Friday, February 27, 2015

Haanah W. Smith, occult spiritualism, and the Keswick precursor Conventions at Broadlands: part 10 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

            
The advance of “Christian Socialism”[1] was also part of the Mount-Temples’s spirituality.  They “loved heartily” their “dear friends” and fellow leaders in “Christian Socialism,” such as “Charles Kingsley” and “Tom Hughes,”[2]  who first met Mr. Mount-Temple at the first Broadlands Conference in 1874.  However, Mr. Mount-Temple outshone them all in the battle for socialism:  “[I]n the early days of Christian Socialism, . . . [the] movement [was] so vehemently and widely denounced, [but Mr. Mount-Temple] was from the first an advocate and liberal supporter, and, from his social and public position, risked more than all the rest of [its leaders] put together.”[3]  Attacks on freedom and the spread of socialism under the guise of Christianity were important parts of the Cowper-Temples’s religion.
When the Cowper-Temples declared that they received alleged truths from “all sects” and “schools of thought,”[4] their “all” was no exaggeration—as strong continuationists because of their belief in the Quaker doctrine of the Divine Seed, they happily received the allegedly inspired teachings of the most twisted cultists and vilest fanatics, as they exalted, listening to, and obeyed their heart’s voice (cf. Jeremiah 17:9).[5]  They warmly held the “belief in the revival of the prophetic gifts which Christ had bestowed on his apostles for all men with a living faith.”[6]  The couple consequently rejoiced in the demonically-manipulated perfectionist and cult leader Edward Irving and his Apostle, Henry Drummond.  Irving founded of the Catholic Apostolic Church,[7] predicted the end of the world in 1868, affirmed that Christ had adopted man’s fallen nature, claimed that the gift of tongues and other first century miraculous gifts had been restored among his followers, and vigorously maintained other heresies, which Drummond faithfully supported and promulgated.  Mrs. Mount-Temple narrated:
Mr. Henry Drummond . . . [was] a very special influence which affected [Mr. Mount-Temple’s] religious views[.] . . . At Albury, Mr. Drummond and Lady Harriet, the Duchess of Northumberland (then Lady Lovaine), and Lady Gage, the other daughter, were all very  kind to us, and hoped perhaps that we should join the Apostolic Church, of which Mr. Drummond was an Apostle.
It was all very interesting and hope-giving, and opened a new region to us.  All we heard of the birth and development of this Church was thrilling. . . . Haldane Stewart had instituted . . . a system of prayer . . . for a special outpouring of the Spirit.  He and other devout friends assembled at Albury, and there was, they believed, such a miraculous answer, that it was to them as a second Pentecost.  Some began to speak under spiritual influences, and through these persons, endued, they believed, with the prophetic gift, a most beautiful Church system was organized, not, they said, by their own will or wisdom, but by the Spirit of God.
They believed the Lord was soon to return [that is, in 1868], and that a new body of apostles and faithful disciples were called out to receive Him.  They called this the Elias ministry. . . . They believed apostles were appointed supernaturally to rule the Church universal.  Prophets were inspired to teach and evangelists sent forth with power [now that these offices had been restored in their religious organization;  before that time] the prophetic gift was unknown, and the apostolic universal ministry had been lost. . . . [T]his [was a] really splendid ideal of a Church. . . . [It greatly influenced] my husband’s religious development.
The kindled hope of the Lord’s speedy approach, the calling out of Apostles, and of an elect body to meet Him, greatly quickened our spiritual life.  We attended their beautiful services, we listenened to [their] eloquent and fervent appeals[.] . . .
We hung on Mr. Drummond’s words for hours, while he described to us this wonderful ideal[.] . . . He was indeed one of the last men . . . whom one could suspect of any fanaticism or spiritual aberration.[8] . . . Imagine such a man an Apostle . . . bringing in the Kingdom of God. . . . This was the new world in which we found ourselves, and very kindling and entrancing it was!
I was carried away by it[.] . . . It deeply moved William, but he did not feel called to leave the place and the duties to which he was attached. . . . [W]hat remained to us of the teaching and blessing of this time [was,] [f]irst of all, the revival of spiritual life [that is, the Higher Life];  then, a much wider view of the Church . . . includ[ing] all who have been baptized . . . comprising therefore the members of the Roman and Greek Churches, and all Nonconformists [as well as] Quakers [as] the descendants of those within the covenant of baptism. . . . [S]pecial truth [was] confided to . . . the Unitarians . . . [while] the Friends [received the] . . . special truth . . . [of] the Inner Light . . . the Wesleyans [of] . . . perfection, etc.  All one body . . . [Drummond] taught us also the meaning of Symbols, and of Ritual . . . [t]he members of the Apostolic Church hold that the Lord is truly present in Holy Communion[.] . . . So it was, that without joining the Apostolic Church, William always felt much indebted to the teaching we received [from them] at Albury[.][9]
Thus, from Irving’s Catholic Apostolic cult, the Cowper-Temples were encouraged in ecumenicalism, continuationism, post-conversion Spirit baptism with miraculous results, the Inner Light, the Real Presence, perfectionism, and the Higher Life, all of which flourished at their Broadlands Conferences and at the Keswick Conventions which developed from them.
