Friday, February 17, 2017

Keswick's Unintelligibility: in Keswick's Errors--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 16 of 17

Keswick unbiblically depreciates the importance of sanctification as a process, as progressive growth.  This fact is evident in direct statements such as that, for Keswick, “[s]anctification is primarily and fundamentally . . . no[t] a process”[1] and that the “conventional threefold division” which considers sanctification as positional, progressive,[2] and ultimate is not characteristic of Keswick in the way the crisis, gift, process division is.[3] This neglect of progressive sanctification also evidences itself in that Barabas spends only half a page on this aspect of the doctrine.  While he spends forty pages describing sanctification as a crisis and a gift, progressive sanctification gets 1.25% the treatment that the other aspects receive in Keswick.  Indeed, considering the entire scope of Barabas’s discussion of “God’s Provision For Sin” and “Consecration,” where the Keswick doctrine of sanctification as crisis, gift, and process is explicated and contrasted with the views he deems erroneous, the discussion of progressive sanctification receives attention only 0.75% of the time.[4]  This vast underemphasis stands in stark contrast to the tremendous amount of Biblical material dealing with progress in sanctification.
What Barabas writes in his half page on progressive sanctification is, however, sound; although it is not properly prominent, nonetheless Keswick is said to accept the classical doctrine that “experimental sanctification is the day-by-day transformation of the believer into the image of Christ, and is progressive in nature.  Beginning at regeneration, it continues all through life, but is never complete.”[5]  Barabas indicates his dependence in his discussion of progressive sanctification upon the exposition of The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life by Evan Hopkins.[6] Hopkins learned the Higher Life theology from William Boardman and Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith[7] and was brought to adopt Keswick theology after looking at the placid face of one who had received it,[8] having sat at the feet of the Smiths and Mr. Boardman from the time of the first spiritualist-hosted Broadlands Conference onwards[9] even to the last one.[10]  In fact, Hopkins “was for years the acknowledged leader of the Keswick teaching” and “the theologian of the movement. . . . He spoke at the first Keswick Convention, and appeared at Keswick as a leader for thirty-nine years without a break.  No one was regarded with greater respect there than he.”[11] While Hopkins was deeply influenced by the heretics surrounding him at Keswick and Broadlands, what he states in the section of his book on which Barabas depends[12] is as Scriptural[13] as what Barabas derives from him.  Hopkins even admirably affirms, quoting another writer, that in sanctification “the whole aspect of human nature is transformed.”[14]  Barabas claims Keswick acknowledges that the process aspect of sanctification includes “a soul that is continually increasing in the knowledge of God, and abounding in fruits of righteousness . . . [and] continued progress in the development of Christ-like character.”[15] Such an affirmation is certainly Biblical.
What is unusual about such affirmations by the Keswick advocate is that they sound remarkably like the statement by Warfield that the “Holy Spirit . . . cures our sinning precisely by curing our sinful nature; He makes the tree good that the fruit may be good,”[16] yet Barabas inveighs against Warfield’s doctrine as an unscriptural position that Keswick opposes.  If there is no real difference between the doctrine of Keswick and that of Warfield, Barabas’s attack on Warfield is, at this point, inexplicable and unjustifiable; if there is a difference, Barabas does not make its character clear at all.  It would have been of great value to see Barabas attempt to reconcile the classical model of sanctification as positional, progressive, and ultimate and the “more characteristic” division of sanctification by Keswick as process, crisis, and gift.  Had he successfully done so, one could not claim that such a reconciliation is impossible.  Unfortunately, Barabas simply asserts that Keswick accepts, although it deemphasizes, the classic model alongside of its usual and characteristic process, crisis, and gift model, without the slightest explanation of how the two apparently strongly divergent positions can both be true.  The palpable contradictions between the two models are ignored, probably because the “Convention is not interested in academic discussions of theology or ethics, or even adding to the store of Bible knowledge of those who attend”[17] and “Keswick furnishes us with . . . no carefully prepared, weighty discourses of a theological nature.”[18] Since the classic position that sanctification involves the progressive transformation of the believer into the image of Christ appears to directly contradict the Keswick position that God the Holy Ghost does not make the Christian himself more inwardly holy and less sinful, Keswick’s affirmations that “purity [is] never a state,”[19] and that “holiness does not consist in a state of purity”[20] seem utterly irreconcilable with the classic doctrine of progressive sanctification it claims to uphold.[21]  Keswick’s affirmations of both its characteristic crisis, gift, and process model and the classic doctrine of progressive sanctification appear unintelligible.

See here for this entire study.

[1]              Pg. 88, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[2]              Barabas’s substitution of “experimental” for “progressive” in the division of sanctification into positional, progressive, and ultimate on pgs. 84-85 is noteworthy.  The term “experimental” does not carry within it necessarily the idea of progress and growth.
