Warts and all

     Cromwell is said to have told his portrait painters that they must be exact in picturing him ‘warts and all’. After viewing the many pretty portraits of Andrew Fuller painted by Michael Haykin over the last decades, I have realised that the artist has not followed Cromwell’s advice and the ‘warts and all’ have been painted over in meticulous iconolatry, making a fictive Fatima or Mary out of Fuller. This artistic repainting is Haykin’s way of spending his time and there is no harm in that but for the fact that Haykin demands academic status for his portrayals and will have us believe they are the real thing. This reminds me of the Ugaritic portraits of the Old Testament heroes as gods whereas the Bible portrays them ‘warts and all’ as men and women albeit godly men and women.

     Having thought years ago that Haykin’s pictures of Fuller cannot be more defaced, I have in recent years encountered Chris Chun’s pseudo-academic attempts to portray Fuller by outdoing Haykin in this form of decadent art. However, just as Haykin has criticised me amongst many others, without documenting his criticism, Chun now treats me as if I were more or less a lone figure in my clinical examination of Fuller’s warts and finds my views do not enhance his decadent pictures of FullerIndeed, his pictures of Fuller, I fear, will turn out to be pictures of his own theology as represented by Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray.

A thesis of dubious scholarship

     Chun’s doctor’s thesis The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in the Theology of Andrew Fuller with its Foreword by Chun’s supervisor Professor Stephen R. Holmes is a case in point here. John Newton loved Edwards but was dismayed by his philosophical diversions. They puzzled me, too. It appears that these dualistic ideas of ‘moral’ and ‘natural’ in Edwards earlier works though the Bible knows no such distinctions are Chun’s whole understanding of Edwards seen through Hopkinsonian New Divinity eyes and he finds a direct receptacle for this myopic Hopkinsonian view of Edwards in Fuller’s own philosophy. Edwards’ later and vastly superior theologyincluding what he really meant by ‘natural’ and ‘moral’, are then forgotten. More research is needed on the supposed philosophical influence of Edwards on Fuller for those interested in such matters, otherwise we are left to speculate like Chun does contrary to the great amount of evidence at his disposalThis ‘mental gymnastics’ is legitimate in the process of faith coming to an understanding of itself but arguments limited to discussing what is natural and what is moral which took up so much of Fuller’s time, and Chun’s, do not produce faith. 

     Furthermore, Chun takes what he feels are Edwards’ philosophical views via New Divinity teaching without apparently examining the many alterations involved in this complicated transaction from one mind to the other, especially from father to son in Edward’s case. He is, indeed, more obsessed with what is ‘natural’ and what is ‘moral’ as being representative of his and Fuller’s entire theology than were the two Edwards themselves though they both differed from each other in their theologies. This is a daring undertaking for a doctoral thesis especially if Chun’s aim is really to reduce both Edwards’, Fuller’s and his own theology down to seeing fallen man as ‘natural’ and open to God as opposed to a ‘moral’ position subordinate to man’s will. A Christian academic cannot keep out the gospel from an academic theological workas it would be then deft of all true knowledge of our God-Only-Wise and His redemption. Besides, Chun does not seek to back up his narrow eye-corner studies of Edwards’ full gospel testimony by discussing Edwards’ theological position on the whole scope of the gospel comprehensively. ‘Naturals’ and ‘morals’ just do not fill this scope in Edward’s theology though they do appear to be the basis of Fullerism and also ChunismThus Chun’s painting of both Edwards and Fuller remains unnatural and immoral like the picture of Dorian Gray because of Chun’s artistic slant and poet’s licenceOf course Chun should be aware that ‘natural man’ is fallen just as nature is fallen and ‘morals’ become immoral when they are used as a substitute for true religion. Nature red in tooth and claw, as Matthew Arnold puts it, is no substitute for the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which cleanses from all sin. Indeed both mans ‘natural’ and ‘moral’ states are at enmity with God. This is a point Edwards accepted but not his son and not Chun or Chun’s Fuller, though Chun does his level best to make Fuller a pukka Calvinist.

A misleading foreword

     Stephen Holmes Foreword starts off with great, undocumented exaggeration. He claims that Spurgeon built his theology on Fullerism, translating ‘Fuller’s evangelical Calvinism into the vernacular of working class London’. He even opines that Spurgeon’s world-wide fame is built on Fullerism. True, Spurgeon respected the piety of Fuller but also pointed out that Fullerism contained a number of ‘thorns’ as he told Fuller’s son Andrew Gunton on being presented with a copy of The Gospel WorthyStill, theological taste is difficult to define; some called Spurgeon an Arminian and Gill, too. 

Fuller’s positive influence in India is a myth

     These Fullerites always base their appreciations on the fake news that Fuller pioneered the very best of missionary outreaches. This is a myth that must be combatted as quite the opposite is the case. His interference in the Indian Mission was disastrous. Fuller cut off the ropes with which he promised to hold Carey only a year or two after Carey embarked for India. Abraham Booth said that Carey was now ‘lost’ but he said the same of Fuller shortly later. Booth in 1796 was to combat Fuller’s gospel of Rationalism in his work Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners or, the Genuine Gospel a Complete Warrant for the Ungodly to Believe in JesusIt is quite unbelievable to me to read of Fullerites linking Booth with Fuller when they were two opposites regarding the Biblical gospel which saves. 

