Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Case Study in the Practical Consequences of Evangelical Bibliology

The story I'm going to tell is quite ordinary.  Many in the world think they are experts now at textual criticism, because the word is out -- the Bible has errors in it.  Not everything in it can be counted upon.  Maybe you're thinking, "It does not have errors in it."  But that is what evangelicals and many fundamentalists say.

I was out evangelizing last Wednesday before our Bible study and prayer.  I talked to a youngish single mother at her door.  Of course, I was preaching the gospel.  I asked her if she knew she was saved, sure she had eternal life.  She said, "Yes."  I asked how she knew, and she paraded her accomplishments.   In the midst of the give and take, I communicated to her that as I listened, I based my judgment of what she said on the Bible.   Scripture taught something different about salvation than what she said.  At that juncture, she said that she didn't trust everything the Bible said because parts of it had been changed.  So I then asked her how she knew that, that the Bible had errors in it. She just did.

"She just did" isn't a good answer for me, but it was where she was.  She didn't have total confidence in the Word of God.  She believed parts of it were true, but that she couldn't rely on all of it.

As I listened to her, I recognized this as a new norm in the psyche of those who might care enough even to listen and then answer a question about the Bible.  She had a very subjective type of faith that's fine with a feeling she trusts more than the Bible.  I explained to her that the Bible doesn't have errors, because God inspired it.  You see, a lot of people don't have trouble with the idea that God gave His Word, but they're not convinced He's kept it intact.  I told that God also promised to preserve it and that we can count on God for its preservation.

Anyway, I spent some time pumping up the Bible with all sorts of scriptural arguments in addition to giving her a brief gospel presentation.  But most professing Christians have relinquished the idea that we have a perfectly preserved edition of the Word of God.  She's got plenty on which to lean on that front.

It was easy for me to think about evangelical arguments for trusting the Bible, despite its errors.  It's a supernatural book, the Bible, and part of that is that God expects us to believe the doctrine of it despite no hope that we are reading exactly what He inspired.  And we can overcome our doubt by thinking about textual evidence.  Sure, corruption has occurred, but not enough to destroy doctrines. No doctrine has been changed, and then if we compare all the copies, there is a lot, a lot of agreement.  We basically know what it is, good enough that we can trust all of its teachings.  No teachings have been lost.  We can't count on the Words, but that's the beauty of it.  God has chosen to use a slightly broken thing to do something wonderful.

I didn't give her the contents of that last paragraph, because I don't believe it.  I told her what God's people believed before the 19th century, that is, God promises perfect preservation, and we can count on that promise.  But evangelicals and fundamentalists have provided reasons to doubt.

I also imagine evangelicals reading this post.  God has worked in amazing ways to give us what we have.  We should be thankful for the overwhelming wealth of manuscripts.   All the Words are most surely in there -- not actually surely (wink, wink) -- in the preponderance of the hand written copies (do you have a manuscript with the original of 1 Samuel 13:1?  No, but we're still not lying.).

What I'm writing about here is directly related to reassessing and redefining inerrancy.  Evangelicals adapt to save the faith of some, to protect from creating more Bart Ehrmans after they've dug a little deeper.  And if you're going to fudge there, then it's also permissible to accept some latitude on the meaning of faith and more.  So it's no wonder, if someone is looking for faith, he can skip the scriptural type and embrace something more subjective, based upon a personal experience with the Holy Spirit.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Questions on Repentance from a Prominent Preacher

A prominent preacher asked me the following questions concerning the Biblical doctrine of repentance some time ago in connection with my study on the subject here.  I thought that his questions and the response he received might be of benefit to the readers of What is Truth, so I have posted them.

His questions:

Is the salvation decision two steps or one?  Are repentance and faith two distinct acts of the will or are they two sides of one coin?

Must the word "Repent" be part of every valid Gospel appeal?

Is repentance a decision confined to the matter of salvation, or is it a concept applicable to many issues?

Fundamentally, is repentance of sin a promise to do better, verified by doing better?  Will repentance alone change a life, and how much?  Is the sinner sick and in need of a doctor, or can he get rid of his sin by simply repenting of it?

Doesn't the Greek word for repentance really mean a change of mind, based on its etymology?

Does true repentance include deep sorrow for sin, or does godly sorrow lead to repentance?

My response:

The salvation decision is certainly one step, one of turning from sin to Christ as Lord and Savior.  

The word “repent” is not necessary in every Gospel appeal (Acts 16:31) in the same way that the word “believe” is not necessary in every Gospel appeal (Acts 3:19).  My own practice is that I will essentially always use “believe” or a synonym in giving the gospel, and I will essentially always use “repent” or a synonym also.  

Certainly repentance is applicable to many issues, just as faith has to do with many things in addition to justification.  

Neither repentance or faith will change a life, but coming into union with Jesus Christ will always change a life, and one comes into union with Christ by repentant faith, and one who does not want to be changed will not be brought into union with Christ because he does not really want the Savior.  

