‘Church History’ Category

Dr. Mohler & “Baptist Augustinianism”—a brief reply to Scot McKnight

March 14th, 2015 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Church Fathers, Church History

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Carl Trueman has a helpful addendum to Scot McKnight’s take on R. Albert Mohler’s comments about the conversions of Southern Baptist twins to Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. Reading the original remarks, though, by Scot left me with a concern not addressed by Carl.

Scot is critical of a Baptist piety that is of the “no-creed-but-the-Bible” variety and one that has no regard for the Great Tradition that stretches back into the patristic era. And well he should be (here I fully concur with Carl’s piece at First Things). But Scot gives the reader of his blog-post the distinct impression that Dr. Mohler’s theological perspective is shaped by both of these emphases he finds wanting. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A careful reading of Dr. Mohler’s written corpus and his spoken words reveals a deep-seated confessionalism, a consciousness that the Protestant Reformation is deeply indebted to the patristic era, and a profound Augustinianinsm. Moreover, the teaching of patristic studies at the school under his leadership further belies Scot’s remarks about a lack of interest in this great era of Christian thought.

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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.

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.

“A God Glorious in Holiness”

March 5th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

Andrew Fuller perceptively distinguished God’s moral perfections as the ground for his holiness.  All of God’s attributes of greatness and power would not be as attractive without his goodness and equity.  Fuller argued that Deism was defective because it did not acknowledge the holiness and moral perfection of God.  He then identified the religion of the Old Testament as worshiping a God full of love and truth.  Israel’s worship was to be morally distinct from the lewd and decadent worship of the pagan nations because Israel’s God was morally perfect.  And in that apologetic context, he explained thus:

There are certain perfections which all who acknowledge a God agree in attributing to him; such are those of wisdom, power, immutability, &c.  These, by Christian divines, are usually termed his natural perfections. There are others which no less evidently belong to Deity, such as goodness, justice, veracity, &c., all which may be expressed in one word—holiness; and these are usually termed his moral perfections. Both natural and moral attributes tend to display the glory of the Divine character, but especially the latter. Wisdom and power, in the Supreme Being, render him a proper object of admiration; but justice, veracity, and goodness attract our love. No being is beloved for his greatness, but for his goodness. Moral excellence is the highest glory of any intelligent being, created or uncreated. Without this, wisdom would be subtlety, power tyranny, and immutability the same thing as being unchangeably wicked. We account it the glory of revelation that, while it displays the natural perfections of God in a way superior to any thing that has been called religion, it exhibits his moral excellence in a manner peculiar to itself. [1]


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 2: Controversial Publications, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 9.

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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.

An Unsung, but Influential Sermon in the Rise of the Modern Missionary Movement

March 3rd, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Missions

By Steve Weaver

On April 27, 1791, Andrew Fuller preached a message at a Minister’s Meeting at Clipstone. The title of the message was “Instances, Evil, and Tendency of Delay, in the Concerns of Religion.” The text was Haggai 1:2, “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” In the sermon, Fuller pleaded with his fellow ministers not to delay in regard to the work of missions and to use means for the spread of the gospel among the nations. It was a bold sermon. Not only was William Carey in attendance, but so too were many of those, as Andrew Gunton Fuller tells us, “who had refused — some of them not in the kindest manner — to listen to his proposal.” [1] Fuller said in part,

Instead of waiting for the removal of difficulties, we ought, in many cases, to consider them as purposely laid in our way, in order to try the sincerity of our religion. He who had all power in heaven and earth could not only have sent forth his apostles into all the world, but have so ordered it that all the world should treat them with kindness, and aid them in their mission; but, instead of that, he told them to lay their accounts with persecution and the loss of all things. This was no doubt to try their sincerity; and the difficulties laid in our way are equally designed to try ours.

