Calvinism + Arminianism = Fullerism

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Puritan Board Junior
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Calvinism + Arminianism = Fullerism

If you are not familiar with Fullerism, or wonder how Calvinism + Arminianism = Fullerism, then this article will attempt to explain this little known doctrine which has wrought great havoc on the churches of God. For our purposes we will define Calvinism as believing in Particular Redemption and Arminianism as believing in the General Atonement.

If you are a believer in Particular Redemption you may ask yourself, “How is it possible to combine Particular Redemption with the General Atonement? Are they not mutually exclusive?” The answer is found with a man named Andrew Fuller.

Andrew Fuller was an 18th Century Particular Baptist preacher in England. The Particular Baptists he associated with are the same ones the Colonial American Baptists and later Primitive Baptists would trace their church ancestry through in the United States. Andrew Fuller was a very able preacher and was well known and widely regarded by the Baptists of his day. The origin of Missionary Societies among Baptists are traceable directly to Fuller and likewise the motivation for modern Sunday Schools. The reason why is found in his doctrine. Let us first consider Fuller in his own words.

Andrew Fuller quoted in “Particular Redemption” by William Rushton

“Concerning the death of Christ, if I speak of it irrespective of the purpose of the Father and the Son as to the objects who should be saved by it, referring merely to what it is in itself sufficient for, and declared in the gospel to be adapted to, I should think I answered the question in a scriptural way in saying, It was for sinners as sinners. But if I have respect to the purpose of the Father in giving His Son to die, and the design of Christ in laying down His life, I should answer, It was for His elect only.” "Particular Redemption", Rushton pg 18 quoted from the third part of Fuller's "Dialogues, Letters and Essays" on the Atonement

“In short, we must either acknowledge an objective fullness in Christ’s atonement, sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him; or, in opposition to Scripture and common sense, confine our invitations to believe to such persons as have believed already.” [Emphasis mine - JT] "Particular Redemption", Rushton pg 18 quoted from the third part of Fuller's "Dialogues, Letters and Essays" on the Atonement

“If satisfaction was made on the principle of debtor and creditor, and that which was paid was just of sufficient value to liquidate a given number of sins, and to redeem a given number of sinners, and no more, it should seem that it could not be the duty of any but the elect, to rely upon it; for wherefore should we set our eyes on that which is not? But if there be such a fullness in the satisfaction of Christ as is sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him; and if the particularity of redemption lie only in the purpose or sovereign pleasure of God to render it effectual to some rather that than other, no such consequence will follow,” etc. [Emphasis mine - JT] "Particular Redemption", Rushton pg 18, quoted from the third part of Fuller's "Dialogues, Letters and Essays" on the Atonement

I hope that every believer of Particular Redemption will sense something amiss in Fuller’s statements. To put it succinctly Fuller believed the death of Christ is efficient to save the elect and sufficient to save the whole world if they will only believe. In other words he did not deny election outright. Nor did he deny that Christ died to save the elect particularly. What Fuller is saying is not only will all the elect be definitely saved but the death of Christ is sufficient to save every one else if they will only believe. Therefore he makes the death of Christ both Particular and General at the same time. I think most Primitive Baptists will recognize this as nothing more than backdoor Arminianism because that’s exactly what it is.

Consider how seductive and appealing Fuller’s doctrine is. Fullerism, like Arminianism, makes faith and belief a condition to be met and therefore a good work instead of the fruit of the spirit and the fruit of the gracious state of salvation. It robs God of his glory by making man the decision maker of his salvation rather than God and puts man in control of his destiny rather than the Sovereign Almighty God who “doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Daniel 4:35

However, Fuller knows better than to give an outright rejection of election and Particular Redemption. To carnally minded believers of election and Particular Redemption, Fuller’s heresy is almost irresistible. To their minds he gives them the best of both worlds.

The Biblically minded person gives God the full glory for saving his elect and only his elect through the Particular Redemption that is in Christ Jesus. We give God all the glory because he hath “chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” Eph. 1:4-5.

We give the Lord all the glory further knowing that “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy," Rom. 9:11-16.

Frankly, believers of Fullers doctrine are believers in heresy just as bad Arminianism. In some ways Arminianism is to be preferred because that system is more honest about its logical consequences than Fuller’s doctrine, which ultimately leads to a denial of election and Particular Redemption. In fact the ultimate denial of election and Particular Redemption is exactly what happened to those who followed Fuller’s teachings.

As we said before, Fuller introduced Missionary Societies to the Baptists. This also led to the drive for modern Sunday Schools. These unscriptural innovations had never been heard of among Baptists before Fuller’s doctrine. Why did Fuller introduce them? The answer is simple. If the death of Christ is sufficient to save the whole world if they will only believe, then the more efficiently we can convince people to believe in Christ then the more people we will have to populate heaven. The end justifies the means. (Justifies – The doctrine of Justification is also tied up in this but we won’t delve into that now.)

What was the final outcome of Fuller’s doctrine? It was rather devastating. His system arrived in the United States around 1800. All of the Baptists, including many which become known as Primitive Baptist, were strongly swayed by Fuller’s practice and by his doctrine. Finally, small groups of Baptists throughout the United States began to see through the error and began to reject as heretical the doctrine and practice that had been introduced by Andrew Fuller. They became known as the Primitive Baptists.

Sadly, the majority of Baptists, which had been sound in the faith regarding Particular Redemption, could not see through the error and did not repent. At the time the split took place between what was known as the Old School and New School Baptists most if not all the New School Baptist confessions of faith retained their Particular Redemption statements. But the damage was done. The combination of the error in practice and its attendant error in doctrine now known as Fullerism slowly but surely became the actual doctrine of those churches. Finally, all of the New School churches followed Fuller’s Doctrine to its logical conclusion and denied election and Particular Redemption altogether and simply became Arminians.

Are there any followers of Fullers doctrine today? Yes there are. They are mostly found in what are known as Sovereign Grace churches. Much of what they say is sound. Indeed if you were to read Andrew Fuller, much of what he said was sound. But it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel. Some well-known examples of Sovereign Grace preachers who have followed Fuller’s teaching regarding the atonement are John MacArthur and John Piper. Both of them have a lot of very good teaching but it only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump.

[Editor's note: Since first publishing this article it has come to my attention that MacArthur's views regarding the atonement have changed substantially. Although MacArthur admits not wanting to be dogmatic about it, as of 1997 he has evidently come to a closer understanding, if not outright belief , of Particular Redemption. Five of his 'Answers' beginning with the one below and spanning 1978 to 1997 are given here. Although the Primitive Baptists would probably not be completely satisfied with all of his later answers, they are much more sound doctrinally. His statement from 1978 is left here for informational purposes only. However, every preacher should be accorded the opportunity for his views to change and mature as we hope is the case with MacArthur.] JT

John MacArthur states in “Questions and Answers” circa 1978,

“I find in my own mind and in my own study of Scripture a strong case for a "General Atonement," for a "Universal Atonement," for an "All Encompassing Provision." For Jesus dying as the propitiation for our sins--and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world, tying it in particularly with John, chapter three, "God so loved. . . ." What? "The world"--not the elect. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It seems to me that the giving of the Son was in response to the loving of the world, and that the propitiation which Christ was, was sufficient for the sins of all the world. So, I would say, that I believe, and I think this is maybe one way to understand it--I believe that the atonement of Christ was sufficient for the world, but is efficient for those that believe. I believe in, I guess what you could call a "Limited and Unlimited Atonement." It is unlimited in the sense that it was sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world--it is limited, in that it is applied only to those who believe. I don't like to get pushed beyond that, but I don't like to just take the title of believing in "Limited Atonement" or "Particular Redemption," that Jesus died only for the elect, because I think that that has some exegetical problems. I think you would have problems explaining certain passages of Scripture, but I admit to you that it is a very difficult issue, because there are many passages that apply His redemptive work "only to the elect," "only to those who believe." But I believe, compared with other passages, His redemption encompasses, in its sufficiency--the world.”

John Piper states in “The Duty: Faith” December 18,1994

“Today we focus on the third "D"—the duty that we have to believe. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish." Let me focus our attention on this act of believing from several different angles.”

“Believing is our link with the love of God. Notice how Jesus speaks of God's love-rescue: God so loved the world so that believers will not perish. One of the ways to express this is that the Love of God is sufficient to save the world, but efficient to save those who believe. Efficient means his love actually saves believers. It is effective in saving them from perishing. The love of God does not have this effect in the lives of those who do not believe. They perish.” [Emphasis mine – JT]

In “The Reformed Faith and Racial Harmony” January 19, 2003 Piper states,

3. Limited Atonement (Definite Atonement, Particular Redemption)

The main point of the doctrine of limited atonement is not to assert that Christ did not die for everyone in the sense that John 3:16 says he did: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." That is absolutely true: Christ died so that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. Christ’s death is sufficient for all, and should be offered to all as gloriously sufficient to save them if they will believe. "Limited atonement" does not deny any of that. [Emphasis mine – JT]

Having looked at statements from Fuller, MacArthur and Piper let us now consider extracts from the 1646 and 1689 London Confessions of faith followed by the Aberdeen Primitive Baptist Church articles of faith which deal with Particular Redemption. Notice how precise the language is, clearly stating the truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation.

The First London Baptist Confession of Faith 1646 Edition

3. And God hath before the foundation of the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of His grace; [having foreordained and] leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His justice.

6. All the elect being loved of God with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, nor their own works, lest any man should boast, but, only and wholly by God, of His own free grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ, who is made unto us by God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and all in all, that he that rejoiceth, might rejoice in the Lord.

21. Jesus Christ by His death did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him: These only have interest in Him, and fellowship with Him, for whom He makes intercession to His Father in their behalf, and to them alone doth God by His Spirit apply this redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given to them, and none else.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Chapter III: Of God's Decree

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.

