‘Current Affairs’ 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.

A Christian’s duty to country and the injustice of racism: Lessons from Andrew Fuller

March 24th, 2015 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Current Affairs, Pastoral Ministry

By David E. Prince

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) is best known for his robust defense of the free offer of the gospel to all people. His book, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, influenced William Carey and others, and it can be rightly considered the foundational theological document that helped launched the modern missions movement. The man C.H. Spurgeon referred to as, “The greatest theologian of his century,” was a local church pastor who unceasingly wed doctrine to practice.

In August 1803, Fuller delivered a sermon on “Christian Patriotism” to his congregation at the Baptist Church of Kettering. His sermon, based upon Jeremiah 29:7 (“And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it”), sought to help his congregation understand their Christian duty during a time of crisis. Many English citizens feared an imminent French invasion led by Napoléon Bonaparte. As a Particular Baptist dissenter, Fuller spoke about the Christian’s duty as a citizen from the cultural margins of English society and not from a seat of cultural power.

Christians in America are assuming the role of prophetic minority at breakneck speed, and we would do well to heed Fuller’s biblical gospel wisdom. The former conservative Christian Moral Majority voting block is a relic of a bygone era. Fuller’s biblical call to serve the kingdom of Christ as good citizens who seek the welfare of our country transcends whether we like or dislike the current governmental regime.

According to Fuller, seeking the welfare of our nation means we must have the courage to pursue justice and speak out about governmental faults, but though we must complain, we must not become complainers. And when we do speak out against the ruling authority, we should do so with both regret and respect. Consider some helpful portions of Fuller’s sermon I have excerpted below:

We ought to be patriots, or lovers of our country.

Seek the peace of the city. The term rendered peace signifies not merely an exemption from wars and insurrections, but prosperity in general. It amounts, therefore, to saying, seek the good or welfare of the city. Such, brethren, is the conduct required of us, as men and as Christians. We ought to be patriots, or lovers of our country.

If my country cannot prosper but at the expense of justice, humanity, and the happiness of mankind, let it be unprosperous!

To prevent mistakes, however, it is proper to observe that the patriotism required of us is not that love of our country, which clashes with universal benevolence, or which seeks its prosperity at the expense of the general happiness of mankind. Such was the patriotism of Greece and Rome; and such is that of all others where Christian principle is not allowed to direct it. Such, I am ashamed to say, is that with which some have advocated the cause of Negro slavery. It is necessary, forsooth, to the wealth of this country! No; if my country cannot prosper but at the expense of justice, humanity, and the happiness of mankind, let it be unprosperous!

Oh my country, I will lament thy faults! Yet, with all thy faults I will seek thy good

The prosperity which we are directed to seek in behalf of our country involves no ill to anyone, except to those who shall attempt its overthrow. Let those who fear not God, nor regard man, engage in schemes of aggrandizement, and let sorted parasites pray for their successes. Our concern is to cultivate that patriotism which harmonizes with good-will to men. Oh my country, I will lament thy faults! Yet, with all thy faults I will seek thy good; not only as a Briton, but as a Christian: “for my brethren and companions sakes, I will say, Peace be within the: because of the house of the Lord my God, I will seek thy good!”

A dutiful son may see a fault in a father; but he will not take pleasure in exposing him

If we seek the good of our country, we shall certainly do nothing, and join in nothing, that tends to disturb the peace, or hinder its welfare. Whoever engages in plots and conspiracies to overthrow its constitution, we shall not. Whoever deals in inflammatory speeches, or in any manner sows the seeds of discontent and disaffection, we shall not. Whoever labors to deprecate its governors, supreme or subordinate, in a manner tending to bring government itself into contempt, we shall not.

Even in cases wherein we may be compelled to disapprove of measures, we shall either be silent, or express our disapprobation with respect and with regret. A dutiful son may see a fault in a father; but he will not take pleasure in exposing him. He that can employ his wit in degrading magistrates is not their friend, but their enemy; and he that is an enemy to magistrates is not far from being an enemy to the magistracy, and, of course, to his country. A good man may be aggrieved; and, being so, may complain. Paul did so at Philippi. But the character of a complainer belongs only to those who walk after their own lusts.

