Church History

“Who Was Lottie Moon & Why Is She Important?”

Posted on November 9, 2015. Filed under: Church History |

(This brief talk was given Sunday, November 8, 2015 at my church)
Introduction: I am here this morning to give you a brief talk about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. We are going to begin with a few survey questions, then give the briefest of histories of the Southern Baptists, the SBC missions efforts, and the Cooperative Program, then we will look quickly at Lottie Moon’s story, and close with the challenge set before us.

1. How many of you are NOT born and bred Southern Baptists? If you were not raised in the SBC please raise your hand and wave vigorously!
2. How many of you have attended SWBTS or are married to someone who attended, or the College, or are or have been employed by the Seminary, raise your hand and wave.
3. How many of you have served on the foreign mission field as a Southern Baptist or were raised by parents who were missionaries, or you have gone on a mission trip overseas with this church or another SBC church?
4. This question is for the children and youth, have you ever given any money to the church offering?

A Brief History of Southern Baptists, SBC Missions, and the Cooperative Program:
As we saw in our survey, there are many in our congregation who did not grow up as Southern Baptists and may not be as familiar with our history, and the Lottie Moon story as those of us who grew up in the SBC.

The earliest Baptist Church in America may be the First Baptist Church of Charlestown, SC, founded in 1682 although Roger Williams founded a Baptist Church in Providence RI in 1638. But the Baptists were pretty much one bunch of folks and needed to fund missions somehow so in 1814 the fiercely independent Baptist Churches formed the Triennial Convention (they only met once every three years and were based in Philadelphia) to combine their funds in missionary efforts. This was the first nation-wide Baptist denomination but spawned another group of Baptists to break off who were opposed to combining efforts for missions. One of the Baptists’ core ideas is independent, local congregations, freedom, and the idea of cooperating with other churches kind of went against the grain.

The issue of slavery, however, was soon to cause another division in the Baptists. By 1844 the Triennial Convention’s mission society had stopped appointing Baptists from the South because they supported slavery and in 1845 Baptists in the South formed the Southern Baptist Convention so that they could appoint missionaries. It wasn’t until 1995 that the SBC formally voted on a resolution renouncing its racist past even though a large number of SBC churches had already become multi-racial and fully integrated. But the bottom line is that the SBC was founded by a sinful people who still believed in Jesus and were committed to spreading the gospel on the frontier and overseas. We remain a sinful people, committed to spreading the gospel with missionaries overseas. When I was growing up in the SBC the only part of the story I was told was that we were founded in order to send missionaries, the whole slavery thing was left out. But I believe that sinful part of our story is important, it demonstrates God’s amazing grace to a bunch of sinners in that he still used us to spread His gospel.

During the early decades of SBC life, and during Lottie Moon’s time, Baptist missions were funded by the Society Method, meaning that separate individuals formed the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (established at the urging of the English Baptist, William Carey). This was outside the denominational structure and could be subscribed to by individuals or churches as they saw fit, but it was a very inefficient method of raising money for missions as most of the money raised went to pay the costs of raising money! The SBC finally adopted the Co-Operative Program in 1925, 13 years after Lottie Moon’s death. The SBC immediately saw an increase in funding for missions and the program has served us very well now for 90 years.

The Cooperative Program funds all the SBC agencies and programs besides missions, but gives just over 50% of its funds to the IMB. Those of you who have attended SWBTS and raised your hands earlier are beneficiaries of the Cooperative Program as some of that money helps fund the seminaries which keeps costs down for the students and provides jobs for those who work there. Our church gives a set percentage of our income to the Cooperative Program every month. But as efficient as the Cooperative Program is, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is even More efficient. The money the IMB receives from the Cooperative Program covers all the administrative costs of the IMB PLUS goes to the missionaries, but 100% of every dollar from the Lottie Moon offering goes directly overseas to real live missionaries. So boys and girls, when you place that nickel, that dime, that quarter, or that dollar bill in the offering for Lottie Moon, every bit of that money goes to a missionary and their work in foreign lands. It is the most efficient giving plan for missions ever. Now let me talk briefly about Lottie Moon herself.

Lottie Moon, Charlotte Digges Moon, (her nickname, Lottie, came from the last part of Charlotte) was born in Va. on a big plantation (with over 50 slaves) called Viewmont on Dec. 12, 1840, and her parents were instrumental in building a Baptist church in the nearby town of Scottsville. Lottie and her siblings observed a lot of quarreling in their family over differences in religion as one side of the family joined the Campbellites, or the Disciples, so they kids avoided church whenever they could. Her father died when she was 13 and at 14 she was sent to a boarding school. After graduating from that school she attended Albemarle Female Institute in Charlottsville where she built an impressive academic record and began a romantic relationship with her teacher Crawford H. Toy. Lottie was very petite at only 4’3”. Let me ask Miss Katy **** to come forward as an illustration….(Katy, how old are you? “Eight.” And how tall are you Katy? “4’4”. Well, Miss Katy, you are 1” taller than Miss Lottie Moon was!) Lottie was small physically but she was an intellectual power house who learned several classical and modern languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian and Spanish, and, of course, Chinese).

