Historic Baptist Influence

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Rhetorician, May 24, 2006.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To all who have an ear:

    I have just been reading and re-reading the old post started by our colleague MO and his "Hall of Shame." It put me in mind to start this post (and it may have been done before and I will leave it up to the moderators to delete it?).

    WHO IN BAPTIST HISTORY DO YOU SEE AS THE GREATEST CONTRIBUTOR TO BAPTIST HISTORY OR DEVELOPMENT?

    WHY?

    PLEASE, LET'S DO OUR BEST TO STAY ON POINT ON THIS ONE!?

    sdg!

    rd
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

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    Amoung the Anglo-American brethren, I'd say John Gill (his Body of Divinity) and Andrew Fuller (I'll look his book up later).
     
  3. Rhetorician

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    Squire,

    Andrew Fuller is certainly up there. His temperate view of the Doctrines of Grace and his "warm heart for the lost" has assuredly influenced the particular Baptist in generel (not general baptist) and the SBC in particular (maybe particular Southern Baptists HA!).

    This could turn into a rather interesting thread with good input such as you have provided.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  4. Rippon

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    Squire , John Gill and Andrew Fuller were antithetical to one another . Of course Fuller came on the scene later .
     
  5. Squire Robertsson

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    Antithetical is I believe too strong of a word. But the question was:
    Both of these brethren fit the bill. Both may be considered the intellectual fathers of the two strains of Particular Baptists which predominate today's Baptist landscape.
     
  6. Rippon

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    John Gill would be a strong contender for the position . And he went beyond the confines of the Baptists . He had an impact on the Independents , Anglicians and others as well with his lectures . Toplady ( Church of England ), for instance , was an enthusiastic supporter of Dr.Gill . John Gill's Bible commentary and especially his " The Cause Of God And Truth " ,left a lasting impact on the Christian world .Even Gordon H. Clark ( a staunch Presbyterian )who died in the 1980's quoted from him approvingly .
     
  7. rsr

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    As far as influencing the direction of the Baptist movement, I think it would be difficult to find more influential people than William Carey and Luther Rice, who help establish missions as the churches' primary focus.
     
  8. Rhetorician

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    To all who have an ear:

    Could Jonathan Edwards be considered?

    Why?

    sdg!

    rd
     
  9. Squire Robertsson

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    Why not J. Edwards?

    Because he was a though going Congregationalist, not a Baptist. Being a Cong'ist does not make him an evil person. Just that as the thread has developed, the men mentioned so far are Baptists who have had seminal influence on the way the movement has developed.
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Not Gill, please!

    I agree on Fuller. His influence continues on down to the present day through Spurgeon and many others. However, IMO There is no way that Gill could be considered the primary influence on Baptists down through history. His anti-evangelism/anti-missions stance was negative rather than positive, cancelling out whatever good his Body of Divinity did.

    Who Was Who in Church History (Elgin Moyer, 1962) doesn't even mention Gill, but it says about Fuller: "He held a monthly concert or prayer meeting dedicated to praying for the conversion of the world. Out of this meeting developed, 1792, the Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, which sent William Carey to India as its first foreign missionary. Fuller was the first secretary of the society, and traveled through England, Scotland, and Ireland promoting the cause of missions and raising funds for the mission" (p. 157.).

    So, in a very real sense Fuller's influence was and continues to be global, as the ostensible founder of the modern missions movement. His books on missions and evangelism were bombshells in their day. Meanwhile, Gill's influence was limited to English-speaking countries, and his followers even opposed Fuller. "Though a Calvinist theologian his (Fuller's) moderate views disturbed some hyper-Calvinistic friends" (ibid).

    H. Leon McBeth points out that Fullerism was a reaction against the hyper-Calvinism of Gill. "Gill was greatly influenced by both Skepp and Brine and perhaps did more than both of them to spread hyper-Calvinism among the Particular Baptists" (The Baptist Heritage, p. 176-177). He points out that Gill believed, "Since the nonelect 'are persons who are foreordained to condemnation, whose names are left out of the book of life,' it would hardly make sense to preach the Gospel to them. That rigid
    'non-invitational' style of theology and preaching, while ringing with impressive logic, brought the kiss of death to Particular Baptists" (ibid, 177-178). So Gill was a negative influence on the Particular Baptists, causing the movement to shrink by his opposition to evangelism and missions.:type:
     
    #10 John of Japan, May 29, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2006
  11. Squire Robertsson

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    Dr. Gill

    I mentioned Dr. Gill as Wayland mentions him as an influence in the late 18th and early 19th century. His theological viewpoint is echoed by many (though not all) of our Primative and Old Regular Baptist Brethren.
     
