Posted by: allenmickle | February 17, 2009

John Gill (1697-1771) in the Stream of Reformed Thought

Richard A. Muller, P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, in a chapter titled, “John Gill and the Reformed Tradition: A Study in the Reception of Protestant Orthodoxy in the Eighteenth Century,” argues convincingly that John Gill (1697-1771) stands out as a major contributor to the Reformed tradition. This, in my opinion, makes him worthy of further study. Muller writes,

This briefy survey of Gill’s sources indicates that, after the Bible, the main positive points of reference for Gill’s theology were the great Reformed and Puritan writers of the seventeenth century. The point is important for several reasons. In the first place, it locates Gill in relation to the Reformed and dogmatic tradition, specifically, the tradition of Puritanism and its continental analogue, post-Reformation Reformed orthodoxy. Second, without in any way diminishing Gill’s commitment to the distinctive teachings of the Baptist churches, it identfies the larger number of his theological antecedents as thinkers not belonging to the Baptist tradition: Gill was not, in other words, an insular thinker, but he was clearly selective. Third, the point establishes Gill as a highly independent thinker in a relative sense: he was able to exert a a degree of independence over against even his most trusted sources in order to position himself within the Particular Baptist tradition and in the context of the problems and debates confronting theology in the mid-eighteenth century. Fourth, Gill was able, given the kind of sources with which he was aquainted, to produce a theology that was at once fundamentally Baptist and largely Reformed, and that because of its stance on a solid traditionary ground, was also able to maintain its distance from and dissonance with many of the currents of eighteenth-century theology.

Richard A. Muller, “John Gill and the Reformed Tradition: A Study in the Reception of Protestant Orthodoxy in the Eighteenth Century,” in Michael A. G. Haykin, ed. The Life and Thought of John Gill (1697-1771): A Tercentenial Appreciation (Leiden: Brill, 1997), p. 55-56.

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Responses

  1. I hope that this blog about Gill will not do what Banner of Truth Trust did to Spurgeon. Today no one is sure what Spurgeon really believed. We have been left to believe that he is the anti-hyper-Calvinist that most modern Evangelical Calvinist are.

  2. Charles,

    I am not sure I follow. Are you referring to Gill or Spurgeon as the anti-hyper-Calvinist? Then are you saying that either Spurgeon or Gill was a hyper-Calvinist or that they really we’re not against hyper-Calvinism?

    All three of us believe Gill is not a true hyper-Calvinist for various reasons but I think would affirm David Helm’s treatment of the issues here:

    http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/01/analysis-23-nemo-obligatur-ad.html

    Blessings,

    Allen Mickle

  3. […] its distance from and dissonance with many of the currents of eighteenth-century theology. (source) After all that…I doubt Gill would take the name 'Reformed.' He viewed infant baptism as popery. […]


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