George Ella, Doctrinal Matters

John Gill And The Cause Of God And Truth, George Ella, Go Publications 1995, Pages 84-90:

Article Xll must come as a major surprise to anyone familiar with the older Baptist creeds, or the creeds of any denominations, for that matter. The article declares: “We also believe that singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, vocally, is an ordinance of the Gospel to be performed by believers; but that as to time, place, and manner, every one ought to be left to their liberty in using it.”

One cannot imagine a modern church meeting deciding to put such a statement into their creed and this entry would appear to tone down the high quality of the declaration, ending it with a remark that is almost amusing in its bathos. The reasons for this statement will become clear when one considers the historical circumstances in church life at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries.[1]

Hymn singing was almost unknown in Baptist church services up to the end of the seventeenth century. The psalms were sung in metrical versions in the Anglican Church but most Dissenting churches had given up this practice in their efforts to rid themselves of all that was attached to Anglicanism. Baptist churches who continued the Anglican practice were looked upon by other ‘purer’ churches as if they had opened the doors to the devil and all his works. Anti-singing Baptists, who were taken by surprise in a meeting where psalms were sung, would immediately put their hats on to indicate that as this was not a display of true worship,[2] they need not doff their caps.

Psalms were sung by some churches to impress the authorities that they were not far removed from the ‘established church’. This ruse sometimes took the oddest forms. During times of persecution, the Baptist preachers would preach behind a curtain, unseen by the congregation. Whenever the approach of government spies was feared, the congregation would start singing a metrical psalm and when the spies arrived they were met with nothing but a crowd of keen ‘Anglicans’ faithfully singing something out of the Prayer Book. All this tended to make singing in the Dissenting churches a mere sham or at best a thing not to be taken seriously.

One of the Baptist pioneers in the field of singing, if not the pioneer, was Benjamin Keach, the former pastor of the Goat Yard congregation. One day he startled his flock with the news that hymns or psalms were to be sung to enhance the…

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Antinomian Hyper-Calvinism Versus The Law And The Gospel

A New Focus Interview With George M. Ella

Q. The 18th century controversy regarding Hyper-Calvinism and Antinomianism seems to have emerged again in recent years and, although your book William Huntington: Pastor of Providence has been welcomed by many, a few voices maintain that you have opened old wounds and should have let sleeping dogs lie.

A. Wounds caused by cries of Hyper-Calvinism have long been open and much salt has been rubbed in them in recent years. The once sleeping dogs of Antinomianism have been barking loudly for all to hear for some time. My aim in reviving Huntington’s teaching on the full Law and the full Gospel, as also my publications on Cowper, Gill and Hervey were intended as Gospel balm to heal these wounds and give the stray dogs of Antinomianism a training in rules of behaviour to make them fit guide dogs for the legally blind.

Q. Nevertheless, there are those who feel that in writing about men who they believe are tainted with Antinomian Hyper-Calvinism, you are laying yourself open to the same charges.

A. This is the way of all flesh. The more Huntington fought Antinomianism, the more he was given that name. Reversing the comparison, I suspect that the more people accused Huntington of Antinomianism, the greater was their own arrogance concerning the Law. It is no secret that those who called Huntington an Antinomian were Neonomians, Sabbath-breakers and adulterers. Recently a Sunday trader accused Huntington of being an Antinomian though he lost a good job through refusing to work on the Sabbath. When I pointed out the anomaly in his own behaviour, the Sabbath-breaker told me sanctimoniously that it was honouring the Lord of the Sabbath that constituted keeping the Sabbath which did not rule out Sunday trading as such. This is the kind of hypocritical Antinomianism that Huntington abhorred.

Q. What then is your attitude to the Moral Law?

A. I do not like the term Moral Law as it smacks of Greek Idealism and Humanism. The Bible speaks of the Law of Moses and I would like us to stick to that terminology. Modern evangelicals are emphasising man`s duty to keep the moral law irrespective of the spiritual and theological factors involved. The Mosaic Law is primarily theological showing that the law breaker is not only immoral, he is an enemy of God. This Law which shows us the will of God must be part and parcel of Gospel preaching. It is the Law that Christ has perfected, kept and established in Himself and is the Law that God will use on the Day of Judgement to separate the goats from Christ`s sheep. Not a jot or tittle of it will ever disappear.

Q. You believe then that the Law is the rule of life for a Christian?

A. The Mosaic Law is a very necessary rule but it can never be the sole rule of life for anyone. The Law is there to display the holiness of God and to show that man, left to himself, is a law-breaker by nature. If the Mosaic Law were his sole rule, man would be fully lost. But God has not left man to himself and his vain efforts to keep the law of works. He has supplied him with what the Bible calls the law of Christ and the law of faith (Rom. 3:27, Gal. 6:2). The rule of Law without the rule of Christ and the rule of faith is dead. It is a mere condemning codex on tablets of stone which kills and buries a man in his own sins without an offer of life and hope issuing from it. The rule of Christ and the rule of faith establish, continue, deepen and revitalise the Law and enable the dead sinner to live again in Christ, the Eternal Lawkeeper. As Peter says, all things pertaining to life and godliness are found in Christ. The believer no longer has an external law on tablets of stone as his guide but is caught up in Christ and his very heart and being is infused with Christ’s law-keeping nature, indeed Christ himself. He can thus testify that Christ his Righteousness lives in him and he is under the Law in the sense that he is under Christ. Without Christ`s rule and without faith in Christ to rule his life, the rule of Moses brings merely death and damnation. This death and damnation, however, is the way God has chosen to humble man and make him receptive to the law of Christ and the law of faith. Thus evangelists who do not first preach the terrors of the Law but merely appeal to the sinner’s sense of duty and preach ‘Come to Christ because He loves you’ and camouflage this by calling it ‘the free offer’ are not doing their duty. If such an evangelist, once the sinner is allegedly converted, tells him to go to Sinai to find his only rule of life, he is an outright Antinomian and abuses the Law. Cowper sums up the work of a true preacher succinctly:

“By him the violated law speaks out
Its thunders; and by him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the Gospel whispers peace”

Thus, where Law alone rules, there is no Gospel; where the Gospel rules, Christ’s perfect law-abiding nature prevails. The duty-faith lobbyists, however, want peace without the storms of conscience so that they might be placed under a thunderless law after conversion. This is supererogatory Neonomianism, a subtle form of Antinomianism.

Q. What about Hyper-Calvinism? I must admit that a few critics, who have objected to your writing so warmly about John Gill, are associating you with that title.

A. There will always be people who feel they ought to go beyond Scripture in their legal zeal. Calvinists are in danger of hyping it as are Fullerites and Wesleyans. Incidentally, it is usually the Hyper-Fullerites who accuse Gill of being a Hyper-Calvinist. But seriously, how can people who deny limited atonement and the total fall of man accuse Gill of being more than a Calvinist when they, themselves, are far less? They are merely drawing attention to their own limits.

Q. Your answer may be seen as avoiding the question. Put directly, do you believe that there is no point in preaching repentance to sinners?

A. What a strange thought? The Lord came to call sinners to repentance and there are a lot of unrepentant sinners out there to whom we have a duty to urge both to repent and to believe. This task is a world-wide one and a permanent one until Kingdom come. Nobody realised this as much as John Gill who was the most successful Baptist in the first half of the 18th century in putting the great commission into practice. Even in his burial services to ‘insiders’, Gill emphasised the world-wide scope of the Gospel beginning at the individual church member`s place of work.

Q. The mark of a Hyper-Calvinist is that he does not believe in commanding and calling the sinner to come to Christ. If God wants a soul, he believes, He will convert him without human aid. Is this your view?

A. Obviously not, as must be clear by now. I would, however, question your definition. Surely Arminians and the like call Calvinists ‘Hyper-Calvinists’ because they do not believe in indiscriminate invitations, commands, offers etc. to persuade the ungodly to believe. This view was never part of Reformed teaching and is certainly less Calvinistic than Calvin. The Holy Spirit calls whom He will and when He will and it is obvious that His work is discriminating. This is why He transports Philip into the desert and William Carey to Serampore. Calvin explains this in Book II, Chap 21 of his Institutes:

“The covenant of life is not preached equally to all, and among those to whom it is preached, does not always meet with the same reception. This diversity displays the unsearchable depth of the divine judgement, and is without doubt subordinate to God`s purpose of eternal election.” He argues that God, “does not adopt promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what He denies to others. It is plain how greatly ignorance of this principle detracts from the glory of God, and impairs true humility.”

Q. Forgive me for digging deeper but someone wrote recently that the Hyper-Calvinist believes “the dogma that fallen humanity is beset by an inability to turn from sin and turn to God. So what men cannot do in their own strength, they need not do.” What do you say to that?

A. This is typical of the confusion of ideas prevalent in modern Fullerism, going back to Fuller himself who built a school of rational thought on his misunderstanding of Gill’s clear Gospel. Obviously all fallen men are dead in trespasses and sin. This includes, says Calvin, man’s body and soul including his rational powers. Fuller will not accept this. He says a dead man cannot be held responsible for not believing so man must have enough life in him to respond to the Gospel. This is the ‘natural light’ philosophy that Fuller obtained by reading the Cambridge Platonist John Edwards whom he mistook for Jonathan Edwards, the New England revivalist. Fuller’s logic, however, is built on his high view of man and his low view of the Fall; two very unscriptural positions. He sees the total fall as a rejection of Christ. Up to then, there is an Esau and a Jacob in all men, one or the other waiting to come out. The Bible teaches that man is doomed to death for disobeying the Law for which he is held responsible by God even though he may not have encountered Christ one way or the other. Thus what men in their own strength cannot do, they are entirely responsible for not doing. This was so much a part of Gill’s conviction that he had it anchored in his church`s Declaration of Faith in 1729. I agree with Gill because he agrees with Scripture.

Q. If you will bear with me, I have one more question. Do you believe that it is the duty of all men to love the Lord? It has been suggested recently that Hyper-Calvinists must answer the question negatively, whereas Calvinists are bound to say ‘yes’.

A. Allow me to answer in words from Gill’s The Cause of God and Truth.

“Is it the duty of all men to love the Lord? Absolutely! Because they are the creatures of his making, enjoy the care of his providence, and are supplied by him with the blessings of life; therefore all men must joyfully love the Lord (p. 170).”

Gill and Huntington could not have been more different as men. What united them was a clear calling to the ministry and the simple, highly effective message to sinners which they preached. Repentance and faith in Christ. Antinomians cannot talk about repentance, and Hyper-Calvinists do not believe in preaching repentance and faith to sinners. This is, however, our high calling in Christ Jesus. I am not a preacher and have not the privilege of proclaiming this Gospel from the pulpit. I do, however, feel very much called to spread the good news by retelling the stories of men of God such as Cowper, Gill and Huntington, who were masters at their evangelistic craft. Heaven is fuller because of their work in the Lord.