  12. rsr

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    Because you phrased the OP as you did, a case could be made to consider Edwards.

    Even though he was not a Baptist, his work was influential among Baptists.Tom Nettles, a leader in the Founders Movement within the SBC, has outlined the debt that many Baptists — inluding Fullers, Carey, Backus, Furman and Dagg — owe to the works of Edwards.

    FOUNDERS JOURNAL ARTICLE
     
  13. GeneMBridges

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    How? Is this the old "Gill was a hyper-Calvinist" line?

    Fuller's view on the atonement does emphasize the covenantal not the commercial aspect of particular atonement, but this isn't that great a variance between Gill and Fuller. In fact, in Philanthropos, he adduces seven arguments that all come down to limited atonement. There really is no variance here.
    As to his views on reprobation and election, these are also identical, though he is an infralapsarian. That said, he quotes supras quite freely and approvingly.

    Gill's use of the offers vocabulary usually throws people who read it today without knowing his operative categories. You have to remember, Gill was an academic who was trying to be extremely precise. His precision is his downfall, because others who were not as precise have taken and still take his work and misunderstand it, thus historians have had a hard time with where to place him.

    For one thing, they take Ivimey's discussion of Gills' support for Crisp to assume it meant he affirmed the doctrine of eternal justification. Gill denied that doctrine. Ivimey is also a critic of Gill put criticizes him for not saying more about evangelical repentance and faith in language he finds acceptable.

    Gill was closest to being a supralapsarian, but this is not exclupatory evidence since supras and infras affirm the very same things about election and reprobation. One needs to find a supra who affirms equal ultimacy to make this charge stick. Gill divides the supra scheme into two parts: postive and negative, where the positive is active, with God effectuating His decree to elect by regeneration; it is passive with respect to reprobation by God passing men over, not by God putting fresh unbelief in their hearts and minds. He says that the degree of reprobation "puts nothing in them, it leaves them as it finds them, and therefore does them no injustice."

    A doctrine of eternal justification naturally leads to antinomiianism, for if one is justified already from birth (before actually), then one can rationalize that one is still imputed righteous for his sins, ultimately collapsing into fatalism and antinomianism. Gill denies antinomianism and his treatment of the Ten Commandments proves it. He even discusses the evangelical use of the law at length.

    Gill did not deny duty faith. This is the single most commonly adduced charge against him, and it seems based on his rejection of the offers vocabulary.

    True, he did state: GOd does not require all men to believe in Christ and where he does it is according to the revelation he makes of him. He does not require the heath, who are w/o external revelation of Christ to believe him at all; and those who have the outward ministry of the word unattendend w/ the special illuminations of God's Spirit are obliged to believe nor further than the external revelations they enjyoy reaches. (Cause of God and Truth). However, is simply stating here that man is not condemned for disbelieving the gospel, rather he is condemned for his sins. The basis for the condemnation of those who have never heard is not their rejection of Christ, but their sins. In short, if they die without hearing the gospel, they are justly condemned and their separation from the gospel reflects the presumptive judgment of God. This is not, as some have thought, a denial of duty faith.

    Elsewhere he writes that "It is man's duty to believe the word of the Lord and obey His will, though he has not a power, yea, even thogugh God has decreed to withhold that grace without which he cannot beleive and obey." This is for those who hear the gospel and/or are from societies where much revelation has come. The responsibility to believe is not based on men's ability (hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism) but it is indexed to the amount of light they have received by way of the gospel. If they received no light, they are justly condemned, but, to be saved, they need the gospel. It was the abuse of this idea of his by the hypers who picked up on it that has most often led to the charge he was a hyper.

    Gill's take on the offers vocabulary is what really, really throws us for a loop today, because when we see "offer" we think "free offer of the gospel" and the duty of the ministrer to urge people to come to Christ.

    First, Gill teaches that is men's responsibility to call everyone to come to Christ. Secondly, for Gill, he was making a category distinction over those who spoke of an offer of grace. Grace, he says is not offered in the gospel, it is given by God. To speak of an offer of grace is therefore a category error. Gill's other category for offers is the offer of the gospel. The preacher is to offer the gospel to every person, for, unlike offering grace, offering the gospel is his duty and within his power. ("The mihister should preach the gospel with a view to seeing all his hearers converted..it is one part of the gospel ministry ot persuade men.") It is this very thing that Hussey, Wayman, and others disputed.

