‘Church History’ Category

400-Year-Old Lessons from English Baptists and Persecution

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

By Steve Weaver

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

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

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

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

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

The Evangelical Gifts of Whitefield and Edwards

October 20th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Revivals

By Evan D. Burns

George Whitefield (1714-1770) and Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) both ministered during the First Great Awakening (c. 1731-1755).  Both men were evangelical Calvinists and both were mightily used by the Spirit of Christ to breathe fresh life into the church.  Nevertheless, they were quite different and inimitable in their own ways.

In his book, Evangelical Spirituality, James M. Gordon briefly compares and contrasts George Whitefield with Jonathan Edwards.  Where Edwards was the philosopher-theologian, Whitefield was the evangelist-theologian.  Both men were mightily used by God, but in different ways, often depending upon their God-given temperaments and capacities.  Gordon observes that Whitefield was a “dramatic, colourful orator,” and Edwards was “much more controlled.”  In Whitefield’s sermon delivery, he was “forceful… and unrivaled in his day.”  The pathos of his sermons was found in his “presence and personality.”  Yet, Edwards was compelling in his “firm grasp” of the gospel and his commanding ability to extrapolate “a reasoned, biblical psychology of Christian experience.”  Whitefield was a “restless, energetic activist,” while Edwards “lived in a relatively small area.”  They both promoted evangelical Calvinism, but in Whitefield’s sermons, “there is little that is new or subtle.”  Yet, “by contrast Edwards conveyed a towering sense of the majesty of God.”[1]  The Holy Spirit empowered both of them uniquely to awaken and provoke renewal in ways that still deserve celebration and emulation today.


[1]James M. Gordon, Evangelical Spirituality (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1991), 63–64.

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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.

 

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On Tuesday and Wednesday, October 21st-22nd, a conference will be held on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on George Whitefield and the Great Awakening. You can watch the conference via livestream here.

Lessons for Pastors from Andrew Fuller

October 17th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Pastoral Ministry

By Steve Weaver

A few days ago, Brian Croft posted an article with ten lessons that he learned during a recent sabbatical from studying Andrew Fuller. He writes about his experience:

One of my goals for my sabbatical last year was to study the life and ministry of the 18th century English particular Baptist Pastor, Andrew Fuller.  Now that my time away has ended and feels so long ago, I thought I would still share about my findings.  After a few books read, portions of the 3 volume works read, and a very meaningful breakfast with Michael Haykin and Jeremy Walker (friends and Fuller experts) discussing Fuller, the blessing of studying this faithful man of God exceeded my expectations.

I was so blessed and learned so much that it would be unwise to try and share all the ways I was impacted.  However, as a steward and discipline to my time of study, I have summarized ten lessons that I learned from Andrew Fuller’s life that will impact my pastoral ministry from this moment on.  Because of this, I thought I would share them with you with the hopes you will be challenged in the same way I was and as a result, might be moved to dig deeper into this man’s life.

Croft gave the following lessons for modern pastors from Fuller in no particular order:

  1. Affirm a needed process to affirm pastors for pastoral ministry.
  2. Maintain the essential call for clear, faithful, and unwavering precision on the atonement.
  3. See the value of close, transparent, and life-long pastoral friendships.
  4. Embrace the opportunity for pastoral networks and associations.
  5. Keep the value of formal theological education in its proper perspective.
  6. Be steadfast in the primary focus between seekers/saints in the public gathering.
  7. Trust God’s unique purposes in the suffering of pastors.
  8. See the value of pastoral leadership outside a pastor’s individual local church.
  9. Be cautious to carefully balance family and ministry.
  10. Be wise to delegate responsibility.

Pastor Croft elaborates on each of these lessons in his original article. He also provides a list of resources that were helpful to him during his study of Fuller. Croft’s study of Fuller was clearly edifying for his spiritual life and ministry. I commend a similar study by other pastors for your own enrichment and encouragement.

Read Pastor Croft’s article in its entirety here.

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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.

“Baptists, Confessionalism and the Providence of God”: A Conference in Indianapolis, IN on Nov. 13-15

October 15th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Theology

By Steve Weaver

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On November 13-15, 2014, in Indianapolis, In., a conference will be held titled “Baptists, Confessionalism and the Providence of God.” The conference is being held in the year of the 325th anniversary of the adoption of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith by the General Assembly of Particular Baptists.

The purpose of the conference is stated on the conference website as follows:

Simply stated, this conference is a three day event to gather Christians with one deliberate purpose:

To encourage, equip and exhort them to value Jesus Christ above all things through a deeper, richer understanding of God’s Word as preserved and presented in the historic 1689 Baptist Confession.

The conference will be held on the campus of:

CROSSROADS BIBLE COLLEGE
601 N. Shortridge Road
Indianapolis, IN 46219

To register for the conference or for more information (including conference schedule, speakers, etc.), please see the conference website at http://www.1689conference.org/.

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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.

