Friday, March 27, 2015

Hannah W. Smith, erotic "Spirit baptism" and the occult: part 12 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

            The broadness of the Mount-Temples’s views embraced not only Irvingism, continuationism, and broader spiritualism, but even and especially the filthy religion of the occult perfectionists and free-love practicioners Thomas Harris and Laurence Oliphant,[1] since spiritualism and sexual immorality were the natural handmaids of each other.[2]  As Hannah and Robert P. Smith adopted the doctrine that the baptism of the Spirit was associated with erotic thrills, so the only way to receive the true Spirit Baptism was through sexual immorality, taught Oliphant as Harris’s disciple.  “Laurence Oliphant, together with his disciples, actually carried out, to the utmost possible extent, the practices of which Robert Pearsall Smith was suspected.”[3]  However, only those initiated into the Higher Life were brought into these depths of Satan;  publicly Harris and Oliphant were more vague, as were the Smiths.  Nevertheless, Oliphant held that “sexual passion was the only real spiritual life.”[4]  Oliphant explained to Mrs. Smith, and to many others, at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Cowper-Temple, his unspeakable abominations.  Hannah W. Smith explained:
[T]he Baptism of the Holy Ghost, [which we were to] seek the experience [of] for ourselves. . . . was to be the aim of our desires.  . . .  Mr. Oliphant . . . told me that he believed my husband was called to enter into and propagate the views he held, and he urged me to beg him not to stop short of the full consummation. . . . “Come and get into bed with me.” . . . I asked him if it were not possible to lead people into this glorious experience he spoke of without personal contact.  He said no, it was not.[5]
Such was the Higher Life Harris and Oliphant spread with the patronage of Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple.
It was Mr. Mount-Temple’s seeking to “gathe[r] all the good he could from spiritualism” that led him to make the acquaintance, his wife explained, of Harris and Oliphant.[6]  Mrs. Cowper-Temple, who was especially attracted to Oliphant[7] because of his turn from materialism to spiritualism after necromantic contact with his dead father,[8] narrated concerning the dirty duo:
[N]o one . . . ever attracted William [Mount-Temple] more . . . [than] Mr. Harris. . . . It was through him we became much allied with Laurence Oliphant, whom we first met at Broadlands . . . All there were interested in him.  [Oliphant had] turned his back upon all and went off . . . to find God under the guidance of Mr. Harris. . . . [H]e always said he owed everything to Mr. Harris. . . . [Laurence] married [one from] our house [that is, one from the Cowper-Temple household], who was of one mind with himself . . . upheld by the hope of bringing others [by sexual contact] into the new and higher life . . . [They resided] with us at Broadlands [among other places].[9]
The Mount-Temples “considered joining . . . Harris [and] his cult in New York State,” but they decided instead to simply make their “home at Broadlands a haven for . . . Harris,”[10] from whence they “might help in [the] unfolding”[11] of the spiritual Kingdom of which Harris was the messenger.  From Broadlands Harris and Oliphant could propagate their ideas and seduce others into the Higher Life of sexual immorality and the thrills of the erotic Spirit Baptism, for Mr. Mount-Temple was zealous to promote such spiritual growth in all those whom he could influence from Broadlands.[12]  The Mount-Temples founded the Broadlands Conferences, the root of the Keswick Conventions and the capstone of their personal spiritual quest,[13] for the purpose of promoting such Higher Life theology as that of Harris and Oliphant, and the special spiritual Baptism that accompanied it:
These [Broadlands] Conferences were established . . . to seek the outpouring of the Spirit[.] . . . A meeting . . . of universal character, all speaking as the Spirit moved them, not of doctrines or of systems, but of the wonderful things of God. . . . In 1874 a few persons were led together on this new basis . . . their participation in the same desire to lead a higher and deeper Christian life.[14]
People sought “a tangible sign of the Spirit,” and received “ten times more [than they] expected” in his “felt presence.”[15]  Mr. and Mrs. Smith were consequently invited by the Cowper-Temples to lead that first fateful conference at Broadlands in 1874, that others also might enter into that same Higher Life and Spirit baptism that they four had experienced with all its physical thrills.[16]