The word metanoeo/metanoia sometimes, but not always, meant an “afterthought” that might or might not result in any change many hundreds of years before the NT was written, but that sense does not exist in the NT and, as far as I can tell, in the literature of early Christendom. We recognize that a word can change very dramatically in meaning in, say, 800 years; we do not assume that what a word meant in Beowolf is what it means in modern English.  A detailed English dictionary will trace the history of words back to the times of Beowolf, and then Chaucer, etc., but we see what a word means today by its use in modern times, not by how it was used in Old or Middle English.  When we look at the many uses of metanoeo/metanoia in the NT and in Koine Greek, the word means what all the lexica say—in the first century NT, in contradistinction to what the word meant many hundreds of years earlier, the word means what a standard lexicon such as Louw-Nida says:  “[T]o change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness — ‘to repent, to change one’s way, repentance.’ . . . Though in English a focal component of repent is the sorrow or contrition that a person experiences because of sin, the emphasis in metanoeo and metanoia seems to be more specifically the total change, both in thought and behavior, with respect to how one should both think and act. Whether the focus is upon attitude or behavior varies somewhat in different contexts. . . . Though it would be possible to classify metanoeo and metanoia in [the category of words for] [t]hink[ing], the focal semantic feature of these terms is clearly behavioral rather than intellectual.”  

True repentance includes sorrow for sin if we are speaking about the Hebrew nacham and the Greek metamelomai, and godly sorrow leads to repentance if we are speaking about the Hebrew shub and the Greek metanoia; all four words are translated as “repent” at various points in the KJV.

Readers who want to see an example of how to explain repentance in an evangelistic encounter are encouraged to examine the study here or the video here, as well as the evangelistic Bible study here. The theology of repentance is explained here as well as in many articles at What is Truth, and is stated well in many standard Baptist confessions of faith.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Is Prohibition of Alcohol Demonic?

In less than five minutes, I can finish looking at the websites I view almost daily.  From there, I might read what I find therein.  In today's case, I went to SharperIron, to its blogroll, and saw the headline for Andy Naselli, so I clicked on it.  A colleague where he teaches, Joe Rigney, wrote a book, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts.  The theme sounded interesting, because I too wonder often about the purpose of various of these good things on earth besides the potential of idolatry.  At what point have we moved from enjoyment to idolatry?  When do we know?  The book is available to the point of exploration according to the supposition of Joe Rigney.

Rigney points to his greatest influences:  Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Lewis, John Piper, and Douglas Wilson.  It's too bad that Edwards is lumped with the other three, but I get it.  Piper has hijacked Edwards some to mean what he says and Wilson takes that thought even further.  And we get to booze. Alcohol consumption takes the stage of the discussion like the clown at a rodeo.  At the bottom of Naselli's post, he links to a two part presentation by Rigney on "Should Christians Drink Alcohol?"  I do hesitate in linking to his talk, because there are vulnerable people out there begging to justify their imbibing.  I go ahead and link for the sake of fairness.  I decided to start listening as I supped and swallowed some soup for lunch.

Joe Rigney offered four possible positions on alcohol from right to left:  prohibition, abstention, moderation, and abuse.  He explained each of those, parking for awhile to offer the reasons why Christians abstain (the second position).  From defining the four, he lopped off the two outside positions as unchristian, saying that prohibition is demonic, taking 1 Timothy 4:1-5 as proof, and that abuse is damning, referring to a few texts that anathematize drunkards.

For sake of consistency and symmetry, I didn't like "abuse" as a position.  I'm going to help Rigney out here with dissipation for a fourth category.  Plus, abuse doesn't sound like a position.  You may as well leave it off completely, because no one takes it as a "position."  And then he lumps prohibition and abuse together like strange bedfellows.

When you hear Rigney talk, he speaks with severe articulation at prohibition and with sympathy toward abuse.  He gets very stern in his denunciation of prohibition, leaving behind measured tones. I think these types of evangelicals are more angry at prohibition than they are drunkenness.  What does that say for them?  He excoriates prohibition as demonic with a feathery brush stroke of 1 Timothy 4:1-5.  He doesn't establish by any means that what Paul is writing there should apply to alcohol. This is what might be termed, "preaching to the choir."

I'm thinking, "Woe, woe, woe, woe, woe. Wait uh minute. That doesn't prove anything."  And Rigney is done with 1 Timothy 4:1-5 and moving on.  Prohibition is demonic, point said, point proved. You've got to ask, "Did God create alcohol?"  Like one might ask, "Did God create the ebola virus?"  I know God has allowed these things, which is different than creating them.  Even further, did God create distilled beverages?   That makes me start to laugh over Rigney's stunning ease at flicking away prohibition as unchristian.

When you call a position on alcohol, "prohibition," you need to know that you are associating it with the constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the United States from 1920 to 1933.  It isn't easy to amend the Constitution.  We've done it only seventeen times since 1791.  There was widespread support for prohibition in 1920 in the American population, what Rigney would call "demonic."  More laughter ensues.