Whitefield’s “Joy Unspeakable”

October 9th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Historians, Revivals

By Evan D. Burns

While studying at Oxford, George Whitefield (1714-1770) participated in the Holy Club alongside John Wesley (1703-1791) and his brother, Charles (1707-1788). He employed strict rules of discipline for the sake of attaining holiness. After leaving Oxford for a time, he read a book by Henry Scougal (1650-1678), called The Life of God in the Soul of Man. Whitefield was consequently born again. In a sermon in 1769, he testified of his new birth:

I must bear testimony to my old friend Mr. Charles Wesley, he put a book into my hands, called, The Life of God and the Soul of Man, whereby God showed me, that I must be born again, or be damned. I know the place: it may be superstitious, perhaps, but whenever I go to Oxford, I cannot help running to that place where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me, and gave me the new birth. [Henry Scougal] says, a man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the sacrament, and yet, my brethren, not be a Christian. How did my heart rise, how did my heart shutter, like a poor man that is afraid to look into his account-books, lest he should find himself a bankrupt: yet shall I burn that book, shall I throw it down, shall I put it by, or shall I search into it? I did, and, holding the book in my hand, thus addressed the God of heaven and earth: Lord, if I am not a Christian, if I am not a real one, for Jesus Christ’s sake, show me what Christianity is, that I may not be damned at last. I read a little further, and the cheat was discovered; oh, says the author, they that know anything of religion know it is a vital union with the son of God, Christ formed in the heart; oh what a way of divine life did break in upon my poor soul. . . .  Oh! With what joy—Joy unspeakable—even joy that was full of, and big with glory, was my soul filled.[1]


[1]Michael A G. Haykin, ed., The Revived Puritan: The Spirituality of George Whitefield, Classics of Reformed Spirituality (Dundas, Ontario: Joshua Press, 2000), 25–26.

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Please make plans to join us on the beautiful campus of Southern Seminary on October 21-22, 2014 for this one-of-a-kind celebration of the three hundredth year of George Whitefield’s birth with some of the best Whitefieldian scholars in the world .

For more information and to register, please visit events.sbts.edu/andrewfuller.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Judson’s Vision of Eternal Happiness

October 2nd, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

From early in his spirituality, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) had an Edwardsean vision of how enjoyment of God would be ever increasing.  Because God is effulgent and infinite in himself, his glory is limitless and therefore our happiness in his glory is limitless.[1]  In a letter on October 25, 1810, Judson sketched his meditations of what it means to be a “lover of Jesus.”  It partakes in the genuine spiritual blessings both now and in eternity.  “Love to Jesus” describes superlative happiness.  There is no greater happiness than in loving Jesus because Jesus has supreme control over everything.  Jesus has promised happiness to his friends, and his happiness will fill their capacity; it will be neither partial, nor temporal.  Brimming with eager expectation of eternal joy, Judson went on to propose,

Nor does he intend a happiness eternally stationary.  It will be eternally increasing….  As their capacities will be eternally enlarging, the quantity of happiness they enjoy will be eternally increasing; and not merely eternally increasing in the same ratio, but eternally increasing in an eternally accelerated ratio.  So that there will unquestionably arrive a moment in the ages of eternity when the additional happiness, that instant superadded to the happiness already enjoyed by each glorified spirit, will almost infinitely outweigh the whole sum of human happiness enjoyed in this world.  To all this may he aspire who is a lover of Jesus.  Blessed Jesus, thou art no “niggard provider.”[2]  When thou givest, thou givest like a God.[3]


[1]Judson’s descriptions of heaven and rewards sound reminiscent to Jonathan Edwards’ treatment of heaven and eternal happiness in God.  See Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards(with a Memoir by Sereno E. Dwight), ed. Edward Hickman(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 2:243–46.

[2]A niggard was a term for a miser or a stingy person.

[3]Wayland, Memoir, 1:35-36.

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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.

Once more baptism and communion

September 29th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

I read my friend Mark Jones’ post “A Plea for Realism”: Are Presbyterians Christians? and was surprised by a number of things in this piece. To imply that Presbyterians, due to their ecclesiology, are less prone to sectarianism than Baptists is a surprising opener. Both Scottish and North American Presbyterian history (the latter especially since the 1920s) seems to tell a very different tale.

Then, I am not sure exactly what my dear friend Ian Clary said in his paper on Andrew Fuller at last year’s SBTS conference (you may listen to the audio here). But to imply, as Mark does, that Fuller’s baptismal theology meant that he was sectarian and lacked catholicity implies a complete misunderstanding of Fuller’s heart. I have written a study of the friendship of this closed communion, closed membership Baptist with John Ryland, an open communionist and open membership Baptist of the ilk of John Bunyan: it is absolutely remarkable that Fuller could hold deep convictions about this issue, but have as his best friend one who disagreed totally with him on these matters (they did agree on the subjects of baptism). Here we see true catholicity in action.

Fuller never believed that he and his fellow Calvinistic Baptists were the only Christians in Britain–witness his love for men like John Newton, William Wilberforce and John Berridge. In such a context, his strong convictions regarding the proper recipients of the Lord’s Supper bespeak a rich catholicity.