Let it be considered whether it is not owing to this principle that so few and so feeble efforts have been made for the propagation of the gospel in the world. When the Lord Jesus commissioned his apostles, he commanded them to go and teach “all nations,” to preach the gospel to “every creature;” and that notwithstanding the difficulties and oppositions that would lie in the way. The apostles executed their commission with assiduity and fidelity; but, since their days, we seem to sit down half contented that the greater part of the world should still remain in ignorance and idolatry. Some noble efforts have indeed been made; but they are small in number, when compared with the magnitude of the object. And why is it so? Are the souls of men of less value than heretofore? No. Is Christianity less true or less important than in former ages? This will not be pretended. Are there no opportunities for societies, or individuals, in Christian nations, to convey the gospel to the heathen? This cannot be pleaded so long as opportunities are found to trade with them, yea, and (what is a disgrace to the name of Christians) to buy them, and sell them, and treat them with worse than savage barbarity? We have opportunities in abundance the improvement of navigation, and the maritime and commercial turn of this country, furnish us with these; and it deserves to be considered whether this is not a circumstance that renders it a duty peculiarly binding on us.

The truth is, if I am not mistaken, we wait for we know not what; we seem to think “the time is not come, the time for the Spirit to be poured down from on high.” We pray for the conversion and salvation of the world, and yet neglect the ordinary means by which those ends have been used to be accomplished. It pleased God, heretofore, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believed; and there is reason to think it will still please God to work by that distinguished means. Ought we not then at least to try by some means to convey more of the good news of salvation to the world around us than has hitherto been conveyed? The encouragement to the heathen is still in force, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved: but how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?” [2]

Fuller’s son records that the “impression produced by the sermon was most deep; it is said that the ministers were scarcely able to speak to each other at its close, and they so far committed themselves as to request Mr. Carey to publish his “thoughts.” [3] The next spring, Carey preached his famous sermon at Nottingham based on Isaiah 54:2-3 calling on ministers to “expect great things from God” and “attempt great things for God.” In 1792, he also published his “thoughts”—An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens (PDF). On October 2, 1792, in the home of Mrs. Beeby Wallis, the Particular Baptist Society for Propogating the Gospel Among the Heathen was launched.

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[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, Andrew Fuller. Men Worth Remembering (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882), 103.
[2] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 147–148.
[3] Fuller, Andrew Fuller, 104.

*This post originally appeared on the author’s personal blog on March 1, 2015.

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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 4 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

Book Review: Historical Theology In-Depth by David Beale

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

By Michael A.G. Haykin

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

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

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

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

Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

To download the review as PDF, click here. To see other book reviews, visit here.

A Circle of Friends: Reflections on a Letter from Fuller to Carey

February 25th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Church History, Eminent Christians, Missions, William Carey

By Steve Weaver

I love a letter from Andrew Fuller to William Carey contained in Andrew Gunton Fuller’s 1882 biography of his father.[1] It illustrates beautifully the love and collegiality of the circle of friends among whom the modern missionary movement was birthed. In the letter, Fuller indicates that he had been visiting with John Sutcliff, Baptist pastor in Olney, “on missionary concerns” when a letter from Carey (dated October 10, 1798) had arrived, or as he put it, “while I was there, in bolted Carey!” Fuller’s response to the missionary includes updates on all the major characters associated with the early days of the Baptist Missionary Society. Carey, the Society’s first missionary, was the recipient of the letter and Fuller, the secretary of the Society from its beginning until his death in 1815, was the author. Fuller knew that Carey would want to know about the welfare of their mutual friends—John Ryland, Jr. (1753–1825), John Sutcliff (1752–1814), and Samuel Pearce (1766–1799).

The fruits of Brother Ryland’s labours at Bristol appear to good purpose, not only in a number of spiritual young men in the Academy, but in so charming a group of missionaries as are now going. Brother Sutcliffe has baptized nine lately. He is appointed to supply you with books, and I doubt not but he will magnify his office. Pearce is a wonderful Christian; he preached here last autumn like an apostle, from Psalm xc. 16, 17. Hall, who preached after him, was dismayed at the thought of following him; not so much at an idea of inequality of talents, but of spirit and unction. But whether we shall ever hear him again, God only knows.

