The Catholicity of Fuller

By Michael A.G. Haykin

One of the key things that rescued the Particular Baptists from becoming little more than a dunghill in society (Andrew Fuller's words) was the catholicity of men like Fuller and Ryland and Pearce and Carey. If we would know possibly what they knew, we must recover not only their robust evangelical Calvinism but also know the catholic ambience in which they lived and breathed and had their being.

The catholicity of Fuller is on display throughout his life but can be especially seen in his gracious dealings with the Arminian Dan Taylor, his friendship with the Anglican William Wilberforce and the Presbyterian Thomas Chalmers, his friendship with the High Calvinist William Button and the day of prayer spent with the eccentric John Berridge. Most of all it is there in his deep friendship with the open communion and open membership John Ryland (recall Fuller was closed communion and closed membership in a day when thus was a very important issue). There are some today who would claim Fuller's mantle but whose narrowness of spirit belie their claim.

A good question to ponder is this: how does a love for all who love the Lord Jesus (Spurgeon said this marked the life of Fuller's friend William Carey) reveal itself?


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.