy of such theology and the necessity of the new birth (p.304–307). Particularly helpful about the women chosen for this book is that they come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, a good representation of the globalization of the Christian faith in the past two hundred years.

While Hannula is very aware that his sketches only “scratch the surface” of these “women’s lives” (p.2), his brief chapters succeed in giving the reader a desire to know more about these notable women.  “For Further Reading” (p.315–319) contains other books on these women for those interested, though not every woman in the book is represented. Some of the books listed are dated—for example, a 1909 study of Jane Grey is cited, not the much more recent study by Faith Cook—but these resources will by and large enable an interested reader to build on the good foundation in this book.

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 Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, compiled and ed. Terry Wolever

April 27th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, compiled and ed. Terry Wolever (Springfield, MO: Particular Baptist Press, 1995, 2005, and 2010), 3 vols.

Kinghorn

Joseph Kinghorn

Joseph Kinghorn (1766–1832) is all but forgotten today. The only major biography of his life—Joseph Kinghorn of Norwich:  A Memoir by Martin Hood Wilkin, the son of a close friend—was published in 1855 and never reprinted until the first of these three volumes, skillfully edited by the independent Baptist historian Terry Wolever. The bulk of volume 1 contains this marvelous biography, which, typical of Victorian biographies, is rich in Kinghorn’s correspondence. Volume 1 also contains two funeral sermons preached at the time of his death. Volumes 2 and 3 contain the majority of Kinghorn’s published works—sermons, tracts, book reviews, and assorted letters. His major defences of closed communion—the key area where he found himself in opposition to the open communionist Robert Hall—do not appear in these volumes, but are to be published separately in two future volumes.

Kinghorn grew up in the home of a Calvinistic Baptist pastor, David Kinghorn (d.1822), but unlike his father, with whom he had a very close friendship, Joseph had the benefit of a formal theological education at Bristol Baptist Academy from 1784 to 1787. Two years after graduation, he was called to be the pastor of St Mary’s Baptist Church in Norwich. The rest of his ministry would be intertwined with this church and this city.

A profound scholar, few Particular Baptists in his day that had as firm a grasp of Greek, Hebrew and rabbinic studies as Kinghorn did. Not surprisingly, he was twice asked to head up a Baptist seminary: first, in 1804 with regard to Horton College in Yorkshire (1:301–311), and then, six years later, with regard to the Baptist Academy at Stepney, which later became Regent’s Park College (1:328–330 and 3:339–374). But Kinghorn refused to leave Norwich, convinced as he was of his call to be a pastor.

Each of the various pieces in these three volumes is carefully introduced by the editor, who has also provided extensive person, subject, and church indices to all three volumes (3:481–590). The third volume also contains two portraits of Kinghorn (3:8–12), one of which is a fine reproduction of a color portrait of the Baptist pastor. Particular Baptist Press is to be commended for making available again Wilkin’s important biography of Kinghorn as well as the bulk of his written works.

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: 30 Days of Devotions: From the Sermons of Andrew Fuller ed. Joshua C. Breland

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

30 Days of Devotions: From the Sermons of Andrew Fuller, ed. Joshua C. Breland (Wake Forest, NC: Evangelical Heritage Press, 2015), [iv]+57 pages.

30 Days of DevotionsRecently doing some work on the fourth-century theologian Athanasius, I used a database to search for articles on him and came up with some 1400 separate items in a few seconds. I thought I would do a similar search for Andrew Fuller, my favorite theologian, and came up with considerably less: about sixty. All of this is to simply say that although a renaissance of Fuller studies is underway—to quote fellow Fuller scholar Nathan Finn—things are still very much in their infancy. Understandably, it was with great joy that I came across a reference to this new Fuller item by Joshua Breland, who is a grad student at our sister seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The title accurately reflects the book’s contents. The book is divided into a month of readings from the sermonic corpus of Fuller. Heading each selection is simply the number of the day, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on.  There is no reading for the 31st day of such months as January, March, etc. At the end of each reading the sermon from which it is drawn is indicated by a reference to the sermon by Roman numeral. For example, the reading for the 10th day of the month comes from “Sermon XI.” To find out which sermon this is, one has to turn to the back of the book, where ninety-two of Fuller’s sermons are listed by title and biblical text upon which they are based. Curiously, though, there is no indication from which edition Breland has drawn his selections. It appears to be the three-volume Sprinkle edition (a 1988 reprint of an 1845 edition), which contains the exact same listing of sermons in the first volume.

