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History of the English Calvinistic Baptists

Category Book Reviews
Date January 17, 2007

Robert Oliver has served up a treat for his readers. Developed with additional chapters from his PhD. thesis, the book is very readable, containing fifteen concise chapters, which are both stimulating and fascinating. The author has divided his material into three parts: ‘The Eighteenth-Century Heritage,’ ‘When Good Men Differ,’ and ‘Re-Alignment.’

It is not a comprehensive history of Calvinistic Baptists. Rather, he deals skilfully with the theological and doctrinal issues which led to the emergence of Strict and Particular Baptist churches in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the process he gives us valuable insights into the character and spiritual vigour of the men involved in these matters.

The reader is introduced to such key issues as Antinomianism, the atonement, Hyper-Calvinism and the ‘free offer,’ the communion controversy (over a closed or open table), and the eternal Sonship dispute. Names such as John Gill, Andrew Fuller, Abraham Booth, William Huntingdon, William Gadsby, John Stevens, J. C. Philpot and C. H. Spurgeon are prominent. However, considerable attention is also devoted to less well-known men such as Benjamin Beddome, John Collett Ryland, Robert Hall Sr. and Jr., Joseph Kinghorn and James Wells.

One of the great strengths of this book is the discernment it displays. Robert Oliver makes no attempt to hide his sympathy for the orthodox theology expressed in The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (‘the 1689’). He assesses theological changes and doctrinal developments in the light of the theology of the Confession and shows how vital that Confession has been for the spiritual well-being of English Calvinistic Baptists. The last chapter emphasises Spurgeon’s commitment to historic Calvinism as expressed in ‘the 1689.’

We are indebted to Robert Oliver for this book. He has researched thoroughly, read widely and deeply, and assessed the issues biblically. There are extensive footnotes and a bibliography together with three indices of places, names and subjects. This book should be a source of enjoyment, understanding and wisdom not only for Baptists but for all who have any interest in the spirituality of the men and churches of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Notes

    • History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1791-1892
      price £16.50

      Description

      Robert Oliver has served up a treat for his readers. Developed with additional chapters from his PhD. thesis, the book is very readable, containing fifteen concise chapters, which are both stimulating and fascinating. The author has divided his material into three parts: ‘The Eighteenth-Century Heritage,’ ‘When Good Men Differ,’ and ‘Re-Alignment.’ It is not a […]

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