Friday, April 29, 2016

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

Furthermore, despite the fearful warnings of Scripture against such practices, and the terrible opportunities they gave to the devil, Moule also claimed to communicate with the dead and offered prayer for them, in a manner reminiscent of the interactions with the dead of the spiritualist Higher Life pillars Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple.  Moule also commended such frightfully unscriptural practices to others.  It was his “sweet solace” to offer “[p]erpetual greetings to” his “beloved ones” who had “gone” to the grave.  He stated:  I daily and by name greet my own beloved child, my dearest parents, and others precious to me,” although they were already dead.  Prayers for the dead were “no sin;”  rather, communication with and prayers for the dead were a “sweet and blessed help” in the spiritual life (pgs. 220-221, 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), so Moule himself engaged daily in such spiritualistic exercises.  Moule stated:  “I cannot think . . . that warrant for such prayer is a fact of revelation,” but although no support whatever for prayers for the dead appeared in Scripture, he stated:  “I for one cannot condemn such exercises of the soul,” and he both practiced such himself and accepted such communications as a legitimate “devotional” practice of other “Christians who so pray.”  He even commended a “beautiful . . . prayer” for the dead for the use of Christians, which included not only intercession for the dead but a wish for communication with the dead person:  “[I]f there be ways in which [he] may come. . . grant me a sense of [his] presence” (pgs. 96-98, Christus Consolator, Moule).  Such interaction with the dead—who, Moule averred, really came back, as such communications certainly were not simply the work of deceiving demons—contributed to the bishop’s belief in the continuation of spiritual gifts and his opposition to cessationism.

As a result of such fellowship with and prayers for the dead, Moule believed that “the Lord grants what can only be called visions,” so that the dead return and grant an even greater level of communication with the living than can be obtained by invisible communication with the afterlife.  Moule himself had received supernatural and “deeply sweet dreams,” where dead people he communicated with and prayed for appeared to him and looked on him “with an extraordinary look of bliss” (pgs. 220-221, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald).  Moule likewise commended others who had “veritable vision[s] of God” coming to them and telling them things; furthermore, he encouraged and supported those who received such visions to trust in their veracity (pg. 287).  In light of his continuationism, Moule’s sympathy for the leader of early British Pentecostalism, Alexander Boddy, is unsurprising (pgs. 23-24, 88, The Pentecostal Movement, Donald Gee).  Furthermore, Moule also had the ability as a Anglican Bishop to convey special powers through the laying on of his hands.  One who received such power from Moule testified:  “At my interview, he laid his hands on my head, and gave me his solemn blessing for the work. I distinctly felt that it was something very real. This was not a matter of faith, but a distinct physical experience, as definite as an electrical shock. It was not like an electric shock, but something both spiritual and physical which I cannot properly describe. . . . It had results, for both in my parish, and where I was Bishop’s Messenger, the Mission was much more successful than it usually was” (pgs. 222-223).

Moule was also ecumenical, warmly accepting as brothers in Christ High Anglican and Romanizing Anglican baptismal regenerationists and other heretics within his denomination, instead of seeking to purge such false teachers out. “His breadth of view gained for him in a marked degree the confidence of all schools of thought,” and his “genial tolerance” of non-evangelicals brought him the “war[m] prais[e]” of the “High Anglicans” (pgs. 186-187; cf. Luke 6:26).  It probably helped that Moule could make “strongly worded sacramental statement[s]” about “the Lord as present on the Table” in the sacrament of Communion (pg. 95, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  The Roman Catholic sacrament of Confirmation could bring one into the Anglican communion, Moule held—even if the Anglican “Canons might say otherwise.”  “[P]ublic renunciation” of Rome and her heresies should be “waive[d]” for entrance into Anglicanism (pg. 215).  Incense could be used in association with the sacrament of Holy Communion (pg. 218-219).  Moule permitted those under his authority to practice the “Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament” as an act of “real helpfulness” in certain situations in worship, although it was a practice involving the worship of the communion bread in Roman Catholicism (pg. 220).  Sharing wine and meals with his fellow clergy (pg. 201), Moule became “most devoted and loving friends” with “the leading Ritualist in the North of England,” whom Moule regarded as a “Christian man and minister wholly devoted to his Lord” and to whom Moule “took special delight” in providing ecclesiastical advancement (pg. 194).  Moule “quite recognized that those who held the Catholic standpoint had a perfect right to be included in the Anglican Church. And his letters breathe the spirit of kindly sympathy with this point of view. He desired that ‘all essential requirements of the High Anglicans should be met’” (pg. 196), and, as a Bishop, he “rejoice[d]” to put “important . . . living[s]” with “most important point[s] of vantage” into the hands of those with “extreme opposite” views to his generally evangelical Anglicanism (pg. 195).  Thus, he happily worked as an Anglican Bishop not to purge, but to promote those under his charge who led countless precious souls into false ritualistic gospels and the fires of an eternal hell.  Moule was so far from seeking to remove those who believed a false gospel that “he would have erred in favour to High Churchmen lest he should even appear to be unkind” (pgs. 196-197).  He wrote:

It has been my happiness, not least in my later years, to know and to love, as friends in Christ, holy men of other types and schools, and to see with reverence their Lord’s likeness in the countenance of their lives. . . . These men are beyond shadow of question at least as much Christ’s own as I dare to think myself.  From their example, from their words, sometimes from words definitely shaped by their distinctive tenets, I have often received exhortation and edification. (pg. 197)

That is, Moule thought both rationalist Higher Critics and Romanist Anglicans were as much Christians as himself, and he often received exhortation and edification from their distinctive tenets, although these were damnable heresies.  To Moule, in his appointments of ministers to lead the people of God, “the question of views was secondary” (pg. 203); “nor was he a good judge of character” (pg. 211; contrast 1 Timothy 3).  In his bishopric he brought about “entire freedom . . . from ritual trouble and partisan division” (pg. 200), although the gospel itself had to be jettisoned to do so.  Thus, Moule was “scrupulous” to treat well “High Churchmen in [his] Diocese[.] It fell to his lot to appoint incumbents to many parishes where the teaching and practice were not in accord with his personal convictions, but he was always at pains to secure the continuity of the tradition of such churches” (pg. 203).  That is, when a false gospel was being preached by a minister of Satan in a parish overseen by Moule, the Bishop was very diligent to make sure that the true gospel was not brought in; but upon the retirement of one minister of Satan, Moule consecrated another servant and preacher of Antichrist.  While the Bible affirms that believers must “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3), and although the Anglican denomination descended ever further into rationalism and Romanism as Moule grew older, he nonetheless wrote:  As life advances, I feel less and less the value of controversy, where spiritual matters are concerned” (pg. 215).

In light of his willingness to praise and commend ritualism, it is not surprising that Moule could write:  “Only it is right that I should say for my own part that not one word . . .  has been written [by me] in forgetfulness of my obligations as a presbyter of the English Church, or with faltering convictions as to the rightness of the language of its sacramental ritual” (pg. 80, Veni Creator).  Moule thus endorsed the language employed in, for example, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, in “The Ministration of Publick Baptism of Infants, to be Used in the Church,” which requires the priest to pray:

By the Baptism of thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan, [Thou, God] didst sanctify Water to the mystical washing away of sin. . . . We call upon thee for this Infant, that he, coming to thy holy Baptism, may receive remission of his sins by spiritual regeneration. Receive him, O Lord, as thou hast promised . . . that this Infant may enjoy the everlasting benediction of thy heavenly washing, and may come to the eternal kingdom which thou hast promised by Christ our Lord. Amen.

The form for “The Ministration of Private Baptism of Children” requires the priest to act as follows:

[P]our Water upon [the infant], saying these words; “I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” Then, all kneeling down, the Minister shall give thanks unto God, and say, “We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own Child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church. And we humbly beseech thee to grant, that as he is now made partaker of the death of thy Son, so he may be also of his resurrection; and that finally, with the residue of thy Saints, he may inherit thine everlasting kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The Ministration further commends the “baptizing of [a] Child; who being born in original sin, and in the wrath of God, is now, by the laver of Regeneration in Baptism, received into the number of the children of God, and heirs of everlasting life.”  The binding Anglican Confession of Faith, the 39 Articles, affirms that as “by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; [and] the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed” (Article XXVII). While one can be glad that Moule personally denied baptismal regeneration and strove, albeit with questionable efficacy, to make the sacramental language of his denomination cohere with more evangelical views (cf. pgs. 259ff., Outlines of Christian Doctrine, H. C. G. Moule.  London:  Hodder & Stoughton, 1890), he nonetheless swore commitment to the Anglican documents that actually did teach sacramental salvation, and he had good “Christian” fellowship with the multitude of his fellow Anglican ministers and members that took more seriously than he the language of Anglican creed and ritual and consequently affirmed baptismal regeneration.

Moule personally accepted grave errors, from weak views on the inspiration of Scripture, continuationism, and ecumenicalism, to prayers for the dead.  He also had a terrible lack of discernment about heresy.  It is consequently not surprising that unregenerate false teachers such as Hannah W. Smith and Robert P. Smith were accepted as Christian brethren by Moule, and their Keswick theology adopted and promulgated by him.

See here for this entire study.

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