Spiritualism was at the root of the Higher Life beliefs of Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple.[10]  Mrs. Cowper-Temple explained that, having first heard of spiritualism in 1857 and becoming fully initiated by 1861, she led her husband also to embrace the occult,[11] so that Mr. Mount-Temple “gathered all the good he could from spiritualism, and was helped . . . leading us to a higher life.”[12]  The couple attended a vast number of séances,[13] seeing there great marvels performed by, as they thought, the dead who had been conjured up.  They learned, contrary to 1 Corinthians 15, that the true resurrection is not that of the body, but the rising into the realm of the spirits—the Higher Life.[14]  They not only were spiritualists themselves, but sought—successfully—to lead others into their fellowship with devils,[15] as they were “always ready to introduce” their friends, such as Hannah W. Smith, “to influential people among the spiritualists.”[16]  They greatly advanced the careers of self-professed “Christian spiritualist” ministers such as H. R. Haweis.[17]  They “studied the . . . writings of Swedenborg,”[18] “the great spiritualist of the eighteenth century,”[19] and Swedenborg’s writings and friends were continued influences at Broadlands and its Conferences.[20]  Indeed, spiritualism was promoted at the Broadlands Conferences, where it fit well with the doctrine of the erotic spiritual Baptism:  “Each meeting included discussions on the uses of Spiritualism, the role of entrancement, the role of prayer, and the mission of God in the world.”[21]  The Mount Temples’s longing for restored miracles and a Higher Life was satisfied by the spirits with whom they became familiar through séances.[22]  For example, they conversed with the spirit of Frederick Lamb, a Viscount, who told Mr. Mount-Temple where he could find assorted letters and speeches and commanded that they be published.[23]  Lord Palmerston, who had been dead for 13 months, similarly told Mr. Mount-Temple where important memoranda could be found.[24]  They worked with mediums who “engaged in extensive automatic writing . . . and . . . often left [their] body to traverse the spheres,” while also working wonderful cures [of sickness].”[25]  At various séances, and in the company of other spiritualists, including those they had proselyted into spiritualism, the Mount-Temples experienced the supernatural signs and wonders that they had been seeking:
[Prophetic] message[s] . . . [were given through using] a ouija board[.] . . . [A] wonderous demonstration [took place] of a table dancing in tune with music played on a piano apparently by invisible hands [for a while until they] heard departing footsteps and the [spirit’s] farewell, “Dear earthly friends, good night.” . . . [T]able rapping and spiritual music . . . table tilting and levitation . . . psychical responses sent through clairvoyant visions or spirit writing moving [one’s] fingers when . . . in a state of trance [were experienced]. . . .  [G]uests pressing their fingers lightly to the tops of two tables, [Mr. Temple recorded,] “the large table danced in time to a country dance & the little table rose & being suspended in the air the feet be[in]g about 1 foot from the ground & it rapped against the edge of a sofa . . . it also heaved as if at the top of a wave & tilted to the side.” . . . [Séances were discussed where] fresh eggs, fruit, and flowers would descend from the ceiling . . . [although some were] amazed with the triviality of the manifestations.[26] . . . [S]pirits moving about the room [caused] ferns [to] shake[.] . . . [A medium] elongating his body by some six to eight inches in a trance [was also] summoning luminous forms visible to guests. . . . [O]bjects materiali[zed] without the aid of a medium[.] . . . [Many] messages from the dead [were delivered.][27]
While the Mount-Temples led many to adopt spiritualism, some of their converts came to suspect the true source of the manifestations.  For example, one who had been converted to spiritualism by the Mount-Temples and attended numerous séances with them wrote to Mrs. Mount-Temple in April 1868:
Could anything more perfectly answer the description of a “familiar or household spirit” [Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27, etc.]—than that thing—if a true thing—that came . . . and answered the question—“Have you any News?[”]—“I haven’t got any”?  Think of it! [If the Testament is true,] I have no doubt that it is your duty at once to abstain from all these things . . . [and] to receive what you have seen of them [the spirits] as an awful sign of the now active presence of the Fiend among us.[28]
The manifestations, this more discerning convert recognized, were “beneath the dignity of an intelligent God”—therefore, “have done with ‘Mediums.’”[29]  However, the Mount-Temples, despite being confronted with the plain warnings of Scripture, did not take heed to this advice.  Mr. Mount-Temple continued to be so enchanted with spiritualism that he was even nursed by a medium in his last illness.[30]  He never decided to reject them as Satanic, for they were among “the great cloud of witnesses encircling the world.”[31]  Besides, “the presence of unseen heavenly ones added to the deep gladness that was felt”[32] at the Broadlands Conventions, so the spirits of the dead must have been good because they made people feel the happiness of the Higher Life.  Likewise, Mrs. Mount-Temple, even to the end of her life, was never freed from the influence of mediums.[33]  After all, as she had learned from them, “Spiritualism [was] . . . the handmaid of Christianity.”[34]  Mrs. Mount-Temple even exercised supernatural powers herself;  for example, one day when a man was suffering from a sickness, she threw a lady into a trance so that the cure for the disease could be obtained by prophecy, and then brought the lady out of the trace—“another bit of witchery.”[35]  In the 1870s, when the Higher Life meetings at Broadlands were founded and Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple were promoting Robert and Hannah Whitall Smith, as well as cultists like Laurence Oliphant, the “Cowper-Temples . . . met the best-known mediums of this decade,” bringing “the greatest of the English mediums, with whom they had been attending séances . . . to Broadlands . . . [b]y 1874,”[36] the very year Mr. Mount-Temple asked the spirits during a séance for permission to become a medium himself to further his spiritual growth.[37]  Thus, in 1874 Mr. Mount-Temple, seeking the Higher Life, both asked for permission to become a medium and thrust the Pearsall Smiths into the limelight in that fateful Higher Life Conference on their property.  Indeed, the Mount-Temples were “one of the earliest” to explore “spiritualism” in England.[38]  Broadlands truly was a very spiritual place—mediums validated that “all manners of ghosts [were] about the house,”[39] since “[c]ontact with ghosts helped shape both Lady and Lord Mount Temple’s futures and day-to-day living.”[40]  The day after the 1874 Broadlands Conference that germinated the Keswick theology, Mrs. Cowper-Temple had reached such a spiritual height in her Higher Life that she attended a séance to see if more of the spirit of a dead man, John King, would materialize than in the last attempt to contact him—previously, only his head had materialized, and Mrs. Cowper-Temple was hoping for more in her post-Conference séance.[41]  Truly, Mr. and Mrs. Cowper-Temple lived a supernatural and spiritual life, and the spirits that gathered there contributed to the supernatural and spiritual Higher Life that so many led at Broadlands.  Such was the place, and such were the promoters, of the Broadlands Conference for the promotion of the Higher Life that hatched the Keswick system.