[3]              Pgs. 84-85, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[4]              Pgs. 61-127, So Great Salvation, Barabas, 66 pages.  0.5/66=0.75%.
[5]              Pg. 85, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[6]              Pg. 85, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[7]              Thus, Hopkins read “Dr. W. E. Boardman’s volume on The Higher Christian Life . . . [and] a series of papers by the American, Robert Pearsall Smith, on the subject of Holiness,” and then went to a meeting where he heard R. P. Smith preach.  Hearing Smith, Hopkins affirmed:  “I felt that he had received an overflowing blessing, far beyond anything that I knew”—and by means of Robert Smith’s self-testifying of overflowing Christian joy—although, in truth, Robert P. Smith was a miserable unconverted wretch who was promulgating sexual thrills as Spirit baptism at the time—Hopkins came to adopt the Higher Life doctrine of Boardman and Smith that was then promulgated at the Keswick Convention.  The key passage that led Hopkins to the Higher Life was Mr. Smith’s misinterpretation of 2 Corinthians 9:8, which was, Mr. Smith averred, an affirmation that Christ “would do all, and would live in [the Christian] His Own Holy Life—the only Holy Life possible to us,” not, as an examination of the context and grammatical-historical interpretation would affirm, an affirmation that God would provide physically for His people who give generously to the needy.  Mr. Smith’s view of 2 Corinthians 9:8 became “Mr. Hopkins[’s] . . . locus classicus, his Gospel within the Gospel, the sure ground where he had cast his anchor,” so that “[m]any a time, in the Conventions of the years that followed, Mr. Hopkins would read this text” and lead many others to the bright discovery of the Higher Life which was taught by it, when ripped from its context and interpreted allegorically (pgs. 52-55, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  In 1875 Hopkins took over the work of Robert P. Smith’s magazine, The Christian Pathway to Power, after Smith’s public disgrace as a result of being caught in a woman’s bedroom teaching the erotic baptism.  Hopkins continued to edit the magazine until 1913, renaming the magazine The Life of Faith in 1883 (pgs. 73-74, Ibid).  Even forty years later in 1913, Hopkins testified at the Keswick Convention to the centrality of the teaching he had received from Robert P. Smith in 1873 (cf. pgs. 24-25, 38-39, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).
[8]              Pg. 176, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Many at Broadlands, it seems, had special-looking faces that, at least in a culture strongly under the influence of Romanticism, validated the truth of the Higher Life theology, and formed part of the indissoluble link between Higher Life spirituality and the continuationistic Faith Cure—that is, the Higher Life for the soul and for the body.  “So many faces quite changed their character in those days” of the 1874 Conference (pg. 128, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple).  The transformation was comparable to the miraculous “shining of [the] face . . . of Moses” (pg. 131, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscenses of the Broadlands Conventions, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  At Broadlands “Hannah Smith was radiant,” (pgs. 132-134, Memorials), for “her face gained a soft, Madonna-like beauty . . . her . . . sparking glance . . . [and] pure face spoke for her. . . . She looked as if she knew the [spiritual] secret.  Fair and pure and glad, a piece of nature fresh and racy, and simple, and full of vitality” (pgs. 49-50, 160, 222, The Life that is Life Indeed).
               Even many an “inspired face” was present at Broadlands (pgs. 132-134, Memorials & pg. 59, The Life that is Life Indeed).  It was not in Hannah Smith alone that the “inner light” shone in the “inspiration that came from her shining face” (pgs. 121-123, The Life that is Life Indeed).  The “face” of the universalist “George MacDonald . . . [was] very beautiful . . . very like the pictures of our Lord” (pg. 57, The Life that is Life Indeed), such pictures apparently being good, not sinful and idolatrous (cf. Exodus 20:4-6).  Indeed, “looks that were Christ’s . . . on human faces” were found at Broadlands, where “a desire for the heavenly light . . . sh[one] on [many an] uplifted face,” in line with truth learned from “Swedenborg” (pg. 82, Ibid).  Such glowing faces were similar to the faces of the cute baby-like cherubs that allegedly helped God make Adam out of dust, as seen in a painting of Michelangelo—“how their faces shine” as they usurp the uniquely Divine work of creation!  Like such mythic cherubs, the perfectionist “Amanda Smith” possessed a “glowing face” as she petitioned the moon and the stars to tell God that she was a sinner and ask Him to forgive her (pgs. 73-74, 130, The Life that is Life Indeed).  The hell-rejecting theological liberal F. D. Maurice was a paradigmatic example of the fact that the “faces of some of God’s children shine” (pg. 199, Ibid.  Italics in original.).  Ian Keith Falkoner had an “angel face.”  Theodore Monod possessed such a “glowing countenance” that one “felt” he was in the presence of a holy man, for “his face was transfigured” and “holy fervor and deep reverence were expressed in face and . . . revealed, in a way no words could do . . . the blessedness of communion with God.”  His face revealed communion with God in the way that no words could do, not even the words of Scripture, according to the Higher Life system taught at Broadlands.  Canon Carter of Truro had a “sweet, pure face with morning peace upon it.”  The “radiant . . . lovely face[s]” of the “queens of beauty of [their] time” were present at Broadlands; indeed, “the whole company” went “streaming through the garden with radiant faces” at the Conferences (pgs. 76, 85, 102, 130, 176, 221, Ibid).