Lottie went to a revival preached by John Broadus in 1858 and was saved by God’s grace. She went on to become a teacher, but believed the Lord was calling her to be a missionary to China a year after her younger sister, Edmonia, went to China as a missionary in 1872. Lottie was appointed by the SBC to serve in China at the age of 33 and served til she died in 1912 at the age of 72. Lottie broke off her engagement to Professor Toy over a couple of issues: she believed Toy had departed the faith, having been corrupted by German liberal scholarship and she believed in her call to serve as a missionary in China. She committed to be single.

We have several, wonderful single ladies in our church that I want to encourage with the story of Lottie Moon, used by God to lead a revival in China. Tricia*** (single lady in the church), how many mission trips have you been on with Redeemer Church? “5”. God uses single ladies in missions! Consigned to being a teacher in a school for Chinese children, Lottie felt that her gifts were being underutilized. In 1885 she moved to the interior of China and began full time evangelism with Chinese women who could not be reached by the male missionaries. The Lord gave her hundreds of converts and churches were planted.

Lottie endured war, plagues, famines and political upheavals during her 39 years in China. Her letters home pleading for money and changes in policies greatly affected the SBC and their missions programs leading to the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. But her real success lay in the Church in China which grew and grew, survived and thrived under the communist takeover and the subsequent cultural revolution and severe persecution. Today there are more Christians in China than any other country in the world, in large part to the way the Lord used Lottie Moon, and a sinful people known as Southern Baptists.

Over the next several weeks, pray for what the Lord would have you contribute to this Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions.

Allen, Catherine B. The New Lottie Moon Story, Second Edition. Women’s Missionary Union: Birmingham, Alabama 1980 (320pp.)
Barnes, W.W. The Southern Baptist Convention 1845-1953. Broadman Press: Nashville, TN 1954 (329pp.)

Online Resources:

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Review of David Levering Lewis’ “God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

Posted on August 1, 2015. Filed under: Book Reviews, Church History |

 Lewis, David Levering. God’s Crucible, Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215. W.W. Norton: New York, 2008 (473pp.) Read 05-19-15 to 07-31-15. This was an exceptionally difficult book, and, frankly, I am surprised I finished it.

First of all it is a difficult subject- muslim/arab history is very convoluted and the names of people and places and a totally different dating scheme is all very foreign to me. Secondly, Lewis’ writing style was difficult; it just did not flow well and seemed to go back and forth a lot. Nonetheless, this is an important book and I take his points well. And it was painful.

Lewis’ main idea is that the rise and flourishing of islam when Rome had fallen, and Europe was barbaric, provided the impetus through Spain, to kick Europe out of barbarism. If Spain had not been captured by islam, Europe would have stayed in the Dark Ages for centuries longer than they did. Lewis is mostly fair to both sides (Muslim and Christian) but he did seem to me to be very Islamic friendly. He not only clearly demonstrates the superiority of Islamic culture vis-à-vis European but he relishes in the fact. He seems to gleefully describe the horrible outrages of medieval Christians in their ignorance, poverty, and brutality, but he seems to express sadness when he fairly reports the times of failure and brutality of muslims.

He worked on this book before and after 9/11 and in his Acknowledgements admits that 9/11 forced him to change some things. I believe that he sees the horrible side of islam now, and by pointing back to the high culture of islam in its early days, particularly in Spain where, in his opinion, the musims, Jews, and Christians got along well, and he is pointing to that period and place and calling all sides to “just get along”. This point, I disagree with.

I cannot recommend this book to the average reader, but if you have a love for medieval history, or, like me, seriously want to get a grasp on the history of Islamic relations with the West, then this will be a good book- but tough.

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SPCA Founder William Wilberforce, Man of Faith-Man of Action, 250th Anniversary

Posted on August 26, 2009. Filed under: Church History |

This past Monday, August 24, 2009, was the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wilberforce, the Christian most responsible for ending the African slave trade in England and America. After a lengthy and costly 26 yr long campaign, England abolished the slave trade in 1807 thanks to his untiring efforts and substantial money.

Born Aug. 24, 1759 in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he entered Parliament at the age of 21 and served from 1780 1825 when he had to retire due to poor health. Though his greatest accomplishment was abolishing the very profitable slave trade, during the midst of the war with Napoleon no less, he is also the founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal cruelty was institutionalized in England in that day with blood sports such as dog fighting, cock fighting, and bear baiting common.

In 1785 Wilberforce was converted to Christ and became a conservative, evangelical Christian. His faith then drove him to look at England through the lens of Scripture and to change England. This noted, born again, Bible believing Christian spent his fortune, his time and his health to fight slavery and to ease the plight of children through changing England’s child labor laws.

Child labor and slavery were very closely related. It was common for 6-10 yr olds to work in factories or mines for 10, 12, 16 hrs a day, and to be beaten if they did not work hard enough. Wilberforce also used his philanthropy to set up orphanages and missions. His work on ending slavery was finally successful in 1833 with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act, passed in Parliament just 3 days prior to his death.

