“Let Your Time Be Spent On Him”: A Christmas Sermon by George Whitefield

By Evan D. Burns

In a Christmas sermon on Matthew 1:21, called “The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of all Christians; or the True Way of Keeping Christmas,” George Whitefield (1714-1770) provided some suggestions “for the true keeping of that time of Christmas.”  He advised spending time reading, praying, and in religious conversation:

What can we do to employ our time to a more noble purpose, than reading of what our dear Redeemer has done and suffered; to read, that the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, came from his throne and took upon him the form of the meanest of his servants; and what great things he underwent.  This, this is an history worth reading, this is worth employing our time about:  and surely, when we read of the sufferings of our Savior, it should excite us to prayer, that we might have an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ; that the blood which he spilt upon mount Calvary, and his death and crucifixion, might make an atonement for our sins, that we might be made holy; that we might be enabled to put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, even the Lord Jesus Christ; that we may throw away the heavy yoke of sin, and put on the yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Indeed, my brethren, these things call for prayer, and for earnest prayer too; and O do be earnest with God, that you may have an interest in this Redeemer, and that you may put on his righteousness, so that you may not come before him in your filthy rags, nor be found not having on the wedding garment.  O do not, I beseech you, trust unto yourselves for justification; you cannot, indeed, you cannot be justified by the works of the law.  I entreat that your time may be thus spent; and if you are in company, let your time be spent in that conversation which profiteth:  let it not be about your dressing, your plays, your profits, or your worldly concerns, but let it be the wonders of redeeming love:  O tell, tell to each other, what great things the Lord has done for your souls; declare unto one another, how you were delivered from the hands of your common enemy, Satan, and how the Lord has brought your feet from the clay, and has set them upon the rock of ages, the Lord Jesus Christ; there, my brethren, is no slipping; other conversation, by often repeating, you become fully acquainted with, but of Christ there is always something new to raise your thoughts; you can never want matter when the love of the Lord Jesus Chris is the subject:  then let Jesus be the subject, my brethren, of all your conversation.

Let your time be spent on him:  O this, this is an employ, which if you belong to Jesus, will last you to all eternity.  Let others enjoy their cards, their dice, and gaming hours; do you, my brethren, let your time be spent in reading, praying, and religious conversations.  Which will stand the trial best at the last day?  Which do you think will bring most comfort, most peace, in a dying hour?  O live and spend your time now, as you will wish to have done, when you come to die.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

New Book of Poetry by Michael A.G. Haykin

By Steve Weaver


Michael A.G. Haykin, director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, has released a new book. That's not news. However, this book differs from the typical historical works for which he is widely known. This new release from Borderstone Press is a collection of poetry written by Dr. Haykin over the past four decades. The collection is beautifully titled, The Sweetness of God: Poetic Reflections on the Grace and Love of the Triune God. The title reflects two specific emphases of Haykin's teaching, which I remember from my time as one of his students. First, the use of the term "sweetness" in church history is a topic that has long fascinated him. Second, the subtitle's explicit reference to "the Triune God" reflects an emphasis in Haykin's teaching on the self-disclosed nature of the God who is eternally three in one. Together, the title combines these two emphases in a way that illustrates Haykin's personal piety and affection for the Triune God revealed in Scripture.

Haykin describes the work as follows: "The poems in this collection were written over a lengthy period of more than thirty-five years, from the mid-1970s to the present day. They seek to express, in ways not accessible to an historian’s prose, my experience of the delights and paradoxes of being a believer in and follower of the Triune God."


Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

New Bitesize Biography on George Whitefield by Michael Haykin

By Dustin Bruce

Today, December 16th, 2014, marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great eighteenth century revivalist George Whitefield. Born at the Bell Inn in Gloucester in 1714, Whitefield shaped the trans-Atlantic British community through his participation in what came to be known as The Great Awakening.

In celebration of this anniversary, a number of works on Whitefield have come out, including a new critical work by Dr. Thomas S. Kidd of Baylor. Making a unique contribution to Whitefield literature is a new work by Fuller Center Director, Dr. Michael Haykin.


