Friday, October 28, 2016

Keswick's Confusion on the Holy Spirit: in Keswick's Errors--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 8 of 17

As already noted, Keswick theology is right to call believers to the “renunciation of all known sin . . . and . . . surrender to Christ for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.”[1]  Keswick does well to affirm that the Holy Spirit “dwells in every child of God . . . [but] not every Christian is filled with the Spirit . . . [and] to be filled with the Spirit is not presented in Scripture as an optional matter, but as a holy obligation that rests upon all Christians.”[2] Keswick is correct that the “Christian is expected to live in communion with the Spirit.”[3]  Nonetheless, the Keswick pneumatology[4] differs at important points from the pneumatology of Scripture.[5]  Barabas is incorrect when he affirms that only some isolated “statements . . . from addresses and books by Keswick speakers . . . seem to . . . outrun Scripture.”[6]  Some of the Keswick theology of the Spirit not only seems to, but does, in fact, outrun Scripture.  The historic Baptist position that Spirit baptism was a first century corporate blessing authenticating the church, which was accompanied by miraculous signs and wonders, and which does not take place today, is the teaching of Scripture.[7] It is incorrect to hold either to a view that affirms that Spirit baptism is a post-conversion blessing for today that bestows special powers, or to the doctrine that “the Holy Spirit, on the condition of faith, baptizes a man into Christ and joins him permanently and eternally to Him, [so that Spirit baptism makes] a man ‘in Christ,’ in union with both the person and the work of Christ . . . [a teaching allegedly] clearly set forth in the sixth chapter of Romans.”[8]  Scripture nowhere, and certainly not in the sixth chapter of Romans, teaches that “every Christian . . . has been baptized by the Spirit.”[9]  Nor does God’s Word teach that the “full blessing of Pentecost is the inheritance of all the children of God,”[10] as all the children of God today are not wonder-working apostles with the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages, the spiritual gift of healing, and other supernatural powers that ceased early in Christian history—a fact that is itself denied by the strongly dominant Keswick continuationism or anti-cessationism in the matter of spiritual gifts.[11]  Furthermore, if Keswick “distinguishes between being ‘full’ and being ‘filled’” with the Spirit, so that the latter refers to a “filling, or momentary supply . . . as special difficulties arise,”[12] such a distinction is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the command in Ephesians 5:18 is to be filled, not to be full, of the Spirit.[13]  Furthermore, while the Spirit does fill believers to empower them for specific tasks (Acts 4:31), when the Keswick theology employs Acts 5:32[14] to make a point about being “endue[d] with the divine power”[15] to serve the Lord, or as a proof-text for recommended means of believers becoming Spirit-filled, it misinterprets Scripture.  In Acts 5:32, Peter teaches that God gives the Holy Spirit to believers,[16] while God does not give the Holy Spirit to those, such as the council of Pharisees and Sadducees that the Apostle was addressing, who reject Jesus Christ, disobeying the command of God to receive Him as the risen Lord and Savior (Acts 5:28-33, 38-42).  Consequently, every Christian on earth has the Spirit in the sense mentioned in Acts 5:32.  What is more, the obedience mentioned in Acts 5:32 is a result of the receipt of the Spirit at the moment of regeneration, not a means to obtain spiritual power.[17]  The Christian should consequently recognize that the power of God the Holy Ghost is essential for his effective sanctification and service, but reject the unbiblical aspects of the Keswick pneumatology.

 See here for this entire study.