Hannah W. Smith was well aware of the spiritualism and the immoral abominations practiced and propounded by the Mount-Temples.  She wrote:  “Lady Mount Temple is about as sweet as a human being can be.  But she is a spiritualist, and told me that nothing had saved her from absolute infidelity but the proofs she had seen in spiritualism of a life in another region . . . she . . . had so much Scripture on her side[.]”[17]  Hannah Smith believed “so much Scripture” was on the side of Mrs. Mount-Temple’s spiritualism despite the clearest and direst warnings against this demonic practice in texts such as Deuteronomy 18:11 and Isaiah 8:19.  Thus, Hannah Smith allowed Mrs. Mount-Temple to introduce her to numerous spiritualists and mediums, and they sat under their teaching together.[18]  Was it not good that Mrs. Mount-Temple had been kept from agnosticism[19] and atheism through the close communion with Satan and his devils into which she was brought as she engaged in familiar intercourse with demons pretending to be dead people who had come back from the grave?  However, notwithstanding her preservation from agnosticism and atheism at the time, at a later time “Lady Mount Temple” began to “rav[e] against God one minute, and d[id] not believe there is any God the next minute.”[20]  Furthermore, “Lady Mount Temple could never grasp the difference between right and wrong;  when no cruelty was involved she couldn’t see why people should not do what they like”[21]—why they could not, as Hannah advised, “always . . . do the thing they really and seriously wanted to do . . . and . . . with a good conscience.”[22]  That such advice could lead to the most monstrous iniquities, and extreme lasciviousness, was apparent.  Indeed, Mrs. Mount Temple’s “family, the Tollemaches, were a wild family, much given to misbehavior” that led many of them into “disgrace,” as a result of which they would be invited to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Mount Temple for a while.[23]  Mrs. Mount-Temple’s “only answer” when confronted with the fact that a servant of hers named Sarah, “under the almost intolerable domination” of whom she had fallen, “was the mother of a large family of illegitimate children,” was:  “‘I am so glad poor Sarah has had some fun.’ . . . [A] charge of misconduct made no impression.”[24]  Indeed, Lady Mount Temple even “wrote . . . a friendly letter . . . [to] Oscar Wilde [while he] was out on bail between his two trials . . . inviting him to pay her a visit,”[25] although Wilde was a notorious and serial pedophile, and his two trials were connected to his despicable sodomizing of countless boys and men.  Lady Mount Temple also thought—as her conection with Laurence Oliphant makes most unsurprising—that it was “incomprehensible and silly” that Mr. Smith was removed from his leadership of the Keswick Convention[26] after the Brighton meetings because of his espousal of erotic bridal mysticism:  “If these good people wanted to kiss each other, what, she wondered, could be the harm in that?”[27]
Despite, or perhaps because of, Mrs. Mount-Temple’s spiritualism, damnable heresies, immorality, and rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Mrs. Smith could write to her:  “I think of you as . . . sitting in a bower of heavenly love . . . our true and only [l]and is the beloved and beautiful will of God, which environs us all everywhere and in everything.”[28]  Indeed, Mrs. Smith was happy to have fellowship with a variety of other spiritualists also,[29] as well as receiving prophecies from occult palm readers.[30]  It is unsurprising that Hannah felt that there was “something occult about”[31] the powers that assisted her preaching ministry.  She was certainly not an enemy of the Satanic spiritualism of her great Higher Life patrons.
With the Mount-Temples,[32] Mrs. Smith fellowshipped with Laurence Oliphant, that spiritualist, perfectionist cult leader, and free-love practicioner.[33]  Oliphant taught the doctrine which had already been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Smith some years earlier, and was publicly proclaimed at the Keswick precursor Convention at Oxford, that Spirit baptism brought erotic sexual sensations,[34] although Mr. Oliphant affirmed with greater clarity[35] that the actual entertainment of lustful and vile passions in acts of shameful immorality was the key and the only way to receive Spirit baptism.  It was essential, Hannah knew, to receive a post-conversion Spirit baptism,[36] for only after the Baptism does one really become a temple of the Holy Spirit and have His indwelling.[37]  And, in truth, it certainly would not be surprising if a supernatural spirit made the body of someone who received the erotic bridal Baptism his dwellingplace.[38]  In any case, Mr. and Mrs. Smith were not alone in receiving patronage from the Mount-Temples;  Oliphant also was received in the like manner and given a stage upon which to proclaim his filthy abominations.[39]  Mrs. Smith wrote about their meeting:
