Book Review: Letters to London: Bonhoeffer’s previously unpublished Correspondence with Ernst Cromwell, 1935–6

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters to London: Bonhoeffer’s previously unpublished Correspondence with Ernst Cromwell, 1935–6, Ed. Stephen J. Plant and Toni Burrowes-Cromwell (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2014), xvi+107 pages Bonhoeffer lettersThe discovery of this bundle of letters written in the years 1935 and 1936 from the justly-famous German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) to a then-young Anglo-German by the name of Ernst Cromwell (1921–), now in his early nineties and bearing the anglicized name “Ernest,” does not materially add an enormous amount to what we know about the thought of Bonhoeffer. We see themes found elsewhere—his distrust of pietism (p.66), his emphasis on humility (p.69), his delight in the gift of friendship and community (p.73–74), the vital importance of living in the truth and cleaving to Christ (p.74–75)—but these are interwoven with other remarks of less import though vital to the developing friendship between Bonhoeffer and young Ernst. What we especially see in these letters is Bonhoeffer the pastor, seeking to offer encouragement and guidance to a young man living in England, whom Bonhoeffer was preparing for confirmation during his ministry at the German-speaking congregation at St. George’s, Sydenham. Given the fateful and horrific events transpiring in Germany in the mid-1930s, we also have some fabulous insights into Bonhoeffer’s determination to be faithful to his Christian calling amidst such days. In one letter, he tells Ernst that he has made himself “pretty unpopular over the issue of the Jews” (p.66). In another, he informs his young friend that he has been forbidden by “the Ministry of Culture…to lecture” (p.72).

A helpful introduction, “A friendship to be grateful for: Bonhoeffer’s letters to Ernst Cromwell,” sets the letters in context (p.1–27). There is also an interview with Ernest Cromwell (p.29–46), and an excellent “Afterword” by Toni Burrowes-Cromwell, Ernest’s daughter-in-law, in which she draws out the significance of these letters for Christian life today (p.77–100).

Michael A.G. Haykin Professor of Church History The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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This review was first published at Books At a Glance.

New Book: Baptists and War: Essays on Baptists and Military Conflict, 1640s-1990s

9781625646743Just released from Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, a collection of essays on Baptists and War. These papers, which were originally delivered at the 2011 annual conference of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, were compiled and edited by Gordon L. Heath and Michael A.G. Haykin. The book is available for purchase now from the publisher and on Amazon. For a PDF flyer with all the book details see here.

Description from Publisher:

While Baptists through the years have been certain that "war is hell," they have not always been able to agree on how to respond to it. This book traces much of this troubled relationship from the days of Baptist origins with close ties to pacifist Anabaptists to the responses of Baptists in America to the war in Vietnam. Essays also include discussions of the English Baptist Andrew Fuller's response to the threat of Napoleon, how Baptists in America dealt with the War of 1812, the support of Canadian Baptists for Britain's war in Sudan and Abyssinia in the 1880s, the decisive effect of the First World War on Canada's T. T. Shields, the response of Australian Baptists to the Second World War, and how Russian Baptists dealt with the Cold War. These chapters provide important analyses of Baptist reactions to one of society's most intractable problems.


"Conflict challenges the Christian conscience, fostering divergent responses. Hence Baptists have commonly sought peace, sometimes to the extent of condemning war outright, but equally they have often believed that justice required the taking up of arms, even with enthusiasm. The detailed and penetrating international studies contained in this book illuminate contrasting attitudes over the centuries, showing how war has put Baptists to the test, spiritually as well as materially." --David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK

"Baptists have had a varied approach to war from the Pietist/Reformed tensions of four hundred years ago to the reactions to the Vietnam War. This work explores the theme in different time periods and, using a number of individuals as case studies, opens the past so the reader can reflect on the present. The volume is an important contribution to both Baptist studies and the Christian approach to war and peace." --Robert Wilson, Professor of Church History, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Canada


Book Review of Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury by Andrew Atherstone

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Andrew Atherstone, Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2014), viii+152 pages.

welbyWhat drew me to this unauthorized biography of Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, was frankly the author, Andrew Atherstone, currently Tutor in History and Doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Having profited greatly from books that he was written in the past, I looked forward to the same in this sympathetic biography.

Welby was born into wealth and was very successful in the world of finance—he was a treasurer in the oil industry and had a salary of £100,000 per annum in 1989; but the compulsion of the Spirit and constraints of the gospel led him to train for vocational ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. During the early days of his Christian life after a distinctly evangelical conversion he was deeply shaped by the Vineyard as it found expression in the ministry of Holy Trinity Brompton.