     Fuller interfered terribly in the theology, organisation, policies, politics and practice of the mission as an absentee bishop aided by John Ryland Junior though both ‘rope-holders’ disagreed on the mission’s ecclesiology. Carey had to complain that Fuller was ‘killing’ (Carey’s actual word) his missionaries and Ryland was acting criminally (again Carey’s actual word) and told Fuller that he must realise that the Indian mission could not be run on British political and legal lines when Fuller strove to have the Serampore earnings and property regulated by a British Bank under his control. The BMS claimed full authority over the mission whose funds were their major income and, in face of Carey’s wishing for no foreign interference, sent a rival team to oust Carey from his position in Serampore where he was working closely with Lutheran, Independent and Anglican missionaries whom according to Fuller were ‘offspring of Jezebel’.Fuller refused the Baptist missionaries the right of Christian communion with their missionary colleagues and even protested against their coming together to work out missionary strategies. It was, however, these missionaries who had welcomed Carey to Calcutta and paved the way for his acceptance by the Danish and British authorities. The idea that Carey found Calcutta void of Christian witness is a further myth spread by modern Fullerites. There were several Christian mission churches at the time in Calcutta run by missionaries who had won thousands for Christ – more than Carey ever won. I trace the history of these other Missions in my upcoming book The History of Christian Evangelism in India: From the First Century A.D. to William Carey (1761-1833) A Revaluation. This history is almost totally ignored by BMS friendly writers who have just not taken the trouble to research beyond their BMS noses and discarded also much that was good in Baptist missionary work in India in the process. We badly need a Baptist missionologist who will give us a thorough, comprehensive portrayal of international Baptist missionary work in India.

     One of the pastors working in the Calcutta district on Carey’s arrival was a Swede named Johann Zacharias Kiernander (1711-1799). This pioneering missionary, a graduate of Uppsala and Halle, sent out by the Danish Mission welcomed Carey and in order to familiarise him with missionary work took him on a preaching and advised him about setting up a Baptist Mission Station. However, Carey ignored this advice and took on secular work thinking it would make more money. When he did found a Mission Station it was one which he took over from the German Moravians for whose work Marshman often thanked God.

Fuller neglects his church for money-raising activities

     Fuller, who saw his task now as a collector of inter-denominational monies, neglecting his own church for as much as three months absence at a time to go on canvassing trips, did not object, however, to the fact that the other denominations and international non-Baptist Missionary Societies were paying for Carey’s translation works. The bulk of the sums raised by Fuller was a fraction of what the BHs received from Serampore and Calcutta and did not go out to India and what did was paid back with great interest by the Serampore Trio. When it became most evident that the Baptists were theologically and linguistically not equal to their translation tasks, relying on Hindu and Muslim Pundits, paid by the Danish and British governments and works borrowed from secular sources, the other missionaries and their supporters dropped their funding, yet the BMS then criticised the ‘offspring of Jezebel’, chiefly through Yatesfor their lack of support for the BMS. Baptist missionary Yates then supported rival denominational establishments before striving to finance his own before giving up missionary work. Carey was mostly a stay-at-home, tied to his governmental office in Calcutta and his secular teaching in Serampore. Such as John Chamberlain were the real missionaries in the still accepted sense of the term. Carey’s major tasks were to keep living at the high standard he had chosen and to take up dubious linguistic translations. Christopher Smith thus says, ‘Carey was much more of a mission motivator and Bible translator than a pioneer in the heart of India or a missionary strategist.’

     Truly sound Baptist itinerant, church-founding missionaries like Chamberlain are hardly honoured by today’s Fullerite Baptists. It is strange that the Home Committee in Britain as it was falsely called, though the home mission was in India, accepted at least two Arian writers for the Baptist secular newspapers, yet would not have the Serampore Trio hob-nobbling with sound evangelical missionaries amongst the Lutherans, Independent and Anglicans though many of these churches had been working in India for over a hundred years with great success. Church of England missionaries such as George Lewis were evangelising India in the seventeen century as were the Danes under Worm and then Ziegenbalg from 1706-7 on. Ziegenbalg accomplished all the ‘Firsts’ Carey’s biographers claim were Carey’s simply because they have not researched the German, Scandinavian, Dutch, French and Indian authors which has been my privilege. To a great extent ignorance has caused the hype of Fuller and the Baptist Missionary Society. Indeed, it was through the Lutherans that the gospel came to Calcutta and not through the BMS. Carey based his Enquiry on the teaching of Dano-Germans like Schwartz and Church of England men like White. On the whole, Carey was very much open to working with the international team throughout India by Fuller was against it.

Carey found strong backing from the Danish and Brittishgovernments.

      We must remember, too, that Carey came to Calcutta without a permit but was nevertheless very kindly supported not only by the Danish government in Serampore but by the British government in Calcutta. Thus the idea that the British government suppressed the Baptist Mission is yet another myth. The fact is that there was a strong welcome for Carey in India from the Danes, Dutch, Swedes, Germans and British already working there, besides the many native Christians of the dayThe story of Indian itinerant missionaries and church-builders in India from the beginning of the eighteenth century one has been more or less supressed by modern Fullerite writers. The Serampore Trio were all for joining this well-established missionary thrust but Fuller put his foot down urging the BMS missionaries not to rock the Baptist (Fullerite) boat.

     Admittedly, Fuller rightly criticised Carey for neglecting his missionary duties by reading and translating ‘cultural’ works which hindered his spare-time missionary work for years. So, too, the BHS were against the founding of the Serampore secular college though modern reports in the Baptist Quarterly maintain that it was a project of the BMS and not founded by the Danes as their third university after Copenhagen and Kiel. However, Fuller had apparently no objection to Carey’s work as a full-time civil servant in an BEIC and British government college for budding administrators with a dazzling high salary, most of which Care ploughed back into the BMS.