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

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Banner On Hypers

19 Jan 2023, by

Letter to the Banner of Truth (not printed)

Dear Christian Friends,

I was surprised to find myself labeled a Hyper-Calvinist in your February issue with your corollary that I am not amongst those who “confront their hearers with the immediate responsibility of trusting Christ, directly encouraging them to trust him, and appealing to them to do so now!” Naturally, when one starts with a false premise one draws a faulty conclusion. Actually, I abhor Hyper-Calvinism and have aired my views against it in many publications and lectures. I am particularly suspicious of the Supralapsarian kind as found in Calvin’s Institutes, Book III, Chap. XXIII:7 and his Articles Concerning Predestination. I reject Calvin’s studies regarding predestination and election which leave out the covenant of grace and salvation in Christ as in Calvin’s works against Pighius. Not that I care for Pighius, but two wrongs do not make a right. Concerning confronting hearers with Christ and pleading with them to believe, that has been my calling since I was a teen-ager!

David Gay is no doubt a better Calvinist than I am but this is missing the point. Gay’s critical, psychological evaluation of the Trinity and the Word of God make it, I believe, impossible for him to grasp the full height, width and depth of the glorious gospel of salvation. My point is that though Gay would preach the gospel to all, and is to be recommended for his zeal, his mistaken theology sadly hinders that good work. I trust that both Gay and myself are not too old to learn and grow in grace and the knowledge of our Saviour.

In Christ

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

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Those ‘Theological Swearwords’ ‘Antinomianism and Hyper-Calvinism’ Again

Some years ago in the Evangelical Times, one of their directors, John Legg, referred to the terms ‘Antinomianism and Hyper-Calvinism’ as ‘theological swearwords’ and used them indiscriminately with his co-director Errol Hulse to describe my practice of preaching the whole of the gospel to the whole man wherever I was placed by God to do so. This irresistible calling led to my marching 35 kilometers a day through swampy marshland and glacier-covered territory with a map and compass to help me find the way and a fishing rod, snares and a small casting-net in order so I could feed myself so I could take the gospel to nomad Lapps and to my work on and for the Native Americans years later. I have written of the work of the Gospel in Lapland in my ‘Tales from Lapland’ and of the history of the planting of the Gospel amongst the American Indians in my book ‘Isaac McCoy: Apostle of the Western Trail’. I have not written about my adventures for the Lord in Germany where I have been serving Him since 1971. My call to spread the Gospel in Germany was sealed and blessed by sinners being converted during my first two sermons in two different churches, one in Bochum and the other in Mülheim. My teaching Scripture in a Oberhausen Grammar School quickly led eleven pupils to study for the ministry and missionary service confessing they had received their call during my lessons. Why do I say this as it is obvious that a Christian’s life belongs to God in choosing out a people for Himself through gospel ministries and evangelising. This is a Christian’s normal experience.

I write these words as the Banner of Truth Magazine published in February 2005 a most negative comment on the fruitful harvest work God enabled me to do in His vineyard with all praise to His holy deeds! These defamatory remarks occurred in an editorial review of David Gay’s book The Gospel Offer is Free allegedly revealing the Hyper-Calvinism behind my presumed lack of evangelistic fervor. Taking Gay’s slander for gospel Walter Chantry wrote:

‘The author is right to be concerned that preachers should ‘confront their hearers with the immediate responsibility of trusting Christ, directly encouraging then to trust him, and appealing to them to do so now!’

I felt this to be a strange comment coming from the very magazine which had encouraged me to write on gospel matters and had first launched me into print with great praise from Iain Murray, his wife, Maurice Roberts, John Marshall and especially Sydney Houghton the BOT editor. Indeed, dear Mr Houghton who became my major mentor and his wife Elsie whom had been my ‘House Mother’ at the London Bibler College encouraged me to go to print with my experiences of working for Christ. When I stayed with them, I received the same bed in which Iain Murray slept on his many visits and Elsie spoke of us both as their special protégés. Three days before his death, Mr Houghten, had parceled my first book manuscript which he had kindly corrected and attached to it a note saying the work must be printed and would serve as a doctoral thesis. I presume Elsie took the parcel to the post-office as her dear husband was obviously dying at the time and was a mere skeleton because he could not eat. I have preserved the stamped and addressed wrapping paper with Mr Houghton’s hand-writing on it as also letters from him, Sidney Norton and Iain Murray from this early period in the history of the BOT before their theological U-turn. I have a small collection of poetry entrusted to me by Messers Houghton and Norton dealing with their conversions and trust in the Lord.

Mr Houghton and especially Elsie warned me that the tide of my open reception at the Banner was ebbing and my last postcard from Elsie told me that she was very depressed at what was happening but she trusted that the Lord would soon bring news to cheer her up. When Mr. Houghton died, I wrote to Iain urging him to write a biography and offered him my material including an account of Mr. Houghton’s conversion in his own hand-writing. Iain replied that no biography was planned and that my biographical material was not needed. I would have thought Iain would have felt blessed to accept and read what his mentor and patient guide through many turbulent years had to say. Sadly, the pioneering work of Sydney Houghton has never been truly documented by the BOT. The little booklet that did eventually come out was merely a trimmed-up skeleton of his Christian witness.

I have, however, kept many precious memories penned to me by Iain from a time when all was peace between us, especially throughout his years in Australia, but sadly, not only times change!

To return to Gay’s slanderous work which would not have withstood one day in a court of justice, never mind before God’s Tribunal. Typical of Gay’s confidence in his own judgement is that he tells his readers in his introduction that they should not read my works to find out what I believe but believe his ridiculous version of what he imagines I preach and teach.

Most of Gay’s list of what he imagined I never do, such as preach repentance and faith, has been my God-given task since I met Jesus in the winter of 1956-7 in a wood-cutter’s cabin in the wilds of Närke where the temperature was minus 35 degrees centigrade but my heart was boiling over with the heat of great joy. Thus I was astonished at the…

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Calvinism confused

Our Lord tells us to be balanced in our teaching, not giving that which is holy to the dogs, nor giving stones where bread is needed. This balance has been broken severely by the modern pseudo-Free-Offer movement.

Spurgeon summed Calvinism up as ‘salvation by grace alone’, but views of Calvinists in relation to saving grace have drastically changed. Besides, Calvin would be appalled to learn that the saving Gospel which emanates from God but which is open to such contrary interpretations now bears his name. It would be thus better to drop the term. This article is therefore not a defence of Calvinism but a defence of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

Two factions have emerged amongst modern Calvinists. One teaches that all men are potentially saved by virtue of Christ’s atonement for sin. The other teaches that without the grace of God mankind is not only lost but absolutely and certainly damned. The first group teaches that in evangelising one must hide the ‘deep and secret’ elements of God’s grace from the sinner and reserve the full gospel for the already saved. The good news that God loves the sinner must be preached and his responsibility and duty appealed to so that he will love God back. The second group teaches that only the full gospel is the power of God unto salvation which includes God’s teaching on man’s doom, depravity, His eternal electing love for His people, effectual calling, efficacious atonement, sovereign grace and the perseverance in faith of the saints. The latter preach to all men everywhere as the Spirit leads, knowing that the gospel comes as a savour of life unto life to some but as a savour of death unto death to others.

The first group used to be called Arminians, Free-Willers or Wesleyans but many of them now claim they are ‘Moderate Calvinists’, though ‘Modernists’ would be a better word. These ‘Moderates’ call the second group ‘Hyper-Calvinists’, ‘Antinomians’ and ‘Hardshells’. It is symptomatic of man’s spiritual blindness that he prevents the truth from being seen by using terms and titles forged on the anvils of Babel. These Arminianisers of the doctrines of grace can only maintain their theory of God’s provisions being made effective by man’s agency in salvation by abandoning the Biblical doctrine of a full, particular, sufficient and entirely successful atonement. It is also plain that these ‘Calvinistic Arminians’ are increasingly rejecting the Authorised Version because it affirms strongly the sovereignty of God to the detriment of man’s agency. Instead, a bevy of translations are now used when they affirm the so-called ‘Moderate Calvinist’ position, though rejected when they do not. Indeed, those evangelicals who in their youth renounced the Liberal Higher Critical Movement are now happily using their more negative methods to place their own highly limited gospel in a more acceptable light.

This new Modernism does not openly reject the all-sufficiency of the atonement in salvation. What it does is claim that the all-sufficiency of the atonement does not refer to its application in the case of sinners. For them, salvation accomplished is not the same as salvation applied. The atonement, is only theoretically sufficient for all, but it only becomes a practical proposition when it is accepted. Thus salvation is not effected in Christ’s work on the cross but merely on the sinner’s reception of it. Christ’s work as such saves no one. It must be appropriated by man. Thus man is made the measure of all things. If some men are lost, Christ died in vain for them. If some refuse salvation, it is because they have thwarted God’s will.

Johnson’s Jinks

Several of these Babel forgeries have bothered the Christian Press recently under the guise of duty-faith and the free offer. One is an article by Phillip R. Johnson entitled A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, published by the Sword and Trowel (March, 2002). Here, the author boasts that we must twist Scripture to disagree with him. There is no danger of this. The little he says based on Scripture would be accepted by most of those he opposes and everything he says against his opponents is unfounded, undocumented prejudice and silly name-calling. Johnson’s argument that all men are duty-bound to believe in Christ within the ‘Free Offer’ is as rationalistic as it is illogical and un-Biblical. His premise is not that man is spiritually fallen and has not the Spirit of God but that man has two natures, the moral and the natural. The moral nature is fallen, the natural nature is not. Thus he concludes “The defect (sic!) in man is his own fault, not God’s. Therefore man’s own inability is something he is guilty for, and that inability cannot therefore be seen as something that relieves the sinner of responsibility.” There is much truth in this statement but where does it leave us? It leaves us with a man who is morally defective but bodily unfallen. All his inabilities are moral and not part of his natural make up. It appears that man’s ability to respond to the gospel is to be found in his unfallen natural capacities. But sin has marred all and man is fallen in all his capacities. Furthermore, to divide man’s nature into the fallen moral and the unfallen natural is quite foreign to Scripture which tells us that the wages of sin is death, ie. sin brings with it spiritual, moral and natural corruption. Even if we could accept Johnson’s simplistic theory as Scriptural, how can we deduce from this that natural, fallen man, dead in trespasses and sins, has the known and given duty to exercise faith savingly? And from whence does he receive the power to quicken himself? Johnson does not tell us and he ends his ‘proof’ by merely stating that the sinner is responsible for his moral defects. Who would disagree? Our concern, however, is how to make a fallen sinner stand again. Even if Johnson’s echo of old Liberalism were true, we cannot appeal to the duties of a morally corrupt person to give him insight into salvation nor can we appeal to his fallen natural abilities. We must return to the definition of Calvinism given by Spurgeon. Salvation is by grace alone and we are called to preach this to all as the Spirit leads but we, of ourselves, cannot guarantee this Salvation to every man or even any man. Salvation is not a commodity to be offered to all under a guarantee, but it is the status of those placed in union with Christ before the foundation of the world. The presentation of the gospel can only be made in conjunction with this fact. We preach Christ and Him crucified and the Spirit offers salvation to those for whom it was purchased. We are to do our work dutifully, knowing that the Spirit does His.