[1]              Pg. 35, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[2]              Pgs. 131-132, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[3]              Pg. 137, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[4]              While perhaps Barabas was simply employing hyperbole when he stated that for “multitudes of Christians the Holy Spirit is an impersonal divine influence” (pg. 130, So Great Salvation; cf. pg. 137, Forward Movements, Pierson), such a declaration is careless, as one who truly denies the Trinity to affirm that the Holy Spirit is simply an impersonal influence is an idolator, not a Christian.  However, it is not clear that Barabas is simply employing hyperbole in his denial of the necessity of faith in the Trinity since his anti-Trinitarian affirmation has clear precedent among Keswick leaders.  Hannah W. Smith did not (she thought) need the Triune God of the Bible; a mystic, non-Trinitarian “bare God” was enough for her.  Keswick leaders such as F. B. Meyer taught that all believers in the Old Testament thought that the Holy Spirit was not a Person, but a force, and denied that a saving conversion involves belief in the Trinity.  If Barabas meant what he said, he was true to much of Keswick piety, although a traitor to the Trinitarianism confessed in Christian baptism (Matthew 28:19).
[5]              Compare the chapters in this composition on Spirit filling and Spirit baptism.
[6]              Pg. 138, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Barabas, on this page, does not actually concede that even isolated statements from Keswick speakers and books do in fact outrun Scripture, but only that they seem to do so.  If not even an isolated statement from any Keswick speaker or writer, for decade after decade, outran Scripture, the conference truly would be remarkable, as it would differ from every other conference of similar length held by fallen men that has ever existed in history.  H. C. G. Moule, while very favorable to the Keswick theology, is more admirably honest than Barabas:  “I venture to think that some new statements made [at Keswick], particularly at first, in the course of the movement we have here before us, failed in either scriptural accuracy or scriptural balance. . . . There is no such thing on earth as a vast assembly where, in the utterances of day after day, no mistake is made, no sin of excess or defect in speech committed” (pgs. xi, xiii, preface by Moule in Harford, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby).  Similarly, Harford-Battersby noted:  “I am not going to deny, indeed I am sadly conscious of the fact, that certain elements of error have been imported into the movement . . . by some less cautious speakers and writers, which, if not eliminated . . . might prove of considerable danger to the minds of those who receive them” (pgs. 173-174, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford).  Thus, “there were elements of danger connected with Mr. Smith’s presentation of truth” (pg. 174, Ibid).  Evan Hopkins likewise believed that at early Keswick conventions and other Higher Life meetings “things had been said . . . which did lack balance and had a dangerous drift . . . things were certainly said there . . . which were not balanced, and which only disturbed my mind and soul” (pgs. 11, 13, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  Barabas would have done well to acknowledge such concessions by the founders and pillars of the Keswick theology.
[7]              See the chapter in this book “Spirit Baptism: A Completed Historical Event. An Exposition and Defense of the Historic Baptist View of Spirit Baptism.”  The fact that Luke 11:13 does not teach the Keswick doctrine that “Christians [should] ask for the Holy Spirit” (pg. 140, So Great Salvation, Barabas) is also examined there.  The Keswick view of Luke 11:13 was also taught at the Broadlands Conference (e. g., pg. 265, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  What is more, Keswick writers like Andrew Murray even taught that the unconverted could be saved by asking for the Holy Spirit  (cf. pg. 14, Why Do You Not Believe?: Words of Instruction and Encouragement for All Who Are Seeking the Lord, Murray).  Such an idea is totally contrary to Scripture’s consistent teaching of justification by faith in Christ alone, not by prayer, and the direct object of saving faith as Christ crucified (cf. John 3:14-18), not specifically the Person of the Spirit.  Of course, it is also true that faith in Christ really involves faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (cf. John 5:24).
[8]              Pgs. 103-104, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[9]              Pg. 132, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[10]             Pg. 139, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Barabas follows Andrew Murray in the quoted affirmation.  Murray, since he believed that all the gifts, from healing to tongues, were for the entire church age, could, with the modern charismatic movement, consistently make this affirmation.  Modern non-charismatics who seek to combine cessationism with Keswick theology cannot do so, and nobody should do so, since the Bible teaches that the sign gifts have ceased.
[11]             Note the discussion below of Keswick and continuationism.
[12]             Pg. 133, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[13]             Such a distinction also needs to be more carefully and specifically defined if it is to be employed of the terms in the book of Acts.  Careful consistency in terminology is not employed by Barabas himself, as he quotes Evan Hopkins’s affirmation for a filling/full distinction on pg. 133, and then on pg. 134 quotes G. Campbell Morgan making a different distinction between a “perpetual filling [not perpetual fulness] of the Spirit” and “specific fillings to overflowing.”
[14]             Barabas does so on pgs. 141, 145, 188.  Acts 5:32 is the only verse quoted or referenced by Barabas from pgs. 134-145, the section where he sets forth the Keswick position on how to become Spirit-filled.  It is unfortunate that the only verse cited has nothing to do with the question, other than the fact that one cannot be Spirit filled until he has been converted, a fact which is not at all the point made by Barabas in his use of the text.
[15]             Pg. 141, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[16]             Cf. Acts 2:38; 11:17; 15:8; Romans 5:5; 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24.  Compare also the uses of di÷dwmi in Acts 5:31 & 11:18.
[17]             That is, in Acts 5:32 God gave (aorist) the gift of the Spirit (to\ Pneuvma . . . to\ ›Agion, o§ e¶dwken oJ Qeo\ß) to those who are now obeying Him (present participle, toi√ß peiqarcouvsin aujtwˆ◊).  The verse does not affirm that God will give the Spirit to those who will obey, or that the Holy Spirit was given to those who had gone through some process of obedience or certain steps set forth in Keswick theology in order to obtain Him, but that He was given through the new birth to those who are now obeying Him—a description of all regenerate people.

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