Audio from the 2014 Truth of the Gospel (July 4-5, 2014) conference were Jeremy Walker gave the following addresses:
Once upon a time, the English Calvinists Baptists faced their own kerfuffle over antinomianism. Robert Oliver discusses this topic at length in his book History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771-1892: From John Gill to C.H. Spurgeon (Banner of Truth, 2006). This issue played a key role in the separation of the Strict and Particular Baptists from the majority Particular Baptist movement during the first half of the eighteenth century. Among Particular Baptists, there was often a connection between antinomianism and High Calvinism, though this wasn’t always the case.
Andrew Fuller wrote against the Reformed version of antinomianism in a posthumously published treatise titled Antinomianism Contrasted with the Religion Taught and Exemplified in the Holy Scriptures (1816). Fuller’s treatise can be found in the second volume of the “Sprinkle Edition” of The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller. Fuller argued that antinomianism is, at root, a species of spiritual selfishness that is concerned more with the spiritual benefits of the faith than a wholehearted devotion to Lord that is evidenced, in part, though the pursuit of ongoing spiritual maturity.
For an excellent introduction to Fuller’s critique of antinomianism, check out Mark Jones’s plenary address on that topic from last fall’s Andrew Fuller Center Conference [Andrew Fuller & His Controversies].
Here is said audio from September 28, 2013, Plenary Session IV: Mark Jones – “Antinomianism” [MP3]:
Ian Clary got into some more details about the above conference address and Mark Jones’ book on the subject on our 36th interview podcast:
This is quite a well-known picture that depicts many of the luminaries of the eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century English Baptist community. Recently, Cody McNutt, a PhD student at SBTS, pointed out to me the central place held by Robert Hall, Jr (1764-1831) in this picture. Cody is doing a much-needed thesis on Hall and that is why his attention was drawn to Hall’s place in the picture.
The seated figures in the front row–(from l. to r.) William Carey, Joseph Kinghorn, John Ryland, Jr., Andrew Fuller, and John Foster–were all remarkable figures, but the creator of this portrait seems to have wanted to highlight Hall. He is standing in a posture that surely bespeaks the preacher with a Bible in his right hand. And if the Baptists of that era were about anything it was preaching. As a means of grace, it was second to none as a way of communicating God’s will and presence. All of the men in the picture were preachers (except for Foster, who tried to preach but failed miserably in it–his forte was the written essay), why highlight Hall in this regard? Does it reveal the conviction that Hall represents the cream of Baptist preaching? There is no doubt, for many of that era, Hall was the greatest of a great generation of preachers.
Kinghorn also has a book, probably a Bible, but by having him seated it seems he has been depicted in a more prayerful, meditative pose. This depiction of Kinghorn is dependent on the A. Robertson painting of Kinghorn (1813). This painting was popularized through an engraving by the engraver W. Bond. And upon close inspection, Dan Taylor (directly behind Hall and the only bewigged figure in the picture–also one of only two General Baptists, the other is J.G. Pike, on Taylor’s left) is also holding a book–probably a Bible? But one has to look very closely to see it. He is definitely overshadowed by Hall.
This is a fascinating picture and a tremendous window into Baptist thinking of that day. Thinking about Hall’s place in this picture has sparked further thoughts about the figures in this picture…
Standing at the far left of the picture of the Baptist ministers we have been considering is Samuel Pearce (1766-99), one of my Baptist heroes. Immediately to his right is William Steadman (1764-1837), who played a central role in Baptist renewal in the North of England. Steadman far outlived Pearce, but the two had been close friends during their time together at Bristol Baptist Academy, where they both studied in the late 1780s. Whoever drew this picture must have known of their friendship for their being placed together is not fortuitous. It corresponds to two other groups of friends that we will consider at a later point. Pearce was widely known to be a friend of Andrew Fuller and John Ryland, both sitting in the picture, but the friendship with Steadman was not as widely known, which makes this point quite interesting.
An eight-page PDF from The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 15/1 (Spring 2011) by Michael A. G. Haykin entitled, “Baptists Reflecting on Adam & Eve in the ‘Long’ Eighteenth Century”. As the intro states:
“It is a collection of texts, accross a range of literary genres, that reflect on the biblical accounts of Adam and Ever in Genesis 1-3. Despite some differences on what exactly constitutes the image of God, what I find striking is the overall harmony of these witnesses.”