Exaggerated claims without blushing

     Without blushing because of his exaggerations Holmes continues, ‘It is not an exaggeration to say that all mainstream Baptists in Britain today are descendants, theologically of Andrew Fuller.’ He even goes so far as to say that the traditional theological core of Baptist churches is built on what Fuller taught. John Reisinger makes the same claim for his NCT teaching otherwise known as Hyper-Fullerism. I admit that the gangrene (as it was called in the contemporary Christian press), of Fullerism is rotting many a church and that this is not limited to Baptist churches by any means. Think of those Presbyterians of today who translate the Westminster Confession into Fullerite thinking. It is, however, an unbelievable statement when applied to the bulk of Baptists. During my lecturing visits to Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland, Britain and the United States through a cross-section of Baptist churches, some numbering thousands of truly Reformed, believers, I found they told another, more acceptable, story and even former Baptist associations who toyed with Fuller are now rejecting Fullerism as a false gospel. So, too, Holmes forgets that even Fuller had to admit that Baptist churches outside his shrinking Association and outside his influence grew more in numbers and that Fuller’s Association was the first, after the Arian Controversy amongst Baptists churches to become out and out Liberal. Again, Holmes puts Fuller’s ‘success’ down to his allegedly following Edward’s teaching on the natural and moral properties of man. I would suggest that Fuller’s failure was through his lack of theological training and his following Grotius through the eyes of the New Divinity School.

Fullerism was never the backbone of Baptist faith

     We can happily conclude today that neither Fuller nor Reisinger, nor Haykin, nor Chun nor such as Curt Daniel who propagate Hyper-Fullerism represent orthodox Baptist teaching in any way, at least, in the old Particular Baptist senseThe fact that Chun himself views erroneously Fullerism as the backbone of general Baptist teaching is the a priori reasoning behind his writing his 2008 thesis published in 2012. He is oblivious to the fact that few Baptist bodies would agree with him, whether Particular, Strict or General though Fuller sought to combine all three and did not hesitate to accept Arians in his mergers. Indeed, Fuller sent Baptist Unitarian William Adam out to India as a rival for Carey who when he learnt of Adam’s position called it ‘the second fall of Adam’

A far-fetched dissertation

     Chun’s interpretation seems to be his own missionary gospel appeal to the world. One of Chun’s greatest blunders is his effort to describe Fuller’s Rationalism in Calvinistic and even Biblical terms which makes his dissertation far-fetched as if Chun were attempting to square the circle. As Chun notices in my writings, I do not think this approach is at all helpful in understanding Christian doctrine but Chun thinks it is so crucial that he feels he must refute the orthodox position as I understand it on pages 55, 144-45, 161, 172-73 and 180-81 of his thesis, though it is easy to demonstrate that Chun throws out much Biblical teaching on evangelism and brings in very much that is adverse to it. He is so far away, however, from appreciating any views of Fuller’s philosophical presumptions which are contrary to his own that he is quite unable to describe them accurately and in a trustworthy way in order to defend themHe has just not researched Fuller enough. He feels no defence is necessaryA good supervisor ought to have checked Chun’s sources or rather lack of them and examined Chun’s aims and his method of approaching them. Indeed, as a former chairman of a university faculty examination board and university marker of examination papers and theses over very many years, I would say a good supervisor ought rather to have given Chun a task he could handle.

Reading Edwards not a guarantee of becoming an Edwardsean

     On page 55 Chun claims I maintain that the mere fact of reading Edwards does not make Fuller an Edwardsean. This may be a valid presumption but it is a point I have never argued though I did query whether this was Haykin’s position or not. Chun gives no source here but he has obviously ripped the words from my argument on page 68 of my Law and Gospel where I maintainalongside one of my mentors Baptist pastor Gilbert Kirby, whom I quote, that there is little evidence indeed to demonstrate that Fuller was influenced either greatly or directly by Jonathan Edwards. Indeed the evidence produced by Chun does not prove the connection which he claims. Furthermore, Chun’s own theology is at such variance to Edwards, it would be highly unlikely that he has judged him objectively. He seems to read Edwards through Fullerite eyes and thus has little original evidence to go on as Fuller has very little to say about Edwards.

Dating Fuller’s alleged reception of Edwards

     As I point out on page 68 of my Law and GospelFuller tells us in his 1789-90 diary that he only started reading Edwards sermons revealing his gospel theology at that date though he had written his The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation in 1781. However, it was in these sermons that Edwards taught his theology of the Atonement which is quite different to the rationalising and theorising Fuller had written in his Gospel Worthy before reading Edwards. Thus to proclaim Fuller obtained his views here from Edwards but give no documentation for it does not belong in a doctoral thesis. Chun claimsthat Fuller had read Edwards’ early work on the ‘moral’ and ‘natural’ nature of man in 1771 during his Johnsonian days but this is the very dichotomy in which Fuller shows disagreement with Edwards but more agreement with Edwards Junior, whether he read him or not. In footnotes on page 180, Chun is obviously agreeing with those he quotes in maintaining that Fuller changed his theology between 1787 and 1799. I would lengthen this period but even if we merely accept these dates, they would indicate that Fuller altered his appreciation of Edwards distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘moral’ as this is the main platform on which he based his theology and where he reinterprets Edwards definitions. As Chun has apparently studied Fuller’s changing theology from 1771 up to 1799, he ought to have given documentary evidence for this in relation to Edwards’ thought. After all, Chun’s dissertation was allegedly designed specifically for the use of such evidence. Chun ought, too, to have outlined the alterations in Fuller’s theology not only before but also after penning his Gospel Worthy. A number of these shifts in Fuller’s position are evident in his major work and even pointed out by Fuller who, nevertheless, does not erase his altered views from the book. Indeed, Fuller even published several essays outlining his re-definitions of terms and his shifts in theology without changing his Gospel WorthyOne does not voluntarily erase a best-seller. What is written is written.