I went to Dorking to join Lord and Lady Mount Temple at a friend’s house there to meet Laurence Oliphant. . . . He . . . has come over to England on a mission to propagate a sort of mystic spiritualism of a most peculiar kind. . . . After dinner Laurence Oliphant read us a long paper . . . [t]he next morning, however, he unfolded his ideas to me . . . similar teaching had [been adopted by] a great many good people[40] in America.[41]
Her letter dramatically understated matters;  as other writings of hers, which she would not allow to be published until after her death, and the deaths of all those involved in the events, indicated:  “Readers of her [Hannah Smith’s] Religious Fanaticism will recognize the moderation of this letter, for, as she there frankly reveals, Laurence Oliphant, together with his disciples, actually carried out, to the utmost possible extent, the practices of which Robert Pearsall Smith was suspected,”[42] speaking of the doctrine that Spirit baptism was associated with sexual thrills, and engaging in practices suitable to such a confession;  for Oliphant held that “sexual passion was the only real spiritual life.”[43]  In her more forthright and posthumous description of her visit with the Mount-Temples to sit at the feet of Oliphant, Mrs. Smith wrote:
On one occasion I was invited to go with two friends of mine . . . to meet Mr. Oliphant.  In the evening, after dinner, Mr. Oliphant read us a paper about some mysterious experience that he declared was the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, and was the birthright of everyone;  urging us to seek the experience for ourselves. . . . I scented out what he meant;[44]  but one of my friends did not, and she was profoundly impressed with the mysterious reference to some wonderful “it” that was to be the aim of our desires.  When he closed the paper, she said in her sweet, childlike way, “What would’st thou have me to do in order to gain this?”  Immediately he coloured up to the roots of his hair, and said, “I could not tell you in this company.”  It flashed into my mind that if he had answered her what was really in his mind, he would have said, “Come and get into bed with me.”  However, nothing more was said then, and we separated for the night, but I was convinced from the behaviour of our hostess and her daughters that they had been more or less initiated into the mystic rites of this new religion.  The next morning Mr. Oliphant asked for a private interview with me, in which he told me that he believed my husband was called to enter into and propagate the views he held, and he urged me to beg him not to stop short of the full consummation.  I asked what the full consummation was.  He said, “You noticed the question that was asked me last night?  Do you know what I would have answered?  I did not tell him what I had thought, but asked him, “What would you have answered?  His reply was, “If I dared to I would have said, ‘Come and get into bed with me.’” . . . I asked him if it were not possible to lead people into this glorious experience he spoke of without personal contact.  He said no, it was not.[45]
In addition to contact with Oliphant through the Mount-Temples, Hannah Smith had contact with the sect of Oliphant’s father in his filthy faith, Thomas Harris,[46] although she professed, at least in public, that she did not adopt either of their views.  However, it is clear that she sought out, learned, and “knew personally about” Oliphant’s sect and Harris’s sect,[47] while reading some of Harris’s writings and lending them to others.[48]  On Mrs. Mount-Temple’s request, Hannah even visited Harris’s colony in California.[49]  Since Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple made their “home at Broadlands a haven for all sorts of prophets of new religious and utopian experiements, including the American Thomas Lake Harris . . . [and] his cult in New York State” and they seem to have “considered joining [his] American group,”[50] Mrs. Smith’s exposure to and fellowship with Harris and Oliphant is not surprising in the least.  Indeed, although he may be difficult for her to understand, “Harris” is definitely “in his senses,” as Hannah knew, a fact validated to her by her friend, the New Thought teacher Mrs. Caldwell, who considered his writings “very advanced truth”—and Hannah knew that Mrs. Caldwell was also certainly “in her senses,” with “plenty more people, too” who found Harris and his abominations attractive.[51]  Filthy fanatics like Oliphant were some of the people[52] Mrs. Mount-Temple introduced to Mrs. Smith.  Through Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple, Hannah W. Smith was both influenced by spiritualism and other forms of demonic activity, encouraged in the doctrine of erotic bride mysticism being promulgated by her husband and adopted, for a time, by herself also, and exalted to be the most important leader of the Higher Life movement, so as to become the founder of the Keswick theology.



