Friday, April 15, 2016

Bishop G. Handley Moule: Keswick Quietist Leader, part 1 of 2

               In his Keswick classic, So Great Salvation, Steven Barabas alleges that “Keswick is very careful to point out that its doctrine of sanctification by faith is not Quietism,” quoting “Bishop Handley Moule”[1] to support this alleged opposition to Quietism by Keswick.  However, Barabas either overlooks or misrepresents[2] the fact that Moule himself, who Barabas affirms was the greatest scholar ever to adopt the Keswick theology, wrote that the believer’s part in the Keswick model of sanctification is “a blessed and wakeful Quietism,” so that “Quietism . . . express[es] one side of [the] truth” in sanctification.[3]
               Barabas explains Moule’s importance to Keswick:  “The adherence of Dr. Moule to the Keswick platform was a great accession of strength . . . there is no doubt that Dr. Moule was [Keswick’s] greatest . . . scholar.”[4]  Moule adopted the Keswick theology through the influence of Evan Hopkins.[5]  Nevertheless, even Bishop Moule did not write any works for the world of scholarship, a fact put in the most favorable light by his biographers:
Those who knew Dr. Moule’s powers often longed that he would give to the Church some great work, which would appeal to the world of pure scholarship and advanced studies; but . . . he deliberately consecrated all his powers to meet the needs of the general body of Christian people . . . it is not surprising that Dr. Moule should have felt that he could best serve his day and generation by using his all-too-scanty leisure upon such writings as were in the line of his pulpit and platform ministrations.[6]
Thus, Moule did not write any exposition or defense of the Keswick theology for the world of scholarship, just as nobody else has done, despite what will soon be a century and a half of the worldwide promulgation of the Keswick theology.  Perhaps such an exposition has never been written because Keswick doctrine is unscholarly and cannot be defended at an advanced level.
               Thankfully, although Moule affirmed Quietism was one side of the truth, he also affirmed it was “only” one side of it, adding:  “In the history of theological language [Quietism] has some associations with dangerous error.”  While such a warning is better than an unqualified endorsement of Quietism, it is far too bland and nonspecific; nobody knows who exactly is teaching “dangerous error” or what “some associations with” such error actually means, so that Moule’s disclaimer has no practical value.  It seems that Moule thought that those teaching “dangerous error,” or at least error that was damnable and really and truly serious, did not include the actual promulgators of Roman Catholic mystical Quietism such as Archbishop Fenélon, for Moule wrote concerning him:  “There are assuredly many Roman [Catholics] that know that light [of salvation], as Fenelon and his friends [such as Madame Guyon] so beautifully did.”[7]  If beautiful knowledge of the light of Christ is found in such a central figure of medieval Romanist Quietism as Archbishop Fenélon, despite his rejection of core elements of the gospel such as justification by faith alone, and despite the fact that he was so zealous as a partisan for Rome and against Protestantism that he led a mission to bring French Huguenots back into the fold of Mystery Babylon and her idolatry, one wonders what advocates of Quietism actually qualified as dangerous.
               Unfortunately, Moule’s lack of a Christ-like, pointed, and specific denunciation of false teachers and false teaching (cf. Matthew 23) was not limited to applying a feather duster to Roman Catholic Quietism instead of hewing it in pieces with the sword of the Spirit.  Moule himself held to numerous serious heresies.  He was “quite willing to read” the creation account in “Gen i-iii . . . as hieroglyphics [rather] than as pictures or photographs of scenery.”  He wrote:
We are not bound to believe that the Creator literally spoke syllables meaning “Let there be light.” We are not bound to literalism in the mysterious details of the creation of woman. We are not bound to every particular of the temptation. They are . . . fact not necessarily painted exactly as it happened, but conveyed in hieroglyphic signs . . .  a prophecy of fact, conveyed through non-literal symbols . . . I think the action of the serpent in Gen. iii. may be of the same class. We thus have Scripture beginning . . . with facts so mysterious that they need in our present state mysterious representation.[8]
God’s Word did not have to mean exactly what it says in the account of the Creation and Fall; rather, this portion of the Mosaic narrative may be “hieroglyphic signs” filled with sound and fury, signfying nothing, or at least nothing anyone could know for certain.  Moule also affirmed that a “new and higher law for the Christian mind” made it well if portions of the Psalter were “omit[ted] . . . [from] public use . . . in common worship,” as parts of God’s Word in songs such as Psalm 69 and 109 were allegedly sub-Christian,[9] despite profuse references to these very psalms in the New Testament (Matthew 27:34, 48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 2:17; 15:25; 19:28-29; Acts 1:16, 20; Romans 11:9-10; 15:3, etc.).  Concerning “Old Testament Criticism” Moule wrote:  I do not forget that large recognition has often and obviously to be given to the presence of many documents or ‘sources’ in one writing, and to many an after note or comment usefully embodied in the text.”[10]  JEDP and masses of editorial revisions to the Old Testament by those who were not prophets writing under inspiration were apparently acceptable.  Moule also “showed a large-hearted tolerance” for those, including “many of his pupils and some of his colleagues,” who “took more advanced positions”—that is, who delved further into the hellish pits of the Higher Criticism than he did himself; such people were certainly not false teachers in need of deliverance from the kingdom of darkness, but could be “loyal to the Master Himself” while holding to higher critical heresies.[11]  It is not surprising, then, that many of Moule’s pupils accepted Higher Criticism when Moule taught them:  “The Lord . . . stated no theory of th[e] construction . . . [of] the Scriptures,”[12] such as the Biblical fact that the Bible was dictated, although not mechanically, by the Holy Ghost, in such a manner that its very words, and all of its words, were inspired by God.  But if the Creation and the Fall could be “hieroglyphic signs,” why could not the saving work of Christ be a mere symbol also?  Does not the Apostle Paul parallel the fall of men in Adam and their deliverance through Christ in Romans five?

