‘Pastoral Ministry’ Category

Caleb Evans refutes Antinomianism

July 21st, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Pastoral Ministry, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

A month or so before the seizure of the Bastille in 1789, an association of English Particular Baptist churches in the West Country met, as was their annual wont, for two days of worship and fellowship. This annual meeting on this occasion—June 3–4, 1789—took place at Horsley, Gloucs., where the redoubtable Benjamin Francis was the pastor. On such occasions as these, a circular letter would be drawn up by one of the pastors; then, when approved by the association messengers, it would be sent out to the churches. On this particular occasion Caleb Evans, the Principal of Bristol Baptist Academy, was asked to write the letter.

Among other comments in the letter, which was aimed at refuting especially Antinomianism, although Socinianism was also targeted, was Evans’ critique of what he called a “poisonous doctrine”: “That as God’s love to his people is from everlasting, it must have existed when they were sunk in sin and sensuality, in as high a degree, and in the same manner, as it will be when they are brought to glory” (The Elders, Ministers, and Messengers of the Several Baptist Churches [Circular Letter, Western Association, 1789], 8). Evans called this perspective—usually associated in that era with hyper-Calvinism—an “ignorant, shocking doctrine” and proceeded to refute it. Little did he know the firestorm his remarks would create.

Within the year, one of his fellow pastors in the Western Association, the minister of Chard, Samuel Rowles, attacked Evans in his Thoughts on the Love of God, which led to a reply from Evans and then a surrejoinder by Rowles. And to make things even more difficult the London minister William Huntington also entered the lists against Evans.

Reading over Evans’ circular letter just recently, it struck me that although Andrew Fuller is remembered as the great theologian of this era—David Bebbington once referred to him as a theologian of the caliber of Athanasius—he was surrounded by many capable men: such a man was Caleb Evans.

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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.

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.

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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.

 

Preaching from the “Spiritual Sense”

March 27th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Pastoral Ministry, Puritans

By Evan D. Burns

The Puritan John Owen argued that preachers must have “experience of the power of the truth which they preach in and upon their own souls….  A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul.”[1]  So his resolution was: “I hold myself bound in conscience and in honour, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of any one article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, that I may be able, from the heart, to say with the psalmist, ‘I have believed, and therefore I have spoken.’”[2]

Would that the Holy Spirit raise up more preachers who would resolve never to preach a text unless they have already tasted its spiritual sense.


[1] Owen, Works, XVI: 76.

[2] Works, X: 488.

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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.

 

Audio for “Andrew Fuller & His Controversies” Now Online

October 15th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Historians, Pastoral Ministry, Theology

By Steve Weaver

Audio of this year’s conference, Andrew Fuller & His Controversies, is now available online for free streaming or MP3 download. The conference, which was held on September 27-28, 2013, featured speakers such as Paul Helm, Mark Jones, Tom Nettles, Nathan Finn and other scholars. You may access the audio for the conference here. Audio of previous conferences is available by clicking on “Conference” on this website’s left sidebar. On the conference page, you may choose from previous conferences on the right sidebar. Most of these include the audio of all sessions for free streaming or MP3 download.

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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 2 and 14.

 

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

or

The Andrew Fuller Center

Phone: (502) 897-4613

Email: andrewfullercenter@sbts.edu

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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.

John Witherspoon’s “Qualities of Most Importance” for the Minister

April 23rd, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, Pastoral Ministry

By Dustin W. Benge

In his first sermon as president of the College of New Jersey (1768–94; now Princeton University), John Witherspoon (1722–1794) affirmed that “true religion in the heart is of far greater importance to the success and efficacy of the ministry than eminence or gifts.”[1] He enlarged on it, for example, in his Lectures on Eloquence. He had no hesitation as to what ought to be at the beginning of the list of “the qualities of most importance”[2] for the preaching of the gospel:

1. Piety – To have a firm belief of that gospel he is called to preach, and a lively sense of religion upon his own heart.

2. It gives a man the knowledge that is of most service to a minister. Experimental knowledge is superior to all other, and necessary to the perfection of every other kind. It is indeed the very possession, or daily exercise of that which it is the business of his life, and the duty of his office, to explain and recommend. Experimental knowledge is the best sort in every branch, but it is necessary in divinity, because religion is what cannot be truly understood, unless it is felt.

3. True piety will direct a man in the choice of his studies. The object of human knowledge is so extensive, that nobody can go through the whole, but religion will direct the student to what may be most profitable to him, and will also serve to turn into its proper channel all the knowledge he may otherwise acquire.