This entire study can be accessed here.




[1]              Perhaps the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple “loved to prove that faults are but twisted virtues” (pg. 141, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple) contributed to the facility with which they adopted the ideas and practices of Harris and Oliphant.
[2]              The connection between sexual immorality and spiritualism is clearly evident historically, so that the Broadlands doctrines of an erotic Spirit Baptism and of familiar intercourse with demonic spirits are naturally connected.  For example:
Mr. T. L. Harris, once a Spiritualistic medium, testifies that the marriage vow imposes no obligation on the Spiritualistic husband. They have been known to abandon their own wives, and prefer the company of those of whom the spirits told them that they had a closer spiritual affinity to them. Mrs. Woodhull, elected three years in succession as president of the Spiritist Societies in America, often lectured in favor of free love; and advocated the abolition of marriage (“forbidding to marry”), stigmatizing virtue and responsibility as the two thieves on the cross. She said: “It was the sublime mission of Spiritism to deliver humanity from the thraldom of matrimony, and to establish sexual emancipation.” (pg. 178, “Modern Spiritualism Briefly Tested by Scripture,” The Fundamentals, Pollock, 4:12).
[3]              Pg. 86, A Religious Rebel:  the Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.
[4]              Pg. 223, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[5]              Pgs. 225-226, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[6]              Pgs. 107ff., Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[7]              “Oliphant, Laurence (1829-1888).  Author; born in Cape Town, Africa, in 1829. Lord Elgin made him his private secretary in 1853, and in 1865 he was elected to Parliament, but he resigned in 1868 in obedience to instructions from Thomas L. Harris, leader of the Brotherhood of the New Life, a spiritualistic society of which both Oliphant and his wife were members” (pg. 4316, Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History, B. Lossing, Ed.  Medford, MA:  Perseus Digital Library, elec. acc. Logos Bible Software).
[8]              Pg. 108, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890; pg. 18, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982; cf. pg. 21.
[9]              Pgs. 108-109, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.  Compare pg. 87.
[10]            Pgs. 6-7, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[11]            Pgs. 108, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890. 
[12]            Cf. pg. 109, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.  What the Cowper-Temples termed spiritual growth might, by those who hold to Christian orthodoxy, perhaps be better termed cancerous growth. 
[13]            Pg. 115, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890. 
[14]            Pgs. 115-116, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890. 
[15]            Pgs. 127, 148, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.  Italics in original.  Note the reference to bridal union with Christ a handful of lines after the quotation from pg. 127 on the top of pg. 128.
[16]            Pgs. 116ff., Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890. 
[17]            Pg. 67, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to Priscilla Mounsey, January 10, 1883.
[18]            E. g., pg. 27, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982; a goodly amount of the material in Mrs. Smith’s Religious Fanaticism came from the fellowship with spiritualists and mediums she partook of with Mrs. Mount-Temple.
[19]            Likewise, in a letter to Mrs. Mount-Temple, Ruskin indicates that the conversations with the spirits of the dead that have been raised up through spiritualistic necromancy have also convinced him “that there is a spiritual state” (Letter 13, pg. 36, The Letters of John Ruskin to Lord and Lady Mount-Temple, ed. John L. Bradley).
[20]            Pg. 132, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to her daughter, Mary Costelloe, October 3, 1896.
[21]            Pg. 47, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith.
[22]            Pgs. 155-156, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith.
[23]            Pgs. 48-49, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith.  Logan Smith illustrates the wild behavior of Mrs. Mount Temple’s family with one relative who had left her husband for an adulterous relationship, and who consequently “had been placed under Lady Mount Temple’s roof.”  There, along with exhortations to some kind of morality, Mrs. Mount Temple composed a letter to send to the man the lady was committing adultery with, so that he could come and join her, as the adulteress was “feeling so lonely without” the man for whom she had betrayed her holy vows to God and her husband (pg. 48, ibid).
[24]            Pg. 49, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith.
[25]            Pg. 47, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith.  Compare Hannah W. Smith’s receipt of revelation from seeing Oscar Wilde on pg. 170, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to her Daughter, Mary Berenson, November 10, 1904.
[26]            Robert Smith also thought that he would be able to continue to lead the Convention and expected “encouragement to continue his ministry” after his confession of teaching erotic bride mysticism (pg. 36, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck).
[27]            Pg. 65, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearasall Smith.
[28]            Pgs. 105-106, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to Lady Mount Temple and Mrs. Russell Gurney, October 3, 1889.  Logan Smith comments:  “Mrs. Russell Gurney, Lady Mount Temple, and H. W. S. formed themselves as a holy band” (pg. 105, ibid).  “Emilia Gurney was among Mrs. Cowper-Temple’s best friends . . . [w]ith Hannah Smith these three ladies called themselves the “Trins,” a holy band comparable to the five mystic birds of ancient Philadelphia.  Mrs. Gurney was at least sympathetic with Mrs. Cowper-Temple’s interests . . . [in] spiritualism . . . and acquainted with members of the spiritualist circle, including Mrs. Acworth” (pgs. 121-122, Christmas Story:  John Ruskin’s Venetian Letters of 1876-1877, John Ruskin, ed. Van Alan Burd.  Cranbury, NJ:  Associated University Presses, 1990.
[29]            E. g., pgs. 155-156 of A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith, record her letter to her daughter Alys Russell of January 24, 1903, where Mrs. Smith discusses her time with a spiritualist named Podmore, who saw spirits materialize and talk with each other, and who believed that both Cardinal Newman and Napoleon appeared to him.
[30]            E. g., pg. 128 of  A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith, records her discussion of the prophecy of a “Palmist” in her letter to Mrs. Lawrence of May 12, 1895.  She claimed that she was skeptical of his prophecy.
