‘Theology’ Category

Why Read Andrew Fuller?

February 13th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Eminent Christians, Historians, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

A number of years ago I started reading Andrew Fuller’s writings.  I have come to admire and respect this great man of God who has not shared the same spotlight as other famous theologians.  But, thanks to the upcoming critical edition of Fuller’s published and unpublished works, Fuller’s theology and spirituality will hopefully continue to gain more influence.  I have discussed my appreciation of Fuller here, and in honor of Fuller’s 260th birthday last week, below are a few reasons (and suggested reading) that I commend his evangelical piety:

  • His cross-centered instinct (e.g., God’s Approbation of Labours Necessary for the Hope of Success;  The Common Salvation)
  • His Scripture-saturation (e.g., The Nature and Importance of an Intimate Knowledge of Divine Truth;  On an Intimate and Practical Acquaintance with the Word of God)
  • His missionary spirituality (e.g., The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation;  The Promise of the Spirit)
  • His prayerfulness and hunger for revival (e.g., Causes and Declension of Religion and Means of Revival)
  • His heavenly-mindedness (e.g., “The Blessedness of the Dead Who Die in the Lord”)
  • His Trinitarianism (e.g., “On the Trinity,” Letters of Systematic Divinity)

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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.

Dr. Haykin contributes to New Book on the Atonement

November 15th, 2013 Posted in Ancient Church: 2nd & 3rd Centuries, Ancient Church: 4th & 5th Centuries, Books, Church Fathers, Church History, Theology

By Steve Weaver

Final coverReleasing this month from Crossway is a massive new book on the doctrine of definite atonement titled From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. As the title suggests, this volume will approach the doctrine historically, biblically, theologically, and pastorally.

Edited by David and Jonathan Gibson, the volume assembles a world-class group of scholars to address their “particular” topics. Dr. Haykin drew from his patristic training to write his chapter: “We Trust in the Saving Blood”: Definite Atonement in the Ancient Church.

There is a website dedicated to promoting the book. On the website, you will find a list of the contributors, the table of contents, endorsements, and a free preview (PDF) of the book.

The book is slated to release on November 30, 2013, but is already available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

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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.

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.

 

“A Large Portion Do Not Preach the Gospel at All”

October 3rd, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

In his eminent biography of Adoniram Judson, Francis Wayland carefully demonstrates how the Judson’s valued the preaching of the gospel in missions as opposed to doing other good “fruitful” ministries which seemed to bring in more immediate “fruit”.  The following account is very applicable to missions, especially today amidst our need-for-speed missions pragmatism.

During these long years of preparation, surrounded by heathen, not one of whom had ever received a single Christian idea, and, for the greater part of the time, destitute of any religious associations, except what they found in each other, Mr. and Mrs. Judson were never for a moment harassed with a doubt of ultimate success.  It never entered into their minds that it might be desirable to find a more promising field.  If the idea had once arrested their attention, he could not, he said, tell what the result might have been; but God preserved them from being tempted with it.  They never felt a single regret or misgiving, and hence their letters never even allude to it, except it be to encourage their friends at home, who, they feared, might despond, in consequence of their want of success.  They always enjoyed the most entire certainty as to the result of their labors, though occasionally doubting whether they should live to witness it.  Their confidence rested solely and exclusively on the word of God.  They believed that he had promised; they, doing, as they believed, his will, accepted the promise as addressed to themselves personally.  Their daily work was a transaction between God and their own souls.  It never seemed possible to them that God could be false to his promises.  Their confidence was the offspring of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  By it they went forth, not knowing whither they went.  By faith, through many long years of discouragement, they endured, as seeing Him who is invisible; relying not at all on what they could do, but wholly on what God had promised to do for them.

….The direct way of securing the aid of almighty power, is to follow in the path marked out by omniscient wisdom. Mr. Judson therefore endeavored, first of all, to ascertain the manner in which Christ and his apostles labored to extend Christianity.  This seems plainy exemplified in the New Testament.  It is by the action of individual mind on individual mind.  It is by embracing every opportunity, which our intercourse with men presents, to tell them of the love of Christ, of their danger and their duty, and to urge them, in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled to God.  Thus did Christ, and thus did his apostles labor.  They had no plan, no sapping and mining, no preparatory work, extending over half a generation before they should be ready for direct and energetic effort.  As the apostles opened their commission, they saw that it commanded them to preach the gospel to every creature.  They obeyed the commandment, and God wrought with them by signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Mr. Judson followed these examples, and his labors were attended with signal success.  Hence it will be perceived that he addressed himself at once to adults, to those who denied the existence of an eternal God; and the Holy Spirit carried the message directly to their hearts.  Missionaries have sometimes said that we could scarcely expect men grown old in heathenism ever to be converted, since they were beyond the reach, at least, of our immediate efforts.  We must therefore begin with children.  We must establish schools, by our superior knowledge gain influence over the young, and with their daily lessons instill into their minds a knowledge of Christianity.  And more than this: as the religious systems of the heathen are indissolubly associated with false views of astronomy, geography, and physical science generally, if we can correct these errors, the religion resting upon them must by necessity be swept away.  As these views have been carried into practice, a change has naturally come over missionary stations.  Ministers of the gospel to the heathen have become schoolmasters.  Instead of proclaiming the great salvation, they have occupied themselves in teaching reading, spelling, geography, arithmetic, and astronomy.  While some are thus engaged as teachers, others are employed as book makers for the schools.  Thus it sometimes comes to pass, that of the men sent out for the express purpose of preaching the gospel, a large portion do not preach the gospel at all.[1]


