Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JBTM 13:1 (Spring 2016) p. 82
Andrew Fuller: Model Pastor-Theologian. By Paul Brewster. Studies in Baptist Thought and Life. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010. 208 pages. Softcover, $24.99.
Paul Brewster received his Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and has most recently served as senior pastor of Ryker’s Ridge Baptist Church in Madison, Indiana. Writing as both a pastor and a scholar, he argues that Andrew Fuller, an eighteenth-century Particular Baptist minister, serves as a model pastor-theologian. He demonstrates this point by surveying three aspects of Fuller’s ministry, “his theological method, his leadership during a critical soteriological controversy, and his manner of relating doctrine and practice” (6). Brewster offers this work with the hope that the model set by Fuller will stimulate a new generation of pastor-theologians.
In terms of theological method, Fuller was what Brewster labels a conservative innovator. Fuller recognized the importance of having a clear theological system and composed a lengthy confession of faith before his installment at his church at Kettering. Also, he believed in the accountability provided by his local church body and by other ministers. However, because he held to a high view of Scripture’s authority, when the hyper-Calvinist theology he received from his youth appeared to contradict Scripture, he eschewed it and developed his own theology, a theology expressed in his seminal work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Developed in light of the Evangelical Revival, this theology sought an experimental religion, one that emphasized one’s relationship with God and the need for personal conversion. For Brewster, these four attributes of Fuller’s theological method—confessional, accountable, biblical, and experimental—hold the most value for contemporary pastors.
Fuller’s willingness to offer a new theological framework gave him the opportunity to exercise leadership during the hyper-Calvinism debate, one of the most important soteriological controversies in Baptist history. At the time of his ministry, many Particular Baptist congregations were beholden to a rigid form of Calvinism that denied the free offer of the gospel to sinners. Fuller sought to chart a new course away from this dangerous theology.
Though many theological convictions received attention during the debate over hyper- Calvinism, Brewster focuses his attention on two aspects of the discussion—human depravity and the nature of the atonement. Fuller made use of the Edwardsian distinction between natural and moral inability to explain how depraved people can maintain a moral obligation to respond to the gospel, and he employed certain aspects of the governmental theo...
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