The witnesses he calls are Andrew Fuller, Samuel Stennett, John Brine, Benjamin Beddrome, and John Gill.
Michael Haykin addresses Emir Caner’s claims about Fuller:
It was extremely gratifying to see Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) cited as a vital theologian at the onset of the modern missionary movement in Dr. Emir Caner’s recent piece on “Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology” that appeared on the SBC Today website.1 Usually when Baptists are considered in this regard, the name of William Carey (1761–1834) alone receives mention, and Fuller, who was the theological muscle behind Carey, is forgotten. There were, however, some surprising aspects to Caner’s treatment of Fuller, especially as it relates to Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology. According to the article, Fuller really cannot be considered a Calvinist (something that, by the way, would warm the cockles of the hearts of hyper-Calvinist critics of Fuller like William Gadsby). By 1801, Caner reckons that Fuller had given up the concept of particular redemption for a general redemption, affirmed that “faith is not a gift from God,” and rejected “Total Depravity as articulated by some of his contemporary High [that is, hyper-] Calvinists.”
Ian Clary responds:
Last autumn I had the opportunity to present a paper at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on Andrew Fuller as a Calvinist Theologian. In it I dealt primarily with Fuller’s view of the atonement and whether his later change in theological language prohibited him from a seat at the Reformed table. This paper, together with others delivered as part of the Fuller Studies Group, will be published in a volume introducing Fuller’s life and thought, hopefully some time this year.
Dr. Tom Nettles has written a good piece on what it would really mean if the “Traditional Baptist” embraced the theology of Andrew Fuller :
It has been very entertaining recently to see the name and theology of Andrew Fuller set forth as one whose doctrinal pilgrimage served as a corrective to the Calvinism of the late eighteenth century. His position is supposed to be a model to shame present-day Calvinists for holding so tenaciously to the distinctive tenets of historical confessional Calvinism. If these brothers would embrace the full system of Andrew Fuller, that would virtually end the present polemical engagement on this issue. In fact, in future theological discussion, such an event would significantly rearrange the constituent members of the discussion and give an entirely different tone to the interchange. Recently, Fuller has been presented as a “moderate” Calvinist. Fuller was not unfamiliar with that term and even aligned himself on the issue. When a contemporary asked him about the ranges of Calvinism within Baptist life, Fuller responded, “There are three by which we commonly describe; namely, the high, the moderate, and the strict Calvinists.” The High Calvinists he considered as antinomian “more Calvinistic than Calvin himself.” They considered Fuller an Arminian, a characterization he firmly rejected.
The moderate Calvinists were “half Arminian,or as they are called with us, Baxterians.” Those who designate Fuller as a moderateCalvinist today, do so mainly because he disclaimed belief in a “commercial” view of the atonement and he worked energetically to correct the leading principles of hyper-Calvinism. Consequently, they think that because he believed in the duty of all men to repent of sin and believe the gospel, he had rejected both total depravity and irresistible grace. In this short series, I propose to set out clearly Fuller’s views on the traditional “five points,” with the invitation to all to adopt Fuller’s views on these issues; in doing so both the direction and the nature of our rhetoric would shift significantly.
Here is the series so far:
- Fuller the Non-Calvinist? (Part 1)
- Fullerite: Doctrine of Inability (Part 2)
- Fuller and Irresistible Grace (Part 3)
- Fuller and the Atonement – 1/3 (Part 4)
Also, on episode eight of our podcast I interviewed Pr. Paul Brewster regarding similar claims that Emir Caner made in an address he gave to George Baptist Convention’s History Conference:
On episode 45 of our podcast, we interview Ian Clary and Steve Weaver about “The Pure Flame of Devotion” Essays in honor of Michael A. G. Haykin.
The Pure Flame of Devotion
- More on the book and the surprise party
- The God Who Draws Near: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality by Michael A. G. Haykin
- The Armies of the Lamb: the Spirituality of Andrew Fuller by Michael A. G. Haykin
- Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church by Michael A. G. Haykin
- Joshua Press
- Sola Scriptura Ministries International
To celebrate we’ll link to some Andrew Fuller resources we haven’t posted yet.
