“Glory to the Three Eternal”: Benjamin Beddome and the Teaching of Trinitarian Theology in the Eighteenth Century -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: “Glory to the Three Eternal”: Benjamin Beddome and the Teaching of Trinitarian Theology in the Eighteenth Century
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin


“Glory to the Three Eternal”:
Benjamin Beddome and the
Teaching of Trinitarian Theology in the Eighteenth Century1

Michael A. G. Haykin

Michael A. G. Haykin is Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and a Senior Fellow of The Jonathan Edwards Centre for Reformed Spirituality. He also serves as Visiting Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin is the author of One Heart and One Soul (Evangelical Press, 1994), Spirit of God: The Exegesis of 1 and 2 Corinthians in the Pneumatomachian Controversy of the Fourth Century (Brill, 1994), and Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit and Revival (Evangelical Press, 2005).

Introduction

One of the hymnic treasures to come out of the eighteenth century is that by the East Anglian Calvinistic Baptist Robert Robinson (1730–1790), “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Robinson had been converted under the powerful ministry of George Whitefield (1714–1770) and, after a short career as a Methodist preacher, he was used by God to build a thriving work at St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, Cambridge, where he became known as one of the finest colloquial preachers in England.2 About two and a half years after his profession of faith in 1756, Robinson wrote the above-mentioned hymn to commemorate what God had done for him when he professed faith in Christ. “Thoroughly Scriptural in doctrine,”3 the final stanza of this hymn runs thus:

Oh! to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it from Thy courts above.4

Towards the end of his life, though, Robinson appears to have become increasingly critical of both this hymn’s Calvinism and its implicit confession of the deity of Christ. In a letter written in 1788 he stated that he considered “a trinity of persons” in the Godhead “the most absurd of all absurdities,” though in a letter written the following year he asserted that he was “neither a Socinian nor an Arian.”5 And the story is told of a certain occasion during these final years of Robinson’s life when he was traveling in a stage-coach with one other passenger who happened to be a Christian woman. Robinson struck up a conversation with the lady that soon turned to the subject o...

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