Friday, February 03, 2017

Keswick's Passivity: in Keswick's Errors--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 15 of 17

Furthermore, when Keswick affirms, following the Pearsall Smiths and the Broadlands Conference,[1] that the believer’s sole responsibility in sanctification is to lie “quietly” in the Potter’s hands, to “give up belief in . . . struggl[ing] or striv[ing]”[2] and cease from “struggle and painful effort . . . earnest resolutions and self-denial,”[3] it teaches an unbiblical Quietism,[4] exemplified in the Victorious Life motto, “Let go and let God.”[5]  Barabas alleges that “Keswick is very careful to point out that its doctrine of sanctification by faith is not Quietism,” quoting “Bishop Handley Moule”[6] to support this alleged opposition to Quietism by Keswick.  However, Barabas either overlooks or misrepresents[7] the fact that Moule himself, who Barabas affirms was the greatest scholar ever to adopt the Keswick theology,[8] 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.[9]  The explicit endorsement of a form of Quietism by Keswick leaders was simply a continuation of the teaching of Lord Mount Temple[10] and Hannah W. Smith, reproduced at the Broadlands, Oxford, and Brighton conferences, where “Quietism . . . was taught . . . in the sense of [the poem], ‘Sweet to lie passive in His hands/And know no will but His.’”[11]  In sanctification, the believer is “simply to . . . lie passive.”[12]  Passivity is of the highest importance:  “[I]n the disciple’s life, the . . . first quality of a true instrument is passivity. An active instrument would defeat its own purpose . . . and then it not only becomes useless, but it works damage and disaster. . . . [I]n the Word of God, we meet so frequently the symbols of passive service.”[13]  Hannah and Robert Smith sought to bring others into a life of carefree and quietistic happiness, since the Higher Life was “an easy life of rest and ease . . . without effort,” indeed, “the only easy life.”[14]  Unfortunately, when Moule and other Keswick writers followed the Smiths and warned of “letting the self-life intrude itself into the work of God,”[15] they were not warning only of the danger of fallen, sinful volitions in man, or of making one’s own self rather than the glory of God one’s goal.  Rather, they were teaching the quietistic doctrine that the human personality itself needed, in unbiblical ways, to be passive, as Hannah W. Smith taught when she opposed the “self-life” in favor of the Quietism of Quakerism and Roman Catholic mysticism, or when Lord Mount-Temple and others exhorted at Broadlands, “Let us give up the self-life” for the Higher Life flowing from the Divine Seed within.[16]  Not sin—including the sin of selfishness—but “self,” the active human personality, was the problem for Keswick.  For Mrs. Smith and Keswick, the command of Scripture to “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” meant “[w]e must reckon ourselves to be dead to self,”[17] for the active human personality itself was an evil to be set aside.  Thus, Bishop Moule, the man Keswick recognizes as its most scholarly advocate, consciously and deliberately labeled the Keswick theology (which he loved and defended) a form of Quietism, a fact supported by other Keswick writers such as Andrew Murray and Jessie Penn-Lewis.[18]  Contrary to the revisionist history set forth by Barabas, the plain historical facts indicate that “the Quietists and other Catholic mystics [were] widely accepted as part of the true holiness movement.”[19] Thus, classic statements of the Keswick theology by its proponents affirm:  “The Keswick message . . . [is] ‘quietism.’”[20]  According to Keswick, by a cessation from effort, the believer can pass from the state where the “Lord [is] unused” to one where he can “use the Lord”[21] to become sanctified.  The secret of victory and sanctification by faith alone was that “we had nothing to do but remain quiet, and the Lord would do everything for us.”[22]  Keswick, following Hannah W. and Robert P. Smith and the Broadlands Conferences,[23] affirms that one is to “hand over the fleshly deeds of the body to the Spirit for mortification . . . Romans 8:13 . . . [and] stand in faith[.] . . . It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to do the rest. Sanctification is thus the result, not of attempts at suppression of the flesh, but of faith in the finished work of Calvary.”[24]  In contrast to Keswick, the Bible says that the believer is himself to actively “mortify the deeds of the body . . . through the Spirit” (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5), not refuse to mortify them but hand them over to the Spirit.  Keswick teaches that the Christian is not to try to suppress the flesh, but Scripture commands him not merely to suppress his ethically sinful flesh, but to go far beyond that, and put it to death.  The Biblical relationship between faith and effort in sanctification, which has already been explicated,[25] is dramatically different from the Quietism inherent within the Keswick theology.  Scripture denies passivity and Quietism in sanctification, and thus denies Keswick theology.[26]

See here for this entire study.