I wasn't motivated to write this post until I heard Rigney call prohibition "demonic."  Until then, I could have remained somewhat ambivalent to what he was saying, even curious.  I think believers do need to learn the right approach to God's good creation in relation to Christian service.

This post answers a very specific question prompted by Joe Rigney, "Is prohibition of alcohol demonic?"  He uses 1 Timothy 4:1-5 as a proof text.

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

The demons are in v. 1, "doctrines of devils."  Apostates are seduced by doctrines of devils, prohibition being that doctrine (so says Rigney), so prohibition lies on the road to apostasy.  Apparently, Satan wants to use prohibition of alcohol to damn men's souls.  In contrast, promotion of alcohol ostensibly leads toward eternal life.

The error Paul addresses in the proposed text rejects good things God Himself created for beneficial reasons.  God created marriage and created meat for men to enjoy.  How controversial are marriage and meat in evangelicalism?  Those are at the root of the argument against the false doctrine Paul exposes.  Paul is rejecting the asceticism that was part of the philosophical dualism in Ephesus and other Greek cities.  They thought they could achieve some elevated kind of spiritual existence by denying themselves material things.  You still see this in modern religions, and this can seep into and influence Christians, as in the examples of celibacy and monasticism. The apostasy comes with the denial of true spirituality found through the work of Jesus Christ and in favor of our own work of self-denial.

Is denying alcohol a form of asceticism?  Is this an example Paul would have in mind?  To help yourself understand better, replace prohibition of alcohol with prohibition of crack or crack pipes or heroin or crystal meth. Is denying crystal meth a form of asceticism that could drag someone into a denial of Christ's finished work?  Is meth just another element God created for all men to enjoy? From what I've read, meth is a stress reliever, helps someone get through boring jobs more easily, and boosts creativity, so perhaps Rigney could have kept rolling right into other "created" substances.

Are there physical things on earth that should be denied, based upon bad inherent qualities?  God created everything, but does that mean that sin has had no impact on creation since then?  Is everything innocent since the fall?  I believe that what Naselli calls a 'skillful answer' to the question, "Should Christians drink alcohol?" is actually a horrible answer.  The biblical position is "prohibition," and yet Rigney labels that demonic.  When you call the right answer demonic, you haven't done a very skillful job of answering.  Rigney said he was very serious about "demonic," something that men often say when they're afraid of not being taken seriously -- this time for good reason.

Ephesians 5:18 starts, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess."  The phrase "wherein is excess" translates four Greek words (en ho estin asotia) that could be translated literally, "in which is dissipation."  Ho ("which," "where") is a relative pronoun that requires an antecedent.  "Wine" (oinos) is masculine and singular and ho, the relative pronoun, is masculine and singular.  The antecedent agrees in gender and number.  "In" the wine itself is the dissipation, the profligacy, the debauchery, the meaning of "excess" (asotia).   How could that be?  Didn't God create everything for man to enjoy?

There are no other possible referents for ho than "wine."  If in contradiction to Greek grammar, ho referred to "drunk," inferred in the infinitive "to be drunk" (not a noun), Paul (and God) would be saying be not drunk with wine, wherein is drunkenness, making Paul (and God) redundant.  In drunkenness is drunkenness. Yes, I see.  Good point, Paul.  Incisive.  In drunkenness is drunkenness. That's not what Paul was writing.

Yes, God created everything for man to enjoy.  But not everything exists for man to enjoy. Everything has been spoiled or corrupted by sin to some degree.  Rigney's view is a simplistic and superficial view of prohibition that deserved more than his condescending brush-off -- actually worse, because he calls it demonic during his brief dismissal.  The Corinthians argument for fornication was meats for the belly and belly for meats (1 Cor 6:13).  This seems to be closer to the Rigney argument against prohibition.

In the wine itself is excess, not just in the abuse of it.  "Abuse" doesn't work as a category if the excess is in the substance itself.  Anyone knows that there are things we shouldn't eat or drink.  They are dangerous or deadly.  If you know what oinos is, you know that Jesus could turn water into an acceptable form of it.  The kind that causes drunkenness is prohibited by scripture.  When wine is alcoholic, it is prohibited (Prov 23:31).  It no longer exists to be enjoyed.

By calling prohibition demonic, Joe Rigney will encourage alcohol and reap drunkenness.  It isn't a skillful argument from scripture, but a perversion.  May everyone see it for what it is.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Conservatives and Free Speech

Whoever first said "be careful what you wish for," it applies to conservatives and the embrace of so-called "freedom of speech" in relationship to Charlie Hebdo  and the terrorist murders in France. Conservatives don't get equal time for their views on campus.  They can't get jobs in Hollywood.   Their books don't make the Pulitzer list.  And calling terrorism Islamic has been hate speech. Creation can't be taught anywhere.  If you deny global warming, you won't be allowed to take that position in any official capacity.  I was at a jam packed town hall meeting here about social security years ago and someone from our church, who linked a shortage of social security tax to abortion, was booed and hissed and mocked into silence.