Jeremy Walker’s “Wrestling – The Life of Andrew Fuller” lecture from this past Monday’s [Feb. 3, 2014] Church History at Bulkington [MP3]:
Steve Weavers’ Ten Baptists Everyone Should Know – Andrew Fuller:
…In addition to Fuller’s role in the spread of world missions, he also continued to pastor. He served two churches during the course of his ministry: his home church at Soham from 1775 to 1782 and a congregation at Kettering from 1782 until his death in 1815. Fuller’s writings, therefore, were the result of his own preaching and the experience of his congregation. He was not a systematic theologian like John Gill, but rather a pastor-theologian who courageously defended the truth…
For those who might be in the vicinity of Bulkington in the UK (not far from Coventry and Leicester), I hope to be at Bulkington Congregational Church this coming Monday (Mon 03 Feb) at 7.30pm for the first of this year’s church history lectures. My subject is “Wrestling: The Life of Andrew Fuller.” I will be attempting an overview of the life and labours of this man of God, drawing some particular lessons for our own day. All are welcome.
February 2014 Church History Lecture
7:30pm Monday 3rd February 2014
Wrestling – The Life of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815).
Speaker: Jeremy Walker
Early March 2014 Church History Lecture
7:30pm Monday 3rd March 2014
The Samuels Petto (1624-1711) & Peto (1809-1889)
Speaker: Gary Brady
Late March 2014 Church History Lecture
7:30pm Monday 31st March 2014
Thomas Boston (1676-1732) anticipates the death of Queen Anne
Speaker: John Kilpatrick
April 2014 Church History Lecture
7:30pm Monday 28th April 2014
How pure is the church? Augustine and the Donatists
Speaker: Austin Walker
For directions and further details visit:
Nathan Finn @ Between the Times writes on Baptists, confessionalism, and Andrew Fuller:
Political exaggeration aside, it is true that moderate Baptists tend to be more suspicious of confessions. It is also true that conservative Southern Baptists are typically more favorable toward confessions. Both groups can find support for their position from Baptist history—we are too diverse a tradition for a cut-and-dry approach. That said, as a Southern Baptist who is comfortable with confessions of faith, I know that my position is not out of sorts with Baptist history. Over the course of 400 years, many Baptists have embraced confessionalism as a valid way to summarize biblical doctrine, commend those beliefs and hold Baptist Christians accountable to those convictions.
As in so many Baptist discussions, Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) offers wisdom on this topic. In his short essay “Creeds and Subscriptions,” Fuller makes a Baptist case for a robust confessionalism. Note the following excerpts:
It has been very common, among a certain class of writers, to exclaim against creeds and systems in religion as inconsistent with Christian liberty and the rights of conscience; but surely they must be understood as objecting to those creeds only which they dislike, and not to creeds in general; for no doubt, unless they be worse than the worst of beings, they have a creed of their own. The man who has no creed has no belief; which is the same thing as being an unbeliever; and he whose belief is not formed into a system has only a few loose, unconnected thoughts, without entering into the harmony and glory of the gospel. Every well-informed and consistent believer, therefore, must have a creed—a system which he supposes to contain the leading principles of Divine revelation.
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…
THE ANDREW FULLER CENTER FOR BAPTIST STUDIES
7th ANNUAL CONFERENCE
FRIDAY | September 27, 2013
Plenary Session I: Paul Helm – “Hyper-Calvinism” (MP3)
Plenary Session II: Chris Holmes – “Arminianism” (MP3)
- Paul Brewster – “When Toleration Becomes Persecution: Andrew Fuller and the Defense of Missions” (MP3)
- Dustin Bruce – “Andrew Fuller and His Controversy with John Martin” (MP3)
- Chris Chun – “Andrew Fuller Controversy with Abraham Booth over Figurative Imputation” (Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, this session failed to record.)
