‘Books’ Category

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.

To order from Amazon, see here.

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.

____________

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.

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

March 19th, 2015 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History

9781625646743Just released from Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, a collection of essays 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 and edited by Gordon L. Heath and Michael A.G. Haykin. The book is available for purchase now from the publisher and on Amazon. For a PDF flyer with all the book details see here.

Description from Publisher:

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 responses of Baptists in America to the war in Vietnam. Essays also 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.

Endorsements:

“Conflict challenges the Christian conscience, fostering divergent responses. Hence Baptists have commonly sought peace, sometimes to the extent of condemning war outright, but equally they have often believed that justice required the taking up of arms, even with enthusiasm. The detailed and penetrating international studies contained in this book illuminate contrasting attitudes over the centuries, showing how war has put Baptists to the test, spiritually as well as materially.”
–David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland,
UK

“Baptists have had a varied approach to war from the Pietist/Reformed tensions of four hundred years ago to the reactions to the Vietnam War. This work explores the theme in different time periods and, using a number of individuals as case studies, opens the past so the reader can reflect on the present. The volume is an important contribution to both Baptist studies and the Christian approach to war and peace.”
–Robert Wilson, Professor of Church History, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Canada

 

Book Review: Andrew Fuller: Pastor, Theologian, Ropeholder by Gilbert Laws

March 16th, 2015 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

Gilbert Laws, Andrew Fuller: Pastor, Theologian, Ropeholder (London: The Carey Press, 1942), 135 pages.

laws fullerBook reviews are usually reserved for recent items, not for publications of the more distant past. Yet, from time to time, it is helpful to recall the contribution made by works from an earlier time. The book being reviewed here is noteworthy in view of the fact that while there had been a handful of biographies of Andrew Fuller in the nineteenth century—mostly written by friends, colleagues and family members—there was only one of any substance in the twentieth century, namely, that by Rev. Gilbert Laws (1876–1962), long-time minister of the historic Baptist congregation in Norwich, St. Mary’s Baptist Church (now Norwich Central Baptist Church). Laws was a well-known preacher in the Baptist Union during the 1930s and 1940s, and also served as the President of this body.

Laws’ biography of Fuller, not easily found these days, was printed on sub-standard wartime paper, and most copies that I have seen have been the worse for wear. The subtitle gives the major categories in which Laws treats his subject: Fuller as a pastor, a theologian, and a “ropeholder,” that is, missions advocate and loyal friend and supporter of William Carey. An earlier article on Fuller by Laws that appeared in The Baptist Quarterly had examined Fuller’s life briefly under these very headings (“Andrew Fuller, 1754–1815,” The Baptist Quarterly 2.2 [April 1924]: 76–84). Now, in this book-length endeavor, Laws expanded the scope of his treatment.

The strength of Laws’ study lies in his fine discussion of Fuller as a pastor and in his service to the Baptist Missionary Society. Laws does not attempt to hide his admiration of Fuller—“we may affirm that to Fuller the Christian cause in general and the Baptist denomination in particular owes so much that, excepting only Carey, it is hard to name his fellow” (p.132). Yet, he deals honestly with his character, which at times could be stern and gruff. Robert Hall, Jr said of Fuller after his death, he was “less eminent for the gentler graces than for stern integrity” (p.123), while Fuller’s own wife, Ann Coles Fuller, admitted that “there was a degree of bluntness in his manner” (p.124). In detailing Fuller’s role as a pastor and “ropeholder,” Laws has made good use of the numerous anecdotes and stories about Fuller found in the various nineteenth-century biographies as well as those that Fuller himself recorded in his letters and diaries.

The one area where the work is not strong is his treatment of Fuller as a theologian. For instance, referring to Fuller’s The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, his first major publication, Laws comments, “it is impossible to summarize its argument” (p.35). Laws does attempt a brief overview, which is as it should be, for this work began Fuller’s career as an apologist. Laws’ failing here is one, however, general to the twentieth century that largely forgot Fuller’s importance in this area and remembered simply his role as a missionary statesman. Nineteenth-century biographers and theologians, on the other hand, did not share this weakness as Laws himself knew (see his reference to A.H. Strong’s significant use of Fuller’s corpus on p.126).

All in all, though, this is a very good study of Fuller, especially revelatory of the humanity of the Baptist theologian. When Andrew Gunton Fuller published his 1882 biography of his father in the series “Men Worth Remembering,” C.H. Spurgeon personally thanked the younger Fuller for having shown interested readers something of the personal side of Fuller. Likewise, looking at Laws’ biography standing alone in the long twentieth century, he is to be thanked for having kept alive the memory of a man truly worth remembering.

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: SEMBEQ: 40 years. Celebrating the Faithfulness of God by René Frey

March 9th, 2015 Posted in Books, Church History

René Frey, ed., SEMBEQ: 40 years. Celebrating the Faithfulness of God, trans. Daniel Henderson (Montreal, QC: SEMBEQ, 2014), 61 pages.

SEMBEQ booklet pictureEarly Anglophone Baptist missions to Quebec from the 1930s to the 1960s, led by men like W.S. Whitcomb, Murray and Lorne Heron, Bill Phillips, W.-H. Frey, Yvon Hurtubise, and Tom Carson (the father of D.A. Carson), struggled against great odds to plant evangelical Baptist churches. They especially faced an entrenched Roman Catholicism that controlled the province spiritually and politically and that had given the province the “reputation of being a cemetery for missionaries” (p.17). During the 1960s and 1970s, though, the political changes in Quebec known as the Quiet Revolution changed everything: the province started down a path of secularization that has made modern Quebec the least religious region of Canada. The power of the Roman Church was broken, and evangelical causes, especially those of the Baptists and the Brethren, began to spring up all over the province. As Jacques Alexanian notes in the first chapter, it was “a time of refreshment and heavenly rain” (p.16). The church in Quebec knew a genuine touch of revival.

The critical question, however, was this: pastors were needed to enable these young believers and churches continue to flourish and grow, but where would they be trained? There were no suitable Francophone seminaries in North America. The solution in God’s good providence was Séminaire Baptiste Évangélique du Québec (The Evangelical Baptist Seminary of Quebec) in Montreal, known more simply as SEMBEQ. Crafting a curriculum to fit the unique needs that the fledgling Baptist churches faced in Quebec and enlisting the help of both Anglophone professors (who were translated simultaneously as they taught) as well as French teachers (among them men like Roger Nicole), SEMBEQ has flourished beyond the dreams of its founders. In the last forty years, it has played a central role in the equipping of leaders and has demonstrated again and again the vital importance of theological education of pastors and leaders called to ministry by the churches.

This booklet overview of the history of SEMBEQ tells the truly exciting story of this school and the men and women who God raised up to make the vision of its founders a reality.

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.