It becomes Christians to bear positive good-will to their country, and to its government, considered as government

If we seek the good of our country, we shall do everything in our power to promote its welfare. We shall not think it sufficient that we do it no harm, or that we stand still as neutrals, in its difficulties. If, indeed, our spirits be tainted with disaffection, we shall be apt to think we do great things by standing aloof from conspiracies, and refraining from inflammatory speeches; but this is no more than maybe accomplished by the greatest traitor in the land, merely as a matter of prudence. It becomes Christians to bear positive good-will to their country, and to its government, considered as government, irrespective of the political party which may have the ascendancy.

In cases of imminent danger, shall be willing to expose even our lives in its defense

We may have our preferences, and that without blame; but they ought never to prevent the cheerful obedience to the laws, a respectful demeanor towards those who frame and those who execute them, or a ready co-operation in every measure which the being or well-being of the nation may require. The civil power, whatever political party is uppermost, while it maintains the great ends of government, ought, at all times, to be able to reckon upon religious people as its cordial friends; and if such we be, we shall be willing, in times of difficulty, to sacrifice private interest to public good; shall contribute of our substance without murmuring; and, in cases of imminent danger, shall be willing to expose even our lives in its defense.

[The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, vol. 1, ed. Joseph Belcher (Sprinkle publications): 204-205.]

This article originally appeared at the Ethics and Religious Liberty website  on March 6, 2015. http://erlc.com/article/a-christians-duty-to-county-and-the-injustice-of-racism-lessons-from-andrew


David E. Prince is the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.

Andrew Fuller and Antinomianism

May 27th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians, Historians, Pastoral Ministry, Theology

By Nathan A. Finn

In recent months, a debate has been stirring mostly among our conservative Presbyterian friends over antinomianism, or the idea that because believers live under grace God’s moral law should not be considered an appointed means used in our sanctification. Most antinomians are not libertines (a common misperception), but because they downplay the necessity of good works in the life of a Christian, mainstream Reformed believers argue that antinomian views do lead to a stunted understanding of sanctification.

The Reformed version of antinomianism (there are many versions of this particular error) that has often appeared among Calvinists argues against the necessity of the moral law based upon a fatalistic view of predestination and/or a too-sharp distinction between law and gospel. PCA pastor-theologian Mark Jones’s new book Antinomianism retraces the history of Reformed antinomianism and makes some contemporary application. In fact, Jones’s comments about some well-known Calvinist pastors, especially Tullian Tchividjian, have played a key role in bringing the current controversy to a head. You can read more about the dust-up at The Gospel Coalition, Reformation 21, and Tchividjian’s website. For a timely and edifying word that is inspired by this controversy, see Nick Batzig’s excellent blog post “Dangers of Theological Controversy.”

Once upon a time, the English Calvinists Baptists faced their own kerfuffle over antinomianism. Robert Oliver discusses this topic at length in his book History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771-1892: From John Gill to C.H. Spurgeon (Banner of Truth, 2006). This issue played a key role in the separation of the Strict and Particular Baptists from the majority Particular Baptist movement during the first half of the eighteenth century. Among Particular Baptists, there was often a connection between antinomianism and High Calvinism, though this wasn’t always the case.

Andrew Fuller wrote against the Reformed version of antinomianism in a posthumously published treatise titled Antinomianism Contrasted with the Religion Taught and Exemplified in the Holy Scriptures (1816). Fuller’s treatise can be found in the second volume of the “Sprinkle Edition” of The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller. Fuller argued that antinomianism is, at root, a species of spiritual selfishness that is concerned more with the spiritual benefits of the faith than a wholehearted devotion to Lord that is evidenced, in part, though the pursuit of ongoing spiritual maturity.

For an excellent introduction to Fuller’s critique of antinomianism, check out Mark Jones’s plenary address on that topic from last fall’s Andrew Fuller Center Conference.


Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.


Andrew Fuller on the extent of the atonement: A surrejoinder to Drs. Allen and Caner

April 28th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, 21st Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Current Affairs, Historians, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

I suspect it is a sign of Andrew Fuller’s greatness as a theologian that his thought should occasion differing interpretations. Because of this, the blogosphere (let alone other social media like Facebook and Twitter) is not the best of places to carry on the sort of discussion that drills down into the depths of his thought. Such a conversation is best carried on in face-to-face discussions or through such media as monographs and academic articles.