[1]              E. g., Robert P. Smith set forth what became the standard Keswick Quietism on pg. 220ff. Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Hannah W. Smith preached at Broadlands:  “We have the Divine life; we must see to it that we let it live, that we let no other life live” (pg. 182, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  That is, our own human life must cease, and we must allow the Divine Seed, the Christ-life, to live instead of us.
[2]              Pg. 88, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[3]              Pg. 90, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[4]              While Keswick is quietistic, its Quietism is often milder than many of the historical manifestations of Quietism, and thus, while its Quietism hinders the believer’s sanctification, it is not as theologically aberrant as, say, the Quietism of the medieval Romanist mysticism that influenced it.  Keswick happily, though inconsistently, denies that sanctification involves “the destruction of the Christian’s personality” (pg. 134, So Great Salvation, Barabas) while still affirming that, rather than the world, the flesh, and the devil, “the greatest danger . . . the individual has to dread is the inordinate activity of the soul with its powers of mind and will” (pg. 335, The Spirit of Christ, Andrew Murray; also cited in chapter 8, Soul & Spirit, Jessie Penn-Lewis).
[5]              This phrase was popularized by Victorious Life leader Charles Trumbull in his tract, “What is Your Kind of Christianity?” and examined by B. B. Warfield in “The Victorious Life,” Chapter 5 of Perfectionism, Vol. 2 (see pg. 588).  Compare, in Trumbull’s book Victory in Christ, the title to chapter 5:  “Victory without Trying” (Elec. acc.
However, to his credit, “at Keswick . . . [William Graham] Scroggie,” who “[i]n 1950 . . . was called ‘indisputably the foremost living Keswick teacher’ . . . had opposed the idea of ‘Let go–and let God’ and had said that victory came through ‘fighting and striving to make true in experience what is true for us positionally.’”  Unfortunately, “Scroggie did not deny the possibility of contemporary speaking in tongues,” and, “[s]peaking at one Keswick Convention on the subject of the Apostles’ Creed, he argued that given the conflicts of the 1920s over theological modernism (with fundamentalists calling for evangelicals to leave the existing denominations), it was preferable to use the Apostles’ Creed as a widely accepted basis of faith than for small groups to construct their own bases of belief and split from the wider [universal] church” (“Scroggie, William Graham,” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, pgs. 593-594).  Furthermore, “Scroggie . . . did accept that the gift of tongues might still be available to Christians” (pg. 71, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  While Scroggie sought to reform the dominant Keswick Quietism, he maintained its unbiblical continuationism or anti-cessationism and its ecumenicalism.
[6]              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).
[7]              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.
[8]              “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” (pg. 175, So Great Salvation, Barabas).  Moule adopted the Keswick theology through the influence of Evan Hopkins (pgs. 106, 148, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  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. (pg. 173, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald)
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.
[9]              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.
[10]             E. g., pg. 124, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890.
[11]             Pgs. 421-422, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.  The pages affirm that “Quietism it may have been also in [another] sense,” so that Quietism was the explicit teaching of the foundational meetings that originated the Keswick theology in at least two senses.  This Higher Life Quietism is explicitly tied to that of the “most renowned of the quietists, Madame Guyon . . . one can only wish that more went half as far as she did, in the passion for saving the sinful” (pgs. 421-422), which she somehow was capable of doing, although she believed a false gospel.  The only qualification stated to the commendation of Guyon’s Quietism is that she “may”—it is only a possibility, not a certainty—have “gone somewhat further than was right”—what is certain is that “one can only wish that more went half as far as she did.”
[12]             Pg. 295, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Cf. pg. 299.