See here for this entire study.

[1]              Pg. 97, So Great Salvation, Barabas. Packer, commenting on Barabas’s denial that Keswick is quietistic, notes:
[Barabas’s denial is based] on the ground that intense activity in using the means of grace is necessary to keep up one’s consecration and to maintain faith.  But such activity, as is explicitly stated in the passage from Bishop Moule which he quotes, is merely preparatory:  “the temptation of the hour will be met less by direct efforts of the will than by indirect”—i. e., by handing the matter over to the Spirit and ceasing to act in it oneself.  This is the quietism of Keswick teaching. (pg. 161, “‘Keswick’ and the Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification,” J. I. Packer. The Evangelical Quarterly, Vol. 27 (1955) 153-167).
[2]              It is possible that Barabas borrowed his misuse of Moule from W. H. Griffith Thomas, who quoted Moule to respond to Warfield’s criticism of Keswick Quietism on pgs. 278-279, “The Victorious Life (I.),” Bibliotheca Sacra 76:303 (July 1919), 267-288.  Griffith Thomas was Barabas’s predecessor in ignorance of or in failing to state that, decades before Thomas wrote, Moule himself specifically affirmed, in print, the Quietism of his beloved Keswick doctrine of sanctification.  Perhaps, if ignorance of or bypassing of inconvenient facts worked well enough for Griffith Thomas, it could work well enough for Barabas also.
[3]              Pg. 197, Veni Creator: Thoughts on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit of Promise, by H. C. G. Moule.  London:  Hodder & Stoughton, 1890; cf. repr. ed., Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 1977.
[4]              Pg. 175, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[5]              Pgs. 106, 148, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie.
[6]              Pg. 173, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald.
[7]              Pg. 215, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald).
[8]              Pg. 175, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald.
[9]              Pgs. 175-176, ibid.
[10]             Pgs. 295-296, ibid.
[11]             Pg. 176, ibid.
[12]             Pg. 174, ibid.

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