4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

Articles of Faith Aberdeen Primitive Baptist Church, Aberdeen, MS
4. That by God’s sovereign grace and mercy, elect sinners are predestined to eternal life and are redeemed and justified by the blood of Christ alone.

5. That Jesus Christ died for the sins of His people alone and they shall all be regenerated in time by the Holy Spirit, enabled to hear the Gospel of their salvations and caused to have faith in Christ as their Savior.

The Lord had blessed us with the great truths of his sovereign saving love. Let us continue to hold forth the truth of God’s word.


Puritan Board Freshman
What do you think? :
Andrew Fuller quoted in “Particular Redemption” by William Rushton

“Concerning the death of Christ, if I speak of it irrespective of the purpose of the Father and the Son as to the objects who should be saved by it, referring merely to what it is in itself sufficient for, and declared in the gospel to be adapted to, I should think I answered the question in a scriptural way in saying, It was for sinners as sinners. But if I have respect to the purpose of the Father in giving His Son to die, and the design of Christ in laying down His life, I should answer, It was for His elect only.” "Particular Redemption", Rushton pg 18 quoted from the third part of Fuller's "Dialogues, Letters and Essays" on the Atonement

“In short, we must either acknowledge an objective fullness in Christ’s atonement, sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him; or, in opposition to Scripture and common sense, confine our invitations to believe to such persons as have believed already.” [Emphasis mine - JT] "Particular Redemption", Rushton pg 18 quoted from the third part of Fuller's "Dialogues, Letters and Essays" on the Atonement

“If satisfaction was made on the principle of debtor and creditor, and that which was paid was just of sufficient value to liquidate a given number of sins, and to redeem a given number of sinners, and no more, it should seem that it could not be the duty of any but the elect, to rely upon it; for wherefore should we set our eyes on that which is not? But if there be such a fullness in the satisfaction of Christ as is sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him; and if the particularity of redemption lie only in the purpose or sovereign pleasure of God to render it effectual to some rather that than other, no such consequence will follow,” etc. [Emphasis mine - JT] "Particular Redemption", Rushton pg 18, quoted from the third part of Fuller's "Dialogues, Letters and Essays" on the Atonement

So if I understand Fuller's view correctly, Fuller stated that Christ had made satisfaction for both the elect and reprobate, and consequently both were bound to believe in him?

If this is what Fuller taught, indeed it was wrong. Fuller is confusing sufficiency and satisfaction. None of the Calvinists denied the sufficiency of the atonement to save a thousand worlds. What historic calvinism teaches is that the atonement was intended for the elects only, although going back to the covenant of redemption, God could have purposed to save more people with the same sacrifice, since the worth of the sacrifice is infinite. However, Fuller's reasoning that denying the satisfaction of Christ's atonement for the rebrobate is to deny their duty to believe is sophism. It is not in the business of either reprobates or elects to pry into the secret councels of God and know if Christ made satisfaction for our sins or not. As John Owen points out in the Death of Death, the sufficiency of the atonement and its infinite worth should be enough for us to come to him in faith.

However, I don't think that Piper and MacArthur are actually promoting Fullerism outrightly. When some Calvinists doubt that Christ died only for (that is in place of) the elects they usually mean that they think his atonement also purchased certain benefits for the reprobates, such as the offer of the gospel (as Charles Hodge thinks) or common grace. Although I am not of this opinion, and that I do not see the need of an atonement in order for God to show some form of providencial goodness to all and every men, this is not an outright denial of the fifth point.


Puritan Board Junior
Why I Am not a Follower of Andrew Fuller

Great changes are occurring in the contemporary theological scene and there seems to be a mass exodus from the old paths of our fathers in the faith to the new-fangled paths of what is now known as ´Evangelical Calvinism`. The inspired teachings of the New Testament, the Reformation and the preaching of such 18th century stalwarts as John Gill, James Hervey and Augustus Toplady are being given up for the teachings of a comparatively nobody who is being re-created as a star, given VIP treatment and promoted as the new Luther, the trumpet blast, the sounder of the alarm, the one who fanned the smoking wick of the evangelical Awakening into a blaze and the prophet of the new evangelism. This person is none other than Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) who is being rehabilitated by the new orthodoxy and presented in a form which even he, in spite of his many heresies, would not have recognised as his own work.

Deceptive marketing strategy under a sound slogan
Fullerism has thus once again raised its ugly head amongst Particular Baptist and Reformed churches and become a product marketed under the catching slogan The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Just as Fuller strove to make the Baptists respectable and clean them of what he called the dunghill of High Calvinism, so his modern fans are presenting him as their only hope in making Christianity a rational religion which even fallen man can comprehend and follow faithfully. We are thus seeing one formally Calvinistic church after the other, followed by their magazines and newsletters, proclaiming a ´modified Calvinism` which claims that the old doctrines are too high, or even hyper, and that an inner knowledge of the truth is as common as the offer of salvation is universal.
Anyone protesting against this down-grading of true religion by these people, who have rejected the Five Points and teach the relativity of the Law, must expect to be called a Hyper-Calvinist and an Antinomian. These are scornful names that Traill, Gill, Brine, Hervey, Toplady, Whitefield, Huntington and Hawker had to bear before us and God honoured their work no less for that. This paper will seek to show that a true Christian cannot possibly be a Fullerite as this would mean rejecting the eternal truths of God`s Word and rejecting the eternal validity of the Mosaic Law and Christ`s precepts as a statement of God`s eternal nature. It would mean believing that sin, the fall and redemption are to be understood merely figuratively and accepting the error that Christ was never placed under the Law on our behalf but ever remained above and beyond it. There is thus in Fullerism no imputation of sin, no transfer of guilt and punishment, no substitution, no satisfaction, no indwelling righteousness of Christ. Indeed, the whole work of Christ in His redemptive sufferings and death, for Fuller, was an arbitrary sham merely to shake man into an awareness of his natural duties to shun evil and seek God and thus grasp out and take the forgiveness that is his for the asking.

Fuller`s two-tier system of reason and revelation
Fuller`s teaching on Scripture is part and parcel of his general teaching on law and revelation. There are two kinds of rules which nature and revealed religion point out to us. The one is eternally right, the other is only right as long as God will have it that way. The former is natural i.e. part of nature and relies on man`s recognition of what Fuller calls ´the nature and fitness of things.` The latter is revealed i.e. not part of nature, is secondary to natural law and points to temporary standards that have temporary aims and is valid only as long as God wishes to keep to them. God, Himself, is subject to the eternal, natural law but God is the originator of the revealed law which, of necessity, changes. The Eternal Law is often called the moral law by Fuller, whereas he calls revealed law and Christ`s precepts ´positive law`. The Old Testament Church was a church completely under the positive law whereas the New Testament Church is under the moral law. The Old lived by adhering to precepts but the New lives by recognition of the nature and fitness of things. The Old lived according to the letter but the New lives by the Spirit which is beyond the letter but such a life will be accepted as if the whole had been kept.
This teaching assumes that man is in a position to know what is the nature and fitness of things in contrast to what is merely ´positive´ and needs to be analysed so that the spirit can be understood as opposed to the carnal letter. This point illustrates clearly Fuller`s continual use of negative terms in a positive way and positive terms in a negative way. Thus it is the ´positive` laws which, until the enlightened mind understands them, work negatively on man as the letter that kills. It is the ´improper` meaning of words in Scripture, i.e. their figurative sense, which give sinners their true meaning i.e. the spirit which brings life.

Total depravity denied
Holders of such rationalistic theories can hardly be expected to believe in man`s total depravity. Fuller says clearly in his arguments against William Button that man is not fallen in all respects and he tells Dan Taylor, the General Baptist that man has the same moral powers before the Holy Spirit works on him as afterwards. Indeed, Fuller claims that conscience, reason and immortality are not fallen in any respect and are all perfect because they are the image of God in man. He even denies that man is physically fallen, indeed, he is not fallen in any of his natural abilities and he is only fallen spiritually in the sense that he has full moral powers but has no inclination (Fuller`s own word) to believe in God. He could if he would but he cannot be bothered. Fuller, indeed, makes of man a perfect rebel but not one who is dead in trespasses and sins. Indeed, he argues that were man such a spiritual corpse, it would be wrong of God to tell him to stand up and live as he would not be able to do so. It seems that Fuller has no idea of Matt. 19:26, "With God all things are possible." This is because Fuller emphasises that in all stages of salvation human agency must go hand in hand with God`s purpose.

God`s purpose hidden behind the carnal curtains of revelation
Though Fuller outlines most clearly his high view of man`s agency in salvation, his descriptions of God`s purpose in redemption are hidden behind pseudo-philosophical language and the use of imagary which he never explains in Biblical terms. He denies fully that Christ was punished vicariously on the cross and experienced the wrath and anger of God against sin in His own Person for His elect`s sake. The closest he comes to a Biblical presentation of the sin-bearing of Christ is when he says, "The sufferings of Christ in our stead, therefore, are not a punishment inflicted in the ordinary course of distributive justice, but an extraordinary interposition of infinite wisdom and love; not contrary to, but rather above the law, deviating from the letter, but more than preserving the spirit of it." Such a definition still falls far below the Bible`s own testimony. This is all in keeping with Fuller`s theory that the letter of the law is carnal and to be rejected, whereas the believer must always be looking for a ´spiritual` interpretation outside of it. He has no concept of the necessary killing aspect of the letter of the law so that the life-giving spiritual aspect may be applied. This aspect of the law which condemns and slays the sinner is quite absent from Fuller`s theology. His evangelical appeal to fallen man is always, "Love Christ as if you had never apostatised," because he believes that the sinner is fully able to do this. He only needs the exemplary moral influence of the gospel to encourage him.