Much more could be said, but in fine: I am constrained to affirm with Fuller that the New Testament knows of only believer’s baptism (as did the Ancient Church largely up until the fifth century), and that I am prepared to stand with Fuller regarding his Eucharistic convictions, yet (as anyone who knows me will affirm), I am not interested in the slightest in a sectarian Christianity. I believe in the one holy catholic apostolic church—as did Fuller—filled with more than Baptists!

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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.

“Keep that Reward in View”

September 25th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In the following excerpt from “The Work and Encouragement of the Christian Minister,” Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) compared inactivity with weak piety.  Essentially, Fuller said that to the degree that we are abiding in the Vine, to the same degree we are bearing fruit.  This is a good perspective on laboring for the Lord’s approval:

II. The important motives which are here presented to us for the discharge of our trust.
1. You will receive the approbation of your Lord.—Place yourself in idea, my brother, before your Lord and Master, at the last day, and anticipate the joy of receiving his approbation. This is heaven. We should not study to please men so much as to please God. If we please him, we shall please all who love him, and, as to others, they are not on any account worthy of being pleased at the expense of displeasing God. It is doubtless gratifying to receive the “Well done” of a creature; but this in some cases may arise from ignorance, in others from private friendship; and in some cases men may say, “Well done,” when, in the sight of Him who judges the heart, and recognizes the springs of action, our work may be ill done. And even if we have done comparatively well, we must not rest satisfied with the approbation of our friends. Many have sat down contented with the plaudits of their hearers, spoiled and ruined. It is the “Well done” at the last day which we should seek, and with which only we should be satisfied. There have been young ministers, of very promising talents, who have been absolutely nursed to death with human applause, and the hopes they inspired blighted and blasted by the flattery of the weak and inconsiderate. The sound of “Well done” has been reiterated in their ears so often, that at last (poor little minds!) they have thought, Surely it was well done; they have inhaled the delicious draught, they have sat down to enjoy it, they have relaxed their efforts, and, after their little hour of popular applause, they have retired behind the scenes, and become of little or no account in the Christian world; and, what is worse, their spirituality has declined, and they have sunk down into a state of desertion, dispiritedness, and inactivity, as regards this world, and of uncertainty, if not of fearful forebodings, as to another.… ‘My brother, you may sit down when God says, “Well done!” for then your trust will be discharged; but it is at your peril that you rest satisfied with any thing short of this. Keep that reward in view, and you will not, I trust, be unfaithful in the service of your Lord.[1]


[1]A. G. Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, ed. J. Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 1:499–500.

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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.

“Whitefield and the Great Awakening”: An Invitation from Michael Haykin

September 12th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Historians, Revivals

By Michael A.G. Haykin

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George Whitefield was not only the most celebrated preacher of the eighteenth century, but he was also a central figure in the creation of modern Evangelicalism. His emphasis on the new birth, his passion for evangelism, his ability to cross denominational boundaries and build networks of Christians based on the gospel and Reformation convictions were central features in what we know today as Evangelicalism. In this conference celebrating the tercentennial (1714) birth of Whitefield, we will explore these key themes of this remarkable Christian’s life and what they meant for his day and mean for ours.

Please make plans to join us on the beautiful campus of Southern Seminary on October 21-22, 2014 for this one-of-a-kind celebration of the three hundredth year of George Whitefield’s birth with some of the best Whitefieldian scholars in the world .

For more information and to register, please visit events.sbts.edu/andrewfuller.

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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.

 

Judson’s Baptismal Prayer

September 11th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Prayer

By Evan D. Burns

The first American missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), wrote a number of different kinds of tracts, some of which have never been translated before into English. For my Ph.D. dissertation research, I have managed the translation project of a few of his untranslated Burmese tracts. It is fascinating to read them for the first time in English. For instance, in one of his practical tracts for church order and discipleship, The Septenary, Judson suggested this prayer as part of the closing liturgy for the baptism service:

Prayer to be said before baptism….  O almighty and everlasting God, who has great compassion; previously I/we had worshiped and followed the wrong god and have transgressed against our Saviour and have sinned.  By your grace I/we repent and confess my/our sins.  Referring to the fact that those who believe in Jesus Christ and took baptism will be saved, with faith I/we ask to be baptized.  As body filth is washed off by water may my/our conscience be washed off by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Like the dead body of flesh is buried in the ground through baptism, die as son of the world and in coming out of the water help me/us to resurrect as new person of heaven.  The person who takes baptism must discard wrong religion and worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit till the end of days.  Rejecting own preference, bear the cross and follow Jesus Christ.  I/we promise to try and put into effect all the principles a believer should follow.  Grant upon me/us the Holy Spirit so that I/we do not break my/our promise and abide with the principles all the days of my/our life/lives.  I/we reverently pray that when I/we pass away from this world let me/us be at thy foot together with the saints enjoying the never-ending heavenly riches, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.[1]


[1]Adoniram Judson, The Septenary, or Seven Manuals, 2nd ed. (Maulmain: American Baptist Mission Press, 1836), 66-67.

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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.