Undergraduate Divinity Student at University of St. Andrews in Scotland Becomes First Person to Decipher 200-Year-Old Sermons from Baptist Theologian Andrew Fuller

A divinity student has cracked a centuries-old code to become the first person in the world to read documents left behind by Baptist pastor and theologian Andrew Fuller.

Jonny Woods, a third-year undergraduate at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has been able to read hundreds of pages of notes written by Fuller after he figured out how to decipher the shorthand for his sermons using a longhand equivalent.

Fuller (1754–1815), the late 18th- and early 19th-century British Baptist pastor, was described by C.H. Spurgeon as “the greatest theologian” of his century. And his influence on American Baptists was said by A. H. Newman to be “incalculable,” according to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies is located.

His first major work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation (1785) “refuted Hyper-Calvinism and laid the theological foundations for the modern missionary movement,” the seminary says of Fuller, who founded the Baptist Missionary Society and worked to spread the Gospel in India.

Reformed theologian and Desiring God founder John Piper says in his book, Andrew Fuller: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Mission, that Fuller had one “great enemy” he wanted to defeat — “global unbelief in Jesus Christ,” and honed in on the dangers of Sandemanianism and Hyper-Calvinism.

Steve Holmes, head of the School of Divinity at St. Andrews, said hundreds of pages of Fuller’s sermons are held in the archive at Bristol Baptist College, but the famous theologian’s notes for the sermons had remained illegible until he found one titled “Confessions of Faith, Oct. 7, 1783,” which was a longhand equivalent to shorthand notes.

“Knowing this was the date of Fuller’s induction into the pastorate of a church in Kettering and that he would have been required to give a confession of faith as part of that service, Holmes wondered if a copy of the confession printed in a biography might help him crack the code,” St. Andrews reports.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Melissa Barnhart