Christ substitution a mere figure of speech
Fuller argues in this way because he completely denies that Christ could have become sin for our sakes and thus suffered the penalties due to sinners. This is all metaphor, he tells us. All it means is that God dealt with His Son as the Jewish priests dealt with their scape-goats and sin-offerings. Sin was ceremoniously and figuratively laid on the animals and they were either dispatched into the wilderness or sacrificed on the altar and God accepted this as if the Jew`s sins had really been transferred and transported away. Fuller argues that there is no difference in kind here between the Old Testament sacrifices and Christ`s atoning death. There is only a difference in degree owing to the greater dignity of Christ as God`s Son. Here Fuller ignores the fact that the Old Testament sacrifices were shadows to foretell of the real transfer and transport away of sin when Christ died to pay the price of, and accept the punishment for, our transgressions. Such talk, Fuller argues, can only be figurative at best. There is no such thing as actual transfer and imputation, neither of Adam`s sin to us, our sin to Christ or Christ`s righteousness to His Bride. Redemption merely means that we are pardoned but we are still in our guilt and sin.

Christ did not die for anyone in particular
If Christ actually bore our sins on the cross, Fuller maintains, he would have been punished for the exact amount of sin ever committed. Fuller thinks this is wrong thinking based on a literal interpretation of what he calls the Bible`s ´commercial language.` It was never God`s purpose in salvation that Christ should be punished for a given number of sins or the sins of a given number of people, Fuller argues. God`s purpose is to use the atonement as a symbol of satisfaction. It is a feast spread before all and whoever wishes to partake of it will be justified by the action of partaking. Thus the atonement had no specific function other than to be a demonstration of God`s displeasure against sin to move the best in man to turn to Him and accept forgiveness. There is thus no such thing as Christ dying for individual sinners in Fuller`s system. Whenever he finds people like Paul saying in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," Fuller tells them that they can only presume such a fact by inferring from general displays of God`s mercy that they could be applied to oneself. The believer must be in a position to see the general ´nature and fitness of things` and it is this that allows him to believe he is personally attached to God.

Fuller`s gospel lacks the means of holiness
There is an enormous dearth of teaching on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Christ in the believer in Fuller`s system. He is always so careful to view these truths figuratively, yet always just as cautious about stating what these figures are supposed to mean. Union with Christ in any real shape or form is completely denied by Fuller. This lack of clear and sound teaching has disastrous consequences when considering Fuller`s doctrine of holiness. He develops his position by stating that all men have a desire for natural happiness and the common good and that the gospel call appeals to this capacity in man. He writes essay upon essay on this topic under such promising titles as The Holy Nature and Divine Harmony of the Christian Religion, The Nature of True Virtue, Morality not founded in Utility, The Great Aim of Life or The Goodness of the Moral Law. Readers will be counted happy when they spot a single reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in these essays and sermons. A number of Fuller`s works on holiness contain no reference to the Spirit whatsoever and leave the indwelling of Christ in the believer to other writers. Fuller does take up the Spirit`s work as a result of criticism fo leaving it out but even then as in Answers to Objections, he merely points to the Spirit as an outside influence on man, encouraging him to do his duty. The following is taken from Fuller`s essay on The Nature of True Virtue which is a criticism of a sermon preached by his close friend Robert Hall. Needless to say, neither the Holy Spirit, nor Christ are referred to once in the essay. Fuller concludes his arguments for leading a virtuous life by saying:

"It is not necessary to true virtue that it should comprehend all being, or "distinctly embrace the welfare of the whole system." It is sufficient that it be of an expansive tendency; and this appears to be Edward`s view of the subject. A child may love God by loving godliness, or godly people, though it has yet scarcely any ideas of God himself. It may also possess a disposition the tendency of which is to embrace in the arms of good-will "the immense society of human kind;" though at the time it may be acquainted with but few people in the world. Such a disposition will come into actual exercise, "from particulars to generals," as fast as knowledge extends. This, however, is not "private affection," or self-love, ripening into an "extended benevolence, as its last and most perfect fruit;" but benevolence itself, expanded in proportion as the natural powers expand, and afford it opportunity."

Evangelical Calvinism is neither evangelical nor Calvinism
Such is the ´evangelical Calvinist` jargon of the Fullerite school. A jargon void of any true evangelical application and void of the Calvinistic teaching associated with such an application. Fuller is arguing in this way as an anecdote against `Modern Infidelity`. Infidels would be the first to laugh to scorn such a method of pointing them to true holiness. Sensible Christians could also be forgiven for seeing the funny side of such a pseudo-pious hope. One wonders how affective Fuller`s gospel can be when a shepherd feeds his hungry flocks with such rationalistic indigestible scraps. Fuller`s view of holiness is as far from that demanded of God than the East is from the West. Warfield explains how those schools of thought influenced by Grotius and the New Divinity theology in the USA, turned their backs on sound doctrine and concentrated on widespread evangelism as if the one were possible without the other. Fullerism is a typical example of this kind of false thinking. Modern Fullerites claim that they eclipse the old High-Calvinists in their evangelistic efforts. The historical facts speak strongly against this claim as such men as Davis, Gill, Hervey, Toplady, Huntington and Gadsby had no like amongst the self-styled ´evangelical Calvinists.` But even if it were true that Fullerism paves the way for a greater evangelical outreach, what good will this do sinful man when he hears that all God demands of him is that he allows his "benevolence to expand in proportion as the natural powers expand and afford it opportunity." All this holds no message for a sinner burdened with his own iniquities longing to flee from the wrath to come. What use would a postman be who guaranteed that everyone in his district would receive a letter bearing good news when, after receiving their post, the neighbours all found that the envelopes were empty? He would soon lose his job. The time has come for Christians of all denominations to protest against this false messenger of good news who merely delivers empty envelopes. Fuller needs to be sacked on the spot as a labourer unworthy of hire because of his false promises which are unworthy of any acceptation.

Why I Am Not a Follower of Andrew Fuller


Puritan Board Junior
The Evangelical Liberalism of Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), a Particular Baptist who departed radically from the faith of his father's is becoming quite a name amongst churches and para-church movements that once taught the doctrines of grace. Though at best a Calminian and at worst an absolute heretic, Fuller is being proclaimed by the evangelical Reformed Establishment as the Luther of the Baptists and as the man that fanned the smoking wick of the Evangelical Awakening into a blaze . He is seen as the reformer who rescued Calvinists from the dunghill of their fathers in the faith and is now presented as the greatest theologian of the 19th century, a genius whose work was epoch-making . No praise seems to be too high or too exaggerated for this sturdy contender of the system of rationalism now known as Fullerism and one writer of fairly recent years has even dubbed him a 'prophet of evangelical Calvinism .' Fuller's followers, though they disagree amongst themselves on minor aspects of Fuller's teaching, are all quite unanimous in proclaiming that no true evangelism is possible unless one adopts the doctrines and practices of Andrew Fuller .

Messing about in dunghills
The aim of this paper is to show that rather than rescue anybody from any dunghill whatsoever, Fuller, gathered his teaching from just about every contemporary theological dunghill he could find. Thus his teaching is nothing but an anthology of Latitudinarian, Cambridge Platonist, Chandlerian, Grotian, Arminian, Baxterian and Socinian teaching. Never was there such a mishmash of rank liberalism and plain heresy introduced as 'evangelical Calvinism' since the New Testament authors presented the real thing!
Both Latitudinarian and Cambridge New Philosophy scholars claimed to have their roots in the Reformation and Puritan theology but emphasised moral philosophy and natural revelation in their system rather than the Biblical teaching of law and grace. This moral philosophy taught that man was naturally able to comprehend the 'nature and fitness of things' in creation and use his reason to make him aware of what is essential and inessential in revealed religion. Both these movements maintained that true religion was a matter of following one's natural inborn duties, a philosophy which they termed 'duty-faith'. Archbishop Tillotson (1630-1698) explained what duty-faith entails in his sermon The Wisdom of Being Religious:

"For to know our duty, is to know what it is to be like God in goodness, and pity, and patience, and clemency, in pardoning injuries, and passing by provocations; in justice and righteousness, in truth and faithfulness, and in hatred and detestation of the contrary of these: In a word, it is to know what is the good and acceptable will of God, what it is that he loves and delights in, and is pleased withal, and would have us to do in order to our perfection and our happiness ."

This teaching, of course, has become the backbone of modern Fullerism which relieves preachers of the responsibility of expounding the law and expects them to appeal directly to the unfallen natural abilities of their hearers, encouraging them to 'love him (Christ) with all their hearts, the same as if they had never apostatised .' When dealing with the law, Fuller shows his allegiance to the Latitudinarian doctrine that in obeying the spirit of the law, one is actually obeying the gospel and exercising faith in Christ. He also combines the Cambridge Platonist teaching that man's reason teaches him what is essential in the Bible with the Grotian teaching that Natural Law (always written with capitals) is eternal whereas revealed law (written without capitals to show its subordinate position) is arbitrary and temporary. Thus the only difference between the Old Testament and the New in Fuller's eyes is that the Old is sufficient to point a sinner to Christ but the New merely encourages him to do so and shows him how to distinguish between the nature and fitness of things and the 'positive' laws of revealed religion which he holds to be secondary manifestations of primary eternal laws, wrapped up in earthly or even carnal letters.

Fuller and the law of the fitness of things
Fuller can thus argue in his essay entitled The Principle of Church Discipline :

"The form and order of the Christian church, much more than that of the Jewish church, are founded on the reason and fitness of things. Under the former dispensation, the duties of religion were mostly positive; and were of course prescribed with the nicest precision, and in the most exact minuteness. Under the gospel they are chiefly moral, and consequently, require only the suggestion of general principles. In conforming to the one, it was necessary that men should keep their eye incessantly upon the rule; but, in complying with the other, there is more occasion for fixing it upon the end ."