As with any book of selections like this, there is a certain degree of personal eclecticism evident. Breland’s choices are not exactly the ones I would have chosen—and I am sure, the same would be true vice versa. What he has chosen, though, is a good cross-section of Fullerism: from reflections on the nature of justification (the reading for the 4th day of the month, p.5–7) to the vital necessity of love (the reading for the 10th day of the month, p.15–17). And as is typical with Fuller’s works, there is the Puritan characteristic of making pithy statements that continue to resonate in the reader’s mind long after he/she has put the book down. For example, at the very close of the reading for the 17th day, Fuller sums up what he has been saying thus: “The union of genuine orthodoxy and affection constitutes true religion” (p.28)—so true.

One thing I missed are footnotes to biblical texts cited and a footnote for the occasional personal reference. For instance, in the selection for the 25th day, Fuller refers to an observation by “dear Pearce” about the cross (p.42). He is, of course, referring to his close friend Samuel Pearce (1766–1799), whose memoirs he had written. But the reader new to Fuller would have no idea who he is talking about. The introduction is a brief, but adequate, introduction to Fuller and his ministry. Though, even a Fullerite as ardent as myself was surprised by the statement that Fuller was “perhaps the greatest model of a pastor-theologian the world has ever seen” (p.iii). These quibbles aside, I was thrilled to see this devotional from the sermons of a man from whom I have learned so much.

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 Announcement: Training Laborers for His Harvest: A Historical Study of William Milne’s Mentorship of Liang Fa

April 9th, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Books, Church History, Missions

songBaiyu Andrew Song has released a new book with Wipf and Stock titled Training Laborers for His Harvest: A Historical Study of William Milne’s Mentorship of Liang Fa. Song (BTS, MTS, Toronto Baptist Seminary) is a Junior Fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

From the Publisher:

In this project, Baiyu Andrew Song explores the mentorship of China’s first ordained indigenous evangelist, Liang Fa (1789-1855), by Scottish Presbyterian missionary William Milne (1785-1822) in the early nineteenth century. The biblically and contextually informed model of mentorship Milne employed is examined in detail, which is placed in the historical setting of Milne and Liang’s time. This project is particularly important in that it pioneers historical study in the area of the early protestant church history in China, specifically in regard to William Milne.

Endorsements:

“As a missionary who has served in four Asian countries, I have seen the ‘fruit’ of current trends in missions. Many believe that the Great Commission can be done with great speed: little or no need to learn the language or culture, a commitment of a few months or less is sufficient. William Milne points us in a very different direction. Oh, how we need to re-examine contemporary mission strategy in light of the Bible and the great missionaries of the past!”
–Phil Remmers, President, Robert Morrison Project

“Song has written a book marked by exact scholarship, keen theological insights, and evangelical warmth. This volume is filled with details and analysis of their significance, yet admirably succinct. Training Laborers for His Harvest presents a look at a critical moment in the history of Protestant missions to China. It possesses considerable value both for historians and for those who wish to advance the cause of the gospel among the Chinese. I highly recommend it.”
–G. Wright Doyle, Director, Global China Center

“An inspiring and profitable read. Baiyu has done a great job of introducing William Milne’s gospel ministry among nineteenth century Chinese to Christians today. Readers are bound to be encouraged by the missionary zeal of Milne and exhorted to follow in his footsteps of being theocentric in theology and practice.”
–Jeremy Lee, Pastor, Christ Community Church, Louisville, KY

“More than just an historical recounting of their lives and ministries, Baiyu reminds us of the importance of mentorship when it comes to preparing Christians for service. As a Chinese Christian himself, Baiyu Song’s work is another illustration of the fact that although the kingdom of God may start small, in the end it reaches to the ends of the earth.”
–Kirk Wellum, Pastor and Professor of Systematic Theology, Toronto Baptist Seminary

To order from the publisher, see here.

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Book Announcement: Paul’s Spirituality in Galatians: A Critique of Contemporary Christian Spiritualities by Adam McClendon

April 7th, 2015 Posted in Biblical Spirituality, Books

WIPFSTOCK_TemplateAdam McClendon has released a new book with Wipf and Stock titled Paul’s Spirituality in Galatians: A Critique of Contemporary Christian Spiritualities. McClendon has a Ph.D. in biblical spirituality from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book’s foreword was written by Donald S. Whitney and is endorsed my Michael A.G. Haykin.

