Friday, July 01, 2016

Keswick's Biblical Strengths: where Keswick is Correct, in an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 3 of 4

               Perhaps the clearest way to indicate the positive truths affirmed by both Keswick and its critics is to examine the doctrine of sanctification confessed by that staunch advocate of the theology and revivalistic[1] piety of Old Princeton and inveterate opponent of Keswick, B. B. Warfield.  Truths confessed by both Keswick and by Warfield can by no means be labeled Keswick distinctives, but would evidently be the common inheritance of classic evangelical spirituality.  The tendency of Keswick apologists to create orthodox friends of their theology in a historically inaccurate way[2] probably makes Warfield the best choice to illustrate non-Keswick evangelical piety.  Higher Life apologists could claim that writers who lived before the origination of the Convention and advocated classically orthodox piety were actually Keswick antecedents simply because of their advocacy of Biblical truths such as living by faith and dependence on the Holy Spirit.  Similarly, men who lived after the origin of the Keswick Convention could be labeled by Higher Life apologists as Keswick advocates who simply did not recognize what they were affirming.[3]  However, it is most doubtful that any Keswick writer would wish to affirm that B. B. Warfield was truly a defender of Higher Life truth, just in disguise.  His writings, therefore, provide a safe avenue for a determination of what is involved in evangelical non-Keswick piety.
               Warfield, receiving the truth common to old evangelicalism, emphasized the need to depend on the Christ and the Holy Spirit for strength in sanctification, rather than being self-dependent.  Indeed, he recognized such dependence was the very essence of religion:  [The] attitude of trust and dependence on God is just the very essence of religion. In proportion as any sense of self-sufficiency or any dependence on self enters the heart, in that proportion religion is driven from it.”[4]  The “central truth of complete dependence upon the free mercy of a saving God,” Warfield affirmed, “is an absolutely essential element in evangelical religion” which “underl[ies] and g[ives] its form and power to the whole . . . movement” and is key to “a great revival of religion.”[5]  Warfield recognizes that confusing Christian holiness with mere “righteous conduct and of self-sanctification or moral character-formation,” so that “the individual Christian sanctifies himself,”[6] is part of a view of God, sin, and salvation that is a “profoundly immoral doctrine.”[7]  The believer must not rely upon his own works for either justification or sanctification.  Teaching these truths, Warfield approvingly cited the “the words of the revival hymn” calling men to “‘cast our deadly doing down’ and make our appeal on the sole score of sheer helplessness . . . [rejecting] . . . self-dependence and [the] power of self-help.”[8] He states that the “very cor cordis of the Gospel” is expressed in the words of the hymn:
Nothing either great or small,
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long, ago. . . .

Doing is a deadly thing,
Doing ends in death . . .

