‘Uncategorized’ Category

Andrew Fuller Friday: Ministers and Churches Exhorted to Serve One Another in Love

April 15th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

Printed below is a powerful summary of an ordination Sermon that Andrew Fuller addressed to both the pastor and the people of the congregation.

Enjoy,

David E. Prince

[Andrew Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., J. Belcher, ed., (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988) 544-545].

Ministers and Churches Exhorted to Serve One Another in Love

“By love serve one another.”—Gal. 5:13.

My brethren, having been requested on this solemn occasion to address a word of exhortation to both pastor and people, I have chosen a subject equally suitable for both.

I shall begin by addressing a few words to you, my brother, the pastor of this church.

The text expresses your duty—to “serve” the church; and the manner in which it is to be performed—“in love.”

Do not imagine there is any thing degrading in the idea of being a servant. Though you are to serve them, and they you, yet neither of you are to be masters of the other. You are fellow servants, and have each “one Master, even Christ.” It is a service, not of constraint, but of love; like that which your Lord and Master himself yielded. “I have been among you as one that serveth.” Let the common name of minister remind you of this.… The authority you exercise must be invariably directed to the spiritual advantage of the church. You are invested with authority; you are to have the rule over them, in the Lord; but not as a “lord over God’s heritage.” Nor are you invested with this authority to confer dignity on you, or that you may value yourself as a person of consequence; but for the good of the church. This is the end of office: “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” … But, more particularly,

  • You must serve the church of God, by feeding them with the word of life.

This is the leading duty of a minister. “Preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season.” This will be serving them, as it will promote their best interests. For this end you must be familiar with the word. “Meditate on these things: give thyself wholly to them.” It is considered a fine thing with some to have a black coat, to loiter about all the week, and to stand up to be looked at and admired on the sabbath. But truly this is not to serve the church of God. Be concerned to be “a scribe well instructed in the things of the kingdom.” Be concerned to have treasures, and to bring them forth. I would advise that one service of every sabbath consist of a well-digested exposition, that your hearers may become Bible Christians. Be concerned to understand and to teach the doctrine of Christianity—“the truth as it is in Jesus.” Be careful, particularly, to be conversant with the doctrine of the cross; if you be right there, you can scarcely be essentially wrong any where. Cut off the reproach of drydoctrine, by preaching it feelingly; and of its being inimical to good works, by preaching it practically.

And do all this in love.—Your love must be, first, to Christ, or you will not be fitted for your work of feeding the church, John 21:15–17. Also to the truth, or your services will be mischievous, rather than useful. And to Christians, for Christ’s sake, Acts 20:28. And to the souls of men, as fellow men and fellow sinners. If love be wanting, preaching will be in vain.

  • You must feed the church of God, by watching over them.

“Be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” Watch over them, not as a vulture, to destroy them: but as a good shepherd, who careth for the sheep. If you are compelled to reprove, beware that your reproof be conveyed, not in ill temper, but in love; not to gratify self, but to do your brother good.

  • You must serve them, by leading them on in all spiritual and holy exercises.

Lead them by your example. “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Visit them. You have as much need to pray with them and for them in private, as to preach to them in public. And you must do all this in love. An affectionate example and deportment will draw them on.

Let me now address myself to the church.—You also must serve your pastor, as well as he you, and this in love. You must seek his good, as well as he yours.

  • Be assiduous to make him happy in his mind.

If he discharge his work with grief, it will be unprofitable for you. If you be touchy, and soon offended, or cold and distant, it will destroy his happiness. Do not be content with a merely negative respect. Be free, open, kind, inviting to friendly and Christian intercourse and conversation; and be early and constant in your attendance on public worship.

  • Be concerned to render him as easy in his circumstances as possible.

If he serve you in spiritual things, is it such a great thing that he partake of your carnal things? I hope he does not covet a haughty independence of you; but neither let him sink into an abject dependence. Worship not with—offer not to God—that which costs you nothing. It is the glory of Dissenting churches, if they voluntarily make sacrifices for the maintenance of the true religion among them.

  • If there be any thing apparently wrong in his conduct or his preaching, do not spread it abroad, but tell him of it alone.

You may have mistaken him, and this will give him an opportunity of explaining, or, if he be in fault, this will give him an opportunity of correcting himself.

And do every thing in love.

Love will dictate what is proper on most occasions. It will do more than a thousand rules; and all rules without it are nothing.