[1]Francis Wayland, The Memoir of Adoniram Judson, 1:205-208.

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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.

Who’s Ultimately Converting?

September 20th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

Contextualization—in culture and on the mission field—has perennially been one of the most sensitive and complicated subjects for Christians interested in sharing their faith. To what degree should believers talk, dress, act, and think like their non-Christian community in order to effectively present the gospel to it? Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) offers a helpful test for Christians wrestling through these questions, simply ask: who’s ultimately converting? Are you seeing unbelievers embrace a new identity in Christ, or are your neighbors actually seeing you convert?

In his apologetic work against the Socinian Joseph Priestley (1733–1804), Fuller paralleled the compromise of doctrine to cultural trends to an example of a compromise on the mission field:

Nearly the same things might be observed respecting heathens and Mahometans. We may so model the gospel as almost to accommodate it to their taste; and by this means we may come nearer together: but – whether, in so doing, we shall not be rather converted to them, than they to us, deserves to be considered. Christianity may be so heathenized that a man may believe in it, and yet be no Christian. Were it true, therefore, that Socinianism had a tendency to induce professed infidels, by meeting them, as it were, half way, to take upon them the Christian name, still it would not follow that it was of any real use. The popish missionaries, of the last century, in China, acted upon the principle of accommodation; they gave up the main things in which Christians and heathens had been used to differ, and allowed the Chinese every favourite species of idolatry. The consequence was, they had a great many converts, such as they were; but thinking people looked upon the missionaries as more converted to heathenism, than the Chinese heathens to Christianity.[1]

Why would unbelievers even consider becoming a Christian when its representatives have nothing unique to offer, for what would they “do more, by embracing Christianity, than they already do?”[2] When Christians compromise their doctrine for the sake of reaching a certain demographic, they divest their mission of its life-source.  The missionaries that Fuller referenced “stripped the gospel of all its real glory” and “of all that is interesting and affecting to the souls of men.”[3] When identifying with unbelievers, be careful not to lose your own identity. Don’t be ashamed of the uniqueness of the gospel when evangelizing. The reality is that the gospel is different than us, and that’s exactly why we need it.


            [1] Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared, As to their Moral Tendency, 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), 2:126.

            [2] Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined, in Complete Works, 2:127.

            [3] Andrew Fuller, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined, in Complete Works, 2:126–27.

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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.

“Truth Itself is of the Greatest Importance”

September 19th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Theology

By Evan D. Burns

On September 27-28, 2013, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies will host its 7th Annual Conference on “Andrew Fuller & His Controversies” at Southern Seminary. (Register here).  In keeping with the theme of this conference, consider Andrew Fuller’s motivations behind theological controversy.  Near the end of his “Reply to Philanthropos” in Section IV, “On the Death of Christ,” Andrew Fuller discloses his heart for engaging in controversy.  Fuller is a great pastoral example of contending for truth 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. Whether what I have already written tends to that end, it becomes not me to decide: but, supposing it does, 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. Whatever is attempted afterwards must either consist of little personalities, with which the reader has no concern; or, at best, it will respect the minutiæ of things, in which case it seldom has a tendency to edification. To this I may add, though I see no reason, at present, to repent of having engaged in this controversy, and, in similar circumstances, should probably do the same again, yet it never was my intention to engage in a controversy for life….

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….

Finally, Let us all take heed that our attachments to Divine truth itself be on account of its being Divine. We are ever in extremes; and whilst one, in a time of controversy, throws off all regard to religious sentiment in the gross, reckoning the whole a matter of speculation, another becomes excessively affected to his own opinions, whether right or wrong, without bringing them to the great criterion, the word of God. Happy will it be for us all if truth be the sole object of our inquiries, and if our attachment to Divine truth itself be, not on account of its being what we have once engaged to defend, but what God hath revealed.[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.