Haykin has recently released a new work in an ongoing Evangelical Press series, entitled Bitesize Biographies: George Whitefield. In the work, Haykin captures the key facets of Whitefield’s life and theology through nine brief chapters of edifying material drawn from years of study. He summarizes his book this way,

So, after outlining the era in which Whitefield lived and ministered in chapter 2 and giving an overview of Whitefield’s life and ministry in chapter 3, the next five chapters look at five key areas of his ministry: his passion for preaching the gospel, his emphasis on the new birth and justification by faith alone, his defence of a biblical understanding of holiness especially in contrast to John Wesley’s view of Christian perfection, his commitment to Calvinism and its distinctive spirituality, and finally the example of his impact upon one denominational grouping, the Baptists.

For a rich and accessible biography of Whitefield, I heartily recommend picking up a copy of Haykin’s work. There is no better time than the 300-year anniversary of Whitefield’s birth to learn about his remarkable contribution to Evangelical life and spirituality.


Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

On “Presentism” in Historical Research

By Nathan A. Finn

In 2014, I have been blessed to finish a couple of major writing projects. I wrote a book titled History: A Student’s Guide, which will be part of Crossway’s Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series (Crossway, forthcoming January 2016). In that book, I address the topic of “presentism,” which I define as any attempt to read present assumptions back into the past. Presentism is a perennial struggle for the historian; after all, our own context invariably affects how we study past contexts. The most famous work on presentism is Herbert Butterfield’s oft-cited classic The Whig Interpretation of History (1931). In fact, among historians, “whiggish” is a common adjectival synonym for presentism.

I also co-authored a Baptist history textbook with Michael Haykin and Tony Chute titled The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement (B&H Academic, forthcoming July 2015). As a historian whose primary expertise is modern history, I wrote four chapters that cover Baptist life since the turn of the twentieth century (as well as a fifth, more prescriptive chapter on Baptist identity). It was at times difficult to write about recent history—especially topics such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Inerrancy Controversy in the SBC—without resorting to presentism. Nevertheless, I tried as hard as I could; the past must be understood as more than mere prologue to the preferred present of the historian.

Recently, I read Philip Sheldrake’s Spirituality & History: Questions of Interpretation and Method (Orbis, 1995), which is an important work that discusses how historians should think about the history of Christian spirituality. Sheldrake offers a great treatment on the threat of presentism that is relevant to the study of Christian history in general and not just spirituality in particular.

The misgivings by some historians concerning the unbalanced effect of present-day issues on our historical perspective (or what is called ‘presentism’) really means that our interpretations must first of all seek to do full justice to the personalities or spiritual cultures of other ages. We must not be excessively influenced by what we find unattractive or peculiar from a contemporary perspective – and there is plenty of such material in the history of spirituality. ‘Presentism’ essentially collapses the past into the present. This has two aspects. Negatively, it will blame the past for not being the present. Augustine’s attitudes in all respects are culturally conditioned and cannot be adopted uncritically in the present. However, that is different from accusing him of the moral fault of being, for example, a male chauvinist (implicitly, he should have known better). Secondly, positively, it will turn some past traditions, uncritically and anachronistically, into images of the present (for example, the Beguines become a ‘feminist’ movement or popular religious poverty movements in the twelfth century become examples of ‘class struggle’) or it will adopt certain people as heroes and honorary members of another century and its concerns (for example, Thomas More was a martyr for an ultramontane understanding of the Church or Meister Eckhart wrote ‘creation-centred spirituality’). No historian can present the absolute truth and so we must settle for offering, as honestly as possible, what we believe to be near to the truth as we can reach, after detailed and rigorous research and reflection (p. 109).

Any good historian strives to avoid presentism; in fact, this is a key difference between professional historians and activists who use the past as an apologetic for their present preferences (think David Barton on the Right or Howard Zinn on the Left). Rejecting presentism is a matter of historical integrity. But as a Christian historian, I want to go a step further and argue that the primary reason I need to avoid presentism in my historical interpretations is because I need to show neighbor-love to those who lived in other times and contexts. They deserve to be understood with the same degree of empathy and nuance than I would want to be understood by others. The most loving thing I can do is interpret the past on its own terms—even when I wish those terms were different.


Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

“Seek it at the Fountain-Head”

By Evan D. Burns

In a sermon entitled, “On an Intimate and Practical Acquaintance with the Word of God,” Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) unfolded the bibliocentric piety demonstrated in Ezra 7:10—“Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”  Fuller observed four features of Ezra’s character, which Fuller highly commended for Christian’s to imitate.  Here is what he gleaned from one verse:

  1.  SEEK THE LAW, or will, of God
    1. Seek it.
    2. Seek it at the fountain-head.
    3. Seek the will of God in every part of the Bible.
    4. Seek it perseveringly.
  2. PREPARE YOUR HEART to seek the law of the Lord
    1. Dread nothing more than recommending that to your people to which you do not attend yourself.
    2. More is expected from you than from others.
    3. You will attend to practical preaching.
    4. Attend not only to such duties as fall under the eye of man, but walk with God—in your family, and in your closet.
  4. TEACH in Israel the statutes and judgments of God.
    1. Let Christ and his apostles be your examples.
    2. Give every part of the truth its due proportion.
    3. Dare to teach unwelcome truths.
    4. Give Scriptural proof of what you teach.
    5. Consider yourself as standing engaged to teach all that hear you—rich and poor, young and old, godly and ungodly.
    6. Teach privately as well as publicly.[1]

Under the first point, Fuller masterfully contended for seeking the will of God in the Bible alone:

Seek it at the fountain-head.—You feel, I doubt not, a great esteem for many of your brethren now living, and admire the writings of some who are now no more; and you will read their productions with attention and pleasure. But whatever excellence your brethren possess, it is all borrowed; and it is mingled with error. Learn your religion from the Bible. Let that be your decisive rule. Adopt not a body of sentiments, or even a single sentiment, solely on the authority of any man—however great, however respected. Dare to think for yourself. Human compositions are fallible. But the Scriptures were written by men who wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Human writings on religion resemble preaching—they are useful only so far as they illustrate the Scriptures, and induce us to search them for ourselves.[2]

[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 483-486.

[2]The Complete Works, 1: 483.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Audio for "George Whitefield and the Great Awakening" Conference at West Toronto Baptist Church

By Ian Hugh Clary

Galotti Haykin Clary

On November 15, 2014, West Toronto Baptist Church was happy to join in on international Whitefield celebrations. This year marks the tercentenary of Whitefield's birth, and it was the church’s privilege to co-host a conference with the Andrew Fuller Center over the course of a Saturday morning. Michael Haykin was the special speaker, while I preached a sermon by the Grand Itinerant on Sunday morning.

Below you can find Dr. Haykin’s two lectures and the sermon I preached.

Lecture 1 – Background to the Great Awakening (Michael Haykin)

Lecture 2 – George Whitefield’s Life (Michael Haykin)

Sermon – “The Marks of True Conversion: Matthew 18:3” (Ian Clary)


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 lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.

Judson’s Ground of Self-Denial

By Evan D. Burns

On May 10, 1836, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) preached his only English sermon in Burma; it was for the ordination of the missionary printer, S. M. Osgood (1807-1875).  This lengthy sermon is a definitive presentation of the inherent relationship in Judson’s spirituality between the example of Christ and Christian minister’s mandatory self-denial in imitation of Christ.  Preaching from John 10:1-18 about Christ as the Good Shepherd, Judson began by saying that though Christ is the “Exemplar” of all his people, he is especially the “Exemplar” of his “subordinate shepherds.”  He urged Osgood to “look continually to the chief Shepherd” for emulation.  First, Judson instructed, the minister ought to imitate Christ’s wholesale denial of worldly desires.  Christ gave up his life for the good of his flock, and in the language of disinterested benevolence, Judson said the minister ought to imitate Christ by surrendering all worldly ambitions, pleasures, and gains “that he may, by all means, save some.”  Second, Judson taught that the minister ought to imitate Christ by showing affection and brotherly love to the flock.  Third, Judson said the chief duty of a minister in imitation of Christ is to indiscriminately call out Christ’s elect; then once they come in through the universal preaching of the gospel, the minister ought to make disciples through teaching them to observe the commands of Christ, of which the minister ought to be the greatest example of obedience.

