If someone told me of a pastor who went to a church of 30 members and in the course of his ministry at that church over twenty-five years it took in 320 members, and further, if my informant told me that that pastor supported one of the greatest evangelists of the century in his open-air preaching in the town on a number of occasions, how would I describe such a man? The epithet Hyper-Calvinist would not be at all appropriate, would it? Yet, this man—and I am blogging about John Collett Ryland (d.1792)—has been frequently so described because of a withering rebuke he once gave to William Carey (1761-1834) and his idea of cross-cultural missions. I am more and more convinced that Ryland was not a Hyper-Calvinist. He was converted in a revival under the evangelical Calvinistic ministry of Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795) and went to the strongly evangelical Calvinistic school of the Bristol Baptist Academy, where he was taught by Bernard Foskett (1685-1758) and Hugh Evans (1712-1781)—who was a forebear of H.C.G. Moule—neither of whom were Hyper in their Calvinism. And he delighted in the preaching of George Whitefield (1714-1770), who preached in his town of Northampton, England.
What myths have been perpetrated in the teaching of Baptist history!
What then of his rebuke of the young Carey? The heart of that rebuke had to do with eschatological timing: Ryland had adopted the end-times thinking of John Gill (1697-1771), where the gospel could not be taken unhindered to the nations till the two witnesses of Revelation 11 were slain, which would not happen till well into the nineteenth century! Wrong thinking, yes. But not the Hyper-Calvinist bogeyman of far too many treatments of Baptist history.