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peter lumpkins

Dr. Allen shows that Andrew Fuller's Calvinism devolved from Hyper >>> High >>> Moderate Calvinism. Hence, the Calvinism which spawned the modern missionary movement was decidedly a different breed than today's Calvinism promoted by Founders, et al.

Thank you Dr. Allen.

With that, I am...

Stephen Garrett

Dear Peter:

What do you think of Andrew Fuller's insistence that regeneration precedes faith and how it relates to his Calvinism?



A. Chadwick Mauldin

This post indicates something impressive about Fuller as a religious figure, namely, that he was not blindly committed to a system. Rather, Fuller was open to correction when there was a perceived discrepancy between his system and the word of God.



My brother Chadwick,

Thanks for logging on. And thank you as well for your helpful work on Fuller's life, ministry, theology, and especially his vital role in gospel missiology among Baptists.

With that, I am...


Moderate (4-point) Calvinism has always seemed a paradox to me. Can “Unlimited Atonement” truly come alongside “Unconditional Election” in a reformed theology grid? In a study of this recently, I ran across the following quote. “Reformed pastor and author R.C. Sproul suggests there is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. While he considers it possible for a person to believe four points without believing the fifth, he claims that a person who really understands the other four points must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyraldism).

If Andrew Fuller had lived long enough, perhaps he would have continued to resist the theological logic of his day and whittled away a few more points … as the majority of Southern Baptists did in the 20th century.




Not sure to what you refer concerning Fuller. James Leo Garrett seems to think Fuller insisted contrary to the Calvinists of his day that repentance and faith were both "gifts" from God and "duties" of men, so much so, in fact, Garrett referred to Fuller as virtually "Calminian."

If this is so, it's hard to see how Fuller held to what we normally call "regeneration precedes faith." However, since I am no Fuller scholar, I could be mistaken.

Do you have a passage from Fuller which decidedly affirms "regeneration precedes faith"?


With that, I am...

Tim Rogers

Brother Max,

I don't know if you have the book Whosoever Will, but Dr. Allen's chapter on Limited Atonement answers your question. Dr. Allen has an excellent piece on how Calvin, himself, took a position on the universality of the atonement.


A. Chadwick Mauldin


Thanks for reviewing the book. You seem to have well informed and healthy discussions here. I look forward to checking in, and I have a link to your site from my blog.

God Bless,

Bart Barber

Andrew Fuller is among the most influential Baptists who have ever lived. The study of his life is highly relevant and of the utmost importance today.

Tony Byrne

Max asked:

"Can “Unlimited Atonement” truly come alongside “Unconditional Election” in a reformed theology grid?"

Me now:
It depends on what you mean by "unlimited atonement." If you mean no sense of particularity whatsoever in Christ's intention or purpose in dying, then no, it cannot. However, if by "unlimited atonement" you mean an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ, then yes, of course it can come alongside of the belief in unconditional election in a Reformed theological grid.

When it comes to the nature and design of the death of Christ, there are at least three places where some see some sense of limitation or particularity: 1) in Christ's intent/purpose, 2) in the imputation of sin to Christ, and 3) in the efficacious application of His death to the believer. All Calvinists must see a sense of limitation or particularity in #1 and #3, but not all of them see limitation in #2. Andrew Fuller, later in life, abandoned any sense of limitation in #2, but retained Calvinistic particularism on #1 and #3. And, since he thought it best to reserve the word "redemption" for the deliverance that the believer experiences (and not for the ransom price paid, or the suffering of Christ of itself) he properly fits in to one form of "particular redemption" that J. L. Dagg describes:

"The adaptedness of Christ's death to serve as a ground for universal gospel invitations, constitutes it in the view of some persons a universal redemption. . . Other persons who maintain the doctrine of particular redemption, distinguish between redemption and atonement, and because of the adaptedness referred to, consider the death of Christ an atonement for the sins of all men; or as an atonement for sin in the abstract." J. L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, VA.: Gano Books, 1990), 326.

