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Southern appoints renowned early church scholar to faculty
June 04, 2007
By Jeff Robinson
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has added prominent church historian Michael A.G. Haykin to its faculty, appointing him as professor of biblical spirituality and church history.
A prolific author and noted scholar in areas of early church history, Baptist history and Christian spirituality, Haykin will pioneer Southern's innovative new Ph.D. and D.Min. programs in biblical spirituality, will teach and supervise doctoral students in patristic history, and will head the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at Southern, which will host events and publish materials related to Baptist history.
Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Seminary, said that Haykin's broad expertise in history and biblical spirituality is well known across the evangelical world.
"I sometimes wonder if Michael Haykin is one scholar or a conspiracy of brilliant minds masquerading as one man," Moore said. "After all, he is a pacesetter in the very different fields of spiritual formation, Baptist studies, patristic history and beyond. He is one of the most recognized scholars in the world in each of these fields, having written and lectured extensively in each area, even while serving as a seminary administrator, popular conference speaker and leader within the Canadian Baptist churches."
Haykin has served as principal and professor of church history and spirituality at Toronto Baptist Seminary in Toronto, Canada, since 2003. Previously, he was a professor at Heritage Theological Seminary from 1 and at Central Baptist Seminary from 1.
Haykin has written numerous books on church history, historical theology and Baptist history including "Kiffin, Knollys and Keach: Rediscovering Our English Baptist Heritage," "Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit in Revival" and "The Revived Puritan: The Spirituality of George Whitefield."
"I am thrilled with the appointment for many reasons," Haykin said. "What the Lord has been doing in the past 15 years or so at Southern Seminary makes it a thrilling place, spiritually and academically, to be. I am thrilled to be joining men as colleagues whom I deeply love and admire, and some of whom I count among my closest friends. And I am thrilled about the quality of students that I have seen at the school."
Haykin will team with Don Whitney, associate professor of biblical spirituality, in pioneering a new degree program in biblical spirituality that will offer both a doctor of philosophy and doctor of ministry in that field. Haykin will also supervise doctoral students in church history, primarily in the field of patristic studies.
"Dr. Haykin's scholarly firepower and personal piety make him precisely the man to lead, along with Don Whitney, the only concentration of its kind on biblical spirit-uality in the evangelical world," Moore said.
"In a day when spiritual formation in the academy, and even in many of our churches, veers from dead rationalism to hyper-mystical enthusiasm, Dr. Haykin's combination of a Spirit-renewed mind and a Spirit-filled heart is exactly what is needed to set the pace to train pastors to lead congregations toward biblical discipleship."
A week after hiring Haykin, Southern announced the establishment of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. Haykin will head up the center, designed to promote the study of Baptist history and doctrine.
The center is named in honor of Andrew Fuller (1), an early 19th century British Baptist pastor/theologian who opposed aberrant doctrine among Baptists in England and was instrumental in the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society. Fuller was a contemporary of William Carey, founder of the modern international missions movement.
"When English Baptist life was threatened by the winter chill of hyper-Calvinism, Andrew Fuller warmed the churches with the free offer of the Gospel, and thus fueled the modern missions movement," said Moore.
"The Fuller Center will exist to promote a Baptist theology that equips churches and pastors to both contend for the faith and plead for the lost. The Fuller Center will hold conferences on the campus of Southern Seminary, beginning with the August conference on Andrew Fuller, and will publish materials including a journal and Internet-based resources on warm-hearted convictional Baptist theology."
The center will hold its inaugural event, the Andrew Fuller — The Reader conference, Aug. 27-28 on Southern's campus. The conference will examine the influence of giants of Christian thought, such as John Owen and Jonathan Edwards, on Fuller's theology. Speakers will include Haykin, Moore, Tom Nettles and Carl Trueman.
The center will hold one major conference each year plus other events that examine various aspects of Baptist history. It will also be tied to the publication of a critical edition of the works of Andrew Fuller. Twice each year, the Andrew Fuller Center will also publish Eusebeia, a journal that will carry articles and book reviews related to Baptist history and thought.
"The center will be a vehicle whereby scholars, pastors, Christian leaders and interested lay people can reflect on what it has meant to be Baptist in years gone by and draw wisdom from the past on how to live as a Baptist today," Haykin said. "It has some very exciting possibilities."
It is important for Christians to study the writings of the church fathers because they were the first interpreters of Scripture, Haykin noted.
"For that reason their witness cannot be ignored," he said. "The doctrine of the Trinity, for example, was hammered out by them — from its New Testament witness — and the resultant creedal statement, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, stands as a landmark theologically.
"On the other hand, they cannot be placed on the level of Scripture — holy Scripture stands above them, and their thought must be measured by the Word of God."
Haykin and his wife Alison married in 1976 and have two children, Victoria and Nigel.