Monday, June 29, 2009

Different Shades of Calvinism

A portion of a letter by Andrew Fuller to his wife. He was in the north of England, on his way to Scotland, speaking about and raising money for the mission work of William Carey in India. He wrote to her from York of a doctrinal conversation about Calvinism that he had with a Mr. Richardson and a Mr. Overton. The letter was written August 31, 1802.

R. There are different shades of Calvinism, I suppose, amongst you?

F. Yes; there are three by which we commonly describe; namely, the high, the moderate, and the strict Calvinists. The first are, if I may so speak, more Calvinistic than Calvin himself; in other words, bordering on Antinomianism.

R. Have you many of these?

F. Too many.

O. Do they not reckon you a legal preacher?

F. Yes; at this very time I am represented, throughout the religious circles of London, as an Arminian.

R. On what ground?

F. What I have written in a note in the Gospel its own Witness.

R. I remember that note. We all approve of it, and think it agrees with the doctrine held by our Church. But what do you call a moderate Calvinist?

F. One that is a half Arminian, or, as they are called with us, Baxterians.

R. And what [is] a strict Calvinist?

F. One that really holds the system of Calvin. I do not believe everything that Calvin taught, nor anything because he taught it; but I reckon strict Calvinism to be my own system.

The Works of Andrew Fuller, edited by Andrew Gunton Fuller, first published in 1841, republished by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2007, p. lxvii.

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