It is obvious that this kind of teaching puzzled the faithful considerably and in 1807 Fuller decided to send out a circular pastoral letter entitled On Moral and Positive Obedience to the churches of the Northamptonshire Association explaining his Chandlerian-Grotian views. He told the once Particular Baptist churches, now polluted by Fullerite liberalism, that they must accept the reasonableness of his dual thinking because:
"Without it, we should confound the eternal standard of right and wrong given to Israel at Sinai (the sum of which is love to God and our neighbour) with the body of "carnal ordinances imposed upon them until the time of reformation." We should also confound those precepts and examples of the New Testament which arise from the relations we stand in to God and to one another, with positive institutions which arise merely from the sovereign will of the Lawgiver, and could never have been known had he not expressly enjoined them."
What a surprise such peeps into Fullerism must be to those Christians who have heard that Fuller was orthodox in his theology. Here is the arch-heretic telling his sheep as their pastor that the Old Testament laws are cluttered up with carnal rules and the New Testament precepts demand that we separate what is eternal in them from what is the mere institutional mind of the Lawgiver. This is all in keeping with his view, taken over from Grotius and the New Divinity School that the moral law reflects what is eternally right, whereas revealed law states what is right merely because God says it is right and is therefore an arbitrary law, deviating from the eternal norm or, to use Fuller's own words, "The one is commanded because it is right; the other is right because it is commanded. The great principles of the former are of perpetual obligation, and know no other variety than that which arises from the varying of relations and conditions; but those of the latter may be binding at one period of time, and utterly abolished at another." Fuller goes even further than Grotius in his radicalism, however, as he argues that even moral laws cannot be accepted as absolutes as if we did "everything according to the letter of moral precepts, we shall often overlook the true intent of them, and do that which is manifestly wrong." Indeed, he argues that, "It was not our Lord's design, in these precepts, to regulate external actions so much as motives."
Fuller continually tells his readers that it is Christ's example in following the nature and fitness of things which ought to determine our attitude to the law and explain what the laws true motives are behind the regulating of external conduct. This advice, if followed, can only lead into the wildest Antinomianism. Fuller stresses, for instance, that nowhere was Christ expected to follow the whole law and fulfil it all for sinful man's sake. On the contrary, when arguing against the position of John Milton who claimed that man must die unless:

"Some other able, and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death,"

Fuller begs to differ and says:

"The law made no such condition or provision; nor was it indifferent to the Lawgiver who should suffer, the sinner or another on his behalf. The language of the law to the transgressor was not, Thou shalt die, or some one on thy behalf, but simply, Thou shalt die: and had it literally taken its course, every child of man must have perished. The sufferings of Christ in our stead, therefore, are not a punishment inflicted in the ordinary course of distributive justice, but an extraordinary interposition of infinite wisdom and love; not contrary to, but rather above the law, deviating from the letter, but more than preserving the spirit of it. Such, brethren, as well as I am able to explain them, are my views of the substitution of Christ ."
Thus the weary soul who feels the burden of his sin, is not pointed to the One who fulfilled all that man broke concerning the law but one who deviated from its letter and found its spirit above and thus beyond it. Fuller offers the sinner a new way which is only attainable through the right use of reason and what he calls 'inference '. The Scriptures, indeed, he argues, never say that Christ died for anyone in particular but merely that "there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.' This salvation does not come through any initiative of God other than His offering it to whosoever wishes to grasp out for it , inferring from what he reads in Scripture, that what was good for, say, Paul, would be also good for him. It is thus no wonder that Fuller claims that God's acceptance of certain individuals is not because of any decree 'in his mind' but purely because the seeker grasps out and partakes of the feast spread before him . This is what Fuller calls human agency, which, in his theology, is always eclipsing God's purpose.

Baxterian elements in Fullerism
Fullerites are quick to deny any accusations, such as those of Abraham Booth , that Fuller was a Baxterian but their evidence quite misses the point. Robert Oliver, arguing in 'A Highly Biased Biography', claims that as Fuller did not believe the gospel is a new law (which is not quite true ), he cannot thus be a Neonomian nor can he be a Baxterian. In arguing that the moral law is all that is necessary to teach a man gospel obligations, Fuller is robbing the law of its condemning and commanding powers and thus creating a new law robbed of its sting for saints and sinners alike and a new gospel which is merely an accommodation to the weakened law. For Fuller, his new law is applicable directly to sinners as it tells them that they ought to love Christ as if they had never apostatised . What is this but the Neonomian doctrine of 'sincere obedience'? Fuller is much more radical than Baxter on this point and attacks not only gospel precepts, ridding them of all their 'positive' elements but he ruthlessly cuts down the Mosaic law, discarding the letter-rules and keeping to the spirit-rules. What these spirit-rules are to Fuller is anyone's guess. In claiming that even Christ merely had to obey a token part of the law, Fuller makes Christ a Neonomian. Fuller's acute Neonomianism borders on absolute Antinomianism as it is absolutely sceptical as to what true law really is. Thus when Fullerites point out that Baxter made Fuller ill, this does not make Fullerism any safer than Baxterism as Fuller, where he errs, he always errs on the far side of Baxterism from the truth.
The parallels between Fuller and Baxter are nevertheless enormous. Both Baxter and Fuller, as Fuller freely admits, believe that Christ did not place Himself under the law to stand where the sinner stands as a vicarious substitution but remained above the law and provided a different substitution than that which the law demanded in some token way. Fuller complains of Baxter's universal redemption theory of the atonement, but his own doctrine of universal sufficiency is almost identical. Robert Hall proclaimed openly that this doctrine was his grounds for preaching universal offers of salvation and it is this doctrine that lies at the roots of the Fullerite system of evangelism . Here again, Fuller shows himself as being far more radical than Baxter. The latter always looks upon redemption as being accomplished in the atonement but Fuller follows the Socinian view that redemption is to be seen as a mere figure of speech to indicate the application of salvation in the believer's life. Thus repentance and faith are the main ingredients of redemption and not Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
There is certainly a close parallel in Baxter's insistence that the sinner must 'do something' towards his salvation. Fuller points out that Baxter looks for evangelical works before a sinner can be justified. This is hardly different from Fuller's duty-faith teaching. Indeed, again Fuller is more radical as he believes man has his full moral powers and natural abilities intact and his duty to use them savingly goes far beyond any Baxterian views of 'evangelical works' before justification. Fuller demands a work of faith on the part of the sinner before righteousness and justification can be given him. What is this if it is not works-righteousness? In most of his works, Fuller emphasises and dwells at length on man's natural abilities and claims that there are no natural impossibilities for man to co-operate with God in salvation. A man who emphasises so much that man 'could if he would' in matters of faith, can hardly criticise Baxter for saying that man 'could do something' towards his conversion.
Fuller accuses Baxter of virtually confusing what is legal with what is evangelical, i.e. law with gospel. This of course is one of the very severe criticisms with which Fullerism itself is faced. In their History of the Church of God, the Hassells argue "Andrew Fuller becomes a wonderful standard. He takes repentance and faith out of the covenant of grace, and puts them under the law, in the sense that he makes them man's duty, and not gifts of grace ." This criticism must hold as Fuller argues that the law provides us with all the obligations necessary to believe in Christ savingly and the gospel merely brings with it the encouragement to perform them.

Fuller keeps company with the Arminians
Although any study of Fuller's works at any depth must show that Fullerism goes hand in hand with Arminianism on a number of issues, Fuller criticises Baxter for believing that Calvinists and Arminians are reconcilable, "making the difference between them of but small amount.". He declares of Arminians that he "should rather choose to go through the world alone rather than be connected with them." This is not the issue. Fuller has very obviously striven to reconcile Calvinism and Arminianism by combining what he feels is the best of their various gospels in his own system of a universal atonement with a particular application. He has thus no need to be directly connected with the Arminians as he has produced his own mixed version of the gospel to take him safely past the Scylla of Calvinism and the Charybdis of Arminianism.
Fuller's doctrine that Christ died for no one in particular although the elect are those who eventually avail themselves of this blessing, would delight any Arminian's heart. Both Arminians and Fullerites believe in a conditional atonement. He is also thoroughly Arminian in his teaching that God's wrath is not on Adam's descendants because of Adam's transgression and that no one is totally unable to believe. Arminians, however, believe in a true fall but Fuller looks on sin, Christ's becoming sin for our sakes and imputed sin as mere figures of speech.
Fuller is never so close to Arminianism as when he denies that the covenant of works still holds for sinners. Arguing in his defence of Fullerism under the misleading title The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptance, he maintains that there is no covenant between man and sinners , obviously denying the Biblical doctrine of God's eternal covenant with man concerning his duties to God's law and also his eternal covenant with God's elect for whom Christ died in history but which was worked out before the foundation of the world. Thus Calvinists believe as Hermann Witsius (1636-1708) concludes in his two-volumed work on the Covenants, "The covenant of works . . . is in no account abolished ." This is because "There is a plain passage, Gal. 5:3 which confirms, that even by the promulgation of the new gospel covenant, the breakers of the covenant who are without Christ, are not set free from that obligation of the law, which demands perfect obedience, but continue debtors to do the whole law ." Needles to say, Fuller is more radical even on this doctrine than the Arminians. They teach that as man is dead in trespasses and sins, one cannot keep a covenant with a dead man. Fuller, however, maintains that man is in no way dead but quite alive, otherwise God would not expect him to exercise duty faith savingly. Fuller's theology is well-represented in Tolkien' poem, appropriately entitled Mythopeia:

"Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Disgraced he may be, yet is not de-throned,
And keeps the rags of lordship once he owned."

How clearly rings the gospel bell in the poetry of William Cowper who scorned with a righteous scorn the gospel of natural abilities and a common feeling of virtue in the human heart. He tells us in his long poem Truth:

"Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhor'd,
And the fool with it that insults his Lord."

