By Michael A.G. Haykin
Albert Henry Newman (1852–1933) was one of the most learned and widely trusted Baptist historians at the turn of the twentieth century. For example, during his twenty years in Toronto at Toronto Baptist College and then McMaster University (1881–1901) he wrote a number of vital monographs that clearly gave him a solid grasp of the shape of Baptist history. In his edited volume, A Century of Baptist Achievement (Philadelphia, 1901), which brought together some of the finest Baptist authors of the day, though a number of them were theological modernists, he penned the first chapter: “A Survey of Baptist History to 1801” (p.1–18). It is a masterly piece.
When he comes to the sub-section entitled “Baptists and the Evangelical Revival,” Newman began by noting the different ways in which Baptists responded to the “enthusiastic evangelism of Wesley and Whitefield” (p.13). It was Andrew Fuller, Newman then asserted, “more than to any other individual, that restoration of the Particular Baptist body to its original evangelical position was chiefly due” (p.13). This is a large claim—but, give due recognition to other factors behind the revitalization of the English Baptist cause—Newman was right and equally correct to say that through Fuller’s “great activity as a preacher and writer, multitudes were brought to see the consistency between a true preaching of the doctrines of grace and the most earnest efforts for the salvation of sinners” (p.13). He went to note that Fuller’s significance as a Christian thinker and activist resides not solely in what he did for the modern missionary movement, but also for what his writings meant for the Baptist community in the British Isles: “The Baptist cause in Great Britain was by Fuller’s public activity raised to a higher plane…” (p.13).
So, on this bicentennial anniversary of his death, we thank God for his life and ministry that bore such rich fruit then and that are still bearing fruit.
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.