Missions

A Digest of Scripture

By Evan D. Burns

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) wrote a handful of tracts for his evangelism/discipleship ministry, one of which was a tract called A Digest of Scripture.[1]  It is written like a primer on basic theology for young believers.  Judson outlines some unique aspects of evangelical doctrine and for living the Christian life.  His chapter titles below demonstrate what he saw as the dominant doctrines taught by Scripture and those doctrines in which faithful believers should abide:

  1.  Introduction: Scripture and Wisdom
  2. The Being and Attributes of God
  3. The Trinity
  4. The State of Man
  5. The Lord Jesus Christ
  6. Salvation Bestowed
  7. Salvation Accepted
  8. The Evidences of Faith
  9. The Benefits of Faith
  10. Duty to God
  11. Duty to Men
  12. Duty to One’s Self
  13. Prayer
  14. The Church
  15. The Extension of the Gospel
  16. The Afflictions of Believers
  17. Death
  18. A Future State
  19. The Resurrection
  20. The Last Judgment
  21. The Retribution of Eternity: Hell, Heaven

[1]Adoniram Judson, A Digest of Scripture: Consisting of Extracts from the Old and New Testaments (Maulmain: American Baptist Mission Press, 1840).

_______________

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.

Propagate or Perish

By Evan D. Burns

At the centennial celebration of Adoniram Judson’s arrival in Burma (July 13, 1813), many mission leaders came together to commemorate Judson’s life and labour and to reflect on the missionary impulse that dawned during the nineteenth century.  In one interesting address, Rev. H. C. Mabie, D.D., of Boston, traced the influence of evangelical theology upon the missionary movement:

The act of Judson in becoming a Baptist under the circumstances en route to India, was the foremost factor in awakening a body of Christians in America to a denominational and missionary self-consciousness which it had not before known.  This action on the part of Judson and Luther Rice, his associate, served also to broaden all Christendom as concerned active endeavours to reach the heathen.  These pioneers, together with Judson’s predecessor, William Carey, as seconded by Andrew Fuller, the ripest theologian of his time, stood out as a new type of religionist even among the people whose name they bore.  The action thus inaugurated proved not a separatist action, but the addition of a new dynamic to Christendom in the epoch of a hundred years now closed.  The combined influence of the men named in England and America was so transforming that every self-respecting evangelical body throughout the world now has its foreign mission work.  It only illustrates the fact that Christianity must propagate itself or perish.  Life must be lost for the sake of others, if it would be saved.  This is the central paradox in Christ’s religion, the law underlying all divine redemption….  They were but simple expositors of apostolic Christianity.  They served in Providence to bring the Church back to its normal ideas and passion.[1]


[1]Rev. H. C. Mabie, D.D., “The Baptists in World Relations,” The Judson Centennial Celebrations in Burma: 1813-1913, (Rangoon: American Baptist Mission Press, 1914), 79-80.

__________

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.

“A Supreme Desire to Please Him”

By Evan D. Burns

In addressing the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond, Adoniram Judson commended the great calling of following Christ on the missionary road.  A supreme desire to please God is the great motive for missionary service.  This statement captures well the prevailing drive in Judson’s life and labor:

It is of great importance that all who engage in missionary efforts should be influenced by evangelical motives.  It is worse than useless to be prompted by ostentation or a love of notoriety.  Neither should we enter on this work to assure ourselves of our own personal interest in Christ, though such assurance may be desirable.  Neither should the salvation of the heathen be the motive—the primary consideration—though this is unquestionably a legitimate end. What, then, is the prominent, all-constraining impulse that should urge us to make sacrifices in this cause?  There is one Being in the universe that unites in himself all the perfections of Deity with all the purest and tenderest of human nature.  He has at great expense set up a kingdom in this world.  He has set his heart on the enlargement of that kingdom, and is constantly exerting his Divine agency to accomplish that purpose.  A supreme desire to please him is the grand motive that should animate Christians in their missionary efforts.  And in every concern of life we should often look up to that lovely Being and inquire, “Does this please him?”

When I commenced my labors in India there was not an individual beyond the Ganges that had any idea of a God.  Now, in all those extensive regions, the people believe in one Supreme Intelligence.  Then there was not an individual that prayed to the Christian’s God.  Now there are many lovely churches and hundreds of happy Christians.  I mention this, not because the Gospel has not been equally successful in other parts of the world, but because I am better acquainted with that field of missionary labor, and I desired to give you some idea of the success of the Gospel in Eastern Asia.[1]


[1]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 384-385.

_______________

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.