Is it worth it for conservatives to use Charlie Hebdo for hypocrisy as a tool to shame liberals into allowing them to speak?  Liberals haven't been shouted down at a state university until they opposed Islam, mainly out of their atheism.  They can't be credible in opposition to hate speech against Islam and support for Charlie Hebdo.  I know this is why conservatives link to liberals making anti Islam diatribe.

I heard Salman Rushdie say that he knows you don't believe in free speech if you say, "I believe in free speech, but."  He says there are no "buts" in free speech.  There have been "buts" in free speech, but they've all been conservative.

Free speech has become a political apparatus, like the term "racist."  Liberals say almost any objectionable or outlandish epithet under their notion of free speech, and it continues.  They have opposed speech against Islam, that is, Charlie Hebdo speech.

When I say, be careful what you wish for, I mean, be careful wishing for more Islam bashing, because for every profanity of Mohammed, you'll start hearing ten for Jesus -- no more tamping down blasphemy against God.  Since you can insult the Koran, you can say whatever you want against Christianity and pull the Charlie Hebdo card.

But then, is the liberal free speech position a conservative position?  Even further, should Charlie Hebdo and its profane and puerile cartoons constitute free speech, even in liberal France?  Adopted during the French Revolution in 1789, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in Article 11 state that

The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

Certain speech can be denied in the United States.  The Federal Communications Commission does not allow certain language over the airwaves.  It is illegal based upon obscenity laws.  Some books are prohibited even by the public school.  No one is allowed to say just whatever he wants.   That has always been a conservative position on speech.

With the loss of an absolute standard for right and wrong, the total takeover of moral relativism, you can't judge offensive speech.  In the absence of a final, controlling authority, you allow whatever people want to say.  Everything must be legal, every form of God bashing included.  It reflects a lawless society.  Be careful what you wish for.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hannah W. Smith, Spiritualism, Universalism, and the Rise of Keswick: part 7 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

