James Petigru Boyce 120 years on

Thanks to God for the life and testimony of James Petigru Boyce (1827-1888), one of the co-founders of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who went home to be with the Lord on Friday, December 28, 1888. His legacy is still bearing rich fruit, God be praised.

In the faculty minutes of January 2, 1889, his colleagues acknowledged Boyce "as the foremost leader in the enterprise of establishing our seminary" and recognized the "many years of thought and exertion" he gave to the school "and for which he made many sacrifices."

What a privilege for Southern today to have a man of such sterling spiritual calibre as Boyce (not to mention Broadus, Manly and Williams) as a founding father. May the truths he loved be adored by all who teach at and attend the school he co-founded and sacrificially laboured to make a beacon for truth and for the glory of God.

John Gill, "the neglected Baptist theologian"

Working currently on the Charleston Association and its use of the Second London Confession of Faith I noticed that in its publication of this confession in 1813, the Association also published a Summary of Church Discipline. One of the distinguishing marks of the latter is its liberal quoting of the Baptist theologian John Gill (1697-1771). Despite some recent studies of Gill—including a collection at the time of the tercentennial of his birth—Gill is still very much, as Paul Helm has recently noted, “the neglected Baptist theologian” (December). Because of this I am very much looking forward to Prof. Helm’s promised postings on Gill in the new year. See his blog: "Helm's Deep".

New painting of Andrew Fuller discovered and bought

I have long suspected that there was another oil painting of Andrew Fuller besides the one hanging in the dining hall of Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Well, such has proven to be the case. Another Fuller painting, a portrait in oils, has recently been sold at auction and is now in the hands of a lover of Fuller’s works in the south of England. This is tremendously exciting news. The portrait is by Samuel Medley, Jr (1769-1857), who was a Baptist layman and a member of John Rippon’s Church, had a career in the stock exchange and was one of the founders of University College, the University of London. He was also a painter, and exhibited at the Royal Academy. The painting was done in 1802 and was the basis for the frontispiece in John Ryland’s life of the Baptist divine.

The sale was in Northumbria, far from Fuller country, and raises questions naturally about how the painting came to be in that part of England.

I am deeply thankful to the new owner of the painting for contacting me, and hope in the very near future to display a picture of the portrait on this blog.

Doctrine, revival and Basil Manly Jr.

I am always amazed at those who think that reform/revival can genuinely take place without concern for doctrine. Classic orthodoxy is essential for anything that can be called a move of God. And how sad when such substantial doctrine is in place and it be taken away to make way for so-called better ways of doing ministry! Basil Manly, Jr. put it this way in his great hymn: "Soldiers of Christ, in truth arrayed/A world in ruins needs your aid." It is only as we are arrayed in truth that we can help anyone in this world.

Conference on Southern Seminary & the History of American Christianity

Southern Seminary is hosting an outstanding conference on February 18th and 19th, 2009.  The theme is Southern Seminary & the History of American Christianity.  Speakers include church historians and theologians as:  Dr. Mark Dever, Dr. Gary Dorrien, Dr. Timothy George, Dr. Darryl Hart, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., Dr. Russell D. Moore, Dr. Thomas Nettles, Dr. Stephen Nichols, Dr. Grant Wacker, and Dr. Greg Wills.  To view the complete schedule click here.  Conference registration can be done online by credit card here at the rates of:

$25.00 — SBTS / Boyce Student Registration Fee $45.00 — Conference Registration Fee $55.00 — Late Registration Fee (after February 7th)

These conference fees cover the cost of the conference, as well as a continental style breakfast and boxed lunch on Thursday (the 19th).

Lodging is available on campus at The Legacy Center Hotel. Please call 877-444-SBTS to place a reservation. Be sure to request the “SSHAC09” Special Conference Rate.

This promises to be an excellent conference that I'm greatly looking forward to attending myself.

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

Jonathan Edwards on Christ and Lucifer: a misunderstanding making the rounds

There is a charge that is making the rounds on the web that Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758) believed that Satan was initially a superior being to Jesus and that Jesus was an exalted man. The text of Edwards cited in relation to this charge is the following from “Fall of the Angels,” in “Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects,” Chapter XI, of The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Hendrickson Publishers, 1998), II, 609. The charge is an utterly silly one based on a failure to read the text closely. Here is the text. My comment follows.

Corol. I. Hence learn that Satan before his fall was the Messiah or Christ, as he was the anointed. The word anointed is radically the same in Hebrew as the word Messiah: so that in this respect our Jesus is exalted into his [Satan’s] place in heaven.

Corol. II. These things show another thing, wherein Jesus is exalted into the place of Lucifer; that whereas he had the honour to dwell in the holy of holies continually, so Jesus is there entered, not as the high priests of old, but to be there continually, but in this respect is exalted higher than Lucifer ever was; that whereas Lucifer was only near the throne, or kneeling on the mercy-seat in humble posture, covering it with his wings, Jesus is admitted to sit down for ever with God on the throne.

Corol. IV. In another respect also Jesus succeeds Lucifer, viz. in being the covering cherub. The word translated cover, often and commonly signifies to protect. It was committed to this archangel especially, to have the care of protecting the beloved race, elect man, that was God’s jewel, his first-fruits, his precious treasure, laid up in God’s ark, or cabinet, hid in the secret of his presence. That was the great business the angels were made for, and therefore was especially committed to the head of the angels. But he fell from his innocency and dignity, and Jesus in his stead becomes the Cherub that covereth, the great Protector and Saviour of elect man, that gathereth them as a hen her chickens under his wings.