Though influenced by some extended family members with Methodism as a youth, his widowed mother objected and placed him in schools not influenced by Methodism. His early interest in religion squashed, his later adolescent years were spent at St.John’s College, Cambridge, where he excelled at drinking, card playing and hedonism in general. He did graduate with a BA in 1781 and an MA in 1788. While in college, he and his close friend William Pitt, used to attend sessions of Parliament for fun, which eventually led to both entering politics, Wilberforce becoming an MP and Pitt, in 1783, becoming Prime Minister.

In a trip through Europe in 1785 Wilberforce was reading Phillip Doddridge’s “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” and began searching the Scriptures daily. He was converted to Christ at this time and gave up his gambling, drinking and profligate lifestyle. At this time, in high society, it was not socially correct to become an evangelical or to be “overly religious”. His conversion was outright scandalous, dramatic and public. Wondering whether he should even remain a public servant due to the extreme ridicule his conversion brought on, he sought the guidance of the famous pastor/song writer John Newton, the former slave ship captain who composed the number 1 song of all time, “Amazing Grace”.

See the movie information here:

Pitt and Newton convinced Wilberforce that he could be used by God for His glory and the good of mankind by being a Christian politician, so he remained. Distrusted by the Tories as an Evangelical who they thought would overthrow Church and State, despised by Progressives for being Conservative,Wilberforce made more positive changes in British society and law than either other group.

Wilberforce sought the eradication of immorality through philanthropy, education and legal reform as well as through the spreading of the Gospel through missions. These efforts would eventually transform England, and America, but would also eventually be adopted by the secular left as the Gospel behind these changes slowly leaked out to be replaced by the Social Gospel, and then just Socialism.

Wilberforce exemplifies the man of faith/man of action. When people today criticize the Conservative Evangelicals involved in politics we can point back to Wilberforce as an example of somebody who was wealthy, who used their wealth wisely, who was involved in politics yet kept a fervent and biblical faith, and affected great change in the culture for the better. NO ONE CAN ARGUE AGAINST THE TESTIMONY AND LIFE OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE.

Here is the model for Christians today who want to get involved in the culture. May the Lord raise up a modern day Wilberforce!

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John Calvin’s Birthday

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Church History, Theological Issues |

This Wednesday, July 10th, 2009, is the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jean Cauvin, the French born Swiss theologian/pastor who changed the world with his theology.The quincentenary celebration began this past Sunday at St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva. About 500 people were in attendance as worship was led by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, a Scot, Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Africa, and Dr. Bryan Chappell of St. Louis, MO. Ministers from three continents affected by Calvin’s theology!

Calvin’s theology brought a more solid structure to the thinking of the Reformers. Though a second generation Reformer, Luther being about 20 years older, his theological writings, Bible commentaries and sermons contributed bone and sinew to the work that the fiery Luther had started. If Luther was the Preacher of the Reformation, Calvin was the Theologian.

Calvin’s theology was imminently practical. One can trace our political and economic liberties to the influence of Calvinism.

While the world celebrates/mourns the death of Michael Jackson, a degenerate pop star who drugged himself to death, the celebration of one of the top 10 theologians of world history will go unnoticed except for the few Reformed folk who remain.

How has Calvinism affected me? As a youngster studying American History in the 8th grade, I learned enough about the Pilgrims and the Puritans to be draw irresistibly to them, even though they were not portrayed in an overwhelmingly positive manner. In high school I learned a bit more about them. But it was in College at the University of Oklahoma that I first studied the Calvinistic Puritans in depth under the tutelage of Dr. David Levy. In Dr. Levy’s Intellectual History of America courses I saw the heavy influence of Puritan thought upon America and loved it. Were there problems with the Puritans? Yes. They were not tolerant of diversity in theology, persecuting My Own Baptist Forefathers. But there was a genius and beauty to Puritan Thought.

At the same time, a youth minister at my home church gave me a copy of AW Pink’s book, “The Sovereignty of God”. Being raised a traditional, fundamentalist, Southern Baptist, with dispensational elements, I recoiled at the Calvinist theology of Pink and did not finish the book. But over the next few years, the doctrines I saw in Pink, leaped off page after page of the Bible at me, despite my initial abhorrence. Finally, without ever picking up the Pink book again, without ever being taught by anyone else, simply from Scripture Alone, by the time I was finished at OU I was a Calvinist.

In my years in the Army I did read more of Pink and by the time I was in Seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth in 1985-89 I was one of the handful of Calvinists on campus. Out of 3000+ students there might have been 10 of us. Today there are scores.

I greatly expanded my theological reading in seminary and afterwards with Millard Erickson, Louis Berkhof, RC Sproul, John MacArthur, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, James Montgomery Boice, and others. As I began pastoring in 1992 my sermons definitely took on a Puritan style and my Calvinist theology was proclaimed.