“Irrevocably Gone, Indelibly Marked”

By Evan D. Burns

On December 30, 1810, in a letter written to Miss Ann Hasseltine, Adoniram Judson mused on the number of his days in light of eternity, that he would live wisely and faithfully (cf. Ps 90:12).  Every moment is gone forever and irreversibly spent, for better or for worse.  He said:

We have a general intention of living religion; but we intend to begin to-morrow or next year.  The present moment we prefer giving to the world.  ‘A little more sleep, a little more slumber.’  Well, a little more sleep, and we shall sleep in the grave.  A few days, and our work will be done.  And when it is once done, it is done to all eternity.  A life once spent is irrevocable.  It will remain to be contemplated through eternity.  If it be marked with sins, the marks will be indelible.  If it has been a useless life, it can never be improved.  Such it will stand forever and ever.  The same may be said of each day.  When it is once past, it is gone forever.  All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever.  It will never become less true that such a day was spent in such a manner.  Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny.  No day will lose its share of influence in determining where shall be our seat in heaven.  How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness!  It will then be too late to mend its appearance.  It is too late to mend the days that are past.  The future is in our power.  Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever.  And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked.  Good-night.”[1]


[1]Edward Judson,  Adoniram Judson D.D., His Life and Labours, (13).

_______________

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.

“To Hold Myself in Readiness”

By Evan D. Burns

In 1826, God’s bitter providence had called Ann Judson to her heavenly home and left Adoniram Judson to mourn and continue on in his missionary labor.  After her death, in a letter on December 7, 1826, to Ann’s mother, Adoniram’s heavenly-minded piety shone through the dark night:

I will not trouble you, my dear mother, with an account of my own private feelings—the bitter, heart-rending anguish which for some days would admit of no mitigation, and the comfort which the Gospel subsequently afforded—the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings life and immortality to light.  Blessed assurance—and let us apply it afresh to our hearts—that, while I am writing and you perusing these lines, her spirit is resting and rejoicing in the heavenly paradise—

“Where glories shine, and pleasures roll That charm, delight, transport the soul, And every panting wish shall be Possessed of boundless bliss in Thee.”[1]

And there, my dear mother, we also shall soon be, uniting and participating in the felicities of heaven with her for whom we now mourn.  Amen.  Even so come, Lord Jesus.[2]

Approximately six months after Ann’s death, their two-year old daughter Maria was also called home.  In a letter to Ann’s mother on April 26, 1827, Judson recounted his horrible grief and his heavenly hope.

All our efforts, and prayers, and tears could not propitiate the cruel disease; the work of death went forward, and after the usual process, excruciating to a parent’s heart, she ceased to breathe…. The next morning we made her last bed in the small enclosure that surrounds her mother’s lonely grave.  Together they rest in hope, under the hope tree, which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing after a short separation of precisely six months.  And, I am left alone in the wide world.  My own dear family I have buried; one in Rangoon and two in Amherst.  What remains for me but to hold myself in readiness to follow the dear departed to that blessed world, “Where my best friends, my kindred, dwell, where God my Saviour reigns?”[3]


[1]From a hymn by Isaac Watts.

[2]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 222;  Wayland, Memoir, 1:420-421.

[3]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 230.

_______________

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.

“The Best of All Is, God Is With Us”

By Evan D. Burns

Adoniram Judson, after many years of pain and thankless labor, witnessed the death of the chief of the Karen people in Burma.  Most deaths led to sadness because they died without the light of the gospel of Christ (since the Bible was still being translated).  But this death was different than most; this Karen chief died in the Lord.  After witnessing the old dying chief’s conversion and baptism, the mysterious providences that clouded Judson’s life and labors didn’t seem so inscrutable anymore.  Judson rejoiced with the chief that God is indeed with us.  Judson wrote:

The dying words of an aged man of God, when he raised his withered, death-struck arm, and exclaimed, “The best of all is, God is with us.”  I feel in my very soul. Yes, the great Invisible is in these Karen wilds.  That mighty Being, who heaped up these craggy rocks, and reared these stupendous mountains, and poured out these streams in all directions, and scattered immortal beings throughout these deserts—he is present by the influence of his Holy Spirit, and accompanies the sound of the Gospel with converting, sanctifying power.  “The best of all is, God is with us.”

“In these deserts let me labor, On these mountains let me tell How he died—the blessed Saviour, To redeem a world from hell.”[1]


[1]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 294.

_______________

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.

“Andrew Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology: a brief response to Emir Caner”

By Michael A.G. Haykin

It was extremely gratifying to see Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) cited as a vital theologian at the onset of the modern missionary movement in Dr. Emir Caner’s recent piece on “Historical Southern Baptist Soteriology” that appeared on the SBC Today website. Usually when Baptists are considered in this regard, the name of William Carey (1761–1834) alone receives mention, and Fuller, who was the theological muscle behind Carey, is forgotten. There were, however, some surprising aspects to Caner’s treatment of Fuller, especially as it relates to Fuller’s Calvinist soteriology. According to the article, Fuller really cannot be considered a Calvinist (something that, by the way, would warm the cockles of the hearts of hyper-Calvinist critics of Fuller like William Gadsby). By 1801, Caner reckons that Fuller had given up the concept of particular redemption for a general redemption, affirmed that “faith is not a gift from God,” and rejected “Total Depravity as articulated by some of his contemporary High [that is, hyper-] Calvinists.”