This entire study can be accessed here.




[1]             Pg. 9, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.  The Bible teaches an economic system that values private property (Exodus 20:15), free enterprise (Matthew 20:2), and economic freedom (Mt 20:15), rather than socialism or communism in any form.  Scripture teaches that taxation on income should be below a flat 10% rate—any higher rate is a curse and a form of slavery (1 Samuel 8:6-8, 15, 17-18). “Redistributing” wealth—the government taking from one person by force through taxation to give to someone else it believes is more worthy—is ungodly (1 Samuel 8:14-15). Governments that redistribute wealth are stealing (Exodus 20:15), just like a robber who “redistributes” what a person owns. Such practices are considered in Scripture to be pagan (1 Samuel 8:19-20), tyrannical (1 Samuel 8:17-18), and oppressive (1 Samuel 12:3). Devaluing currency—as the government does by creating inflation—is also stealing (Isaiah 1:22, 25). National debt is a curse (Deuteronomy 28:12, 44). Bribery—including bribing certain classes of people to vote a certain way by promises of government handouts—is a sin and “perverted judgment” (1 Samuel 8:3), for the government is to be impartial and neither favor the rich or poor (Deuteronomy 16:19; Exodus 23:3; Proverbs 22:16). God commands individual believers and churches to generously and selflessly help the needy and poor (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Galatians 6:10; Luke 6:35), and not to do so is sinful, but for the government to employ force to extract money from people to give to either the rich or poor is the sin of stealing, not charity or generosity.  Such Biblical teachings make the idea of a “Christian socialism” an oxymoron, similar to “Christian atheism” or “holy sinning.”
[2]              Pg. 106, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[3]              Pgs. 151, 171, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[4]              Pgs. 173-174, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[5]              Pg. 161, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[6]             Pgs. 8-9, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[7]              Compare the articles on Irving, Drummond, and the Catholic Apostolic Church in the Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, and the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.  The Catholic Apostolic Henry Drummond (1786-1860) should not be confused with the later Henry Drummond (1851-1897) who worked with Moody.
[8]              This affirmation of Mrs. Mount-Temple illustrates her utter inability to recognize fanaticism and spiritual aberration.
[9]              Pgs. 103-105, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[10]            The Mount-Temples’ interest in “somnambulism, believed to open a portal to the spiritual world” (pg. 752, The Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol. 4, Fahlbusch & Bromiley.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), is also noteworthy (cf. pgs. 39-40, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890).
[11]            Pgs. 107-108, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.   Mrs. Mount-Temple recounts that Lord Palmerston “disapproved of my heretical views, and feared my influence over William” (pg. 48, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890).
[12]            Pg. 108, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[13]          For example, a book where Mr. Cowper-Temple records material concerning his séances indicates that he attended at least 31 between 1861 and February 23, 1864, sitting with numerous prominent mediums;  see pgs. 9-10, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.  They continued for years to attend very many, and eventually gave up counting (pg. 18).
[14]            “The true resurrection day” is not the day with the Triune God raises the bodies of the dead, but “the day of that great promotion from the world of matter to the world of spirit and the unlocking of the senses of the soul” (pg. 188, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890).
[15]            See, e. g., Letter 9 10, 13, pgs. 30-32, 36-37, The Letters of John Ruskin to Lord and Lady Mount-Temple, ed. John L. Bradley, where one can find discussions of learning things from ghosts and casual and familiar references to seeing, asking questions of, and conversing with spirits of the dead that have been raised up.  See also pgs. 7-8, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[16]            Pg. 18, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.  Compare Mrs. Smith’s description of her visit to a spiritualist medium on pgs. 155-156 of A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.