            As already noted, Mrs. Smith declared that her universalist heresy and other heresies were key to her work as a Higher Life preacher and Keswick founder:
[T]hese very views, and the frank confession of them . . . were the means of opening the way for some of our most important and successful work. . . . [the] meetings in the interests of the Higher Life, or, what I prefer to call it, the Life of Faith. . . . [A] company of leading Evangelical[1] ladies . . . were to decide as to whether it would be safe for them to endorse me, and lend their influence to the work. . . . I [declared my belief in] the universal hope . . . the moment I ceased speaking . . . [I was invited to] come and have some meetings . .  . not a word of disapproval was uttered, and . . . [the way] was thrown open to us for our first conference, which . . . proved to be the entering door for all the future conferences, and for our whole after work in England and elsewhere. . . . [M]y views on restitution . . . made the way for me in many places that would otherwise not have been open . . . without it I should have been shorn of half my power.”[2]
Hannah elsewhere explained her rise to Higher Life preacher in England in more detail, revealing that not universalism only, but spiritualism also—familiar intercourse with demons—was key to her exaltation as a famous Higher Life preacher and the founder of the Keswick theology.  First, before beginning to preach the Higher Life, she sought Quaker approval for her teaching:
Robert [Smith] . . . seems to expect nothing else but that I will plunge into the work [of Higher Life agitation] with equal zeal, but I have not felt any guidance as yet in reference to it, except in the direction of the Friends [Quakers]. . . . I really could not consent to do it unless the Friends had first heard me, and were fully alive to the purport of my message.  [A Quaker leader] therefore proposed, and we agreed, to invite a number of Friends to come to our house . . . to hear one of my lessons[.] . . . I burn to see this glorious life of faith becoming once more the realized experience of my dearly loved [Quaker] Society.[3]
At this meeting, the critical incident was Hannah’s declaration of her belief in universalism, which brought her the support of the famous noblewoman and spiritualist Mrs. Mount-Temple, also known as Mrs. Cowper-Temple,[4] who attended both Quaker meetings and spiritualist séances with her husband.  Mrs. Mount-Temple narrated:
[T]he critical . . . incident at this meeting [took place while] Hannah was sitting in a little circle of excellent orthodox friends [Quakers], who had assembled to hear some of the good things that she had to impart, and she was there on examination.
        She happened to have seen a funeral in the street, and as she spoke of it, we all put on the conventional look of sadness.  “Oh,” she said, “when I meet a funeral I always give thanks for the brother or sister delivered from the trials and pains of this mortal state.”  “How wonderful,” I thought, and I could not help exclaiming, “Is that possible?  Do you feel this about everybody?” . . . She stopped and looked around. . . . [It was] a time when the universal hope was deemed a heresy, and she was on her trial.  She owns that she went through a few moments of conflict.  But truth prevailed, and looking up, with her bright glance, she said, “Yes, about everybody, for I trust in the love of God.”  I yielded my heart at once to this manifestation of trust and love and candour.[5]
Logan Pearsall Smith described his mother’s critical confession of universalism in more detail:
[S]he could not, she avowed to the assembled company, believe that the God she worshipped as a God of love was capable of such awful cruelty [as not to take every single person to heaven];  sinners, of course, He punished, but that He had decreed that their torments should be unending was to her a horrible belief. . . .  [T]he company was on the point of breaking up in confusion when from the depths of the great drawing-room there floated forward, swathed in rich Victorian draperies and laces, a tall and stately lady, [Mrs. Cowper-Temple,] who kissed my mother, and said, “My dear, I don’t believe it either.”
        This dramatic moment was . . . a turning point . . . since, if it had not occurred, our family would no doubt have soon returned to America[.] . . . For this lady who thus intervened and took my mother under her protection was, as it were, the queen of evangelical Christians;[6]  and her acceptance . . . [and] corroborat[ion] of [Mrs. Smith’s] view of Hell . . . afterwards confirmed by that of her husband, William Cowper Temple, silenced all opposition and no further objections were suggested . . . [since the] Cowper Temples, owing to their great wealth and high position, were by far the most important people in the world in which [Mr. and Mrs. Smith] were, so to speak, on trial.[7]
Mrs. Mount-Temple was delighted in Hannah W. Smith’s confession of universalism—she declared that it was “what strongly drew me to her that day”[8]—as was Mr. Mount-Temple, who “partly believe[d] in Mahomed, Vishna, Buddha, the Pope, the Patriarch . . . [and] love[d] high, low and Broad Church.”[9]  The couple were of one mind in religious matters.[10]  Thus, because of Hannah W. Smith’s frank confession of universalism, the Mount-Temples threw their powerful influence behind her and her husband.  With such patronage, and the help of the demons conjured in the Cowper-Temples’s séances, the Pearsall Smiths were exalted to their position as leading Higher Life preachers, and the founding of the Keswick theology became possible.
The Mount-Temples were the owners of the Broadlands estate where the foundational precursor Conference to the Keswick Conventions was held, and the fundamental innovations of the Keswick theology on the older orthodoxy were set forth.[11]  Broadlands was a receptacle for amalgamating many mystical heresies and spreading such newly minted concoctions onward;  for instance, both the Catholic “Bernard of Clairvaux” and “profound saying[s] . . . of Druidic philosophy,” uttered, perhaps, between Druidic acts of human sacrifice,[12] were welcome at Broadlands.[13]  As Hannah W. Smith saw her doctrine of the Higher Life in the ideas of Buddhism[14] and Hinduism,[15] so the Higher Life proclaimed at Broadlands and affirmed by the Mount-Temples was not that only of Roman Catholic mysticism, and other unregenerate mystics within the Judaeo-Christian tradition, but even that of overtly pagan Eastern mysticism:
From very early times, and especially in the countries of the East, there have been men and women who have sought . . . [to] ponder the nature and duties of true life, to be alone with God, and learn to know and worship Him.
        Buddha and his followers in India, the Essenes among the Jews, and the early Christians of the third and fourth centuries, who from Rome and many other cities fled to the deserts of Egpyt . . . [medieval] anchorite[s] . . . [dwellers in] monastic settlements . . . [h]ermits . . . perfect m[e]n . . . [possessed] spiritual power . . . [that] gave them force and initiative[.] . . . Men and women who lived thus were revered, trusted, and consulted during their lifetime, and honoured, and sometimes worshipped, after their death. . . . The Roman Catholics have their “Retreats” under a spiritual director, the . . . Anglicans of the English Church have their “quiet days,” the Quakers their Conferences[.] . . . Surely these practices, during so many ages and amongst such diverse peoples . . . point to a true instinct rooted deeply in human nature, one which is referred to and sanctioned in the Holy Scriptures . . . the felt need . . . [to] reach after the highest possibilities of life. . . . The Conferences at Broadlands came about this way.[16]
Indeed, for Mr. Mount Temple, a poem praising the Muslim Allah, including the confession “La Allah, illa Allah![17] . . . expressed better than anything he knew his own thoughts and feelings.”[18]  Universalism and religious syncretism were the foundation of the close friendship of Hannah Smith with Mrs. Mount-Temple and her husband.
The Mount-Temples also found enchanting and attractive the Quaker rejection of a judicial justification solely by the imputed righteousness of Christ and the associated Quaker Higher Life doctrine of sanctification by faith alone preached by the Smiths.  Mrs. Cowper-Temple narrated:
William [Cowper-Temple] was deeply interested in the experiences of which [Hannah W. Smith] and her husband had to tell us.  We had been brought up to try to hold the forensic view of justification by faith;  but of sanctification by faith we had never heard, and it seemed to us that, though the meaning of the two terms [justification and sanctification] might be identical, it enabled us to look at the doctrine in a new light . . . for who could really care about being merely accounted righteous?  [W]hile to be made righteous . . . seemed something worth hearing about.[19]
Mr. and Mrs. Cowper-Temple’s support for Mrs. Smith and her husband, because of Hannah’s universalism and the Smiths’ Quaker repudiation of the gospel by confusing justification and sanctification, led to Hannah and Robert’s exaltation to the central position as Higher Life preachers—their “fame spread from Broadlands.”[20]  The 1874 Conference at Broadlands that came about because of Hannah’s confession of universalism and repudation of justification and the gospel was the “initiatory [Higher Life] Conference . . . [and] the starting-point for those that followed . . . and which, but for this one at Broadlands, would never have been held.”[21]  That is:
[B]ut for this spectacular intervention, [the Smiths] might never have taken to preaching in England . . . [I]t was the worldly greatness of [Hannah’s] new friend which saved H. W. S. . . . Lady Mount Temple . . . [was] a hospitable leader of the evangelicals[22] (Broadlands became almost a second home to the Pearsall Smiths)[.] . . . The religious conferences at Broadlands, where H. W. S. often preached, became famous. . . . [T]he house . . . was filled to the attics and many of the guests overflowed into the inns . . . [f]amous people attended, in the company of others less famous.[23]
Along with the weighty patronage of Mrs. Cowper-Temple, “the Friends . . . were unanimous in wishing [her] . . . to give them a series”[24] of Higher Life lessons, and Mrs. Smith’s fame as a Higher Life preacher had consequently begun, with the “Mount Temples [as] ardent supporters of the Smiths.”[25]  As a result, “the good Cowper Temples . . . inaugurate[d] a series of such [Higher Life] meetings,” the first and following, Broadlands Conferences, those key initial precursors and supports of the Keswick Conventions.  “Lady Mount-Temple . . . initiated the Broadlands Conferences in 1874 where one might find, at the same gathering, a preaching Negress, a Quaker, a Shaker, an atheist, a spiritualist, an East End Socialist, and a prophet of any sort at all.”[26]  At these Broadlands meetings Mr. Smith “was an acceptable preacher . . . but [Mrs. Smith], beautiful in her Quaker dress, with her candid gaze and golden hair, was given the name of ‘the Angel of the Churches,’ and her expositions . . . attracted the largest audiences, and made these gatherings famous in the religious world.”[27]  Hannah W. Smith, who was present at the first, the last, and most of the Broadlands Conferences in-between,[28] truly epitomized the Higher Life as presented at Broadlands and its successor Conventions at Oxford, Brighton, and Keswick.[29]  From the first Conference in 1874, the root of all the subsequent Higher Life and Keswick movement[30] and a pinnacle of Higher Life teaching,[31] participants generally recognized that they “received the clearest and most definite teaching” from Mrs. Smith’s preaching there,[32] just as she set forth the Broadlands and Keswick doctrines in her “books, which are well known.”[33]  Many at Broadlands could testify:  “She was to me the most inspiring . . . figure . . . amongst those who addressed us.”[34]  She led countless multitudes of unregenerate individuals at Broadlands to feel happy, “sunny, and joyful” as she pointed them to the ease and rest of the Higher Life.[35]  The Cowper-Temples kept up the Broadlands Higher Life Conferences annually, spreading the Higher Life with Hannah W. Smith, as well as supporting the Oxford Convention[36] and other subsequent Higher Life gatherings, until “Lord Mount Temple’s death at Keswick.”[37]  Truly, through the work of the Pearsall Smiths and Mount Temples in the birthing of the Higher Life theology proclaimed at Keswick and in other ways, “[t]he results that followed on the Broadlands Conferences were widespread and various”—indeed, “it is difficult to measure them,” for they are truly incalculable.[38]

