Historia ecclesiastica
The Weblog of Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin & friends

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

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

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Book Review: Churches, Revolutions, and Empires: 1789–1914 by Ian Shaw

March 23rd, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Books, Church History, Historians, Missions

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Ian J. Shaw, Churches, Revolutions, and Empires: 1789–1914 (Christian Focus, 2012), xii+561 pages.

CHURCHES_AND_REVOLUTIONS_EMPIRESPeople tend to view the period between the close of the Napoleonic Wars and the outbreak of the First World War as a fairly sedentary period. Contrary to popular thought, however, this era, the so-called “long” nineteenth century, 1789–1914, was a time of massive political, intellectual and cultural ferment. And this was not without significant impact on the church in the West. Ian Shaw, the Director of the Langham Scholarship Programme in the UK when he wrote this book, capably and confidently charts the course of the western Church through this era of upheaval and change. Shaw’s grasp of primary and secondary sources is impressive as is his ability to synthesize.

Shaw’s chapter on the birth of the modern missionary movement (p.95–130), for example, is typical of the quality of the book. He refuses to locate its origins in the mind and heart of William Carey, as is so often done, but shows with reference to the scholarship of men like W.R. Ward, A.F. Walls, and Brian Stanley that “the cradle of the movement was more truly Halle [with August Francke and the Pietists], or Herrnhut [with the Moravians], than the parlour of the Baptist manse in Kettering [the traditional place where Carey and friends decided to form the Baptist Missionary Society]” (p.128). He also probes the factors that led to the rise of the missionary movement, from the Enlightenment to theology, and concludes that “undoubtedly…the reasons for the expansion of Protestant mission [sic] are complex” (p. 128). Shaw rightly recognizes that this does not take away from Carey’s achievements, which were truly radical in their day (p.129)—as the critic of evangelical missions, Sydney Smith quipped, “if a tinker is a devout man, he infallibly sets off for the East” (cited p.106). But what Shaw is doing in this chapter is setting Carey in the rich context in which his life must be seen if it is truly to be understood.

Each of the chapters that explore topics like the French Revolution and its legacy, the ending of the slave trade and slavery, industrialization, the revolution of Darwinian science does something comparable. This is history on the big scale and an excellent example of such. Shaw’s conclusion is sobering: he concludes that the First World War essentially buried Europe’s Christendom and that the real hope for the historical future of the Church lies in the churches of the Global South, where Carey interestingly enough had been active.

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.

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“Accustomed to the Safety of a Free Government”

March 19th, 2015 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

In 1819, English and American missionaries in Burma faced the reality of inevitable opposition and persecution by the Burmese government. Consequently, many missionaries were compelled to pull out and commence work in a more tolerant, peaceful environment. Enduring the scrutiny of such a repressive government, Adoniram Judson’s (1788-1850) devotion to his call remained firm. Judson determined to wait until the government actually forced him to forego his work for the Lord through imprisonment or deportation. His words are timely for Christians who, though once graced with religious freedom, are facing the loss of such liberties. In a letter, he wrote thus:

One malicious intimation to the king would occasion our banishment; and banishment, as the Burmans tell us, is no small thing, being attended with confiscation of all property, and such various abuses as would make us deem ourselves happy to escape with our lives. Such a situation may appear somewhat alarming to a person accustomed to the liberty and safety of a free government. But let us remember that it has been the lot of the greater part of mankind to live under a despotic government, devoid of all security for life or property a single moment. Let us remember that the Son of God chose to become incarnate under the most unprincipled and cruel despot that ever reigned.  And shall any disciple of Christ refuse to do a little service for his Saviour, under a government where his Saviour would not have refused to live and die for his soul? God forbid. Yet faith is sometimes weak—flesh and blood sometimes repine. O for grace to strengthen faith, to animate hope, to elevate affection, to embolden the soul, to enable us to look danger and death in the face; still more, to behold, without repining, those most dear to us suffering fears and pains, which we would gladly have redoubled on ourselves, if it would exonerate them. We feel encouraged by the thought that many of the dear children of God remember us at the mercy seat. To your prayers I desire once more to commend myself—the weakest, the most unqualified, the most unworthy, and the most unsuccessful of all missionaries.[1]

[1]This letter was to William Staughton (1770-1829). Staughton was a friend of Samuel Pearce (1766-1799) and William Carey (1761-1834). See Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D., vol. 1 (Boston: Phillips, Samson and Company, 1853), 197-98.