This being said, let me make one final response to Drs David Allen and Emir Caner regarding their interpretation of Fuller. First of all, let me say that I am very thankful for the thoughtful response of Dr David Allen (“Gaining a Fuller Understanding: Responding to Dr. Michael Haykin”, SBC Today) to my earlier comments on an article by Dr Emir Caner that included a discussion of Andrew Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology (“Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology, pt. 2/3: What Were the Early SBC Leaders’ View of Salvation?”, SBC Today. He is obviously drawing upon his extensive article on “The Atonement: Limited or Universal” in his and Steve W. Lemke, eds., Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2010), 61–107, where he actually refers to Fuller on three occasions. This background to Allen’s remarks may well explain elements of his reply to me: he perceives there to be theological and biblical issues at stake and he is eager to recruit Fuller to defend his position on those theological and biblical issues.

I, on the other hand, am approaching Fuller as an historian: I am not uninterested in the theological and biblical issues, but my main approach to Fuller is as an historian. I really want to understand what he is saying and why and how his historical context shapes his interaction with Scripture. To that end, in addition to reading Fuller’s thoughts, secondary sources beyond Peter Morden’s fine study of Fuller—Offering Christ to the World (Paternoster, 2003), which Caner quotes at second-hand from a piece by Allen—like Gerald L. Priest, “Andrew Fuller, Hyper-Calvinism, and the ‘Modern Question’ ” in my ed., ‘At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word’: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist (Paternoster, 2004), 43–73; Chris Chun, The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in the Theology of Andrew Fuller (Brill, 2012), 142–182; and especially Geoffrey F. Nuttall, “Northamptonshire and The Modern Question: A Turning-Point in Eighteenth-Century Dissent”, Journal of Theological Studies, ns, 16 (1965), 101–123 are absolutely vital to read before pronouncing any sort of magisterial interpretation of Fuller on the convoluted issue of the atonement. For my own take, on this question, see “Particular Redemption in the Writings of Andrew Fuller (1754–1815)” in David Bebbington, ed., The Gospel in the World: International Baptist Studies (Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol.1; Carlisle, Cumbria/Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Press, 2002), 107–128. So: I am writing as an historian, not as a biblical theologian. I am not trying to elucidate what the New Testament says about this issue, but understand what Fuller believed. The question of whether he was right or wrong is another issue as is the question of whether Southern Baptists are his heirs etc.

To read my 4+ page response in its entirety, please download the full PDF here.


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.

“Andrew Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology: a brief response to Emir Caner”

April 23rd, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians, Historians, Missions

By Michael A.G. Haykin

It was extremely gratifying to see Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) cited as a vital theologian at the onset of the modern missionary movement in Dr. Emir Caner’s recent piece on “Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology” that appeared on the SBC Today website. Usually when Baptists are considered in this regard, the name of William Carey (1761–1834) alone receives mention, and Fuller, who was the theological muscle behind Carey, is forgotten. There were, however, some surprising aspects to Caner’s treatment of Fuller, especially as it relates to Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology. According to the article, Fuller really cannot be considered a Calvinist (something that, by the way, would warm the cockles of the hearts of hyper-Calvinist critics of Fuller like William Gadsby). By 1801, Caner reckons that Fuller had given up the concept of particular redemption for a general redemption, affirmed that “faith is not a gift from God,” and rejected “Total Depravity as articulated by some of his contemporary High [that is, hyper-] Calvinists.”

To read my response in its entirety, please download the full PDF here.


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.


Avoiding the follies of the present by remembering the follies of the past

November 29th, 2013 Posted in Church History, Current Affairs, Hymnody, Music

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Ah, one good reason to read the history of the church is to avoid the follies of the past. With the passage of time, the folly is patent, though at the time when it was committed, it may well have passed for wisdom. One thinks of the defence of slavery by God-fearing men and women in the 18th and 19th centuries and further back, the “learned’ ripostes by Christians to the new science of Copernicus. In the realm of worship, we Baptists can learn a lot from the conflict that ripped apart the London Particular Baptists in the 1690s. So fierce was it, that eventually some of the pastors called a halt to the treatises being written and so attempted to find a pax Baptistica.

