By Dustin W. Benge
A unique opportunity students have in Ph.D. studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the ability to personally interact and engage with other people. You learn quite a bit about a person after sitting in class with them for eight hours a day as biblical, theological, historical, and cultural ideas are thrown around the room. Evan Burns is one person I have appreciated getting to know during my own studies at Southern. Evan works for Training Leaders International and lives with his family in Southeast Asia where he currently serves on the faculty of Asia Biblical Theological Seminary of Cornerstone University. Evan is currently a Ph.D. candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is researching the spirituality of Andrew Fuller under the supervision of Dr. Michael Haykin.
Evan’s heart for missions and his love of the theology and spirituality of Andrew Fuller led him to the creation of a blog entitled, Gospel Worthy. Gospel Worthy is dedicated to the spirituality and missiology of Andrew Fuller and his legacy. As he researches, Evan posts his thoughts and musings about Andrew Fuller’s connection between mission and spirituality. I recently asked Evan to answer a few questions that I thought would serve us all in understanding Fuller’s theology of mission:
How and when were you first introduced to Andrew Fuller?
I was first exposed to Fuller in 2004. I had just become an appointed missionary and I was raising support to go overseas. A few individuals in one of my supporting churches found out that I was Reformed and they stridently rebuked me for adhering to the "heresy" of Lordship Salvation. Because they were so ardently certain about their position, I wanted to know more about their perspective so I could better dialogue with them. I discovered that their theological roots could be traced back to Robert Sandeman. Being a student of church history, I did some research and found that an Evangelical Reformed Baptist pastor--Andrew Fuller--had contended against Sandemanianism, and he had also fought against hyper-Calvinism. As an Evangelical Calvinistic missionary with heroes such as William Carey and Adoniram Judson, I detested both Sandemanianism and hyper-Calvinism and their contemporary spin-offs. Consequently, I found a friend in Andrew Fuller.
What do you see as the central theme running through Fuller's missiology?
At this stage of my reading and research, I don’t think I can conclusively say what is the central theme running through Fuller’s missiology. But I think a dominant theme running through his missiology is what he calls, “love to God”, or another way I have described his missiology is, “God-enamored activism.”
Part 2 of this interview will be posted on Thursday. In the meantime you can check out Evan's blog at www.gospelworthy.com.
Dustin Benge serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Kentucky. He is also a PhD candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a junior fellow at The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. Dustin and his wife, Molli, live in Jackson.