Fuller’s sparse references to Edwards in his works

     The one volume BOT edition of Fuller’s former work of three volumes produced by the BOT in 2007 lists Fuller’s first mention of Edwards success as a minister on page 150 of the Second Edition of his Gospel WorthyIt is not clear here, however if the Preface is Fuller’s own or the Editors as the reference is to ‘the author’ whereas Fuller usually stands behind his own name and person. However, whoever wrote the Preface merely mentions on page 150 that Fuller had read ‘Elliot, Brainerd, and several others, who preached Christ with so much success,’ with reference to the Native Americans. Is the Index compiler and Chun assuming that Edwards must have beenamongst the ‘several others’? Yet Fuller never preached to the Native Indians.

     Furthermore, Fuller or his Editor is apparently writing in 1781 and claims that ‘the author’ had no plans to publish at that dateHowever, some four years later, in 1785 he altered his view. During these years there is no reference to Edwards by either the Editor or Fuller by name as one who had influenced him. The first reference to Edwards is on page 51 of the Preface where we are told that the author was fascinated by Edward’s distinctions between natural and moral inabilityThis would mean that Fuller was introduced to Edwards at least four years after he wrote his Gospel Worthy which hehowever, according to the Preface, altered significantly before 1781. 

     Furthermore, he speaks of reading Edwards on the inabilities of man both natural and moral. This is far from Fuller’s own position who argues that man is naturally able to follow God’s call, a theory which became the basic argument for his Gospel Worthy. Fuller also refers briefly to Edwards ‘On the Will’ and to the fourth edition of his Treatise on the Affections in a footnote on page 188. Edwards on Religious Affections is now available as a freebie on the net and is a very good read until it falls into the hands of psychologically bent reviewers. Edwards’ re-definition of commonly applied words makes following his arguments at times difficult. Now Fuller did take over and exaggerated this linguistic method of approach in his Gospel Worthy. Not being as careful as Edwards, he uses terms higgledy-piggledy to mean, like Alice’s Humpty-Dumpty, whatever he intends them to mean for the moment. This is also illustrated by Chun’s own efforts to interpret the ‘whosoever wills’ of the Bible which leaves him giving the term quite contradictory meanings.

     When Edwards published his Freedom of the Will, Fuller was sixteen or seventeen years of age and had just been baptised and had become a member of the Soham Johnsonian Church which showed alarming diversions from Christian Orthodoxy. Fuller eventually became the church’s pastor in 1775. By 1771-72 Fuller was leaving his Hyper-Calvinism helped chiefly by John Gill’s The Cause of God and Truth with which he was delighted. Fuller also learnt to stress the human responsibility of sinners for sinning from Gill as the Soham teaching denied having such responsibilityIt is surprising that modern Fullerites teach that Gill, as opposed to Fuller, did not teach human responsibility for the Fall yet Fuller learnt this vital doctrine from Gill! This is not the only instance where Fullerites accuse Gill of not believing this, that and the other, though the best part of Fuller seems to have been dependant on Gill. After Gill, Fuller turned to Robert Hall, a far different kind of thinker who advised him to read Edwards on The WillEdwards taught in this work that man was physically and morally impotent so it cannot have influenced Fuller much. These references to Edwards are strangely omitted in the BOT index. Fuller was further influenced by a deacon at Soham named John Driver but we do not hear of his theology. He was a deacon at the beginning of Fuller’ pastorate and one of his chief encouragers. Owing to quarrels at Soham, however, Fuller did not take sides as so often argued but left and began to attend an Independent Chapel regularly. Later, he was to call such non-Baptist chapels ‘offspring of Jezebel’ as he told Ward later in a letter advising him not to fellowship with non-Baptists. In his Memoir of his father, Andrew Gunton deals with a number of authors who may have influenced Fuller over the next years including those of John Johnson whose views Fuller held for a time.

Fuller’s pastorate at Soham

     In 1775 Fuller became pastor of the run down and split up Soham Baptist Church which had been reduced to 47 members who now looked to Fuller to unite, build up and extend the membershipThe old quarrels, however, continued. And Fuller was too theologically unversed to know what truths were at stake. Fuller’s son mentions that his father met John Sutcliffe of Olney in 1776 and shortly later John Ryland Junior. Both spoke of help they had found in Jonathan Edwards, Joseph Bellamy’s and David Brainerd’s works.We know, however, that Sutcliffe differed from Fuller’s ideas of ‘natural’ and ‘moral’. This is not specified in Haykin’s One Heart and one Soul on Sutcliffe and Fuller nor does even Nettles outline this difference in a doctrine which is fundamental to the gospel. Sutcliffe and Ryland lived too far away for regular discussions and Fuller gives us no details as to whether he was immediately led to read the authors recommended. We do know that he read church histories at the time such as Mosheim’s which introduced him to the theology of the Reformers. This was the time, Fuller tells us when he wrote his Gospel Worthy

     On February 3, 1781 Fuller mentions having read Edwards on ‘Affections’ but when is not stated. Edwards died in 1758 before the New Divinity School pioneered by Bellamy really came into vogue but Bellamy died in 1790 and his works reached Fuller and his friends possibly soon afterwards. Edwards Junior died in 1801 after a most controversial life and it is well known that his Liberalism led him from his father’s teaching on the human will and the atonement. Samuel Hopkins died in 1803.