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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.

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New Book: Baptists and War: Essays on Baptists and Military Conflict, 1640s-1990s

March 19th, 2015 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History

9781625646743Just released from Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, a collection of essays on Baptists and War. These papers, which were originally delivered at the 2011 annual conference of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, were compiled and edited by Gordon L. Heath and Michael A.G. Haykin. The book is available for purchase now from the publisher and on Amazon. For a PDF flyer with all the book details see here.

Description from Publisher:

While Baptists through the years have been certain that “war is hell,” they have not always been able to agree on how to respond to it. This book traces much of this troubled relationship from the days of Baptist origins with close ties to pacifist Anabaptists to the responses of Baptists in America to the war in Vietnam. Essays also include discussions of the English Baptist Andrew Fuller’s response to the threat of Napoleon, how Baptists in America dealt with the War of 1812, the support of Canadian Baptists for Britain’s war in Sudan and Abyssinia in the 1880s, the decisive effect of the First World War on Canada’s T. T. Shields, the response of Australian Baptists to the Second World War, and how Russian Baptists dealt with the Cold War. These chapters provide important analyses of Baptist reactions to one of society’s most intractable problems.

Endorsements:

“Conflict challenges the Christian conscience, fostering divergent responses. Hence Baptists have commonly sought peace, sometimes to the extent of condemning war outright, but equally they have often believed that justice required the taking up of arms, even with enthusiasm. The detailed and penetrating international studies contained in this book illuminate contrasting attitudes over the centuries, showing how war has put Baptists to the test, spiritually as well as materially.”
–David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland,
UK

“Baptists have had a varied approach to war from the Pietist/Reformed tensions of four hundred years ago to the reactions to the Vietnam War. This work explores the theme in different time periods and, using a number of individuals as case studies, opens the past so the reader can reflect on the present. The volume is an important contribution to both Baptist studies and the Christian approach to war and peace.”
–Robert Wilson, Professor of Church History, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Canada

 

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But if I Preach Christ in Every Text …

March 17th, 2015 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality

By David E. Prince

After teaching preaching for almost a decade at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, some questions and objections appear every semester like clockwork when I begin to lecture on expository preaching and propose the following definition:

Expository preaching is preaching that takes a particular text of Scripture as its subject, proclaiming the truth of that text in light of its historical, epochal, and Christocentric, kingdom-focused canonical contexts, thereby exposing the meaning of the human and divine authors for the purpose of gospel-centered application.

Hands immediately began to go in the air with questions that presuppose preaching Christ in every sermon can only be done at the expense of credible exegesis and hermeneutics. Students begin to ask questions like: If we preach Christ in every text how can we avoid allegory? What if the text isn’t about Christ? What if the sermon is on a particular doctrine? What if the sermon is simply advocating a biblical moral principle? Will all of my sermons begin to sound the same if I preach Jesus every week?

Recently, I have been reading The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller again and feasting on his Christ-centered, gospel-saturated, missional-oriented, theological and practical writings. I came across a sermon he preached in 1801 to pastors at an annual meeting arguing that pastoral labors can only hope to find success if they meet with God’s approval. One of his central assertions is that all doctrine, ministry, and preaching must center on Christ and him crucified to have divine approval. In the sermon he responds to what evidently were common objections to his central assertion, and they are the same objections that I face every semester in my classroom. The writer of Ecclesiastes was certainly correct when he asserted, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc 1:9).

Below I have added headings with common objections to the notion we should preach Christ in every text, and I also provide Andrew Fuller’s answers from his sermon to pastors in 1801 below the headings. In fact, I think I will bring Fuller with me to class at the beginning of the next semester and simply read his answers to my students.

What if my sermon text is focused on a particular doctrinal truth, and the text says nothing of Christ?

The doctrine we teach must be that of Jesus Christ and him crucified. The person and work of Christ have ever been the cornerstone of the Christian fabric: take away his divinity and atonement, and all will go to ruins. This is the doctrine taught by the apostles, and which God, in all ages, has delighted to honor. It would be found, I believe, on inquiry, that in those times wherein this doctrine has been most cordially embraced the church has been the most prosperous, and almost every declension has been accompanied by a neglect of it.