Dr. Haykin’s Endorsement:

“Contrary to the thinking of Western culture in general, spirituality is not merely a human achievement. First and foremost, true spirituality comes from God and is given shape and substance by God’s witness to himself in the Scriptures. Beginning with this vital principle, this new work by McClendon dismantles a number of contemporary models of spirituality in order to build one rooted in the thought of Paul as it appears in the New Testament, and especially, in his letter to the Galatians. An extremely helpful and engaging study.”
–Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

From the Publisher:

Spirituality is a hot topic in today’s culture. Spirituality is essentially how one’s beliefs and experiences influence the way one lives their life. Such influences for living are of critical importance to one’s faith within the Christian community.

What role does the Bible play in developing an expressed spirituality among the Christian community? How do one’s religious traditions, cultural influences, and personal preferences influence the way Christian spirituality is perceived and expressed? All too often, and at times unintentionally, the foundational truths of the Bible are subordinated to tradition, culture, and personal preference.

This book provides a context for understanding Paul’s foundational components for Christian spirituality within the book of Galatians while showing how an accurate understanding of these components can and should serve as a corrective lens to various aspects of Christian spirituality as expressed and experienced today.

Click here to order from the publisher.

Amazon has the Kindle edition available.

Book Review: Letters to London: Bonhoeffer’s previously unpublished Correspondence with Ernst Cromwell, 1935–6

April 6th, 2015 Posted in 20th Century, Books, Church History

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters to London: Bonhoeffer’s previously unpublished Correspondence with Ernst Cromwell, 1935–6, Ed. Stephen J. Plant and Toni Burrowes-Cromwell (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2014), xvi+107 pages

Bonhoeffer lettersThe discovery of this bundle of letters written in the years 1935 and 1936 from the justly-famous German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) to a then-young Anglo-German by the name of Ernst Cromwell (1921–), now in his early nineties and bearing the anglicized name “Ernest,” does not materially add an enormous amount to what we know about the thought of Bonhoeffer. We see themes found elsewhere—his distrust of pietism (p.66), his emphasis on humility (p.69), his delight in the gift of friendship and community (p.73–74), the vital importance of living in the truth and cleaving to Christ (p.74–75)—but these are interwoven with other remarks of less import though vital to the developing friendship between Bonhoeffer and young Ernst. What we especially see in these letters is Bonhoeffer the pastor, seeking to offer encouragement and guidance to a young man living in England, whom Bonhoeffer was preparing for confirmation during his ministry at the German-speaking congregation at St. George’s, Sydenham. Given the fateful and horrific events transpiring in Germany in the mid-1930s, we also have some fabulous insights into Bonhoeffer’s determination to be faithful to his Christian calling amidst such days. In one letter, he tells Ernst that he has made himself “pretty unpopular over the issue of the Jews” (p.66). In another, he informs his young friend that he has been forbidden by “the Ministry of Culture…to lecture” (p.72).

A helpful introduction, “A friendship to be grateful for: Bonhoeffer’s letters to Ernst Cromwell,” sets the letters in context (p.1–27). There is also an interview with Ernest Cromwell (p.29–46), and an excellent “Afterword” by Toni Burrowes-Cromwell, Ernest’s daughter-in-law, in which she draws out the significance of these letters for Christian life today (p.77–100).

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.

This review was first published at Books At a Glance.

Samuel Pearce’s Religion of the Cross

April 2nd, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In Andrew Fuller’s (1754-1815) memoir of his late friend, Samuel Pearce (1766-1799), he described Pearce as a man smitten with the cross of Christ.  As we reflect upon the cross and resurrection this week, let us follow Pearce’s example and seek to be more amazed at the love of God in the cross of Christ.  Describing Pearce’s crucientric piety, Fuller said thus:

Christ crucified was his darling theme, from first to last. This was the subject on which he dwelt at the outset of his ministry among the Coleford colliers, when “he could scarcely speak for weeping, nor they hear for interrupting sighs and sobs.” This was the burden of the song, when addressing the more polished and crowded audiences at Birmingham, London, and Dublin; this was the grand motive exhibited in sermons for the promotion of public charities; and this was the rock on which he rested all his hopes, in the prospect of death. . . . “Blessed be his dear name,” says he, under his last affliction, “who shed his blood for me. He helps me to rejoice at times with joy unspeakable. Now I see the value of the religion of the cross. It is a religion for a dying sinner. It is all the most guilty and the most wretched can desire. Yes, I taste its sweetness, and enjoy its fulness, with all the gloom of a dying bed before me; and far rather would I be the poor emaciated and emaciating creature that I am, than be an emperor with every earthly good about him, but without a God.”[1]

____________

[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 430-31.

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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.