Though Johnson’s grounds for his duty-faith cum free-offer is based on a philosophical approach to man which is firmly denied by Scripture, he makes equal shipwreck of his historical argument. Dealing with so-called Hyper-Calvinists who allegedly oppose “all forms of evangelism and preaching to the unsaved”, he tells us that the most famous example of this kind is John Ryland Senior. Needless to say, Ryland took over a normal sized church-membership in Northampton and his evangelistic activities within very few years increased that membership seven-fold. His church-building had to be extended twice during his ministry. The busy preacher, friend of Hervey and Toplady, was not merely called to his own flock but evangelised in no less than twenty different surrounding villages. He constantly drove his coach to thickly populated areas or places of public recreation, stood on the driver’s seat and preach to the masses so that they trembled in their sin and pleaded to God for mercy. True, he criticised the use of the term ‘offer’ because of the philosophical approach to the atonement and man’s state newly associated with it. He affirmed, “The word offer is not so proper as declaration, proposal, or gift. The gospel is a declaration of the free grace of God. It is a proposal of salvation by Jesus Christ, and it proclaims Christ as the free and absolute gift of God.” These very words reveal the heart of a man dedicated to God in fervent evangelism.

Johnson also seriously errs when he presents William Huntington sarcastically as the ‘godfather’ of those who deny the gospel call. Huntington filled his London church week after week with three thousand people, though taking great pains not to poach other ministers’ hearers. No other minister of his day had such evangelistic success! Conversions accompanied most services. Johnson’s ignorance of the many appeals Huntington made to sinners to flee from the wrath to come is inexcusable in a man who claims to have read his works. Nor can Johnson place Huntington amongst those who reject the term ‘offer of the gospel’ as his works show that he used the words freely, though not in the limited and Liberal way of the modern Free Offer abusers of the term.

Johnson links the offer of Christ in the gospel with common grace. This grace, common to all men, he argues, is the general call of the gospel. Johnson gives us Scriptural evidence for God allowing the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike but if this is all that Johnson means by his duty-faith cum free-offer system, it is quite void of the gospel that makes unjust men just. This was the gospel that Ryland Sen. and Huntington preached which Johnson labels ‘Hardshellism`, Hyper-Calvinism’ and ‘Antinomianism’. One wonders what purpose this modern scoffer has in thus standing the gospel on its head and slandering the saints of God under the thin disguise of one who ‘is concerned’ about the modern ‘threat’ to gospel preaching. One would think he wished to abolish it!

Johnson concludes by stating that God loves all reprobates compassionately but is unable to love them redemptively – God’s love is neither compassionate nor powerful enough to redeem such stubborn sinners! This is the pure ‘God is Dead’ heresy of Dorothy Sölle and her band of sceptics. If man’s agency does not procure his salvation, Christ has died in vain and thus He is Christ no longer.

Watts’ Whims

The second Babel pronouncement is an essay-reprint by Malcolm Watts entitled The Free Offer of the Gospel, published in the magazine of Emmanuel Church, Salisbury (2001-2002). Watts defines the ‘offer’ as an expression of willingness to give a person something conditionally on his assent. He thus compares accepting Christ as someone who on buying goods at Bristol market, finds them free of charge and accepts them. His proof text is Isaiah 55:1 “Ho, every one that thirsteth . . . . . . by wine and milk without money and without price.” He forgets that this passage is referring to the prepared Bride of Christ being called by the Bridegroom and not to every man jack. Striving to find backing not only in the above Scripture but also in the various Calvinistic tenets such as the Canons of Dort and Westminster Confession, Watts gets himself into difficulties. These documents speak of Jesus being freely offered to the elect in the gospel. This is what the Marrow Men believed when they used the word ‘offer’ and this is what Huntington taught. This offer, then, is not indiscriminately to all men, based on God’s common grace to all but for the elect only. Watt appears to admit this, yet contrary-wise teaches that ‘to offer’ means to be willing to give something to somebody if they are willing to receive it. Modern Free Offer Liberals call this the ‘well-meant offer’, i.e. you offer Christ as if you really have Him to offer people indiscriminately and you pretend that everybody can accept him and that salvation is truly for them. The preacher strives to hoodwink the hearer into imagining himself in a secure position and able to take advantage of the offer, though the only warrant (Watt’s word) for such action is in the deceptive call of the ill-intentioned preacher. Watt says he is not basing his theory on isolated texts. Evidently! He does not give any Scripture at all to back up his extraordinary psychological approach to preaching. Nor do I believe that he could find any.

Now Watts extends his deceit. He tells us that he is not talking about the whole revelation of God but merely the part that says Christ is Saviour – everybody’s Saviour! Here Watts quotes Boston for backing who tells us that a physician appointed to a particular society can be visited by any in that society. Watt’s is forgetting that Boston did not believe in the deceitful preaching of a ‘well-meant’ offer (nor do the other ‘experts’ he wrongly quotes) and, in Watt’s case, the comparison does not hold water. The physician was there to heal all, whereas the Scripture and Declarations of Faith Watts’ quotes say that only the elect are healed.

Quoting Isaac Watts, our Watts now tells us that “none of the sons and daughters of Adam” are excluded from the salvation offered in the gospel. He then asks “Does this surprise you? Well, frankly, yes. What need then for the Day of Judgement and hell’s torments? What need is there for God to have chosen an elect people in Christ before the foundation of the world? Again, Watts back-pedals, saying that he is only talking about those who ‘will’. But man’s fallen ‘will’ is a ‘will not’! Here Fullerism lurks with its slogan “I can if I will?” Now Watts tells us another tale of the Queen giving everyone invitations to walk into her palace. This is the Free Offer in the gospel. All may walk in! This is the warrant for faith, says Watts. Now the term ‘warrant’ means a written authorisation or guarantee. If Watts feels that he has a written authorisation and guarantee of salvation for all, he ought to produce it. If not, he ought to be honest and tell us that there are those for whom God neither authorises nor guarantees salvation.

Watts, like Johnson, ignores Christ’s atoning work with its adopting, justifying and sanctifying outcome. This is not part of his watered-down gospel which presents Christ as everybody’s saviour. He does tell us, however, that Christ is offered particularly. At once I thought that Watts was becoming orthodox and believed in particular atonement. No such thing! Watts tells us that salvation in the offer is not general to all but particular to each and every one of us.

This message from Babel’s tower ends with an assurance that Watts is sincere. This general offer which is for every particular one must be preached sincerely and lovingly, he tells us. When he speaks, hearers must feel that God is beseeching them! But how can Watts look a man in the face, whom he does not know from Adam and tell him that he is being given in loving sincerity an authorisation and guarantee of his own particular salvation. Would he tell this to Esau? Would he tell this to Dives? Would he tell this to Judas? Would he tell this to the devil?

Murray’s Morass

The third recent attempt to redesign and limit God’s saving grace is a reprint of John Murray’s essay on the Free Offer. Murray starts by telling us that God desires the salvation of all men and quotes a Presbyterian Church article which says that God loves the penitent and desires the salvation of the impenitent and reprobate. He then strives to back this up by quoting Ezekial 33:11 which does not say that God desires the salvation of reprobates but that he has pleasure in the wicked when they turn to him and are saved. Though he has not proven his point re God’s desire, Murray argues that God would not desire the salvation of all without distinction unless He had provided the means for them. Thus the free offer is not a mere offer but “God delights that those to whom the offer comes would enjoy what is offered in all its fullness”. The question of how God could delight in offering what He knows will not be accepted is left unanswered.

Murray now turns to what he calls the Scriptural basis for his Free Offer preaching. He finds this in common grace as exhibited in Matthew 5:44-48, Luke 6:27, 28 and Acts 14:17 which allegedly proves that believers and reprobates alike are recipients of God’s favour. Again, we are reminded that the sun shines on both the just and unjust and that such passages are “redolent of the pity and compassion in the heart of God that overflow in the bestowment of kindness.” But what has this to do with a warrant of salvation for both the unjust and the just provided in the Free Offer? Murray answers tantalisingly, “What bearing this may have upon the grace of God manifested in the free offer of the gospel to all without distinction remains to be seen”. A good writer always keeps his audience in suspense!

Quoting Deuteronomy 5:29; 32:29; Psalm 81:13 and Isaiah 48:18, Murray expounds his Liberal ‘Two Wills’ teaching which is so much part of the free offer psychology. God, he tells us, has a decretive will and a will to save those whom He has not decreed to be saved. God is undecided about the fate of the wicked. He has two wills about it. The Father has one will and Christ has another, contradictory will. Murray spends some time arguing his case here, mostly based on his highly critical views of the Hebrew text. His conclusion is that Christ has a totally different view of salvation to the Father’s. This cannot be put down to the Fact that Jesus was human and that the Father was not, Murray assures us, but it must reflect two distinct Divine wills. It is obvious that Murray builds his doctrine of a warranty of salvation for all on his imagined Jesus side, rather than on the decretal side of the Father.

Murray concludes the section by saying that God clearly is pleased to will that all should turn to Him in repentance. This is, however, not the dividing line between orthodoxy and Murrayism and his Free Offer gospellers. The line is where Murray preaches salvation for all where God demands repentance from all. The Scriptural demand for repentance does not automatically bring with it the guarantee or grant of salvation. All must repent because all have broken the law. Salvation is only by grace and God’s grace is obviously discriminate, otherwise hell would be empty. However, what Murray means by ‘pleased to will’ is not easy to discern. He does not tell us whether he is speaking of (for him) God’s effective will or His ineffective will. If it is God’s ineffective, non-decretal will that guarantees the salvation of all men, we can safely forget it as then no man will be saved. Murray merely tells us that what he calls ‘overtures’ to men are made on the basis that the full gospel must not be preached (‘Why?’ we must ask) and that the call to repentance brings with it the wherewithal to repent.

Murray promised explanation comes at the end in a garbled version of 2 Peter 3:9. Murray here questions that Peter is writing to the elect, though Peter says this, and tells us that we must take ‘The Lord . . . . is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish’ as Peter’s message to all men. He then proceeds to retranslate the passage giving it an interpretation which even his re-translation cannot bear. His warrant for this, he tells us, is ‘the analogy of Scripture’. But he has given us no Scripture which is analogous to his theory of a warranted salvation for all which he forces on Peter’s words. The gospel which Peter is preaching, Murray affirms, is not the gospel that all the elect will certainly be saved but that God wishes all to be saved, providing they grasp out and accept him. Paul is thus not speaking words of comfort to the already saved but words of theological confusion to the unsaved based on the watered down gospel which says, “God loves you. What are you going to do about it?’ Never be specific in preaching the gospel, Murray argues but keep the fact that the reprobate are doomed from them. However, the very fact that sinners are told to flee from doom is the gospel way of driving some to Christ. In Murray’s gospel there is only God’s ‘delight’ and ‘love’ for all men which morally drives people to him.

The height of Murray’s total theological confusion comes in his conclusion. “The full and free offer of the gospel is a grace bestowed upon all . . . . . the grace offered is nothing less than salvation in its richness and fullness. The love or loving-kindness that lies back of that offer is not anything less; it is the will to that salvation.” “The loving and benevolent will that is the source of that offer and that grounds its veracity and reality in the will to the possession of Christ and the enjoyment of the salvation that resides in him.” However, Murray has so confused the issue up to now with his various wills that it is not clear which will of God he means, the effective will or the ineffective one. We are thus left with the question, if God wills the salvation of all men, why are all men not saved? The question is also valid, ‘What has Murray’s free offer system to do with the preaching of the gospel?

A painful conclusion

The Finneyite ‘offer’ presented by these ministers is a mockery of the gospel call. It is a sad and perverse con-trick. It is not a well-meant offer, nor can it be a sincere offer, nor can it be a loving offer as it is an offer of deceit. The ‘gospel’ that Johnson, Watts and Murray so freely offer does not come as a certain life-bringer to some and a condemning judge to others. It is all empty smiles and cheers and desires on their god’s part. It rejects the God who has decreed all to save the elect and accepts a god who has decreed nothing and wills what he knows he will never have. It rejects the God who will have His holiness and righteous judgement preached to the nations. It rejects the eternal love of God for the people of His choice. It rejects the entire work of Christ in choosing the Bride promised Him from eternity. It sees preaching as a mere moral persuasion, based on the idea of a doting god who only wills for all people to accept him but does not will their acceptance. This is truly a blasphemous religion.

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

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Bible Reading: Romans 10:13-14.

In the eighteenth century, an Evangelical Awakening swept through the western world ushered in through the medium of restored preaching. Never since the Reformation had earnest men taken to the highways and by-ways and preached to the multitudes with such power. Hundreds of thousands who had never cared for religion, found themselves drawn to it through the spoken Word.

Stop: you might say. The Church is not a preaching factory. Preaching is of use in its right place but church worship, the communion of the saints and pastoral care are essentialities of church fellowship. We understand this and this conference and our Society do not neglect to teach about the inner fellowship shared by the communion of the saints. But our present task in this conference is especially to emphasise the divine use of preaching to draw lost sinners into that fellowship through the call of God to people who do not yet know Him.

Preachers of the Awakening such as George Whitefield and James Hervey kept this balance between pleading with the lost and edifying the saved. At the start of the revival they held daily Morning Prayers together, building up their congregation in the knowledge of their Lord but they also preached to the hitherto unreached thousands outside. Sturdy Whitefield moved wherever the crowds could be assembled but invalid James Hervey was gifted by God to draw in the crowds from miles around to hear his preaching, having the windows and doors removed from his church building so that they could hear the Words of salvation. Both ministers thus drew thousands of men and women from the highways and byways and compelled them through the Spirit to find Jesus.

The 18th Century Restoration of Preaching

But why speak of an eighteenth century restoration of preaching? Was not that renewal accomplished two centuries before? Yes, but by the beginning of the eighteenth century the spoken word had been downgraded so radically that true preaching had disappeared even in once ‘Reformed’ churches. The ever-renewing idea of a semper reformanda was forgotten. The reasons, with hindsight, are obvious.

First: A return to Roman Aristotelianism

Reformed Biblical exegetical principles were rejected in the churches for a return to a systematic Aristotelian analysis of Scripture, dissecting the living Word into dead parts instead of synthesising and synergising those parts into a living whole. Preaching became an academically, logical, analytical, systematic slaughter of the Scriptures. Key inseparable doctrines like repentance, forgiveness, cleansing from sin, adoption, justification, and the New Birth became isolated through departmentalised exegesis.

Second: The Enlightenment invaded the Church

That misnomer ‘The Enlightenment’ entered the churches, re-emphasising the Light of Reason, Natural Law and Natural Religion. Appeal to the Holy Spirit’s inner-working on the soul was dropped and ‘Reason’ was deified.

You may say I exaggerate but read even so-called Reformed manuals such as Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex, the first major Enlightenment work mass-printed for clerical consumption, built on Major’s and Buchanan’s in-human French Humanism. Leaning on Plato and Aristotle, Rutherford, argued that ‘nature’s light’, ‘nature’s instinct’, ‘nature’s law’, ‘the covenant of nature’ and a ‘common human law of nations’ empowered human self-rule through natural, divine wisdom. Lex Rex was followed closely by the Westminster Assembly’s Presbyterians as seen in Article 21 which begins:

‘The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.’

Paragraph VII continues:

‘As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him.’

Did you know by natural light that God was love and goodness before God stepped into your life? Do you put the ‘law of nature’ before Scripture? Sadly such natural theology still pollutes Reformed thinking. Because the Lord allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, we hear, every fallen man has a natural duty to respond positively to God’s salvation and has also a natural right and warrant to it because Natural Law is superior to revealed law. See Andrew Fuller. Happily, Articles IX and X of the Church of England declare that man’s wisdom recognises no natural light and is not subject to the law of God thus deserving only damnation. Until God says ‘Let there be Light’ in our nature, we are in darkness, whatever the weather! God’s Revealed Law alone can lead a sinner to Christ.

Thirdly: Head-knowledge superior to heart-experience

Ecclesiastical, educational and doctrinal reforms introduced by Church of England and Ireland Puritans like Usher, Bidell, Morten, Davenant, Hall and Durie, and Independents like the Nyes, Davenport, Sibbes and Owen, ceased with the Enlightenment. Such true Puritans had used advances in Biblical linguistics and the…

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An Extract From George Ella’s Book, “John Gill And The Cause Of God And Truth”, Pages 54,55. A Printed Copy Of This Book May Be Obtained From Go Publications (£13/$16).

The records of Gill’s ordination service have provided church historians with a complete picture of how the Particular Baptists were organized at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is clear that they only elected one elder per church, who was also their pastor, who then presided over a number of deacons.[1] Though many pastors were present at Gill’s ordination ceremony, they were referred to by Crosby in his records as ‘elders’. This might indicate that the Baptists had some idea of a church universal with elders belonging to it which were not members of the local church but fellow members of the body of Christ. In their confessions of faith, however, they tended to define the local church as if it excluded any membership of a wider church concept. This wider church concept, however, in many Baptist churches, had begun to take the form of fraternals, associations, societies and unions. They, in turn, tended to isolate the normal church members from fellowship with the other churches as only representatives called ‘messengers’ took an active part in inter-church dealings. Gradually these associations and unions, with their representative membership only, elected non-church-based hierarchies with no doctrinal creeds who saw themselves as ruling bodies over local churches.[2] Gill was to do much in his pastorate to curb this downgrading of a true church conception but he was very much a lone voice and his successor John Rippon went back to the old para-church policies. By the time Charles Haddon Spurgeon became pastor of Gill’s church after Rippon, over a hundred years later, the situation had become so bad that a doctrineless Baptist Union dominated the majority of local churches, ruling them from outside. Churches founded abroad by British missionaries were ruled by a committee of men in the Baptist Missionary Society who opened their membership to anyone who would pay 10/6 , irrespective of their beliefs. Declaring that he was taking up the mantle cast down at Gill’s death, Spurgeon took up the postponed fight again for the rights of the local church over external organizations, patronages and societies. Spurgeon had a measure of success in his reforming plans for the Baptist Missionary Society but he failed sadly in his opposition to the Baptist Union who continued to put organizational unity sealed by the rite of baptism before a common faith.

[1] Ivimey gives the exception of a Bristol church that traditionally elected a co-pastor. See vol. iv, pp. 283-289.
[2] There were exceptions regarding statements of faith. The London Particular Baptist Board demanded that its members be Calvinists and the Western Association required their members to sign the 1689 Confession from around 1733 onwards. In 1782, for instance, the Kent and Sussex Association headed their Association Letter with a brief statement of faith.

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The Aims of This Lecture:

In my paper, I would like to air the perpetual challenge of presenting doctrine in evangelism, pastoral work and personal witness to a people who find doctrine hard to digest, difficult to understand and indeed, an insult to their view of themselves. I will first look at the fact that even in Christian circles doctrine is dumbed down and then at the methods used and reasons given for such an attitude. I will follow this up by defining doctrine as it is found in Scripture and analysing its obvious use in evangelism and Christian edification. Indeed, I hope to show that no evangelism can be done without doctrine as doctrine is the framework and contents of the gospel. We shall look at this framework and contents and come to the conclusion, I trust, that dumbing down doctrine will leave us without a gospel, without teaching, without a knowledge of ourselves, without a knowledge of Christ, and thus without either a knowledge or experience of salvation, and leave us with nothing with which to honour God or edify the saints. That is, it will leave us without belief, without worship and without witness. This leads me to the conclusion that dumbing down doctrine is the surest way to curb evangelism, pastoral work and public testimony. This leaves us with a shallow religion that is a mere mockery of Christianity and not the power of God unto salvation. In short, no doctrine, no gospel, no church.

The framework of my talk will thus be:

Part One: Dumbed-Down Doctrinal Dissent

Part Two: Divine Doctrinal Definitions

Part Three: Divine Doctrinal Demonstrations

Part Four: Divine Doctrinal Deductions

Part One: Dumbed-Down Doctrinal Dissent

Dumb dogs cannot bark

Referring to the hireling who neglects the sheep, Isaiah in Chapter 56:10, says “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark.” Christ, too, warns us of these hirelings, so we must take a good look at them so as to be better warned.

Let us imagine that a British Travel Agency wanted to tempt Continental tourists to Britain. They thus sent over finely coloured brochures with lots of glossy pictures to gain the interest of the Germans, Dutch, French, Scandinavians, etc.. They opened a web-site, and produced films and videos to draw the crowds to this green and verdant land. In these media, however, they explained apologetically that London was merely a Kentish suburb and quite uninteresting; York was a boring historical city and thus not worth visiting; the Lake-District had only barren, off-putting hills and Wales would frighten anyone off because of the constant singing going on there. No, they argued, anyone who visits Britain can do no better than to have a guided tour of the off-shore oil-rigs.

Pro-Christ and the Alpha Course

Believe it or not, many of our modern hirelings-cum-evangelists, preachers and para-church organisations follow the same inane tactics when inviting outsiders to Christ. In recent months two modern ideas to attract people to a doctrine-less gospel have been given much publicity in Germany. A campaign called Pro-Christ and one called Alpha Course. As soon as these campaigns were started, Christian groups as far apart as Roman Catholics and Pentecostals – or perhaps they are not so far apart – argued that as there was nothing in these campaigns that discredited their churches, they would join. Nobody found anything to which they could object, for the simple reason that the basis of these campaigns was so weak and washed-out that there was nothing in it that one could object to. The official 1997 Pro-Christ report, which was given to prove the great success of this ecumenical project, illustrates this. It reads translated:

“The Evangelical Church provided the facilities, the Catholic Church the projector, the Pentecostals, Inner mission (Landeskirchlichegemeinschaft) and the Baptists the rest of the technology. The Pietists provided the moderator and the tea, the Plymouth Brethren the drama introductions and the Charismatics the praise. A miracle from God. Four years ago this would not have been possible. Pro-Christ creates practical unity!”

I read this to my son who had been to Pro-Christ meetings. Yes, he said, they will accept anything and anybody but woe betide those who quote God’s Word!

Concerning the Alpha Course, I read in an English review by Elizabeth McDonald two salient remarks. The problems with the course are so serious, the lady says, “that faithful Bible believing Christians cannot recommend the course nor, in the final analysis, stay silent about its faults.” She adds, “It is ironic, if not cultic, how the Holy Spirit is so enthusiastically endorsed through second blessing experiences yet so little emphasised with respect to salvation.”

One further dumbing down of doctrine which is so much evident in these modern substitutes for sound evangelism is the…

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Dear Friends,

The two letters copied below were written in response to charges of Antinomianism, Hyper-Calvinism and false analyses of Fullerism coming from the Founders Journal and their supporters. These accusations were never justified and made by people who did not know me from Adam and had not read my books. One particular person, now long departed from the Reformed faith he professed then to hold, was giving an after-dinner jocular speech in which I was mentioned disdainfully when he was asked by an unamused table-guest why he condemned me so violently and joked about me so unbrotherly yet did not appear to know what I taught. He received the answer that the speaker did not have to read me to denounce me. The brother who posed the question sent me a tape of the speech and reply. I wrote to the ‘big name’ in question who asked another minister to reply on his behalf. The person replied saying that he found my views on Fuller ‘immoral’. I wrote back and asked him to verify this from my writings. The ardent Fullerite replied that he had never read anything from my pen and he had never read anything from Fuller’s pen either, but he was entitled to his opinions! This apparently is the low standard of brotherly tolerance and scholarship which we are up against when people profess to be in blissful ignorance, believing it is folly to be wise. However, they still have tongues of serpents. As I hear that the group whom I addressed, though several of them have radically changed their theology, yet continue to call me an Antinomian and Hyper-Calvinist publicly and privately, I am revealing just how these leaders of men keep up their influence and power merely by denouncing their brethren on false pretences so as to appear mighty in the faith. The two letters were written in 1996 and received no replies. After that, certain subscribers to the FJ magazines were scratched off their lists and sent extremely insulting letters to say why they were considered unwanted.

The trouble is with such as the FJ, like similar organisations in Britain, though the BOT shows signs of new health and a willingness to listen to others, is that they have set themselves up as a standard of orthodoxy which they are not qualified by learning, experimental religion and brotherly acumen to maintain. This was the same recently with Affinity 1 and 2 who boasted of an orthodoxy to which few of them could honestly subscribe. However, even when they err, they still feel they still represent orthodoxy as they have become a law unto themselves, a new sect and a pseudo-church. A direct and open dialogue in true brotherly fellowship and understanding would help all concerned here. I notice that the Affinity people still denounce me as an Antinomian in their conferences. When I wrote to their ‘leader’ about this, I received no reply. When a junior pastor in the movement also denounced me at a conference, I wrote to him, too, asking him to give reasons for the accusations which were in him. He did write back but only to say that he was too busy preaching the gospel to bother with me.

6.8.2014, Mülheim, Germany

Dear Brother X,

This morning, I received your long-awaited letter plus a letter from two British ministers of the gospel, a Baptist and…

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Great changes are occurring in the contemporary theological scene and there seems to be a mass exodus from the old paths of our fathers in the faith to the new-fangled paths of what is now known as ‘Evangelical Calvinism’. The inspired teachings of the New Testament, the Reformation and the preaching of such 18th century stalwarts as John Gill, James Hervey and Augustus Toplady are being given up for the teachings of a comparatively nobody who is being re-created as a star, given VIP treatment and promoted as the new Luther, the trumpet blast, the sounder of the alarm, the one who fanned the smoking wick of the evangelical Awakening into a blaze and the prophet of the new evangelism. This person is none other than Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) who is being rehabilitated by the new orthodoxy and presented in a form which even he, in spite of his many heresies, would not have recognised as his own work.

Deceptive marketing strategy under a sound slogan

Fullerism has thus once again raised its ugly head amongst Particular Baptist and Reformed churches and become a product marketed under the catching slogan The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Just as Fuller strove to make the Baptists respectable and clean them of what he called the dunghill of High Calvinism, so his modern fans are presenting him as their only hope in making Christianity a rational religion which even fallen man can comprehend and follow faithfully. We are thus seeing one formally Calvinistic church after the other, followed by their magazines and newsletters, proclaiming a ‘modified Calvinism’ which claims that the old doctrines are too high, or even hyper, and that an inner knowledge of the truth is as common as the offer of salvation is universal.

Anyone protesting against this down-grading of true religion by these people, who have rejected the Five Points and teach the relativity of the Law, must expect to be called a Hyper-Calvinist and an Antinomian. These are scornful names that Traill, Gill, Brine, Hervey, Toplady, Whitefield, Huntington and Hawker had to bear before us and God honoured their work no less for that. This paper will seek to show that a true Christian cannot possibly be a Fullerite as this would mean rejecting the eternal truths of God’s Word and rejecting the eternal validity of the Mosaic Law and Christ’s precepts as a statement of God’s eternal nature. It would mean believing that sin, the fall and redemption are to be understood merely figuratively and accepting the error that Christ was never placed under the Law on our behalf but ever remained above and beyond it. There is thus in Fullerism no imputation of sin, no transfer of guilt and punishment, no substitution, no satisfaction, no indwelling righteousness of Christ. Indeed, the whole work of Christ in His redemptive sufferings and death, for Fuller, was an arbitrary sham merely to shake man into an awareness of his natural duties to shun evil and seek God and thus grasp out and take the forgiveness that is his for the asking.

Fuller’s two-tier system of reason and revelation

Fuller’s teaching on Scripture is part and parcel of his general teaching on law and revelation. There are two kinds of rules which nature and revealed religion point out to us. The one is eternally right, the other is only right as long as God will have it that way. The former is natural i.e. part of nature and relies on man’s recognition of what Fuller calls ‘the nature and fitness of things.’ The latter is revealed i.e. not part of nature, is secondary to natural law and points to…

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The Problem of Fullerism
by Paul Fahy
(Understanding Ministries)

The system of unbiblical doctrines known as Fullerism is becoming popular in our present-day Reformed churches. Originally launched by a small Latitudinarian clique in the late 18th cent., it was denounced by Fuller’s Reformed contemporaries as ‘a gangrene in the churches’. In 1877, the Gospel Magazine joined most of the major Christian periodicals in condemning Fuller’s “excessive and antiscriptural ideas” and testified to their “unfeigned abhorrence of a system that robs God of His glory”. Some modern ex-Reformed evangelicals think they know better and are now proclaiming that Fullerism is the surest way to sound evangelism and the right preaching of the gospel. This is a scandal of major proportion and a testimony that we are now in those perilous times when judgement must begin at the house of God and even the righteous are scarcely saved (I Peter 4:17 ff.).

In the first section of the booklet under review, Paul Fahy clearly and accurately describes the follies of Fullerism and displays its wayward, deceitful and God-dishonouring gospel. He demonstrates succinctly how Fuller’s heretical views concerning faith, Scripture, atonement, justification, sin, righteousness, imputation, law, grace, God’s will, election, predestination, sanctification and evangelism are a mock version of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. This twenty-one-page refutation of Fullerism could hardly be bettered. It would make an excellent ‘stand-alone’ tract to hand out to those endangered by Fullerism.

However, Paul Fahy spoils an excellent work by affixing to it thirty-two pages of no less than nine appendices. These confuse and contradict the position he takes in the main essay and contain highly questionable ideas concerning so-called duty-faith and the relationship of law to gospel. Here, Fahy strives to make our Reformers and Puritans, and especially John Gill, toe the line with Arthur Pink concerning the alleged duties of the unconverted to exercise saving faith. In doing so, he puts forward antitheses which were certainly never taught by those whom he claims are his mentors. Fahy teaches that the Apostles never preached the law but instead ‘preached Christ’, thus drawing a false dichotomy between the law and the Fulfiller of it. Where the Spirit works in preaching, Fahy argues, the law is never applied. This separates the Spirit from His Word. Furthermore, Fahy claims that the law has only reference to Jews and not Gentiles. This leaves him with two different gospels. If Christ only suffered vicariously under the law for Jews only, what hope is there for Gentiles? Fahy quotes 1 Corinthians and Galatians as evidence of this ‘no law’ approach but Paul clearly uses the law here to show the Corinthian church that adultery and fornication are still amongst them and in Galatians, he argues throughout from the curse of the law to the blessings of faith. Like Christ, the Apostles began at Moses and all the prophets and explained Christ’s fulfilment of their teaching. They were most diligent to show that both Jews and Gentiles fall short of God’s standards as revealed in His law. In preaching, sinners need to be confronted with their sins. Oddly enough, Fahy suggests that in my Introduction to William Rushton’s Particular Redemption, I fully back his teaching. I do not. Nor does Rushton. Buy the booklet, however, for the sake of the excellent opening essay.

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

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The 18th century is often called the Century of Reason. This is because Newtonian scientists and philosophers such as Locke taught that the workings of the known world and the ways of the unknown God could all be demonstrated by logical deduction. Men of letters such as Beattie and Blair in Scotland and Lessing in Germany taught that following the paths of logic was akin to following in the footsteps of God. Lessing even went so far as to say that Christ had the right use of reason in mind when He promised that the Holy Spirit would come. In his Education of the Human Race, Lessing pointed out that by the aid of reason, man would go on to perfection and finally reach a state of being Christ-like. Many Christians accepted this philosophy, arguing that as it issued from the pens of practising Christians, it could not be wrong. Others, such as the poet William Cowper, saw through the faulty logic. If reason alone made gods out of men, he argued, then God was quite superfluous. Needless to say, Cowper denounced such a system. To him it was the logic of fallen man and not the reasoning of God as revealed in Scripture.

The 18th century also brought with it a strong desire to reform public manners. The so-called Restoration period, which raised a play-boy King to the throne and brought literature and language down to the bawdy-house floor was not to be tolerate long by Providence. Writers such as Addison and Young began to clean up the English language and the Church of England responded with a best-selling book called The Whole Duty of Man which taught the necessity of good conduct and respectability for right living. High moral principles were put forward as the mark of a Godly life but there was no Gospel in the book but rather a latent teaching of righteousness according to works. Now the moral law, not reason, was emphasised as the measure of all things. This emphasis on duty to the moral law as opposed to the Mosaic law, brought with it an upsurge in Neonomianism and Amyraldism. Sincere obedience to moral precepts became the new gospel.

Then God in His mercy poured out His Spirit on Europe, the British Isles and the American colonies and men were raised up such as Spener, Franke and Untereyck on the Continent, Hervey, Gill, Brine, Toplady, Romaine and Huntington in Britain and Frelinghusen and Whitefield in America commuted backwards and forwards across the Atlantic planting the Word of God wherever they came. These men, though men of learning, logic and highly moral lives, had found something greater. They believed in preaching the righteousness of Christ imputed to elect sinners through the free grace of God as the result of a Saviour’s redemptive and vicarious death for His Church.

Church statistics show that between 1700 and 1785 Protestant churches had grown by well over four hundred percent in Germany. In England literally hundreds of clergymen and Dissenting pastors were now preaching Christ as the fulfilment of the Law for His elect. The American colonies were ablaze with the light of the Gospel. Nevertheless, there were still many human ostriches in the churches at this time. Men who could not accept the mainly Calvinistic beliefs of the pioneers of the Great Awakening. Men who had buried their heads in the sands of false doctrine and not noticed what a great work was going on. The date 1785 is a memorable one for these men. It is the publishing date of a book by a Baptist pastor named Andrew Fuller called The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. According to Fuller’s followers, there was no awakening in the 18th century amongst Baptists until this book was published and Fuller entered the scene to fill the same role in England that Luther had filled in Germany.

These human ostriches also argued that there was no sign of spiritual life outside of the Baptist churches either and looked upon such Anglican pioneers of the Revival as James Hervey as arch heretics because they taught that…

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Dear Brother J.,

Thank you so much for your detailed analysis of my attempt to illustrate saving faith as opposed to duty-faith. You brought many coals to Newcastle for me and your Athens-bound ships were full of wise old owls, all of which were welcome. It is good to find that though you may disagrees with me on terms, we have so very much agreement on contents, though we are only at the beginning of a debate. It is very obvious that you Presbyterians use many words that I do, yet with different meanings. Thomas Scott used to say that all denominations tend to inject their own particular meaning into words and thus distinguish themselves from others. This is a true observation but it makes it difficult for outsiders to understand what the insiders are talking about. Thus the churches continue the history of Babel. As an experiment, I sent my views on duty-faith to a Symposium of brethren who are insiders to my vocabulary and, as I expected, they all understood my words, and replied either in full agreement or with neighbouring interpretations. None saw the remotest signs of Hyper-Calvinism in my words but a fervent desire to preach the full gospel to the whole man as the Spirit leads. As your letter illustrates, I have greater difficulty with Presbyterians or those tied up in post-Reformation doctrine-building.

You obviously use your views of Calvinism as a yard-stick to judge my views. This is a very unstable basis to work on as the various, so-called Reformed bodies (which are often most popish) interpret Calvin differently and, indeed, it is not always their fault. Calvin is very much like Spurgeon and my favourite poet Cowper: they find friends in all camps. But the trouble occurs when these ‘friends’ cease to be friendly amongst themselves and cross-denomination-wise over their private interpretations. I do not use the term Calvinist of myself as I am a most moderate one at best. I look upon my old tutors such as Jewel, Bishop Hall (not the Roberts Hall), Davenant, Whitaker, Perkins, Gill, Toplady, Hervey etc. as my mentors in Christ and find them greater all-rounders than Calvin and didactically and expositionally more skilled. All these men, of course, had great respect for Calvin, as I do, too. I believe we are in agreement that Scripture is a better yardstick than even Calvinism.

Permit me to deal with your balanced appraisal paragraph-wise:

“Dr. George Ella has given his well-known views on the issue of saving faith and duty-faith. The controversy of “common grace” and the “well-meant offer” bears very much upon that issue; and as it is also part of the whole debate on the classic Antinomian, Neonomian and legalism controversy of bygone years.

Dr. Ella’s views are clear enough and like those in opposing camps, unequivocal and unabashed. The PRC disagrees with Dr. Ella, and takes its stand against the notion of which “faith” is defined as a condition in which the sinner is not duty or legally bound to perform against the just and righteous demands of God as He makes known in His commands.”

My comment:

I feel that the discussion concerning common grace and a well-meant offer is more a Presbyterian problem and those non-Presbyterians who have adopted such views have, I believe, almost ship-wrecked their faith in doing so. Not many can handle common grace as Kuyper or the offer as Huntington. I have never been able to understand what moderns mean by them. My views cannot be known at all, never mind ‘well-known’ if they are brought into contact with common grace and the well-meant offer which are, I strongly believe, mere red-herrings to the debate. However, I feel that I have a great deal of agreement with the…

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Preachers Today

2 Nov 2022, by

Throughout last year, there was a rather one-sided debate in the internet concerning the alleged difference between preachers in pan-Biblical times and those of today. These were mostly carried out by para-church groups who had words such as ‘spiritual’ in their titles and were obviously against a settled ministry in a local church, some even arguing that the office of a preacher was only used of a peripatetic, itinerant servant of God. On most of these sites one found that the writers denigrated all modern preaching, presenting themselves, of course, as ‘spiritual’ preachers who were the exception to the sad rule. The result of this campaign was that a number of brethren copied quotes from these sites and sent them to various brethren, often without comment, believing that they were fulfilling the calling to ‘preach the word’. It appears that the most popular quote was entitled ‘Preachers Today’ and reads:

‘Preachers today are licensed and ordained by the church; men of old were ordained and sent by God. Preachers today go forth armed with degrees and credentials; men of old went forth anointed by the Holy Spirit. Preachers today are questioned by committees and hired to preach what the church believes; men of old came preaching, “Thus saith the Lord.” Preachers today give themselves to programs, visitation, church business; men of old gave themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Preachers today preach and men are persuaded to move their membership; men of old preached and, “they were pricked in their hearts and cried, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Preachers today pray and the organ plays softly; Elijah prayed and the fire of God fell. Preachers today are afraid that they will offend someone; Paul was afraid that he would not. If there is no offence, the gospel has not been preached.’

Apart from reading this article in the internet, where its author is mentioned, I have been sent copies from different friends from quite different backgrounds and from different countries. None troubled to give the author or source of the quote but presented the copied words as if they had authored them so that the true author and his aims and the context and background of the quote, could not be established. The senders were obviously servants of Christ who were striving to understand why Christians today are making so little impact on the world. Three things became immediately clear: Firstly, my correspondents believed that their making the quote available to as many brethren as possible was their contribution to positive Christian witness. Secondly, they were not prepared to discuss what they had sent as, with their supply, they had exhausted their responsibility. Thirdly, my correspondents excluded themselves from what they mark out as a modern weakness in the Church.

This quote caused me some concern as two of the senders themselves proved that the negative part of the antitheses was wrong in their cases and quite wrong in the case of many other brethren I know in almost all denominations and churches. One pastor who sent me the quote but refused to discuss it with me, vouched for its truth even though he speaks much of his theological training and seeks to show from his display of Greek and Hebrew, how he came to quite questionable theories. Indeed, all the antitheses are false and come from sources which apparently have no grasp of what a balanced ministry is but act as judges of those whom they have neither the calling or training to understand. The antitheses proclaimed are a mere careless attempt to generalize reality based on a hypothesis unverified by facts. So, as a positive, objective and evangelical contribution to present day Christian witness, these doleful complaints are counter-productive as they are non sequiturs, presenting a Scriptural and, indeed, logical, fallacy. Let us take these false antitheses one by one.

‘1. Preachers today are licensed and ordained by the church; men of old were ordained and sent by God.’

It does not follow that licensed preachers in modern times ordained by their church, are not thus ordained and sent by God. Nor does it follow that ancient preachers ordained and sent by God were not…

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A marked negative feature of common-grace gospellers is the scorn which they pour on men of God who emphasise that the whole gospel must be preached to the whole man as the Spirit leads. Thus they condemn such Christians of the past as Tobias Crisp, John Ryland Senior, William Romaine, William Huntington, John Gill, Augustus Toplady and Robert Hawker who would not dilute their gospel to suit what the common-grace gospellers call ‘man’s agency’. These men were called to preach Christ’s victorious crucifixion accomplishments, including great Bible truths such as the eternal union of Christ with His Bride; Christ’s faith and righteousness imputed to His people, election, predestination and the justifying, saving decrees of God in and from eternity and a faith which endures. Common-grace gospellers call such preachers of righteousness ‘Hyper-Calvinists’ and ‘Antinomians’, arguing against plain historical facts that they would not evangelise but preach only to the already saved.

We have seen in my review article The Gospel of Deceit how John Ryland, because he would not follow the common grace-natural law devotees, was vilified by Philip R Johnson, though Ryland went into the highways and bye-ways of the areas laid waste from gospel preaching by the common-grace Latitudinarian and natural law forerunners of such as Hulse, Watts and Murray. Ryland drew in the unconverted and the deceived, increasing his Nottingham church seven-fold and doing great evangelistic work in the London area.

The Banner of Truth Trust dismayed lovers of the old path doctrines of grace in the middle 1980s when they started up a lengthy campaign to denigrate Huntington and Gill on common-grace grounds. The anonymous onslaught on Huntington in the July, 1888 issue of the BOT magazine, entitled The Voice of Years, repeating the taunts of a notorious enemy of the gospel, challenged the very foundations and pillars of the reformed faith in order to dismiss Huntington as an ‘Antinomian”. The follow-up October article by Iain Murray, the Editorial Director, used as a major ‘source’ the arguments of Robert Southey who had been hired by Murray the publisher’s to slander Huntington as he had also slandered John Newton and William Cowper and other saints. Lord Macaulay warned readers against Southey, demonstrating that he did not know the difference between truth and falsehood, yet Murray’s latter day namesake claimed that Southey’s falsehood was his truth. As the BOT authors merely culled their material uncritically and without checking sources from such enemies of the gospel, this accounts for the wildest historical errors, faulty quotes and misrepresentations in these and further BOT articles attacking Huntington. The main problems here were…

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Having been of quite another opinion than The Founders Journal so often about what I believe and disbelieve and having met their ill-founded and quite misleading arguments to a large extent in various articles and books, I was surprised to read an online article today (20.10. 2014) by Tom Nettles, originally published in Issue 53 of the Founders Journal for 2003 and entitled ‘Jonathan Edwards: An Appreciation’, containing a doubly mistaken report appertaining both to myself and Andrew Fuller. I had obviously missed this at the time it was written. In Nettles’ article, the author creates an effigy of wax to stick pins into which he gives my name in order to create an Andrew Fuller after his own heart. Bad as I believe Fuller’s downgrading influence was on the Baptist churches, Nettles shows himself to be more Fullerite than Fuller and well-deserves the title Hyper-Fullerite. As Fuller cannot argue for himself so I must be allowed to correct the inaccurate picture of us both.

Though Nettles article is on Edwards, he uses Edwards mainly as another fictive figure to boost his own Fullers. These days, it does not seem to matter who is the subject of FJ articles, their writers end up underlining Hyper-Fullerite tenets of their own making and flanking them against imaginary Bogey-Men with the names of real, living characters. In pursuit of this most questionable aim, Nettles writes:

‘In an article entitled “Inward Witness of the Spirit,” Fuller summarizes the substance of a couple of Edwards’s arguments in Religious Affections. He argues that the inward witness of the Spirit is not a special revelation to any individual that he in particular is a child of God. Instead, such assurance comes by inference from the presence of spiritual perceptions and actions in one’s life. The truth of the Gospel, no matter how its impressions come to our minds, must be “cordially” embraced. That is, an “approving view of God’s way of salvation, such a view as leads us to walk in it” is the foundation of peace and is the way that “God speaks peace to the soul.” No sooner is “the gospel in possession of the heart than joy and peace will ordinarily accompany it.” Since the New Testament promises eternal life to believers, “we cannot but conclude ourselves interested in it.” He does not deny the personal work of the Spirit in this, but emphasizes that the internal work of the Spirit accompanies the knowledge of and heartfelt reception of what Scripture itself actually teaches.

George Ella represents this as “Grotian rationalism and Socinian scepticism.” He says Fuller “preaches as a wolf amongst the sheep” and that he “boils Christian assurance down to reason rather than revelation.“

I have placed two passages in this quote in italics as of special note. The first is an accurate picture of Fuller, but not of Edwards. Fuller has copied parts of a passage from Edwards who warns against a false way of discerning religious affections. He has interpreted this freely then left it at that. Edwards, true to Scripture, goes on to describe the …

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This afternoon (12.11.2020), I received an article which Michael Haykin had uploaded to Academia.educ who kindly sent me a copy. The 17 paged article with seven pages of endnotes affixed is entitled ‘A Great Thirst for Reading’: Andrew Fuller the Theological Reader’.