The elements of Calvinism that have blessed me the most include the concept that it really is all about Him. This is a theocentric universe not a mancentered universe. This goes directly against our culture in many different ways. Specifically, the salvation that God gives me through Jesus Christ is given not just so I can escape the fires of hell. I was raised in the “fire insurance” theology of Southern Baptists. But salvation is really all about giving God the greatest glory possible. That is the BIG IDEA of the UNIVERSE. When we repent of sin and trust in Jesus we are entering into a covenant with God that existed prior to my own birth, prior to the creation of the world. Our entire purpose for being created is to live in a loving, faith based relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, enjoying and glorifying him forever.

Another aspect to Calvinism I find appealing is that it actually emphasizes that we are all natural born sinners, enemies of God, unable and unwilling to turn away from sin on our own. This explains what we see in the news everyday and what we experience in the darkness of our own hearts when we are brutally honest with ourselves. In other words, the theology of Calvin, of the Bible really, actually explains the real world as no other system does. It genuinely reflects reality.

In conclusion then, happy birthday to Jean Calvin!

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New Respect for John Gill, Baptist Theologian of 18th Century England

Posted on April 3, 2009. Filed under: Church History |

Baptists today are strangely ahistorical, they don’t seem to care much for history in general, let alone their own. In that sense we are failing to break away from our secularized, pagan culture. But Christianity and Judaism are the two most historical religions in the world. We believe that God showed up in space and time, revealing himself and taking dramatic action to save us from our sins. The Church must study history and Baptists need to study their own history. Recently there has been a renewed interest in Calvinism amongst Southern Baptists and with that renewed theological interest comes a corresponding interest in history. One of the key early Baptist Calvinists in which there is a renewed interest is the British Pastor-Theologian John Gill (1697-1771).

Though frequently criticized as being a Hyper-Calvinist, new research is calling that label into question. His many volumes of commentary on the Old and New Testaments and his Theological works are seeing a bit of the light of day recently. A friend of mine from church, Jerad, is writing his Master’s Thesis on Gill and is offering a free CD with Gill’s collected writings loaded.

If you would like to enter this free giveaway go visit Jerad at

and register for the giveaway.

There is a lot about John Gill on Jerads blog so take the time and browse through some wonderful Baptist history while you are there.

Paul Helm has also done some work on Gill recently; check out his blog here:

And here is a post by Steve Camp about Gill:

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John Bunyan 1628-1688: Puritans Who Changed the World

Posted on December 17, 2008. Filed under: Church History |

Puritans Who Changed the World: John Bunyan 1628-1688

Overview: Born into a humble family, Bunyan received only 2-3 years of formal education, served in the Parliamentary Army during the civil war when he was but 16, and became one of the most famous, effective preachers of his day. He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress while in jail serving a 12 year sentence and the book has been acclaimed as the most widely read book in English except for the Bible. Authoring 60 books, this Baptist Puritan was the most popular author of all the Puritans.

Biography: Born on November 28, 1628 to Thomas and Margaret Bunyan of Elstow, Bedfordshire. His father was a brasier, whitesmith or tinker who made and repaired pots and pans; Bunyan followed in his father’s profession.

  • Bunyan’s mother and sister died when he was 16 and his father remarried a month later. He then joined Cromwell’s New Model Army and served in the Civil War 1644-47. His military experience is reflected in his book The Holy War.
  • Bunyan married in 1649, but we do not know the name of this first wife who died in 1655 leaving him with 4 children. This woman came from a godly home and influenced Bunyan spiritually so that he began going to church and reading godly books. His book Grace Abounding details his 4 year journey to Christ.
  • He was discipled by his pastor, John Gifford from 1653-55. In 1655 Gifford died, Bunyan’s wife died, and Bunyan became a deacon and began to preach. By 1657 he was formally set apart by his church to preach the gospel.
  • 1656 he publishes his first book, Some Gospel Truths Opened, a polemical work against the Quakers.
  • 1659 he marries Elizabeth and they have two children.
  • With the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, laws against the non-conformists were enforced once again and Bunyan was arrested and in the Bedford jail until 1672. During these 12 years in prison he supported his family by making shoelaces and writing. Remarkably, during much of his time in prison (for preaching) he was allowed to leave to go preach because of his popularity.
  • Upon his release from prison in 1672 he was appointed pastor of the Bedford congregation but was arrested yet again in 1676. His friend John Owen, a minister in London, appealed to the Bishop of London and won Bunyan’s release after only a few months.
  • Bunyan dies in 1688, ironically the year of the Glorious Revolution with William of Orange winning the throne of England and granting the non-conformist churches freedom in 1689 with the Act of Toleration. This draws to a close the time period in England that was the Puritan Era. Bunyan is buried close by his friends and fellow Puritans, Thomas Goodwin and John Owen.

Impact: Though others were more educated, Bunyan may well have been the most popular preacher and influential author of the Puritans in his era. A thorough Calvinist and a Baptist, he exemplified the Puritan ideal of combining doctrine and real life in his sermons, books and personal example of suffering. When given an opportunity to leave jail if he would quit preaching, Bunyan refused, saying, “If I am freed today, I will preach tomorrow.” While some of Bunyan’s works have not survived, most are still in print with Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666) and Pilgrim’s Progress (1682) being the most widely read today.