His first ministerial charge was at Chilvers Coton in the diocese of Coventry. This diocesan locale proved to be important for Welby’s long-term career. The destruction of Coventry and St. Michael’s Cathedral in 1940 during World War II had led to the formation of the Community of the Cross of Nails (so named because of three medieval nails from the destroyed cathedral that were fused into a cross after the bombing), which came to focus on reconciliation projects in trouble spots around the world. In time, reconciliation became a defining hallmark of Welby’s ministry.

From Chilvers Coton, Welby went to Southam, Warwickshire, as the rector of Sr. James, where he became increasingly concerned for parish renewal, the relationship between theology and ethics, and the ministry of reconciliation. The latter frequently took him to Africa, where he faced mortal danger more than once, especially in Nigeria where violent clashes between Muslim and Christian were becoming more and more frequent in the 2000s.

Welby has insisted that he is “an orthodox Bible-believing evangelical,” for whom Scripture is “my final authority for all matters of life and doctrine” (p.90). But his concern for reconciliation has also led him to seek to preserve the unity of the Anglican communion despite recent deep divisions over women’s ordination and the question of same-sex marriage. There is no doubt that the latter issue will definitely test his abilities as Archbishop, for, in the final analysis, same-sex marriage is incompatible with a high view of Scripture.

Three things in particular struck me in Atherstone’s story of Welby’s life thus far: Welby’s concern for unity; in his own words, it is an “absolute essential” (p.113). Sadly, because unity has all too often in the past century been the concern of ecumenical types with a low of scriptural authority, evangelicals have not paid the matter the attention it deserves. But such an attitude is out of sync with both Scripture and the tradition of evangelicalism. The critical question, of course, has to do with the dynamics of making it happen. Then, there is Welby’s early experience with the charismatic movement and Third Wave theology that seems to have given him a life-long desire for revival, which, he would argue, is rooted in the resurrection: “Our hope of revival is based on the resurrection. Again and again in church history churches far worse off than us have, with clear leadership, found new life, and finding it have seen astonishing growth. Personally I believe passionately that it is possible” (p.131). To be honest, I did not expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak in such terms. Yet, his words are welcome and wise.

Third, it is clear that while Welby’s roots are evangelical, he has moved beyond the boundaries of evangelicalism in his practice of the Christian life. For instance, Atherstone notes Welby’s deep indebtedness to both Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality (p.94–97, 143). Reading this, it struck me that Welby typifies so many other evangelicals who have turned to other traditions of piety to enrich their faith. To be sure, it is not the case that we evangelicals have nothing to learn from these traditions. But the questions lay burning in my heart long after I had finished reading this biography: do we not have a tradition of piety that can nurture the deepest recesses of the believer’s heart (forsooth we do) and why is it not being retrieved and taught?

Michael A.G. Haykin Professor of Church History The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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Book Review: George V and George VI

By Michael A.G. Haykin

David Cannadine, George V: The Unexpected King (London: Allen Lane, 2014), xiv+121 pages; and Philip Ziegler, George VI: The Dutiful King (London: Allen Lane, 2014), viii+94 pages.

George VThese two brief biographies are two of the first offerings in a new series being published by British publishing giant Penguin Books, “Penguin Monarchs.” The series will cover all of the English monarchs from William the Conqueror (including, interestingly enough, Oliver Cromwell, though neither the Empress Matilda nor Lady Jane Grey) and four Anglo-Saxon kings (though not Alfred). The series will take four years to complete and the biographies will be released in groups of five (the others released with these two are Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Charles I). Reading these two biographies back to back—their reigns covered the years 1910 to 1952—one clearly sees the way these two men, father and son, were critical to the adaptation of the British monarchy to the vicissitudes and democratization of the twentieth century.

George VINeither expected to be king—George V’s older brother Eddy died in 1892 at 28 and George VI’s older brother Edward VIII abdicated after less than a year as king—and thus both had challenges when they came to the throne. In George V’s case it was a lack of proper preparation to be monarch; in his son’s case, George wrestled with a painful stammer that made public speaking agony for him and a genuine loathing of being in the limelight. And in both cases, they faced major challenges, in particular global wars: George V was king during World War I and his son was monarch during World War II. Neither biography glosses over their faults and weaknesses—George V’s failure as a father to George VI, for example, is duly noted as is George VI’s lack of charisma—but both men were successful kings. A key word that comes through in both of biographies is “duty.” Both monarchs knew what was expected of them and they did their duty.