[17]            Haweis believed and taught:  “Spiritualism fitted very nicely on to Christianity; it seemed to be a legitimate development, not a contradiction, not an antagonist. . . . Spiritualism had rehabilitated the Bible. . . . They [spiritualistic phenomena] occur every day in London as well as in the Acts of the Apostles” (pgs. 176-177, “Modern Spiritualism Briefly Tested by Scripture,” The Fundamentals 4:12, A. J. Pollock). When the Mount-Temples heard Haweis preach, were impressed with his “ability and largeness of view,” and “thus Mr. Haweis became our friend,” they stated, so that Mr. Mount-Temple “asked him to revive” the “Church in Westminster” where Haweis was, by “William’s gift,” able to preach spiritualism and other damnable heresies to “crowded services in the restored Church” (pgs. 106, 182, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890) and was elevated to a place of prominence in England.
[18]            Pg. 108, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[19]            Pg. 161, An Elusive Victorian:  The Evolution of Alfred Russel Wallace, Martin Fichman.  Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press, 2004;  cf. pg. 128, Emanuel Swedenborg:  His Life and Writings, William White, 2nd. rev. ed.  London:  Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., 1868.
[20]            At Broadlands the Mount Temples and their Conference guests “me[t] as one brotherhood” with the “Swedenborgians” and other heretics (pg. 32, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910;  cf. pgs. 78, 82).  Of course, these facts do not mean that everything taught by Swedenborg was followed to the least letter at Broadlands by everyone (e. g., pg. 78, ibid).
[21]            Pg. 51, Altered States: Sex, Nation, Drugs, and Self-Transformation in Victorian Spiritualism, Marlene Tromp.  Albany, NY:  State University of New York Press, 2006.
[22]            Pg. 12, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[23]            Pg. 10, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[24]            Pg. 18, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[25]            Pg. 23, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[26]            The triviality of spiritualistic marvels was indeed a very notable contrast with Biblical miracles.
[27]            Pgs. 12-24, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[28]            Pgs. 19-20, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.  Italics in original.
[29]            Pg. 20, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[30]            Pg. 24, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.  Mr. Mount-Temple was born in 1811 and died in 1888 (pg. 179, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890).
[31]            Pg. 21, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[32]            Pg. 262, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[33]            Pgs. 22, 27, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[34]            Pg. 16, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[35]            Pgs. 23-24, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[36]            Pg. 22, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[37]            Pg. 53, Altered States: Sex, Nation, Drugs, and Self-Transformation in Victorian Spiritualism, Marlene Tromp.  Albany, NY:  State University of New York Press, 2006.
[38]            Pg. 19, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[39]            Pgs. 25-26, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[40]            Pg. 53, Altered States: Sex, Nation, Drugs, and Self-Transformation in Victorian Spiritualism, Marlene Tromp.  Albany, NY:  State University of New York Press, 2006.
[41]          Pg. 113, Christmas Story:  John Ruskin’s Venetian Letters of 1876-1877, John Ruskin, ed. Van Alan Burd.  Cranbury, NJ:  Associated University Presses, 1990.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Obvious Disconnects for Evangelicals and Inerrancy

When I was in jr. high, a friend of mine was wearing a completely white suit with white shirt, white tie, and white shoes to church, and then he spilled his little cup of grape juice from the Lord's Table on himself.  It was just a little cup, but it was so obvious.  How could so little juice get so much coverage?  He could act like nothing happened, but it was too obvious.  It doesn't make any sense not to admit the obvious.  You've got a nasty big grape juice stain on the front of you, and we all know what it is.

What motivated this post is something that I sympathize with, that is, an inerrancy summit in Southern California, March 3-8, at Grace Community Church with John MacArthur.  A load of evangelicals will show up and in advance, the conference has kept posting articles and videos about inerrancy by well known conservative evangelicals.  All of this interests me.  I'm happy to know that they want people to believe in an inerrant Bible and to encourage trust in the Bible.  However, I see a big nasty grape juice stain.  It's obvious, but they act like it doesn't exist.  A few will read this, but I predict the grape juice will remain.