[13]             Pgs. 68-69, Forward Movements of the Last Half Century, Arthur T. Pierson.  New York, NY:  London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900.  Italics in original.  Pierson goes on to illustration the Higher Life passivity by comparing his doctrine of the Christian’s role in sanctification with impersonal, unthinking objects:  the “machine . . . plane . . . knife . . . axe . . . bow . . . rod . . . staff . . . saw . . . hammer . . . sword . . . spear . . . threshing instrument . . . flail . . . vessel.”  The idea that the believer is in willful, deliberate cooperation with God by grace is definitively and deliberately excluded, and solely impersonal symbols are employed.  The Biblical metaphors that show a Christian’s active willing and doing are all passed by—the Christian is not the servant who obeys, the sheep that follows the Shepherd, the watchman who is vigilant, the warrior who fights, or the athlete who wrestles, boxes, and runs.  He is only the “plane” or the “machine” that runs when an electric current flows through it.
[14]             See pgs. 58, 84, 86, 211, 313-314, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875; also pgs. 276, 292, etc., Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.
[15]             Pg. 172, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[16]             Pgs. 184-185, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[17]             Pg. 234, The God of All Comfort, Hannah W. Smith.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1906; pgs. 231-232, Living in the Sunshine, Hannah W. Smith.  London:  Fleming H. Revell, 1906.  Hannah W. Smith’s transformation of Scripture’s “dead to sin” into “dead to self” reappears in subsequent Keswick writers:  “If I reckon myself to be indeed dead in Christ, I am separated from self” (pg. 97, Holy in Christ: Thoughts on the Calling of God’s Children to Be Holy as He Is Holy, Andrew Murray.  New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 1887).  “[Y]ou reckon yourselves as alive from the dead, dead to self” (pg. 208, The Spiritual Life, Andrew Murray [Chicago: Tupper & Robertson, 1896]; “It is an unfeigned delight to find that the teaching of the Inner Life is becoming so widespread . . . the reckoning oneself dead to self . . . and the Rest of Faith, Life across the Jordan in the Land of Promise, these are familiar and deeply prized truths” (pg. 38, Forward Movements of the Last Half Century, Arthur T. Pierson [New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900], quoting F. B. Meyer in The Ram’s Horn.).
[18]             Barabas himself (pgs. 138-139, So Great Salvation) quotes Murray’s quietistic affirmation (from pgs. 65-73, The Full Blessing of Pentecost, by Andrew Murray.  New York, NY:  Revell, 1908) that, for the Christian, “My life must be expelled; then the Spirit of Jesus will flow in.”  This teaching, Barabas concludes, illustrates that “our own life must be utterly cast aside, to make full room for the life of God.”  For the influence of the Romanist mystical Quietist Madame Guyon on Jessie Penn-Lewis, see the section “Keswick Theology and Continuationism or Anti-Cessationism” below in the chapter entitled “Evan Roberts and Jessie-Penn Lewis.”
[19]             Pg. 64, Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Synan.
[20]             Pg. 181, The Keswick Convention: Its Message, Its Method, and its Men, ed. Charles Harford.  In another chapter explaining “some characteristics of the message,” of Keswick, the book affirmed:  “[P]eople might call it Quietism. Call it what they would, it was very real and very beautiful to see” (pg. 99).