I am old enough to remember a wise pastor making the following statement in a public worship setting, and I quote, “There will be no rock music in heaven.” Yet, fifty years after the rock n’roll of the sixties, is it not true that in many of our worship settings, some of the music by which we worship the Lamb could not be envisioned without the rock revolution? Are we to regard this way of combining chords and rhythms as sinful or is it better seen as part and parcel of the creativity that God has packed into the human frame? And is it not true that some of the music that we like in worship or that we don’t like has more to do with personal preference than divine fiat?

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.

Charles Hodge on Demons and Evil Spirits

October 31st, 2013 Posted in 19th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

You may be thinking that this is another Fundamentalist rant against Halloween. It’s not. In fact, I love dressing up in costumes, and I especially love candy. There is nothing wrong with how most celebrate Halloween. It’s a fantastic opportunity for parents to bond with children, communities to come together, and it’s a great excuse to eat candy.

However, the fact that most Westerners can enjoy the holiday with lightheartedness indicates a major shift in our culture: most do not take evil spirits as seriously as previous centuries. My colleague at work asked me what I’ve been writing about recently, and when I explained the topic of evil spirits, he said: “that’s ridiculous.” Case in point. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the Salem Witch Trials, but have we gone too far to largely ignore the dimension of evil spirits? Of course there are still groups that celebrate witchcraft and the occult, but the mainstream culture has largely dismissed any notion of evil spirits as unscientific, mythical, and antiquated—if not in theory then at least in practice and conscientiousness. The truth is that the realm and agency of evil spirits is no light matter, and it exists just as actively in our modern world as it always has.

Charles Hodge (1797–1878), the Princeton theologian and author of the seminal Systematic Theology, maintained that “great evils…have arisen from exaggerated views of the agency of evil spirits” (Systematic Theology, 1.XIII.4). Nonetheless, he also recognized the reality of the evil supernatural realm and warned Christians not to underestimate it. “There is no special improbability in the doctrine of demoniacal possessions” Hodge wrote, “Evil spirits do exist. Why should we refuse to believe, on the authority of Christ, that they were allowed to have special power over some men? The world, since the apostasy, belongs to the kingdom of Satan” (1.XIII.4).

Many believers wrongly assume that the dimension of evil forces has no bearing on them. Hodge challenges Christians to consider that if we believe what the Scriptures say about the activity of evil spirits in the Old Testament and Apostolic eras, what indication to we have that it would be any different today? “As to the power and agency of these evil spirits,” they are “represented as being exceedingly numerous, as everywhere efficient, as having access to our world, and as operating in nature and in the minds of men” (1.XIII.4). Demons are still operative, actively trying to manipulate and pollute the souls of men and women. Thus we ought to “be on our guard and seek divine protection from the machinations of the spirits of evil” (1.XIII.4).  It is important to have a right and balanced theology of evil spirits in order to understand the import of Christ’s victory over them.

Redeeming the world from the dominion of Satan “was the special object of the mission of the Son of God” (1.XIII.4).  Christ’s incarnation was the apex of history when “he manifested his power” over the rule of Satan, “making the fact of his overthrow the more conspicuous and glorious” (1.XIII.4). Christ overturned the force of Satan’s power by conquering sin and rising victorious from the grave, demonstrating who truly has authority over death. That God sent his own Son to defeat evil forces shows that he takes them very seriously, and we should do likewise.

If men and women do not submit to the authority of God, they will bow to the authority of Satan. Perhaps the manifestation of mankind’s allegiance to Satan does not appear supernatural on the surface in our Western world, but it is nonetheless deceptively real. Christ will come again to claim his kingdom, and he will put a final end to Satan and his followers and gloriously deliver his people from their power.


Ryan Patrick Hoselton is pursuing a ThM at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaclyn, and they are the parents of one child.

Top Five Reasons You Should Attend Andrew Fuller and His Controversies

September 5th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians, Historians, Pastoral Ministry, Theology

By Dustin Bruce

With the Fuller Conference coming up later this month, I thought I would present you with five reasons to consider attending this year’s conference. Thanks to Dustin Benge for contributing a number of these.

1. Engage first-class scholarship in the field of Baptist studies. The Andrew Fuller Center exists to further historical research and interest in the field of Baptist history, theology, and related disciplines. The annual conference, which features a number of distinguished speakers, serves as one way we try and do this. This year, you can hear notable scholars such as Paul Helm, Mark Jones, Tom Nettles, Nathan Finn, and more.

