Book: Andrew Fuller and the Evangelical Renewal of Pastoral Theology (2013)

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Keith S. Grant, Andrew Fuller and the Evangelical Renewal of Pastoral TheologyStudies in Baptist History and Thought (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press, 2013). xx + 156 pages. ISBN: 978-1842277799.

Available at: Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Regent Bookstore, Authentic Media  (UK)

Description

The end of the eighteenth century witnessed a profound transformation of English dissenting churches as they more fully embraced the emphases of evangelicalism, evidenced by expansionism and activism alongside the local congregation: the promotion of international missions, voluntary societies for spiritual growth and cooperative activity, and widespread itinerancy. An exploration of the pastoral theology of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), an influential Particular Baptist pastor and theologian in the English midlands, suggests that evangelical renewal did not only take place alongside the local church, but also within the congregation and its pastoral ministry. Evangelical theology and piety did lead to a transformed pastoral theology, a change which was not primarily in terms of new pastoral duties as much as a renewal of the character of those duties, described by a diarist in Fuller’s congregation as “very affecting and evangelical.” Fuller’s pastoral theology provides a window into a distinctively congregational expression of evangelicalism, different in important ways from Anglican or Methodist varieties. Fuller’s is also an instance of a particularly evangelical contribution to pastoral theology. This study highlights the centrality of the vocabulary of the affections in Fuller’s evangelicalism, maps the contours of conversion in evangelical Calvinism, demonstrates the distinctive characteristics of an evangelicalism rooted in congregational ecclesiology, and explores Fuller’s emphases for preaching: plain, evangelical, and directed to the affections. The book is Volume 36 in the Paternoster Press peer-reviewed academic monograph series Studies in Baptist History and Thought. The foreword is by D. Bruce Hindmarsh.

Commendations

“This solidly researched and clearly developed study rescues an important eighteenth-century evangelical leader from undeserved obscurity. Andrew Fuller was the key figure in delivering English Baptists and a wider circle of nonconforming Protestants from the intellectual dead ends and spiritual immobilization of rigorously high Calvinism.  Keith Grant’s investigation of key terms like  “affections,” “voluntarism,” and “congregational ecclesiology” shows how important Fuller’s pastoral theology was in turning evangelicals outward to the world and for giving them spiritual confidence in the converting power of the Gospel.  This is a very good book on a very important turning point in Baptist and Calvinist history.”

     Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

“In our focus on itinerants, missions, and voluntary societies, we may forget that the historic center of evangelical renewal was the local church. In this lucid and learned study, Keith Grant explains how Andrew Fuller, one of the leading English Baptists of his generation, developed ‘affecting and evangelical’ principles of pastoral theology in order to advance heartfelt piety in the church. Anyone interested in the history of Anglo-American evangelicalism will want to read this book.”

     Thomas S. Kidd, Professor of History, Baylor University

“Keith Grant has done in this book what few historians manage to do at all or to do very well.  He tells the story of his subject’s life as a pastor not from the outside but from the inside. … The story he has to tell here is of the way the ordinary tasks of the pastor were transformed from the inside-out through Fuller’s embrace of a thoughtful evangelical religion of the heart. … Though Grant has done a depth and breadth of original research, including time in the archives, he writes with a clarity and grace that suits his subject and makes the book a pleasure to read for the professional historian or the lay reader, for the pastor or the student.  The book makes a significant contribution to the biography of Fuller and to the history of the Baptists in England, but it does much more than this: it provides one of the best accounts available of evangelical pastoral theology among English Dissenters in the eighteenth century.  Moreover, it illuminates the history of evangelicalism more generally by demonstrating the way congregational polity was renewed as an expression of evangelical voluntary religion in a way distinct from, but parallel to the religious societies of Methodism and the evangelical parishes in the Church of England.”

     Bruce Hindmarsh, James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College

“Andrew Fuller is known for supplying an expansionist theology  for the Baptist Missionary Society and for becoming its first secretary from 1792 to 1815.  In this book, however, Keith Grant shows that he was also a creative writer of pastoral theology, forging a fresh understanding of ministry for his age.  It was Fuller’s achievement to reconcile the ordering of Dissenting congregations with the imperatives of the Evangelical Revival.”

     David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling

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