‘Church History’ 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.

Andrew Fuller Bicentennial Round-up

May 9th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Steve Weaver

On Thursday, May 7th, we observed the 200th anniversary of the death of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815). Fuller was one of the most significant Baptist theologians in history. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the nineteenth-century Prince of Preachers, called Fuller “the greatest theologian” of his century. Fuller was the theologian behind the Modern Missionary Movement most commonly associated with the efforts of William Carey.

There was a lot of chatter on social media about Andrew Fuller, much of which directed people to examine this website for more information about the life and legacy of Fuller. Several blog posts were written to commemorate the anniversary also. Below are links to some of these posts with a brief excerpt or description of the post.

No historical author outside of the Bible has influenced my thinking as significantly as Andrew Fuller. What draws me to Fuller’s life and writings is that he addresses everything with the sober-minded clarity of a working pastor. His work as a theologian, apologist, and missionary never lost sight of Jesus, his church, and his gospel. No topic Fuller addresses is treated in an abstract and hypothetical way, but rather, he treats it as having concrete implications for week-by-week gospel preaching, congregational worship, pastoral care, and church governance. READ MORE.

  • Jeremy Walker – Over at the Reformation21, Jeremy Walker acknowledged the anniversary of Fuller’s death by posting on Andrew Fuller’s dying words.
  • Steve Weaver – I posted on my personal blog on “Andrew Fuller’s Dying Hope,” relying on testimony from Fuller’s son, Andrew Gunton Fuller.

If you’re unfamiliar with Fuller, these links will help you to be introduced to this important thinker and doer. If you are already familiar with Fuller, perhaps these links will help you to join us in giving thanks to God for this gift to the church.


Steve Weaver serves as a Teaching and Research Associate with the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and is 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 4 and 16.

Newman on Fuller: A reflection on the 200th anniversary of the death of Andrew Fuller

May 7th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Albert Henry Newman (1852–1933) was one of the most learned and widely trusted Baptist historians at the turn of the twentieth century. For example, during his twenty years in Toronto at Toronto Baptist College and then McMaster University (1881–1901) he wrote a number of vital monographs that clearly gave him a solid grasp of the shape of Baptist history. In his edited volume, A Century of Baptist Achievement (Philadelphia, 1901), which brought together some of the finest Baptist authors of the day, though a number of them were theological modernists, he penned the first chapter: “A Survey of Baptist History to 1801” (p.1–18). It is a masterly piece.

When he comes to the sub-section entitled “Baptists and the Evangelical Revival,” Newman began by noting the different ways in which Baptists responded to the “enthusiastic evangelism of Wesley and Whitefield” (p.13). It was Andrew Fuller, Newman then asserted, “more than to any other individual, that restoration of the Particular Baptist body to its original evangelical position was chiefly due” (p.13). This is a large claim—but, give due recognition to other factors behind the revitalization of the English Baptist cause—Newman was right and equally correct to say that through Fuller’s “great activity as a preacher and writer, multitudes were brought to see the consistency between a true preaching of the doctrines of grace and the most earnest efforts for the salvation of sinners” (p.13). He went to note that Fuller’s significance as a Christian thinker and activist resides not solely in what he did for the modern missionary movement, but also for what his writings meant for the Baptist community in the British Isles: “The Baptist cause in Great Britain was by Fuller’s public activity raised to a higher plane…” (p.13).

So, on this bicentennial anniversary of his death, we thank God for his life and ministry that bore such rich fruit then and that are still bearing fruit.


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.

Book Review: Roman Centurions 753–31 BC: The Kingdom and the Age of Consuls by Raffaele D’Amato

May 5th, 2015 Posted in Church History, Historians

Raffaele D’Amato, Roman Centurions 753–31 BC: The Kingdom and the Age of Consuls (Botley, Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2011), 48 pages.

roman centurionsOsprey Publishing has become justly well-known for its publishing works in the realm of military history, which sadly many professional historians regard with disdain. War is and has been an ever-present reality of human experience and needs to be taken seriously in any investigation of the past. This present monograph appeared in the series “Men-at-Arms” and is a compact, though excellent, study of a subject I have long regarded as a vital and overlooked matter.

As D’Amato—who has two earned PhDs in the study of antiquity—explains, centurions were “the true architects” of Roman imperialism and that through their bravery and sometimes brutal disciplining of the ranks of the Roman legions (p.3). Centurions go back into the earliest periods of Roman history and were still a part of the armies of Byzantium in its final days—a span of some two thousand years. Polybius well described them: centurions were “natural leaders, of a steady and reliable spirit…men who will hold their ground when beaten and hard-pressed, and will be ready to die at their posts” (cited p.16). They were the first to charge into battle and had to be the last to quit the field (p.23). Centurions were also often employed to execute commando raids, which again speaks of their courage and resourcefulness, and as spokespersons for their commanders, which indicates their leadership abilities (p.19–20).

Now, an historian needs to read widely and a monograph like this helps enormously in illuminating the characters of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament. It is noteworthy that the first Gentile to be converted was the centurion in charge of the execution of Jesus (see Mark 15:39). Reason enough to be acquainted with a fine monograph like this and its companion work, also by D’Amato: Roman Centurions 31 BC–AD 500: The Classical and Late Empire (Osprey, 2012).

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.


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.

“A Lovely Proportion in Divine Truth”

April 23rd, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

Andrew Fuller was gifted at engaging in theological controversy.  Near the end of his “Reply to Philanthropos” in Section IV, “On the Death of Christ,” Fuller discloses his heart for engaging in controversy.  He exemplifies how to contend for truth with conviction without being contentious:

As I did not engage in controversy from any love I had to the thing itself, so I have no mind to continue in it any further than some good end may be answered by it….  There is a point in all controversies beyond which they are unprofitable and tedious. When we have stated the body of an argument, and attempted an answer to the main objections, the most profitable part of the work is done….

A reflection or two shall conclude the whole. However firmly any of the parties engaged in this controversy may be persuaded of the goodness of his cause, let us all beware of idolizing a sentiment. This is a temptation to which controversialists are particularly liable. There is a lovely proportion in Divine truth; if one part of it be insisted on to the neglect of another, the beauty of the whole is defaced; and the ill effects of such a partial distribution will be visible in the spirit, if not in the conduct, of those who admire it.

Further, Whatever difficulties there may be in finding out truth, and whatever mistakes may attend any of us in this controversy, (as it is very probable we are each mistaken in some things,) yet, let us remember, truth itself is of the greatest importance. It is very common for persons, when they find a subject much disputed, especially if it is by those whom they account good men, immediately to conclude that it must be a subject of but little consequence, a mere matter of speculation. Upon such persons religious controversies have a very ill effect; for finding a difficulty attending the coming at the truth, and at the same time a disposition to neglect it and to pursue other things, they readily avail themselves of what appears to them a plausible excuse, lay aside the inquiry, and sit down and indulge a spirit of scepticism. True it is that such variety of opinions ought to make us very diffident of ourselves, and teach us to exercise a Christian forbearance towards those who differ from us. It should teach us to know and feel what an inspired apostle acknowledged, that here we see but in part, and are, at best, but in a state of childhood. But if all disputed subjects are to be reckoned matters of mere speculation, we shall have nothing of any real use left in religion.[1]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 2: Controversial Publications, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 510-11.


Evan 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. He also works as the Director of the M.A. in Global Leadership program at Western Seminary.

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.


“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 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.