He then goes on to write words which are a death knoll to Fullerism and Arminianism:

"Of all that wisdom dictates, this is the drift,
That man is dead in sin, and life a gift."

To Fuller, as to Arminians, all the conditions of life are available through obedience to the gospel but they deny that the Mosaic Law was ever a condition of life and glory. Thus law and gospel are completely substituted for each other. Paul, however, teaches in Rom. 10:5 "For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them." The condition is clear but the impotency of man to fulfil the condition on his own is equally clear as Paul says of his own experience, "The commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. (Rom. 7:10). Criticising John Brine, whom he thought was a Hyper-Calvinist for teaching what Paul taught, Fuller says "God requires nothing of fallen creatures as a term of life ." Thus it is obvious from Fuller's writings that though he says he prefers his own company to that of the Arminians, this seems to be because he has absorbed what he can from his Arminian company and then dropped them for an even more rationalistic way.

Socininian Traits in Fuller's System
Fuller has a great deal to say about Socinianism with which he often disagrees. Yet his controversy with the Socinians is fought out on a philosophical-ethical basis where both he and the Socinians are far from the Biblical teaching on holiness and sanctification. Thus Fuller seems to be more prepared to argue morally on such topics as 'the nature and fitness of things', 'virtue', 'the loveliness of vindictive justice' and 'candour and benevolence to men' so that the sinner, longing for a word from God to edify his soul is rather left out of things. It is when one compares Socinianism with Fullerism on Bible doctrines alone that the numerous similarities between them become evident. Ten doctrines will be picked out for examination here but this author feels that even then 'the half has not been told.'

1. Scripture
Not all Scripture is of the same importance to Socinians, nor is it all inspired in the sense that it all reflects God's own will and character. Only the essential parts of Scripture are of immediate divine inspiration and these mainly concern doctrinal matters. Fuller's view of moral and positive obedience comes very near this teaching as also his continual emphasis on deviating from the letter of a Bible word so that the spirit may be grasped. The Old Testament, though part of the Socinian's Bible, is, to them, mere history. Spiritual truths, i.e. essential doctrines, are scarcely to be found there. Fuller is extremely ambivalent in his attitude to the Old Testament. He finds the whole gospel wrapped up in the Old Testaments 'positive' wording but completely rejects its wrapping. The gospel's work is to separate the wheat from the dross. For Fuller the Old Testament dispensation knew only a 'work to rule' way of life and, though he discusses the law much, he neglects the promises. He thus tends to have a very unsure view of the Old Testament Church, which hardly comes into his teaching, as also of the covenantal relationship of Christ to His pre-Calvary Bride. His doctrine of the atonement does not look back to the saints of the Old Testament but is merely a future deterrent. Fuller, of course, totally rejects a literal interpretation of key Scriptural terms such as justification, imputation, reconciliation and righteousness and teaches a figurative view of the Bible that, at times, runs into the wildest allegorising. Fuller's efforts to explain away the doctrines of grace such as election and particular redemption show up his non-literary approach to the Scriptures for the arbitrary method it is.

2. Reason and revelation
Reason, for the Socinian is his touch-stone in all controversial matters. Few theologians argue from the earthly to the spiritual more than Fuller and he is continually writing of common sense, reason, inference and a knowledge of the nature and fitness of things to guide the Christian in discerning what is truly moral and what is merely 'positive'; what is right in itself or what is merely right because God says so for the moment. Reason, in Fuller's system is part of the image of God in man and thus not fallen. Fuller agrees fully with the Socinians that the truths of revelation are above reason but not contrary to it but this still leaves reason as the final judge as it alone determines what is contrary to itself or not. Just as the Socinian believes that true philosophy and true religion always agree, so Fuller argues that the philosophically acceptable principle of 'right reason' is the yardstick of religion.

3. God's knowledge
Socinians argue that God does not know in such a way that whatever He knows will surely come to pass. They mean by this that God never uses His knowledge to force things to happen or not happen. If this were so, whatever happens or does not happen would be merely because of God knowing it into existence or oblivion and thus everything existent would be a product of sheer fatalism or necessity. Applying this to the doctrine of salvation, they affirm that if God did know things into existence and they happen necessarily so, it would mean there could be no real sin and no real guilt.
It is obvious that Fuller's double emphasis of 'no necessities' and 'no impossibilities' arises from this view of God. His idea of an atonement which does not of necessity atone for any one and his idea of a fall that does not make it impossible for the sinner to realise his state and duty to do something about it are typically Socinian points of view. Fuller leaves these factors outside of God's knowledge, indeed, even God's foreknowledge is rejected as Fuller sees conversion as not being secured in the mind of God and effected through the atonement but in the repentance and faith exercised by whosoever will. Christianity must remain, in Fuller's system, the gospel of surprises. Fuller, however altered the Socinian doctrine in two ways. He argued that, though there is no necessity in man's conversion or perdition, there is a certainty. He also did not see the necessary relevance of punishment and guilt at all in God's plan of salvation as the whole problem was circumlocuted by the demonstration effect of the atonement rather than its expiatory effect.

4. The Trinity
The Trinity is alleged by Socinians to be irrational, contrary to reason and thus unscriptural. Fuller pays lip service to the Trinity but his entire view of the law shows that he believes in an eternal truth which is outside of God and grounded in a knowledge of the nature and fitness of things. On the other hand, God's revelations are subsequent to natural revelation and, at best, half-truths as they are only right because they are commanded and not commanded because they are right. Fuller thus presents us with a Trinity of irrationality and un-scripturality. His doctrine is not that of the triune God, Father Son and Holy Spirit who took counsel before the world began to elect a people for Himself. The God of the Scriptures, we are told in those Scriptures, elected us in Christ before time began and in God's knowledge and experience in eternity Christ was offered for our sins, i.e. before the foundation of the world. This is discarded totally by Fuller who sees God the Father secretly ignoring the atonement as a means of securing salvation and applying election directly to those who believe. Meanwhile God the Son is setting His human life on the atonement as a means of releasing all or anybody, as the case may be, from sin. At the same time the Holy Spirit is not only encouraging one and all but even warranting one and all that if they keep one eye on the ten commandments and one eye on Christ's exemplary death and what they infer from both, they are of the elect. The Spirit stands behind the would-be believer, urging him on as there seems to be no doctrine of the indwelling of Christ and the Spirit in Fuller's system and certainly no doctrine of a union with them. One cannot help concluding that a caricature of a Trinity is just the same as no real Trinity. A god whose own will contradicts his own revelation is not the God of the Bible. Even if Fuller pays lip-service to the Godhead, he certainly does not attribute to either Person His Scriptural role. Thus Fuller's view of God is not a fraction sounder than that of the Socinians.

5. The image of God in man
The image of God in man, according to Fuller, consists of his reason, conscience and immortality and this is not lost in the fall. The Socinians substitute mind for conscience and drop mortality as they believe man is only as immortal as God makes him in salvation. Practically speaking, however, Fuller and the Socinians agree. The outcome of this teaching, as seen in Fullerism, is there is no true fall and no true absolute depravity as God's image in man is always there for God to appeal to directly. There is something of God, e.g. His image, in every man. This common feature of Quaker theology is shared by Fuller and the Socinians. In order to understand this teaching better it is necessary to examine Fuller's and the Socinians teaching on Adam.

6. Adam and the fall
According to the Socinians, the sin of Adam did not cause his posterity to lose their freedom to chose between right and wrong. There is no original sin and each man is condemned for his own sin alone. There is no federal sharing of Adam's sin; there is no being in Adam as there is no true being in Christ. There would be no point in calling a man to repent and believe, they argue, if he were captive to original, i.e. Adam's, sin. Man's inclining to sin has nothing to do with Adam. If it were so it would not be sin because sin implies guilt and it is impossible to be guilty of another's sin.
Similarly, Fuller does not believe that there is any true imputation either from Adam to man, from man to Christ or from Christ to man. Guilt cannot be transferred, neither, accurately speaking, can punishment. Only the effects and the affliction caused by it can be experienced by another. Although Fuller admits that man has some connection with Adam because he was the first to sin, he views unfallen Adam as a proto-type example of how man could be if he repented and believed. Fuller does not see the New Adam as this proto-type in any sense and salvation projects us back to the earthly Adam rather than forwards to the heavenly Christ.
Both Fuller and the Socinians as a result of their denial that Adam's sin was imputed to his posterity, can blandly believe that man has not lost the image of God in him. It is still intact whatever Adam might have done! This is why one can appeal to man's reason in presenting Scriptural revelation to him as he has the mental wherewithal to separate the wheat from the dross, the spirit from the letter, the essential from the inessential. Fuller goes, however, further in his radicalism than the Socinians. They look upon man as following in Christ's footsteps in the life and walk of faith, gradually becoming more Christ-like whereas Fuller teaches a restitution theory in which man becomes the Old Adam restored.
Fuller in his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, argues just like the Socinians that God could not require repentance and faith of man if he were not in a position to respond to His commands, invitations and offers. Dead men cannot stand up and walk. Here there is no idea of the Biblical teaching that even whole valleys of dry bones can be made to walk, the dead to be resurrected, the blind to see and the deaf to hear. Luke tells us dramatically in chapter four that when Christ first set out to bring the good news to man, he read from the book of Isaiah to show that he was the Servant of God whose work was to heal and restore sight to the blind and deliver the captives.