Fuller’s ministry found no blessings

     Meanwhile, Fuller’s ministry at Soham was not being blessed and he was unable to hold the members together. One by one the members felt that they could not sit under his ministry and within a few years he was preaching to an almost empty church which had a membership of nine who could not pay Fuller’s salary. At an Association meeting in May 1781 Fuller asked Gill, Booth, Evans, Guy, Hall, Hopper, the Rylands (father and Son) and Sutcliffe for help. They all advised him to leave Soham. There was an opening for him at Kettering so he asked his friend John Gisburne an Arminian with Socinian leanings to take over his Soham Church which Gisburne was only too pleased to do and promptly renamed it The Unitarian Church at Soham, Cambridgeshire and brought scandal upon it which ended in the Courts where Fuller was called as a major witness. Fuller pleaded not guilty of association with Gisburne’s Socinianism to the amusement of the press as he was obviously on Gisburne’s side. Even Robert Aspland General Baptist cum Arian Monthly Repository challenged Fuller’s explanations and Fuller protested that the paper, run by his friend had twisted the facts. The British Critic described the Arianisation of Soham and the court and press conflicts in detail and ended with the words:

‘If anybody connected to the cause wishes to read the books, he will find that much coarse, vulgar and improper behaviour was resorted to on both sides, though all claim to be gentlemen of the first reputation, and purest honour.’ 

     The writer claimed that both sides had brought disgrace on the Dissenting cause and criticized Fuller’s move in choosing Gisburne as his successor, by adding that Soham, who had followed Fuller’s recommendation, ‘must have been tolerant; to a degree of idiotism, to have winked at such an intrusion.’ What must they have thought of Fuller who instigated the fall of Soham? Journalist, poet and prose author Samuel Taylor Coleridge, argued in the press that Fuller’s defence was questionable as he did not realise what was at stake theologically and philosophically in the Socinian controversy. He lacked understanding in both areas of thought. This was the statetime-wise that Fuller was in when he compiled his Gospel WorthyThen there was Fuller’s association with Robert Aspland and his New Port church on the Isle of Wight who were thoroughly Arian but Fuller admitted them and Soham into the Particular Baptist fold by allowing them full membership in the Particular Baptist Missionary Society which caused Spurgeon’s protests. The missionary society were then compelled to drop their honourable name and take on the name Baptist Missionary Society. It was not the end of the Particular Baptists, however, as their churches grew and remained orthodox whereas those who followed Fuller lost many members, split up and became Liberal. We note, too, that Robert Aspland, like William Adam, Fuller’s rival missionary to India to ward off Carey’s spreading influence outside of Fuller’s control, had studied theology at the Baptist College at Bristol where the college was slow to challenge the widely different theologies of the candidatesAt first, Arianism was hushed up at the college but when this became well-known it caused something of a scandal. 

     All this led to Coleridge’s argument that Fuller did not know where he stood theologically and that the way he handled Aspland’squeries in A Narrative of Facts Relative to a Late Occurrence in the County of Cambridgeshire; in Answer to a Statement Contained in Unitarian Publication called ‘The Monthly Repository dealing with Soham’s Socinianism was sheer ‘metaphysical meddling’ and playing around with the subject instead of an earnest critical study.

Pre-Gillite Baptist errors

     The Baptists were strongly infiltrated by Arianism and Socinianism prior to the Salters Hall conference of 1719 which demonstrated the influence of Robert Robinson, James Foster and John Gale and their ‘Arian baptism’. Arian Baptist Robinson’s work History of the Baptist Church is sadly still a standard work amongst all Baptists though its historicity is highly questionable. This was before John Gill brought in his cleansing theology and a sound Baptist Confession of Faith after the First and Second London Baptist Declarations had been abandoned by his predecessors who sought an alliance with the General Baptists and wished to close their eyes to acute differences. Modern Baptists who criticize John Gill so strongly are almost invariably of the Fullerite split-off from traditional Baptist and Reformed theology. If Fuller is not found guilty of the Arianism and Socinianism which affected the Baptists both in Britain and on the mission field then he escapes the verdict by the skin of his teeth. He was simply out of his depth in the debate because of his own every-changing theology. I would go further and say that Fuller strove to destroy the Trinity by rejecting the Son’s Divine Atonement as Christ meant it; reduced the Deity of the Father through rejecting his revelation and placing Him under Natural Law and rejected the Divine Holy Spirit by making Him but an external influence, mostly through the ‘reasonable and fitting’ witness of other people. Yet Chun claims this is based on the theology of Jonathan Edwards. What a parody on Edward’s gospel!

     The fact is that in all his own hitherto published works if we include the Prefaces as coming from his pen, Fuller has a mere six references to EdwardsFuller nowhere analyses Edward’s works and nowhere claims that his views are identical with Edwards. There is thus not sufficient evidence here to justify Chun’s dissertation title or the contents of his thesis which are extremely forced. If Chun had shown parallels with Edwards’ rather philosophical work and Fuller’s rationalistic approach to theology and outlined the changes which took place in Fuller’s theology in relation to his reception of Edwards his dissertation would have deserved the title he gave it. This necessary academic work is absent from Chun’s academic thesis. So, too, Chun takes up Fuller’s later reading of Edwards and back projects it onto Fuller’s muddled theology at Soham.