To the deacons let me say, Be you helpers in every thing—whether agreeable or disagreeable.

To the congregation generally, I would say, You also have an interest in the proceedings of this day. My brother considers you as part of his charge. His appointment by the church is with your approbation. He will seek the good of you and your children. Then teach them to respect and love him …

Review: Revival of Religion in Northamptonshire

April 11th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

Pickles, Davis front coverStephen Pickles, The revival of religion in Northamptonshire and the neighbouring counties under the ministry of Richard Davis (1658–1714) (Bethersden, Ashford, Kent: The James Bourne Society, 2015), 286 pages.

If the name of Richard Davis of Rothwell, Northamptonshire, is known today, it is because of John Gill’s recommendatory preface to the seventh edition of his hymns (1748) in which he raises the subject of the free offer of the gospel (p.196). As Stephen Pickles rightly argues and demonstrates in this new study of Davis, which has been clearly a labour of love, this evangelist and preacher needs to be known for other reasons as well. Davis had a remarkable ministry from 1689 to 1714, one that anticipated the revivals of the 1730s and 1740s (p.230). Throughout his preaching ministry, Davis knew the unction of the Holy Spirit and significant numbers were converted by his sermons and congregations planted (p.28, 36–38, 74–78, 158–163, 216, 224), some of which later became Baptist—for example, Southill Strict Baptist Chapel in Bedfordshire (p.37–38) and College Lane Baptist Church in Northampton (p.162–163).

It is probably owing to Davis and his writings being largely unknown that Pickles quotes extensive sections of his works. Chapter 7, for instance, which deals with the relationship of the law and the gospel in Davis’ works, is essentially comprised of very large quotations from Davis’ writings, some of which run for a page or two, with very little analysis. At times, it would have been more helpful to have cited less and given more attention to the scriptural argumentation of Davis—how he interpreted Scripture and the questions he was asking of the biblical text. The advantage of Pickles’ approach, on the other hand, is to lay before the reader who has no easy access to Davis’ works, today found only in a few libraries, the rich literary corpus of this early eighteenth-century preacher.

Pickles devotes three chapters to the opposition that was raised against Davis, rightly showing that it had no basis in fact (chapters 4–6). He also examines Davis’ view of the law and the gospel (chapter 7), his hymns (chapter 8) and various other publications (chapter 10), Davis’ preaching (chapter 11)—which includes a discussion of the free offer of the gospel—and some of his religious practices (chapter 12). In chapter 11, Pickles affirms Gill’s comment about Davis that while the latter used the language of the free offer in his early ministry, ‘before his death, [he] changed his mind in this matter, and disused the phrase, as being too bold and free for a minister of Christ to make use of’ (p.196). Davis never lost his zeal for the salvation of the lost, but his conviction that salvation was all of grace, came to shape the language that he used to express that zeal in his preaching. It is surely fascinating that seventy or so years after Davis’ death, Andrew Fuller in nearby Kettering (less than five miles from Rothwell) was wrestling with the very same issue (how should the gospel preacher address the lost?) and came to quite different conclusions, ones that this reviewer believes are truer to the Scripture model of apostolic preaching.

It is also noteworthy that the one Lord’s Supper hymn of Davis cited by Pickles, ‘Ravishing mercy! Wondrous love!’ (p.147–148), has a high view of the Table. In its fifth stanza, for example, we read:

Ravishing food! Delicious wine!

The flesh and blood of Christ!

With joy and strength we feed upon

The sacrifice and priest.

Such realistic language bespeaks a consciousness that at the Table the believer communes with his risen Lord, albeit spiritually. This Calvinistic view of the presence of Christ at the Table was standard fare for Davis’ day, though, sadly, by the close of the long eighteenth century, it was increasingly rare among Calvinist Nonconformity.

The book is a handsomely-produced volume with extensive illustrations, mostly of figures associated with Davis—ranging from John Owen (p.14) to John Gill (p.215–217; Pickles speculates that Gill may actually have been taught by Davis in the 1710s)—and a comprehensive index. There are three appendices, which include Davis’ statement of faith and the Rothwell Church covenant.

Michael A.G. Haykin

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Andrew Fuller Center to Hold Mini-Conference on April 20

April 8th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies will hold a mini-conference from 10-11:30 a.m., April 20 in roomPinson 303 of the Legacy Center.