Cast your deadly doing down,
Down at Jesus’ feet,
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Gloriously complete.[9]
Consequently, helpless dependence on the perfectly sufficient Christ is the attitude of the Christian:
[The] characteristic . . . [of] the children of the Kingdom . . . [is to] lay happy and thoughtless . . . in Jesus’ own arms. Their characteristic was just helpless dependence; complete dependence upon the care of those whose care for them was necessary. . . . [T]he Kingdom of heaven is made up of those who are helplessly dependent on the King of the Heavens . . . [like] infants who are to be done for, who can not do for themselves.[10]
Warfield stated:
[The] evangelical quality of all really evangelical faith [is found in] . . . whoever recognizes in the recesses of his soul his utter dependence on God; whoever in all his thought of salvation hears in his heart of hearts the echo of the soli Deo gloria of the evangelical profession . . . these fundamental principles—which underlie and give its body to all true religion—[ought] to work themselves freely and fully out in thought and feeling and action.[11]
Warfield explained elsewhere that this utter dependence on the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the Christian piety of all Bible-believing Protestant denominations:
The evangelical note is formally sounded by the entirety of organized Protestantism. That is to say, all the great Protestant bodies, in their formal official confessions, agree in confessing the utter dependence of sinful man upon the grace of God alone for salvation, and in conceiving this dependence as immediate and direct upon the Holy Spirit, acting as a person and operating directly on the heart of the sinner. It is this evangelical note which determines the peculiarity of the piety of the Protestant Churches. The characteristic feature of this piety is a profound consciousness of intimate personal communion with God the Saviour, on whom the soul rests with immediate love and trust.[12]
Every single spiritual good comes from the Holy Spirit, Warfield taught, and Biblical religion necessitates utter dependence on Him.  Possession of the Spirit is the highest glory of the believer:
[T]he Spirit of God is the author of all right belief and of all good conduct,—to assure us that then, too, on Him depended all the exercises of piety, to Him was due all the holy aspirations and all the good accomplishments of every saint of God. And certainly the New Testament tells us in repeated instances that the Holy Spirit was active throughout the period of the Old Dispensation, in all the varieties of activities which characterize the New. The difference between the two lies not in any difference in the utter dependence of men on Him[.] . . . Paul . . . is full of joy . . . to have . . . God’s Holy Spirit . . . working faith in him[.] . . .  He claims no superiority [to other believers] in the matter. If he has a like faith, it is because he is made by God’s grace to share in a like fountain of faith. The one Spirit who works faith is the common possession of them and of him; and therein he finds his highest privilege and his greatest glory. . . . [T]he operations of the Spirit . . . Paul represents as the height of Christian privilege to possess.[13]
Warfield unabashedly identified himself with those in the history of doctrine who were the champions of the grace of God.  He labeled self-dependent moralism the very antithesis of Biblical Christianity:
[The] entire system . . . [of the] champion[s] of grace . . . revolved around the assertion of grace as the sole source of all good in man as truly and as completely as did that of Pelagius around the assertion of the plenary ability of the unaided will to work all righteousness. . . . [W]e are aided by the grace of God, through Christ, not only to know but also to do what is right, in each single act, so that without grace we are unable to have, think, speak, or do anything pertaining to piety[.] The opposition between the two systems was thus absolute. In the one, everything was attributed to man; in the other, everything was ascribed to God. In them, two religions, the only two possible religions at bottom, met in mortal combat: the religion of faith and the religion of works; the religion which despairs of self and casts all its hope on God the Saviour, and the religion which puts complete trust in self; or since religion is in its very nature utter dependence on God, religion in the purity of its conception and a mere quasi-religious moralism.[14]
Clearly, rejection of self-dependence, a recognition of the need to trust in the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit for strength to live the Christian life, and a rejection of sanctification sourced in the believer’s works, are by no means Keswick distinctives.
               Warfield taught that the essence of Christianity is that “all [is] of God and nothing of ourselves”—God’s unmerited love gives His people all. Since “the Christian life as a life” is one “of continuous dissatisfaction with self and of continuous looking afresh to Christ as the ground of all our hope,”[15] believers must always look to the Lord Jesus and depend on Him for grace:
We may rightly bewail our coldness: we may rightly blame ourselves that there is so little response in our hearts to the sight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, or even to the manifestation of His unspeakable love in the death of His Son. Oh, wretched men that we are to see that bleeding love and not be set on fire with a flame of devotion! But we may be all the more thankful that it is not in our frames and feelings that we are to put our trust. Let us abase ourselves that we so little respond to these great spectacles of the everlasting and unspeakable love of God. But let us ever remember that it is on the love of God and not on our appreciation of it that we are to build our confidence. Jesus our Priest and our Sacrifice, let us keep our eyes set on Him! And though our poor sinful hearts so little know how to yield to that great spectacle the homage of a suitable response, His blood will yet avail even for us.
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling”—
here—and let us bless God for it—here is the essence of Christianity. It is all of God and nothing of ourselves.[16]
Through the “gospel the eye is withdrawn from self and the face turned upward in loving gratitude to God, the great giver [in a] . . . continual sense of humble dependence on God and of loving trust in Him.”[17]  Warfield noted the teaching of Scripture that, in the workings of the Lord towards His people, “[a]t every step it is God, and God alone, to whom is ascribed the initiative; and the most extreme care is taken to preserve the recipients of the blessings consequent on His choice from fancying that these blessings come as their due, or as reward for aught done by themselves, or to be found in themselves.”[18]  Nothing was the product of the believer’s own strength; thus, Warfield could encourage believers:
Faint not! It is not your own strength—or rather weakness—that is . . . in question; it is the power of Almighty God. . . . It was of His own purpose that He called you; the grace that has come to you was given you from all eternity. . . . It is this Almighty God who is using you as His instrument and organ. Nothing depends on your weakness; all hangs on His strength.[19]
Since every aspect of salvation was sourced in God alone, Warfield passionately warned of the dangers of self-sufficiency and called upon men to live by faith and to surrender themselves entirely to the Lord:
The very point of this passage [Habbakuk 2:4] is the sharp contrast which is drawn between arrogant self-sufficiency and faithful dependence on God . . . [I]t is by faith that the righteous man lives . . . the righteous appear . . . as men who look in faith to God and trustingly depend upon His arm. . . . Here we have, therefore, thrown into a clear light the contrasting characteristics of the wicked, typified by the Chaldæan, and of the righteous: of the one, the fundamental trait is self-sufficiency; of the other, faith. This faith, which forms the distinctive feature of the righteous man, and by which he obtains life . . . is a profound and abiding disposition, an ingrained attitude of mind and heart towards God which affects and gives character to all the activities.[20]
Indeed, “[T]he very core of Old Testament religion . . . [is] entire self-commitment to God [and] humble dependence on Him for all blessings,” so “[s]elf-sufficiency is the characteristic mark of the wicked . . . while the mark of the righteous is that he lives by his faith (Hab. 2:4).”[21]  Warfield wrote that trusting in God and rejecting self-dependence was not just the very core of Old Testament true religion, but of all true religion in any dispensation whatever:  “Now this attitude of trust and dependence on God is just the very essence of religion. In proportion as any sense of self-sufficiency or any dependence on self enters the heart, in that proportion religion is driven from it.”[22]  Consequently, Warfield extolled those in church history he understood as recognizing that the essence of true religion is dependence on God, despair of any confidence in themselves, and rejection of mere religious moralism.  Such an understanding is key to being filled with love and joy in believing:
Self-despair, humble trust, grateful love, fullness of joy—these are the steps on which his own soul[23] climbed upward: and these steps gave their whole color and form both to his piety and to his teaching. In his doctrine we see his experience of God’s seeking and saving love toward a lost sinner expressing itself in propositional form; in his piety we see his conviction that the sole hope of the sinner lies in the free grace of a loving God expressing itself in the forms of feeling. In doctrine and life alike he sets before us in that effective way which belongs to the discoverer, the religion of faith as over against the religion of works—the religion which despairing of self casts all its hope on God as over against the religion that to a greater or less degree trusts in itself: in a word, since religion in its very nature is dependence on God, religion in the purity of its conception as over against a quasi-religious moralism. . . . [W]e are admitted into the very life of [the godly man] and are permitted to see his great heart cleansing itself of all trust in himself and laying hold with the grasp first of despair, then of discerning trust and then of grateful love upon the God who [is] his salvation . . . [such truths have] perennial attractiveness and [the] supreme position . . . [for] edification.[24]
Warfield believed that those advocating the doctrinal system he embraced were in a special way “called upon to defend the treasures of truth that had been committed to the[m] from the inroads of that perpetual foe of the grace of God which is entrenched in the self-sufficiency of the natural heart.”[25]  Warfield believed that part of his calling as a defender of the faith was, in a special way, to fight against that awful foe, self-sufficiency.  He wrote:  “As over against all teaching that would tempt man to trust in himself for any, even the smallest part, of his salvation, Christianity casts him utterly on God. It is God and God alone who saves, and that in every element of the saving process.”[26]  Justification, sanctification, glorification, and everything else in the doctrine of salvation was all sourced in God, not in man himself.  Since every aspect of salvation comes from God, Christian life involves despairing of confidence in oneself and a humble and joyful trust in the Lord alone.  B. B. Warfield, and the old evangelical piety of his theological tradition, emphasized these truths—they were by no means the peculiar possession of the Kewick theology.

