Monday, April 14, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology

When I was in college, because of what I heard in chapels, special meetings, and other assemblies, it occurred to me that I might be missing something that I needed to be a success in the Christian life.  Sure I was saved.  That was by grace through faith.  But being saved was not enough to guarantee me success in my Christian life.  For that, I needed more.  Others who had been a success got there because they attained a higher plane of spiritual existence.  They wanted it bad enough.  They prayed for it more.  They worked harder for it.   They sacrificed to obtain it.   It was the secret, and I wanted it too.   Why would anyone settle for mediocrity or mundane or regular, when he could have great or greatest?   What was it?

There are all sorts of descriptions I heard through the years to describe a post-conversion necessity for spiritual success.  Some of them were from the Bible.  I'm not saying they were taught in Scripture, but you could find the verbiage there.  Not necessarily in this order, but I needed "vision."  Without it, the people perish, so if I had it, well, they wouldn't.  I didn't want to be lacking in this, and risk a whole bunch of perishing.

Vision is something you might have if you had "unction."  There was an unction from on high, where you were drawn into some kind of super Christian existence.  There was non-unction Christianity and then there was unction Christianity.  Without unction, you were merely "word only," while with unction, you could be Christianity with "power."  And power meant success.

Power was fresh oil.  It was the "fulness of the Spirit."  It was ability beyond what you could ask or think for spiritual success.

Power is like extra voltage.  You are operating in your Christian life at a certain amperage, but you could increase your amps if you kept asking and asking for it.  And in so doing you could get "revival."  Revival meant that everything was aligned spiritually to channel the blessings of God that you would not have heretofore obtained.

Being saved was like functioning somewhat beyond the normal capacity of your brain.   Post conversion, with this higher level of spirituality, it would be sort of like using a greater amount of your brain, tapping into abilities that you didn't even know you had.  You could see longer, further, higher, and in greater detail.  A whole new world could open up to you.

The idea that I have so far described would say that at the point of your conversion, your justification, you got everything accomplished that would get you to heaven.  If you wanted more, at some point in the future, you needed also to be dedicated.  Sometime after being saved, you could become sold out.  And then the power of the Holy Spirit would flow through you, and you could then see great things happen from God based on the dedication.

Some have portrayed the first step, the one in which you are saved, to be accepting Jesus as Savior.  After accepting Jesus as Savior, you are ready to die, because you would go to heaven.  However, if you want to get the full benefits of your salvation, there is another experience and that is the accepting of Jesus too as Lord at some point in the future.  When you're saved, Jesus is your Savior.  When you are dedicated, which is post conversion, Jesus becomes your Lord.  At the moment of salvation, Jesus is in your life, but at the moment of dedication, you give him a seat on the throne of your life.  When He is on the throne, then you will get the special blessing from God to be greatly used of Him.

When you see someone is really a success, that is, he experiences many professions of faith from the lost or he has a bigger and numerically growing church or when he preaches, the aisles and then the altar is filled up front, that is because he has done what is necessary to receive the "unction."  Others could have it too if they were willing to pay the price.  He has done that, and that's why he's been a success.

What kind of price does it cost to reach this elevated spiritual state?  It's hard to say.  It isn't measurable.  You get your power cord plugged into the source and keep it there until it's obvious that you are fully charged.  The results will tell the story.  You'll start seeing pretty amazing things.  I say pretty amazing, because they won't convince everybody, just enough people to indicate that you've got something that other people don't.  The power you have, sort of like, I don't know, Simon the sorcerer, won't work on everyone.  Why do they work on the ones they do?  I don't know that either.  But they will work better.

Is there any objective, quantitative target to put someone over the top on this?  Not really.  It could take days, months, years, or decades.  You've got to keep trying.  It seems that some never get it, and likely because they didn't have the faith.  They couldn't believe enough.  They can't believe enough.  They'll never be this super Christian and are relegated to perpetual mediocre Christian status.

