Friday, August 04, 2017

Frederick B. Meyer: "Baptist" Kewsick Advocate & Apostate False Teacher, part 3 of 4

            F. B. Meyer’s Keswick ecumenicalism, however, did not extend only to sacramentalists, Quakers, and Pentecostals within the broad pale of Christiandom.  Pagans who knew nothing of Jesus Christ and who—according to the Bible (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 1)—are worshippers of the devil without hope or God in the world, could also be saved without ever hearing about or knowing the Lord Jesus.  In India, following his practice in other countries, Meyer preached, instead of the gospel, the Keswick doctrine of sanctification to idolators trapped in the darkness of Hinduism because he believed that God had already given Hindus “revelations” of himself, and that their “tears and prayers come up as a memorial before God,” although not offered to the Triune Jehovah, but to their abominable idols, so that they were in need only of “further revelations” through Christ.  Meyer affirmed:  “I [am] . . . deeply convinced that the prime work of our missionary societies is to discover the souls . . . the non-Christian natives . . . with whom the Divine Spirit has already been at work, ascertaining the stage which they have reached in the divine life, and endeavouring to lead them forward.”[1]  The Keswick theology was important to pagan Hindus and other non-Christians, for many of them already possessed “the divine life” and just needed to move forward, and, of course, nothing could move idolatrous polytheistic Hindus forward to a deeper spiritual life than Keswick theology.  Preaching the Higher Life to such people was, for Meyer, the prime work of missionary societies, and Keswick doctrine would strike a better cord with such Hindus than preaching the objective and finished work of Jesus Christ and justification by repentant faith alone in Him, since Hindu mysticism and quietism were like Keswick doctrine.  Meyer testified:
At the close of an afternoon service in one of the public halls of Bombay, a number of intelligent and thoughtful men . . . non-Christian natives of India . . . gathered round me, who said that my teaching of the inner life, and especially of the negation of self, was not what they were generally accustomed to hear from the lips of a Christian teacher, though it was exactly in line with much that was taught in their own religious books. They told me that one objection which they had towards the religion of Jesus Christ was that, so far as it had been presented to them, it seemed so exclusively objective in its testimony, and gave so little room for those deeper teachings of the subjective discipline of the spirit which appeared to them so all-important. . . . It is interesting to recall the eagerness with which the non-Christian natives of India heard from my lips teaching as to those higher or deeper truths [of the Keswick theology] concerning the crucifixion of the self-life in order to the indwelling of the Son of God.[2]
Hindu idolators were not the only ones who could be saved without knowing Jesus Christ, of course;  pagan religious leaders “from all races” could lead one to heaven, since nature revealed all that was necessary for salvation.  Meyer’s belief in “a kind of nature mysticism,” found very prominently and notably in his own oft-repeated testimony to his entrance into the Keswick experience, led Meyer to believe that “Wordsworth and all his followers were . . . students in the school of Jesus Christ. . . . Nature was being given greater emphasis at Keswick than had previously been the case in evangelicalism.”[3]  Such nature mysticism led Meyer to “often” leave the “Keswick tent to breathe in both the Keswick air and the Holy Spirit,”[4] for Meyer would pray:  “Father, as I breathe in this breath of the evening air, so I breathe in Thy gift of the Holy Spirit.”[5]  After all, Meyer had entered into the Higher Life himself originally by breathing God in after a meeting led by George Grubb at Keswick.[6]  In any case, the heathen did not even need to live up the light that they had to be saved, since none of them do so (as is true, and which justifies their universal condemnation, according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 1-2, though not according to Mr. Meyer);  some kind of vague faith in their pagan gods was enough for the heathen to be saved, just as in Christiandom one does not need “accurate views of that redemption” wrought by Christ to be saved, but simply a faith that is the same in kind with that of the allegedly saved pagans:  “[M]yriads of souls, who lived and died with no other teaching than that of natural reason, have entered into the Kingdom . . . and they have been admitted on precisely the same terms as those on which we [Christians] hope to be accepted.”[7]  Perhaps these heathen breathed in the Holy Spirit with the evening air, as Meyer did.  In any case, it was certain that accurate views of redemption were unnecessary, for Meyer himself did not hold to them—for example, he rejected the doctrine that Christ’s cross-work was a propitiation (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10):  “We must never think that our Lord stepped in to appease the otherwise implacable wrath of the Father.”[8]  For a Keswick revival to come, the universal church must reject the work of Christ as a propitiation of the wrath of God for a doctrine of atonement by her own blood and self sacrifice:  “[T]he Church . . . accounts that her blood is not too great a price to pay for an atonement through love and self-sacrifice—it is only under such circumstances that a work of lasting revival can be inaugurated.”[9]  In light of these affirmations, clearly for Meyer the old orthodox doctrine of Christ’s blood atonement was not necessary for salvation.  Meyer received further support, as he supposed, for his doctrine that a vague faith in a deity was all that was necessary for salvation from his gross misunderstanding of Old Testament theology, seen in the alleged fact that throughout the Old Testament Israel believed the that the Lord was “God of the hills alone,” but not “of the valleys also”—the truth that God was the Omnipresent and Omnipotent One over the whole world, including the valleys and the hills, was allegedly only revealed in the New Testament.  Furthermore, Meyer thought that from the creation of the world until the day of Pentecost the Trinity was unknown, and the saints of Scripture accepted the blasphemy that the Holy Ghost of God was “an atmosphere,” not “a Person.”[10]  If people who knew nothing of the Trinity, who thought God was only a local deity who controlled hills but was powerless in valleys, and who rejected the orthodox doctrine of Christ’s blood atonement, could have faith and be saved in the past, they could be saved in the same manner today also; people within "Christianity" who simply have the vague faith in a god that one can receive from natural revelation are saved, Meyer taught.  After all, if accurate views of the atonement of Christ, the Trinity, and other fundamental Christian doctrines, are necessarily part of saving faith, the ecumenicalism of Keswick must fall to the ground, and the heretics that founded the Keswick theology and filled so many of the seats of Keswick conventions would be unconverted—a clearly unacceptable conclusion.  Those “earnest brethren . . . [who] denounced [Meyer] as a heretic”[11] were certainly mistaken, and just were not ecumenical enough;  neither was Naaman when he confessed to Elijah, “now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel” (2 Kings 10:15), nor Paul when he affirmed that pagans were without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12).  Meyer was not nearly as narrow as the Scripture and its Author:
