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Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller was a Particular Baptist minister in England in the 1700s and into the 1800s. His most known work was The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. In the work he argued against the prevailing notion of day amongst English Particular Baptists that the gospel is only for the elect and should not be openly proclaimed (a.k.a Hyper-Calvinism). Fuller’s work against this belief was the tipping point which saw the Particular Baptists move to be more evangelic in their life and theology (proclaiming the gospel openly).

The other night I was reading a overview of Fuller’s work by Dr. Peter Morden, “Baptist and Evangelical: Andrew Fuller and the Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.” (Strict Baptist Historical Society, Bulletin 2011, Number 38). In his work Dr. Morden gives two influences which helped Fuller craft and argue his position: The Bible and Jonathan Edwards. I believe seeing these things at work in Fuller can help us as we work to understand the teachings of the bible. (Note: All quotes are drawn from Dr. Morden’s work)

The first is Fuller’s commitment to let the bible be the final authority upon what he believed. Fuller wrote the following as a personal ‘covenant’ to himself,

Let not the sleight of wicked men, who lie in wait to deceive, nor even the pious character of good men (who yet may be under great mistakes), draw me aside. Nor do thou suffer my own fancy to guide me. Lord, thou hast given me a determination to take up no principle at second hand; but to search for everything at the pure fountain of thy word. (Ryland Jr., Andrew Fuller, 1st edn., pp. 203-204)

Fuller committed himself to going back to the bible to let it be the authority as to what he believed. Fuller did know that he was susceptible to error. But it did not keep him from pursuing truth as much as he could.

Along with this commitment was a secondary influence of Jonathan Edwards. Not only did Fuller study the bible but he used the thinking of others help him understand what the bible taught. This was very apparent when it came to the issue of how we can offer the gospel to people who do not have the ability to believe it (non-elect). Fuller turned to the bible but he also turned to the writing of Edwards on the Freedom of the Will. And it was Edwards who helped him unlock the puzzle as Fuller describes (speaking of himself in the third person),

He had read and considered, as well as he was able, President Edwards’s Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will, with some other performances on the difference between natural and moral inability. He found much satisfaction in the distinction; as it appeared to him to carry with it its own evidence – to be clearly and fully contained in the Scriptures .. The more he examined the Scriptures, the more he was convinced that all the inability ascribed to man, with respect to believing, arises from the aversion of his heart. (Fuller’s Works, Vol. 2, p. 330)

While thinking through the scriptures Fuller relied on Edwards to describe what the bible was teachings. And Edwards’ work was no light reading! Fuller took time and energy to read and grasp what Edwards was showing about how God can command men to do things which they do not have the ability to preform while not infringing upon His justice. Fuller considered what Edwards was saying against the teachings of Scripture. But without Edwards he would not have been able to develop what the scriptures were teachings with regards to this particular objection.

Thus, we see the blend of personal study with the aid of what others have studied. God wants us to use our personal minds to think through His word and discover, through the work of the Spirit, what is revealed there. But He also has the very same relationship with every other believer. With the bible as the norming norm we are to use God’s working with others as we think through what the bible is teaching.

The audio is up from the Andrew Fuller Conference which I attended about a month ago. Sadly I was not able to attend all the lectures due to school classes happening at the same time. But what I did hear was really good.

The conference is both historical and denominational in its topics. All Andrew Fuller Conferences discuss how Baptists have understood different doctrinal positions throughout history. This year the topic was on Baptists and the cross, how Baptists have historically understood and preached the substitutionary death of Jesus.

I was able to listen to the three beginning Plenary Sessions and the sixth Plenary Session. The first two are mainly theological in their dealings. Schreiner deals with texts in the Pastoral and Petrine epistles that refer to the extent of the atonement. Wellum talks about a over arching view of the Bible that one must have to rightly view atonement. Both are very beneficial. The last two are historical overviews. They are beneficial as well if you want a better grasp of history.

Here is the list of lectures in full. Hopefully you will find something of interest among them.