[31]            Pg. 133, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.  Letter to her Daughter, Mary Costelloe, October 29, 1896.
[32]            Compare the references to the Mount Temples on pgs. 310 & 313 of The Memoir of the Life of Laurence Oliphant and of Alice Oliphant, His Wife, by Margaret Oliphant, William Blackwood & Sons:  London, 1892.
[33]            For example, during Mr. Laurence and Mrs. Alice Oliphant’s “missionary” work in the Middle East, “Mrs. Oliphant felt compelled into high-minded but unreticent intimacy with Arabs, ‘no matter,’ as H. W. S. writes, ‘how degraded and dirty they were’” (pg. 86, A Religious Rebel:  the Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith). Mrs. Smith enjoyed reading “some of Mrs. Oliphant’s books” (pg. 196, A Religious Rebel:  the Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to her Daughter, Mary Berenson, February 14, 1908.), referring to the works of Laurence Oliphant’s cousin, Mrs. Margarent Oliphant, who wrote the Life of Irving, a biography of that earlier continuationist fanatic and heretic, Edward Irving.
[34]            The author begs the pardon of the reader for reproducing such blasphemous trash as the following examination of Mrs. Smith’s confusion of the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit of God with sexual sensations.  Although it is so unbelievably ridiculous and appalling, it constitutes a key part of the historical development of the nineteenth century Higher Life and Keswick doctrine of sanctification.  It consequently seemed necessary to this writer to reproduce at length the evidence that Hannah W. Smith, her husband, and others adopted it, that the reader might not dismiss the facts as impossible because of their evidently Satanic, fanatical, and delusional character.
[35]            At least Oliphant was clearer, and the doctrine adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Smith somewhat more moderate and less crude and vile, if Mrs. Smith’s declarations are to be believed—that is, if she did not wish, in describing the erotic Spirit baptism espoused, experienced, and promulgated by both Robert and herself, to make her family and her own person look better than they actually were.  Only if what she wrote about herself in this connection was nothing but unvarnished and brutal truth, to be conveyed without diminution to the public, was Oliphant’s teaching worse than the Pearsall Smiths’s views.  However, the historical record provides clear evidence of Hannah “adjusting” and distorting the facts to cover up and mitigate her and her husband’s adoption and promulgation of the erotic Baptism doctrine.  Oliphant himself publicly proclaimed only a vaguer version of his doctrine, concealing the real depths of Satan in his teachings from the masses—he reserved them for those he privately initiated into immorality.
[36]            Compare her explaining her own receipt of a post-conversion Spirit baptism and her call to the Ladies Meeting at Brighton to do so also on pgs. 376-377, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.
[37]            Hannah wrote that through “the baptism of the Holy Ghost” one received “the full indwelling of the Spirit, whereby we become, not judicially, but really and actually the temples of the Holy Ghost, filled with the Spirit!” (Journal, April 29, 1868, reproduced in the entry for April 15 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).
[38]            It is noteworthy that leading Pentecostal historians connect their doctrine of gibberish-speech as the essential evidence of Spirit baptism with Hannah and Robert P. Smith’s doctrine of erotic thrills in Spirit baptism (cf. pg. 51, Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan;  pg. 64, “Wesleyan-Holiness Aspects of Pentecostal Origins:  As Mediated through the Nineteenth-Century Holiness Revival,” Melvin E. Dieter, pgs. 55-80 in Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Synan; cf. pgs. 84-85, A Theology of the Holy Spirit:  The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness, F. D. Bruner, for the Pentecostal “passion . . . to know even physically” that they have received the Baptism).  Supernatural spirits can indeed possess many unconverted people who receive such Baptisms.
[39]            See, e. g., Letters 59, 96, 118, 121, pgs. 117, 181, 223-224, 228-229, The Letters of John Ruskin to Lord and Lady Mount-Temple, ed. John L. Bradley.  Note also the discussion of Thomas Harris and his writings in Letter 112, 121, pgs. 212-214, 228-229.
[40]            Mrs. Smith does not specify who these “good people” are in her letter;  they included her husband and herself, who both adopted the erotic Spirit baptism heresy from the “good” Dr. Foster in America, and also many others, some of whom are described in her book Religious Fanaticism, which she allowed to be published only after her death and the death of all parties mentioned in it.  In her letter, on the contrary, she affirms that she told Oliphant:  “I told Oliphant of the dangers which I saw in his teachings[.]”
[41]            Pgs. 85-86, A Religious Rebel:  the Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to her friends, Dorking, August 1, 1886.
[42]            Pg. 86, A Religious Rebel:  the Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.
[43]            Pg. 223, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[44]            Mrs. Smith knew of what Oliphant spoke for she had herself adopted, with her husband, the erotic Baptism doctrine years earlier.
[45]            Pgs. 225-226, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[46]            Pgs. 213-239, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[47]            Pg. 219, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[48]            Cf. Letter to Sister, July 28, 1881, reproduced in the entry for October 28 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[49]            Pg. 112, Christmas Story:  John Ruskin’s Venetian Letters of 1876-1877, John Ruskin, ed. Van Alan Burd.  Cranbury, NJ:  Associated University Presses, 1990.
[50]            Pgs. 6-7, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982.
[51]            Letter to Sister, July 28, 1881, reproduced in the entry for October 28 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[52]            Oliphant was by no means the only deluded fanatic Mrs. Mount-Temple introduced to Hannah W. Smith.  For example, Mrs. Smith wrote:
As usual Lady Mount Temple is full of interesting things, and today she introduced me to a mysterious creature, a man he looked like, who is the leader of a strange sect called the “Temple,” and who declared to me that he had not slept a wink for 8 years, but had every night got out of his body and travelled around the world on errands of service for the Lord!!  He declared that he sees angels as plainly as he sees men, and knows them all apart, and that Michael has light flaxen hair, and Gabriel dark eyes and hair, and they all live in the sun! (pg. 102, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to her friends, June 10, 1888)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Missionary Prayer Letter: An Evaluation

