NEW - Monographs in Baptist History

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The Beginning of Baptist Ecclesiology
The Foundational Contributions of Thomas Helwys

by Marvin Jones

The basic question, "Where did Baptists come from and why?" has two camps that offer differing explanations: (1) the English Separatist camp produced the ministries of foundational Baptists, John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, thus takes credit for Baptist origins, and (2) the Anabaptist movement is the alternative camp, understanding either a direct connection via lineage back to the infamous Swiss Brethren or an indirect connection via Anabaptist teachings. Anabaptist ecclesiology is very much akin, if not in some ways identical, to modern Baptist ecclesiology.
In fact, the Baptist church, led by John Smyth and successively by Thomas Helwys, resembled both English Separatist and the Anabaptist ecclesiology with notable differences between both entities. When The Mystery of Iniquity is properly understood, as Helwys intended, the reader will grasp the logical reasons that the Baptist church in 1607 was akin to both the English Separatist and the Anabaptist and yet differed from both. In The Beginning of Baptist Ecclesiology, Marvin Jones give a fresh voice to Thomas Helwys's opinion that a Baptist church is a viable New Testament church, and provides further relevant material rationale for the conversation concerning Baptist origins.


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The Love of God Holds Creation Together
Andrew Fuller's Theology of Virtue

by Ryan P. Hoselton

The English Baptist Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) is well-known today for his nuanced Evangelical answer to the “Modern Question” against hyper-Calvinism, founding and leading the Baptist Missionary Society, and his exemplary pastoral ministry. In his day, however, he was also esteemed as a formidable apologist for Christian orthodoxy, especially in the area of moral reasoning. Following in the footsteps of his theological mentor, Jonathan Edwards, Fuller labored to defend the moral goodness and salutary nature of Christian doctrine against the new moral philosophy of the Enlightenment. As optimism in the moral potential of human nature waxed, reliance on God for truth and virtue waned. Echoing a long tradition of classical theologians, Fuller wished to declare afresh that the love of God, as manifested in the gospel, furnished humankind’s only hope for virtue, excellence, and happiness. In this concise study, Hoselton looks to recover the importance of ethical reasoning in Fuller’s theology and ministry and reflect on its merit for today.

New book from Beeke and Haykin

Why Should I Be Interested in Church History?
Joel R. Beeke and Michael A.G. Haykin

Now available from Reformation Heritage Books

Description:
The Word of God exalts history and calls us to study it, yet the prevailing attitude among many Christians today is that the study of the past is good for only collecting bits of entertaining trivia. Asserting that "meditating upon God's works and servants in history is not optional for the Christian but an important part of covenant faithfulness to the Lord," church historians Joel R. Beeke and Michael A.G. Haykin present seven benefits for the Christian who studies church history, and they provide practical suggestions for how they get started.

Book review: William of Orange

William of Orange book coverDaniel R. Horst,William of Orange, trans. Lynne Richards (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2013), 70 pages. To a reader acquainted with English history rather than that of the Netherlands, the name William of Orange recalls the Dutch prince who played the key role in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 and became England’s William III. The subject of this small monograph, however, is the great-grandfather of the English king and is often known as William the Silent (1533–1584). This William was the central figure in the Dutch Protestant revolt against the Spanish Hapsburgs in the late sixteenth century and also has the dubious distinction of being the first head of state assassinated by a handgun. William died at the hand of a fanatical Roman Catholic Balthasar Gerards, who shot him in the chest with two pistols in the Prinsenhof, Delft, on July 10, 1584.

Horst’s monograph focuses on the portraits and statuary associated with the assassinated prince from the painting by Cornelis Anthonisz when William was twelve to his funerary monument to various prints and paintings done after his death (even including a 2007 poster relating to the integration of Morroccans into Amsterdam culture). Horst illuminates the way this art reflects the Dutch culture of the time and the way William became an icon of liberty. William’s tomb, for instance, is a stone illustration of the “frugality and humility” of the regnant Dutch Calvinism (p.49). Along the way, Horst gives the reader an excellent overview of the history of the Netherlands in one of the most important periods of Dutch history as well as a superb illustration of the importance of art in reading history (the lavish illustrations make the book a delight to read).

One point made by Horst, however, stuck this reader as questionable but all too typical of modern historians. The sculptor Hendrik de Keyser (1565–1621), arguably the most important Dutch architect of the time, was commissioned to build William’s tomb. De Keyser was also responsible for designing three of the oldest Protestant churches in Amsterdam—the Zuiderkerk, Noorderkerk, and the Westerkerk. But Horst believes De Keyser’s design and supervision of the construction of Amsterdam’s stock exchange was the most important task he accomplished for this structure was central to this city’s growth into a world mercantile power (p.42). Many of De Keyser’s contemporaries would certainly have disagreed: their Calvinist faith was absolutely central to their resistance to the Spanish.

Albeit a minor point, this is a mistake common to many contemporary historians: religious convictions are not important to many in the modern world, or are seen as a screen for deeper convictions, and so the assumption is unconsciously made that the same is true of the past. But while the remarkable growth of the Netherlands as an economic power in this era is key to the Dutch “Golden Era,” so is Dutch Reformed theology and the houses of worship in which such theology was fleshed out. Whatever the faith commitment of men and women in the modern-day Netherlands (and large numbers are atheists), the history of this nation cannot be explained without taking into serious consideration the centrality of the Christian Faith to the Dutch men and women of the past.

Michael A.G. Haykin

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary