Friday, July 03, 2015

Hannah W. Smith's Spread of the Erotic Baptism of Post-Conversion Power: part 19 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

Hannah W. Smith chronicled Dr. Foster’s communication of his views to herself and another lady as follows:
Never shall I forget that interview. He began by telling us that “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” was a physical thing, felt by deligthful thrills going through you from head to foot . . . and that this had been revealed to him in the following manner. He had been praying to the Lord to give him the Baptism . . . and he found that whenever he prayed especially earnestly he had physical thrills which he had thought belonged to earthly passions. He blamed himself exceedingly for this, and thought what a sensual man he must be, that in his most sacred moments such feelings should come. . . . One day . . . an inward voice seemed to say “These sensations you so much condemn are really the divine touch of the Holy Spirit in your body.” . . . Immediately, he said, he began to receive them with thankfulness and the result was that they had become so continuous that there was scarcely a moment in his life without them. . . . My friend and I had not dared to say a word while this revelation was being made to us, and when Dr. Foster left us we sat for a long while in dumbfounded silence.[1]
Hannah Whitall Smith described how their family adopted Mr. Foster’s abominable doctrine and communicated it to others:
I was seeking to know all that could be known of the “life hid with Christ in God,” and was hungering and thirsting after an expression of entire consecration and perfect trust. . . . I had also a very mystical side to my nature which longed for direct revelations from God . . . and for many years I sought in every direction to find a satisfaction for this craving. . . . The beginning of it was was in the year 1871 or ’72, when my husband needed a course of treatment for a nervous breakdown.  We took our family to a Hydropathic Sanatorium in New York State, and we stayed there for three or four months. . . . A very dear friend of mine was staying in the Sanatorium at the same time;  and as we were both hungering and thirsting to know the deep things of God, we very often had long conversations about it.  One day she said to me, “Hannah, I believe that Dr. [Henry Foster] knows some secrets of the divine life that thee and I ought to know:  he has hinted as much to me when he has been seeing me about my health.  Wouldn’t thee like to have him tell us?”  Of course I agreed to this with all my heart, and she decided to ask him.  When I next saw her she said she had asked him, and he had told her that he would ask the Lord whether he was to reveal the secret to us or not.  A few days later he told my friend that he had received permission from the Lord to tell us the secret, and he fixed a time when were were to meet to hear it. . . . Never shall I forget that interview.  He began by telling us that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a physical thing, felt by delightful thrills going through you from head to foot, and that no one could really know what the Baptism of the Spirit was who did not experience these thrills.  He said that this had been revealed to him in the following manner.  He had been praying the Lord to give him the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and he found that whenever he prayed especially earnestly he had physical thrills which he thought belonged to earthly passions.  He blamed himself exceedingly for this, and thought what a sensual man he must be that in his most sacred moments such feelings should come.  By fasting and prayer he would get deliverance, as he thought, and would then begin to pray again for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but invariably, after a short time of prayer, the sensations would return, and the same process of fasting and prayer would have to be gone through.  As this happened over and over he was at last almost in despair.  One day, however, when, during an earnest season of prayer, these sensations were particularly strong, an inward voice seemed to say, “These sensations which you so much condemn are really the divine touch of the Holy Spirit in your body.”  He said it was very hard for him to believe this, but it seemed to come with such divine authority that he dared not reject it.  He asked specially for a sign that if it really were that Baptism of the Spirit for which he had been praying it might be made so plain to him that there could be no mistake.  And this prayer, he said, had been unmistakably answered, and he had been convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that these very sensations, which he had condemned as being of the flesh, were actually the very Baptism of Spirit that he had longed for.  Immediately, he said, he began to receive them with thankfulness, and the result was that they had become so continuous that there was hardly a moment in his life without them, and that he had found the greatest spiritual enlightenment and uplifting from the moment that he allowed himself to receive these sensations as being the touch of the Lord.  This he told us was the divine secret which had been revealed to him, and which he was permitted to tell chosen souls.  He urged us to take the subject before the Lord in prayer, and ask Him to enlighten us, and he warned us not to let carnal thoughts concerning this blessed experience come in to blind our eyes to the divine realities it embodied.  My friend and I had not dared to say a word while this revelation was being made to us, and when Dr. [Foster] left we sat for a long while in dumbfounded silence. . . . [W]e had such absolute confidence in the holiness of this saint of God, as he seemed to us, that we were afraid our horror at what he had told us must be because we were too carnally minded, as he had said, to be able to see the deep spiritual purity of it all, and we felt that we dared not reject it without further prayer and consideration.  We had several further talks with Dr. [Foster] about it, and he told us these “baptisms” were really the fulfilment of the union between Christ and His people as the Bridegroom and the bride, described in Ephesians v, 25-32, and typified in the Song of Solomon, and declared in many parts of Scripture, and that to reject it was to reject union with the Lord Himself.  And he described this spiritual union as being so enrapturing and uplifting, and so full of the Lord’s actual presence, that at last we began to believe there must be something in it, and to long to know for ourselves the reality of this wonderful consecration.  We could not accept all the details of the experience that Dr. [Foster] gave us,[2] but we did begin to believe that there was a physical “touch” of God, that manifested itself in a bewildering delicious sensation of a sort of magnetic thrill of divine life pouring through both soul and body, which lifted one up into an enrapturing realization of oneness with Christ and that this was the true ‘Baptism of the Holy Ghost.’  We came to the conclusion that it must be what all the old mystics had known, and that it was the true inner meaning of that Union with Christ for which saints of all ages had longed, and into the realization of which so many of them seemed to have entered.  And we both began earnestly to seek to know it for ourselves. . . . I [thought] that now at last I had found the key that would open to me the door of this mystic region of divine union.  As usual, when I was interested in anything, my friends had to become interested too, and to all with whom I dared to touch on such a sacred, yet delicate, subject, I tried to tell what Dr. [Foster] had told us.  And in several instances, both in England and America, those I told of it receved the baptism I described, and in each case this very baptism was the opening up for them of a life of union and communion with God far beyond anything they had ever known before. . . . In many instances the receiving of it by preachers was the beginning of great revivals in their churches, and was, in fact, the initiation of a great deal of the “Holiness” movement of thirty years ago [that is, the time when the Keswick and Higher Life theology was originated and promulgated].  This movement took hold of the upper classes, and the meetings were largely composed of the aristocracy and the rich and influential people in English Society.  There was nothing sectarian in the whole [Keswick] movement;  no one was asked, or in any way influenced, to leave the Church to which they belonged . . . one of the marvellous features of it was the union of people of all forms of belief, and of all denominational relationships[.] . . . Dogmas and doctrines were of no account, and were never referred to, for they were not needed in the region in which this movement was carried on.  It was the region of personal experience[.] . . . But while great spiritual blesings have seemed often to be the result of this experience of union with God, very disastrous outward falls from purity and righteousness have sometimes followed[.][3]