On a regular basis, a missionary sends me his e-prayer-letter.  Here is a recent one without some of the identifying details and extraneous information:

1. . . . . A number of decisions were made at the end of the service.  [Name] returned to church.  She now lives and works in [Place].  She realized her need to be saved, but did not have time to remain after the service.  Please PRAY for her salvation as she plans to return next Sunday.  Please PRAY on for [Name], to be saved. 
2.  Our family journeyed again this afternoon to [Place], where I preached for the evening service.  God is stirring the embers of revival there after a three year lull.  Christians are witnessing again and the recipients of their witness are softening.  This new moving of the Holy Spirit is in response to the church people getting closer to the Lord and each other.  Please PRAY for God to do a deeper work in the church. 
3.  . . . . Please also PRAY for  the Lord to bring many visitors for Easter Sunday.

I don't want folks attempting to guess whose this is, because I don't want that to be the issue; however, when I read it, I saw an opportunity to look at some issues in real life among independent Baptists.  I'm going to start with number two.

2nd

2.  Our family journeyed again this afternoon to [Place], where I preached for the evening service. God is stirring the embers of revival there after a three year lull.  Christians are witnessing again and the recipients of their witness are softening.  This new moving of the Holy Spirit is in response to the church people getting closer to the Lord and each other.  Please PRAY for God to do a deeper work in the church.
First, do we have any biblical basis to judge a church has gone dormant, the coals cooling, and the fire going out, until God begins stirring the embers after three years of inactivity?  This does not describe God's working in the Bible, but it is Keswick and second blessing language.  For various reasons, churches may not obey scripture like they should, which is parallel with not submitting to the Holy Spirit.  However, God doesn't stop working in the life of a believer.  He is God Almighty with all the power of the universe.  Sanctification is an ongoing process for a believer and does not operate with lulls.  It progresses.  Lulls are not three years.

If a church is made up of believers, each of them is indwelt by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  1 John 3:6-9 says:

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Believers do not go into perpetual states of disobedience.  God's Spirit remains in them and they cannot habitually sin, that is, sin as a lifestyle, because they are born of God.  Those who continue in sin have not seen him, neither known him -- they were never a Christian in the first place.  The explanation is a lack of conversion.

Next, he writes, "Christians are witnessing again and the recipients of their witness are softening."  In the context of this paragraph, one assumes that something is occurring in the way of God working that was not occurring before.  Very much in line with the former sentence about God stirring the embers, God is doing something He was not doing for three years, which includes the softening he describes.  I'm assuming he means that hearts that were hard are now being made soft because of some effect of this new stirring of God.