Both men were also practicing Anglicans—though neither biographer makes much of this fact (though, see Cannadine’s reference to George V’s “understated Anglicanism,” page 105). Ziegler’s conclusion to his biography of George VI is especially moving: “He was high-principled, sober, loyal, reliable, honourable, extraordinary in his ordinariness. …He was a good king; more important than that, he was a good man” (page 83).

Michael A.G. Haykin Professor of Church History The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

To download the review as PDF, click here. To see other book reviews, visit here.

The ideal home

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Of modern 20th-century novelists, J.R.R. Tolkien is, in my opinion, undoubtedly the best. And I agree wholeheartedly with those surveys done in the UK at the turn of this century that placed him way out in front of modernist novelists. Now, in The Hobbit, there is a great description of the elf-lord Elrond’s house in Rivendell: “His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley” (The Hobbit [Rev. ed.; New York: Ballantine Books, 1966), 61—this Ballantine edition is the one that I first read in the late 1960s). The description is repeated in The Lord of the Rings, Part I, where it is described as “the Last Homely House east of the Sea” and the description from The Hobbit cited (see the quotation marks) and elaborated on:

“That house was…‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.” (The Fellowship of the Ring [The Lord of the Rings, Part I; 2nd ed,; London/Sydney: Unwin Hyman, 1966], 237).

One can see the changes at a glance. But my interest is elsewhere. Surely, in this description, Tolkien has captured the western tradition’s thinking about the ideal home.

When my wife and I had our first child, Victoria, I remember hearing in a public address from one of our friends, Anna Pikkert, a description of her home when she was growing up—it was, she said, a place of security (see Tolkien’s statement in The Hobbit, “evil things did not come into that valley”). I thought to myself: that is what I want my home to be. Well, we live in a fallen world, and that dream was never fully realized. And things turn out differently from what we hope for. But Tolkien’s vision of home, encapsulated in these two descriptions, has ever been my dream. Maybe it was that Tolkien’s words, read numerous times, lingered on in my mind. Whatever the case, is this not the sort of home we want: “merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.”

And this, I submit, is the biblical understanding of home. Now this is something worth striving for.


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.

Two new works on Covenant Theology in its Baptist expression

By Jeff Robinson

One of the theological questions I have been asked most often during my first 24 months as pastor has been some version of this query: Do Baptists believe Covenant Theology or is that just a Presbyterian thing? My answer (which is consistently “Yes, Baptists have historically believed Covenant Theology that obviously differs a bit from our Presbyterian brethren”) has puzzled some and made others curious enough to launch your own study of my conclusion. But my dear friend Mike Gaydosh at Solid Ground Books in Birmingham, Ala., the city where my family lives, has recently published two books that will provide plenty of grist for that mill and will provide substantive historical and biblical answers to the question of Baptists and their relationship to Covenant Theology.

The first work is titled The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology: A Comparison Between Seventeenth-Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism by Pascal Denault. The point of pressure separating the Baptist and non-Baptist version of Covenant Theology is, of course, the subjects (the who?) of baptism. In the concise span of 140 pages, Denault’s work provides a brilliant historical, biblical and theological defense of believer’s baptism and provides an excellent overview of the consistent, biblical Covenant Theology which the Calvinistic (Particular) Baptists of 17th century England espoused. Denault surveys British Particular Baptists who held to Covenant Theology such as Benjamin Keach and John Gill and also shows biblically how paedobaptists misinterpret the continuity between the promises given to Abraham in the OT and baptism in the NT and arrive at the conclusion that baptism replaces circumcision as the sign of membership in the covenant people of God. The author traces the points at which historic Baptists and their fellow Puritans parted ways on issues of the continuity and discontinuity between the old and new testaments and argues forcibly that Baptists more consistently held to a biblical version of Covenant Theology.

Edited by Earl M. Blackburn, the second work, Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive, is a multi-author work and includes chapters from contributors such as Justin Taylor, Fred Malone and Walter Chantry. Like the Denault book, this work is brief in compass (161 pages, including three appendices) and each of the five well-written chapters examines a separate issue related to the covenants of Scripture, ranging from baptism to the question of the existence of a covenant of works. Blackburn opens with an excellent overview of Covenant Theology and Malone follows with a discussion of biblical hermeneutics and Covenant Theology. This work, like Denault’s book, offers a well-done overview of the Baptist version of Covenant Theology and I heartily recommend them both for your spring or summer reading.

To order, see the Solid Ground Christian Books website at Phone: (205) 443-0311.