Chun does not deal with researchers who contradict him

    However, in the reference Chun gives of my views, I write after studying both Edwards and Fuller carefully, comprehensively and methodically and siding with Baptist pastor Gilbert Kirkby, whom Chun does not mention, in believing that Fuller’s reading of Edwards was limited and, was, as Kirkby says, ‘less than generally claimed’. Chun does not refer to Kirkby’s doctoral work anywhere in his thesis, though he lists him in his Bibliography as if he had read itAs Chun must have read my remarks on Kirkby’s important piece of scholarship in my Law and Gospel, it is odd that in an academic thesis dealing with the relationship between Edwards and Fuller, he leaves Kirkby’s most relevant research fully out. He would be pleased to know that with all his criticism of Fuller, Kirkby still described him as a ‘Calvinist’. However, the term ‘Calvinist’ is a lid for many different kinds of pots. Dr Kirkby kindly supported my work on Fuller and gave me some good advice concerning my book which I followed in my Law and Gospel which Chun choses to criticise strongly but ignores the evidence I give. My reference to my agreement with Kirkby is on page 168 of my book Law and Gospel in the Theology of Andrew Fuller. Chun gives no source from my work for his misleading statement on page 55Furthermore, on the same pageChun criticises me for wondering whether Haykin associates Fuller with Edwards to give Fullerism an air of respectability. This he repeats on page 145 now giving sources without taking up the problems involved in either Haykin’s or my position though he has referred to the matter twice merely in a condemning tone. However, one cannot drop asides like this repeatedly in an academic work without going to their roots and causes. It is the usual practice in a doctoral thesis that all previous relevant academic works are reviewed before the scholar brings in his own, entirely new research.

Fuller and Grotianism

     Next, Chun says something very revealing of his own theology: ‘It is one thing to accuse Fuller of being Grotian, but I do not see how one could remotely associate Fuller with Socinianism.’ This statement speaks volumes. Most scholars who write on Fuller link him with Grotianism, Haykin and Chun being no exceptions. Chun apparently here is accepting the fact that Fuller was influenced by GrotianismThis would cancel out much of his defence of Fuller as Grotius so obviously departed from orthodoxyIf Fuller were a Grotian, then he was far from orthodox in his Christianity. If Chun accepts this, he must be open to my detailed historical and theological discussion of the close proximity of Fuller to Socinianism which the local press of his day was quick to point out. If Chun has researched this early period in Fuller’s theological development, here would have been the place to air his views. I have dealt closely with this aspect of Fuller’s early thought in the book and articles Chun has used from my pen which Chun has fully ignored. Indeed, I could find no reference to Fuller’s troubles at Soham and the controversies regarding Fuller’s involvement with Socinianism and Arianism in Fullerite ‘histories’ of Fuller. I was thus compelled to fill in their omissions by reading up on the Christian and Secular press of the day, though my work was for the average Christian reader and not a University thesis. Chun has obviously not taken this most necessary trouble in his dissertationFuller’s carelessness and lack of discernment in his appreciation of Socinianism is not even mentioned by Chun, nor the fact that the Press could not believe that he had been so much part of the scandal for which he was called before a Court of Justice where he professed to know nothing about what was going on in the church he had recently pastored and been a member for many years. Yet Fuller himself caused the Soham scandal by persuading his much reduced church membership to take on a Socinian pastor with his full blessing. I suspect that Haykin and Chun turning a blind eye to this controversy and Fuller’s disastrous interference in India which needs a book to explain it, because of their intention to use Fuller as an excuse for their own Grotian and rational view of the Atonement. Where Fuller departs from their programme, they are not interested in him at all.This leaves them with an artificial, lop-sided view of Fuller’s overall gospel and all the misunderstandings, errors and unripe ideas concerned in it.

     Chun will note that Fuller’s major task in his essay on Socinianism was to distance himself from Joseph Priestly most likely because he had been called ‘worse than Priestly’. A parallel can be drawn with Fuller’s handling of Richard Baxter with whom he had been allied even to the point of being ‘worse than Baxter’. Fuller seems to have understood Priestly as little as he understood Baxter but he did not wish to be associated with men of dubious report. I have pointed out how Fuller sided with the Socinians on 10 major doctrines and Coleridge says in his review of Fuller’s own book allegedly against Socinianism, published in 1793, how the Baptist pastor made exactly the same theological mistakes that Joseph Priestley did and that he objected to thoughts in Fuller on Socinianism, not because they were Calvinistic but because they were ideas that Calvin would have recoiled from. This was William Button’s point in his The Nature of Special Faith, who likens Fuller’s changes in his doctrines with those of Priestly. I believe that Coleridge and Button were absolutely ripe. One cannot call either of these writers ‘Hyper-Calvinists’ and Button was a staunch supporter of foreign missions. Complaining of Fuller’s delving into shadowy philosophy to explain his Christianity, Coleridge writes:

‘O, why did Andrew Fuller quit the high vantage ground of notorious facts, plain durable common sense, and express Scripture, to delve in the dark in order to countermine mines under a spot, on which he had no business to have wall, tent, temple or even standing ground!’

Were Edwards Senior and Edwards Junior one in the faith?

     The records say sadly ‘No’. On page 161 Chun, after browsing through my website for my remarks concerning Edwards which are mostly positive, challenges my wish for clarity on whether or not there is some confusion amongst certain scholars concerning the theology of Edwards Sr. and Edwards Jr. Here, as in his assurance that Fuller was ‘Calvinistic’, he is leaning on Tom Nettles. The main source of Chun’s criticism here is an essay of mine entitled ‘The Atonement in Evangelical Thought Part IV’ which I had posted on my website and which I am now working over as part of an upcoming book on the Atonement. Here I query Tom Nettles views on both father and son regarding their distinctions as Nettles has been occasional criticised for sitting on the fence and here important distinctions, I believe, were also blurred. Chun replies merely by saying, ‘Nettles has not mistaken Edwards Jr for Edwards Sr.’ All right, fair enough, but I wanted evidence to back this up which is not forthcoming in Chun’s dissertation. As I have pointed out above, Edwards Junior disagreed with his father on the nature of man, the nature of the Atonement and the nature of Christ’s imputation. This envelops most of the gospel topics we ought to be preaching. When one makes such statements evidence is required. Furthermore, it is obvious that Chun does indeed confuse the teaching of both father and son irrespective of Nettles views which, to me, are more orthodox, on the whole, than Chun’s.