2. Equip yourself to face current controversy from a historical perspective. The Fuller Conference is not just for scholars. At The Andrew Fuller Center, what we care about most is the church. With every conference, we aim to empower ministers and lay leaders to serve more effectively in the context of local Baptist churches.

This year is no different. What church does not face controversy from time to time? If you are a ministry leader, come learn how to handle questions on hyper-Calvinism, Arminianism, and eschatology from a historical perspective.

There is truly nothing new under the sun. Controversies don’t die; they just reappear under a different name. You may have never heard the term ‘Socinianism,’ but listening to Dr. Nettles on the topic will guide your approach to dealing with its modern counterpart, Unitarianism. The same could be said about Deism, Socinianism, and more.

3. Engross yourself into another century. Evangelicals all too often fall into what C.S. Lewis described as “Chronological Snobbery,” the penchant to automatically discredit ideas from the past and uncritically accept contemporary thought. At the Andrew Fuller Conference, you will have the opportunity to leave the twenty-first century and travel back to the eighteenth-century. In doing so, you may just find that much of what you assume to be true is false (and vice-versa).

4. Enjoy the close fellowship of a smaller conference. At The Andrew Fuller Center, we thank God for giant conferences that bring together thousands to extol the riches of God’s grace through preaching and song. Yet, this is not our aim. At the Fuller Conference, our intention is to create a thriving environment of brotherly affection centered on the gospel. With our smaller size and more pointed focus, we think we do just that. Come join us and enjoy the fellowship of godly men and women in a smaller, more intimate conference setting.

5. Experience the campus of Southern Seminary. The Andrew Fuller Center has the great benefit of being located on the beautiful campus of Southern Seminary. Come join us and enjoy the amenities of The Legacy Hotel and Conference Center while enjoying Southern’s 80-acre campus located in the Cherokee Park section of Louisville, KY. Close to everything Louisville has to offer, the Fuller Conference would pair great with a family trip to this historical city.

We hope you will join us at the 7th annual Andrew Fuller Conference. If you have any questions, contact:

The Office of Event Productions

Phone: (502) 897-4072

Email: eventproductions@sbts.edu


The Andrew Fuller Center

Phone: (502) 897-4613

Email: andrewfullercenter@sbts.edu


Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

Southern Baptists, Evangelicalism, and … Andrew Fuller?

August 23rd, 2013 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians

By Nathan A. Finn

Ever since “evangelical” became a household word in 1976, scholars have been debating the relationship between Southern Baptists and evangelicalism. In 1982, Mercer University Press published a book titled Are Southern Baptists Evangelicals? In that volume, James Tull essentially moderated a debate between James Leo Garrett and Glenn Hinson. Garrett argued Southern Baptists are “denominational” evangelicals, while Hinson distanced Southern Baptists from American evangelicalism.

In 1994, David Dockery edited a collection of essays for B&H titled Southern Baptists and American Evangelicals: The Conversation Continues. Some of the contributors were Southern Baptists (including Garrett and Hinson), while others were non-SBC evangelical scholars. Most of the contributors argued for some form of continuity and discontinuity between Southern Baptists and the broader evangelical movement.

Since 2006, several scholars have revisited this discussion in the form of journal articles and contributed book chapters. Examples include Malcolm Yarnell, William Brackney, Jeff Robinson, and Nathan Finn. Others such as Dockery, Al Mohler, Steve Lemke, Timothy George, and Russell Moore have also participated in this discussion through conference addresses, popular articles, and online writings. Still other scholars don’t so much enter into the debate as they assume that Baptists either are or are not evangelicals.

This scholarly discussion applies to Baptists and evangelicals in general, not just in America. At this year’s annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, I will be participating in a session that looks at various perspectives on Andrew Fuller’s thought. My paper is titled “Andrew Fuller: An Evangelical Theologian.” I hope to dialogue with the mostly Baptist authors who are reticent to identify Baptists with evangelicalism, but I also hope to engage scholars who discuss Fuller as if he were a generic evangelical who just happened to be a Baptist. (David Bebbington, Mark Noll, and Bruce Hindmarsh fall into the latter category.)