Then he says this is a "new moving of the Holy Spirit. . . . .in response to the church people getting closer to the Lord and each other."  Every believer already possesses the entire Person of the Holy Spirit.  This "new moving" language, again, is not biblical language.  Sure, on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit moved, moved from Heaven, where Jesus had arrived, to earth where Peter was preaching.  After He moved to earth, He stayed.  In 2 Peter 1:21, "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."  In creation, the Spirit "moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2).  None of these are still happening though and they are experiences that no one should be expecting or looking for.

The Holy Spirit doesn't hold us hostage to getting "closer to the Lord and to each other" in order to move.  We don't have a price to pay for the Holy Spirit to move -- praying through, sacrificing, or just really, really wanting it.  We've got all of it the moment we are converted.  You can't get any closer to the Lord than that.  If we are obedient to God's Word or filled with the Spirit, we will see fruit of the Spirit, but that is not the embers being stirred and people's hearts being softened.  None of this reflects biblical sanctification or a presentation of it.  It is the language that I read in Charles Finney and Phoebe Palmer and the higher life movement.  It originated with them.

3rd

3.  . . . . Please also PRAY for  the Lord to bring many visitors for Easter Sunday.

Is this what it takes for a church to grow?  People can pray for more visitors to come on a Sunday, and if they do pray this, more will come?  If that is the case, why not make your way through the phone book and pray for every person in your area to come to church?  When you pray for many, how many does that mean?  If they don't come, why don't they?  This is not a biblical example of prayer or work for God.

What is significant about Easter Sunday for visitors?  I recognize that traditionally this is when more visitors will come when invited, because unbelievers might still come to church when it's Easter or Christmas.  However, God doesn't "bring visitors."   It isn't a prayer that you should expect God to answer and if you can't pray it in faith, you shouldn't pray it.

1st

1. . . . . A number of decisions were made at the end of the service.  [Name] returned to church.  She now lives and works in [Place].  She realized her need to be saved, but did not have time to remain after the service.  Please PRAY for her salvation as she plans to return next Sunday.  Please PRAY on for [Name], to be saved. 

Men still judge the success of a meeting by how many came to the front afterwards.  You won't see it in the Bible anywhere.  It again fits with the Keswick type of thinking.    If you surveyed church history, reading books and documents from the first century all the way to the early nineteenth century, you would find no mention of “decisions for Christ,” what became known as decisionism. It is an invention generally attributed to Finney, who emphasized the need for a decision, usually made by “coming forward” to approach the altar, entirely foreign to scripture.

If you pray for someone to be saved, will he or she be saved?   If you pray for someone's salvation, will he receive salvation?  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  The gospel is the best you can do with someone.  And if she really sees her need for salvation, she will receive Jesus Christ.  If she waits a week, then she really doesn't see her need.  That doesn't mean she won't be saved, but the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not prayer for someone to be saved.

There are prayers you can pray related to the evangelism of lost people.  Pray for boldness.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for knowledge.  Pray for a door of opportunity.  Those are biblical evangelistic prayers.  Praying for someone to be saved fits with the idea that God withholds His power until someone has asked or begged enough for it.  We know the Spirit is working through His Word when it is preached, because the "sword of the Spirit is the Word of God."  The Spirit uses the Word of God to convict in a person's heart toward salvation.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  People are born again by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.  Act in faith by doing what God has told you to do, not by expecting God to do something that He hasn't promised He would.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Those Who Deny Warfieldian Inerrancy

Over a century ago, evangelicals went back to the drawing board on the doctrine of scripture. Scripture itself, of course, is unassailable.  It is what it is.  It is God's Word.  When it says what it is, that's what it is, even if someone reinvents or reframes what it is.   However, the biblical and historical positions just would not work any longer, not with the pressure that liberalism placed upon scholarship and academia with its criticism of the Bible.  Hand written copies of scripture varied from one another and that seemed to indicate errors, at least according to a rational basis.  Benjamin Warfield took upon himself to write a new doctrine of inerrancy.

If you believe scriptural and historic doctrine of the Bible, you also would believe something short of that doctrine, Benjamin Warfield's position on inerrancy.  If I talk about inerrancy, I mean the Warfield doctrine, because the term "inerrancy" refers to his view.  So if I say someone denies "inerrancy," I'm not just saying that he doesn't take the position I believe, but that he doesn't believe Warfield's definition.  Inerrancy is a very technical word in bibliology, crafted as a bridge to liberalism.  Because it was written in contrast to liberal bibliology, it was a conservative position.

