“A System Of Holiness”: Andrew Fuller’s Evangelical Calvinistic Theology Of Virtue -- By: Ryan P. Hoselton

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:2 (Jul 2014)
Article: “A System Of Holiness”: Andrew Fuller’s Evangelical Calvinistic Theology Of Virtue
Author: Ryan P. Hoselton


“A System Of Holiness”: Andrew Fuller’s Evangelical Calvinistic Theology Of Virtue

Ryan P. Hoselton

One of the most helpful theological works in recent days has been Ellen Charry’s discussion of virtue and theology.1 Charry offers the neologism “aretegenic” to capture the “virtue-shaping function of the divine pedagogy of theological treatises.”2 The adjective “aretegenic” (“aretology” in its nominal form) is a compound of the Greek terms, aretē denoting “virtue,” and gennaō, “to beget.” The classic theologians believed that an accurate knowledge of God was aretegenic—it fostered virtue and excellence in the lives of believers. Examining theological texts spanning from the New Testament to the Reformation, Charry’s project aims at “reclaiming a genuine pastoral Christian psychology that grounds human excellence in knowing and loving God.”3 She takes her study up to John Calvin, but she could well have continued it to later theologians in the early modern era who have a similar way of doing theology. In this article, one such theologian, Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), is examined.

Fuller’s Evangelical Theology And The Moral Order

Andrew Fuller was a Baptist minister in Kettering, England, who played a central role in laying the theological foundations for the

modern missionary movement.4 He was an avid apologist for evangelical Calvinistic orthodoxy, writing voluminously against Arminianism, Hyper-Calvinism, Sandemanianism, Antinomianism, Socinianism, and Deism.5 Fuller developed his theology of virtue most comprehensively in his writings against two of the most well- known eighteenth-century critics of orthodox Christianity: Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) and Thomas Paine (1737-1809). Although Priestley was a Socinian and Paine a Deist, they had a shared agenda to restore what they regarded as pure religion by replacing traditional Christian beliefs about God and human nature with more optimistic and enlightened ones. They pronounced traditional Christian doctrine a hindrance to moral and social progress.

In his engagement with Socinianism, Andrew Fuller outlined the “principal objections to the Calvinistic system” with regard to the atonement, the glory of God, and “the worship paid to Jesus Christ” as fully God.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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