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Andrew Fuller

1754-1815. Baptist theologian. Son of a Cambridge farmer and a powerful wrestler in his youth, Fuller was ordained as minister of Soham Baptist church in 1775 and inducted to the Kettering church in 1783. Entirely self-taught and possessed of a blunt, incisive style, Fuller was the greatest original theologian among eighteenth-century Baptists. Reared in an atmosphere of deadening hyper-Calvinism, he was led through vigorous independent study of Scripture, the encouragement of Robert Hall, John Ryland, and others, and his reading of Jonathan Edwards to evolve, or rather revive, an evangelical Calvinism which was the substance of his greatest work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation (1785).

This involved him in various controversies: with hyper- Calvinists like John Martin and William Button who denounced “Fullerism” as “Duty-faith” and led their churches apart from the evangelical Baptists (and thus created the Strict and Particular Baptist denomination); with Dan Taylor the Arminian Baptist; with Archibald McLean's Scotch Baptists (whose eccentricities Fuller deplored and whom he countered by encouraging the Haldane brothers and R.C. Anderson to establish orthodox Baptist churches in Scotland); with William Vidler the Universalist; and with various Unitarian apologists. As the Baptist churches of Britain responded increasingly to his evangelicalism, Fuller's role in denominational affairs grew more important: his was a profound influence on William Carey* and the Baptist Missionary Society (of which he was secretary, 1792-1815), and he was a loyal servant of the infant Baptist Union and the Baptist Irish Society.