There is also a reference to Robert Hall, the younger (1764-1831), the esteemed preacher and son of Robert Hall, the elder (1728–1791). The reference to Hall, who was well-known as a great orator, is striking. When scheduled to preach after Pearce, who Fuller calls simply “a wonderful Christian,” Hall feared to follow Pearce due to the latter’s “spirit and unction.” This letter was likely written in late 1798 or early 1799. Pearce would die within the year on October 10, 1799. His obvious declining health was the reason Fuller added, “But whether we shall ever hear him again, God only knows.”

[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, Andrew Fuller. Men Worth Remembering (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882), 150-151.

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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 4 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

Audio of “The Legacy of Andrew Fuller” Conference Now Online

February 20th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Historians

Fuller Legacy Mini-Conference

On February 6, 2015, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies hosted a mini-conference to consider the legacy of Andrew Fuller. 2015 marks the bicentennial of Fuller’s death so it was appropriate The Andrew Fuller Center devote some time to assessing his legacy. As an added bonus, the conference date of February 6th was the 261st birthday of Fuller. The conference was hosted on the third floor of the Legacy Hotel on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. We are pleased to make available the audio from the conference free of charge below.

Conference Audio:

Why Andrew Fuller?” (MP3) a brief intro to the conference by Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin (Professor of Church History and Director of AFCBS at SBTS)

“Fuller and the 19th Century Southern Baptists” (MP3) by Dr. Gregory A. Wills (Professor of Church History and Dean of School of Theology at SBTS)

“C.H. Spurgeon: a Fullerite?” (MP3) by Dr. G. Stephen Weaver, Jr. (Research Assistant and Fellow of AFCBS)

“Free, Sovereign, and Great Grace”

February 19th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 16:22, entitled, “Equity of the Sentence Against Those Who Love Not Christ.”  He began by asserting:

A sense of the excellency of Christ, or of his worthiness of being loved, is of great importance in religion. Without this we can never truly love him, nor prize any thing which pertains to him. Destitute of this, we shall see his name degraded without indignation, and hear it exalted without delight. Without this, we shall esteem his salvation itself no otherwise than a happy expedient to escape eternal misery. In short, without this, we shall be mere statues in Christianity, bring no glory to its Author, and enjoy none of its refined pleasures. [1]

He went on to explain why eternal judgment is a just penalty for those who do not love Christ.  He gave three main reasons, which he expounded with depth and insight:  (1) To not love Christ is to be an enemy of God; (2) to not love Christ is to be an enemy of mankind; and (3) to not love Christ is to be an enemy of self.  And he closed by arguing that it is all of sovereign grace that any sinner loves Christ at all.  His conclusion was penetrating and ardent:

Oh how is it that we are not all excommunicated and accursed of God? Are we better than others? No, in nowise. God might justly have banished us from the abodes of the blessed. It is all of grace, free, sovereign, and great grace, if we are brought to love him, and so escape the awful curse; and for this we can never be sufficiently thankful. [2]


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 438.

[2] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 441.

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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.

The Catholicity of Fuller

February 17th, 2015 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

One of the key things that rescued the Particular Baptists from becoming little more than a dunghill in society (Andrew Fuller’s words) was the catholicity of men like Fuller and Ryland and Pearce and Carey. If we would know possibly what they knew, we must recover not only their robust evangelical Calvinism but also know the catholic ambience in which they lived and breathed and had their being.

The catholicity of Fuller is on display throughout his life but can be especially seen in his gracious dealings with the Arminian Dan Taylor, his friendship with the Anglican William Wilberforce and the Presbyterian Thomas Chalmers, his friendship with the High Calvinist William Button and the day of prayer spent with the eccentric John Berridge. Most of all it is there in his deep friendship with the open communion and open membership John Ryland (recall Fuller was closed communion and closed membership in a day when thus was a very important issue). There are some today who would claim Fuller’s mantle but whose narrowness of spirit belie their claim.