I will contend that Fuller, like most Baptists, most certainly was an evangelical. But, it would be anachronistic to divorce Fuller’s evangelical emphases from his Baptist identity. He was a Baptist evangelical, or, perhaps more specifically, a Baptist Edwardsean. His version of evangelicalism, while certainly exhibiting the characteristics of evangelicalism is general, was filtered through his robustly baptistic understanding of ecclesiology. Keith Grant goes partly down this road in his recent monograph on Fuller’s pastoral theology, but I hope to push a bit farther. Prior to the advent of nondenominational evangelicalism—a mostly 20th-century phenomenon—most evangelicals filtered their evangelicalism through the lens of their denominational identity. And for Fuller, that denominational identity was Particular Baptist.

I would suggest that contemporary Southern Baptists who are convictionally baptistic but also committed to a broader evangelicalism might learn something about our own identity from the Fullerites who wed similar emphases in their own context. To be a theologically orthodox Southern Baptist is to be an evangelical, albeit a particular type of evangelical.


Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a senior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

Boston Not Jerusalem

April 30th, 2013 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, 21st Century, Current Affairs, Puritans

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

The Boston Marathon bombing represents a society that is worlds apart from the Boston inhabited by the Puritan Increase Mather (1639-1723). Abhorrent evils perpetrated in any city—like the Newtown shooting, 9/11, and the Oklahoma City bombing—raise the very human question: why? Each generation has to wrestle with new and complicated manifestations of wrongdoing. Increase Mather had no category for making sense of how two Chechen brothers could plant explosives at a massive annual foot-race. However, perhaps his response to the calamities of Boston in his day could help us gain perspective on the city’s recent catastrophe.

In many ways, modern-day Boston has failed to live up to Mather’s lofty aspirations for the city. Mather, the former minister of the historic Second Church and President of Harvard from 1685-1702, planned for Boston to become the new Jerusalem—God’s holy society on earth. But even in his day, Boston was far from heaven. The seventeenth-century New Englanders intimately knew suffering. The reason many of them came to New England was to flee religious persecution. If they survived the long voyage, they faced the threat of frequent and devastating plagues.

But it was the attacks from the native New England tribes that evoked one of Mather’s fullest reflections on the evil of his times, An Earnest Exhortation to the Inhabitants of New-England (1676).[1] In this treatise, Mather blamed the tragedies on the sins of Boston’s citizens: “What shall we say when men are seen in the Streets with monstrous and horrid Perriwigs, and women with their Borders and False Locks…whereby the anger of the Lord is kindled against this land (9)!” He’s just getting warmed up. He listed Boston’s iniquities and warned that unless the citizens reform their lives, “New-England hath not seen its worst dayes.” For Mather, Boston’s prosperity and its demise was contingent on its righteousness before God. Thus, his solution for eradicating Boston’s suffering was to recruit its citizens to significant moral reform.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking (or should be thinking if you’re not): so far, Mather is not helping us understand evil today! But briefly give him a little grace. As a result of these events, Mather ministered to many hurting people: “Is it nothing that Widdows and Fatherless have been multiplyed among us?” He wanted to see evil and its effects eliminated just as much as those impacted by the Boston Marathon bombings. However, no earthly city could ever be righteous enough to completely evade adversity—all of mankind is fallen. His solution was geographically misguided.

Mather placed his hope in the right city, but he located it in the wrong place. Revelation 21:2-4 describes how the new Jerusalem will come:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

Boston is not the New Jerusalem—it does not exist on earth. The events from last week’s race testify to the sad reality that evil still afflicts the city four-hundred years later. Ever since Babel, mankind has had the tendency to rely on the kingdoms that we can construct. We like our societies because they reflect us rather than God. However, despite our best efforts, we cannot create the righteous kingdom that will bring us peace.

Mather was right that God will entirely eradicate all evil and its consequences in his new Jerusalem. However, this is not a city that mortals can build.  Instead, we must rest our hopes for peace on the King of the new Jerusalem, Jesus Christ, who will lovingly assemble this city for his people.

[1]Increase Mather, An Earnest Exhortation to the Inhabitants of New-England (Boston: John Foster: 1676). You can access the full text here: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/etas/31/


Ryan Patrick Hoselton is pursuing a ThM at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaclyn, and they are expecting their first child in August.