               Mr. Mount-Temple gained, through the truths proclaimed at Broadlands, a “sacred illumination of face, too sacred to speak of . . . [which] was noticed . . . and tenderly recorded . . . [a] blessed face . . . placid and often illuminated with wonderful flickerings of light from beyond” pgs. 132-134, Memorials).  After all, at especially spiritual times “a radiant, joyous, wondering glow often lights up the face of [those] who have soared beyond the shadow of our night” (pg. 170, Ibid), even as “such brightness [had] appeared in [the] angelic face” of the Catholic monk “St. Cuthbert” (pgs. 7-8, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conventions).  Thus, the generality of the “goodly company” at Broadlands “were beautiful, and what an attraction there always is in beauty! . . . [P]hysical beauty is . . . a source of real bliss, and . . . it takes the impress of the spiritual . . . Beauty always attracts us; we enjoy it, wish for it . . . beauty is truly an expression of character” (pgs. 35-36, Ibid).  Consequently, the shining faces at Broadlands proved the truth of the Higher Life, since “[s]uch faces are truly . . . windows, through which we see the soul” (pg. 46, Ibid).  Such validation of Higher Life teaching by shiny faces and other similarly utterly unauthoritative and extra-Scriptural chimeras passed through Broadlands to the Keswick movement.
[9]              Both the Smiths and Boardman were Higher Life teachers at Broadlands, as well as at the Oxford and other Higher Life gatherings; cf. pg. 20, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck; pg. 20, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Note the lists of names of those who met at Broadlands, where Evan Hopkins, Webb-Peploe, and other early Keswick leaders are listed along with the Pearsall Smiths, on pgs. 118, 148, of Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.
[10]             Pg. 202, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  Thus, Hopkins regularly was present and preached often at at the Broadlands Conferences, as he was present and preached at the Keswick Conventions.
[11]             Pgs. 158-159, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Polluck affirms that Hopkins, after skipping the first Keswick Convention, attended the next forty-one, not thirty-nine as Barabas stated, without a break (pg. 39, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck).  Hopkins learned the Higher Life doctrine “after listening to Robert Pearsall Smith on the subject of Holiness,” and an address by Hopkins “was the means of winning T. D. Harford-Battersby,” co-founder of the Keswick Convention with the Quaker Robert Wilson, “over to the Higher Life movement” (pgs. 158-159, So Great Salvation; cf. pgs. 75ff., Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).
[12]             Pgs. 99-102, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, Hopkins.
[13]             Unfortunately, other things Hopkins taught were not a little less Scriptural; for example, his preaching at the Oxford Convention that one must “begin” in the Higher Life by rejecting the active obedience of Christ in redemption (pg. 93, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874), is, one hopes, simply loose language.
[14]             Pg. 101, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, Hopkins.
[15]             Pg. 123, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  While Barabas does not have a specific section on sanctification as a process other than half of pg. 85, scattered statements about process are occasionally found within his comparatively massive discussions of sanctification as gift and as crisis.
[16]             Pg. 71, So Great Salvation, Barabas, quoting Warfield, Perfectionism Vol. 2, pgs. 579-583.
[17]             Pg. 108, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[18]             Pg. 51, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[19]             Pg. 47, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[20]             Pg. 49, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  The page adds the qualifier “apart from Christ,” but its point in context is not simply to assert the obvious fact that Christ is the Author of all spiritual strength, life, and growth.  Rather, it denies the progressive inward renewal of the believer and the progressive death of the principle of indwelling sin to affirm that nothing happens within the Christian besides counteraction.