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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 Invitation from Dr. Haykin to “Andrew Fuller & His Controversies” (Video)

September 13th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Theology

By Dustin Bruce

Join us on September 27-28, 2013 for “Andrew Fuller & His Controversies,” our 7th Annual Conference at Southern Seminary.

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

We’re only two weeks away from the conference, so register today!

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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.

 

Understand Ourselves Through Understanding Our Past: Two Recent Publications

September 9th, 2013 Posted in 16th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Historians, Reformation, Theology

By Dustin Bruce

Despite what it may seem, your local Baptist church didn’t appear out of thin air. It falls within a long line of Christian history, much of which has shaped the way you understand your Bible and gather as a church, in ways that are hard to overestimate.

Baptists have been shaped by a number of individuals, institutions, and movements. Of the many, perhaps no movements have shaped us so much as the 16th century Reformation and the 18th century revivals that formed early Evangelicalism.

If you would like to know more about these movements, I recommend two recent publications.

First, the recent appearance of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Timothy George’s Theology of the Reformersmarks the revising and republication of a treatise that serves as a great introduction to the key leaders and theological contributions of the Reformation. If you want to know more about the 16th century Reformation, I heartily recommend this volume. Read it and you may be surprised how much you learn about why you do the things you do.

Second, the publication of Early Evangelicalism: A Reader, edited by Jonathan M. Yeager, comes as a great service to those interested in exploring the roots of the Evangelical movement. This work features a short introductory piece on over 60 persons of key influence, followed by a sampling of their work. This book also comes highly recommended as a helpful guide to exploring the roots of the larger movement of which we are a part.

I don’t believe it to be a stretch to say that you can’t understand yourself as a 21st century Baptist (or Evangelical) without understanding these two key movements. Whether you know little or much about these movements, these two volumes will undoubtedly be of service to you.

Pick up and read!

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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.

Andrew Fuller on the Content of Saving Faith

September 6th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Great Quotes, Theology

By Nathan A. Finn

While lecturing in Church History I last week, I was asked by a student if I thought you had to believe certain doctrines to be saved. My answer was an unequivocal “yes.” While I do not believe one has to have extensive theological knowledge to be converted, I do believe there are some beliefs that are necessary for salvation. The gospel is news, and all news includes specific content.

Specifically, I believe there are certain things one needs to believe about the nature and character of God, the nature and destiny of humanity, and the person and work of Christ in order to be saved. I summarize these essential doctrines this way: 1) God created the whole world and human beings perfectly good, but we sinned against him by not trusting him and obeying his commands; 2) Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became a man and lived the perfect life we ought to live, but do not and cannot because we are captive to sin; 3) Though he never sinned, Jesus died the death we deserve to die, but do not have to, because he is our perfect substitute; 4) Jesus was raised from the dead to conquer the terrible consequences our sin has earned; 5) any person who repents of his sin and trusts in this amazing work of God through Christ as his only hope for salvation will be forgiven of his sin, adopted into God’s family, and given eternal life.

Obviously, this is a bare-boned presentation of the good news, the bare minimum of the gospel. Furthermore, there is little doubt that not all new converts understand even these baseline truths with the same degree of depth. Nevertheless, I believe a basic affirmation of these concepts is inherent to saving faith, even if a new convert understands far more than these core doctrines.

I am not alone in arguing that certain beliefs are essential to salvation. In 1801, Andrew Fuller published the second edition of his famous treatise The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. In this important work, Fuller challenged what he believed to be aberrant views found in three theological movements: 1) hyper-Calvinists, who denied the universal proclamation of the gospel to all people; 2) Arminians, who denied the monergistic nature of salvation; 3) Sandemanians, who denied that repentance is an element inherent to saving faith. In countering these movements, Fuller argued that some beliefs are necessary for one to be saved.

He that cometh to Christ must believe the gospel testimony, that he is the Son of God, and the Saviour of sinners; the only name given under heaven, and among men, by which we must be saved: he must also believe the gospel promise, that he will bestow eternal salvation on all them that obey him; and under the influence of this persuasion, he comes to him, commits himself to him, or trusts the salvation of his soul in his hands (italics in original).

I’m with Fuller: You cannot be saved if you don’t have some understanding of who does the saving, what we need to be saved from and why, and how it is that he has saved us. To be sure, this is not all we need to know if we are to be fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ. But we must know at least these truths if we are to begin a life of discipleship.

See Andrew Fuller, “The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation,” in The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, vol. II, ed. Joseph Belcher (1845; reprint, Sprinkle Publications, 1988), pp. 340–41.

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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 senior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

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.