- Roger Duke – “William Vidler and Andrew Fuller: Correspondence, Conviction and Controversy” (MP3)
- Michael Haykin – “Fuller’s Response to Trinitarian Error”(MP3)
- Jeongmo Yoo – “Andrew Fuller’s Critique of Robert Robinson of Cambridge (1735-1790)” (MP3)
Plenary Session III: Tom Nettles – “Socinianism” (MP3)
SATURDAY | September 28, 2013
Plenary Session IV: Mark Jones – “Antinomianism” (MP3)
Plenary Session V: Ryan West – “Deism” (MP3)
Session VI: Nathan Finn – “Sandemanianism” (MP3)
Plenary Session VII: Ian Clary – “The Communion Question” (MP3)
Over at Founders Ministries’ “The Blog”, Tom Hicks wrote an article asking Are You Quarrelsome? It begins:
A “quarrel” is a verbal fight. Not all conflicts are quarrels, but a conflict becomes a quarrel when it’s sinfully combative or contentious. I’ve been thinking about my own quarrelsomeness, and this is some of the fruit of my study. The Bible has quite a bit to say about quarreling:
On the same note, at the same blog, Tom Nettles wrote Important Principles in Theological Discussion: Fuller Reflects on Rules of Engagement. It begins:
When, in The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, Andrew Fuller entered the lists of controversy with both hyper-Calvinists and Arminians on the issue of human inability and responsibility, he made a statement about controversy in general that seems an excellent principle to bear in mind. He wanted to avoid “the spirit into which we are apt to be betrayed, when engaged in controversy—that of magnifying the importance of the subject beyond its proper bounds” (1:11). Throughout his ministry he had abundant opportunity to check himself on this principle as well as to examine the details of controversial method. In light of the necessity of carrying on controversy within fraternal, and sometimes not so fraternal, bounds, it would be profitable to look at some of these ideas of a master Baptist controversialist. The three mentioned in this article are operative in Fuller’s engagement with the Socinians.
To deny the importance of principle is a path to infidelity. To argue by insult, corrects no opponent and brings no light to the point of disagreement. To take something as an insult that is intended as a salutary, truth-clarifying, gospel-manifesting, God-glorifying proposition of biblical doctrine does nothing to reconcile divergent positions and may be dangerous to the soul.
Nathan Finn, writing for the Historia Ecclesiastica blog, offers some comments on a quote from Andrew Fuller on the content of saving faith:
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).
From The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, 2nd ed. (1801):
Were a difficulty allowed to exist as to the reconciling of these subjects, it would not warrant a rejection of either of them. If I find two doctrines affirmed or implied in the Scriptures, which, to my feeble understanding, may seem to clash, I ought not to embrace the one and to reject the other because of their supposed inconsistency; for, on the same ground, another person might embrace that which I reject, and reject that which I embrace, and have equal Scriptural authority for his faith as I have for mine. Yet in this manner many have acted on both sides: some, taking the general precepts and invitations of Scripture for their standard, have rejected the doctrine of discriminating grace; others, taking the declarations of salvation as being a fruit of electing love for their standard, deny that sinners without distinction are called upon to believe for the salvation of their souls. Hence it is that we hear of Calvinistic and Arminian texts; as though these leaders had agreed to divide the Scriptures between them. The truth is, there are but two ways for us to take: one is to reject them both, and the Bible with them, on account of its inconsistencies; the other is to embrace them both, concluding that, as they are both revealed in the Scriptures, they are both true, and both consistent, and that is owing to the darkness of our understandings that they do no appear so to us.
Over at The Andrew Fuller Center blog, Evan Burns writes:
“In a sermon entitled, “Preaching Christ,” Andrew Fuller carefully considered what it means for true ministers of the gospel to truly preach Christ. His sermon is very relevant in that he argues for the central place that preaching Christ must take in the ministry of a true gospel minister…
Fuller’s sermon is relatively short but full of many timeless instructions. Here are three of the choicest excerpts from Fuller’s sermon:”
Here is one small excerpt from Fuller’s sermon:
If you preach Christ, you need not fear for want of matter. His person and work are rich in fulness. Every Divine attribute is seen in him. All the types prefigure him. The prophecies point to him. Every truth bears relation to him. The law itself must be so explained and enforced as to lead to him.