See here for this entire study.






[1]              While Old Princeton’s theologians recognized that doctrinal error hinders revival and were careful to diagnose and warn about pseudo-revival, they rejoiced to both promote and experience genuine spiritual revival.  The love for revival in Princetonians such as Archibald Alexander, who was himself converted in a revival (pgs. 68-69, Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology, M. H. Smith.  Jackson, MS:  Presbyterian Reformation Society, 1962) and who wrote Thoughts on Religious Experience (Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1844), can hardly be disputed.  Similarly, Warfield “experience[d] a revival while an undergraduate student at Princeton, one that left a deep and lasting impression” (pg. 568, The Theology of B. B. Warfield:  A Systematic Summary, F. Zaspel).
[2]              E. g., pg. 16, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[3]              For example, Keswick apologist John R. VanGelderen writes, “Amazingly, I have been in several settings where speakers had just taught Keswick theology and then said, ‘Now I’m not taking about Keswick,’ or, ‘I’m not talking about the deeper life.’ . . . [W]hen they criticize the term Keswick . . . they are undermining what they themselves teach” (pg. 108, The Faith Response, John R. VanGelderen).
[4]              Pg. 213, The Power of God unto Salvation, B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia: PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1903.
[5]              Pg. 357, Calvin and Calvinism:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 5, B. B. Warfield. Bellingham, WA:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2008.
[6]              Pg. 24, Studies in Perfectionism, Part One, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 7, B. B. Warfield.  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.  Italics in original.  Warfield is critiquing the theologically liberal perfectionism of Albrecht Ritschl.
[7]              Pgs. 160-161, 63-64; cf. pg. 100, Studies in Perfectionism, Part One, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 7, B. B. Warfield.  Warfield does not limit his reference to the immorality of Ritschl’s system to the German rationalist’s perfectionist doctrine of sanctification; Ritschl’s doctrine of justification and other parts of his system are certainly included and are mentioned in the immediate context of some of the pages referenced.
[8]              Pg. 99, Christology and Criticism:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 3, B. B. Warfield. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
[9]              Pgs. 323-324, Faith and Life, B. B. Warfield. New York, NY: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916.
[10]             Pg. 78, Faith and Life, B. B. Warfield. New York, NY: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916.
[11]             Pg. 356, Calvin and Calvinism:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 5, B. B. Warfield. Bellingham, WA:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2008.
[12]             Pg. 87, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures, B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915.
[13]             Pgs. 237-238, Faith and Life, B. B. Warfield. New York, NY: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916.
[14]             Pgs. 40-41, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures, B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915.
[15]             Pg. 90, Studies in Perfectionism, Part One, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 7, B. B. Warfield.
[16]             Pgs. 253-254, The Power of God unto Salvation, B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia: PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1903.
[17]             Pg. 213, The Power of God unto Salvation, B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia: PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1903.
[18]             Pg. 12, Biblical Doctrines:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 2, B. B. Warfield.  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
[19]             Pg. 408, Faith and Life, B. B. Warfield. New York, NY: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916.
[20]             Pgs. 469-470, Biblical Doctrines:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 2, B. B. Warfield.  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
[21]             Pg. 11, Biblical Doctrines:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 2,  B. B. Warfield.  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
[22]             Pg. 213, The Power of God unto Salvation, B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia: PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1903.
[23]             Warfield speaks here of Augustine of Hippo.  In light of Augustine’s strong advocacy of sacramental salvation and of the idea that outside of the Catholic Church there was no salvation, Warfield’s high estimation of Augustine needs not a little modification.  Nevertheless, Warfield’s statements still show what the Princetonian higly valued as true piety.
[24]             Pgs. 252-253, Studies in Tertullian and Augustine:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 4, B. B. Warfield.  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
[25]             Pg. 144, Studies in Theology:  The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 9, B. B. Warfield.  Bellingham, WA:  Logos Bible Software, 2008.
[26]             Pg. 59, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures, B. B. Warfield.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1915.

3 comments:

Jim Camp said...

"Jesus our Priest and our Sacrifice, let us keep our eyes set on Him! And though our poor sinful hearts so little know how to yield to that great spectacle the homage of a suitable response, His blood will yet avail even for us.
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling”—
here—and let us bless God for it—here is the essence of Christianity."

This is very well said.
Chasing a rabbit... Thomas, having read of Augustine, do you consider him a saved man?

KJB1611 said...

Dear Bro Camp,

Thanks for the comment. May brethren that are against Keswick theology, as Warfield was, take the same stand for vital piety that he took.

By the way, I have seen many Keswick people misrepresenting Warfield as an advocate of self dependence, faithlessness, etc. It appears that very rarely have they taken the time to put down their Watchman Nee and Hannah W. Smith to actually read what Wafield said.

Regrettably, Augustine appears to clearly have been an advocate for Roman Catholic ecclesiology. He wrote a whole book against the Donatists arguing that outside the Catholic church there is no salvation. Based on Galatians 1:8–9, he is anathema. Where the Reformed follow Augustine is in his doctrine of grace – Augustine believed that the elect, who were only members of the Roman Catholic Church and no one else, were unconditionally elected, and if they sinned and lost their salvation, they would get it back before they died. He is about the closest you can come to Calvinism among the patristic writers, and it is not especially close. Augustine, therefore, had a somewhat Reformed doctrine of grace and a definitely Roman Catholic ecclesiology.

KJB1611 said...

"Warfield" should be above, not "Wafield."