Fuller’s Sense of His Own Inadequacies

This post is the second in a series examining Fuller’s spirituality found in his written correspondence. The first post in this series may be accessed by clicking here.

One of the most surprising of the recurring themes which I noted in Fuller’s letters was his obvious recognition of his own inadequacy both as a saint and a servant of God. Despite a life of fruitful service to Christ, he still felt himself to be unprofitable. Near the end of his life he wrote: “In looking back upon my life I see much cause for shame.” (263). This was not just the self-pity of an old man for ten years earlier he confessed in a letter to his friend John Ryland: “All that I have yet known seems to be as nothing.” (198). Fuller clearly recognized his own inadequacies and was not afraid to admit such to others. What a conviction it is to realize that one so greatly used by God would recognize and confess his own inadequacies! How much more should I be aware of my own deficiencies as a Christian and a minister.

Fuller especially recognized his own inadequacies in his spiritual life. He once wrote to William Carey that “if I have any spirituality it is but as the smoking flax; now and then a groan and a desire after God.” (187). Fuller confessed his weakness both in prayer and preaching. In regard to his praying, Fuller wrote of his unsuccessfulness: “If I dwelt in Christ, and Christ’s words in me, I should be more successful in prayer.” (197). Likewise, in regard to his preaching, Fuller wrote: “I feel that if I were more spiritually-minded I should preach better and bear trials better.” (191). Again, Fuller’s words are extremely convicting when one considers one’s own comparative inadequacies. But Fuller did not wallow in despair over his self-perceived inadequacies. Instead, he allowed his sense of need to drive him to deeper dependence upon the Holy Spirit and prayer.

* All numbers in parentheses represent the corresponding pages in Michael Haykin’s The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller published by Joshua Press in 2002.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Fuller’s Sense of His Own Inadequacies

  1. Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

    Steve,

    Morden, in his biography of Fuller, talks about the progression of thought in Fuller’s views of spirituality, especially his own. Do you know how the letters you are looking at in Haykin’s book fit into the progression of his thought?

    Allen

  2. Steve Weaver

    Allen,

    Excellent question! Morden gives 1792 as the year in which Fuller began to manifest a more mature spirituality. None of the letters which I quoted in this post were written prior to that date. Of the 46 letters contained in Dr. Haykin’s book, only 4 were written before 1792 (the letters numbered 5-8 in The Armies of the Lamb). I don’t know if Dr. Haykin intentionally focused on those later letters, or if he only found these post-1792 letters to contain a more blatant spirituality.

  3. Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

    Steve,

    Excellent! Thanks for the answer. That is exactly what I was wondering. I know… I have committed the unpardonable sin… I have yet to pick up this book! It’s at the top of my list though I promise!

    Allen

  4. Steve Weaver

    You’re a brave man to admit that here on the world-wide-web!

  5. Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

    Steve,

    You’re right. That was dangerous of me, especially since Dr. Haykin is my dissertation supervisor! I know… I know… I have no excuse. Don’t worry… I’ll be getting it once the Christmas bills are paid!

    Allen

  6. Steve Weaver

    By the way, anyone feel free to jump in with a post anytime! I’m not trying to hog the blog (hey, that rhymed!) with this series.

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