The popular model today among Calvinists, which is basically Owenic, limits the imputation of sin to Christ as well, and thus it is sometimes labeled "strict particularism." This alone is labeled the "particular redemption" position, and modern Calvinists know nothing of the other variety that Dagg (who himself is a strict particularist) knew about. This is one of the reasons why so few can understand the views of the later Fuller.

Max said:

"In a study of this recently, I ran across the following quote. “Reformed pastor and author R.C. Sproul suggests there is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. While he considers it possible for a person to believe four points without believing the fifth, he claims that a person who really understands the other four points must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic”

Me now:
Though I respect R. C. Sproul, he (like so many others) does not seem well-studied in the area of the history on the extent of the atonement. Sproul is a "strict particularist," as a described above, and hence he sees a limitation in the imputation of sin to Christ and argues accordingly. One never hears about non-Amyraldian varieties of universal expiation from Sproul. He is not knowledgeable in the area like Dr. Richard Muller, and so one does not hear the kinds of admissions Muller has made with respect to Bullinger, Ursinus, Zanchi, Musculus, Kimedoncius, Twisse, Ussher, Davenant, Bunyan and many others. Muller has said that all of these men (and more) fall in to the "non-speculative hypothetical universalism" camp, which is just a confusing way of saying they are not Amyraldians and yet they believed Christ suffered for the sins of all men (i.e. unlimited imputation).

Even Martin Luther, whom you mention above from the Wiki source, held to an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ, so apparently Luther himself did not perceive the "resistless logic" that must follow. Even James Swan, a strict Calvinist and friend of James White, admits that Luther taught an unlimited atonement. Now if Sproul wants to argue that it resistlessly follows that if one believes in unconditional election, they must therefore believe that Christ came with a special intention to die for the elect especially, then fine. He won't get complaints from any Calvinists. But Sproul is attempting to argue for the further limitation as well, such that Christ only substituted for the elect alone, and thus their sin alone was imputed to Christ. His "resistless logic" in that area simply and manifestly does not follow, and all the first generation Reformers knew it didn't follow, which is why they followed the classic Augustinian model and Christology instead of Gottschalk's later condemned abberations and sectarian (non-catholic) novelities.

Most of this is covered (and sourced) in Dr. Allen's chapter in Whosoever Will, but I hope this helps to further clarify, especially with respect to Fuller's later theological trajectory and concepts.

Grace to you,

Tony Byrne

To Stephen Garrett and Peter Lumpkins:

For Fuller on "regeneration preceding faith" (which, incidentally, is confusing language and causes frequent misunderstanding by many today), see Letter VII in "Strictures on Sandemanianism," in Works (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 2:609-612. Here's an online version (click) in another edition. Worth noting is his citation of John Calvin (p. 610) on John 1:11-13.


Brother Chadwick,

Thank you friend. I was glad to recommend your fine piece on Fuller and look forward to your blog pieces on some of your research.

With that, I am...



Thanks for the link. I agree sometimes RPF can be confusing. From most of the conversations I've personally experienced, however, those contending for the concept embrace regeneration in its fullest expression as resurrection to new life in Christ which irresistibly results in repentance toward God and faith in Christ.

From my scanning of the link, it initially appears Dr. Garrett was not far from correct.

With that, I am...


Tony -

Actually, my question was intended to be rhetorical, but I sincerely appreciate your detailed response. You have provided additional insight into reformed thinking on atonement.

I just reviewed yet another thread in this regard pertaining to Mark Driscoll’s stance on “Unlimited Limited Atonement” … no comment. There appears to be more views in this regard than flavors at the local frozen yogurt place. I’ll just stick to the version of Christ’s atonement that I have always had … unlimited entrance His way.

My theology and eschatology are getting simpler all the time. When the Father drew, I came … when Jesus comes, I go.



Starting tonight I will be posting Andrew Fuller's letters to John Ryland concerning his controversy with Abraham Booth...if anyone is interested. I have tried to include a few links in the letters to help shed light on the subject. For example, Fuller makes a few mistakes when referring to Crisp, Gill and Brine and so I included links that were relevant to the subject.


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