[21]             Barabas does not clearly set forth the insufficient view that progress in sanctification is merely an increased appropriation of Christ, while the person himself remains unchanged—indeed, his quotation of Hopkins appears to deny this view—but other Higher Life writers have done so.  Warfield refutes this position while discussing the doctrine of the German Lutheran Higher Life leader Theodore Jellinghaus (who affirmed typical Lutheran heresies, such as baptismal regeneration and opposition to eternal security, among other very serious errors on the way of salvation).  Jellinghaus had learned of the Higher Life from Robert Pearsall Smith and his associates.  Keswick’s leading to the rise of German Pentecostalism brought Jellinghaus to renounce the Higher Life as he saw its fruits more clearly.  Warfield records:
[The Higher Life doctrine of Jellinghaus is that] [a]s we received forgiveness of sins at once on our first believing, so do we receive our full deliverance from the power of sin at once on this our second believing. But, along with this, emphasis is thrown on the continuousness of both the cause and the effect. Jesus saves us now—if I believe now; and the believer is to live in a continuous believing and consequent continuous salvation. This is, of course, the well known “moment by moment” doctrine of the Higher Life teachers. The main purpose of this teaching is to prevent us from supposing that the source of our holiness is in ourselves. But it has the additional effect of denying with great emphasis that the seat of our holiness—any of it, at any time—is in ourselves. It thus makes our holiness in all its extent purely a holiness of acts, never of nature. What we obtain by faith is Christ—as a Preserver from sinful acts. By continuous faith we obtain Him continuously—as Preserver from sinful acts; and only from those particular sinful acts with which we are for the moment threatened. We do not at any time obtain Him as Savior from all possible sins, but only as Savior from the particular sinful acts for protection from which we, from time to time, need Him. Thus we are never made “holy” in any substantial sense, so that we are ourselves holy beings. And also accordingly we are never made “holy” in any conclusive sense, so that, being holy in ourselves, naturally we continue holy. This is the way Jellinghaus expresses himself . . . [w]e are, says Jellinghaus, like a poor relation living in a rich man’s house as a dependent, and receiving all he needs day by day from his benefactor, but never being made rich himself.
The purpose in view here is to emphasize our constant dependence on Christ. But this is done so unskillfully as to end in denying the possibility of our sanctification. We never are ourselves made holy; only our acts are provided for. We ask nothing and we get nothing beyond the meeting of our daily needs in sustaining our struggles on earth. As for ourselves, we remain unholy, apparently forever. . . . There is a confusion here between the source and the seat of [sanctification]. . . . [Jellinghaus writes,] “The Christian can be pure only as a member of Christ our Head, as a branch of the vine. In himself every Christian is a branch of sinful humanity and is prone to sin. Only through implantation into Christ’s death and resurrection can he be and remain holy. Separated from Christ and His purifying blood (blood signifies the life of Christ given in death and resurrection), he is sinful and has sin.” . . . If this be true then salvation is impossible. We are never saved. We only seem to be saved, because Christ works through us the works of a saved soul. That is not the way John conceived it, or Christ. Naturally most painful results follow from such representations. For example, our aspirations are lowered. We are never to wish or seek to be holy ourselves, but are to be content with being enabled to meet in our unholiness the temptations of the day. We lose the elevating power of a high ideal. And we are to be satisfied with never being “well-pleasing to God.” . . . What the Scriptures teach is that we shall be more and more transformed into Christ’s image until at last, when we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him, and therefore in ourselves—as He has made us—well-pleasing to God.
There is expressly included in this doctrine a provision for a progressive sanctification, along the ordinary lines of the teaching of the Higher Life Movement in this matter. We have seen Jellinghaus in passages just quoted limiting the ability of the Christian to enter “immediately” into the victorious power and peace-bringing leading of Christ, by such phrases as “according to the measure of his knowledge,” and “for the needs of which he is presently conscious.” The Christian is freed from all the sinning which at the stage of Christian knowledge to which he has attained he knows to be sinning; and as his knowledge grows so his objective sanctification increases. It is apparently also repeatedly suggested that it depends entirely on the Christian’s own action whether or not he retains his hold on Christ and so continues in his sanctifying walk. Undoubtedly this is in accordance with Jellinghaus’ fundamental conception of the relation of the Christian to Christ and the way of salvation. He continually suggests that our standing in Christ depends absolutely on ourselves. Those that believe in Christ, he tells us for example, “have in Him forgiveness and righteousness, and also shall retain it so long as they abide in Christ.” It is, he continues, like a king granting public amnesty in terms like these: He who appears within a year at a particular place, lays down his weapons, and swears fealty—to him then shall be handed an already prepared diploma of pardon, and he will remain pardoned so long as he maintains his loyalty. . . . Our continued justification depends therefore absolutely on our continued faith, and the implication is that this is left wholly in our hands. Justification cannot therefore be made to cover our future sins—the sin, for example, of failing faith. . . . What Jellinghaus is really laboring for here is to make room in some way for “falling from grace.” He is possessed with the fear that if he does not limit the scope of justification, at least with respect to the grosser future sins, he will give license to sin, which in the end means merely that he has more confidence in man’s efforts than in God’s grace. What he has succeeded in doing is only to destroy all possibility of assurance of salvation. Men are cast back on their own works, whether of faith or of conduct, for their hope of ultimate salvation. God’s justification is valid only if they maintain their faith and commit no sins of malice aforethought, or of conscious indifference, or unlovingness. (pgs. 386-390, Warfield, Perfectionism Vol. 1, Warfield, “The German Higher Life Movement in its Chief Exponent.”)

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