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]              Again, Mrs. Smith has a very broad definition of “evangelical.”
[2]           Pgs. 196-228, The Unselfishness of God.  While much of this excerpt was reproduced earlier, the specific connection between Mrs. Smith’s universalism and her rise as a Higher Life preacher is here more clearly brought out and noted.
[3]              Pgs. 21-22, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to Sarah Beck, January 22, 1874.
[4]              The “Mount Temples” were the “Cowper Temples” for the reasons, likely related to adultery and immorality, described on pgs. 45-46, Unforgotten Years, Logan P. Smith.  William Cowper Temple inherited Broadlands in 1865, at which time he became Lord Mount Temple;  he possessed the estate until his death in 1888.  See pgs. 22-23, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  The designations “Cowper Temple” and “Mount Temple” are generally employed in this composition as synonyms rather than with reference to specific periods in the life of the husband and wife. 
[5]              Pgs. 27-28, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith;  see pgs. 116-117, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[6]              That such an unconverted heretic and spiritualist as Mrs. Cowper-Temple could be viewed as “the queen of evangelical Christians” illustrates the utter absence of spiritual discernment in these “evangelical” circles where the Keswick theology was born.
[7]              Pgs. 44-46, Unforgotten Years, Logan P. Smith;  cf. pgs. 27-28, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.
[8]              Pg. 116, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[9]              Pg. 6, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[10]            Pg. 27, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[11]            While the first Keswick Convention followed the first Broadlands Conference as a continuation of Broadlands teaching, not the first Broadlands Conference only, but also the following yearly Broadlands Conferences profoundly impacted the Keswick Convention and its theology.  The presence of many of the same Higher Life preachers at both events, and comparable themes and goals at the two meetings, contributed to a close symbiotic relationship.
[12]            For example:
[T]he Gauls . . . [w]ithout the Druids . . . never sacrifice. . . . [A]s to their modes of sacrifice and divination . . . [t]hey would strike a man devoted as an offering in his back with a sword, and divine from his convulsive throes. . . . It is said they have other modes of sacrificing their human victims; that they pierce some of them with arrows, and crucify others in their temples; and that they prepare a colossus of hay and wood, into which they put cattle, beasts of all kinds, and men, and then set fire to it. (pg. 295, The Geography of Strabo, Strabo, 4:4:5)