I know God isn't happy, because He wants to be believed.  He wants His Word treated like fact.  He doesn't want it replaced by scientific naturalism.

The conservative evangelical version of inerrancy is a modernistic invention, made up in the last a little over hundred years out of sheer cloth.  They act like it's historic doctrine, as if it's been around for centuries.  They are leaving the house and you're supposed to think that grape stains are stylish. They've always been around -- where's yours?

What's wrong with "inerrancy"?  Nothing would be wrong with it, if it were inerrancy.  What I'm talking about can be illustrated by one of the more recent articles posted on the site by a Matt Waymeyer and entitled, "Can We Trust the New Testament Text?"  He starts the essay with a story of an evangelism opportunity with a pantheist, who told him that "now we have no idea what the original actually said!"  That brought Waymeyer to the questions:  "If the original manuscripts of the Bible no longer exist—and if the existing manuscripts do not completely agree with one another—how can we have confidence in the Scriptures we possess today? Can we really trust the Bible as it has been handed down to us? Can we really insist that it is nothing less than the inerrant Word of God?"

How does Waymeyer answer this question?  Of course, he goes to the Bible and shows what it says about preservation.  We can trust the Bible has been handed down to us in and with perfection for the same reason we can trust that God created the heavens and earth.  That's what he says, right?  Wrong. He writes;

In response to this question, I would like to focus specifically on the New Testament and suggest three reasons why the differences between the manuscripts should not shake our confidence in the reliability of the biblical text. Those three reasons are the abundance of existing manuscripts, the insignificance of most textual variants, and the preservation of primary biblical doctrines.

That is inerrancy?  I don't think most people would think so.  They may have thought that you meant without error, but that's not what you meant.  You just used a word that sounded like it was that. Three of the main speakers from the conference made a video about preservation as it relates to inerrancy.  I listened carefully.


If you break down what they said, you don't hear that the Words of God were preserved.  You don't. Ligon Duncan says, "It's the best it's ever been."  And how do we know that?  Albert Mohler says, "No one questions the Bible we have is almost without question right down to every single particle exactly in the original autographs."  The contradiction in the statement is humorous:  "No one questions the Bible we have is almost without question."  If no one is questioning, then it is without question, but he says it is "almost" without question.  So it is with question.  So someone is questioning.  If there was no question, then textual criticism would be over, but we know it isn't, so in that sense it is a lie.  The grape juice is obvious.

Mohler keeps going, and again, it's funny to me.  "Not one major doctrine, not one major text, on any major issue related to the Gospel, related to Christ, to, to, to anything has ever been controverted." Does anyone know what he's talking about?

First, he says, major doctrine, major text.  Hint:  minor doctrines, minor texts, yes.  The very nature of this new definition of inerrancy says that minor things are now in question.  This isn't as objective as science.  You've got some fudge room in here.  And then he starts listing what he's talking about -- the Gospel, Christ, and then he stutters...to, to, to....hard to say.  So much deniability in here.  Major doctrine or major text related to anything!  Not exactly anything, because it's only the major anythings, not minor ones, despite the fact that almost every single particle is without question.  And does he or anyone listening really believe that it is incontrovertible?  There is no more argument about the text among evangelicals?  Their text changes all the time.  New translations are being made all the time.  The English Bible they use is a new one, improving on the last new one, which came from the last new one.

These men want to try to inspire confidence with their words.  But they are not deriving that confidence from the Word of God, so they are ambiguous.  There is no reference to the biblical doctrine of preservation. Why?  Because it clashes with their application of those passages.  It clashes with the historic doctrine of preservation.  They can't take their doctrine of preservation from the Bible, because it contradicts what they believe happened.  This is the big grape stain that is obvious.

You have this white suit.  It's the Word of God.  But it's got a grape juice stain.  It's obvious.  But they say, "It's white anyway. It's inerrant."  Anyone looking knows it isn't.  They say it anyway loaded with the adjectives that signal that they don't believe what they're saying.

WORD OF TRUTH CONFERENCE, 2015

The Word of Truth Conference at Bethel Baptist Church is November 11-15, Wednesday to Sunday again this year, beginning on Wednesday evening with morning sessions Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  For anyone who wants to come, Bethel will help with meals and very limited housing on a first come, first serve, basis.  The theme of this year's conference and one main speaker will be announced soon.  This is a beautiful time of the year in Northern California.  Flights are inexpensive. You can come year after year and never run out of things to do before and after the conference.

One book has been published from previous conferences, A Pure Church.  Another book will be coming, I-Magination: The God of Truth Replaced in an Age of Apostasy.  We will let you know when that is finished.  You can listen to audio from previous conferences at the conference website.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Multi-Dimensional Sunday Post

Perhaps tomorrow I'll come back with a full post on one subject, or maybe this is my Monday post -- we'll see.