Though the minister’s chief duty should be doing good, Judson went on to elaborate on the dominant motivation of such duty.  He explained that Christ’s “supreme regard to his Father’s will” and “the love of God” were the controlling themes of Christ’s life.  Judson tied Christ’s example of supreme love to the Father and a supreme desire to please the Father to the responsibility of the minister to esteem the will of God above all other good things.  He said no good works of self-denial or charity “are truly estimable, but just so far as they spring from regard to the will of God.  All true virtue has its root in the love of God.  Every holy affection looks beyond self . . . and finds its resting place in God alone.”  Then he went on to wax eloquent about God’s God-centeredness and righteous love for himself above everything else.  In light of God’s supreme happiness in God, Judson said it was fitting that Christ would “have supreme regard to the will of the Father,” greater than his regard for perishing souls.  Therefore, every minister must submit to the will of God.  In light of Christ’s example of supreme submission to the infinitely wise and loving will of the Father, the most God-centered Being in the universe, Judson issued a decisive verdict for his spirituality of self-denial:  “On this ground we rest the doctrine of self-denial, renunciation of self-interest, abandonment of self.  Still further, even our compassion for souls and our zeal for their salvation must be kept in subordination to the supreme will of God.”[1]  In his self-denying imitation of Christ, “Judson was indeed a Gethsemane soul.”[2]

[1]Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D., vol. 2 (Boston: Phillips, Samson and Company, 1853), 486-94.

[2]John Brush, “The Magnetism of Adoniram Judson,” Andover Newton Quarterly 2, no. 3 (January 1, 1962): 3.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.


By Steve Weaver

This week (November 19-21), the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) is meeting in San Diego, California. This annual event features scholars from multiple disciplines from across the evangelical world. You can access a digital copy of the program here. The Andrew Fuller Center has a strong representation at this year's meeting. There are six presenters associated with the Center involved in eight different sessions. Led by our director, Michael A.G. Haykin, who is presenting two papers and moderating another session, you could have a full conference just by attending the sessions in which AFCBS associated individuals are leading. See below for a complete schedule of AFCBS at ETS.


2:00 PM-5:10 PM MODERATOR: MICHAEL A.G. HAYKIN (Director) GROUP: CHURCH HISTORY 18th Century Studies Room: Royal Palm Salon Five

3:40 PM—4:20 PM JOSEPH C. HARROD (Senior Fellow) GROUP: CHURCH HISTORY 18th Century Studies Room: Royal Palm Salon Five Paper Title: “Treasure, Support, and Joy”: The Word-Centered Piety of Samuel Davies

4:30 PM—5:10 PM STEVE WEAVER (Senior Fellow) GROUP: PURITAN STUDIES A House Divided: Competing Views of Puritan Ecclesiology Room: Towne Paper Title: “The Church of Christ, who upon Confession of Faith have bin Baptised”: Hercules Collins and Baptist Ecclesiology

4:30 PM—5:10 PM DUSTIN B. BRUCE (Junior Fellow) GROUP: PRACTICAL THEOLOGY 2 Room: Terrace Salon Two Paper Title "Defining the Christian Spiritual Classics: maintaining the Regula Fidei"


8:30 AM-11:40 AM MODERATOR: NATHAN A. FINN (Senior Fellow) GROUP: THE DARK SIDE OF EVANGELICAL ECUMENISM Downplaying Ecclesiology, Destabilizing Orthodoxy, and Downgrading Denominations Room: Pacific Salon One

10:20 AM—10:40 AM RESPONDENT: NATHAN A. FINN (Senior Fellow)