To read my response in its entirety, please download the full PDF here.

_______________

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.

 

“We Reap on Zion’s Hill”

By Evan D. Burns

After a life consumed in service to Christ, on April 12, 1850, Adoniram Judson entered his heavenly rest.  Judson’s eminent biographer, Francis Wayland, comments on the effect of Judson’s heavenly-minded piety on his life and virtue.

In treating of his religious character, it would be an omission not to refer to his habitual heavenly mindedness. In his letters, I know of no topic that is so frequently referred to as the nearness of the heavenly glory.  If his loved ones died, his consolation was that they should all so soon meet in paradise.  If an untoward event occurred, it was of no great consequence, for soon we should be in heaven, where all such trials would either be forgotten, or where the recollection of them would render our bliss the more intense.  Thither his social feelings pointed, and he was ever thinking of the meeting that awaited him with those who with him had fought the good fight, and were now wearing the crown of victory. So habitual were these trains of thought, that a person well acquainted with him remarks, that “meditation on death was his common solace in all the troubles of life.”  I do not know that the habitual temper of his mind can in any words be so well expressed as in the following lines, which he wrote in pencil on the inner cover of a book that he was using in the compilation of his dictionary:

“—In joy or sorrow, health or pain, Our course be onward still; We sow on Burmah’s barren plain, We reap on Zion’s hill.”[1]


[1]Wayland, Memoir, 2:381-382.

_______________

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.

Uneducated Ministers?

By Evan D. Burns

Sometimes theological education can be downplayed as though it were an unnecessary hobby for left-brained seminarians.  Unfortunately, rigorous biblical/theological training can be disparaged and treated as peripheral for “real” ministry to “real” people with “real” problems.  Doctrine divides, Jesus unites; deeds, not creeds; practical application, not propositional truth… so goes the post-modern, anti-authoritarian mantra.  One of the most oft-cited examples supposedly in support of this anti-intellectualism is that Jesus chose uneducated simpletons to be his disciples, not the highfalutin scribes and Pharisees, as though pure spirituality corresponds to untrained simple faith.  However, this is not the case.  Eckhard Schnabel explains in Early Christian Mission vol.1, 277-278:

The calling of the twelve disciples in Galilee must not be burdened with the view that Jesus called uneducated Galileans to the task of preaching and teaching.  It is rather probable that Jesus’ disciples, including the fishermen Simon and Andrew, were educated.

According to John 1:44, Peter, Andrew and Philip came from Bethsaida, an up-and-coming town that was granted the status of a polis in A.D. 30 and was located in the vicinity of the Greek city Caesarea Philippi.  Rainer Riesner argues that people “who grew up in such close proximity to a Hellenistic city must have spoken more than a few scraps of Greek.  Thus John 12:21 presupposes that Philip could speak Greek.”  Andrew, Philip and Simon had Greek names, which may not be coincidental.  Riesner observes, “The Galilean fishermen in Jesus’ group of disciples belonged not to the rural lower class but to the vocational middle class.  As the latter had religious interests, we may assume a certain degree of education in the case of the disciples such as Peter and John….  We may assume that several disciples came from that segment of the Jewish people who displayed religious interests and that they received, like Jesus, a good elementary education in the parental home, in the synagogue and in elementary school.”  A Jew who came from a pious background “had a solid, albeit one-sided, education.  He could read and write and he could retain large quantities of material in his memory by applying simple mnemonic devices….  Whether a boy of the lower classes received an elementary education depended on two preconditions:  the piety of the father and the existence of a synagogue in the village.”

The view that Jesus had untutored disciples is a romantic and entirely unwarranted one.  Note, for example, the calling of Matthew-Levi, a tax collector….  A tax collector belonged to the higher levels of society.  His position presupposed not only that he was wealthy but also that he had…education.

_______________

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 of Conference on Adoniram Judson Now Online

By Steve Weaver

We have posted the audio of our recent mini-conference with Dr. Jason Duesing (Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) on the conference page (see left hand column). There are two lectures on the life and ministry of Judson and a Q&A session with Dr. Duesing.

The audio of the lectures are below:

Lecture 1: The Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson, Part 1:  Conversion, Consecration, & Commission, 1788-1812 (MP3)

Lecture 2: The Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson, Part 2:  Baptism, Burma, & the Bible, 1812-1850 (MP3)

Q&A: Q&A on the Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson(MP3)

________________

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.