Not necessarily in this order, first, my post on politicians and evolution did not bring much of a response.  Fine.  However, I liked something like what Mat wrote in his comment.  I thought that was very good.  So what do you think of evolution, Mr. Politician?

Mr. Questioner, I don't think we got here by accident.  That's not a good answer for man's existence.  Everything has a cause.  I see writing in the sand and I don't assume it appeared from waves lapping the seashore, and human beings are more complicated than sand writing. I think it would be horrible if someone were disqualified from office or even hindered, because he believed in the biblical record of creation, don't you? Especially since we find creation in the Declaration of Independence as the origination of our rights as American citizens.  Do you want to talk about being endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights?  Or do you reject the Declaration?

I'm going to stick with that as my answer for now.  I wish politicians prepared themselves to put the media on the defensive.

Second, out of the blue someone named Gary decided it was time for him to foist his atheism on this blog.  He wasn't reacting to anything in particular we wrote, but he started leaving comments unrelated to the posts under which he typed them.  Gary revealed that he had already invaded a hundred blogs before he arrived at ours.

I marvel at the Bible's having already pegged Gary again and again.  He appears in accordance with its own understanding.  As he refutes the Bible, he validates it.  It's as if he's auditioning for a role in the Bible and wins the part.

Gary did me a service.  He gave me some thoughts for future blog posts.  I don't fathom the questions he asks, but they're out there, and I want to give the best answer to some of them.  He doesn't have a point, but attacks the ocean of evidence for God with a spoon, and I'll examine some of his spoonfuls.

Third, we saw my son Kirk before his first deployment.  He's a first lieutenant in the army out of Fort Carson, and we saw him off last week.  Pray for his spiritual sustenance and continued obedience to God in difficult circumstances.  (Kirk is single and has no life's partner candidates at this time, but we are open to whatever possibilities the Lord has for us, if you think you can be of help there.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Inspired Books of Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Christian Scientists, Muslims, and Others

Having grown up in a non-Christian home, and having done a decent amount of work in Christian apologetics and having spoken to many people of all sorts of backgrounds, from atheists, agnostics, materialists, communists, etc., the evidence for the Bible is irrefutable and incredibly powerful.   (For example, see the evidence here and here.)  The Bible contains vast numbers of specific and detailed predictive prophecies that cannot be explained away.  Many other categories of evidence, from incredible scientific facts, to pinpoint archeological accuracy, etc. validate the Bible (and, of course, it is self-attesting and self-authenticating as God's Word;  "never man spake like this Man," Jn 7, etc.)  I have never spoken to an atheist, agnostic, or other skeptic. who has what approaches anything like a decent explanation for the predictive prophecies and other categories of evidence for the Bible.  When I speak to people like that, I never go away saying, "Boy, I wonder if the Bible is really true--they have such great stuff against it!"  On the contrary, it is always, "Wow, how incredible God's Word is--it's too bad, because of his sin, he isn't willing to listen to the evidence for it and makes up such foolish reasons to reject it!"

Now let's contrast that with the writings of Ellen G. White, founding prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.  Even looking at the most voceiferous defenders of her writings, there is nothing in them that is like the specific predictive prophecies and other categories of evidence for the Bible.  Even if one were to set aside the plain false prophecies in her writings (see here) as the inventions of evil people who have some kind of irrational hatred of the SDA movement, there simply is nothing comparable in what she wrote to the evidence for Scripture.  Christian apologists regularly debate skeptics on college campuses and in other places and crush them with the intellectual power of the Bible, but I can't imagine a Seventh-day Adventist even trying to do that with Ellen White's writings against an equally intelligent and well-researched opponent.

Now let's compare the size of the Bible and Ellen White's writings.  A typical Bible has around 1,000 pages, but EGW's writings are around 100,000 pages, according the White Estate.  How reasonable is it that only 1% of God's revelation, the Bible, is attested in such an incredible way, by apostles, etc. who raised the dead, reattached missing limbs, and so on, but 99% of God's revelation, EGW's writings, were composed by one person who did no apostolic miracles (and admitted she couldn't), and whose writings simply have nothing like the overwhelming evidence for them that the Bible has?

Even apart from other facts, like the fact that 99%+ of the Bible was written by holy men, not by women (because men are to lead/have authority), the striking difference between 66 books in Scripture and only one lady writing 99 times as much as all the other inspired authors combined--Ellen White's writings  do not meet the standard for something that is the Word of God. There is no proof of their inspiration at all.

The same sort of argument is valid for the allegedly inspired books of Mormonism, the Christian Science cult of Mary Baker Eddy, the Koran, and all other books that claim to be inspired outside the Bible--including the Apocrypha. Even apart from the way that they contradict Scripture and are filled with factual errors--the negative disproof of them as God's Word--there is no positive proof for any of them.  Only the true God can bring about the predictive prophecies found in the Bible (Isaiah 44)-- that is why no other book claiming inspiration has anything like them.