It is one thing for a community to retain doctrines in its decrees and articles, and another for ministers to preach them with faith and love in their ordinary labors. Divine truth requires to be written, not merely with ink and paper, but by the Spirit of God, upon the fleshly tablets of the heart.

Christ crucified is the central point, in which all the lines in evangelical truth meet and are united. There is not a doctrine in the Scriptures but what bears an important relation to it. Would we understand the glory of the divine character and government? It is seen in perfection in the face of Jesus Christ. Would we learn the evil of sin, and our perishing condition as sinners? Each is manifested in his sufferings. All the blessings of grace and glory are given us in him, and for his sake.

What if my sermon text is focused on a moral truth and not on Christ?

Practical religion finds its most powerful motives in his dying love. That doctrine of which Christ is not the sum and substance is not the gospel; and that morality which has no relation to him, and which is not enforced on evangelical principles, is not Christian, but heathen.

If I preach and teach Christ from every text of Scripture won’t I be guilty of isogesis and have to import Christ in by way of fanciful allegory?

I do not mean to be the apologist for that fastidious disposition apparent in some hearers, who require that every sermon shall have Christ for its immediate scene, and denominate everything else legal preaching. His sacred name ought not to be unnaturally forced into our discourses, nor the Holy Scriptures turned into allegory for the sake of introducing it; but, in order to preach Christ, there is no need of this. If all Scripture doctrines and duties bear a relation to him, we have only to keep that relation in view, and to urge practical religion upon those principles. If I leave out Christ in the sermon and allege that the subject did not admit of his being introduced, I fear it will only prove that my thoughts have not been cast in an evangelical mold. I might as well say there is a village which has no road to the metropolis, as that there is a Scripture doctrine or duty which has no relation to the person and work of Christ.

If I preach Christ in every sermon text, will not every sermon begin to sound the same?

Neither can I justly allege that such a way of preaching would cramp the powers of my soul, and confine me to four or five points in divinity: we may give the utmost scope to our minds, and yet, like the apostle, determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. There is breadth, and the links, and depth, and height sufficient in his love to occupy our powers, even though they were 10,000 times larger than they are. In all our labors, brethren, in the church or in the world, in our native country or among the heathen, be this our principal theme.

(All quotes from the sermon: “God’s Approbation of our Labors Necessary to the Hope of Success,” Preached by Andrew Fuller at the Annual Meeting of the Bedford Union, May 6, 1801 in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, The Banner of Truth Trust, 570-571)

This post originally appeared at “Prince on Preaching” on March 5, 2015. http://www.davidprince.com/2015/03/05/preach-christ-every-text/

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

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Book Review: Andrew Fuller: Pastor, Theologian, Ropeholder by Gilbert Laws

March 16th, 2015 Posted in Andrew Fuller, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

Gilbert Laws, Andrew Fuller: Pastor, Theologian, Ropeholder (London: The Carey Press, 1942), 135 pages.

laws fullerBook reviews are usually reserved for recent items, not for publications of the more distant past. Yet, from time to time, it is helpful to recall the contribution made by works from an earlier time. The book being reviewed here is noteworthy in view of the fact that while there had been a handful of biographies of Andrew Fuller in the nineteenth century—mostly written by friends, colleagues and family members—there was only one of any substance in the twentieth century, namely, that by Rev. Gilbert Laws (1876–1962), long-time minister of the historic Baptist congregation in Norwich, St. Mary’s Baptist Church (now Norwich Central Baptist Church). Laws was a well-known preacher in the Baptist Union during the 1930s and 1940s, and also served as the President of this body.

Laws’ biography of Fuller, not easily found these days, was printed on sub-standard wartime paper, and most copies that I have seen have been the worse for wear. The subtitle gives the major categories in which Laws treats his subject: Fuller as a pastor, a theologian, and a “ropeholder,” that is, missions advocate and loyal friend and supporter of William Carey. An earlier article on Fuller by Laws that appeared in The Baptist Quarterly had examined Fuller’s life briefly under these very headings (“Andrew Fuller, 1754–1815,” The Baptist Quarterly 2.2 [April 1924]: 76–84). Now, in this book-length endeavor, Laws expanded the scope of his treatment.