7. Satisfaction seen as being at variance with the gospel
There is no satisfaction in the atonement according to Socinianism. They believe that satisfaction would logically rule out salvation as a free gift given by a gratuitous God. It is unreasonable to believe, they argue, that the guilt and punishment of one can be borne by another, so it is obvious one cannot be obedient in place of another. Thus Christ obeyed for Himself and could not obey on behalf of others. Christ's sacrifice was thus not to appease God's wrath against sin but to demonstrate to man what obedience is and to show him that, using his own abilities, strengthened by Christ's example, he could go the same way. He would thus emancipate himself from sin. Indeed, redemption for the Socinian is nothing but an emancipation from sin where no price is paid. This view is identical with Fuller's. It is interesting to note how often Fuller uses the idea of 'encouragement' to illustrate the work of the gospel. This is the very term, with its synonyms, that the Socinians use. The gospel merely encourages us to return to God.
Fuller teaches that sins are not forgiven via the cross directly but indirectly. God was so impressed by Christ's obedience that after His death, the Father gave Christ the power to forgive sins as a reward. Even this is perhaps an overstatement as Fuller merely emphasises the pardoning factor of God's attitude to the believer's sins rather than the forgiving factor. Christ keeps us from sin by presenting His love and obedience to us and showing to us how He was able to resist temptation. Thus the atonement saves no one absolutely in Fullerism but always conditionally on accepting the atonement's influence. What one learns from the atonement in moral obedience is the true atonement, not the decree of God whether 'in God's mind' or outworked in history on the cross. Atonement is by application not by satisfaction; it is by exemplary demonstration not by penal expiation. This view is at the heart of Socinianism with its teaching that the virtues of the atonement are in its appointment and application by God. This is, of course, election but not atonement. Election is worked out in the atonement but it is not the atoning factor itself. The atonement in Fuller's system has no direct, specific, logical or soteriological connection with its appointment or application. It is equally sufficient for one as it is for many, indeed, for all. It appoints and secures nothing of itself in God's plan of salvation as any efficacy the atonement might be attributed with is in the appointment of the believer alone.
In fact, both the Socinians and Fuller are appalled by the idea of a penal, vicarious redemption in which debts are paid and accounts are balanced. If debts are paid, there can be no forgiveness as there is then no reason or need for forgiveness. All has been settled! God's salvation, however, is freely given without demanding anything of man or Christ. Thus we see Fuller denying that man's debts are taken over by Christ and denying that man's guilt is completely blotted out. It is all unnecessary as salvation has nothing to do with former guilt but everything to do with present moral obedience.

8. No imputed righteousness
The Socinians teach that God does not impute Christ's righteousness to sinners but, for Christ's sake, treats them as if they were like Him. This, of course, is Fullerism pure and simple. It is the gospel of make-believe. Fuller emphasises that if our sins were really imputed to Christ them Christ's death would have been a just action on God's part and Christ would have been treated according to his deserts which would have not helped the sinner in any way. Similarly, if Christ's righteousness were imputed to the believer, he would be able to claim his deliverance as a matter of right and not of grace . This is because Fuller cannot accept any literal substitution or satisfaction in any sense. He has no doctrine of God's justice being wrought out in Christ on our behalf and no teaching that Christ works out for us the privilege of being right with God and thus judged righteous. In arguing for more grace, he is actually denying true grace. This does not mean that the Socinians believe that true righteousness is impossible to obtain. Repentance is the gateway to righteousness. Repentance means abandoning sin and, because of this, earning God's forgiveness. Repentance is imitating Christ and thus becoming like Him. Thus the Socinians see a Christ-like righteousness in believers but not the righteousness of Christ. Repentance is also the gateway to atonement with God in the theology of Andrew Fuller and, no matter how pious such a view appears to be, it can only be named by its correct name - a substitute for the righteousness of Christ.

9. The reasons for and depth of Christ's sufferings not taken seriously
The Socinians view Christ's sufferings and death as merely those of a martyr in the cause of righteousness. Here, too, we find many echoes of Fuller. In comparing Christ to the officer who has his hand blown off in the battle fray - seemingly quite accidentally, Fuller paints a caricature of the real sufferings and death of Christ. He rejects the doctrines of Christ death being a punishment for sin, as a result of the wages of sin being imputed to Him. The same applies to the idea of atoning sacrifice itself. Fuller actually believes that Christ's sacrifice is of even less efficacy than the Old Testament shadows of it as they were sacrifices of sin-transfer which, Fuller believes, Christ's was not. This is the old Socinian and Remonstrant heresy of acceptilatio, i.e. that the sacrifice of Christ was only expiatory in its side-effects and was not more so than that of bulls and goats. The point is that it was accepted as if it had been more by God. There is thus no power in the blood of the Lamb of God to save! There is only executive power in God's deciding to accept it as such. This is a blasphemous insult to both God's justice and mercy. It is a central doctrine of Fullerism-cum-Socinianism.

10. The upkeep of God's moral government
The principle design of the atonement in the Socinian system is to reveal God's displeasure (not wrath) against sin in His upkeep of His moral government. This is obviously an important factor in the redemption story and is an equally obvious intention and outcome of Christ's sacrificial death. Yet this cannot be all the cross provides, nor can it be the essential factor of redemption. God shows His wrath and hatred (displeasure is far too weak a word,) of sin in the law and the Old Testament dispensation. This same law provides also for God to exercise moral suasion as the wages of sin is death and justice, even without the atonement, would take its natural course and God's moral government would not suffer in any way. Sinners are punished in the old dispensation as they are in the new. If a declaration of God's moral government is the sole aim of the atonement, then it is little wonder that Fuller and the Socinians see Christ's death merely in its symbolic function, akin to part of the function of the Old Testament sacrifices.
Christ is not a new law-giver bringing a new code of obedience to keep the administrative wheels of God's executive power turning. The old law is good enough for Christ as it reflects the eternal nature of His Father and is the law He fulfils and establishes. Christ came as a Saviour to atone from sin through taking upon Himself the punishment and guilt of His elect so that they might go free so that full mercy can be combined with full justice.
Fuller's terms of atonement are far less than the Biblical terms and in keeping with those of the Socinians. The atonement for the sins of the elect is not Christ's primary task; it is very dubious whether Fuller sees this as a true moral task at all but just another 'positive' executive device. Christ's task, for Fuller, is to bring new administrative conditions to bear on man so that he might be morally reformed and return to God via a path that was hitherto closed to him. This again shows Fuller as the Neonomian he is at heart as he always emphasises that it is the act of believing which is imputed to us for righteousness and not Christ's obedience. Neonomians teach that "faith in Christ is the principle part of that obedience which is required by the new law, and this is accepted for righteousness, instead of that perfect, un-ceasing obedience, which the law of ten commands requires ."

Conclusion: Fullerism denies the fundamentals of both Calvinism and evangelism
Fuller always argued that those whom he called Hyper-Calvinists or Antinomians could never preach the gospel properly as they believed that man was totally unable in all respects to think spiritual thoughts until it was given him to believe. Surely this is the very work of the gospel i.e. to resuscitate the spiritually dead and make the spiritually blind to see. It is thus obvious that Fullerites have a completely different view of God, and man, of the law and the gospel to traditional Biblical Christianity and that rather than being evangelical Calvinists, they are purveyors of a religion void of the true need to evangelise and completely ignorant of what Calvinism entails. William Gadsby used to warn his flock that Fuller was a wolf in sheep's clothing. This writer believes that Fullerism is the work of the serpent itself in its own soul-piercing scales and is the greatest heresy that ever strove to corrupt the Bride of Christ from within her retinue.



Puritan Board Junior
A Gospel Unworthy of Any Acceptation

The 18th century is often called the Century of Reason. This is because Newtonian scientists and philosophers such as Locke taught that the workings of the known world and the ways of the unknown God could all be demonstrated by logical deduction. Men of letters such as Beattie and Blair in Scotland and Lessing in Germany taught that following the paths of logic was akin to following in the footsteps of God. Lessing even went so far as to say that Christ had the right use of reason in mind when He promised that the Holy Spirit would come. In his Education of the Human Race, Lessing pointed out that by the aid of reason, man would go on to perfection and finally reach a state of being Christ-like. Many Christians accepted this philosophy, arguing that as it issued from the pens of practising Christians, it could not be wrong. Others, such as the poet William Cowper, saw through the faulty logic. If reason alone made gods out of men, he argued, then God was quite superfluous. Needless to say, Cowper denounced such a system. To him it was the logic of fallen man and not the reasoning of God as revealed in Scripture.

The 18th century also brought with it a strong desire to reform public manners. The so-called Restoration period, which raised a play-boy King to the throne and brought literature and language down to the bawdy-house floor was not to be tolerate long by Providence. Writers such as Addison and Young began to clean up the English language and the Church of England responded with a best-selling book called The Whole Duty of Man which taught the necessity of good conduct and respectability for right living. High moral principles were put forward as the mark of a Godly life but there was no Gospel in the book but rather a latent teaching of righteousness according to works. Now the moral law, not reason, was emphasised as the measure of all things. This emphasis on duty to the moral law as opposed to the Mosaic law, brought with it an upsurge in Neonomianism and Amyraldism. Sincere obedience to moral precepts became the new gospel.
Then God in His mercy poured out His Spirit on Europe, the British Isles and the American colonies and men were raised up such as Spener, Franke and Untereyck on the Continent, Hervey, Gill, Brine, Toplady, Romaine and Huntington in Britain and Frelinghusen and Whitefield in America commuted backwards and forwards across the Atlantic planting the Word of God wherever they came. These men, though men of learning , logic and highly moral lives, had found something greater. They believed in preaching the righteousness of Christ imputed to elect sinners through the free grace of God as the result of a Saviour's redemptive and vicarious death for His Church.

Church statistics show that between 1700 and 1785 Protestant churches had grown by well over four hundred percent in Germany. In England literally hundreds of clergymen and Dissenting pastors were now preaching Christ as the fulfilment of the Law for His elect. The American colonies were ablaze with the light of the Gospel. Nevertheless, there were still many human ostriches in the churches at this time. Men who could not accept the mainly Calvinistic beliefs of the pioneers of the Great Awakening. Men who had buried their heads in the sands of false doctrine and not noticed what a great work was going on. The date 1785 is a memorable one for these men. It is the publishing date of a book by a Baptist pastor named Andrew Fuller called The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. According to Fuller`s followers, there was no awakening in the 18th century amongst Baptists until this book was published and Fuller entered the scene to fill the same role in England that Luther had filled in Germany.