Hannah Smith, thus, both adopted and promulgated the erotic Baptism doctrine and explained that it was at the root of the Holiness, Higher Life, or Keswick movement.
Hannah Whitall Smith further explained, through a representative example, how she spread Dr. Foster’s filthy doctrine to others, and its effects upon them:
One day, not long after our [Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s] stay at the New York sanatarium, I [met] . . . a very strict Friend [Quaker] . . . a most successful Christian worker, but rather self-absorbed.  She . . . dressed in the strictest fashion of sugar-scoop bonnets, crossed handkerchiefs, with a dainty three-cornered shawl over her shoulders.  We became very intimate[.] . . . She was very religious, and we soon discovered that we were both seekers after the mystic life, and especially after the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and we embraced every opportunity we could find of seeking for it together.
        At that time some Methodists who believed in sanctification by faith were in the habit of holding in the summer what were called Holiness Camp Meetings . . . led by prominent religious preachers and teachers who believed in the doctrine of Holiness, or, in other words, of “sanctification by faith.” . . . [T]he friend of whom I speak and I myself, with a large company of congenial friends, attended one of these Camp Meetings, all of us hungering and thirsting . . . to know experimentally the conscious baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The whole camp ground was exercised on this subject, and in almost every meeting wonderful testimonies would be given by those who had, as they believed, consciously received it.
        Our expectations and our longings were wrought up to the highest ptich of enthusiasim, and one evening, after the public meeting under the trees was over, a few of us gathered in one tent for a special prayer meeting on the subject, determined to wrestle and agonize until the answer came.  We knelt in the dark, and poured out our prayers and supplications . . . for two or three hours. . . . As the company passed out of the tent, I noticed my friend did not pass out with them, and I wondered whether she had slipped out silently before the meeting closed and gone back to her own tent.  I lighted a candle to go to bed, when, to my astonishment, I found her lying across the foot of my bed in what appeared to be a swoon.  I spoke to her, and immediately she began to praise God in the most rapturous way:  “Oh, how wonderful!  Oh, how glorious!  Oh, this is the Baptism!  Oh, what a blessing;  ’tis more than I can bear!  Oh, Lord, stay Thy hand! Flesh and blood cannot bear this glory!”[4]  And similar exclamations burst from her lips in tones of ecstasy.  As may be imagined, I was overwhelmed with awe and delight, and I immediately rushed out to call in my friends to see the wonderful answer to our prayers, for I could not doubt that my friend had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit for which we were all longing.  Why she had been picked out, I could not imagine, for she was not, as far as I knew, a bit better or a bit more earnest than any of the rest of us.  However, there it was . . . [a] little awestruck company gathered round the bed, and eagerly drank in all her rapturous exclamations, afraid almost to breathe for fear that we should disturb the heavenly visitation.  After a while she seemed to recover from her swoon sufficiently to go to her own tent, and, although very tottering and scarcely able to walk, we managed to take her there and get her undressed and into bed. . . . [E]arly in the morning I sent word to the early Prayer Meeting of the great blessing that had come to the camp ground.  Immediately a deputation of the leaders of the meeting came to the tent to ask my friend whether she would not come to their large meeting and bear testimony to the blessing that had been bestowed upon her. . . . It was one of the foundation principles among believers in the definite baptism of the Holy Spirit that if you did not confess it when you had received it, it might be lost[.][5] . . . [The baptism] seemed to have been what the Swedenborgians[6] call “her opening into the spiritual world,” for from that time she began to have very strange and wonderous experiences . . . [which made] ordinary religious life very humdrum and uninteresting[.] . . . I told her of my experience at the water-cure [Henry Foster’s hydropathic sanitarium], and of the secret that had there been revealed to me[.]  [S]he immediatley seized upon it . . . and went to this same water-cure, and put herself under the teaching of the doctor there[.] . . . She embraced all his views, and felt led, as she fully believed by the Holy Spirit, to great lengths in the lines he taught.  Among other things, she felt her duty to ask him to stand naked before her, and also to do the same thing herself before him.  To what other lengths she went I have never known, but she was fully imbued with the idea that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was physical as well as spiritual, and that the great aim of religious teachers should be to excite in themselves and in others those physical thrills which accompany passion, and which she had come to believe were the manifest token of union with Christ.  She took the Song of Solomon to be the exposition of the relation between the soul and Christ as the Bride and Bridegroom, and she confessed to me with great awe that she really believed that Christ had often come to her at night when in bed as the real Bridegroom, and had actually had a bridegroom’s connextion with her.  She taught this doctrine to a choice circle of friends, and even tried by personal contact to produce in them those physical thrills which she believed were the actual contact of the Holy Ghost.  She overawed these friends by the tremendous force of her own convictions, and in many cases obtained . . . control over them, so that they were not surprised or shocked at anything she did or said, but accepted it all as from God, and as being the avenue through which the Holy Ghost was to be poured out upon them . . . [although] the person who was acknowledged by all to be the most full of self was my friend [herself], who had apparently received the Baptism. [7]
Hannah had written to her husband:  “There does seem to be a truth in it [Dr. Foster’s doctrine], and I feel as if it would be a great means of restoration to health to thee if thee could get fully into it.  Do try.”[8]  With the leading of Dr. Foster and the encouragement of Hannah his wife, then, Robert P. Smith received such an erotic baptism, and having “received the baptism of the Spirit . . . he began to teach, preach, and propagate”[9] the Higher Life theology publicly and the mystic baptism privately, leading many[10] into a post-conversion Spirit baptism and the thrills of the marriage-bed that allegedly accompanied it.  For example, one of Robert’s first English disciples, a woman called Lizzie Lumb, wrote Robert a series of letters between 1873 and 1875 describing the physical sensations of her “Betrothal with [a false] Christ”:
The thrill commences in the love nerves, with a great throbbing, as though a heart beat there, and rises to the regions of the chest, with a thrill and sweet confusion of union[.] . . . Most earnestly do I thank you for revealing such treasures to me, as you have in this mystery of the heavenly marriage.[11]
Hannah Smith recognized that adoption of the Bridal Baptism doctrine led to the free acceptance and practice of sexual debauchery, or at least something very close to it.[12]  For instance, as a consequence of Robert’s preaching at one meeting, Hannah W. Smith narrated:  “Boole got a great Baptism during the meeting, the unmentionable kind, and was so completely carried away by it . . . that he came near to making love to me, and actually did get into a deep and spiritual flirtation with a lady there who had left her husband because of his ill usage.”[13]  Likewise, Hannah W. Smith recounts:
I knew one dear lady who began in the purest and simplest way to give herself up to these emotions, and gradually came to spending most of her time allowing these waves of thrills to flow through her from head to foot, believing that she was in this way realizing more and more the presence of the Lord, and coming more and more into actual union with Him.  And the result was most disastrous in destroying her moral nature, and launching her into a course of impurity from which in the beginning she would have shrunk with horror.[14]
One must not be surprised that the infinitely holy and pure Holy Ghost would give over to their lusts (Romans 1:26) those who would defile His Holy Name by associating such things with His baptism.  Certainly such supernatural manifestations as the erotic Baptism were manifestations of the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in and energizes the children of disobedience, the infernal Power behind Robert and Hannah W. Smith’s theology of sanctification and “Christian” living.  Robert believed in his erotic Baptism “as late as 1878,”[15] that is, until he gave up Christianity entirely, for he “thought that it was a very precious truth.”[16]