            William Barker writes in Puritan Profiles (1996), p.311, “He was imprisoned again in 1676, and it was on this occasion that John Owen sought to aid in gaining his release. It was Owen who recommended the manuscript of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress to his publisher, Nathaniel Ponder, and who, when asked by Charles II why he listened to an uneducated tinker, said, ‘Could I possess the tinker’s abilities for preaching, please your Majesty, I would gladly relinquish all my learning.’”

Bibliography: Meet the Puritans, Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, 2006, pp.101-112.

            Puritan Profiles: 54 Contemporaries of the Westminster Assembly, William Barker, Mentor: Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland, 1996, pp.307-317.

            Grace Abounding: The Life, Books, & Influence of John Bunyan, David B. Calhoun, Christian Focus: Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland, 2005 (223 pp).






            Bunyan’s Books, a partial listing:

            The Works of John Bunyan, Banner of Truth Trust; 3 volumes, 2400 pp. 1999.

            The Pilgrim’s Progress, Banner of Truth Trust, 1983.

            Christiana’s Journey; Or, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Second Part, Bunyan Press, 1993, 150pp.

            Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Hendrickson Christian Classics Series, 2007 in hardcover.

            Holy War, Christian Focus Publications, 286 pp.

            All Love’s Excelling, Puritan Paperbacks, Banner of Truth Trust, 129pp.

            Advice To Sufferers, Old Paths Gospel Press, 142pp.

            Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, Banner of Truth Trust, 229pp.

            The Fear of God, Soli Deo Gloria, 217pp.





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Puritans Who Changed the World: John Winthrop 1588-1649

Posted on December 9, 2008. Filed under: Church History |

Puritans Who Changed the World: John Winthrop 1588-1649

Overview: An English gentleman, a lawyer, and Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony for over 12 years, Winthrop was a fervent Puritan layman who tried to bring his faith into practice and establish a “City Upon a Hill” in the New World.

Biography: Born in 1588 at Edwardstone, Suffolk (the same part of East Anglia that William Ames came from) to Adam Winthrop, lord of Groton Manor, and his wife Anne Brown. John was the only son and thus the heir. Homeschooled, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge at age 14 and came home after two years to learn how to run his father’s estate.

  • He married Mary Forth when he was 17; Mary died after bearing 6 children in ten years. Winthrop married again in about 6 months, but his second wife, Thomasine Clopton of Groton, died after their first year. He married a third time, to Margaret Tyndal, in 1618. She was a woman of great faith and many of Winthrop’s letters to her have been preserved.
  • Winthrop studied law as a young man and became an influential lawyer, drafting many petitions to parliament.
  • In a letter to his wife in 1629 we have the first evidence that Winthrop wanted to leave England for the New World. Frustrated with the political oppression from King Charles (the King dismissed Parliament in 1629 for the next 11 years) and the religious persecution of Bishop Laud, Winthrop and thousands of other Puritans began to look at the New World as an opportunity to avoid the judgment God was going to visit upon England.
  • 1629 Winthrop is recruited by the Massachusetts Company to be Governor of a new plantation. In April of 1630 Winthrop set sail in the Arbella with several other ships and about 700 colonists to New England, thus beginning the Great Migration. A Model of Christian Charity was the sermon Winthrop gave before the Arbella landed in the New World that set forth the idea of America being A City upon a Hill, establishing the concept of American Exceptionalism. Winthrop and the colonists set about establishing a society that would do the will of God in every detail, establishing the kingdom of God on earth.
  • In the winter of 1630/31 the colonists lost over half their number to malnutrition, disease and those who gave up and returned to England. Time and again Winthrop donated out of his own account money and food to help the struggling colony.
  • Oct. 19, 1630 Winthrop summoned a meeting at Charlestown which was the first revolution in New England. Winthrop took the original charter which was loosely worded, and established a government that allowed all Freemen (adult males above the status of servants, who were church members) to elect the assistants of the executive council, who would then elect the governor and assistant governor, and make the laws. This idea came from Winthrop’s covenantal theology.
  • From 1629 to the end of his life, Winthrop was a friend of Roger Williams, a separatist minister in Massachusetts who caused so much turmoil and strife that he was banished from the colony in the cold and snowy January of 1636. Though opposed to Williams’ radical view of separatism, Winthrop was gracious to the man and recommended him to the Indians of the Narragansett Bay.
  • 1634 Anne Hutchinson lands at Boston. Taught by her pastor, John Cotton (the highest regarded minister in New England), Hutchinson had a brilliant theological mind. Leading home Bible studies based upon the sermons of John Cotton, Hutchinson’s views very quickly strayed, so that by Oct. 1636 Winthrop was gravely concerned, though not currently serving as governor. The Hutchinson problem was so divisive the colony voted Winthrop back into office to handle the situation. Winthrop managed to bring her to trial and she, her husband, and a few close followers were banished from the colony and went to Rhode Island and settled near Roger William’s Providence Plantation.
  • 1647 his beloved wife of 29 years, Margaret, died. He marries Martha Coytmore and they have one son.
  • 1649 John Winthrop dies.