Corol. V. Lucifer, while a holy angel, in having the excellency of all those glorious things that were about him, all summed up in him, was a type of Christ, in whom all the glory and excellency of all elect creatures is more properly summed, as the head and foundation of all, just as the brightness of all, that reflects the light of the sun, is summed up in the sun.

“… Therefore, seeing Lucifer was the head, and captain, and prince of all, and the highest creature in the whole universe, we may suppose that he had, as God’s chief servant, and the grand minister of his providence, and the top of the creation, in some respect committed to him power, dominion, and principality over the whole creation, and all the kingdom of providence; and as all the angels are called the sons of God, Lucifer was his [God’s] first-born, and was the firstborn of every creature. But when it was revealed to him, high and glorious as he was, that he must be a ministering spirit to the race of mankind which he had seen newly created, which appeared so feeble, mean, and despicable, so vastly inferior, not only to him, the prince of the angels, and head of the created universe, but also to the inferior angels, and that he must be subject to one of that race that should hereafter be born, he could not bear it. This occasioned his fall; and now he, with the other angels whom he drew away with him, are fallen, and elect men are translated to supply their places, and are exalted vastly higher in heaven than they. And the Man Jesus Christ, the Chief, and Prince, and Captain of all elect men, is translated and set in the throne that Lucifer, the chief and prince of the angels, left, to be the head of the angels in his stead, the head of principality and power, that all the angels might do obeisance to him; for God said “Let all the angels of God worship him;” and God made him his first-born instead of Lucifer, higher than all those thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, and made him, yea, made him in his stead the first-born of every creature, or of the whole creation, and made him also in his stead the bright and morning star, and head and prince of the universe; yea, gave this honour, dignity, and power unto him, in an unspeakably higher and more glorious manner than ever he had done to Lucifer, and appointed him to conquer, subdue, and execute vengeance upon that great rebel.”

My comment: A close and careful reading of the text reveals simply this: Edwards is arguing that the unfallen Lucifer is a type of glorified humanity of Christ—the chief responsibilities of Lucifer before his fall have now been given to the glorified humanity of Jesus Christ. There is nothing heretical in this, though, in true Edwards style, this is something I had never thought of before. But the latter is of no import, there is so much in Edwards that we lesser minds would never have thought of if we did not read it in Edwards. As a theologian, he was stellar. Is he right: that is another question. Again, Edwards is not exalting Lucifer over our Lord. He is simply arguing that the unfallen Lucifer has typological aspects to his character when it comes to his relationship to the glorified humanity of Christ.

Milton Audio Now Online

On November 13, 2008, the Andrew Fuller Center sponsored an event celebrating the life and thought of John Milton (1608-1674).  The occassion was the quatercentenary of Milton's birth.  This event featured a brief historical introduction to Milton by Dr. Michael Haykin, followed by selected readings from Milton's works by Dr. Jim Orrick.  The event concluded with a presentation on Milton's classic work Paradise Lost by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, interspersed with readings from Mr. Anthony Sauls. The complete audio of this event is now available for free MP3 download.

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

More on centres of love

In the latest round of debate regarding the so-called “new atheism,” Christian theologian Doug Wilson takes on Christopher Hitchens in a published give-and-take on the topic Is Christianity Good for the World?[1] Hitchens is convinced that Christianity, along with religion in general, poisons everything good in life. And thus, for him, the answer to the question in the book’s title is a resounding no. Hitchens’ answer, however, is one that would have amazed numerous pagans living in the Roman Imperium in the first four centuries after Christ. The love, generosity, and showing of mercy of believers to those outside of the Christian community was, according to Henry Chadwick--that great patrologist who died this past summer and on whom I still need to write a small appreciation--“probably the most potent single cause of Christian success” during the period of the Roman Imperium.[2]

[1] Is Christianity Good for the World? (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2008).

[2] Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (Rev. ed.; London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1993), 56.

Centres of love?

Evangelicalism has done a great job historically of creating communities of light. But what of centres of love? Have we Evangelicals been as successful there? Are our churches known as places of love? Are we lovingly building into each others' lives? Sometimes I genuinely fear that the answer to these questions is no and that this is one reason--not the only one, but an important one--why our churches are failing to make a profound impact on our society.

ETS, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, & Parkside Church

Last week I attended the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, a beautiful city with a rich Baptist history. The busyness of the meetings, both formal and informal, though prevented me from getting to see the nearby First Baptist Church of America--the beautiful 1775 meeting-house--and Brown University. I did see the church in the shuttle taking me to the airport last Thursday and am thankful for the saints of James Manning's day who built this house of prayer and worship. This past weekend, my son Nigel and I and a close friend, Stephen Swallow, and his two sons, Peter and Ben, went to Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Had three hours at the museum--especially interesting were the various written memorabilia, like the report card of John Lennon at twelve years of age in 1953 (the year I was born) or letters relating to Jim Morrison of the Doors. It was fascinating to read a report from Jim Morrison's Sunday School Superintendent (also written in 1953), after Jim had given a fine Sunday Scool recitation. How different was his end from his beginning! A good reminder of the necessity of finishing well.

Afterwards we stayed in a Marriott hotel and then this morning attended the third worship service at Parkside Church. Alistair Begg preached an excellent word from Isaiah 45 and Acts 17.

All in all a delightful weekend.