The strength of Laws’ study lies in his fine discussion of Fuller as a pastor and in his service to the Baptist Missionary Society. Laws does not attempt to hide his admiration of Fuller—“we may affirm that to Fuller the Christian cause in general and the Baptist denomination in particular owes so much that, excepting only Carey, it is hard to name his fellow” (p.132). Yet, he deals honestly with his character, which at times could be stern and gruff. Robert Hall, Jr said of Fuller after his death, he was “less eminent for the gentler graces than for stern integrity” (p.123), while Fuller’s own wife, Ann Coles Fuller, admitted that “there was a degree of bluntness in his manner” (p.124). In detailing Fuller’s role as a pastor and “ropeholder,” Laws has made good use of the numerous anecdotes and stories about Fuller found in the various nineteenth-century biographies as well as those that Fuller himself recorded in his letters and diaries.

The one area where the work is not strong is his treatment of Fuller as a theologian. For instance, referring to Fuller’s The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, his first major publication, Laws comments, “it is impossible to summarize its argument” (p.35). Laws does attempt a brief overview, which is as it should be, for this work began Fuller’s career as an apologist. Laws’ failing here is one, however, general to the twentieth century that largely forgot Fuller’s importance in this area and remembered simply his role as a missionary statesman. Nineteenth-century biographers and theologians, on the other hand, did not share this weakness as Laws himself knew (see his reference to A.H. Strong’s significant use of Fuller’s corpus on p.126).

All in all, though, this is a very good study of Fuller, especially revelatory of the humanity of the Baptist theologian. When Andrew Gunton Fuller published his 1882 biography of his father in the series “Men Worth Remembering,” C.H. Spurgeon personally thanked the younger Fuller for having shown interested readers something of the personal side of Fuller. Likewise, looking at Laws’ biography standing alone in the long twentieth century, he is to be thanked for having kept alive the memory of a man truly worth remembering.

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.

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

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

By Michael A.G. Haykin

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

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

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

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Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

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Book Review: SEMBEQ: 40 years. Celebrating the Faithfulness of God by René Frey

March 9th, 2015 Posted in Books, Church History

René Frey, ed., SEMBEQ: 40 years. Celebrating the Faithfulness of God, trans. Daniel Henderson (Montreal, QC: SEMBEQ, 2014), 61 pages.

SEMBEQ booklet pictureEarly Anglophone Baptist missions to Quebec from the 1930s to the 1960s, led by men like W.S. Whitcomb, Murray and Lorne Heron, Bill Phillips, W.-H. Frey, Yvon Hurtubise, and Tom Carson (the father of D.A. Carson), struggled against great odds to plant evangelical Baptist churches. They especially faced an entrenched Roman Catholicism that controlled the province spiritually and politically and that had given the province the “reputation of being a cemetery for missionaries” (p.17). During the 1960s and 1970s, though, the political changes in Quebec known as the Quiet Revolution changed everything: the province started down a path of secularization that has made modern Quebec the least religious region of Canada. The power of the Roman Church was broken, and evangelical causes, especially those of the Baptists and the Brethren, began to spring up all over the province. As Jacques Alexanian notes in the first chapter, it was “a time of refreshment and heavenly rain” (p.16). The church in Quebec knew a genuine touch of revival.

The critical question, however, was this: pastors were needed to enable these young believers and churches continue to flourish and grow, but where would they be trained? There were no suitable Francophone seminaries in North America. The solution in God’s good providence was Séminaire Baptiste Évangélique du Québec (The Evangelical Baptist Seminary of Quebec) in Montreal, known more simply as SEMBEQ. Crafting a curriculum to fit the unique needs that the fledgling Baptist churches faced in Quebec and enlisting the help of both Anglophone professors (who were translated simultaneously as they taught) as well as French teachers (among them men like Roger Nicole), SEMBEQ has flourished beyond the dreams of its founders. In the last forty years, it has played a central role in the equipping of leaders and has demonstrated again and again the vital importance of theological education of pastors and leaders called to ministry by the churches.

This booklet overview of the history of SEMBEQ tells the truly exciting story of this school and the men and women who God raised up to make the vision of its founders a reality.

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

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

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“A God Glorious in Holiness”

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

By Evan D. Burns

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

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


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

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

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

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

By Steve Weaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 4 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

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