Impact: Winthrop was “The indispensable Man” for his generation in the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony. His patient and godly leadership allowed the colony to thrive.

  • His sermon onboard the Arbella, A Model of Christian Charity, otherwise known as A City upon a Hill, is the forerunner of American Exceptionalism and was famously quoted by President Ronald Reagan.
  • Winthrop’s boldness in loosely interpreting the colony’s charter allowed for representative government to take hold in New England but his cautious conservatism preserved the unity of the colony during the controversies caused by Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson.
  • His personal godly conduct and generosity made him famous in his day among the poor. He exemplified the Puritan Ideal of bringing theology into his daily life and in establishing a state according to the teachings of the Bible.

Quotes: From A Model of Christian Charity: We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.” For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.

Resources: 1) The Puritan Dilemma: the Story of John Winthrop by Edmund S. Morgan, HarperCollins: New York, 1958 (224 pages). One of the best biographies ever!

2) Magnalia Christi Americana,vol.1, by Cotton Mather. See the second book, Chapter IV, pp.118-131. Banner of Truth Trust; Carlisle, PA 1979. Originally published in London, 1702.

3) Meet the Puritans, Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, 2006 (pp.621-625).

4) John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father, Francis J. Bremer. Oxford University Press: New York, 2003 (478 pages).


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Puritans Who Changed the World: William Ames 1576-1633

Posted on December 4, 2008. Filed under: Church History |

Puritans Who Changed the World: William Ames 1576-1633

Overview: A Puritan exiled from England, living in Holland, who influenced Dutch and American theology greatly through his teaching, preaching, and, most of all, his writing. The Marrow of Theology was more widely read in America than Calvin or Luther.

Biography: born in 1567 at Ipswich, Suffolk, the part of East Anglia known as the place where Puritanism began. Both his merchant class father and mother died when he was young so he went to live with his uncle at Boxford, Robert Snelling. Relatives from the Snelling side of the family would help found Plymouth Colony.

  • Ames went to Cambridge, the center of Puritan scholarship, and began Christ’s College in 1594, graduating in 1598 with his Bachelor’s and in 1601 with his MA.
  • He had a dramatic conversion experience under the influence of William Perkins’ preaching and was ordained to the ministry and made a Fellow of the College.
  • King James’ edict at the Hampton Court Conference of 1604 began a sharp suppression of Puritan activities at all the colleges. After a strong sermon in December of 1609, Ames was relieved of his positions.
  • In 1610, after more persecution, Ames departed for the Netherlands and academic freedom where he remained for the rest of his life. He served as Chaplain to the English forces stationed at The Hague 1611-19 and pastored a small church too.
  • During this time Ames also wrote 4 books against the Arminian Remonstrants. His skill in this debate won him the title, “Augustine of Holland”. He was a non-voting member of the Synod of Dort, 1618-19, and was the chief theologian and secretary to Johannes Bogerman, presiding officer at the Synod.
  • With the ensuing anti-Arminian atmosphere, vacancies opened in the universities and Ames was offered a professorship at Leiden University only to have the position pulled at the last minute by interference of King James of England.
  • After his first wife died not long after they were married, Ames married Joan Fletcher; they had three children. To support his wife and family Ames tutored students in his home because official employment was hindered by the English Crown. It was during this time that he developed his notes for The Marrow.
  • In 1622 Franeker University ignored the English wishes and appointed Ames as professor of theology and he was awarded the Doctor of Theology degree soon thereafter. By 1626 he was appointed Rector Magnificus, the highest academic office of the university. During his 11 years there he became known as the Learned Doctor. He still took students into his home for tutoring.
  • In 1633 Ames was moving to Rotterdam to co-pastor an English church but was also considering joining his friend, John Winthrop, in New England. These plans were cut short when Ames contracted pneumonia and died at the age of 57.
  • In 1637 Ames’ widow and children immigrated to Salem, Massachusetts and brought his library with them which was donated to Harvard College.

Impact: William Ames was the most influential theologian to affect both North America and the Netherlands in his day and for the next hundred years, but, remarkably, did not have as much impact on his native England.

  • Published in Latin in 1627 Medulla Theologiae (The Marrow of Theology) was the standard textbook for systematic theology in New England for over one hundred years. It was considered to be the best summary of Calvinistic doctrine ever written and was only replaced by Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology.
  • It is not an overstatement to say that for America’s first 250 +years (1620-1880’s) Puritanism was one of the most important intellectual elements in our culture and William Ames was the most influential of Puritans.
  • Ames’ theology was deep, precise, succinct and practical. He addresses the whole man believing that thought and life should present a unified, integrated whole.
  • Through his writings and his leadership in the Synod of Dort, Ames was the English thinker and theologian who most influenced Dutch thought in his day. His defense against the Arminians preserved the orthodox faith.
  • His book Conscience, with the Power and Cases Thereof was considered to be one of the most valuable sources on Puritan morality by the great Harvard scholar Samuel Eliot Morrison.