Readers who think that something outside of the Bible is inspired ought to consider these facts and reject their nonbiblical books. They can get further help here.  Christians can use the facts above to help unconverted cultists consider their ways.

By the way, if you are a Ruckmanite who believes that the King James Version was produced in 1611 by the miraculous inspiration of the Holy Spirit the way that the original manuscripts were, you need to consider what evidence there is for your view also. Could you win a debate with an atheist on a college campus with the alleged evidences for the miraculous giving of the King James Version by the Holy Spirit in 1611? As readers of this blog know, I am passionately KJVO, with a knee-jerk reaction to defend the translation of the King James whenever it is criticized, am totally committed to the perfect preservation of Scripture in the Old Testament and New Testament's Textus Receptus, etc. (see here), but you can't defend with Scriptural exegesis a move from the Holy Spirit in 1611 like that which took place in the production of the original manuscripts of the Bible, so if you are going to take that view, you are going to have to do better than the weird and totally unconvincing things that people like Gail Riplinger make up to support it.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Political Candidates and the Evolution Question

The liberal news media plays a political 'gotcha' game with conservative or even just Republican candidates that they do not with liberal or even just Democrat candidates.  They did this last week (Feb 11, 2015) to thrice elected governor of Wisconsin and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Scott Walker, when they asked what he believed about evolution(news here, and recent columns here, here, here, and here).  Let me lay out my take on the politics of this first.

You can believe in evolution and win a Democratic primary.  You can believe in evolution and become president.  If you believe in evolution, you might lose a Republican primary.  You will lose a large enough percentage of primary voters as a Republican that it could sink your race.  Quite a few people still reject evolution in this country, despite its stranglehold in the public schools, but almost all of them are Republicans.  The media wants Scott Walker out as fast as possible, probably because they fear and hate him more than the other Republican candidates.  They promote a Republican moderate until he passes through the primary into the general election, where they savage him as he has already depressed the conservative turnout.

Walker's present strategy, which I think he had already formulated -- this wasn't off-the-cuff, is as he put it, "to punt" on the question.  He's not going to answer it.  And then he adds something about faith and science being compatible, something like that -- he thinks you can believe both.  Both.  Faith and science.

I'd like to digress a moment, because a Christian worldview does not bifurcate faith and science. Those two aren't separate entities -- there is only one truth.  You've already played into the world's hands, the secularist humanists, when you place science on a different plane than faith, as if science is the objective, fact-based, head-oriented side, and faith is the subjective, feeling-based, heart-oriented part.  What explains it all is that God created everything, including earth, which then fell into and was ruined by sin, but all of that still can and will find redemption through Jesus Christ.  That is the only explanation for everything.

I know, you think that Walker will lose if he answers differently and the point is to win.  We're not hiring a pastor-in-chief, but a president of the United States.  He's got to do what it takes to win, even if it means such a political answer such as he gave.  Not answering gives Walker a sense of deniability, and then when the media hounds him, they might look like bullies and it could have a counter effect on behalf of Walker.  You've already asked that question, he's answered, so please leave the guy alone.  "After all, he's not going to allow his view on origins to influence his governing."

What Walker thinks he gains by losing could actually be, and I believe is, a loss by winning.  He wins a battle by losing the war.  It also runs against the Walker narrative of conviction and courage.  It doesn't mean that I don't still like him better than the other candidates.  However, I think he should go back to the drawing board and take a stand on a consistent Christian worldview, to study and formulate some beautiful talking points that will accomplish even more than his political answer.  If he loses because of his answer, then he loses with the truth still intact, which is greater than he is. If he is operating according to God's cultural mandate in Genesis, he can fulfill it by bringing a Christian worldview to his career and work.

The right answer to the question about evolution dovetails with the historic American view of liberty. The founding fathers said God endowed men with inalienable rights.  The Civil War was fought in part based upon that contract (I will delete comments in the line of a war of northern aggression). The thought of evolution undermines Americanism, the founding beliefs of our country.  We did not receive our rights from government, but from God.

So what would be the succinct, wonderful wording of the right answer to the question about evolution?  What should Walker say?  What should he have said?  I'm going to write an answer, but maybe you could help me.  Think about it and write something in the comment section.  You've got until Monday.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Don't Choose What Distinguishes Our Church, But It Still Does

Our church believes in one God, Who Is Three Persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  That belief distinguishes us from others, but I didn't choose that it would distinguish us.  We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  The Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice.  Those qualities distinguish us as a church.  We teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.  That doctrine sets us apart from many others, even though I would have everyone to believe that same way. Many don't.