As Haykin has been promising new information on Fuller’s life, ministry and theology for many decades, I am always curious on receiving anything from Haykin’s pen concerning new insights on Fuller as he has daily contact with Fuller’s records. Nobody is in such a fine position to do this work. Haykin is a university Professor of Fullerite Teaching and has every opportunity to spend his time researching Fuller assisted by a staff of scholars and an extensive library. Sadly, there was nothing new in the article but Haykin used the same well-trodden paths that he has stamped out for decades totally avoiding his academic duty to provide the less privileged than he with scholarly work on the Essential Fuller whom Haykin stubbornly circumnavigates in his pleas that we nevertheless should think of the ‘Forgotten Fuller’. When one realise that there are so many works nowadays which deal with Fuller’s theology for and against, one wonders why Haykin says he endorses it yet never actually deals with it. What is he doing on his Professor’s Chair?

Haykin’s topic is Fuller’s wide theological reading though he gives little evidence of this. Indeed, he quarrels with those who say that Fuller’s personal library was scanty but the only evidence he gives is to say that other libraries at the time were also scanty. However, Gill to who Haykin has a love-hate association, he confesses, had a large library and so had Sutcliffe. He does not say how large in comparison with Fuller’s scanty library these were.

Haykin starts by putting Fuller on a high pedestal, associating him with the great on the absolutely minimum of evidence. However, he scolds the biographers for not emphasising Fuller’s friendship with those of the Clapham Sect such as Lord Wilberforce although he has in no way established such a friendship. He forgets that the first BMS missionaries, especially Thomas, clashed heavily in India with missionaries supported by the Clapham Sect, covered them with insults and scorn but expected them to pay for the Baptists’ keep and finance their translations whilst Fuller forbade cooperation with them. Fuller yet accepted their hospitality and financial support, though claiming they were ‘deceived by Jezebel.’ Then Haykin relates that Fuller had told Sutcliffe that he had a ‘great thirst for reading’ and concludes that his thirst made Fuller the leading Baptist theologian of the day. Haykin, however, does not even try to prove his point. It is sufficient for him to state it.

Haykin, indeed, has trouble placing John Gill into his scheme as naturally, he towered far above Fuller as a theological giant. So, too Haykin does not give credit to Gill for rescuing Fuller from his Johnsonism, Hyper-Calvinism and low view of the responsibility of man. Indeed, it is Haykin and his sect who claim that these three atrocities were Gill’s until Fuller put such as Gill, Brine, Toplady, Hervey, Romaine and very many others right. This shows that he has not studied Fuller’s works carefully as Fuller freely omits his dependence on Gill.

Now, Haykin who is very slow to come up with with details of Fuller’s profound theological reading, to satisfy his profound thirst and now tells us that the Bible was Fuller’s Library and that Fuller was a ‘biblicist’. This might sound very good but in describing Fuller’s adherence to the Word of God Haykin no ways gives a theological description of Fuller’s doctrine of the Word. Yet Haykin sets Fuller up against Tom Paine’s and Joseph Priestley’s Deism, Rationalism and Socinianism forgetting that Fuller’s contemporary Reformed evangelicals accused Fuller of following such Rationalism and Socinianism closely, even claiming that Fuller was ‘worse than Priestley’. Fuller believed that revealed religion and revealed Law as declared in the Word of God was only an arbitrary work of God which He would set aside and then…

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The Works of Andrew Fuller with a Biography
by the Editor Andrew Gunten Fuller
A Banner of Truth Trust Facsimile Reprint

Part Two

The bulk of BOT publications between the late nineteen-fifties and mid-eighties were a great support to the churches. Since then the BOT have lowered their standards to meet a wider readerships and have bowed to popular demands for less solid doctrines. Surprisingly, this broadening of views has led to the BOT adopting a narrow, intolerant, party spirit against those who refuse to take their lead. With their reprint of Andrew Fuller’s works, the BOT have now abandoned Reformation teaching altogether, giving their readers a philosophy of religion which appeals to the fallen human heart and mind. Fuller based his gospel on the human ideal of man’s alleged agency in co-operating with God in salvation as His partner. Iain Murray tells us that ‘God works all and man does all’.[1. Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, p. 84.] Geoffrey Thomas says ‘God does all and man does all’ in salvation.[2. ET, July 1995, p. 11.] Fuller’s ‘Gospel’ which he says is ‘Worthy of All Acceptation’ is therefore man’s supposed natural capacities regarding faith; his alleged duties to natural law; and his hypothetical awareness of nature as his true link with God. In the same mock-gospel, Fuller preaches pessimism and scepticism regarding the Word of God, the doctrines of grace and the work of Christ. He re-defines the gifts of God’s free grace as the law duties of the graceless. Fuller’s man-made gospel is a linguistic display of pseudo-cleverness based on a misuse of terms which never mean what they say. It is a religion of moral (natural) law and duty-faith. Ian Murray argues therefore that salvation does not rest ‘upon a basis of sovereign mercy’ but is ‘founded upon the principle of moral government’.[3. Ibid, p. 135.] This is the religion of ‘manners’ propagated by the Latitudinarians, Rationalists and Grotians of the 17th and eighteenth centuries who equated being ‘morally governed’ with being a Christian.

To retain an ear amongst the orthodox, the BOT are striving to promote Fullerism as the teaching of John Bunyan brought up to date, concealing the fact that Bunyan denounced all that Fuller stood for.[4. See my NF review of Bunyan’s, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ and their subtle Introduction. Also Haykin’s Introduction to the Fuller reprint, (no numbered pages).] The BOT ignore the evidence that the bulk of evangelical writings of the major denominations, with the Gospel Magazine to the fore, denounced Fuller’s false gospel in the 19th century in the strongest terms. Nevertheless, the BOT are re-animating dead Fullerism, with the help of such as Robert Oliver, Erroll Hulse and Michael Haykin, in an attempt to spread an alternative religion long thought extinct. Fuller did not see man as been totally fallen in his whole being but taught that he was still naturally good though morally defective.[5. S (Sprinkler Edition) Works, vol. 2, p. 330; p. 355; 378, 438, BOT p. 191 ff..] All that was really fallen in man was his…

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The Works of Andrew Fuller with a Biography
by the Editor Andrew Gunten Fuller
A Banner of Truth Trust Facsimile Reprint

Part One

On the cover of the new BOT facsimile of Fuller’s works, we find the title and the name Michael A. G. Haykin. Prof. Haykin, however, neither edited the work nor provided the introductory biography. This was done by Andrew Fuller’s son, Andrew Gunten Fuller in 1831. Of Fuller Jr.’s efforts, Spurgeon said that he had used much moss to cover his father’s thorns. What then has Michel Haykin to do with this volume? Very little, apart from lending his name to the cover. True, Prof. Haykin has written a few opening words entitled Andrew Fuller: Life and Legacy A Brief Overview but as an Introduction it could not be briefer. If Haykin had used the small print of the rest of the book, his ‘Introduction’ would have covered almost three pages. In the larger font he uses for himself, it covers less than five. What a disappointment! Prof. Haykin is a scholar so I had hoped that he would approach his subject in a scholarly way. Fuller’s early 19th cent. editors had neither the training nor the facilities to do the necessary research on Fuller and merely put down the obituary thoughts of close friends and family members when a more critical evaluation would have been out of place. So, too, Fuller’s works have, on the whole, not been reset or altered in their layout since the early 19th cent.. The latest reprints from Sprinkler Publications and the BOT represent collections in 19th century garb in a tiny print which is very tiring to read. The incomplete essays have been most carelessly put together so that it is impossible to trace the major stages in Fuller’s theological development in them. The BOT’s version has been crying out for revision for well over a hundred years.

So what did I miss in this mini-introduction? I missed hard, studious work. Fullerism has ousted Reformed thinking in many of our former Reformed churches, so one would think that any Christian scholar on issuing a reprint of Fuller would evaluate this modern impact and give a critical analysis of Fuller’s life and legacy. A serious reader would like to know how Fuller came to write what he did in the way he did. As there is nothing whatsoever new in what Haykin writes, he might just as well have taken any one of many pro-Fullerite introductions from the…

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David H. J. Gay. Brachus 2008. Obtainable from Amazon Books. £10 per copy. Bulk prices available. No easy read.

David Gay promises ‘no easy read’ in this supplement to his The Gospel Offer is Free: A Reply to George M. Ella’s The Free Offer and The Call of the Gospel. It is basically a collection of notes, quotes and sources in tiny print covering a hundred pages more than Gay’s initial work. ‘If this gets too involved’ Gay advises, “omit the copious footnotes”. But where is the main text to which they are all appended? It is scattered higgledy-piggledy throughout the notes. You might find half a sentence somewhere followed by eight pages of notes before two more sentences appear only to delve into pages of notes again. Indeed, the book is so carelessly thrown together that Gay recommends a second reading to sort his jumbled thoughts out!! Gay’s ‘copious footnotes’ are even more frustrating regarding their superfluous bulk and lack of a coherent demonstration of Gay’s position. The many repetitions grate ad nauseam though Gay either apologises before repeating them again or explains their necessity. Gay says his over-voluminous notes do not prove anything but are merely for ‘support’ and relevant only ‘in principle’. However, he handles most of his ‘supporters’ like Davenant (puerile, mistaken, weak), Calvin (shuddering, audacious), Edwards (between Amyraldism and Owenism), Owen (did not take his own medicine), the AV (poor), Whitefield (questionable expressions) and Fuller (does not plead with sinners as he ought) so roughly that their support is nullified and Gay’s ‘principles’ non-evident. Gay claims to have made minor alterations only. The results prove otherwise. Indeed, when dealing with my work, he tells his readers not to check the sources but accept his version. In the books, he cuts out essential information I give, claiming it is not there; accuses me of saying what I never said and adds to and alters supposed quotes to suit his own taste. Gay calls the latter method ‘glossing’ and finds it Scriptural. So he ‘glosses’ avidly in both books. My arguments are cut and pasted until they are quite falsified. Go-it-alone Gay rejects any sincere criticism as ‘intemperate’, ‘silly’, nasty’, ‘stooping’, ‘abusive’ and ‘spilt ink’. My documented claims concerning what free-offer-duty-faith men in general preach are rejected with force in both books although in PR, Gay makes my criticism his own against the same ideologies. Yet Gay still defends the misleading terminology passionately for himself. Even where Gay and I agree, he still maintains that he is right and I am wrong. He calls his method ‘skirmishing’, i. e. ‘unpremeditated fighting.’ I accept Gay’s elucidation but such methods jeopardise objective debate.[1. GO, pp. 5-13 and, PR, p. 12. Ignoring my repeated testimony, Gay insists that I merely command sinners to repent but not to believe; GO p. 14; PR, pp. 17-18, 218; Vgl. FO, p. 66 with GO, p. ix; GO, p. 64 ff.; GO, p. 17 and passim.]

