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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Modern Question

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Modern Question

is a term used by some to designate a controversy on the doctrine of salvation. The question raised is, "Whether it be the duty of all to whom the Gospel is preached to repent and believe in Christ?" It is called the Modern question because it is supposed never to have been agitated before the early part of the last century. The following is an abstract of Dr. Ryland's history of the controversy, which he considers as having originated in Northamptonshire, England, in the Baptist churches in which Mr. Davis, of Rothwell, preached; though it does not appear that the latter took an active part in it. Mr. Maurice, his successor, even strenuously opposed the negative side of the question, which had been maintained by some of Mr. Davis's admirers, particularly by Mr. Lewis Wevman, of Kimbolton, to whom Mr. Maurice wrote a reply, which, Mr. Maurice dying before it was completed, was published by the celebrated Mr. Bradbury This was between 1737 and 1739. Mr. Gutteridge, of Oundle, also took the affirmative side; and in 1743 Mr Brine the negative; as did also the learned Dr. Gill, though he did not write expressly on the subject. The question thus started agitated the Baptists down to the time of Andrew Fuller, who very ably supported the positive side, viz., that "faith is the duty of all men, although, through the depravity of human nature, men will not believe till regenerated by the Holy Spirit." On the other side it was contended that "faith was not a duty, but a grace," the exercise of which was not required till it was bestowed.

Mr. Fuller, holding that it is both, published The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation, or the Duty of all Men to believe in Jesus Christ. "The leading design of this performance (say Mr. Morris) is to prove that men are under indispensable obligations to believe whatever God says, and to do whatever he commands; and a Saviour being revealed in the Gospel, the law in effect requires those to whom he is made known to believe in him, seeing it insist upon obedience to the whole will of God; that the inability of man to comply with the divine requirements is wholly of a moral nature, and consists in the prevalence of an evil disposition, which, being voluntary, is in the highest degree criminal." On this subject Mr. Fuller was attacked by Mr. Button, a supralapsarian, on the one hand, and by Mr. Daniel Taylor, an Arminian on the other; to whom he replied by A Defence of his former tract, and this ended the controversy. The late Mr. Robinson shrewdly remarks that those ministers who will not use applications, lest they should rob the Holy Spirit of the honor of applying the Word, should, for the same reason, not use explications, lest they should deprive him of the honor of illustrating it. See Ryland, Life of Fuller, pages 6-11; Morris, Life of Fuller, chapter 2; Wilson, Dissenting Churches, 2:572; Ivimey, English Baptists, 3:262. (See SALVATION).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Modern Question'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/modern-question.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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