If you have been paying attention, then you know that evangelicalism, which already moved away from the scriptural and historical doctrine, is now threatening to leave the Warfieldian version.  The summit on inerrancy met for that purpose, but a few books have been published in the last year or so, that reveal the real difference:  Defining Inerrancy and Defending Inerrancy -- the former departing from Warfield and the latter embracing his position.

The direction of a weathervane depends on which way the wind blows.  The direction of evangelical bibliology depends on which way liberalism blows.  Their doctrine of the Bible isn't tethered by scripture.

Years ago in a comment section on the blog of an evangelical conservative (Frank Turk), I mentioned the departure of Daniel Wallace from inerrancy, fully understanding that as the Warfieldian definition.  Unless I apologized, he kicked me off the blog.   Senior Professor of New Testament at Master's Seminary, David Farnell, quotes Wallace on inerrancy:

[W]hat I tell my students every year is that it is imperative that they pursue truth rather than protect their presuppositions. And they need to have a doctrinal taxonomy that distinguishes core beliefs from peripheral beliefs. When they place more peripheral doctrines such as inerrancy and verbal inspiration at the core, then when belief in these doctrines starts to erode, it creates a domino effect: One falls down, they all fall down. It strikes me that something like this may be what happened to Bart Ehrman. His testimony in Misquoting Jesus discussed inerrancy as the prime mover in his studies. But when a glib comment from one of his conservative professors at Princeton was scribbled on a term paper, to the effect that perhaps the Bible is not inerrant, Ehrman’s faith began to crumble. One domino crashed into another until eventually he became “a fairly happy agnostic.”  I may be wrong about Ehrman’s own spiritual journey, but I have known too many students who have gone in that direction. The irony is that those who frontload their critical investigation of the text of the Bible with bibliological presuppositions often speak of a “slippery slope” on which all theological convictions are tied to inerrancy. Their view is that if inerrancy goes, everything else begins to erode. I would say rather that if inerrancy is elevated to the status of a prime doctrine, that’s when one gets on a slippery slope. But if a student views doctrines as concentric circles, with the cardinal doctrines occupying the center, then if the more peripheral doctrines are challenged, this does not have a significant impact on the core. In other words, the evangelical community will continue to produce liberal scholars until we learn to nuance our faith commitments a bit more, until we learn to see Christ as the center of our lives and scripture as that which points to him. If our starting point is embracing propositional truths about the nature of scripture rather than personally embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord and King, we’ll be on that slippery slope, and we’ll take a lot of folks down with us.
...... 
To sum up: There seems to be evidence in the synoptic gospels that, on occasion, words are deliberately added to the original sayings of Jesus [and] [i]n a few instances, these words seem to alter somewhat the picture that we would otherwise have gotten from the original utterance; in other instances, the meaning seems to be virtually the same, yet even here a certain amount of exegetical spadework is needed to see this.  On the other hand, there seem to be examples within the synoptics where the words are similar, but the meaning is different.
...... 
[I]t seems that our interpretation of inspiration is governing our interpretation of the text. Ironically, such bibliological presuppositions are established in modern terms that just might ignore or suppress the data they are meant to address and which are purportedly derived.  And there is an even greater irony here: the fact of the Incarnation—an essential element in orthodox Christology-invites (italics in original) rigorous historical investigation.  But what if our bibliological presuppositions reject (italics in original) that invitation?

You should read the Farnell article.  If Turk were consistent, he'd have to kick Farnell out of his comment section.  Daniel Wallace writes a very favorable review of Defining Inerrancy and against Defending Inerrancy.   Wallace recently wrote the following in a comment in that section of his blog:

I have thought about the Anglican Church quite a bit actually. I love the liturgy, the symbolism, the centrality of the Eucharist, the strong connection with the church in ages past, and the hierarchy. And yes, I have seriously considered joining their ranks–and still am considering it. There are some superb Anglican churches in the Dallas area. Quite surprising to me has been my choice of academic interns at Dallas Seminary in the last few years. Over half of them have been Anglican, and yet when I picked them for the internship I didn’t know what their denominational affiliation was. Exceptional students, devoted to the Lord and his Church, and committed to the highest level of Christian scholarship. And they have respect for tradition and the work of the Spirit in the people of God for the past two millennia.

Do people slide on inerrancy because of a potential lack of conversion?  I say that because of a willingness to join Anglicanism and its false gospel.

Warfield has become the new benchmark for bibliology, but isn't another slide merely another degree further from the truth than Warfield himself?