Denying the Atonement of Christ

     On page 172 Chun criticises me again for challenging the New Divinity School on their Grotianism. He feels I am wrong in accusing the Grotians and Fuller of denying that the Atonement of Christ is necessary revelation to man of the righteousness of God. He quotes Fuller as affirming that the Atonement is indeed a necessary display of God’s righteousness. He does not tell us that both men see no necessity in the atonement as God could have used other means to forgive us our sins. Furthermore he does not examine Fuller’s use of the terms ‘necessary’ and ‘righteousness’ as both he and Grotius deny the absolute historical actuality of the Atonement and use the terms in the area of arbitrariness which they feel is God’s own usageRevealed religion in Fuller’s philosophy is merely arbitrary and thus has no permanence. We are, in fact, also dealing with two Rationalists who viewed the atonement metaphorically and figurativelyThis is why the New Divinity School echoed John Wesley’s criticism of the Biblical doctrine of imputation as put forward in William Hervey’s great essay on imputed righteousness Theron and Aspasio which I have outlined with strong agreement in my book James Hervey, Preacher of Righteousness.  Hervey preached real righteousness and not the ‘figurative’, ‘arbitrary’ kind which Fullerites teach. The historical, theological necessity of the Atonement is that it was actually wrought out there and then on the cross as an Atonement for sinThere is no Atonement in stages. Atonement is reconciliation, redemption and a covering for and a cleansing from and wiping away of sin both in Old Testament and New Testament usage. 

     Both Grotius and Fuller taught a delay in Atonement until the believer confessed his sins (plural and individually listed) whereas sin itself was put to death with the death of Christ not with the acceptance of the sinnerChrist died to bring death to sin and life to His own. So, though Fuller occasionally uses the word ‘propitiation’, as Chun points out, the propitiation for Fuller is not immediate propitiation in Christ’s baptism of death and glorious resurrection but is worked out when the believer in ‘duty-faith’ and on hearing the ‘well-meant offer’ accommodates them for himself through his own agency. This was once called Liberalism but is now called by Fullerites ‘evangelicalism’ and ‘gospel preaching’. The fruits leading topropitiation and thus justification, Fuller tells us, are on a table spread before the sinner. We have only to grasp out and take them. Furthermore, in the pages Chun refers to, I do not deal with the doctrine of necessity in isolation but bind it synergistically into all the other Christian doctrines denied or re-interpreted by Grotius, Fuller the New Divinity School and modern Fullerism. I outline this, my strongest commitment in my book The Covenant of Grace and the People of GodThere is no such Covenant in Fuller’s works published up to date. Indeed, Fuller has a Dispensational view of God’s ‘covenants’Fuller’s wayward teaching must be studied as a whole not as separate absolute parts bound together by ‘the reason and fitness of things’, whatever that is. We are saved by Grace and not what we feel is ‘reasonable’ and ‘fitting’. All this is clearly outlined in John Gill whom Fuller knew personally and confessed to having read his major work.

Fuller believed God’s revelation was arbitrary

     Fuller will have nothing to do with God’s revealed will as he feels that such revelation as revealed in the Scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, is not permanent but short-termed and arbitrary. It is surprising that Chun has not dealt with Fuller’s low view of revelation in comparison to his high view of Natural Law and Natural Religion.Chun must know that Fuller argues that God’s entire revelation will be wounded up when his eternal Natural Law is understood rightly and even God Himself must return to this Law and place Himself again under it. So it is Fuller’s Natural Law (Fuller always gives the term capitals) which persuades natural, fallen man to understand the ‘the reason and fitness of things’. This has, of course, nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian’s faith and is quite pagan in its understanding of both revelation and law. God’s revealed Law is merely that which must be understood ‘figuratively’ according to Fuller but how he figured this out neither Haykin nor Chun nor that other Hyper-Fullerite Curt Daniel tell us and I am sure they have not figured it out themselves. However, Haykin, Chun and Daniel in defending Fuller are defending a philosophy of nature against a gospel of revelation.

Standing alongside Warfield in my criticism of New Divinity

     Chun, in criticising my objections to the New Divinity School omits to add that in context I am quoting and agreeing with none less than Benjamin Warfield here concerning the real vicarious suffering in Christ’s Atonement. This is denied by the New Divinity School and with this denial they include a denial of the real imputation of sin to Christ and His righteousness to the believer. This leaves them totally without a gospel. This is why I entitled one of my published works on Fullerism A Gospel Worthy of No Acceptation. Who wants a gospel void of God’s Good News? Warfield’s strong criticism of New Divinity teaching applies equally to Fuller who followed it. Besides, we know that Edwards Junior, one of the founders of the New Divinity school, had taken over the teaching of Nathaniel Emmons and Nathaniel Taylor which perverted Edwards’ teaching on what was ‘natural’ in man and what was ‘moral’ and led to the views of Samuel Hopkins which Fuller took over. Chun’s association of Fuller withEdwards leaves out the downgrading in Fullers theology over a decade from Edwards to Hopkins. He will not admit for the sake of his argument that between the time of Edwards Senior and Fuller’s continuous development of his theology, a lengthy dumbing down of doctrine had taken place which had influenced Fuller no endThis period of doctrinal downgrading from Edwards to Hopkins and thereafter represents the theological hunting-ground of Haykin’s, Chun’s and also Daniel’s booty.

     Chun claims on page 173 that:

‘Fuller believed that if there is such a thing as justification by Christ’s righteousness, then in his own words, Fuller would be charging himself with perverting the gospel and thereby, denying the very nature of the deity of Christ.’