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]              Pgs. 34-35, Remarkable Relations, Barbara Strachey.  Strachey’s book supplies ample difficult to obtain original source material.
[2]              Hannah Smith publicly claimed that, at least at this time, she did not accept Dr. Foster’s teaching in every detail;  she admits only that others did.  For example, Hannah wrote about what had happened when she had explained their experiences at Dr. Foster’s sanatorium to a friend, Quaker minister Sarah F. Smiley:
When I told her of my experiences at the water cure [Dr. Foster’s hydropathic sanatorium] . . . she seized upon it . . . putting herself under the teaching of the doctor there, hoping that she might learn his strange secrets. The result was that she went into the wildest extravagences. . . . Among other things she felt it her duty to ask him to stand naked before her, and also to do the same thing herself before him. To what other lengths she went I have never known. . . . She really believed that Christ had often come to her at night when in bed, as the real Bridegroom, and had actually had a bridegroom’s connection with her. She taught this doctrine to a choice circle of friends and even tried by personal contact to produce in them those physical thrills which she believed were the actual contact of the Holy Ghost. (pg. 39, Remarkable Relations, Strachey)
However, in her narrative above, in order to make herself look better, Hannah distances herself and understates her influence in leading Sarah Smiley into the erotic Baptism heresy.  Elsewhere, in a writing which was only to be circulated posthumously and in which she attempted to conceal the identify of Dr. Foster, Hannah admitted that she was the immediate instrument of Sarah’s entering into the erotic experience:
Another friend of mine . . . whom I had told about Dr. R., received while I was talking to her, what she believed was the Baptism, and began to experience right there thrills of rapture from head to foot, which completely carried her away. . . . [S]he [came] to spend most of her time lying on the sofa trying to induce [the thrills] to come.  She also . . . felt it her duty to kiss several men, with the idea that through that means God would bestow either great blessings upon them or greater blessings upon herself.  She had felt led to kiss Mr. L. [the Methodist sexual predator discussed above]. . . . [Indeed,] a great many saintly women . . . one after another . . . would in some mysterious way begin to “feel led” to give him a kiss . . . the called for kiss bestowed . . . floods of joy and peace would fill their souls. . . . She was impressed with the idea that through this performance God would bestow the Baptism of the Spirit upon the receipient of her kisses. . . . [She] was so good and pure minded that we all called her “Saint Sarah[.]”  . . . This dear Saint was so enmoured of what she called “The Touch of God,” that she spent a large part of her time seeking for it and enjoying it, until it finally became a sort of possession . . . a very good Christian lady . . . said . . . [she] was possessed of the devil. (pgs. 194-202, 246-248, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey)
Smiley became part of what was known as the “Boston Party,” following the “outgrowth of Dr. Foster’s idea.”  Smiley testified that the Boston Party was “far ahead of all other Holiness meetings she has ever attended in spirituality, direct guidance, etc.” (Letter to Robert, December 4, 1873, reproduced in the entry for July 8 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  Smiley also set forth the typical Higher Life and Keswick allegorization of the book of Joshua, including a doctrine of post-conversion Spirit baptism, in her The Fulness of Blessing; or, The Gospel of Christ, as Illustrated from the Book of Joshua (London:  Hodder & Stoughton, 1876).  It is noteworthy, in light of Hannah’s revelations of Smiley’s activities with Dr. Foster, that Smiley’s discussion of post-conversion Spirit baptism allegorically eisegeted into Joshua includes an extensive note decrying the “tendency to ignore the importance of the body, [which] proceeds from a general lack of insight into the Scriptural philosophy of nature and of spirit” (pg. 89).
Of course, Boston was the place from which the Faith and Mind Cures of Dr. Cullis and Mary Baker Eddy spread in the background of Higher Life teaching, rejection of sola Scriptura, fanaticism, and demonism.
[3]              Pgs. 165-172, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[4]              Compare Hannah Smith’s description of her related experience near Clifton Springs through her surrender to the Inward Voice in her Letter to Sisters of August 14, 1879, reproduced in the entry for September 19 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, ed. Dieter.
[5]              This principle that blessings not confessed immediately were lost carried over to the foundational pre-Keswick Conventions, into the Keswick movement, and into the Pentecostal and Word of Faith movements;  thus, e. g., the Oxford Convention proclaimed:  “None retain the blessing of full faith [the Higher Life], and its consequent victory, who refuse to acknowledge, on suitable occasions, what God has done for them.  The saintly John Fletcher four times fell back into the old level by fearing to witness for this grace of God” (pgs. 284-285, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).  Fletcher was the central theologian of Wesleyan Perfectionism (see, e. g, “How John Fletcher Became the Theologian of Wesleyan Perfectionism, 1770–1776,” T. L. Smith. Wesleyan Theological Journal 15:1 (Spring 1980): 68–87).
[6]              Swedenborgianism is another demonic and spiritualist cult that Hannah W. Smith viewed in a positive light, as did, among others, Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple.
[7]              Pgs. 173-181, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[8]              pg. 38, Remarkable Relations, Strachey,  citing a letter from October 21, 1873.  Hannah later became less enthusiastic about Dr. Foster’s doctrine and then rejected it, but her husband continued to believe and promulgate it secretly until it caused his public downfall.
[9]              Pg. 317, The Puritans:  Their Origins and Successors, D. M. Lloyd-Jones.  Robert had earlier received entire sanctification and a less erotic spiritual Baptism at a Methodist Holiness meeting, where he learned that “one can be sanctified by faith just as one was saved by faith” (February 5-6, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).
[10]            The doctrine was a regular theme of Robert P. Smith, and many adopted it as a result of his propagation of it; cf. pgs. 233-234, 238, 251, 255-260, 466-467, 470, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.
[11]            Pg. 39, Remarkable Relations, Strachey.
[12]            Pg. 48, Remarkable Relations, Strachy; cf. pg. 104.
[13]            Pg. 50, Remarkable Relations, Strachey.  This meeting took place in 1876 under Robert Smith’s preaching at a camp meeting in the United States after his downfall in England.  Note that Robert was still, obviously, promulgating the doctrine of the erotic Baptism even after being forced to leave England after the Brighton Convention because of it.
Other manifestations of fanaticism ascribed to the Holy Spirit at another camp meeting the Smiths graced were similar to those experienced by early Quakerism:  “The ladies . . . at our house this spring have that quaking under the power of the Spirit that gave the early Friends the name of Quakers.  Mrs. Ashmead and Mrs. Bond both quake wonderfully at times.  And yet neither of them are at all remarkable for any depth of natural character” (pgs. 51-52, ibid.).
[14]            Pg. 162, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[15]            Pg. 36, The Keswick Story, Polluck.
[16]          Letter to a Friend, February 12, 1876, reproduced in the entry for July 30 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Gay Marriage Case Study: Whether It Hurts Someone Else Deciding Whether It Is Right