These human ostriches also argued that there was no sign of spiritual life outside of the Baptist churches either and looked upon such Anglican pioneers of the Revival as James Hervey as arch heretics because they taught that faith was a gift of God and not a dutiful response to a Gospel invitation . In spite of the huge spread of the Awakening in the 18th century, Fullerites boast that nothing had really happened of spiritual value before "the shot heard around the world in this spiritual offensive was fired from the pen of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), an English Particular Baptist ." Up to then, Fuller`s biographers tell us, the system of doctrine which had prevailed amongst believers was ´to a considerable extent a caricature of Calvinism, exercising under some of its forms a peculiarly degrading and pernicious influence ." This was also the opinion of Fuller who stresses time and time again that before he emerged theology had been degraded to a ´dunghill` and the ´Christian profession had sunk into contempt.` Fuller was particularly keen on challenging the theological credentials of his Baptist fathers in the faith such as Gill and Brine whom he accused of being ´High Calvinists` or ´Hyper-Calvinists` and of having a false view of the Law, the Gospel and redemption. In fact, when Fuller is finished with firing his furious guns at his Baptist brethren, and aiming many a salvo at evangelical Anglicans and Presbyterians, he leaves no one standing in the evangelical field but his own trusty followers.

1785 was a bad year for truth, sound sense, moral integrity and Gospel theology. This paper seeks to show how Andrew Fuller sought to put the clock back on at least 80 years of true Biblical teaching and how he left the beaten track trod by saints who were justified and sanctified by free-grace. He chose to return to the rational doctrines of moral duties and works-righteousness of pre-revival days. It will be shown that Andrew Fuller had a faulty view of man, a faulty view of God, a faulty view of the Law, a faulty view of the Gospel, a faulty view of redemption and a faulty view of Christ`s Church. Pointing out Fuller`s theological follies is no easy task. This is because Fuller delights in using a meta-language of his own invention to describe traditional theological concepts. Anyone trying to follow Fuller`s use of words must invariable lose his meaning at some time or other.

Much of Fuller`s writings is taken up with his trying to clean himself of the miry clay he fell into through leaving the rock of Biblical Calvinism and the plain meaning of Scripture. He accuses his numerous critics of misunderstanding him and reading into his words concepts which were far from his mind. He believed, however, that this was proof that his critics were ´Hyper-Calvinists and Antinomians` as his arguments were as clear as day to himself. He never seems to have suspected that the presence of so much ´misunderstanding` amongst many saintly men was a clear sign that something was wrong with his own arguments.

Furthermore, Fuller is in his element when boiling down words to what he calls their ´proper meaning` which he believes is their secular ´dictionary` meaning. This often leaves him with theological concepts quite robbed of their theological content. This is nowhere more clear than when Fuller is dealing with sin and atonement.
Then there is Fuller`s frustrating habit of stating that certain words such as imputation, punishment, debt, sin or phrases such as ´being made sin` were ´improperly` or ´metaphorically` used in the Bible, only to use them himself a few sentences further on apparently with the meaning he denied they contained. He often condemns the arguments of his opponents and then appears to argue in the self same way. Often he redefines a term, giving it an entirely different meaning and yet uses that same term with its usual meaning elsewhere. Not content with this, Fuller would take a critic to task for using words wrongly and then he would use the words in just the same way himself . Never was there such an example of Humpty Dumpty saying that he made words mean what he wanted them to mean!

Fuller`s basic ´world view` is outlined in his highly controversial book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. This work is a treatise in paradoxical reasoning claiming that on the one hand, Christ died to atone for all men, providing they wished to benefit from it. On the other hand, as the Father saw in advance that no one would wish to accept Christ of their own free will, He changed his original intention of a universal atonement and merely guaranteed that certain sinners would follow their inner sense of duty and repent and believe. Notwithstanding the change in plans, Christ still died for all men though His Father had now restricted salvation to a select few. This strange confusion of ideas is hailed by Fullerites as being true ´evangelical Calvinism` and the teaching that Christ died to save His flock and thus secured their full salvation without losing a soul is termed ´False Calvinism` or ´Hyper-Calvinism. When Fuller, however, develops his theory, he tones down the fact that only a remnant will be saved and emphasises that every human being has an inner awareness of the Gospel and feels an inner duty to accept it, should he wish. Unlike Calvin, who believed in preaching election, Fuller maintains that election is an inner secret of the Church and should not be preached openly.

Nowadays Fullerites tread carefully when dealing with their leader`s view that sinful man knows he has a duty to accept the Gospel. They say that God obliges man to accept it, using an ambiguous word. ´Oblige` can mean merely ´ought to` from God`s point of view rather than ´can` from man`s point of view . Fuller, however, argues strongly that fallen man ´can` accept the Gospel . The problem is that he will not. This led Huntington to say that Fuller teaches that God, who has concluded all in unbelief, expects them, in spite of themselves, to believe.

Fuller ranks those who believe that fallen man cannot accept the Gospel of himself as false Calvinists with a false view of man. He argues that God would never require of man what he cannot do and as God invites man to repent and believe, man must be capable of it. This would seem to be a direct refutation of I Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." But Fuller does not look to Scripture for his view of man but to natural revelation. His argument is that natural man can discern God`s glory in creation. This creates a love for God in him. When God, however, displays Himself at any time and love to Him is engendered, He also becomes recognisable regarding His spiritual work . When one reads this, one has to rub one`s eyes and ask oneself if this is really the belief of a man that calls himself a Calvinist and not some quote from Thomas Paine`s The Age of Reason.

The Scriptures clearly state that Christ and his disciples commanded their hearers to repent and believe the Gospel otherwise they would perish . Paul, too, commanded his hearers to repent and warned them of the consequences awaiting them if they did not . There is, however, a difference in commanding an action, which, if disobeyed, will bring damnation and if obeyed salvation and inviting men to perform an action which all are fully capable of doing. The former case is in keeping with the Scriptural teaching that the bondservants are separated from the true sons by responding or not responding to the Father`s voice. Christ`s sheep hear his voice and respond, the others do not. The second puts all on the same level. Sons and bondservants, sheep and goats, have all been given the same duties to perform to their Heavenly Father. This is indeed Fuller`s teaching in The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. When Fuller`s book was read by faithful believers, they protested at once that Fuller did not distinguish between slaves and sons. In his defence Fuller accepted this criticism as proof of the truth of his ideas. Who has every heard, he asks his readers, of children who have no sense of duty to their parents? As all children have a sense of duty to their parents, so all sinners have a sense of duty to their Creator. This is a clear denial of Galatians 4 and its teaching that the Holy Spirit is put into the hearts of adopted sons to make them such and to make them aware of their relationship to their Father. Fuller argues in this way because he rejects Biblical teaching for his theory of natural religion and natural revelation. Elsewhere Fuller teaches that man is fallen. He cannot, however, according to Fuller, have fallen very far. This is hinted at in Fuller`s argument with Button concerning total depravity where he says that the term does not mean "totally unable to believe in Christ" in the sense of "unable in every respect" .

The doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ was the red flag which always made of John Wesley an angry bull. It is ´imputed nonsense`, he railed, "For Christ`s sake, don`t mention it! " Wesley realised exactly what James Hervey was getting at when he used such language against him. Man has no righteousness of his own and only Christ`s perfect righteousness can save him. Christ thus becomes ´Our Righteousness` for us. Fuller has grave difficulties, too, with this doctrine. Instead of refuting it, he partly accepts Wesley`s view of it and partly changes it. For him, the righteousness which Abraham obtained by faith was righteousness which came as a result of Abraham`s own faith not Christ`s righteousness which is given to true sons with the gift of faith and justification . Arguing that ´impute` as used in Romans 4 is used ´improperly` and ´figuratively`. Fuller explains that in its derived meaning the word rules out any actual imputation either of sin to Christ or righteousness to the elect. The whole is one big metaphorical play on words and by the time Fuller is finished with explaining what ´imputed` means, it can mean anything - or nothing.

The same word-juggling is shown when Fuller deals with the atonement. He rejects fully any ´commercial` or ´penal` sense in the atonement. There was no actual payment of a debt and no actual punishment for sin. After arguing that Christ`s been made sin is not to be taken literally he says, "Sin is a debt only in a metaphorical sense; properly speaking, it is a crime, and satisfaction for it requires to be made, not on pecuniary, but on moral principles ." Here Fuller strikes at the heart of penal substitution. There is nothing unbiblical or even illogical in believing that Christ paid our debts on the cross. Fuller, however, de-theologises sin to make it a mere legal crime and argues that it is wrong to say that Christ took upon himself our crimes. But nobody but Fuller argues in this senseless way. If Fuller were able to accept the fact literally that we are bought with the high price of Jesu`s blood, he would have no difficulty but his silliness in wanting to be clever and redefine theologically loaded words in a non-theological way causes him great difficulties. It is no wonder that Booth and Greatheed accused Fuller of trying to explain Biblical concepts with language borrowed from pagans instead of using the plain language of the Bible.