Dr. Matthew Pinson, president of Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee, will present a paper, “What Has Nicaea Got to Do With Norwich? Thomas Grantham & the Ancient Church.”

Book review: Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition

March 29th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

Eamon Duffy, Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition: Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), viii+311 pages.

In this well-researched and well-crafted collection of essays, Eamon Duffy, Emeritus Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Magdalene College, continues to argue the case that he made in The Stripping of the Altars (1992), namely, that the English Reformation really did not take hold of the hearts and minds of Englishmen until well into the reign of Elizabeth I. From Duffy’s perspective, the Protestant Tudor monarchs Edward VI and Elizabeth had to employ force and political persuasion to wrest the English people away from their commitment to Roman Catholicism and the papacy. It is a bold thesis—though Duffy is not the only historian who has made this argument—and his arguments for it are strong and compelling. In the final analysis, however, I must say I am not wholly convinced.

In addition to a number of essays that look at the material religious culture of early Tudor England (chapters 3–5), which Duffy believes substantiate his case, recent historiography of the English Reformation (chapters 1 and 2) is also examined. Duffy is right to outline the way in which this historiography has been shaped by the religious allegiances of English historians of the Reformation, though it bears noting that Duffy’s own deep roots in pre-Vatican II Roman CathoUnknownlicism should not be overlooked when considering the bent of his historical scholarship.[1] Chapters 6–9 trace the spirituality of two key Roman Catholic cardinals, John Fisher and Reginald Pole, who were far more well-known in the European world of their day than their Protestant counterparts, men like Thomas Cranmer (whose piety is compared with that of Pole in chapter 8) or Hugh Latimer. Chapter 8 is especially interesting where Duffy contrasts the Protestant memory of Cranmer as a noble martyr with that created by Pole: “a very different Cranmer, a concubinate priest, feebly subservient to brutal tyranny [that of Henry VIII], untruthful from the start, and unstable to the end” (p.194).

In chapters 10 and 11, Duffy traces the legacy of Tudor Catholicism. I found the final chapter—“Bare ruin’d choirs: remembering Catholicism in Shakespeare’s England (p.233–253)—especially significant as Duffy looks at the evidence of a single line from Sonnet 73 (“Bare ruin’d quiers, where late the sweet birds sang”) with regard to the religious convictions of William Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries. Duffy rightly questions the supposed Puritanism of the playwright’s father, John Shakespeare (p.240–241), a view that was put forward by a few authors a hundred or so years ago. On the other hand, he convincingly demonstrates through contextual analysis of this line that “if we cannot quite be sure that Shakespeare was a Catholic, it becomes clearer and clearer that he must have struck contemporaries as a most unsatisfactory Protestant” (p.253).

Why then do I remain not fully convinced? First, there is the stubborn fact of the thousands of Bibles from Tyndale’s version to that of the Geneva Bible produced by Protestants in these years: who was reading these copies of the Scriptures if Protestantism was essentially restricted to a small coterie of figures? Then, there are the various “common” people martyred during the reign of Mary I: they surely indicate that if there were many whose hearts were still loyal to the ethos, doctrine and piety of Rome, there were also many whose hearts had been won to the “new” faith. But even if I cannot follow Duffy’s revisionism (though, see his comments in this regard in the Introduction) the whole way, his arguments are not lightly dismissed and reveal that the English Reformation was much more complex, and messier, than some historians in the past have thought.

Michael A.G. Haykin

[1] See, for example, his essay, “Confessions of a Cradle Catholic” in his Faith of our Fathers: Reflections on Catholic Tradition (London/New York: Continuum, 2004), 11–19.

Andrew Fuller Fridays: Fuller on Passages that Seem Contradictory (Rom. 2:14 & Eph. 2:3)

March 25th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

By David E. Prince

“The Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law.”—Rom. 2:14.

“Among whom we all had our conversation in times past.… and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”—Eph. 2:3.

The term “nature” in these two passages is of very different signification. In the former it stands opposed to the written law of God, or the light of revelation. In the latter it is opposed to custom, education, or any thing merely accidental. In the one case, it is expressive of their want of external means; in the other, of the inward disposition of their minds. The phrase “by nature,” in the former, refers to the rule of action; but, in the latter, to the cause of it. All arguments, therefore, against the total depravity of human nature, or in favour of a natural disposition to virtue, drawn from the former of these passages, are entirely unfounded.

Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 667–684). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.

__________________

David E. Prince is assistant professor of preaching at Southern Seminary and is pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. This article originally appeared on his blog, Prince on Preaching.

Anne Dutton Not a Hyper-Calvinist

March 22nd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

By Michael A. G. Haykin

Anne Dutton has in times past been accused of being a hyper-Calvinist by a number of Baptist historians. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is Anne in her A Caution Against Error, When it springs up together with Truth talking about the First Great Awakening: “I hope that the Revival  which the Lord hath now begun, of his Truth, and Work, will be like the Morning-Light, which shineth more and more until the perfect day” (p.51). This did not mean that she accepted all of the revival uncritically, but let this suffice to indicate once and for all, that Anne is anything but a hyper-Calvinist, for Baptist hyper-Calvinism was profoundly critical of the revival

 

Review: Radical Religion in Cromwell’s England

March 21st, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

Andrew Bradstock, Radical Religion in Cromwell’s England: A Concise History from the English Civil War to the End of the Commonwealth (London/New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011), xxvi+189 pages.

In seven crisply written chapters, Andrew Bradstock, currently Secretary for Church and Society with the United ReformChurch in the United Kingdom, outlines seven important communities that emerged in England during the religious and social chaos of the 1640s and 1650s: Baptists, Levellers, Diggers, Ranters, Quakers, Fifth Monarchists, and Muggletonians. Bradstock’s deft analyses of the origins of each of these groups and their ideological perspectives, which is based on a close reading of relevant primary sources, makes this volume both a joy to read and a ready reference tool for the student of this era. He rightly emphasizes that these groups, obscure though some of them may be (for example, the Muggletonians) are of ongoing significance for the very fact that they raised vital questions regarding liberty and equality before the law—increasingly an issue in western democracies let alone in other parts of the world—and that they remind us of “the power of religious ideas to inspire political action” (p.164)—a great reminder in a culture that deems religious convictions to be a smokescreen for other, more fundamental matters.

The first chapter, which deals with Baptists, will be of particular interest to readRadical Religioners of this website. It handles well all of the key issues about Baptists during the time period covered by the book, including, for example, their relationship to the Anabaptists of the previous century, their style of worship, and their “dipping” of believers. And, as Bradstock rightly points out, their democratic approach to leadership and emphasis on religious liberty made them appear to political authorities as “subversive and a threat to good order” (p.25), which is also a good reminder in a day when many equate being Baptist with political conservatism.

Michael A.G. Haykin

Professor of Church History & Biblical Spirituality

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

St. Patrick Was Not a ‘Closet Baptist’

March 17th, 2016 Posted in Church Fathers, Uncategorized

Michael Haykin and other historians examine the legacy of St. Patrick in this article by David Roach today on Baptist Press.

Review: Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler

March 14th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

Etiam si omnes, ego non! A review of Philipp von Boeselager with Florence and Jérôme Fehrenbach, Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler, trans. Steven Rendall (London: Phoenix, 2009), xii+176 pages.

The plethora of books about the Second World War, and especially Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany, is indicative of an ongoing fascination with this subject by both modern readers and authors. Far too many of these books, however, make the facile equation of ‘German=Nazi’. This crisply written memoir of Philipp von Boeselager (1917–2008), published in the year after his death, is a helpful reminder that there were some in Germany who refused to go along with the crowd during the Nazi era and sought to live honorable lives (p. 166). Hence the motto of the group of Germans with which Von Boeselager came to identify himself: etiam si omnes, ego non! “Even if all, not I!”—a motto drawn from Matthew 26:33 in the Vulgate.

Born to Roman Catholic nobility in the Rhineland, Von Boeselager details the way that growing up he was particularly close to his older brother Georg (1915–1944). In fact, in some ways, this book is a panegyric of Georg, whose tremendous bravery as a soldier is variously depicted—for which he was decorated with the Iron Cross with oak leaves—and who possessed a deep sense of loyalty to the soldiers under his command. But Philipp’s own bravery under fire is also quite remarkable: he was wounded five times in battle, once quite seriously that he nearly died and had to endure weeks of convalescence (p. 46–48). And he was quite prepared on occasion to speak his mind publicly about his disagreement with Nazi policies (p. 71–74, 158).