4. It will be a powerful motive to diligence in his studies. Nothing so forcible as that in which eternity has a part. The duty to a good man is so pressing, and the object so important, that he will spare no pains to obtain success.

5. True religion will give unspeakable force to what a minister says. There is a piercing and penetrating heat in that which flows from the heart, which distinguishes it both from the coldness of indifference, and the false fire of enthusiasm and vain-glory. We see that a man is truly pious has often esteem, influence, and success, though his parts may be much inferior to others, who are more capable, but less conscientious. If, then, piety makes even the weakest venerable, what must it do when added to the finest natural talents, and the best acquired endowments?

6. It adds to a minister’s instruction, the weight of his example. It is a trite remark, that example teaches better than precept. It is often a more effectual reprimand to vice, and a more inciting argument to the practice of virtue, than the best of reasoning. Example is more intelligible than precept. Precepts are often involved in obscurity, or wrapped by controversy; but a holy life immediately reaches, and takes possession of the heart.

…observe, as the conclusion of the whole, that one devoted to the service of the gospel should be really, visibly, and eminently holy.


                [1] John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh, 1815), 5:160.

                [2] John Witherspoon, “Ministerial Character and Duty” in The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1800), 2:285.

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Dustin W. Benge (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Associate Pastor and Pastor for Family Ministries at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. Dustin is a junior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center and lives with his wife, Molli, in Mobile.  

The Eye of True Wisdom

April 18th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Pastoral Ministry

By Evan D. Burns

In a sermon on Proverbs 14:8, Andrew Fuller looked long and hard at the virtue of godly wisdom.  He extracted many helpful principles from this verse, and one of the most insightful comments he made was how to use the Word of God in getting wisdom.  He says that the Word functions in two main ways in teaching us wisdom.  It shows us what the destructive end will be of folly, from which wisdom deters us.  Moreover, he makes an amazing observation about wisdom—the eye of wisdom should not chiefly look to the negative consequence of folly in order to avoid it; rather, the eye of wisdom should zealously fix its sight on Christ who is worthy of its gaze.  Such Christ-enamored wisdom is cultivated through meditation and prayer.

We shall read the oracles of God: the doctrines for belief, and the precepts for practice; and shall thus learn to cleanse our way by taking heed thereto, according to God’s word. It will moreover induce us to guard against the dangers of the way. We shall not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, nor of the numerous temptations to which our age, times, circumstances, and propensities expose us. It will influence us to keep our eye upon the end of the way. A foolish man will go that way in which he finds most company, or can go most at his ease; but wisdom will ask, “What shall I do in the end thereof?” To understand the end of the wrong way will deter; but to keep our eye upon that of the right will attract. Christ himself kept sight of the joy that was set before him. Finally, as holy wisdom possesses the soul with a sense of propriety at all times, and upon all occasions, it is therefore our highest interest to obtain this wisdom, and to cultivate it by reading, meditation, prayer, and every appointed means.[1]


 [1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 465-66.

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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 Thailand with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

The Recruiting Pastor

April 16th, 2013 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Great Quotes, Pastoral Ministry

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

Christians implore the help of their pastor for a range of reasons—at a range of hours of the night. I know this not because I’m a pastor but because I’m a Christian. But how many requests for help does the average pastor make of his congregation? He likely won’t get many, so he better choose his petitions wisely.

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) requested the help of his congregation in evangelism. In 1806, he wrote a letter to believers entitled, The Pastor’s Address to His Christian Hearers, Entreating Their Assistance In Promoting the Interest of Christ.[1] He asked for help to promote the gospel, and pastors today can learn from his recruiting methods.

First, he aimed to convince his congregation that evangelism was their mission too, “There is an important difference between Christian ministers and the Christian ministry. The former…exist for your sakes…but the latter, as being the chosen means of extending the Redeemer’s kingdom, is that for which both we and you exist (345-46).” Sharing the gospel is the job description of every Christian. As Nehemiah and Ezra enlisted the help of the Israelites to construct the temple, argued Fuller, so pastors today need believers to build the church (346).

Secondly, Fuller made his congregants aware that their involvement in the Christian mission was necessary for the continuation of churches. People are more willing to participate when they know that they are needed. God uses means to save unbelievers, and the “ordinary way in which the knowledge of God is spread in the world is, by every man saying to his neighbour and to his brother, ‘Know the Lord’ (351).”