Application: Notice the chain of influence: a mother (whose name we know not) pointed out William Perkins as a drunk to her child, Perkins repented and then was mentored by Laurence Chaderton (whom most of us have never heard of), Perkins mentored Ames, Ames guided the Synod of Dort (from which Synod the acronym TULIP was developed) and wrote The Marrow of Theology which influenced the Mathers and all of New England, including both Harvard and Yale Colleges.

Quotes from The Marrow: “He overcame death by enduring, by making satisfaction for sin, and he overcame the devil by depriving or taking the prey out of his hands.” (XXIII The Exaltation of Christ, para.2, p.145).

“Our good works while we live here are, therefore, imperfect and impure in themselves. They are not acceptable to God, except in Christ. The works of the regenerate do not have any merit worthy of a reward obtained on the basis of justice.” (Book Two, III Good Works, para. 17-19. p.233).

“These five things belong together in divine faith: 1) a knowledge of what God testifies to; 2) a pious affection toward God which gives his testimony greatest force with us; 3) an assent given to the truth testified to, because of this affection toward God who is the witness of it; 4) a resting upon God for the receiving of what is given; and 5) the choosing or apprehension of what is made available to us in the testimony.” (V Faith, para. 12, p.241).

Resources: The Learned Doctor William Ames: Dutch Backgrounds of English and American Puritanism by Keith L. Sprunger. The University of Illinois Press: Urbana, Ill. 1972 (289pp.)

Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, “William Ames”. Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, MI. (p.39-51.)

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Puritans Who Changed the World: William Perkins 1558-1602

Posted on November 28, 2008. Filed under: Church History |

Puritans Who Changed the World: William Perkins 1558-1602

Overview: William Perkins, a former drunk who dabbled in the occult, became by God’s grace, the most influential Puritan Theologian and Pastor in England. His work at Cambridge and at St. Andrews church influenced two generations of Puritans and his legacy set the tone for Puritanism in America from the Pilgrims at Plymouth to Jonathon Edwards and the Great Awakening.

Biography: Born in 1558 (the year Queen Elizabeth took the throne) at the village of Marston Jabbett, Warwickshire, to Thomas and Hanna Perkins. Perkins showed promise with his academic abilities, but while at Christ’s College, Cambridge, he showed a talent for drunkenness that was quite notorious.

  • 1577 Perkins entered Christ’s College, Cambridge. He was a student of Mathematics but also dabbled in the occult and black magic.
  • 1581 received his BA and his MA in 1584. At some point in those years Perkins heard a mother of a small child refer to him as a drunk; this convicted him and was instrumental in his coming to Christ.
  • After his conversion he was mentored by Laurence Chaderton. They met with a few others and studied Calvinist theology and became Puritans.
  • Soon after his conversion he started preaching in the Cambridge jail. One account has Perkins leading a convict to Christ on the scaffold where he was executed immediately after trusting in Christ. Crowds began gathering at the jail to hear Perkins preach grace to those undergoing the disciplines of the law.
  • 1584 he became a faculty member of Christ’s College, where he was a teaching fellow until 1595, and started preaching at St. Andrews Church, Cambridge, where he preached until his death in 1602 at the age of only 44 years. In those 18 years he influenced two generations of Puritan students who went on to pastor, teach, and write.
  • 1590-91 Perkins was the Dean of Christ’s College and he catechized students on Thursdays and counseled on Sunday afternoons.
  • 1595 Perkins marries a young widow, Timothye Cradocke. They would have seven children though three died in infancy.
  • Perkins died of kidney stone complications in 1602, one year before Queen Elizabeth’s death; he lived his whole life during her reign.

Impact: Though Perkins taught God’s sovereign election and reprobation, he was a passionate soul winner amongst the prisoners in the jail (who were often mere moments away from the hangman’s noose) as well as with the cultured and refined scholars of Cambridge. Calvinism was no cold, formal formula for Perkins; it led to a burning compassion for the downtrodden and lost.

  • His writings totaled over 2500 pages and enjoyed 8 printings by 1635, with translations into half a dozen languages including Latin, French, Dutch and Spanish. His writings focused on the Apostle’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Galatians, the Sermon on the Mount and Hebrews 11. In his lifetime the sales of his books in England exceeded those of Calvin, Beza, and Bullinger combined.
  • He was such a gifted preacher that even though his church consisted of scholars, students, townsfolk and people from the surrounding countryside, his sermons were understandable and satisfying to all. He aimed to join strong doctrinal preaching with practical godly living so that “his preaching was a comment on the text and his practice was a comment on his preaching.”
  • A “moderate Puritan’, Perkins worked to purify the Church of England from within rather than separating from the Church.
  • Not just a scholar, preacher and evangelist, Perkins was much sought after for his skills in counseling.
  • Perkins was responsible for introducing the theology of Theodore Beza into England and taught Beza’s Double Predestination.
  • Perkins’ students included: William Ames, author of The Marrow of Theology, the theology book most often used in America in the 17th and early 18th centuries; John Robinson, who would go on to separate from the Church of England, move to Leiden, and then to the new world as the pastor on the Mayflower; Thomas Goodwin; James Ussher- famous for his Chronology of the World; Richard Sibbes and John Cotton.
  • “Nearly one hundred Cambridge men who grew up in Perkins’ shadow led early migrations to New England, including William Brewster of Plymouth, Thomas Hooker of Connecticut, John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay, and Roger Williams of Rhode Island. Richard Mather was converted while reading Perkins and Jonathon Edwards was fond of reading Perkins more than a century later. Samuel Morison remarked that ‘your typical Plymouth Colony library comprised a large and a small Bible, Ainsworth’s translation of the Psalms, and the works of William Perkins, a favorite theologian.’” (pp. 475-6 Meet the Puritans).