As I've listened to some of the reaction to the announcement of the United States Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage (I'm using the term "gay," not out of preference, but because I think it will allow filtered internet to get through), in almost every case, you hear the argument that it doesn't hurt anyone else.  The majority (5 for and 4 against) argued for gay marriage from "due process" and "equal protection" which the majority of justices found for gay marriage in the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the constitution.  The argument is that gays' constitutional right to due process and equal protection is prohibited without their having the right to marry.  They've got that now in the entire country, overturning every law and every state constitution in every state that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

I don't want to write about whether this was a right decision.  You can find multiple presentations all over the internet about that.  If you believe in original intent and strict construction, of course it was a horrible decision.  If you believe that we derive our rights from God -- natural rights -- a concept essential to and the understanding of the founding documents of the United States, then you don't believe that there is a right to something unnatural and not created by God.  Government doesn't give rights.  God does.  That truth is foundational to Americanism.  In one sense that is what I'm writing about, because redefining the nature of our rights will in both the short term and long run result in our natural rights not being protected, because we have ceded that authority to government.  We will lose our God-given rights.  That is almost a guarantee, and that does hurt people, but I'm not writing about that today.  I want to consider whether we can decide whether something is right based upon whether it hurts someone else, or even how we decide what does hurt someone else.

As this relates to gay marriage, the point we hear from supporters is, if it doesn't hurt you, why can't you just allow these people to be happy?  That is supposed to sort of clinch it for them.  It works like this -- even if you disagree with it and you don't like it, can't you just leave it alone because it's not hurting anyone else?  Just ignore it and you'll be fine.  Just let it go, act like it doesn't exist.  Why can't you do that?

I treat homosexuals as though they are made in the image of God.  I am kind to them.  As long as I don't bring up what I think of their lifestyle, we get along.  I've found that they like how I treat them as people.  However, I believe that saying nothing about their sin hurts them more in the long run than not telling them.  If they don't repent of their sin, they will be judged for it, and they won't be saved.

Many if not most think that letting things go is the key to the world being a better place.  Letting things go is another way of saying, tolerate things.  It's not harming you, so just tolerate it.  These people want to do this, and they're not hurting you, so just let it go.  I want to consider that.  I get the concept of letting things go.  A biblical term for letting things go might be "forbearance" and other terminology might be "turning the other cheek."  Every single day of living in the United States for me is forbearance and turning the other cheek.   I don't let the sun go down upon my wrath (Eph 4), even though everywhere around me I see violations of my belief and practice.  I let it go.

As an aside, my belief and practice are not tolerated to the same degree that gay marriage is now. You have a gay lifestyle course, even department, in state universities, but you couldn't have a biblical lifestyle course taught there.  I digress.

Years ago now (2003), when the Texas sodomy law (Lawrence v. Texas) was overturned, paving the way to legalization of gay marriage, a big part of the argument was that sodomy occurs between consenting adults in private.  The same justice who wrote the gay marriage opinion, Kennedy, equated liberty with the right to privacy.  "Since these two people aren't bothering anyone else, they should have the right to do that," the argument goes.  Liberty equals being able to do what you want as long as you aren't hurting anyone.

It is my opinion that a big reason for the poll numbers supporting gay marriage is this idea that it isn't hurting anyone else.  These people are not "supporting" gay marriage.  They are not advocates.  They are just saying that they don't care if the government allows it or not, and the major reason is because it isn't hurting them.  Why should they care if these people get married?  It is also my opinion that many of these who "support" it because it's not hurting anyone also "support" it because they think that if they do, those people will leave them alone.  They might be able to stop hearing about it if they get what they want -- a lot of people are this way about a lot of things.  I'm saying that both of these are my opinion, but I also think that you readers know this to be true.  I believe a true poll, precisely worded to get an accurate percentage of "support," would get a very small percentage of actual support.  On top of this, when people hear that a majority are supporting it, these same type of people just resign themselves to it.  Far more people value religious liberty than support gay marriage, and it is the former that is threatened by the latter.  The former is actually in the Constitution of the United States.

One point of this post has been, does gay marriage hurt anyone?  I write about that because I believe that is the fallacy that has yielded the faux support.  Closely related to this question is the argument itself, that is often used, that particular sins are not hurting anyone else, so they should be permitted.  You hear it all the time.

Often these practices do hurt other people.  An obvious harm is to children of same gender parents. Liberals themselves, including the president, argue for the involvement of fathers with sons being a vital component of parenting success, something lost when there aren't two parents (this comes along today to prove the point).  Surely, not having a mother inflicts children with a lack of nurturing, because men are not designed with necessary capability for that.  Justice Kennedy argued that validating gay marriage as marriage was necessary to dignify it as a contribution to the children of these couples.  Even if they were dignified to their greatest extent, they still lack one or the other of the abilities of a man or a woman for the children, so children are being harmed.

Marriage as defined from the beginning correlates to reproduction.  Same gender couples can't reproduce.  Sure, they can find someone else to contribute what one of them is missing, but especially with two men, neither can bear a child, to state the obvious.  If families are necessary for the propagation of the human race, gay marriage can't help with that.  I understand how that the last two paragraphs could seem to contradict.  Shouldn't I welcome the lack of reproduction, since it will harm the children anyway?  Gay marriage won't produce even less than normal or adjusted children.  That lack won't supply missing workers and social security contributors.  The rest of the country must shoulder that loss.

All of the above argues without the benefit of scripture.  The Bible is true and represents a correct view of the world.  This is the Father's world.  He designed it, created it, and sustained it.  When we rebel against what He designed or said, against His rules, we do worse.  We know from scripture that if we allow gay marriage, we have not just already brought His judgment, but worse is to come. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because things were allowed to go this far.  We forfeit certain favor from God when we forsake His ways.  Some relegate this to the mere theological, but it is a true view of the world, as scientific as any science, since this world smacks of God's design.  When we don't fulfill His purpose, we bring about our own destruction.  All of this harms everyone, so it is not true that gay marriage won't bother someone else.

You hear often that these two people "love" each other.  Love is a biblical concept.  It didn't come into American culture through a secular avenue.  It started in the Bible and entered culture from there. It's definition depends on the Bible.  Love is perverted by defining gay marriage as love.  The perversion of love harms many people.  If we can't know what love is or we corrupt it, God won't be loved and others won't be loved, hindering obedience to God's first and second great commandments. Love for God and others buttresses the entire Judeo-Christian ethic.  People don't know how to live without it.  Most people still know that treatment of others, including themselves, will deteriorate. They are hoping they'll be left alone, but deep down they know they won't.  They will in fact be bothered by someone else because of the degradation of values overall.

I'm sure there are more arguments, but this should at least get one started on what might have become the most important point in the gay marriage issue, that is, it's not hurting you or anyone else, so it should be supported.  If people would agree that isn't true, it would be a very small percentage who would support it.

Is, will it hurt us, the only argument that really matters?  Isn't that a narcissistic, self-centered and self-promoting, argument?  Does it bother God?  Is God offended?  Is it not beautiful?  Is it disorderly?  Is it a lie?  Can we support a lie that doesn't hurt anyone?  Or maybe a lie will be justified because it is argued that the lie is more helpful than the truth?  Can something be wrong that doesn't hurt anyone?  Should everything be allowed that doesn't bother someone else?  If something is wrong, could it help?  Do we really want something wrong to be considered not to be bothersome?

Part of the argument, it seems, is that if someone wants to destroy his own life, it shouldn't matter to us.  We should just leave him alone, leave him to his own devices.  If he wants to blow his brain on drugs, just let him, it goes.  This is an argument for assisted suicide.  This is an argument for lessening or lightening the drug laws.  The same type of argument brought about the repeal of prohibition of alcohol.  It does not arise from what will be a successful view of law or values.  It relates all law to relative value and removes it from an absolute value.  There are absolutes.  There is natural law.  It's an admission that we can't know anything beyond what relates to us and our own experience.  Whether someone is bothered becomes the final authority.  In the end, this will diminish all of society.  I assume that it will end in totalitarianism of some kind.  A small group of people, who won't want to be bothered by anything, will make sure that no one bothers them.

I believe we have a lot of practice that does not relate to whether it bothers someone else or not.  We can argue that gay marriage hurts other people, ones not involved in the marriage, but we shouldn't reduce arguments to accepting or supporting something as long as it doesn't hurt me.  I hire a roofer. I buy a particular brand of shingle but he puts a less expensive brand on the roof that is of equal quality.  It can be proven that it won't change anything for me in the long run.  In the end, I don't even know it, so it doesn't matter, because it hasn't bothered me?  That's just one illustration, but our country doesn't believe in that.  I could give you a hundred illustrations like that one, where no one got hurt, but it was still wrong.  We should not justify activity just because it didn't harm or bother someone else.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, You Capitulated On Gender Design Distinction, So Is the Male Skirt a Church Discipline Issue?