9:20 AM—10:00 AM MATTHEW M. BARRETT (Senior Fellow) GROUP: MODELS OF GOD The Jealousy of God Room: Pacific Salon Seven Paper Title: "He Hardens Whomever He Wills: The Exodus, God’s Fame, and the Manifestation of God’s Jealousy through Divine Sovereignty"


3:00 PM—3:40 PM MICHAEL A.G. HAYKIN (Director) GROUP: CHURCH HISTORY 3 Room: Stratford Paper Title: "Writing the Life of Samuel Pearce: Andrew Fuller’s Edwardsean Biography"


1:50 PM—2:30 PM MICHAEL A.G. HAYKIN (Director) GROUP: INERRANCY Inspiration and Inerrancy Room: Royal Palm Salon Three Paper Title: "Inerrancy and Inspiration in the Fathers"


Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

George Whitefield Tercentenary Celebration in Toronto this Weekend

By Steve Weaver

Whitefield and the Great Awakening copy

West Toronto Baptist Church celebrates the life and work of the eighteenth century evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770). Join us on November 15, 2014, as we learn from Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who will deliver two lectures on Whitefield and the Great Awakening. The conference is free of charge and will include a book table hosted by Crux Books.


Registration will begin on Saturday at 9:00am and Dr. Haykin will give his first lecture at 9:30. There will be a coffee break at 10:30am, and the second lecture will commence at 11:00am. At 12:00pm there will be a half an hour Q & A.

Also, please join us Sunday at 10:45am for Lord’s Day worship where Ian Clary will deliver a sermon based on Whitefield’s sermon on the “new birth.”


West Toronto Baptist Church – 3049 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON.

Originally posted at http://wtbaptist.com/whitefield/


Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

Video and Audio of 'Whitefield and the Great Awakening' Conference

By Steve Weaver

The complete audio and video from our recent conference on George Whitefield and the Great Awakening are now online.  The conference was held on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on October 21-22, 2014. Video and audio of all eight plenary sessions are below. Audio only of the thirteen parallel sessions. Audio links are to downloadable MP3 files.

Plenary Sessions

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/110582474[/embed]

Session 1 - "The Calvinism of George Whitefield" by Thomas Kidd (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/110591869[/embed]

Session 2 - “George Whitefield: The Anglican Evangelist” by Lee Gattis (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/110597955[/embed]

Session 3 - "George Whitefield and the Wesleys" by Stephen Nichols (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/110605288[/embed]

Session 4 - "Preaching George Whitefield" by Steve Lawson (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/110605794[/embed]

Session 5 - "The Spirituality of George Whitefield" by Bruce Hindmarsh (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/111037626[/embed]

Session 6 - "George Whitefield: The Accidental Revolutionary" by Jerome Mahaffey (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/110606355[/embed]

Session 7 - "The Legacy of George Whitefield" by David Bebbington (Audio)

[embed width="390"]http://vimeo.com/111038434[/embed]

Session 8 - "The Hymnody of the Great Awakening" by Esther Crookshank (Audio)

Parallel Sessions

"American Friends of Whitefield: Samuel Davies" by Joe Harrod (Audio)

"American Friends of Whitefield: Jonathan Edwards" by Owen Strachan (Audio)

"American Friends of Whitefield: Oliver Hart" by Eric Smith (Audio)


"Biographers of Whitefield: Arnold Dallimore" by Ian Clary (Audio)

"Biographers of Whitefield: J. C. Ryle" by Ben Rogers (Audio)

"Biographers of Whitefield: Cornelius Winter" by Blair Waddell (Audio)


"English Friends of Whitefield: John Cennick" by Tom Schwanda (Audio)

"English Friends of Whitefield: Matthew Henry" by Roger Duke (Audio)

"English Friends of Whitefield: John Newton" by Grant Gordon (Audio)

"English Friends of Whitefield: Robert Robinson" by Michael Haykin and Jared Skinner (Audio)


"Women in Whitefield’s Life: Selina Hastings" by Priscilla Chan (Audio)

"Women in Whitefield’s Life: Phillis Wheatley" by Dustin Benge (Audio)

"Women in Whitefield’s Life: Elizabeth Whitefield" by Digby James (Audio)


Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.