For Further Study:

1. Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson. Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 2006, pp.469-480.

2. “Gallery: Preachers and Poets” by William Barker and Leland Ryken in Christian History and Biography, issue 89, Winter 2006, p,28. Published by Christianity Today International, Carol Stream, Illinois.


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Puritans Who Changed the World: John Foxe 1517-87

Posted on November 21, 2008. Filed under: Church History |

Overview: John Foxe was a Protestant and then Puritan preacher who believed that the story of ordinary saints who were faithful unto death should be told and that this history would encourage and build up the faith of true believers and help establish the Church of England. Foxe took no royalties for his work and lived in poverty.

Biography: Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England to a middle class family, 1537 graduated from Magdalen College School, Oxford, and received his Master’s Degree in 1543; able to read in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

  • Left Oxford in 1545 due to his becoming an evangelical and going against the commands of King Henry VIII. He wrote against clerical celibacy.
  • After giving up his academic career, he was impoverished and lived with the reformer Hugh Latimer (executed by Bloody Mary in 1555) until he was hired as a Tutor in the household of Thomas Lucy of Charlecote.
  • 1547 he marries Agnes Randall and leaves the Lucy home soon afterwards. The move to London where Foxe is hired by Mary Fitzroy, duchess of Richmond, to serve as tutor to her deceased brother’s children. Mary enables Foxe to enter the elite ranks of the Protestants in England.
  • 1550 ordained as a deacon by Nicholas Ridley (martyred with Latimer by Bloody Mary in 1555). His circle of friends included John Hooper and John Bale who influenced him to begin his first martyrology.
  • 1553 With the accession of Queen Mary, Foxe had to flee for his life with his pregnant wife, to Holland where he began the first edition of Acts and Monuments, about the early Christian persecutions, and a focus on the persecutions of the Lollards in England.
  • 1554 Foxe and his family move to Frankfurt where he pastors a church for exiled Englishmen. He engages in a controversy over following the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer or the Reformed liturgy of John Calvin. He sides with John Knox of Scotland in following Calvin.
  • Foxe and his family live in deep poverty in their exile for the sake of the Gospel.
  • 1559 Foxe publishes his Acts and Monuments in Basel. After Mary’s death, Foxe returns to England well known due to his well received book even though it had only been published in Latin.
  • 1563 Foxe publishes the first English version of his book Actes and Monuments, after many additions; it is now a huge 1800 page folio. It is popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
  • 1570 Foxe publishes the second edition of his Actes and Monuments, now 2300 pages long and thoroughly revised and updated. Foxe actually seems to have listened to some of his Catholic critics and, where they were right, he made corrections; but where they were wrong, he attacked with a huge amount of documented evidence. This edition was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth.
  • By 1565 Foxe was a part of the Vestments Controversy, not wearing the vestments of the priesthood.
  • 1587 Foxe dies. His son, Samuel, becomes wealthy and preserves his father’s writings and papers.

Impact: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is his greatest legacy. Published just about 5 years after the death of Bloody Mary, the book greatly assisted in providing a historical foundation for the Church of England separating from the Roman Church.

· In 1563 Foxe’s Actes and Monuments was the largest publishing project undertaken in England up to that time. Published by John Day the volume made extensive use of woodcuts throughout

· The first part of the book covered the Early Church persecutions through the Wycliffe period and the Lollards. Foxe was a leading advocate of naming Wycliffe as a forerunner, Morning Star, of the Reformation.

· The second part of the book covered the reigns of King Henry VIII and Edward VI.

· The third part deals with the reign of Queen Mary and the brutal persecutions and executions that were still fresh on people’s minds.

· Catholics object to the work as an inaccurate partisan piece of anti-Catholic propaganda. The Church of England, however, so loved the book that by 1571 it was required to be placed in every cathedral church in the land and that every church official have a personal copy so that all servants and visitors in their houses might read it.

· Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was considered to have had the biggest impact on the Church of England of any book except the Bible in the Tudor and early Stuart periods, and, together with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion has been in constant print since its first publication.

· By the early 1800’s the book had fallen into disfavor in England, as had Puritanism in general. By the middle of the 20th century though, its accurate reputation was being restored and scholars were studying it anew.

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