I'm pretty sure that when evangelicals and fundamentalists started ignoring women in pants, they did not foresee the male skirt.  It's here now.   Society itself reacted against pants on women.  Even when society started accepting, Christians opposed.  Then Christians accepted, digging for some way to justify the activity.  Society reacted against the male skirt.  What's next?  I think you know, so let's just go there.  This isn't a slippery slope argument.  We're already there.

The arguments for pants on women are the arguments for skirts on men.  Pants were male dress. Skirts were female dress.  The man was the head of the home.  We're just eliminating all that for a totally egalitarian society.  Welcome to the world Gene Roddenberry envisioned.  We have totally evolved now to interchangeable uniforms.

I would guess that this male skirt fashion won't catch on as quickly as female pants did.  Why not?   The skirt is not a symbol of authority.  There is rebellion in the male skirt, but not the same type as pants on women.  Pants rebelled against role, design, and authority.  Today people think that kind of rebellion is good.  The churches don't want to say.  They don't want to get in trouble.  A male skirt is hardly even rebellious.  It's just cool.  It's telling every woman, I'm very fine with your being in charge.  It's the best strategy for getting a girl friend for some guys.

Right up front, I want to say, no one cares.  Most of my readers don't care.  You're ambivalent.  Just admit it.  Men are wearing skirts.  Oh well.  If you do care, I'd wonder about your reason, especially if your women wear pants.

Evangelicalism and fundamentalism both now have a solid reason behind the male skirt.   It won't take anything away from the gospel.  The gospel centered movement says that only the gospel is essential and male skirts are not the gospel.

Sometimes some issue works its way into an essential, like moving the pawn to start a chess match.  It's easy.  Let me give you a recent example.  Al Mohler says that racial superiority is a gospel issue, and he explains how that's the case:  racial superiority is uniquely a gospel issue because it attacks man made in God's image and that, um, reduces the power of substitutionary atonement (just read Mohler on it).  Voila, gospel issue.  It's easy to oppose racial superiority today, and it's easy to call it heresy. For anyone keeping track, that means to Mohler lowering the confederate flag but leaving the statues intact.  Flag down, statues up.  Flags are easy.  The guys on the statues, also with names on buildings, were heretics, but those will stay.  Got it?  These issues can keep moving in and out of essential and non-essential in evangelicalism, all dependent on whatever the world says is important at the time.

Women are welcome in most churches to wear pants.  Most of the time, that's what you'll see.  You don't see men in skirts, but at one time, you didn't see women in pants either.  It's not a gospel issue. I mean, we're made in the image of God, male and female created He us, but the world likes egalitarianism, so this isn't so much a gospel issue, so there we go -- nothing to do with substitutionary atonement this time.

Would the male skirt be a church discipline issue in an evangelical or fundamentalist church?  Would that man be confronted once one-on-one, second by two or three, and then brought before the church for excommunication?  Is the male skirt a gospel issue?

The number one argument for pants on women -- chuckle, chuckle, oh what a silly issue, so why am I even talking -- is both men and women wore robes.  So if men and women both wear skirts, nothing can be said, right?  They both wear pants, so nothing will be wrong if they both wear skirts.  Didn't think we'd get here, did you?  Back to the drawing board.  What will you say to the boy who wants to wear a skirt in your church?  What's wrong?

You can laugh now, but you also never envisioned gay marriage, I'm guessing.  Boys with skirts in your church, that's coming too.  What will you do?

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Lake of Fire: Eternal Torment or Annihilation / Soul-Sleep?

There are many passages of Scripture that are clear that annihilationism, as taught by the Watchtower Society, Seventh-Day Adventism, and other cults, is false.  The Bible clearly teaches the eternal torment of the wicked.  For a general overview of the Biblical teaching on this doctrine, please read Prepare for Judgment and examine the resources here.  In the study below the teaching of the last Word from God to mankind, the book of Revelation, will be examined.

Consider the following texts in the book of Revelation:
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. . . .
20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

20:1   And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11   And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. . . .

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 14:10-11; 19:20-20:15; 21:8).
Revelation 19:20 indicates that the Antichrist and the False Prophet, the leaders of the one-world political and religious system in the future Tribulation period, will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone at the end of that seven year period when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom.  They remain there for a thousand years while the rest of the unsaved dead remain in Hades (20:14-15).  Christ rules over the earth in His Millenial kingdom (20:4-6), and then at the end of that time the final rebellion takes place, Satan being loosed from the bottomless pit where he had been placed for that time (20:7-9) but certainly not annihilated.[1]  Satan and the wicked who join him lose the battle, and at that time “And the devil that deceived [the wicked] was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  Note that the beast and the false prophet are still in the lake of fire after being put in there a thousand years earlier, and from that time forth they “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  The plural verb “shall be tormented” makes it impossible to restrict the reference of 20:10 to the devil alone—clearly, the human political and religious leaders of the one-world system of the Tribulation still exist after being in the lake of fire for a thousand years, and will continue to exist there “for ever and ever,” being “tormented day and night,” being “tormented with fire and brimstone” where “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (14:10-11).

Scripture then asserts that the unsaved dead, those who missed the resurrection to life (20:4-5), will rise for their judgment out of Hades (20:13-14).  They will have their works reviewed and will all be condemned because they all sinned and fell far short of the sinless perfection demanded by God and given freely to all believers as they are justified through faith alone based on the blood and imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:23-28; Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 10:14).  After their judgment they are cast into the same lake of fire where the Antichrist, false prophet, and devil are (20:14-15; 21:8), and all together the devil and the children of the devil, those who were never adopted into God’s family by faith in Christ (John 1:12; 8:44), “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death . . . [and] shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.”

The book of Revelation gives a very clear description of things to come.  Its prophecies will be fulfilled as literally as the prophecies of Christ’s first coming and other already fulfilled prophecies.  The book very clearly reveals that the unsaved dead will be tormented with fire and brimstone for ever and ever and have no rest day or night.  While annihilationist cults like to affirm that “for ever and ever” does not denote literal eternity, all sixty-two times the Greek phrase for “for ever” appears in the New Testament (eis + aion), literal eternity is in view (note the study here).  What is more, Revelation makes very clear that the lake of fire is not a place of annihilation, for those cast into it a thousand years earlier are still there at the end of that time, “and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  Were annihilationism true, the passage above would not be a revelation of truth from God, but a deception from the father of lies, or at least something impossible to understand.  Scripture clearly teaches the sobering truth is that those who do not come to Christ will suffer the second death and be tormented for ever and ever in the lake of fire as the just punishment for their infinite crimes against God.  If you have never been born again, consider that God has given man His Word so that “ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).  Click here to find out how you can be sure of eternal life, saved from your sin, and come into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of being sure to suffer eternally in the lake of fire for your sins.

[1]              Scripture is clear that the bottomless pit is by no means a place where any created being is annihilated:
9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gospel Minimization: Is Paul Saying in 1 Corinthians 15 that the Gospel Is Merely the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ?

Evangelicals gain a larger coalition by first minimizing doctrine, often reducing to the gospel, and once there, second, by minimizing the gospel.  Many argue for unity around the gospel and then negotiate over the essentials of the gospel.  Very often, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 becomes a talking point, because there one can abridge the gospel to the formulaic, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Question, what is the gospel?  Answer, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  That must be right because 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 says it is.