Jeff Robinson (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church. Jeff is the author of the forthcoming book, The Great Commission Vision of John Calvin. Jeff is also a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

On the Pall Mall

By Ian Hugh Clary

In 1959 Arnold Dallimore, a pastor from the small Canadian hamlet of Cottam, Ontario, flew to England to meet with his potential publishers at the Banner of Truth Trust. Dallimore, of course, would go on to publish a monumental two-volume biography of the evangelist George Whitefield. But by the late fifties he had only managed a draft or two that were, in his mind, woefully inadequate. A part of his slew of meetings in the UK involved Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Banner’s Iain Murray was responsible for helping Dallimore make his way around London and first introduced the Canadian pastor to the Doctor after a service at Westminster Chapel. After discussing their shared interest in Whitefield, Lloyd-Jones invited Dallimore to the Carlton Club, the famous gentlemen’s club near the Pall Mall in London. Its membership included many leading Conservative politicians and Lloyd-Jones would likely have kept his membership from his days at St. Bart’s.

I have given this meeting much thought over the past year or so—what would it have been like to eavesdrop on these two men? Both of them would go on to have a massive influence on evangelicalism, and to hear them talk about a range of subjects, from Whitefield, revival, and even the Canadian fundamentalist T. T. Shields, would have been thrilling. At this meeting Lloyd-Jones gave Dallimore advice on how to proceed with an updated draft, where to go in Wales to find information on Howell Harris, and other such things that have made the biography great. He was also a major supporter of the work, even defending Dallimore’s interpretations against his own publishers. The first volume would not come out for over ten years after this meeting, and the second volume another ten after that—altogether Dallimore spent over thirty years of his life labouring over what must be one of the most important books of twentieth-century evangelicalism. We can all be thankful that parts of the telling of Whitefield’s life were hashed out in a posh club near the Pall Mall, London.


Ian Hugh Clary is finishing doctoral studies under Adriaan Neele at Universiteit van die Vrystaat (Blomfontein), where he is writing a dissertation on the evangelical historiography of Arnold Dallimore. He has co-authored two local church histories with Michael Haykin and contributed articles to numerous scholarly journals. Ian serves as a pastor of BridgeWay Covenant Church in Toronto where he lives with his wife and two children.

Ian Clary on "Church History on the Ground"

Rivers of Living Water: Celebrating 125…Dr. Haykin recently collaborated with Ian Clary on a history of the 125-year-old Hughson Street Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario, “Rivers of Living Water”: Celebrating 125 Years of Hughson Street Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario, 1887-2012. Ian wrote about his experience working on this project and the value of local church histories here. Be sure to check out his suggestions for both beginning and professional historians, along with his plea to churches, seminaries and other Christian institutions to publish histories regularly.

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.


The seminary and piety: a surrejoinder

If we define a faithful minister of the Word along the lines of Acts 6, a man devoted to the Word and prayer, it seems to me that in the twentieth century faithful orthodox seminaries have done fairly well in training men in one half of this equation: the Word. But what of the other? Well, I think many leaders in former generations expected these things to be caught by osmosis even though Jesus responded positively to the disciples’ request that he teach them how to pray. Spirituality needs to be “taught” and handed on. And while all professors in a seminary need to approach their specific subjects with an answerable spiritual frame, it is not wrong for some to focus on spirituality. Given the fact that spirituality and spiritual formation are increasingly huge engagements for both our larger cultural “moment” and within the boundaries of the Church, it is not unrealistic to ask certain men to specialize in the praxis of spirituality and the history of biblical spirituality.

As an historian, I feel the latter is very important: during the course of the twentieth century for a variety of reasons many of those who loved the Scriptures as the inerrant Word of God and faithfully upheld biblical orthodoxy failed to pass on the rich piety of their forebears in the Reformation, Puritan, Pietist and early Evangelical traditions. And surely this is one of the reasons why certain communities within the broad stream of twentieth-century English-speaking Evangelicalism became enamoured of the Spirit and talked as if they were the first to discover him since the Pentecost: they looked around and saw a tradition that seemed to have little place for piety, experience, and dare I say it, rapture (no I am not talking about an eschatological item!). Incidentally, here is where a man whom Carl has been writing about in recent days, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is so helpful: his balance of Word and Spirit is admirable (re other matters Carl has raised about the Doctor, this is not the place to go into those, though I agree with Carl that the recent collection of essays on the Doctor is by and large a welcome addition to the books on that remarkable servant of God).

Maybe, I need to take up Carl’s offer and we can do a book together on this subject of the seminary and piety—and maybe Dr Lucas, if he is so inclined, could also be involved!