Philipp’s realization of the depth of evil within the Nazi regime began when he had a conversation in June of 1942 with an SS commandant named Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski (1899–1972), whom Von Boeselager does not hesitate to describe as ‘truly a creature of the Devil’ (p. 65). When Bach-Zelewski casually mentioned his killing of five Roma simply because of their ethnicity and then went to stress that ‘Jews and Gypsies are among the Reich’s enemies. We have to liquidate them’ (p. 66–67), Von Boeselager states that this conversation ‘changed my view of the war. I was disgusted and afraid’ (p. 67). This incident made Von Boeselager more than ready to join a circle of conspirators around General Hermann Henning von Tresckow (1901–1944), who were plotting to kill Hitler and stage a coup d’état, a circle that also included his Valkyriebrother George.

After the Allied invasion of France in the summer of 1944, it was obvious to men like Von Boeselager that the war was lost. Nonetheless, as Von Tresckow noted, the attempt to assassinate Hitler had to go ahead, for it was vital to ‘show the whole world and History that the German resistance movement dared to gamble everything, even at the risk of its own life’ (p.142–143). It is noteworthy that Von Tresckow is depicted as a man ‘constantly admiring the work of his Creator’ and a committed Christian (p. 81–82). Von Boeselager also reveals a genuine love for nature and animals (see, for example, his endearing discussion of the horses in his cavalry unit on p. 90–91).

The decision to assassinate Hitler was not taken lightly, but involved lengthy discussions of the legitimacy of the act and ‘the justification for murder—for an assassination, even of a tyrant, remains a murder’ (p. 87). It also meant breaking with a long tradition of total obedience to the government, which was especially prevalent among the Prussians—which was the regional background of Von Tresckow and a number of the conspirators (p. 83). Due to training that Von Boeselager had been given with explosives and his subsequent access to them, he became the ‘conspiracy’s chief explosives expert’ (p. 86). It was thus he who supplied the explosives used in the July 1944 attempt to kill Hitler (p. x). Explosives were eventually deemed necessary since Hitler used to wear a thin bulletproof vest and a cap lined with metal, making assassination with a pistol difficult (p. 100–101).

The only Bible text explicitly cited in the memoir is from the Latin Bible that Von Boeselager regularly carried with him: ‘that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear’ (Luke 1:73). With the failure of the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler, most of the conspirators were arrested and subsequently executed after frightful torture. Despite their being centrally involved, however, the Von Boeselager brothers escaped the notice of the SS. On one occasion, though, in the month after the failed assassination, Philipp was ordered to come to Army headquarters. He expected to be arrested and was understandably quite nervous. As he was boarding the plane to fly him back from the Eastern Front, his Latin Bible fell from a bag he was carrying. Stooping to pick it up, Von Boeselager saw the verse noted above, and seems to have taken it as a sign that God would protect him, as he said to himself, ‘By the grace of God’ (p. 155).

And in some ways, this last phrase can be seen as a theme of Von Boeselager’s entire memoir as he gives elegant witness to those who refused to acquiesce to the diabolical regime of Hitler and stood up for what was just and right.

Michael A.G. Haykin

Professor of Church History

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Sammy Hoyle of Norland

October 22nd, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Uncategorized

By Michael Haykin.

Sammy Hoyle (1800–1873) of Norland, an isolated village near Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was a Methodist lay preacher of the nineteenth century. Converted to Methodism from a life of gambling, he became a powerful lay preacher who was never afraid to speak his mind in the pulpit or out of it.[1]

On one occasion, a man in a local pub was heard to declare that “not a word in the Bible is true.” The publican sent for Sammy to reason with the man. When Sammy came into the pub, he went up to the man and immediately grabbed his nose and twisted it so violently that blood came spurting out. Sammy then quoted Proverbs 30:33 to the man, namely, “the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood.” “Nah then,” he said in his broad Yorkshire accent, “is that trew? Ay an t’rest on it is an’ all!”

In another version of this story, he used a pair of pliers to wring the man’s nose.[2] Needless to say, this is not a recommended method of apologetics!

P.S. I am indebted to Gervase Charmley for drawing my attention to the fearless Sammy Hoyle of Norland.

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

 

[1] See the account of his life in See David Whiteley, ed., Illustrious Local Preachers (Bradford: Thornton & Pearson, 1891), 254–262.

[2] See Whiteley, ed., Illustrious Local Preachers, 257.