Not from the Hebrew race alone, but from all races, God has called forth great souls . . . the great Prophets and Teachers of the Race . . . who have received His messages for their contemporaries and all after time. We utter their names with reverence, and acknowledge the important contributions that have been made to the religious history of the race by Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Plato, and other prophetic souls, who have reared themselves like soaring Alps above their fellows, catching and reflecting the light of the Eternal.[12]
Zoroaster, Buddha, and other pagan devil-worshippers were actually prophets who received messages from God, just like those received by the Prophets of the Bible;  their teachings, writings, and religious systems were not the proclamations of idolatry to be detested, but “sources of religious knowledge and inspiration,”[13] as the Bible is an inspired source of religious knowledge.  Alongside of the Bible one may recognize the inspiration of the “Vedas . . . Krishna . . . Seneca” and other pagan writings and writers;  “the founder of the Moslem faith” also gave a “noble witness,” and “Marcus Aurelius,” that “loftiest of pagan moralists,” was a righteous heathen although he “cruelly persecuted the Christians of the [Roman] empire,” so not only those ignorant of Christ, but those who put His people to death, can be saved and be vehicles of Divine revelation.  From the message of pagan writings, the heathen receive “revelation of the truth” and “righteousness is imputed to them,” although they “know nothing of our Lord’s work on their behalf.”[14]  Unsurprisingly, while uplifting the documents of pagan religion to the level of inspiration, Meyer downgraded the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, accepting modernistic ideas such as a documentary hypothesis about the composition of the gospels comparable to the modern “Q” theory[15]—“Meyer was a late nineteenth/early twentieth-century Protestant liberal who took modern biblical criticism for granted, and was not a fundamentalist. . . . Fundamentalism . . . was a divisive force which . . . placed an overemphasis on doctrine and dogmas.”[16]  Pagans, and their writings, Meyer thought, “are a striking comment on those great words of Malachi, ‘From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, God’s name is great among the nations, and in every place incense has been offered unto His name, and a pure offering; for His name is great among the Gentiles,’”[17] although Malachi actually was not affirming that pagans were worshipping the true God and making pure offerings as they served their idols through human sacrifice, temple prostitutes, and the like, but predicting the future Messianic kingdom when the Gentiles would reject all idolatry and purely worship Jehovah alone through Jesus Christ, as validated in the translation in the Authorized Version, which correctly has future tense verbs where Meyer employed the present tense:  “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”[18]  Phonecian Baal-worshippers in Tyre and Sidon, and even the sodomites who sought to gang-rape other men in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and who were destroyed by fire and brimstone from heaven (Genesis 19), could be saved—for God knew the faith that they had, and their real, fundamentally positive attitude toward Him:  “God, who searches the heart, and knows what would have happened in Tyre and Sidon and the cities of the Plain, if they had heard of the mighty works of Christ, deals with them on the basis of the faith they have, anticipating the hour when that faith, which is an attitude towards God, and the embryo capacity for receiving God, shall no longer be an unfurled bud, but shall open to its full radiance and glory in the tropical atmosphere of heaven.”[19]  Since Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, animists, and even idolatrous sodomites who practice gang-rape, could be saved without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ, and certainly without a conscious conversion to Him, their problem was not that they were certain of hell in their religions—rather, it was that they lacked the power for service to God provided by the Keswick theology.  Meyer was Keswick’s great international ambassador because of his belief that heathen people could get eternal life through faith in their gods, but they needed the Higher Life only found in the Keswick doctrine to discover the secret of a happy life on earth.  As in the Quakerism of Hannah W. Smith, Meyer believed men are not totally depraved, and religion ignorant of Jesus Christ can bring people to heaven, but Meyer thought non-Christian religions could not supply power for service—only Keswick could.  “It is a mistake to suppose that the state of the world, as it is today, is due to the determined choice of man to be evil,” for men are not determined to evil, and it certainly is not the case that “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11) or that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [is] only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5)—rather, all men have a “better self,” so that even in “Heathenism . . . [m]en have seen and approved the better,” and “the heart of man never ceased to feel after God . . . the soul of man has ever cried out for God, for the Living God . . .[and] sighed with unutterable and insatiable desire for light and life and love.”  Just like the world developed through long evolutionary ages, getting better and better over time, so the heathen are getting better and better over time.  While heathens are not totally depraved, and many will be in heaven, nonetheless they do not have the power supplied by Keswick:  “the state of the world . . . is  due to inability to be and do the things which reason and conscience alike demand. . . . Natural Religion cannot supply power.”[20]  Romans 7:14-25 is a description of both the righteous heathen who are headed to heaven without knowing of Christ, and of Jews in the Old Testament[21]—the heathen will be saved, just like many Jews before Christ were saved, but power for service was lacking to both—hence the need to preach to the heathen, not so much justification by the objective substitutionary work of Christ, but the Higher Life of Keswick theology.  Keswick, not the gospel, was the need of the idolator.