    At times he does mention sensible sinners, but this is not the sinner who has so peered into the mind of God that he has a warrant to believe (believing he is elect to adduce his responsibility to believe), rather a sensible sinner to Gill means "aware of personal sinfulness." In other words, "under conviction" by our parlance. One simply has to read Gill with a sense of historical distance and an awareness of his categories. You can't restrict his language on offers especially with this in mind.
     
  14. Squire Robertsson

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    Gill misapprehended

    From what I can understand the above comment, the charge of hyper-Calvinism should not be laid at Dr. Gills feet. Rather it is more properly laid at the feet of those who read his work and misapprehended it. Such took the good doctor as an authority for their own ideas. Thus, they misappropriated him to a greater or lesser extent.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    Hmm. I guess I'm going to have to actually read the Gill books I have and find out what he really believed. :smilewinkgrin: I have two Baptist histories, and they both call him a hyper-Calvinist. I thought it was a given. I do have the Maranatha BBC CD with a bunch of books on it. Maybe that will help.
     
  16. Rhetorician

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    Influence and Dr. Gill

    To all who have an ear:

    Forwhatitisworth:

    I am a "Founder's Friendly" should and have been for 20 years of more. Tom Nettles is a close friend, colleague, and personal confidant of mine and has been for years. I studied Church History with him @ MABTS in the early 80s.

    JOJ,

    You know me well. So put these comments into that hopper. Those church histories who have labeled The Rev. Dr. Gill as a hyper-Calvinist are more historians than theologians. IMHO!

    If people would read more Puritan and Reformed works then they would understand that he should more appropriately be called a "High Calvinist" which is probably supralapsarianism (ist) rather than a "hyper-Calvinist."

    Comments and comebacks welcome!

    sdg!

    rd:D
     
  17. Rippon

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    George M. Ella says Gill was an infralapsarian , not a supra . Nettles is very much against the false idea of calling Gill a hyper -Calvinist . People like to hold onto their prejudices . Charles Spurgeon obviously favored Dr. Gill . Since CHS said that he " in the main " agreed with John Calvin , I would think he to an even larger extent agreed with the teachings of Dr. Gill . Gill was held in high regard by many outside the Baptist fold -- yet sound on the basics . Toplady , Romaine and Hervey to name a few . I think that Gill is not appreciated enough in the Baptist world of today while Fuller is .
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Okay, Rhet, the comments are in the hopper and I'm pondering. :sleep:

    Kidding! I just wanted to use that smiley. Seriously, it seems to me that historians are the ones to decide on who is a hyper-Calvinist if you define the term by practice (the direction I lean) rather than doctrine. A theologian can tell me if Gill was supra, infra, sub or super-size. But a historian can tell me if he opposed missions or not. If on the other hand you define hyper-Calvinist by doctrine ("That guy believed in double predestination!") than okay, we have to go to the theologians.

    Having said that, I'm giving Bro. Gill a chance here. I'm looking through his Body of Divinity and commentaries for information. I'd rather have a good biography, though. Along that line, the 18 page "Memoir" in the front of my BofD is interesting, but it doesn't tell me what he did or did not do about the Great Commission. One thing is obvious. William Carey is the "Father of Modern Missions," and I think all would agree that Carey was influenced by Fuller rather than Gill in the launching of his career.

    Side note: I was fascinated to find out that Gill was given perhaps the first honorary D. D. ever. He commented, "I neither sought it, nor thought it, nor bought it!" :laugh:
     
  19. MNJacob

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    The fact is that English particular Baptists went through a period of decline because of hyper-calvinism. Gill is alleged to have said that in his over 40 years of preaching he never invited a sinner to Christ.

    Buit I use Gill's commentaries a lot.
     
  20. John of Japan

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    I have read the same thing about the decline in the Particular Baptist movement in both of my Baptist history books. (Alas, I can't get my "Classic Baptist Books" CD with it's 100 or more digital books working right now.) I have read that Gill would not look at the visitors in his congregation while he preached for fear he would be preaching the Gospel to the unelect. But I can't document this. MNJacob, do you have documentation for your statement about Gill? This is what I would call Hyper-Calvinism, never mind how far his doctrine went. :type:
     

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