Second annual Fuller conference examines British Baptists in the 17th century

Communications Staff — September 30, 2008

Being a Baptist in seventeenth century England was anything but easy. Abraham Cheare, a Baptist pastor at Plymouth, spent the final seven years of his life in prison for holding and practicing doctrinal convictions that violated the laws put in place to enforce attendance of the state church. Cheare died of an illness he contracted while living in squalid prison conditions, but continued to minister to his congregation through pastoral letters, poetry and treatises on suffering and the sovereignty of God.

Similarly, Thomas Hardcastle, Benjamin Keach, Hanserd Knollys, William Kiffin and hundreds of other ministers suffered imprisonment, torture and death for holding Baptist convictions, but many left behind writings that continue to remain relevant for Christian living and encouragement in the 21st century.

In its second annual conference on Baptist history held Aug. 25-26, the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary examined the lives, ministries and contributions of the English Baptists of the 17th century.

The conference was the second sponsored by the Fuller Center, which seeks to promote the study of Baptist history and doctrine as well as reflection on the contemporary significance of that history.

Speakers from Southern Seminary included president R. Albert Mohler Jr., professors of church history Tom Nettles and Michael Haykin. Historians from other Baptist schools also spoke, including Malcom Yarnell of Southwestern
Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and Stan Fowler of Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario. Nearly 100 attended the conference.

Topics included profiles of pastors such as Cheare, Hardcastle, Keach, Kiffin and Knollys, among others. Mohler gave a plenary address on the importance of Baptist confessionalism.

The Andrew Fuller Center recently launched a new website and blog edited by Haykin, who serves as the center’s director. Complete audio from the conference is available here.

The website serves as an online home for the conferences and Fuller Center publications, such as Eusebeia, a semi-annual journal of Baptist history. Select articles from past issues are available at the website, which will also serve as a central location for the writing and teaching ministry of Haykin, the center’s director.

“Southern Seminary is a confessional Baptist institution where it deeply matters what Baptists have historically believed,” said Steve Weaver, research and administrative assistant to the director of the Fuller Center.

“The Andrew Fuller Center has as its mission to promote the study of Baptist history as well as theological reflection on the contemporary significance of that history. This type of theological reflection on the faith once for all delivered to the saints and its contemporary application to the life of today’s churches is what Southern Seminary is all about.”

The third annual conference will be held on August 24-25, 2009, and the theme will be Baptist Piety/Spirituality.

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