Iron Sharpens Iron: Friendship and the Grace of God

Michael A.G. Haykin

Iron Sharpens Iron: Friendship and the Grace of God Michael Haykin

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With its emphasis on speed and busyness and the mis-named “social” media, the modern world has not been an especially welcoming place to develop long-lasting, solid friendships that help to nurture the heart. Providing exemplars and guidance in this challenging situation, this book on friendship looks at some of the details of the friendships of the eighteenth-century pastor-theologian Andrew Fuller to help us think about and engage in meaningful relationships that provide joy and comfort (in the older sense of that term as “strength”) for the Christian journey. This is an ideal study for anyone desirous of being a better friend as well as those interested to know something of the history of Christian friendship.


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See also: 10 quotes from Iron Sharpens Iron



Tim Challies at


“Michael Haykin has once again produced a carefully researched and highly readable book. He rightly acknowledges that faithful friendship is a gift of God’s grace and passionately asserts the urgent need for recovering this among evangelical pastors—and, I would quickly add, professors as well. This volume seeks to rekindle the love for one another grounded in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ for advancing God’s kingdom. I strongly commend its value and trust all those who read it will intentionally apply these words to their own lives!”
Tom Schwanda

“This informative book on friendship is a refreshing corrective to the increasing individualism among many today, including Christians. This volume raises the bar on our understanding of Christian friendship. As stated, true friendship is a means of grace for our mutual benefit. The author is a skilled historian who effectively illustrates his important thesis by drawing mostly from letters between eighteenth-century British pastors. Further, Michael Haykin is well suited to write about the value and necessity of Christian friendship, for his life exemplifies it.”
Grant Gordon

“Haykin ably extracts the vital theme of friendship from his deep acquaintance with eighteenth-century Particular Baptists, and Christian history more generally. His investigation is contextually grounded, elucidated by many historical anecdotes and enveloped in the warmth of biblical spirituality. Thus, Iron Sharpens Iron is a practical and academically rich historical inquiry into an often underappreciated area (i.e., friendship) and a contemporary challenge to the individualism and isolationism of modern evangelicalism. Truly, friendship is not only a means of grace; as Haykin argues, it is a gift of grace.”
 Christopher W. Crocker

“This is a wonderful book on spiritual friendship. It speaks to an age which, as Michael Haykin says, is more interested in getting and possessing than sacrificing and giving. Ironically, we end up greatly impoverished as a result. Professor Haykin draws on the riches of the past to challenge and inspire us, giving us models to draw from as we build and nurture healthy, godly friendships today. I know this is a subject close to the author’s heart, and I cannot think of anyone better qualified to write this book. Iron Sharpens Iron could change not only your life but also the lives of those around you.”
Peter J. Morden


Michael A.G. Haykin

Michael A.G. Haykin serves as professor of church history and biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies also on the campus of Southern Seminary. He is the author of several books including Iron Sharpens Iron: Friendship and the Grace of God. He is married to Alison and they have two children.

No. of Pages:
Word Count:
5.5 x 8.5
Union Publishing
Publication Date
January 1, 2022
Table of Contents


  1. Friendship in the West: From Antiquity to the Age of Reason
  2. Who Were Andrew Fuller and John Ryland?
  3. To “take sweet counsel together”: The Friendship of John Newton and John Ryland
  4. “We must … be together as much as possible”: The Friendship of Andrew Fuller and Thomas Steevens

Excurses: A “once intimate friend”: How the friendship of Edward Sharman and Andrew Fuller ended

  1. “A fountain of sweets”: The Friendship of Andrew Fuller and John Ryland & Robert Hall’s Mini-discourse on Friendship

Appendix: Lemuel Covell and His Letter on Christian Friendship (1801)