Fuller argues that Christ was not punished for the sinner`s sake but merely suffered. His ´proof` is as interesting as it is unconvincing. If a soldier has his hand cut off for striking an officer, that is punishment. If the soldiers hand gets blown off in battle, that is suffering. He compares Christ`s substitutionary suffering with the latter example. Are we to believe that Christ merely suffered in a moral battle against sin? This would make Him a moralist and a martyr but not a Saviour . Surely there is more to the atonement than this? If another officer had volunteered to take the soldier`s penalty for him in Fuller`s illustration, he would have been nearer the Biblical mark. It seems odd that though there are so many stories in the Bible of the righteous dying for the unrighteous (i.e. the Suffering Servant), Fuller should resort to illustrations quite foreign to the subject.. To Fuller, of course, such an illustration is not foreign as he empties the doctrine of the atonement of its penal and substitutionary ´proper` meaning and gives it the ´improper` meaning of a victory merely in the realms of morals. This is why Fuller claims that the moral law, standing alone without the promises, contains all that is required of the sinner to believe the Gospel. His Gospel is not a theological matter but a mere matter of morals .

Going on to examine Fuller`s theories of the Law and Gospel more closely, it soon becomes obvious that Fuller exchanges their functions. The sinner is saved through accepting the offer of the Gospel and the believer lives by being directed by the Law. Strictly speaking, there is no Mosaic Law in Fuller`s system. This is why he refers nearly always to the moral law as opposed to the Mosaic Law. For him, the Mosaic Law never existed as a means of life. It was never part of a Covenant of Works which said "Do this and live: break this and die" . The "This do and thou shalt live" of Christ in Luke 10:28 seems to have been removed from Fuller`s memory if not his Bible. Fuller is uncertain about when the Covenant of Works was abolished but seems to believe that it ceased to be upheld by God when Adam sinned. There is thus no condemning or commanding Law in the Old Testament but merely a moral code which points the sinner to his duties to love God as much as he can. One wonders why God allowed Christ to die under the curse of the Law if the Law no longer held a curse .

Fuller sees very little difference in the work of the Law and the work of the Gospel. Both, of course, are parts of the whole Council of God and thus belong together but the fact that God has seen fit to divide His plan of salvation into two distinct parts, often escapes Fuller. It is also true to say that Fuller`s conception of the Gospel is very much Old Testament orientated. This is seen clearly in Fuller`s works against Deists where he stresses the need for holiness . His pattern of holiness is not Christian but Jewish and his arguments, though theistically Biblical, are not Christian in any sense. This is because Fuller`s faulty views of imputed righteousness and substitutionary atonement do not allow for an indwelling of Christ in the believer. The ´holy` believer, in Fuller`s opinion, is one who is still invited to follow a modified law as if that were the only means of obtaining and keeping saving faith. William Huntington, Fuller`s contemporary, pointed out to Fullerites that if the Old Covenant had been all that was necessary for the believer`s walk with God, a New Covenant would not have been necessary. Fuller took no notice of Huntington, except to call him ugly names and claim there was nothing whatsoever of a Christian nature in his doctrine and teaching . Anyone familiar with Huntington`s works will know what an enormous amount of space he gives to the doctrines of Christ`s indwelling in the believer, of the New Man in Christ, of "Christ in us, our hope of glory", of being filled with the Holy Spirit and of the Law written on the believer`s heart. After painstakingly reading through hundreds and hundreds of pages of Fuller`s works, such doctrines are conspicuous by their absence. And yet such doctrines are at the heart of the Gospel. Fuller, however, denies time and time again that there is any partaking of Christ`s righteousness in the believer and any transference of Christ`s nature to the believer. What would Fuller say to Galatians 2:20 ff. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."? This text is nowhere used in Fuller`s works. It is obvious, however, that he would claim that dying ´with Christ` and living ´in Christ` is merely a metaphorical way of saying that Christ gained a moral victory over our crimes .

Fuller`s adherence to the Old Testament and to God`s dealing with the Jews is apparently the reason for his ambiguous teaching on the atonement. He is convinced that, in the Old Testament the Jews as a nation were invited to believe in their capacity as sinners. Thus in The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation he quotes Psalm 2:12 "Kiss the son, lest he be angry" to prove that "unconverted sinners are commanded to believe in Christ for salvation; therefore believing in Christ for salvation is their duty". He then looks at Isaiah 55:1-7 "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat" etc. to back up his theory arguing that all this is the language of a general invitation. In arguing in this way Fuller forgets an important piece of theology. The Jews were in covenant with God as His chosen people and thus were a ´type` of the true Israel to come. Fuller, however, argues concerning fallen sinners of his age that "God is not in covenant with them, nor they with him." Furthermore Fuller argues that there is now no Covenant of Works. Nevertheless, Fuller always deals with sinners in the same way as God dealt with his chosen people in the Old Testament.

This is applicable also to Fuller`s stress on following the Law as the sole rule of faith. He emphasises the fact that the Old Testament heroes did this - and thus so should we. Again Fuller forgets a very important theological distinction. David loved a different law to the one taught by Fuller. David`s law was Moses` law which had a command - not an invitation - attached to it. It also brought with it a curse, death if disobeyed and a reward - life, if obeyed. Fuller denies this but it is the obvious teaching of Deut. 6:24-25. "and the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive as it is this day. And it shall be our righteousness if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us." This was put even stronger by Christ, as shown above. Fuller, however, has lowered God`s standards. The Mosaic Law is done away with in Fuller`s system and he has sifted out of its theological concepts a mere moral law without any commanding and cursing power. This puts Fuller`s theology on a par with the ancient Greeks who also taught allegiance to a moral law as a means of reaching ideals. Now, for Fuller, a breach of the law is not sin but merely a moral slip or a crime. This is in stark contrast to the words of Christ in Matthew 5:18 where He says, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." This fulfilling of the Law is in Christ`s righteousness which is eternal and unchangeable. Christ, however, indwells the believer and makes His holy and eternal standards the believer`s own. The old man is dead but the new man is raised in newness of life in Christ`s righteousness. This is the only way to true holiness. Fuller`s gospel of a sub-standard law as a sole means of living a life in Christ is a gospel unworthy of any acceptance. It can find no acceptance with God as it robs him of His holiness and justice and betrays His plan of salvation and it is unworthy of the believer as it does not show him ´a better way` but the way of the world.
Is then Fuller the arch-heretic which he appears to be? Over half of Fuller`s works are taken up with defending himself as been orthodox or attacking others for being unorthodox. Whatever he said or wrote, he believed, was misunderstood. He always claimed that his views were not such as came over to his readers. In brotherly charity, we should be open to believe him. That he actually taught heresy, whether he realised it or not, cannot be denied. There is a glint of light, however, which might raise some hope in us that Fuller was a Calvinist by belief though a heretic by profession. Some time after the publication of The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptance, there appeared in print a series of letters to Andrew Fuller signed Agnostos. In these letters, which were aimed against the Arminian Rev. Dan Taylor of Yorkshire. Agnostos writes, speaking of husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the Church, "Did not I argue, particularly from Eph. v. 25,26, that the death of Christ is there represented as the result of his love to the church, in the character of a husband, and which must, therefore, be discriminating; - that the church could not here mean actual believers, because they are considered as unsanctified; he died that he might sanctify them; - that Christ did not die for believers as such; - he laid down his life for his enemies; - that, therefore it must mean all the elect of God - all those who are finally saved? " Over the page, Agnostos argues that Christ`s sacrifice was for the sins "of those, and those only, on whose behalf it was offered." indicating that the atonement was not for all mankind but for His Bride, the elect only.

What has this to do with Fuller? In his ´Advertisement` to the letters, Dr John Ryland informs his readers that Agnostos was no less than Fuller himself who had written the letters to himself! He explains that had Fuller used his own name, it would have complicated the issue at stake. This it would indeed have done as Fuller writes in the guise of a Calvinist and not in his usual Amyraldian and Neonomian way. Had Fuller as Agnostos, the unknown, a different faith to Fuller the public figure? Was Fuller thus orthodox at heart? Any hope is dampened by further information Ryland gives about the 13 letters. He tells us that `with the exception of one or two pages, they were written by Mr Fuller himself.` Are these ´one or two pages` from another hand the very pages which affirm belief in the Biblical doctrine of the atonement? We shall probably never know this side of Eternity.


Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
I don't think you will find anyone who rails against Fuller like George Ella (your source for all above). He is good in many areas and I think he raises legitimate concern about Fuller and Fullerism, but he seems a bit eccentric in some of his views.


Puritan Board Freshman
My problem with the sufficiency for all and the efficient for some, that in Rom. 9 the apostle does not conclude this argument when speaking about Gods sovereign will to choose. If the apostle wanted to speak for God in this way , He would have used this in support of God being good in Paul s confrontation with the individual who has this question. But Paul s answer to our questioning of Gods rite to choose is "Who are you o man to talk back to God?" Could the argument for the sufficiency be that talking back? Cause it would seem that what God purpose in double pred. was the point in the Apostles argument.
I think that when we say that it was sufficient for all, then isn t it questioning Gods goodness to purpose to damn some?

Maybe there is still in our minds that somehow God has not already determined these things. I mean, is it rite to long for the judgment at the end knowing that Gods purpose in judgment is good? It would seem to me, that if we are to place the cause on God then we would give Him the freedom to decide punishment as the cause of the state of men from the first sin, being in judgment at the beginning.

If we are saying that it was sufficient for all, then what kind of love is this? Isn t this the same thing as saying that He died for all the ones we don t know about? If He saved some He is good, if He damned some He is good. If He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, then that bad disaster is not a good efficient purpose?
Well, considering the climate to place Calvinism and Arminism as equal doctrines of clarity, its more of a mystery to me on the sufficiency side. My understanding of this is the amount of good He is to His own is contrasted with the amount of terror He is in judgment.
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Puritan Board Freshman

I see the hatchet. I dont know but it would seem to me that if i want to make Gods love cheap that i would be putting a hatchet to His faithfulness in a covenantal sense. What do you think? It scares me to think of what men do in relation to Him being absolutely holy. I would never think to stand in my own righteousness. Even though i fail and do it experientially. Wow, now thats real love.
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