Andrew Fuller by John Piper

This short book (the printed PDF from desiringgod.org is 57 pages) details the work of a little known, but key figure in Christian history. This man had a major impact as it relates to the globalization of Christianity that grew in force after the late 18th century development of the modern missions movement. While William Carey has earned the title of the “Father of Modern Missions,” Andrew Fuller’s influence on Carey’s life, ministry, and world cannot be overlooked.

Fuller was a part of a “little band of Baptist pastors”[1] in England that included Carey, John Thomas, and John Ryland, among others. While Carey and Thomas were two of the first to make the jump into foreign missionary service, Fuller’s role was one of support, fundraising, and theological development back home. Piper’s short profile focuses on Fuller’s role in combating two theological retardations of his day: Hyper-Calvinism and Sademanianism. These two schools of thought perverted the ideas of both divine sovereignty and justification by faith, influencing the church of the day to completely neglect the missionary call.

How important is doctrine for missions? As Piper summarizes, “Getting Christian experience biblically right and getting the gospel biblically right are essential for the power and perseverance and fruitfulness of world missions.”[2] He continues, “Authentic subjective experience of God plus authentic objective truth of God leads to authentic practical mission of God. Holy faith plus worthy gospel yields world vision.”[3]

Perhaps the most impactful portion of this short book, which is admittedly theologically technical at times, was the story of one of the initial meetings between the four English pastors that would spawn the Baptist Missionary Society. John Ryland reported:

Our undertaking to India really appeared to me, on it’s commencement, to be somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine, which had never before been explored, [and] we had no one to guide us; and while we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said, “Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.” But before he went down…he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us, at the mouth of the pit, to this effect—that “while we lived, we should never let go of the rope.”[4]

[1] p. 21.

[2] p. 56.

[3] p. 57.

[4] p. 21, originally from Peter Morden’s Offering Christ to the World, p. 153-154. Emphasis added.