“A Little Band Of Brothers”: Friendship In The Life Of Andrew Fuller —An Essay On The Bicentennial Of His Death -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 12:2 (Fall 2015)
Article: “A Little Band Of Brothers”: Friendship In The Life Of Andrew Fuller —An Essay On The Bicentennial Of His Death
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin


“A Little Band Of Brothers”:
Friendship In The Life Of Andrew Fuller
—An Essay On The Bicentennial Of His Death

Michael A. G. Haykin

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality and serves as Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Editorial Note: A portion of this article has appeared in Michael A. G. Haykin, Ardent Love to Jesus: English Baptists and the Experience of Revival in the Long Eighteenth Century (Bridgend, Wales: Bryntirion Press, 2013). Used by permission.1

Revival and reformation are rarely, if ever, wrought by God through one individual, contrary to the impression given by some popular church histories. Collegiality is central to times of spiritual blessing. As James Davison Hunter argues in his book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, the “great man of history” view, namely that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men,” is wrong.2 Rather, “the key actor in history is not individual genius but rather the network [of individuals and friends] and the new institutions that are created out of those networks.” Hunter thus maintains that “charisma and genius and their cultural consequences do not exist outside of networks of similarly oriented people and similarly aligned institutions.”3

A superb illustration in church history of the truth of Hunter’s thesis is the revival of the English Baptist community in the late-eighteenth century. Christopher Anderson (1782– 1852), a Scottish Baptist leader who became a close friend of a number of those who were centrally involved in this momentous revival, reckoned

…that in order to much good being done, co-operation, the result of undissembled love, is absolutely necessary; and I think that if God in his tender mercy would take me as one of but a very few whose hearts he will unite as the heart of one man—since all the watchmen cannot see eye to eye—might I be but one of a little band of brothers who should do so, and who should leave

behind them a proof of how much may be accomplished in consequence of the union of only a few upon earth in spreading Christianity, oh how should I rejoice and be glad! In order to such a union, however, I am satisfied that the cardinal virtues, and a share of what may be considered as substantial excellence of character, are absol...

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