What is Paul saying about the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15?  It is a passage about the resurrection of the body.  The Greeks rejected bodily resurrection and the Corinthians sought some means to consolidate rejection of bodily resurrection with the gospel.  Paul says, "No, can't be done.  If you reject bodily resurrection, then you reject the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is part of the gospel."

The Corinthians then really did find themselves in a situation that evangelicals now find themselves. The world doesn't like aspects of the gospel and evangelicals today seek to adapt the gospel to the world's tastes or philosophies, much like the Corinthians attempted.  You were a Corinthian embarrassment believing in bodily resurrection, so Corinthians tried to reinvent a gospel without the offensive element.

Paul says that when I made known the gospel to you, I didn't leave out bodily resurrection -- I delivered not just death and burial, but also resurrection.  You can't leave out the offensive element and still have the gospel.

There is an irony to how 1 Corinthians 15 is used today related to the gospel.  Paul wrote it to stop minimization, and now his writing is used to promote it.  How many groups can agree on death, burial, and resurrection?  That formula excludes almost no Christian group from preaching a true gospel.  Almost everyone can agree on that.  You don't even have to believe the Trinity for inclusion in the death, burial, and resurrection coalition.

Before twitter ever began, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 already existed as a ready made gospel tweet for gospel minimalists.  Is Paul's point to reduce the gospel to a few words almost everyone could accept?  He was excluding bodily resurrection rejection, which in Corinth was a big group.  He was shrinking the coalition with bodily resurrection truth.

If you read 1 Corinthians in an honest and thinking fashion, you don't stop at verse four.  The punctuation itself says "keep reading."  Paul isn't minimizing.  As you keep reading, because that little two verse presentation isn't stand alone, you get to verse twenty-three and following:

 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

When Paul preached resurrection, he didn't reduce it to a tweetable nominal number of characters. The resurrected Jesus was the coming Jesus, Jesus the Judge, Jesus the King.  In a body, Jesus would deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, put down all rule and authority and power, reign until He puts all enemies under His feet.  All things will be subdued to Jesus.

Did Paul merely make known the few words of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and that was the gospel?  You can't say that.  You've got to keep reading and see that the Jesus they received was King.  That's why the New Testament authors, the apostles, quoted Psalm 110 more than any other Old Testament text. Their Jesus was the Messiah of the Old Testament, the King, the One Who possessed all authority, and Who would put all under His feet.

The Jesus Paul preached died for sins, but He rose from the dead too.  He raised from the dead to fulfill all the other aspects of salvation that should also be and were preached.  He saved not just from the penalty of sin, but also from the presence of sin.  This same Jesus justified but also would glorify. He would reconcile men through His death, but also through His resurrection, saving them at the moment of their justification, but continue saving them in their sanctification and their glorification.

A reason why so many professing Christians don't live the gospel is because they don't know the gospel.  They have their fire insurance, produced through a minimal presentation of Jesus that emphasizes Him as Savior.  They didn't get the other part, the offensive part, that would have resulted in their own exclusion and rejection.  Now they think they're saved, but they're not.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our Church Website and Available Sermons

Our church website doesn't have a tremendous number of bells and whistles, but there's enough there for someone to decide whether we are a biblical church.  We are also preparing to have a very in depth church doctrinal statement there that is a work in progress.  Right now you can see the calendar for the church, a gospel presentation, the times of services, links to other locations tied to the church, and contact information.  Usually about every week, there is a short essay, different and shorter than anything here, that I write that can edify someone who reads.  In addition to that you can get free of charge over 400 sermons, that are usually expositional.  I know 20 more just went up today.  You can listen to them at the site or download them.

At this point you can listen to 37 different sermons from the book of Revelation, 82 from Luke, 70 in 1 Corinthians,  48 Sunday School lessons in 1 Kings and 46 in 2 Kings, and you might be interested in a couple of topical series I did a few years ago on issues and on eschatology.  Pastor David Sutton has series on our site with 47 sermons in the book of Exodus.

Monday, June 22, 2015

John 6: Church Growth Methods and Other Sins, pt. 2

Part One

When we're all done on earth, we will wish we would have paid more attention to what God's Word says, as in passages like John 6.  The Bible isn't a play thing to twist into what we want.  It is the basis for what we believe and do.

At the end of John 6, twenty-five thousand or so followers of Jesus defect from Him.  Leading up to that moment, we can see what caused it and glean from that what characterizes false professors or false disciples.  That teaching should change how followers of Jesus function.

John 6 is there.  It's in the Bible.  No one will be able to say or should say, "I didn't know that," or "Oh really?"  It's not there for entertainment value.  It's a long (71 verses), very informative chapter.  We're required to follow the teaching.  It's pivotal.  Missing it isn't an option.

Here's what really occurs though.  Churches do just the opposite of what John 6 teaches.  Churches and their leaders claim Jesus, and then contradict what He did.  In essence, they say, "He said and did that?  That means to me that I'm going to do the reverse!  I'm going to operate antithetical to Jesus, and yet say it's Jesus!"  Saying it is Jesus is good enough for it to be Jesus any more -- not to Jesus, but enough to get by on this side of eternity until John 6 is vindicated before all.

I want to pick up where I left off in part one to help you understand what I'm writing.  Jesus had pointed out to His followers that He was running away from them because they were following Him, not because of Who He was, but because they wanted more bread.

Today either churches or church leaders don't themselves know Jesus or they offer people reasons to follow Jesus other than Jesus Himself, in direct conflict to what Jesus said and did.  Some of them don't even care any more, because they have become so untethered to scripture.  They treat their ideas that will work above the Bible as their guidance for doing what they do.

Sure, people will attend church or "follow Jesus" for what they want.  Churches and church leaders now think to varying degrees that their responsibility is figuring out what will cause people to come to church and even like it.  What they're saying is, "I know they won't like Jesus, but I do know they like this, so let's do this, and maybe we can connect Jesus to that somehow."  It's the equivalent of wrapping medicine up in tasty dog food, so that the dog will take its medicine.  You know the dog won't like its medicine alone, so let's offer it as dog food.  The dog doesn't have to know it's getting medicine.

Jesus must be offered.  People must come to Jesus.  They must know what they're coming to.  They must value Jesus above these other things.  When we offer the other things, we are diminishing Jesus and elevating those other things above Him.  That doesn't help them.  It hurts them.  But this is what the largest churches in America are doing.  They are offering a version of Christianity to people, that they know people will accept, that isn't really Christianity.  If those people would ever get actual Christianity, which they rarely to never get, they wouldn't like it if they saw it.

Let's go back to what occurs in John 6.  Jesus won't give them another meal, but they are persistent. Churches today would view this as a good thing.  The staff, either hired or volunteering to concoct bad reasons to come to church, would think of themselves as ministers, operating in a heavenly pursuit.  Who can't figure out what will  motivate people?  Jesus knew.  They wanted bread and they tried to manipulate Jesus.

He said they shouldn't be chasing Him around for stuff that perishes, but for the eternal, which was Jesus Himself.  He was the "meat which endureth unto everlasting life," He was "the bread of life." They still thought Jesus was talking about something like a free meal and they wondered what work would be required to obtain that.  They were negotiating with Him.  This is what people do today when they shop for churches.  Which one has what "I want"?  And what "I want" is rock music, programs for the kids, casual dress, lots of humor, little judgment, and a lot of fun.  We're not even talking about bread, which is innocuous in comparison.  Bread was at least neutral, but it was a no-go for Jesus too.  Bread wouldn't get it done with today's fake Christianity, but more like a well made latte or cappuccino.