MONDAY| August 30, 2010

9:00 a.m. Plenary Session 1: Tom Schreiner (SBTS)
“The Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles, the Petrine Epistles, and Hebrews”

10:25 a.m. Plenary Session 2: Stephen Wellum (SBTS)
“Baptism and Crucicentrism”

11:45 a.m. Plenary Session 3: David W. Bebbington (Professor of History, University of Stirling)
“British Baptist Crucicentrism from the Eighteenth Century Onwards”

2:30-4:00 p.m. PARALLEL SESSIONS

Group A: 17th Century British Baptists (Chair: Steve Weaver)

  1. Roger Duke, “The Blood in the Lesser Known Writings of John Bunyan”
  2. Ryan West, “Christopher Blackwood—Unpopular Dissent and the Cross in Cromwellian Ireland”
  3. Steve Weaver, “‘A Patient Wearing of Christ’s Cross’: Hercules Collins and a Baptist Theology of Persecution”

Group B: 18th Century Baptists (Chair: Paul Brewster)

  1. Allen Mickle, “ ‘Binding his Ass’s Colt to the Choice Vine’: John Gill (1697-1771), Isaiah 53, and the Atonement”
  2. Josh Carmichael, “Anne Steele on the Atonement”
  3. Peter Beck, “An Early Baptist in the Land of the Free: Samuel Stillman, the Depravity of Man and the Freedom of the Cross”

Group C: 19th Century Baptists (Chair: Jeff Robinson)

  1. John Gill, “Alexander Carson on the Cross”
  2. Cody McNutt, “Condescension and Substitution: Christ’s Cross in the Preaching of Robert Hall, Jr.”
  3. Chris Chun, “Andrew Fuller on the Atonement: Was Fuller’s approach nearer to that of Jonathan Edwards or the Younger?”

Group D: Theological Reflections (Chair: Joe Harrod)

  1. David Schrock, “Baptists, the New Covenant, and the Efficacy of the Atonement”
  2. David Pitman, “Baptists and the Iconography of the Cross: An Historical and Theological Survey”
  3. Jason Duesing, “Humphreys/Patterson—1987: A Southern Baptist Debate on the Atonement”

7:00 p.m. “Baptists and the Cross:  A Hymnfest” (Nathan Platt)

8:00 p.m. Plenary Session 4: Glendon Thompson (President, Toronto Baptist Seminary)
“Preaching the Cross”

TUESDAY| August 31, 2010

8:30 a.m. Plenary Session 5: Maurice Dowling (Professor of Church History, Irish Baptist College, Queens University)
“Spurgeon and the Cross”

11:30 a.m. Plenary Session 6: James Fuller (Professor of History, University of Indianapolis)
“19th Century Southern Baptists and the Cross”

2:30-3:40 p.m. Plenary Session 7: Danny Akin (SEBTS)
“The Cross and Pastoral Ministry”

4:00-5:00 p.m. Special LifeWay Booksigning Event:  “Book Discussion with Michael Haykin and David Bebbington”

“The fourth annual conference of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies is scheduled for August 30-31, 2010.  The theme is:  Baptists and the Cross:  Contemporary and Historical Reflections. The conference will feature speakers such as Danny Akin (president, SEBTS), David Bebbington (professor, University of Stirling), Maurice Dowling (professor, Irish Baptist College), James Fuller (professor, University of Indianapolis), Tom Schreiner (professor, SBTS), Glendon Thompson (president, TBS and pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church), and Stephen Wellum (professor, SBTS).  For full bios of the speakers, see here.

Discounted registration rates are now available for the conference and there is a special rate for students.  Students may receive a discounted rate by using the code: “8051974″.  For more information on the conference visit http://events.sbts.edu/andrewfuller.”

HT: Steve Weaver

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you (1 Thess. 1:4).

…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess 1:9b).

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 to fully understand their consistency ; and he will find in 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.

~Andrew Fuller. Letters on Systematic Divinity. Letter II: Importance of a True System

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