Thirdly, Fuller not only entreated their assistance for the mission but he also equipped them for it. Perhaps the reason why many think that their sole duty in evangelism “consisted in sending the [unbelieving] party to the minister” is because they’ve never been trained in evangelism (348). Fuller would not allow his congregants to make this excuse. The chief rule in evangelism, Fuller instructed, was to “point them directly to the Saviour” (349). Merely sharing truths about Christianity without directing the unbeliever to Christ will only mislead him or her to “a resting place short of him (350).” Thus, it is crucial for every believer to “be skilful in the word of righteousness; else you administer false consolation (349).”

To put these principles to use, Fuller suggested three accessible opportunities. First, parents can assist the pastor in evangelism by dialoging with their children about the sermon. Second, Christians should invite their unbelieving friends to the preaching of the Word and discuss it with them. Thirdly, believers’ lives must be walking testimonies to the fruit of the gospel before their neighbors. “Enable us to use strong language when recommending the gospel by its holy and happy effects,” Fuller begged (351).


[1] This appeal was a circular letter for the Northamptonshire Baptist Association. Andrew Fuller, “The Pastor’s Address to His Christian Hearers, Entreating Their Assistance In Promoting the Interest of Christ,” in The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller with a Memoir of His Life by Andrew Gunton Fuller, 3 Vols., ed. Joseph Belcher (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1845. Repr., Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1988), 3:345-351.

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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.

 

New Michael A.G. Haykin Conference Audio

March 23rd, 2013 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Pastoral Ministry

By Steve Weaver

Earlier this week, Dr. Haykin spoke at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Haykin spoke in the morning worship service at the church on Sunday and twice at a special one-day conference on Monday. On Sunday, Dr. Haykin preached on “The Treasure of Moses” (MP3) from Hebrews 11:23-26. On Monday, Dr. Haykin spoke on “The Piety of the Preacher” (MP3) and “Friendship and the Preacher” (MP3). Please feel free to download these free audio resources provided courtesy of the Mount Vernon Baptist Church pastored by Dr. Aaron Menikoff. Audio of the entire “Feed My Sheep” conference is available here.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a junior 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 2 and 13.

 

Pastoral Admonitions 200 Years Apart (Guest Post by Dustin Bruce)

December 11th, 2012 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Pastoral Ministry

I recently completed an assignment for Dr. Haykin that involved reading Andrew Fuller’s ordination sermons. The exercise was both academically profitable and spiritually edifying. The following is an example of one of many nuggets gleaned from Fuller:

“Live the life of a Christian, as well as of a minister.—Read as one, preach as one, converse as one—to be profited, as well as to profit others. One of the  greatest temptations of a ministerial life is to handle Divine truth as ministers, rather than as Christians—for others, rather than for ourselves. But the word will not profit them that preach it, any more than it will them that hear it, unless it be “mixed with faith.” If we study the Scriptures as Christians, the more familiar we are with them, the more we shall feel their importance; but if our object be only to find out something to say to others, our familiarity with them will prove a snare. It will resemble that of soldiers, and doctors, and undertakers with death; the more familiar we are with them, the less we shall feel their importance. See Prov. 22:17, 18; Psal. 1:2, 3.”
Fuller, ”Spiritual Knowledge and Love Necessary for the Ministry,” Works I, 481

Fuller’s exhortation to live the life of a Christian, not just a minister, planted firmly in my mind. Thus, days later, when reading Paul Tripp’s new book, Dangerous Calling, I was struck by the similarity of the two messages. Tripp articulates:

“Ministry had become my identity. No, I didn’t think of myself as a child of God, in daily need of grace, in the middle of my own sanctification, still in a battle with sin, still in need of the body of Christ, and called to pastoral ministry. No, I thought of myself as a pastor. That’s it, bottom line. The office of pastor was more than a calling and a set of God-given gifts that had been recognized by the body of Christ. “Pastor” defined me. It was me in a way that proved to be more dangerous than I thought…My Faith had become a professional calling. It had become my job…It shaped the way I related to God. it formed the relationships with people in my life…So we (pastors) come to relationship with God and others being less than needy. And because we are less than needy, we are less than open to the ministry of others and the conviction of the Spirit. This sucks the life out of the private devotional aspect of our walk with God.”
Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling, p.22-23

Roughly 200 years passed between Fuller’s sermon and Tripp’s book, yet the problem addressed is much the same. Pastors are tempted to see themselves as pastors, as somehow less needy of God’s grace. In light of this timeless problem, Fuller’s admonition remains as pressing as ever. Pastors, “live the life of a Christian.”

Dustin Bruce is originally from Monroeville, AL and is a graduate of Auburn University and SWBTS. He lives with his wife Whitney in Louisville where he is pursuing a ThM in Church History at SBTS.