The nation of all the Gauls is extremely devoted to superstitious rites; and on that account they who are troubled with unusually severe diseases, and they who are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims, or vow that they will sacrifice them, and employ the Druids as the performers of those sacrifices; because they think that unless the life of a man be offered for the life of a man, the mind of the immortal gods can not be rendered propitious, and they have sacrifices of that kind ordained for national purposes. Others have figures of vast size, the limbs of which formed of osiers they fill with living men, which being set on fire, the men perish enveloped in the flames. They consider that the oblation of such as have been taken in theft, or in robbery, or any other offense, is more acceptable to the immortal gods; but when a supply of that class is wanting, they have recourse to the oblation of even the innocent. (Gallic War, Julius Caesar, 6:16).
[13]            Pgs. 88-89, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  The particular profundity of the Druids discussed is both an affirmation of the Inner Light, that “God manifests Himself . . . [and] His word is uttered . . . [in the] human spirit,” and a rejection of the Biblical fact that the church, the congregation of saints, is the temple of God (Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Timothy 3:15).  For the Druids, only nature and the human spirit are allegedly such temples.
                Perhaps since the word “Druid” appears to be derived from the Old English word for “tree,” and the Druidic philosophy had much alleged good in it at Broadlands that deserved to be accepted, apparently pantheistic affirmations (though not entirely clear because of their terseness) at Broadlands such as the following were less surprising:  “Christ is everywhere.  The blessing in everything reveals Him.  Trees, one of the earliest symbols of God, worshipped” (pg. 213, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  Italics in original.  There certainly is no hint of condemnation of tree-worship in the context, and pgs. 211-212 suggest that it is considered acceptable in at least certain situations.).
[14]          Mrs. Smith stated that her spiritual “secret” was inquired about by “Siddartha” (Letter to Anna, February 5, 1880, reproduced in the entry for October 2 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter), that is, “Siddartha Gautama” or Buddha, founder of Buddhism.
[15]            E. g., concerning the Hindu mystic Chunder Sen, Mrs. Smith stated:  “I have read Chunder Sen, and do feel just like sailing for India to see him. What a grand revelation that man has had! It stirred me to the very depths. . . . I know the ‘I am’ he knew [the pagan Hindu ‘I am.’]” (Letter to Anna, September 11, 1879, reproduced in the entries for September 22-24 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).
[16]            Pgs. 5-16, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  While Jackson’s description of the parties above is overwhelmingly positive, unspecified “false ideals of life and religion” are mentioned (pg. 11).
[17]            That is, the shahada, the most important article of faith for Muslims, the recitation of which is the means through which people convert to Islam.  Modern transliteration of the shahada is usually slightly different than what was employed in Edwin Arnold’s poem and referenced by Mr. Mount-Temple.  The second half of the shahadah was not specifically quoted.
[18]            Pg. 169, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.  The poem Mr. Mount-Temple loved so well, as excerpted in his wife’s Memorials, was Edwin Arnold’s “After death in Arabia.”
[19]            Pgs. 116-117, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.  Italics in original.
[20]            Pg. 57, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith; cf. pg. 120, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple, for Robert P. Smith’s impulse in the initiation of the Broadlands meetings.  Note also that the 1874 Broadlands Conference, the one that initated the Oxford, Brighton, and Keswick Conventions, was, as Mrs. Mount-Temple testified, the pinnacle of the spirituality of Broadlands (pg. 118, ibid).
[21]            Pg. 135, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[22]            Again, “evangelical” is very, very loosely defined, so that a heretic such as Mrs. Smith was considered one.  Mrs. Smith was  an “evangelical” in that she was not a High Church Anglo-Catholic.
[23]            Pg. 28, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  At Broadlands Logan P. Smith notes that one of the speakers “taught that sin was a disease” (pg. 28, ibid), perhaps a reference to the Faith and Mind Cure.
[24]            Pg. 22, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to Sarah Beck, February 7, 1874.
[25]          The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, ed. Dieter, entry for December 30.
[26]            Pg. 7, The Letters of John Ruskin to Lord and Lady Mount-Temple, ed. John L. Bradley.
[27]            Pgs. 48ff., Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith.
[28]            Pgs. 48, 160, etc., The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[29]            Pgs. 122ff., The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[30]            Pg. 135, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[31]            “‘Each Conference,’ said Lady Mount-Temple, ‘had its distinctive character and charm, so that it was often said, ‘Surely this is the best we have had.’ I think, however, that none brought out such intimate revelations of spiritual experience as the first, or seemed more to make each one present to understand the meaning of the communion of saints,[’”] (pg. 134, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910) including, of course, in Lady Mount-Temple’s view, the dead saints that still communicated with the living through spiritualistic séances. 
[32]            E. g., pgs. 122-123, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910. Cf. pg. v.
[33]            Pg. 123, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[34]            Pg. 48, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[35]             Pg. 2, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910; cf. pgs. 134-135.
[36]            Thus, for example, Mr. Cowper-Temple’s endorsement and support of the Oxford Convention was gladly accepted and publicly printed and proclaimed;  see, e. g., pg. 32, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.
[37]            Pg. 53, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.  The Broadlands Conferences ran yearly from 1874 to 1885 (cf. pg. 141, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890;  pg. 1, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  Lord Mount Temple died in the town of Keswick, not during a Keswick Convention meeting.
[38]            Pg. 245, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Fundamentalist Repulsion of Christian Worldview