See here for this entire study.

 [1]           Pgs. 25-29, The Wideness of God’s Mercy,  F. B. Meyer.  New York:  Eaton and Mains, 1906.  Meyer even met Mahatma Gandhi and commended his sincerity.  Indeed, Meyer was even “formative in . . . Ghandi[’s] own ‘passive resistance’ movement,” although, sadly, Ghandi did not receive the gospel of Jesus Christ through his interaction with his mentor Meyer (pg. 113, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).
[2]           Pgs. 26-27, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[3]           Pgs. 46-47, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.  Part of this emphasis on nature was the strong cultural influence on Keswick in favor of Romanticism;  at Keswick, “sentiments which embodied some Romantic traits and which could at times seem to be less firmly anchored in older scriptural orthodoxy . . . [were] voice[d],” and not by F. B. Meyer alone, but also by Evan Hopkins, Webb-Peploe, and others.  Indeed, “Keswick was . . . a symptom of the Romantic inclinations of the period . . . what was distinctive about it did derive primarily from the spirit of the age, and can be understood only in that light.”  Both philosophical “romanticism” and “relativism” contributed to the growth, popularity, and teaching of Keswick (pgs. 45-47, 254, ibid).  It is is noteworthy that Wordsworth was born in the Lake District, where the Keswick Conventions were held.
[4]           Pg. 76, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.
[5]           Pg. 47, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.  Compare the words of A. B. Simpson:  ““I had to learn . . . every second, to breathe Himself in as I breathed, and breathe myself out. So, moment by moment for the spirit, and moment by moment for the body”  (“Himself,” A. B. Simpson.  Elec. acc.
[6]           Pgs. 103-104, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[7]           Pgs. 23-25, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[8]           Pg. 101, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[9]           Pg. 109, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[10]         Pg. 80, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[11]         Pg. 204-205, F. B. Meyer:  A Biography. W. Y. Fullerton.
[12]         Pgs. 18-19, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[13]         Pg. 20, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[14]         Pg. 104, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[15]         Pg. 72, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[16]         Pg. 152, Changed by Grace: V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A., Glenn Chesnut.  New York, NY:  iUniverse, 2006.
[17]         Pgs. 21-23, 35, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer;  italics in original.
[18]         Cf. Haggai, Malachi. The New American Commentary, R. A. Taylor & E. R. Clendenen on Malachi 1:11 for a defense of the future tenses of the verbs in translation and a Millenial interpretation of the verse.
[19]         Pgs. 26-27, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.
[20]         Pgs. 39-41, 116ff., The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.    
[21]         Pgs. 39-40, 65-67, The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Meyer.

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