A good question to ponder is this: how does a love for all who love the Lord Jesus (Spurgeon said this marked the life of Fuller’s friend William Carey) reveal itself?

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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.

Book Review of Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury by Andrew Atherstone

February 16th, 2015 Posted in 20th Century, 21st Century, Books, Church History, Historians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Andrew Atherstone, Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2014), viii+152 pages.

welbyWhat drew me to this unauthorized biography of Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, was frankly the author, Andrew Atherstone, currently Tutor in History and Doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Having profited greatly from books that he was written in the past, I looked forward to the same in this sympathetic biography.

Welby was born into wealth and was very successful in the world of finance—he was a treasurer in the oil industry and had a salary of £100,000 per annum in 1989; but the compulsion of the Spirit and constraints of the gospel led him to train for vocational ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. During the early days of his Christian life after a distinctly evangelical conversion he was deeply shaped by the Vineyard as it found expression in the ministry of Holy Trinity Brompton.

His first ministerial charge was at Chilvers Coton in the diocese of Coventry. This diocesan locale proved to be important for Welby’s long-term career. The destruction of Coventry and St. Michael’s Cathedral in 1940 during World War II had led to the formation of the Community of the Cross of Nails (so named because of three medieval nails from the destroyed cathedral that were fused into a cross after the bombing), which came to focus on reconciliation projects in trouble spots around the world. In time, reconciliation became a defining hallmark of Welby’s ministry.

From Chilvers Coton, Welby went to Southam, Warwickshire, as the rector of Sr. James, where he became increasingly concerned for parish renewal, the relationship between theology and ethics, and the ministry of reconciliation. The latter frequently took him to Africa, where he faced mortal danger more than once, especially in Nigeria where violent clashes between Muslim and Christian were becoming more and more frequent in the 2000s.

Welby has insisted that he is “an orthodox Bible-believing evangelical,” for whom Scripture is “my final authority for all matters of life and doctrine” (p.90). But his concern for reconciliation has also led him to seek to preserve the unity of the Anglican communion despite recent deep divisions over women’s ordination and the question of same-sex marriage. There is no doubt that the latter issue will definitely test his abilities as Archbishop, for, in the final analysis, same-sex marriage is incompatible with a high view of Scripture.

Three things in particular struck me in Atherstone’s story of Welby’s life thus far: Welby’s concern for unity; in his own words, it is an “absolute essential” (p.113). Sadly, because unity has all too often in the past century been the concern of ecumenical types with a low of scriptural authority, evangelicals have not paid the matter the attention it deserves. But such an attitude is out of sync with both Scripture and the tradition of evangelicalism. The critical question, of course, has to do with the dynamics of making it happen. Then, there is Welby’s early experience with the charismatic movement and Third Wave theology that seems to have given him a life-long desire for revival, which, he would argue, is rooted in the resurrection: “Our hope of revival is based on the resurrection. Again and again in church history churches far worse off than us have, with clear leadership, found new life, and finding it have seen astonishing growth. Personally I believe passionately that it is possible” (p.131). To be honest, I did not expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak in such terms. Yet, his words are welcome and wise.

Third, it is clear that while Welby’s roots are evangelical, he has moved beyond the boundaries of evangelicalism in his practice of the Christian life. For instance, Atherstone notes Welby’s deep indebtedness to both Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality (p.94–97, 143). Reading this, it struck me that Welby typifies so many other evangelicals who have turned to other traditions of piety to enrich their faith. To be sure, it is not the case that we evangelicals have nothing to learn from these traditions. But the questions lay burning in my heart long after I had finished reading this biography: do we not have a tradition of piety that can nurture the deepest recesses of the believer’s heart (forsooth we do) and why is it not being retrieved and taught?

Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

To download the review as PDF, click here. To see other book reviews, visit here.