Only a righteous man, a regenerated child of God, understands the world, its history, present, and future.  Man's thinking was corrupted by the fall and without salvation, he doesn't grasp God's intended purpose and plan.   After creation, God mandated raising a family and earning a living through the words "be fruitful," "multiply," "replenish the earth," "subdue" and "have dominion."  He never rescinded that mandate after the curse, only that those two responsibilities would occur with sorrow.  Sin would make it harder, but both still had to be done according to God's command.

Since sin made God's cultural mandate impossible without redemption, He built into the curse the promise of redemption.  The seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent.  The image of God in man, common grace, and the providence of God do allow men to accomplish deeds in line with God's directive, but they fail at the root objective of glorifying Him.

Christians are redeemed to fulfill God's mandate.  Only true believers know or even can know what that is.  God alone is the source of the universe, of His created order, the origin of the laws of physical nature, which we study in the natural sciences, the source of the laws of human nature, as well the principles of morality, justice, aesthetics, and logic.  We are the ones who have something to say about and to contribute to life on earth.

The need for redemption brought an evangelistic purpose to the mandate.  God loves the world.  But God continues to fulfill His pre-fall, pre-curse purpose through that redemption.  Redemption is a means to an end.  God is to be glorified.  He will be glorified, because He will redeem a people to Himself who will glorify Him.  The mandate must be fulfilled still.

To fulfill the mandate, Christians cannot divide the sacred from the secular and forsake every institution on earth but the church.  The church is pivotal in this age.  God's will gets accomplished through the church, but in the world, believers are there still fulfilling the mandate God gave them. The lives of believers should revolve around the church, but they are lived out in the world.  Since this is God's world, believers know best what it's all about and should stay engaged in informing of and transforming in God's position.

This post is about fundamentalism, but fundamentalism has been better overall than evangelicalism in fulfilling the mandate.  That's a very big subject that would take too long in this post, but I'll say what is wrong with evangelicalism.  Evangelicalism has morphed to the world system, in so many ways mimicking the world as a strategy.  I was reminded of this today when I saw an online clip of Tim Tebow reading a nasty tweet about him on the Jimmy Kimmel show.  Rather than revealing the mandate to the world as God intended it, the evangelicals adapted it as a plan of infiltration.

Fundamentalism was an era of my life from 1974 to about 1995.  I think that I understand it very well, now looking from the outside.  Fundamentalists started their own schools and colleges and separated everyone from the world.  The work in the world became meaningless.  All that had meaning was the church.  They so separated themselves from everyone that they left everything in the world, every institution to the godless.  This was not the story of early American Christianity. Christians had their influence everywhere.  They were the historians and the teachers and the philosophers.

Fundamentalism forsook the public square, when only Christianity understands this world.  The reason nobody gets it is because nobody is there to get it.  As time went on, sadly fundamentalism has begun to take on more of the world and taken on the evangelical strategy.

You can't think of hardly a fundamentalist thinker, writer, author, artist, or composer that matters.  Fundamentalists completely forsook God's mandate through an extreme and unbiblical type of separation.  Even if Christians have lost the impact God desires, they can still have an impact.  I think it's too late for the country, but it doesn't mean that it isn't something that Christians should still be doing, that is, revealing to the world God's truth, goodness, and beauty about everything.