In detailing Andrew Fuller’s search for the truth, Piper says:
“[Andrew Fuller] searched both the Scriptures and the history of doctrine to see if he could find this High Calvinism that had so infected and controlled his denomination…”
Fuller’s denomination, if that is what it could be called, is a circle of churches known as Strict and Particular Baptists. In his day, most of the churches leaned or stood squarely on high views of sovereign grace. In our day, the Strict and Particular Baptist heritage has been hijacked by the Moderate-Calvinists (Fullerites/Reformed Baptists). They persistently misrepresent the teachings of High-Calvinism, always putting Fuller’s newfangled views in a favorable light. They also audaciously rewrite the history of High-Calvinism, claiming to be the standard-bearers of the gospel. It is difficult to judge whether these misrepresentations are driven by ignorance, prejudice or dishonesty. Perhaps a mixture of all three.
John Piper says that Fuller searched both the scripture and the history of doctrine to see if he could find this High-Calvinism that had so infected and controlled his denomination. Well, I grew up in Fuller’s ‘denomination’. I was taught Fuller’s gospel as a child. I was trained in Fuller’s gospel as a young preacher. I taught parts of Fuller’s gospel during the first ten years of my pastorate. The turning point came in 2010, when the local association applied pressure on the church to adopt a plurality of elders. This form of polity was unknown to the church, but we were assured a plural eldership was more scriptural than the ‘traditional’ pastor-deacons model. I pursued a three year study on the subject, investigating how the term ‘elder’ is used in scripture and how it was understood among the Strict and Particular Baptists. I concluded the scriptures do not support the polity of a plural eldership, nor was it historically practiced among the Strict and Particular Baptists. It was during this time the Lord directed my attention to the subject of High-Calvinism. I was astonished that Fuller’s ‘denomination’ was historically High-Calvinist. I was shocked that the church I was pastoring was organized upon High-Calvinist teachings. The Lord drove me to the scriptures. Initially, I was defensive. Surely, Moderate-Calvinism was the scripturally ‘balanced’ view. However, as I explored the issues, expounding the scriptures and discovering the consistency of truth, I came to realize Moderate-Calvinism had changed the melody of the gospel with undertones of humanism.
Like Fuller, I searched both the scriptures and the history of doctrine to see if I could find this High-Calvinism that at one time undergirded and adorned the Strict and Particular Baptists. I discovered high views of sovereign grace on every page of scripture, but could not find Fuller’s gospel in a single verse. The scriptures set forth a full and free gospel, which is represented by the teachings of High-Calvinism.
My dear friend, perhaps the Lord is taking you on a journey through grace. If so, do not be afraid to look outside the box of the Moderate-Calvinist propaganda machine. Research the history of High-Calvinism for yourself. Explore the scriptures and see if the teachings are true. I pray the Lord will shed light upon the gospel, that you might stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free.
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.