Recent Trends in Andrew Fuller Studies, Part Three

This is the third post in a three-part blog series on recent trends in Andrew Fuller Studies. My first post focused on important works from the twentieth century. Yesterday’s post was dedicated to key scholarly writings published since the turn of the twenty-first century. In today’s post, I will discuss other aspects of the renaissance of Fuller Studies that is currently underway.

Reprinted primary sources have made Fuller’s writings very accessible to scholars and other readers. In 1988, Sprinkle Publications reprinted a three-volume edition of The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, which had been first published by the American Baptist Publication Society in 1845. Tom Nettles wrote an introduction to the first volume. The “Sprinkle Edition” was both a fruit of the renewed interest in Fuller Studies and a catalyst for introducing many scholars and thoughtful pastors to Fuller and his legacy. In 2007, Banner of Truth reprinted a one-volume edition of  The Works of Andrew Fuller (see right), which covered the same material as the more expensive Sprinkle Edition. The “Banner Edition” included a short introduction by Michael Haykin. Solid Ground Christian Books also reprinted several individual works written by Fuller, including his Memoir of Samuel Pearce (2005), The Backslider (2005), and Expository Discourses on the Book of Genesis (2009).

Several semi-scholarly or popular works related to Fuller have been published in recent years. In 2001, Haykin compiled and edited a helpful introduction to Fuller’s spirituality. In 2007, John Piper gave a biographical talk on Fuller at the Desiring God Pastor’s Conference. Piper’s talk was subsequently published as an e-book in 2012 titled I Will God Down If You Will Hold the Rope (Desiring God, 2012). Numerous blogs and primary source websites include material related to Fuller. Though currently dormant, The Elephant of Kettering was a multi-author blog dedicated to Fuller Studies. Several of the contributors were established scholars in Fuller Studies or went on to write dissertations related to Fuller.

Since 2007, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies (AFCBS) at Southern Seminary has generated  much of the interest in Fuller Studies, particularly in North America. The AFCBS hosts an annual conference, several of which have been dedicated to Fuller Studies. The proceedings of the conferences are due to be published beginning in 2013. Several of those collections of essays will include material related to Fuller, some exclusively so. Forthcoming volumes that will include one or more chapters related to Fuller include Andrew Fuller: The Reader (2007 conference), Baptists and the Cross (2010 conference), Baptists and War (2011 conference), and Andrew Fuller and His Friends (2012 conference). The 2013 AFCBS conference will focus on the topic of Fuller and Theological Controversy.

In addition to the annual conferences and related books, The Fuller Center also publishes a scholarly journal. The former journal, Eusebia, published several Fuller-related articles and dedicated one entire issue to the theologian. The Fuller Center’s current journal, The Andrew Fuller Review, will soon transition into a refereed scholarly journal focused on Fuller Studies and related topics.

By far the most important development in Fuller Studies is the forthcoming scholarly edition of the Works of Andrew Fuller. This multi-volume project is sponsored by the AFCBS and will be published by Walter de Gruyter. Each volume will include a critical edition of one or more of Fuller’s writings, critical annotations, extensive indices, and a substantial scholarly introductory essay. The model for the project is the Yale University Press edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards. Haykin serves as the general editor of the Works of Andrew Fuller. Volume editors include Haykin, Tom Nettles, Robert Oliver, Ryan West, Nathan Finn, Chris Chun, Steve Weaver, Stephen Holmes, and Michael McMullen, among others. Lord willing, the first volumes will begin appearing in late 2013 or early 2014.

Recent Trends in Andrew Fuller Studies, Part Two

In yesterday’s post, I looked at Andrew Fuller Studies during the twentieth century. I also argued that a renaissance in Andrew Fuller Studies began around 1980 and was marked by a number of dissertations, book chapters, and journal articles. In this post, I hope to demonstrate that Fuller Studies entered into the next stage of scholarship around the turn of the twenty-first century. While scholars continue to write helpful dissertations and essays, recent years have also witnessed the publication of scholarly monographs and collections of essays.

Several significant monographs have been published, all of which were revised from theses and dissertations. Peter Morden’s Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist Life (Paternoster, 2003) has been widely heralded as the best introduction to Fuller’s life and thought. It has become the starting place for those interested in Fuller Studies. Paul Brewster’s Andrew Fuller: Model Pastor-Theologian (B&H Academic, 2010) is the best introduction for those interested in Fuller as an ecclesial theologian. I assigned Brewster’s book in my course on Fuller’s theology this past semester (I heavily emphasized the importance of pastor-theologians in the course). Most of the students also read Morden’s study.

Chad Mauldin’s Fullerism as Opposed to Calvinism: A Historical and Theological Comparison of the Missiology of Andrew Fuller and John Calvin (Wipf and Stock, 2010) compares and contrasts the two theologians’ respective views on missions. Mauldin contends that Calvinistic Baptists should identify with Fuller more than Calvin. Chris Chun’s masterful The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in the Theology of Andrew Fuller (Brill, 2012) is the most substantial work of scholarship yet published on Fuller. Chun demonstrates where and how Fuller interacted with Edwards and later Edwardsians such as the New Divinity men. In addition to these monographs, an important collection of scholarly essays on Fuller’s apologetical writings was edited by Michael Haykin ( Paternoster Press, 2004).