However, the people who do have it, as seen in their superior numbers and reaction, will say that it took a lot.  They prayed and prayed for it.  Some say that it takes praying to the Holy Spirit.  He wants to be prayed to, and when you pray to Him particularly, you get a better relationship with Him, and then you have better access or possibility of His piling on with the power.  Fasting can help.  Most don't know exactly how much---a week maybe, once a week for the unforeseeable future, or maybe twice a week.  Number of hours in a row of prayer, especially getting into times when you would ordinarily sleep have seemed to be a key to get this.  If you are dead tired from praying, God might favor you with an extra dose of power to get more results and more success.

Everything that I have so far written explains what I have seen to be what is sometimes called "second blessing theology."  It has a historical name in certain instances:  "keswick theology."   In this system, there are two categories of Christians, the spiritual haves and have-nots, the spiritual Christian or the carnal Christian.  By some descriptions, you go through two crosses, the cross of salvation and then the cross of dedication.  Both crosses are necessary to which to come in order to have a supremely successful Christian life.

With second blessing theology, the lack of results or success are essentially because you don't want it bad enough.  Salvation is free, but the second blessing is going to really cost you something.  You'll have to sell out for that.  And if you haven't got it, it's because you haven't sold out.

I understand that what I'm describing might seem close to the Charismatic movement and to Charismatic experiences.  Often, second blessing people talk about God speaking to them or telling them things.  They operate according to these speakings, like they were God talking to them.  God tells them to build buildings, begin special promotions, start outreach campaigns, and what to preach on.

Another name for what I have so far explained is revivalism.  It isn't revival, but revivalism.  Revivalism is a good technical name for it, to differentiate it from its close relation, Charismaticism.  Revivalists very often, if not always, are, like Charismatics, a form of continuationism.  Sign gifts continue today in certain respects, and occurrences of the eras of miracle can also continue today.

I never fully accepted any form of second blessing theology, primarily because it clashed with what I believed from the Bible.  I believed revivalism or keswick theology contradicted a grammatical historical interpretation of scripture.  However, over twenty years ago, I rejected it outright.  Today I view it in all its forms to be one of the most dangerous teachings in Christianity.

Forms of second blessing theology cross over into the fellowship churches.  It doesn't seem to be a deal breaker between churches.  A church that has it will still affiliate with one that doesn't and vice-versa.  Keswick sermons will mix with non-keswick ones.  One passage of scripture will be given two different interpretations:  one revivalist and one not.  They can't both be right, but there is the sense that both are considered to be so.  Does this matter?

I have seen this division among independent Baptists, independent, fundamental Baptists, or even unaffiliated Baptists.  I am pretty sure it is also very common also among Southern Baptists and Bible chuches and other non-denominational evangelical churches.  Should it just be accepted?  Does it matter?

More to Come


Michael Alford said...

Thank you for detailing , in remarkable similarity to my own life, the sort of unbiblical nonesense we gets ourselves tangled up in. For years I did this and did that until one day I realized that I am complete in Christ (funny how that was in my Bibel the entire time). That realization didnt come all at once, and truth be told I'm still figuring out how to apply it, but it has made the Christian life so much easier.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Michael.

I appreciate your comment. I will be writing more, probably on Wednesday, but I agree with you. There is an underlying lie to this movement, and that is about salvation. In so many cases the gospel has been twisted as a corollary to this false view of sanctification.

WIM GRUNDY! said...

A blessing to be here. Time to namer names: TOZER. Boardman and Trumbull ... Oberlin theology ...John Wesley and the KESWICK Crowd: C. I. Scofield, Alan Redpath, Stephen Olford, Major Ian Thomas, Ruth Paxson, Harry Ironside, Vance Havner, Theodore Epp, Lewis Sperry Chafer, James O. Buswell III, John Walvord, Kenneth Wuest, Charles Feinberg, Arthur Glasser, L. E. Maxwell and Harold J. Ockenga.

Anonymous said...

You get the unction after you pray over your father's grave for a really long time. But be sure to not specify how long - it's best to leave the impression that it was for days and days.