Evangelical churches, fundamentalist churches, Baptist churches, and independent Bible-believing churches are different than what they were fifty years ago.  I've watched them change.  If your church and another church are the same, and then one of them changes, that change now distinguishes your church from that other church.  You didn't choose to distinguish yourself from that church, but you're still distinguished.  You're not different because you changed.  You're different because the other church did.  Someone might say that you are trying to be different.  You're different, but not because you're trying to be.

I know that our church has changed too.  Every church should change.  True churches are made up of saved people (position), who are also being saved (process), which is sanctification.  Sanctification is change.  The people in our church the longest, who could give good testimony of what has happened in our church, I believe would say that it has changed because of the effect of the Word of God over 25 years.  A church should be ready to submit to the Bible as it learns God's Word together.  I've changed as the leader of our church and then our church has changed too.  My thinking, beliefs, and practices are closer than ever to what the Bible teaches.  I'm not saying that I haven't sinned or made mistakes, but my positions have been honed and perfected, so I've grown.

When I say our church has changed, I'm not saying that our church has taken on some new fad.  I mean that we have become more precise to and with scripture.  I've learned in certain instances what the biblical and historic position is.  In certain instances, we've just become better prepared to defend what we already believe.  However, what has distinguished our church more than anything is how everything else and many others have changed.  The areas where we differ from and concern other churches and folks outside of our church are those where everyone was taking our position at one time, but now have moved from that position.  We didn't move on those areas. The world and then churches have moved from us.  Now they would treat us like we're strange.

What I'm describing above is bound to happen.  Nations rise and fall.  They fall because they turn from God.  That turning occurs gradually over time.  Things rarely get better.  What I'm reporting here is what it looks like in the Bible.  People really should suspect it.  Things will get worse before they will get better.

Some people act like our church, and those like us, somehow major on issues with which we are different than them -- that this is what we preach about all the time.  I repeat, the areas with which we differ, are our major focus.  There is a reason why these are the distinguishing issues:  they are not popular.  They are the very doctrines and practices that rub against the world system the most.  In Corinth, bodily resurrection was a controversy.  You were crazy there and then if you believed that you would get a new body.  For that reason, bodily resurrection distinguished that church.  Bodily resurrection isn't the issue in the United States, but a list has developed as the U.S. has ejected Christian values among other reasons.  What is this list?

The list isn't a list that our church has chosen.  We haven't concocted hot buttons to make us stick out. These are areas that churches have left behind, and the churches that have kept them are often treated with disdain by them.  What are they?  Not in any particular order --

Dress  -- Here is modesty like it was for all the rest of Christian history.  We're actually not as good, but far better than 95% plus.  Here is gender distinction.  There were items that pertained only to the man and only to the woman, symbols of male headship and female submission.  The crowd melts almost as fast as they did at the feeding of the 5,000 if you bring this up.

Music -- A Christian worldview requires objective beauty.  There is music that reflects the nature of God.  Music is not amoral.  Certain music is profane and worldly and can't be used in worship.  Few take this position any more.  Almost everyone rejected Christian rock to begin.  Now only Christians say music amoral.  We practice the historic regulative principle of worship.

Separation -- This is an exegetical issue, not applicational, but churches don't practice biblical separation when this characterized New Testament churches through history.

Pointed Application of Scripture in the Preaching -- Many churches leave the applications ambiguous today.

Preservation of Scripture -- Some call this the version issue, or extreme onlyism.  No.  This is believing what God said He would do.

Evangelism --  We preach the gospel to every creature.  I don't run into people who do that.  When people know we do, they run from us.  People want an easier way or they won't join.

Church Discipline -- This has made a come back in some circles.  We take it seriously.

Biblical Church Growth -- We follow the biblical pattern and strategy.  There are many inventions and new measures for this everywhere to which churches bow.

Male Headship -- The man is the head of the home.  He's the breadwinner.  He makes the decisions. Sometimes the word complimentarianism is used.  The men make the decisions of our church.  This is controversial.

There are some other ways we are distinguished from others.  We do one on one discipleship.  We encourage our people not to go to the movie theater and movies are not something you'll hear discussed at our church very much or at all.  We believe the evangelist is the person who evangelizes an area with the prospects of starting a church, not an itinerant preacher.  We practice courtship and not dating.  We believe churches send missionaries.  We believe scripture teaches corporeal punishment for child training.  We teach that someone must believe in the Lordship of Christ to be saved.  We don't believe in extra-scriptural revelation of any kind.  There are others.

These distinguish our church.  Not the Trinity, even though we believe that. Not salvation by grace alone, even though we talk more about that than any of them.  Not even expositional preaching, which we do.  I've preached through every verse of the New Testament.  We don't talk about the above list of things at our church very much, but they are still the types of things people notice when they decide not to join.  A very, very few join because of them.  Those people make these a big deal.  If we dropped even half of them, we'd be maybe five, ten, twenty times bigger than we are.  We didn't make up this list, but it still exists.