     Actually, this is Chun’s thought rather than Fuller’s but taking this utterance at its face value we find that Chun is building on a false alternative which was admittedly the usual ‘either or’ method of Fuller’s. Chun’s falsely put alternative neither applies to Fuller or Ella whom he is criticising. The crucial factor here is the timing of Christ’s Atonement. When did He actually put an end to sin, imputing that sin to Himself according to repeated Old Testament prophecy? When did Christ cover sin? When did Christ kill off sin? Was it not at His death and at no other time? Christ’s penal, sin-killing sacrifice was a once and for all time event. We do not believe in the repetition of this sacrifice as in the Roman Catholic repetition of the Mass. Christians are no Repetitioners but once-and-for all-timers. There was only one Atonement needed and it was all Christ’s vicarious work. The Just died for the unjust. Christ calls His Baptism the death that He had to die for the dead. With His death many were made alive. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. This was the teaching of that mighty preacher of righteousness James Hervey whom the New Divinity School condemned for preaching that the Atonement fully accomplished its God-intended and God-given purpose in his prose-poetical work Theron and Aspasio which also caused very strong protests from free-willer Wesley. Both Wesley and Hopkins taught that the Atonement was conditional on the reception of sinners. The Bible teaches that Christ met every single condition on His very own. By His stipes we are healed. We note that Christ first met all the necessary conditions and then we were healed.

Chun’s false Calvinism

     Chun, apparently leaning on Nettles believes that Fuller never forsook Calvinism yet his portrayal of Fuller’s rational theology is way outside the gist, tenor and wording of Calvin’s gospelThis goes also for Edwards Junior who rejected his father’s Reformed theology. I am indeed very critical of Calvin’s fatalism and legal approach to many matters of grace and find he leaned too heavily on Zwingli’s fatalism especially as present in Zwingli’s philosophical work on the atonement of 1530 where he refuses to consider Christ’s work or the Scriptures in discussing election. Calvin’s theology was, however,never as warped as that of Hyper-Fullerites such as Chun, Haykin and Daniel, and even at times Nettles who describe their ‘Calvinism’ in Fullerite terms.

At last an accurate quote

     In his final effort to refute my analysis of Fuller’s theology and my defence of a real and actual Atonement, Chun quotes me accurately as writing on page 89 of my first edition of Law and Gospel in the Theology of Andrew Fuller regarding Fuller’s deviation from the Biblical description of the Atonement:

Thus instead of the atonement objectively securing faith and reconciliation for the elect, it is the subjective believing of the sinner, which makes the atonement, working backwards, effective. It is repenting and believing that gives the atonement its power, not the atonement that empowers the sinner to believe.’

     Obviously I rejected such a scheme and against my objectionChun quotes Fuller’s words in his Gospel Worthy:

‘If there be an objective fullness in the atonement of Christ sufficient for any number, there is no other impossibility in the way of any man’s salvation to whom the gospel comes than what arises from the state of his own mind.’

     I always think it risky to begin a definitive and creedal statement of doctrine with an ‘if’ clause. I take this statement however to mean that Fuller is not giving us a display of doubt but a dogmatic statement in these words. Nor do I accept the idea of Christ dying for ‘any number’, meaning any unspecific number. His death was not a ransom for ‘any number’ but for all those for whom he died. His ransom was completed at the ransoming. ‘Any number’ is not an accurate way of referring to all those known to God specifically and individually in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Chun, however, sees Fuller’s words as indicating a Scriptural proof that there is no ‘natural ability’ to prevent sinners coming to Christ but only their ‘moral ability’ fails them and that ‘cannot believe’ means ‘they will not believe’. I do not accept this false distinction in man between the natural and the moral but even if we abide by Chun’s distinction, we are still faced with a sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins and can only be made alive by Christ’s atoning death. When Christ said on the cross, ‘It is finished,’ he meant just what He said in His once and for all time sacrifice. No sinner by accepting a so-called ‘well-meant’ offer via his ‘duty-faith’ can equal that. Furthermore, he need notChrist saves by Grace and not via pseudo-Natural Law efforts to accept Him. This means that the whole debate concerning man’s natural or moral destiny is irrelevant to Christ’s Atonement for man as man, not man as merely a bunch of naturals or morals. There is no gospel whatsoever in this speculative idea. Dead men have no existence in Christ whatsoever until Christ awakens the dead in the Valley of Bones. Then they receive a true nature which is Christ given and a true faith which is Christ’s faith and a true righteousness which is Christ’s righteousness. Fuller repeatedly denies this truth arguing that if man were fully dead in trespasses and sins, he could not respond to God.

The Three Fs

     As a young student of Theology, I came across the Three BsBrunner, Barth and Bultmann. I could not agree with any of them and happily they were outdated or at least hardly on my curriculum in Hull, Uppsala, Hamburg, Duisburg and Marburg, though I was pestered at the London Bible College with their silly tales being warned of things in which I found were more silly than dangerous. Nowadays, the Three Bs have no say, especially in the Evangelical fold. We have our own Liberals who are much more dangerous. The Three Bs based their criticism on the Word of God as generally known. Modern pseudo Reformed evangelical Liberals desecrate and dissect the Word of God before analysing it and like the NCT give us an empty Old Testament and a cut-down New Testament void of Divine revelation yet propped full with ant-Scriptural Rationalism and an ignorance of theology, and the Gospel worthy of all acceptation. When this critical phase is over, evangelical, Reformed churches which we pray will then have been revived by God will laugh at the Three Fs of today which are Fullerite Michael Haykin, Fullerite Curt Daniel and especially Fullerite Chris Chun. These are far more dangerous than the old Three Bs who kept outside of the Reformed evangelical trust in God’s word. Now the Three Fs, who profess to work within evangelicalism are striving to rob us of our gospel by internal controlMay the day come quickly when we are free of them!