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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Faith out of Focus: a thought from Andrew Fuller

I'm reading Peter Morden's book on Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), Offering Christ to the World. Fuller was a Calvinistic Baptist who played a key role in rescuing the Particular Baptists from the Hyper Calvinism of John Gill (1697-1771).

One issue of major importance for Fuller was that faith was not an 'inner persuasion' given by the Spirit of having an 'interest in Christ' (contra Hyper Calvinism). This would make faith into a subjective feeling that "God is at work in me."

Faith, said Fuller, is not about my inner feelings but is fixed on an external object - Jesus himself.

Fuller was right.

Moving away from the specific issue Fuller was concerned with (Hyper Calvinism) this made me think how easy it is to have faith in faith. When we focus in on our faith and how much we have we find ourselves thinking that everything depends on us and on our faith. If only we had a bit more. If only we had held on in faith for a little longer.

Faith is a bit like those swirly things in the corner of your eye - if you try to look at them you lose them.

Faith grows strong when you forget all about it and focus on God-in-Christ. Focus on God, on what he has done for us. Suddenly, when faith is out of focus, it grows strong.

Faith in faith is no more than good works - everything depends on us to have enough of it. Faith in God is life and peace.

2 comments:

jfile said...

I agree with your post but I have to offer one point of disagreement. At the very least it must be admitted that it is in dispute whether John Gill was a Hyper Calvinist. Though it is the dominant position concerning him, Thomas Nettles and George Ella have argued otherwise. I am writing a Th.M. thesis on Gill and I don't think he was, yet I have been known to error. You can find out more of what a few of us who are currently writing on Gill think at http://gillites.wordpress.com

Robin Parry said...

Ah - so thou art a Gillian.

Well, I am simply not in a position to comment save to say that I am aware of the debate and have simply followed the line of least resistance (i.e., go with the majority). It would not worry me if Gill was not a Hyper-Calvinist. Hyper-Calvinism was certainly a big influence that Fuller was in reaction against.