The Foreword, Introduction and Preamble

The ‘book’ starts off with Michael Haykin claiming that Fuller did not ‘cool the passion’ for evangelism though his opponents ‘cut its nerve’. This differs greatly from Haykin’s insistence hitherto that Fuller’s teaching fostered a…

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Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), a Particular Baptist who departed radically from the faith of his father’s is becoming quite a name amongst churches and para-church movements that once taught the doctrines of grace. Though at best a Calminian and at worst an absolute heretic, Fuller is being proclaimed by the evangelical Reformed Establishment as the Luther of the Baptists and as the man that fanned the smoking wick of the Evangelical Awakening into a blaze. He is seen as the reformer who rescued Calvinists from the dunghill of their fathers in the faith and is now presented as the greatest theologian of the 19th century, a genius whose work was epoch-making. No praise seems to be too high or too exaggerated for this sturdy contender of the system of rationalism now known as Fullerism and one writer of fairly recent years has even dubbed him a ‘prophet of evangelical Calvinism.’ Fuller’s followers, though they disagree amongst themselves on minor aspects of Fuller’s teaching, are all quite unanimous in proclaiming that no true evangelism is possible unless one adopts the doctrines and practices of Andrew Fuller.

Messing about in dunghills

The aim of this paper is to show that rather than rescue anybody from any dunghill whatsoever, Fuller, gathered his teaching from just about every contemporary theological dunghill he could find. Thus his teaching is nothing but an anthology of Latitudinarian, Cambridge Platonist, Chandlerian, Grotian, Arminian, Baxterian and Socinian teaching. Never was there such a mishmash of rank liberalism and plain heresy introduced as ‘evangelical Calvinism’ since the New Testament authors presented the real thing!

Both Latitudinarian and Cambridge New Philosophy scholars claimed to have their roots in the Reformation and Puritan theology but emphasised moral philosophy and natural revelation in their system rather than the Biblical teaching of law and grace. This moral philosophy taught that man was naturally able to…

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Dear Sir,

1795-1835 was a time of widespread revival with Anglican Robert Hawker preaching to thousands, Independent William Huntington equalled his efforts and Baptist William Gadsby founding 45-50 churches filled with new converts. The PBs were not inactive in this time but Mr Cook confuses Gill’s orthodoxy with Fuller’s. Gill had one of the largest Particular Baptist congregations in Britain, outnumbering Fullers by far. Contemporary evangelical magazines objecting to Fullerism’s ‘gangerous’ effect on church growth were legion. However, in 1814, Fuller claimed that his churches had shrunk greatly to an average of fifty members and had been steadily on the decline for 25 years. Church increase was due to split-offs due to Fullerite Liberalism. Yet Fuller confessed that other evangelical denominations were growing. By 1889 Fuller’s Association had renounced verbal inspiration and denied that the Scriptures give sure guidance in matters of holiness. The increase in PB growth came demonstrably before Fuller and dwindled during his influence. As Strict Baptist Kenneth Dix said in 1976: “The influence of Fuller here has been exaggerated, often by those whose design is to trace a line of descent from the Calvinism of the Puritans, through a watered down moderate Calvinism, forgetting Fuller’s description of himself as a ‘strict Calvinist’, to modern ecumenism. It is a view which does less than justice to the eminent usefulness of Benjamin Beddome, Samuel Medley, or John Hirst, all of whom held to a high Calvinistic position, and to the enduring value of the writings of John Gill which are still read and sought after, two hundred years after his death.

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

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Dear Brother: What is the difference between Gill’s ‘free declaration of peace and pardon, righteousness, life and salvation to poor sinners’ and the ‘free offer’ and ‘duty faith’ of those who deny outright that Gill appealed to all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel? The difference is that Gill keeps to the gospel as fulfilling what the law could not do, namely provide ‘free grace’. Modern harsh critics of Gill such as friends of the Banner of Truth and Reformation Today, cannot give up their trust in the law for salvation and sanctification. They start with preaching the gospel of duties until faith comes (sic!) and end with preaching sanctification and holiness through keeping the law. There is no room for free grace in their religion, though they might talk ever so much of ‘free offers’. These offers are not ‘free’ but rewards for sinners who exercise saints’ duties. In his essay Three Forms of Law, Maurice Roberts, speaking for the…

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Dear Sir,

John Legg`s article ‘Preaching the gospel properly’, claims to be a review of John Gosden’s book on the GS Articles, though it is nothing but an attack on the Gospel Standard Churches. This is a great pity for the book`s sake. I am not a member of the GS churches; nor even a Baptist, but I found the great bulk of extensive theology expressed in Gosden’s book, Biblical, refreshing and extremely relevant to our modern age. By not keeping to his subject, Mr Legg has missed the very teaching which might have cleared up his misunderstandings.

All Mr Legg’s difficulties cannot be solved in the space of an ET letter. Two comments must suffice. Legg accuses the GSBs of denying the sinner’s responsibility to repent. I refer him to Gosden’s words under Article 12 where the Spirit shows the sinner “how greatly he has broken that law, and feelingly condemning him for the same” so that he is…

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Yet another former sturdy defender of the faith now endorses a deceitful gospel which outclasses the errors of older Liberalism. David Silversides has joined such modern apostles as John and Iain Murray, Malcolm H. Watts, Phillip R. Johnson, Errol Hulse, David Gay and Ken Stebbins in their campaign to alter radically the Christian’s view of God and His Word. Pastor Silversides traces the roots of opposition to his new divinity in the formation of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the nineteen-twenties under the leadership of Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965), arguing that the PRC presented a caricature of the free-offer position thus fostering controversy and confusion. Instead of giving acceptable proof of this, Silversides caricatures those who do not use his, as yet undefined, free-offer tactics as if they preached by rote with no true heart to plead with dead sinners to turn to Christ and live.

Though Silversides exaggerates grossly the failings of his opponents, he fails to examine the enormous lack of evangelical fervency in modern free offer circles still sailing under a Reformed flag where method is often ranked higher than message and denominational law-discipline is disguised as holy living. Nor does he examine why many sound Christians, dubbed ‘Antinomians and Hyper-Calvinists’ by the BOT school of neo-evangelists are constantly witnessing to the…

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The so-called Banner of Truth’s witch-hunt against alleged Hyper-Calvinists continues with Maurice Roberts quite deceptive apology for their new, radical theology hidden behind the mask of ‘The Free Offer of the Gospel’ (Issue 503-4). Pastor Roberts has picked out all the raisins and nuts he could find in the new BOT cake, seeking to lure traditional BOT readers away from the old paths by these tempting morsels. He has, however, offered us nothing of the seasoning of gall and bitter herbs which makes his cake the most stomach-turning culinary event since the counter-reformation opened their evil-smelling kitchen as purveyors of false food. A little of this comes through in Roberts’ accusing all those who disagree with him of being Hyper-Calvinists, but such tasteless taunts are but the icing on the BOT cake. True to their propaganda ministry, the BOT have failed to alert their readers to the highly immoral aspects of their teaching. Presumably, they are trusting that those who feed on their fare will think that, like good medicine, it has to taste rather putrid.

Roberts’ recipe starts with a healthy ingredient. “The invitation given by God to all sinners to believe in Jesus Christ, with the promise added that if they do so believe they will at once receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.” The Banner’s bogey-men John Gill and William Huntington taught this, too, so what is the catch? Roberts calls this ‘The Free Offer’ and explains it away by adding “The Offer is an…

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God’s Word, the Bible, teaches clearly that all that is necessary for a sinner’s salvation is worked out in eternity and reserved in Heaven for whoever is placed in Christ from eternity. This teaching starts at the first page of Genesis and continues to the last page of Revelation, revealing more and more of the Father’s covenanted way for mankind worked out in eternity with His Son. Thus, Christ, in eternity, secured the salvation of all in and for eternity irrespective of that elect person’s historical or geographical position. This was also the teaching of our Reformers.

However, nowadays, a number of Christians are following the old heretic Marcion’s ‘criticism with a penknife’ and, calling themselves New Covenant Theologians, they reject Old Testament covenantal teaching, arguing that it has been abolished by the New Testament. Yet there is not a doctrine in the NT which is not based on the OT as this was the only Bible Christ and the Apostles had and needed. Indeed, there is not a…

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The March/April, 1999 number of Reformation Today features four articles on John Gill. The first, entitled John Gill – a Sketch of his Life, is a succinctly written biography of Gill’s faithful and productive life in the service of the gospel. Next, Editor Errol Hulse continues with John Gill – An Appreciation, presented as a review of The Life and Thought of John Gill (1697-1771), (ed. Michael Haykin). Here, Hulse ignores the facts of Gill’s own testimony to make what he calls ‘a fair assessment of the damage which emanated from his errors.’ Thus, though the book Hulse reviews chiefly depicts Gill as a great evangelist and soul-winner, Hulse’s one-sided critique is centred on Gill’s supposed Hyper-Calvinism and lack of evangelistic fervour. This is stretching the meaning of words such as ‘appreciation’ and ‘review’ until they mean ‘disappreciation’ and ‘rewrite’.

Hulse’s unjust criticism is continued under the title John Gill – Eternal Justification. Here Hulse confuses Gill’s doctrine of Justification from Eternity with Eternal Justification, arguing that adherence to the latter doctrine proves Gill to be a Hyper. Gill’s doctrine of Justification from Eternity deals with the source and application of justification seen in relation to God’s infinite and immutable decrees and Christ’s atoning work in the fullness of time. It entails justification in union with Christ from eternity through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and received by the elect via a conscious act of appropriation due to faith given. In contrast, Eternal Justification points to a per se, innate, inherent and eternal state of justification in the elect. This erroneous doctrine, based on the self-contradictory idea of past eternity, sees no need for reconciliation or conversion as the elect are declared righteous rather than made righteous as a divine act in the manner described above. This hypothetical view is…

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“This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23:6

“… to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” II Peter 1:1

Present day evangelicals tend to believe that the fierce Calvinist-Arminian controversy of the eighteenth century was merely a question of whether God chose the elect or the elect chose God. This is an oversimplification. Then the point of discussion was not so much the broad question “Who are the elect?” as the more basic question “Whom does God consider righteous?” Our brethren in those days were more interested in the means of salvation rather than the outcome.

How the Calvinist-Arminian Controversy of the Eighteenth Century Began

The controversy really began with the publication in 1755 of James Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio. Hervey had been a pupil of John Wesley’s at Oxford and was one of the very earliest pioneers of the Evangelical Revival. Balleine, the church historian, tells us that Hervey’s parish, Weston Favell, near Northampton, was the first Evangelical parish in the Midlands. Hervey produced a series of books aimed at the academic reader and men of letters, outlining the Reformed faith. His language so affected the gentry of his day that they…

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Following Theological Fashions

Our modern theology has apparently become a matter of fashions. In my youth, Christians kept to their theological opinions closely. Whether a Plymouth Brother, Particular Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist or an Evangelical Anglican, they remained true to their affiliations all their Christian lives. Nowadays, Christians seem to be changing their theological bent regularly. I have friends who have adopted one supposedly modern fad after another, going through Hyper-Fullerism, Hyper-Calvinism, New Covenant Theology, New Perspectives, Dispensationalism and other old warmed up errors within a few years. I have even received letters from irate brethren scolding me for not keeping up to date with new theological trends myself.

Being made sin and being made righteous refers to facts not fictive pictures

When browsing through magazines, web-pages, chat-groups and blogs, one gains the impression that it is now fashionable to discuss the limitations of the Manhood of Christ and His alleged cooperation in a gigantic hoax whereby the Father and the Son worked out what their proponents call a ‘forensic’ method of freeing sinners from the…

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