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

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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


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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

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Fuller on Passages that Seem Contradictory (John 20:17 & John 20:27)

March 18th, 2016 Posted in Andrew Fuller

By David E. Prince

“Jesus saith unto Mary, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”—John 20:17.

“Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.”—John 20:27.

It is manifest, from these and other passages, that the reason why Mary was forbidden to touch her risen Saviour was not because the thing itself was impossible. Indeed, if it had been so, the prohibition had been unnecessary; for we need not be forbidden to do that which cannot be done. There might, however, be an impropriety in her using the same freedoms with him in his immortal state as she had been wont to do in his mortal state. It might be proper to touch him at his own invitation, and so to answer an important end, (see Luke 24:39,) and yet improper to do so without it. By comparing the passage with Matt. 28:9, 10, it appears that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who was with her did touch him; for they are said to have “held him by the feet, and worshipped him.” There is reason to think, therefore, that the words, “Touch me not,” in John, were used merely to induce her to desist from what she was doing; and that on account of his having more important employment for her—“Go, tell my brethren!” This agrees with the reason given in John—“Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father,” &c. This was as much as if he had said, You need not be so unwilling to let go my feet, as though you should see me no more: I am not yet ascended, nor shall I ascend at present. Yet do not imagine that I am raised to a mere mortal life, or am going to set up a temporal kingdom in this world.… No.… “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and unto my God, and your God.”

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.

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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.

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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

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The Kingdom of Christ and Politics: Andrew Fuller and the 2016 Election

March 11th, 2016 Posted in Andrew Fuller

By David E. Prince

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) consistently comes to my personal rescue as I think through current issues in light of the Gospel electionof Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God. In the excerpt printed below from Andrew Fuller, in a few brief paragraphs Fuller helps us avoid the ditches of political idolatry and political apathy. Both approaches dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ and our responsibility to represent His eternal Kingdom as we live in the temporal kingdoms of this world. I have added the headings below, but the rest is directly from Fuller. He beautifully articulates the relationship between our political engagement, yearning for social justice, and our faith in Christ, His gospel, and His Kingdom. I hope you find this short excerpt from Fuller, as helpful to your peace of mind and the gospel equilibrium during this bizarre election cycle as I have.

[Andrew Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications, J. Belcher, Ed., Vol. 2 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 3-4.]

The struggle between religion and irreligion has existed in the world in all ages; and if there be two opposite interests which divide its inhabitants, the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God, it is reasonable to expect that the contest will continue till one of them be exterminated. The peaceful nature of Christianity does not require that we should make peace with its adversaries, or cease to repel their attacks, or even that we should act merely on the defensive. On the contrary, we are required to make use of those weapons of the Divine warfare with which we are furnished, for the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Politics, Human Passions, and Spiritual Infidelity

One thing which has contributed to the advantage of infidelity, is the height to which political disputes have arisen, and the degree in which they have interested the passions and prejudices of mankind. Those who favor the sentiments of a set of men in one thing, will be in danger of thinking favorably of them in others; at least, they will not be apt to view them in so ill a light, as if they had been advanced by persons of different sentiments in other things as well as in religion. It is true, there may be nothing more friendly to infidelity in the nature of one political system than another; nothing that can justify professing Christians in accusing one another merely on account of a difference of this kind, of favoring the interest of atheism and irreligion: nevertheless it becomes those who think favorably of the political principles of infidels to take heed, lest they be insensibly drawn away to think lightly of religion. All the nations of the earth, and all the disputes on the best or worst modes of government, compared with this, are less than nothing and vanity.

Politics Are Important, But Never Ultimate

To this it may be added, that the eagerness with which men engage in political disputes, take which side they may, is unfavorable to a zealous adherence to the gospel. Any mere worldly object, if it become the principal thing which occupies our thoughts and affections, will weaken our attachment to religion; and if once we become cool and indifferent to this, we are in the high road to infidelity. There are cases, no doubt, relating to civil government, in which it is our duty to act, and that with firmness; but to make such things the chief object of our attention, or the principal topic of our conversation, is both sinful and injurious. Many a promising character in the religious world has, by these things, been utterly ruined.

The Church of Christ Cannot Be Overthrown, So Be Politically Active

The writer of the following pages is not induced to offer them to the public eye from an apprehension that the Church of Christ is in danger. Neither the downfall of popery, nor the triumph of infidels, as though they had hereby overturned Christianity, have ever been to him the cause of a moment’s uneasiness. If Christianity be of God, as he verily believes it to be, they cannot overthrow it. He must be possessed of but little faith who can tremble, though in a storm, for the safety of the vessel which contains his Lord and Master. There would be one argument less for the divinity of the Scriptures, if the same powers which gave existence to the antichristian dominion had not been employed in taking it away. But though truth has nothing to fear, it does not follow that its friends should be inactive; if we have no apprehensions for the safety of Christianity, we may, nevertheless, feel for the rising generation. The Lord confers an honor upon his servants in condescending to make use of their humble efforts in preserving and promoting his interest in the world. If the present attempt may be thus accepted and honored by Him, to whose name it is sincerely dedicated, the writer will receive a rich reward.

Kettering, October 10, 1799.


David E. Prince is assistant professor of preaching at Southern Seminary and is pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

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The Role of History in Recovering the Evangelical Mind: An Interview with Nathan Finn

March 7th, 2016 Posted in Historians, Reading Church History Lists

I recently interviewed Nathan Finn for The Gospel Coalition. The article is partially reprinted and linked below.

By Jeff Robinson

For many, the very mention of studying or reading history conjures sleep-inducing lists of names, dates, places, and events. Why do relatively few people love to study or even think about the past? Could it be chronological snobbery, as C. S. Lewis suggested? No doubt that’s part of it. Perhaps it’s also because many teachers have approached history with the fervor of an iceberg. 

Nathan Finn believes engaging those who have gone before us is vital, and he teaches and writes about history withimages care and passion. After serving several years as professor of church history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina, Finn was recently elected dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University in Tennessee.

I corresponded with Finn to discuss the art of teaching history, the place of providence in the work of the historian, the role of the past in recovering the evangelical mind, and more.

Your new book, History: A Student’s Guide (Crossway, 2016), is part of a series on reclaiming the Christian intellectual tradition. What role does learning history play in recovering the evangelical mind? 

One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is a mostly ahistorical approach to theology and praxis, often at the popular level, but also among many pastors, scholars, and other ministry leaders. As evangelicals, we appeal to the supreme authority of Scripture, and rightly so. But we don’t read our Bibles in a vacuum. Too often our reading of Scripture is informed more by pragmatic considerations, cultural sensibilities, and personal preferences than by the best of the Christian intellectual tradition. We will be a healthier evangelical movement to the degree we root our faith and practice in the best thinking of those who have gone before us.

Read the entire interview.

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