Book Review: The Theological Education of the Ministry: Soundings in the British Reformed and Dissenting Traditions by Alan P.F. Sell

March 30th, 2015 Posted in Books, Church History

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Alan P.F. Sell, The Theological Education of the Ministry: Soundings in the British Reformed and Dissenting Traditions (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013), xiv+313 pages.

sellsOne of the delights of an essay by the voluminous Alan P.F. Sell is the rich probing of details that are often never lighted upon by other authors and a density that bespeaks careful and exacting historical scholarship. This new volume of papers on particular aspects of the history of the academies established by the English Dissenters in the seventeenth century as well as that of Scottish theological colleges is no exception. It bears remembering that some of the English Dissenting academies were remarkably influential. As Sell reminds us, Richard Frankland (1630–1698), for instance, trained no fewer than 304 students at his academy between 1670 and his death.

The first essay entails the first complete account of the significance of Caleb Ashworth (c.1721–1775) and his Daventry Academy, which succeeded that of the famous evangelical Philip Doddridge (1702–1751). Ashworth had been raised as a Particular Baptist—he was baptized at the age of twelve by the famous Lancashire divine Alvery Jackson (d.1763). Study under the paedobaptist Doddridge, though, led to Ashworth changing denominations. There are also two extremely important essays on the major English historian of seventeenth-century Puritanism and eighteenth-century Dissent, Geoffrey F. Nuttall (1911–2007). The first is a reminiscence about his life from Nuttall himself; the other, a study of Nuttall as a theologian—“Is Geoffrey also among the Theologians?” In some ways, Sell’s own style of writing church history resembles that of Nuttall: layer upon layer, and rich with detail.

Three of the other four essays deal with Scottish theology and theologians—an overview of “Scottish Religious Philosophy, 1850–1900,” and papers on John Oman (1860–1939), who taught in England for much of his academic career, and N.H.G. Robinson (1912–1978), a professor in the divinity faculty at St. Andrews. A final paper looks at the life and legacy of four New Testament scholars: T.W. Manson (1893–1958), Owen Evans (1920–), W. Gordon Robinson (1903–1977), and J.H. Eric Hull (1923–1977). A small bibliographical appendix of what Sell calls “mini-resurrections,” that is, dictionary articles, of various divines who taught in English and Welsh academies and theological colleges rounds out the offerings of this substantial volume.

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: Churches, Revolutions, and Empires: 1789–1914 by Ian Shaw

March 23rd, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Books, Church History, Historians, Missions

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Ian J. Shaw, Churches, Revolutions, and Empires: 1789–1914 (Christian Focus, 2012), xii+561 pages.

CHURCHES_AND_REVOLUTIONS_EMPIRESPeople tend to view the period between the close of the Napoleonic Wars and the outbreak of the First World War as a fairly sedentary period. Contrary to popular thought, however, this era, the so-called “long” nineteenth century, 1789–1914, was a time of massive political, intellectual and cultural ferment. And this was not without significant impact on the church in the West. Ian Shaw, the Director of the Langham Scholarship Programme in the UK when he wrote this book, capably and confidently charts the course of the western Church through this era of upheaval and change. Shaw’s grasp of primary and secondary sources is impressive as is his ability to synthesize.

Shaw’s chapter on the birth of the modern missionary movement (p.95–130), for example, is typical of the quality of the book. He refuses to locate its origins in the mind and heart of William Carey, as is so often done, but shows with reference to the scholarship of men like W.R. Ward, A.F. Walls, and Brian Stanley that “the cradle of the movement was more truly Halle [with August Francke and the Pietists], or Herrnhut [with the Moravians], than the parlour of the Baptist manse in Kettering [the traditional place where Carey and friends decided to form the Baptist Missionary Society]” (p.128). He also probes the factors that led to the rise of the missionary movement, from the Enlightenment to theology, and concludes that “undoubtedly…the reasons for the expansion of Protestant mission [sic] are complex” (p. 128). Shaw rightly recognizes that this does not take away from Carey’s achievements, which were truly radical in their day (p.129)—as the critic of evangelical missions, Sydney Smith quipped, “if a tinker is a devout man, he infallibly sets off for the East” (cited p.106). But what Shaw is doing in this chapter is setting Carey in the rich context in which his life must be seen if it is truly to be understood.

Each of the chapters that explore topics like the French Revolution and its legacy, the ending of the slave trade and slavery, industrialization, the revolution of Darwinian science does something comparable. This is history on the big scale and an excellent example of such. Shaw’s conclusion is sobering: he concludes that the First World War essentially buried Europe’s Christendom and that the real hope for the historical future of the Church lies in the churches of the Global South, where Carey interestingly enough had been active.

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.