Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Fuller’
Essentially, Fuller argued that if faith and theological reflection concerned only the mind, there would be no way to distinguish genuine Christianity from nominal Christianity. A nominal Christian mentally assents to the truths of Christianity, but those truths do not grip his heart and so re-orient his affections to glory in God. The opposite of saving faith in Scripture, Fuller noted, is not “simple ignorance,” which it would be if the Sandemanian view of faith were correct. Its opposite is an ignorance that has its roots in a deep-seated hatred of the true God. Christ can therefore state that unbelief rejects Him because, in the words of John 3:19, “people [love] the darkness rather than the light.” Likewise, Ephesians 4:18 talks about the understanding of unbelievers being darkened “because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Surely, Fuller reasoned, the ignorance in view here is much more than mere lack of knowledge. Does it not entail, he asked, a deepseated aversion to God and holy things?
But if unbelief comprises much more than ignorance, then faith and right theology must entail more than knowledge. If unbelief involves an aversion to the truth and a forthright rejection of the gospel, then faith in and reflection on the truth must include a love for and joy in the truth.
Michael Haykin @ Ligonier draws on Andrew Fuller, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and other men who knew the connection between theology and doxology to press it home into our hearts.
Tim Challies quotes two of my favourite pastor-theologians on the tension between and reconciliation of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
A fleshly mind may ask, “How can these things be?” How can Divine predestination accord with human agency and accountableness? But a truly humble Christian, finding both in his Bible, will believe both, though he may be unable fully to understand their consistency; and he will find in the one a motive to depend entirely on God, and in the other a caution against slothfulness and presumptuous neglect of duty. And thus a Christian minister, if he view the doctrine in its proper connexions, will find nothing in it to hinder the free use of warnings, invitations, and persuasions, either to the converted or the unconverted. Yet he will not ground his hopes of success on the pliability of the human mind, but on the promised grace of God, who (while he prophesies to the dry bones, as he is commanded) is known to inspire them with the breath of life.
That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and I find that in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
Michael Haykin offers some advice to a friend on what to read first in Andrew Fuller. I would not disagree.
What I think what vast numbers are hasting the downward road; how few walk the narrow way; and, comparatively speaking, what little success attends our preaching, and what little ground Christ gets in the world, my heart fails and is discouraged. But it did my heart good last night to read Isaiah xlii, 4, “He shall not fail or be discouraged till he have set judgement in the earth!” I could not but reflect that Christ had infinitely more to discourage him that I can have to discourage me; and yet he persevered! But, methought, judgement is not yet set in the earth, except in a small degree. And what then? May I not take courage for that the promise has not yet spent its force? Christ has much more yet to do in the world; and, numerous as his enemies yet are, and few his friends, his heart does not fail him; nor shall it, till he has spread salvation throughout the earth, and leavened the whole lump.
Andrew Fuller to Benjamin Francis [?], Horsley, 3 July 1788; Regent’s Part College, Oxford: Angus Library, Fuller 4/5/1.
B&H Publishing Group, 2010, 224pp., paperback, £15.75 / $24.99
Among the most significant Baptist theologians of the past 300 years, Andrew Fuller is slowly developing the reputation and garnering the attention he deserves. Paul Brewster’s study of Fuller as pastor-theologian will only contribute to this momentum. Brewster, himself what some call a ‘reverend doctor’ (a phrase Fuller would have loathed from his soul), contends that Baptists need more men who – like Fuller – combine an earnest and faithful pastor’s heart with orthodox and profound theological acumen. To encourage this, he puts Fuller in his context, then considers his theological method (this chapter is particularly strong and fresh), his soteriology (intelligently discussing Fuller’s commitment to substitutionary atonement alongside his use of governmental language), and his pastoral practice (including his evangelistic and missionary labours). The author’s concluding sketch of Fuller as pastor-theologian shows that Brewster is no mere hagiographer, but an insightful and careful student as he gives us a sympathetic but carefully nuanced portrait of this man of God. Brewster’s style can be a little workmanlike at times, and one might take careful issue with his contention that Fuller opened the door to radical and unhealthy changes in Baptist theology (other, stronger currents feeding this stream can be identified). Nevertheless, pastors would be well-served to consider the model presented here, and Brewster’s cogent plea to embrace and pursue it. Any servant of God seeking the means and a pattern for the establishment and exercise of an accurate and active theology might profitably start here.
Transcribed and ed. Timothy D. Whelan
Mercer University Press, 2010, 522pp., cloth, $55 / £48.95
The ‘accidental’ discovery of a few letters by the editor of this volume led to further burrowing into the archives of the John Rylands University Library, eventually bringing to light some 300 letters sent within the Baptist community from 1741 to 1845, the vast majority previously unpublished. Diving in, we enter worlds at once strange and familiar, displaying a whole range of theological, ecclesiastical, and domestic concerns across a fascinating and seminal one hundred years of denominational history. In this, the volume transcends the merely academic sphere, and sheds light on a swathe of issues of principle and practice, both seemingly prosaic and indisputably significant. Although many letters involve luminaries such as John Sutcliff (prominently), Andrew Fuller, John Gill, the senior and junior Rylands, William Carey, William Knibb, Joseph Ivimey and John Rippon, there are hosts of less well-known men and women represented, plus non-Baptists such as George Whitefield and John Newton. The biographical footnotes and the magnificent 126 pages of biographical index, giving sketches of some 300 individuals, are probably worth the price of the book in themselves, not to mention a variety of helpful indeces. We owe Dr Whelan a great debt of gratitude for his painstaking labours, which have made available an invaluable resource for Baptist historians, and one which individuals as well as colleges and seminaries will crave.
PS I know it’s a Ronseal title, and not the most thrilling (this may not be a field where imagination is in great demand), but at least you’ll not forget what’s inside.