As you read this, you might think that this misses your church, but a violation of John 6 so characterizes churches today, that what Jesus taught against is what churches are in most cases today, and it is seen in more than the rock-and-roll churches.  You get it with the promotions for kids, the VBS, the slicky brochures with the happy pictures, the composition of the music, the self-help sermons and programs, the emphasis on building or campus, the dating, and the activities.

Jesus said the "work" that will get the eternal bread was to "believe" (vv. 28-29).  They didn't stop. If they wouldn't or couldn't do that "work," then maybe Jesus could do another one, perform a sign for them.  He had just fed 25,000 with a small lunch.  To goad Him into it, they compared Him to Moses. Moses gave them bread every day.  Jesus corrected them.  The Father gave them that bread, not Moses, which was a segue for Jesus to the Bread which comes down from Heaven -- Him.  That's the bread they needed.

You might agree that Jesus is what people need, but is it Jesus Who is offered?  Churches should be giving people Jesus.  Only Jesus.  When they give more than Jesus, they are not following the example of Jesus.  They are violating His example and today with total immunity.  They are rewarded for doing it.  They are the stars of the church today.  They should be ashamed.  They should be repudiated.  Woe is them!

It matters what you offer people.  Offering them something other than the biblical Jesus is against what Jesus did.  It runs the opposite of how Jesus operated.  When you do, you are hurting people.  Most churches are hurting people today.  The world is going down, not just because of the world, but because of the contribution of churches.  Churches are hurrying up the process with how they act.

To be continued.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hannah W. Smith's Mentor in the Sexual Baptism, Dr. Foster; part 18 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

            Dr. Foster, while “a lifelong Methodist,” was “interdenominational” in his religious spirit.[1]  Thus:
Dr. Foster insisted upon . . . [the] chapel [at his sanitarium] . . . be[ing] purely interdenominational spirit and life. . . . He established the custom that the Holy Sacrament should be administered every month, the form for one month being that used by Episcopalians and Methodists, and alternating the next time with the form observed by Presbyterians and others. [People] counted one Sabbath morning when . . . the kneeling form [was administered, and] twenty-six religious bodies [were] represented by those partaking. Following the public service the Chaplain always administered the rite privately in their rooms to those requesting it.[2]
Indeed, Foster’s sanatarium “ha[d] always been noted for its prevailing fairness and charity towards different types of religious belief, [so that] all grades from the highest ritualism to the simplicity of the society of Friends, have felt perfectly at home. . . . [F]requently . . . Roman Catholic Priests and Bishops . . . seemed to appreciate the place and enjoy it.”[3]  Nobody was warned about his false religion, whether the Catholic sacramental and ritualistic false gospel or the rejection of justification by faith alone based on the imputed righteousness of Christ alone taught by the Quakers.  Foster “was never happier than when sharing or promoting interdenominational fellowship.”[4]  Indeed:
All the churches of the village received from [Mr. Foster] substantial help at various times. . . . When the Roman Catholics erected their new Church edifice in 1895, the Doctor made a substantial contribution, and rented a pew in it each year thereafter, which custom is continued to the present. Annual offerings were made by him to all the Protestant churches and that custom is continued to the present.[5]
Mr. Foster loved ecumenical fellowship with false teachers of all sorts.
Dr. Foster’s religious ecumenicalism extended to an ecumenicalism of healing praxis:
“Allopathy,” “Water Cure,” “Homeopathy,” “Mind Cure,” “Faith Cure,” were to him members of a group in the therapeutic family.  He . . . look[ed] for the higher unity, treating each as a segment in the full circle . . . allopathy, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, mental therapy, and the prayer of faith . . . belong[ed] to one great healing family.[6]
Thus, Foster believed in homeopathy, although it was obviously demonic in its origin and practice,[7] in hydropathy, although it was intimately associated with spiritualism and demonism,[8] and in Mind Cure—which was, indeed, associated with Faith Cure—although it was likewise essentially a form of pagan and demonic medicine based upon untestable mystical energies.[9]  The nineteenth century Mind and Faith Cure movements, which were part of the warp and woof of the Keswick theology and at the root of the Pentecostal and charismatic movement, developed out of a common background in mesmerism, vitalism, homeopathy, and other pagan and demonic ideas, and cannot be separated into distinct and unrelated phenomena.[10]  Thus, despite its demonic origin, at Foster’s sanitarium “[t]he prevailing method of administering medicines was homeopathic.”[11]  Dr. Foster “became a hydropathic practitioner, then he saw in homeopathy special adaptation to chronic cases, then he awoke to the large realm of mental therapy.”  He “was profoundly impressed with the effect of mind over matter. The relation of the mind or the spirit to disease, he concluded, was a subject of prime importance. . . . [T]his led to his seeking for a new place where he could establish his practice and work out his ideas unmolested,” that is, his sanitarium, where “he came with a protest and also with a purpose. . . . his highest thought was in relation to the effect of the mind over the body in disease.[12]  Discovery of the power of Mind Cure was “the greatest event in his life.”[13]  Thus, Dr. Foster taught the doctrine of Mary Baker Eddy’s cult of “Christian Science,” which  “aligns itself with . . . pantheistic idea[s] . . . [and teaches that] [s]in is like sickness and death, and these are errors of the mind and can therefore be completely overcome by ‘mind cure,’” so that “thoughts are things, thoughts are forces, and therefore as a man thinks, so is he.”[14]  Dr. Foster, as an important part of the basis for the later Keswick healing theology, combined Mind and Faith Cure, saying:
Take this law and power of faith, and take the law of the influence of mind over the body, and put them together and see what you get.  You get something that will work . . . It was the acceptance of this truth that decided me to try and establish a house where these truths . . . the power of the mind over the body, and the salutary effects of a constant religious faith upon the sick . . . should be enforced.[15]
Foster “was a firm believer in the effect of mind over matter—over disease. . . . [This belief] pervaded the whole institution. . . . Whatever good there is in Christian Science [the cult of Mary B. Eddy], in the Emmanuel Movement, and in modern faith healing he brought to bear in his therapeutics[.]”[16]  Thus, “prayer to God was a force in nature, as real as the law of gravitation,”[17] rather than simply a petitioning of that God who was above nature and does, in accordance with His will, intervene in nature.  In this way, practicing “[m]ental hygiene and mental therapy . . . as well as the great therapeutic value of religious faith . . . the ‘Emmanuel Movement’ at Boston, of which so much has been said with its slogan ‘Religion and Medicine,’ was anticipated by Henry Foster.”[18]  Although the Bible taught that much of Dr. Foster’s practice was demonic in origin, his practices were confirmed to him by a vision.  He stated:
I presented my whole life again to God; the entire interests of the Sanitarium, and my relations with it. While thus contemplating the work, the Holy Spirit came upon me, filling me with His presence, and I saw what seemed to be a rainbow. The base of it was there on [a] mountain inclosing me; it went up to the mercy seat; the other base came down and rested here in Clifton Springs, over the house [sanitarium]. . . . I looked at it, and I saw there were streams going up, and then there were streams going down, and resting upon me. I was re-energized, and so much so that I became astonished . . . that settled me, strengthened me, proved to me that the teaching was from God, and from God alone[.][19]
Surely such a vision was sufficient proof that his pagan and demonic philosophies and practices were acceptable to God.
As a result of Foster’s vision, received at the time of his “pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit”—physical sexual thrills because of erotic bride mysticism—he founded his Water Cure:
[He] saw that his pentecost was not for its own sake, but was given to prepare him for such a work. He prayed, and light came. He had a vision of the institution God would give him,—just as definite a vision as Moses had of the Tabernacle in the Mount; and as Moses was to make all things according to the pattern showed him in the Mount, so God had in vision outlined the work he was to do, and he must follow the pattern.[20]
When Mr. Foster experienced his “real baptism of the Holy Spirit and of power” he also gained “a vision like Paul’s when he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, a call and a commission like that of the prophet Jeremiah, or of Isaiah in the temple—an imperative call when his whole soul was filled and thrilled,” and in this manner the spirit world led him to “the beginnings of the Sanitarium and of this pentecostal baptism” that was both its its erotic origination and an element of its religious proclamation.[21]  At his hydropathic and homeopathic healing house, he sought to bring especially “Christian workers, such as clergymen, teachers, and missionaries who are peculiarly liable to physical and nervous breakdown . . . [that they might] come to his institution and remain long enough for a cure.”[22]  Consequently, “at least seventy or eighty thousand” patients came to the sanitarium, including “presidents of colleges, professors, lawyers, judges, ministers, bishops, all classes of men, literary men and literary women, some of the most renowned in the land. There have been [there] thousands of the foremost cultivated men and women of America, and some from other lands,” so that a vast “spiritual influence,” more, in the mind of some, than from “any institution” else, went out to influence the “intellectual and moral” climate of America,[23] and, indeed, the world, as the sanitarium “bec[a]me a center of missionary interest and activity. Dr. Foster’s invitation to foreign Missionaries of all Mission Boards to come to the Sanitarium for needed rest and treatment, and his concessions as to cost . . . brought hundreds of them.”[24]  Note the Pearsall Smiths alone, but other Keswick leaders, such as A. T. Pierson, could praise “Dr. Henry Foster, of Clifton Springs, N. Y.[,]” for “all who came in contact with him bear testimony to the elevating effect of his spirituality of life” and his “benevolence . . . [to] the cause of missions.”  After all, “for some years the International Missionary Union . . . held . . . [at] Clifton Springs . . . its annual sessions.”[25]  Many came, and, like Robert and Hannah Smith, also left with both Dr. Foster’s love for Faith and Mind Cure and his vile doctrine of physical bridal-union in mystical Spirit baptism.