[21]             Pg. 174, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  The plain Biblical truth is that God uses the believer—the phraseology of the believer using God is unscriptural and repulsive, and too much like the thought of the later Word of Faith heresy.  Nevertheless, at least among certain (though, happily, not all) prominent Keswick writers, following the theological trajectory of the Keswick precursor Conventions, the believer deciding to “use the Lord” or “use Christ” or “use God” to become sanctified was a regular part of the terminology of sanctification.  For example, W. H. Griffith Thomas, trying to clear up what he alleged were misrepresentations of the Keswick theology by B. B. Warfield, and trying to put the most orthodox and moderate view he could on the Keswick doctrine, quoted as paradigmatic Moule’s preaching at Keswick and stating four different times that “we can use . . . Christ” for our sanctification, and another Keswick convention minister stating that “Keswick . . . is the idea of Christ . . . used fully” (see pgs. 279, 287, 455, 456, 458, “The Victorious Life (I.),” & “The Victorious Life (II.), W. H. Griffith Thomas, Bibliotheca Sacra July & October 1919, 267-288 & 455-467).  Later Keswick writers, such as Watchman Nee’s successor Witness Lee, could speak of “qualified” people who “can properly use the Holy Spirit” (pg. 137, Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit of Life, Witness Lee.  Anaheim, CA:  Living Stream Ministry, 2005).  Warfield incisively notes:
It would probably be no exaggeration to say that no heresy could be more gross than that heresy which conceives the operations of God the Holy Spirit under the forms of the action of an impersonal, natural force. . . . [This] deals with God the Holy Spirit, the source of all grace, in utter neglect of his personality, as if he were a natural force, operating, not when and where and how he pleases, but uniformly and regularly wherever his activities are released. . . . The conception is not essentially different from that of storing electricity, say, in a Leyden jar, whence it can be drawn upon for use. How dreadful the conception is may be intimated by simply speaking of it with frankness under its true forms of expression: it is equivalent to saying that saving grace, God the Holy Spirit, is kept on tap, and released at [one’s] will to do the work required of it. . . . [Men] contain in them the Holy Spirit as a salvation-working power which operates whenever and wherever it, we can scarcely say he, is applied. . . . And this obviously involves, in the third place, the subjection of the Holy Spirit in his gracious operations to the control of men. . . . The initiative is placed in [men] . . . and the Holy Spirit is placed at their disposal. He goes where they convey him; he works when they release him for work; his operations wait on their permission; and apart from their direction and control he can work no salvation. It ought to be unnecessary to say that this is a degrading conception of the modes of activity of the Holy Spirit. Its affinities are not with religion in any worthy sense of that word, which implies personal relations with a personal God, but with magic. At bottom, it conceives of the divine operations as at the disposal of man, who uses God for his own ends; and utterly forgets that rather God must be conceived as using man for his ends. (pgs. 82-84, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures, B. B. Warfield.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915)
[22]             Pg. 173, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.
[23]             E. g., Hannah W. Smith taught “the plan of handing over your temptations to Him to conquer” instead of resisting them in His strength (Letter to her cousin Carrie, February 26, 1867, reproduced in the entry for February 20 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  Robert P. Smith proclaimed, based on a misinterpretation of Galatians 2:20, that the believer’s part is not to actively mortify sin:  “[O]ur work is simply to hand everything over to Him. . . . Suffer Christ to live out His own glorious life in you hour by hour . . . [you will be] more . . . free from effort each day” (pg. 220, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).
[24]             Pgs. 106-107, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Note the false dichotomy Barabas makes between faith in the finished work of Christ and active effort to mortify the flesh; in Biblical sanctification the two are the most intimate friends, not the irreconcilable opposites Barabas makes them.
[25]             See the chapters “The Just Shall Live by Faith” and “Does Colossians 2:6-7 Teach Sanctification by Faith Alone?” above.
[26]             Packer notes:
Passivity means conscious inaction—in this case, inner inaction.  A call to passivity—conscientious, consecrated passivity—has sometimes been read into certain biblical texts, but it cannot be read out of any of them.  Thus, for instance, to “yield” or “present” oneself to God (Romans 6:13; 12:1), or as it is sometimes put, to “surrender” or “give ourselves up” to him, is not passivity.  Paul’s meaning is not that having handed ourselves over to our Master, we should then lapse into inaction, waiting for Christ to move us instead of moving ourselves, but rather that we should report for duty, saying as Paul himself said on the Damascus road, “What shall I do, Lord? . . .” (Acts 22:10) and setting no limits to what Christ by his Spirit through his Word may direct us to do.  This is activity!  Again, being “led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18) is not passivity.  Paul’s meaning is not that we should do nothing till celestial promptings pop into our minds, but that we should resolutely labor by prayer and effort to obey the law of Christ and mortify sin (see Galatians 5:13-6:19; and Romans 8:5-13, to which v. 14 looks back).  This too is activity!
              Surely we need not go further.  The point is plain.  Passivity, which quietists think liberates the Spirit, actually resists and quenches him.  Souls that cultivate passivity do not thrive, but waste away.  The Christian’s motto should not be “Let go and let God” but “Trust God and get going!” . . . [P]assivity [is] . . . unbiblical . . . and hostile to Christian maturity. (pg. 128, Keep In Step With The Spirit, J. I. Packer)

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