Numerous recent scholarly book chapters and journal article have focused upon Fuller Studies and closely related themes. Authors include Haykin, Alan Sell, Chun, Tom Nettles, Morden, Brewster, Jeffrey Jue, Carl Trueman, Jeremy Pittsley, Nigel Wheeler, Peter Beck, Bruce Hindmarsh, Clive Jarvis, Gerald Priest, Keith Grant, and Nathan Finn. Fuller also received careful consideration in the important studies of Baptist historical theology written by William Brackney and James Leo Garrett, respectively. Scholars such as Roger Hayden, Crawford Gribben, Paul Fiddes, Robert Oliver, Stephen Holmes, Kenneth Dix, and Peter Naylor also interact with Fuller’s thought and legacy in some of their writings.

The number of Fuller-related dissertations continues to grow. In addition to the aforementioned studies that have been revised and published, several noteworthy unpublished works have been written in the past few years. Aaron Jason Timmons wrote on the anti-Socinian writings of several Baptist theologians, including Fuller (2008). Bart Box wrote a study of Fuller’s theology of the atonement (2009). Fuller factors into several dissertations written on other thinkers or themes of his era, including  John Parnell (2005), Michael Sciretti (2009), Jonathan Anthony White (2010), and John Gill (2012–no, not that John Gill). Keith Grant wrote a useful masters thesis on Fuller’s influence on evangelical pastoral theology (2007). There are no doubt others of which I’m unaware. Please leave a comment and let me know if you’re currently writing a thesis or dissertation on Fuller or a closely related topic.

Recent Trends in Andrew Fuller Studies, Part One

Historians have long noted the importance of Andrew Fuller within the Baptist tradition. Baptist history textbooks always discuss Fuller’s rebuttal of hyper-Calvinism and his role, alongside his friend William Carey, in forming the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. However, until relatively recently, only a few significant works had focused upon Fuller since the turn of the twentieth-century. Over the course of three blog posts, I hope to discuss some recent trends in Andrew Fuller Studies. For the sake of space, I’ve chosen not to discuss works that are focused upon William Carey or the formation/history of the Baptist Missionary Society, since virtually all of them inevitably also treat Fuller to varying degrees.

I’m confident that I’ve missed some key works here and there. Please let me know if this is the case. I’d also love to hear from you if you’re currently writing a thesis or dissertation on Fuller. These blog posts represent a condensed version of a forthcoming historiographical essay that will be published in 2013. That essay will include footnotes and thicker descriptions and analysis of the most important works that are referenced.

A handful of helpful works in Fuller Studies were published during the twentieth century. A steady trickle of writings hit the shelves prior to 1980. Two full biographies were written: Andrew Fuller: Pastor, Theologian, Ropeholder (Carey Press, 1942) by Gilbert Laws and Arthur H. Kirkby’s Andrew Fuller (Independent Press, 1961). Both are now long out-of-print. Significant dissertations included Pope Duncan’s (Southern Seminary, 1917) and John Eddins’s (Southern Seminary, 1958) respective studies of Fuller’s soteriology. ThM theses included Harlice Keown on Andrew Fuller’s preaching (Southern Seminary, 1957) and Edwin Allen Reed’s comparative study of Fuller’s atonement theology with that of John Gill, John Smyth, and Thomas Helwys (Golden Gate Seminary, 1958).

Articles or chapters related to Fuller were published by Kirkby, G.F. Nutthal, Ernest Payne, J. Milner, W.R. Ward, and E.F. Clipsham. Perhaps the most influential articles were a series of four scholarly essays written by Clipsham on “Andrew Fuller and Fullerism” for Baptist Quarterly in 1963–1964. E.A. Payne wrote about Fuller’s role in the famous “Prayer Call” of 1784 in Payne’s 1941 book on the subject. J.A. De Jong discussed Fuller’s postmillennial eschatology in De Jong’s 1970 study of the relationship between millenarianism and missions. Michael Watts discussed Fuller in his 1978 monograph dedicated to Dissenters from the Church of England prior to the French Revolution.

Beginning in the early 1980s, a new generation of scholars began to focus their attention on the life and theology of Andrew Fuller. A spate of fresh dissertations were written in the 1980s, most of which focused on aspects of Fuller’s soteriology or missiology. Noteworthy studies in North America included Doyle Young’s exploration of Fuller’s contributions to the modern missions movement (Southwestern Seminary, 1981), Tom Ascol’s comparative study of the soteriology of Fuller and John Gill (Southwestern Seminary, 1989), and Thomas South’s study of Fuller’s engagement with Sandemanian theology (Mid-America Seminary, 1993). Key British theses included Robert Oliver’s study of the rise of the anti-Fullerite Strict and Particular Baptists (London School of Theology, 1986) and Roger Hayden’s study of evangelical Calvinism at Bristol Baptist Academy in the mid-eighteenth century (University of Keele, 1991).

During the 1980s and 1990s, scholars such as Nuthall, Tom Nettles, Michael Haykin, T.H.S. Elwyn, L.G. Champion, John Steely, Alan Sell, and Phil Roberts published helpful material related to Fuller, mostly in the form of book chapters and journal articles. Other scholars such as David Bebbington, Alan Clifford, D.W. Lovegrove, Timothy George, Bruce Shelley, and James Leo Garrett made note of Fuller’s importance or interacted with the theologian’s thought without writing works dedicated specifically to Fuller. Though not as scholarly, George Ella contributed polemical writings criticizing Fuller’s theology and legacy from a High Calvinist perspective. His key work is Law and Gospel in the Theology of Andrew Fuller (Go Publications, 1996). Martin Lloyd-Jones’s 1967 address on Sandemanianism, which focused heavily on Fuller, was published in an anthology of Lloyd-Jones’s writings on the Puritans and their successors (Banner of Truth, 1996).

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