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]              Pg. 26, Life of Henry Foster, M. D., Founder Clifton Springs Sanitarium, Samuel Adams Hawley.  Clifton Springs, NY: Sanatarium Board of Trustees, 1921.
[2]              Pg. 98, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.  Administering the elements of the Lord’s Supper kneeling supports the Roman Catholic idea that the bread changes into God and is an error, as is giving it to people in private.  The Biblical mandate for unity is that “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).  Such unity is an essential aspect of the Scriptural celebration of the Supper (1 Corinthians 11:18-21; 10:17), but it is impossible among twenty-six denominations with different doctrines and practices—indeed, it is impossible outside the context of an individual true church.
[3]           Pgs. 146-147, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[4]              Pg. 157, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[5]           Pg. 75, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[6]              Pgs. 26, 157, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[7]              See pgs. 263-314, Can You Trust Your Doctor? The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family, John Ankerberg & John Weldon.  Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991;  “The New Age in Health Care,” David Cloud (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, November 3, 2008); elec. acc. Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library.
[8]              Historians generally recognize the association between hydropathy or Water Cure and spiritualism:
In water cure, Spiritualists found a medical system in sympathy with their reform orientation.  Also called hydropathy, water cure was a therapeutic approach imported from Europe in 1843 that relied on the internal consumption and external application of cold water for the prevention and cure of all diseases.  Spiritualists . . . embraced water cure because of its appeal to the laws of nature embodied in each human being as the source of healing and because of the reform principles of its leaders.  Hydropathy relied on the natural curative tendencies of the individual rather than on intervention by an authoritative medical expert. . . . Water cure establishments provided a fertile environment for the development of many of the ideas advocated by Spiritualist health reformers.  (pg. 154, Radical Spirits:  Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America, Ann Braude. 2nd ed.)
Thus, “[a]long with homeopathy and animal magnetism, hydropathy was a favorite cure among the Spiritualists” (pg. 116, Plato’s Ghost:  Spiritualism in the American Renaissance, Cathy Gutierrez).
                Of course, water itself is something God made, and some people who went to Water Cures just liked to get wet, while others were were simply ignorant or dupes of quacks;  not all were intentional devotees of Satan.
[9]              Dr. Foster noted:  “Spiritualism had its birth just north of us” (pg. 33, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley).
[10]            As the Mind Cure and homeopathy, which developed from mesmerism and vitalism, undergirds the Faith Cure in men like the homeopathic doctors Dr. Foster and Dr. Cullis, who were themselves roots of the Higher Life and Faith Cure doctrines of people like William Boardman and Hannah and Robert Pearsall Smith, so Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science developed from the “mind-cure . . . homeopathy . . . mesmerism . . . and the magnetic doctor, Mr. P. P. Quimby,” from whom “she had learned her system.”  “Quimby was . . . the founder of the whole school of Mental-Healers which . . . flourished in America through the . . . half-century [of the late 1900s]” (pgs. 272-274, Counterfeit Miracles, Warfield).  The Mind Cure involved one convincing himself he was not really sick, but perfectly healthy, and believing it was so, because of a healing Power;  the Faith Cure likewise involved one convincing himself that he was not really sick, but pefectly healthy, and believing it was so, because of a healing Power.  The Faith and Mind Cures were by no means two separated and unrelated phenomena, but were the same fundamental error and two names or emphases of one and the same movement.
For more information see, e. g., James Monroe Buckley, Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena (New York: The Century Co., 1898); Paul G. Chappell, “The Divine Healing Movement in America” (Ph. D. diss., Drew University, 1983); Heather D. Curtis, “‘The Lord for the Body’: Pain, Suffering and the Practice of Divine Healing in Late-Nineteenth-Century American Protestantism.” (Th. D. diss., Harvard University, 2005).
[11]            Pg. 57, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.  Foster’s brother “Dr. Hubbard became an avowed and pronounced homeopathist,” and, naturally, Foster had “intimate association with his brother, Dr. Hubbard” (pgs. 17-18, ibid.).
[12]            Pgs. 169-170, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[13]            Pg. 169, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[14]            Pg. 161, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 4: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Herman Bavinck.
[15]            Pgs. 23-25, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[16]            Pgs. 174-175, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[17]            Pg. 90, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[18]            Pgs. 22-26, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[19]            Pgs. 54-56, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.  Foster stated that his vision “was a mental thing, of course, but it was a reality to me” (pg. 55, ibid.)
[20]            Pg. 27, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley; see pg. 33.
[21]            Pgs. 18-21, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[22]            Pg. 27, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[23]            Pgs. 140-141, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[24]            Pg. 81, Life of Henry Foster, Hawley.
[25]            Pgs. 230-231, The Modern Mission Century Viewed as a Cycle of Divine Working, Arthur T. Pierson.  New York, NY:  Baker & Taylor Co., 1901.  The closer the contact, the higher the elevation, no doubt.