Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Honest Basic Assessment of Independent Baptists, pt. 2

The first post in what is a series of undetermined length laid out some of the setting for this analysis. Who are we talking about when we say, "independent Baptists"?  I did somewhat differentiate myself from independent Baptists by calling myself unaffiliated, but based on the most conservative definition, I'm still an independent Baptist.  I call myself one, because unaffiliated doesn't mean anything to most people.  With that being said, I think among the independent Baptists we find New Testament Christianity.

I wouldn't be a part of anything but an independent Baptist church.  The three words, independent and Baptist and church, represent crucial concepts for obedience to God's Word.  The true church is independent and, rightly understood, Baptist.  Since the church represents God in this age, then we are talking about what is most important on earth.

Even if independent Baptist churches are not in good shape overall, it still is the only place to be, if you want to be obedient to God.  True churches were and are independent.  They are autonomous, self-governing, and independent of a hierarchy, secular or religious.  Therefore, as well, they can obey biblical purity by keeping separated from false doctrine and practice.

By Baptist, I mean historic Baptist and characterized by New Testament distinctives, chiefly the Bible as sole rule.  I believe that only with Baptist churches is there divine authority.  The true church traces its history through the Baptists, so if you are not Baptist, your trajectory does not point to Jerusalem, but Rome.  The trend towards leaving out "Baptist" in a church name is a horrible one.

My honest basic assessment of independent Baptist churches is that for a multitude of various reasons there are very few that I would even recommend.  They are all that I would recommend, but even among them, there are few that I could.  You should look for an independent Baptist church, you should be in one, but most of them aren't very good.  Things are worse than ever, and when I say worse, I mean two or three times or more worse right now than at any time in my lifetime.  This also explains why things are so bad in the United States.

Is there any good news?  Even the good news is bad, because the good news is that things could be even worse.  We should all be happy that things aren't worse and they could easily be.  If I'm wrong in my assessment, I don't think it is in judging how bad things are, but that they're really worse than what I'm even saying.

The seeds for the major problems among independent Baptists go back a ways.  I'm going to talk about what I think they are and how we got into the trouble we're in.

More to Come

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Honest Basic Assessment of Independent Baptists, pt. 1

The best shortest designation of me, that would distinguish me more clearly than any other short description with words that the most people could understand, is probably "independent Baptist" (I noticed Wikipedia uses this terminology).  However, even as I say that, I prefer to be called an "unaffiliated Baptist," because I don't think "independent Baptist" still identifies well enough, primarily because I don't think that most independent Baptist churches are really independent.  They just say they are, but they function within a system that is almost as denominational as the Southern Baptist Convention, and that is most independent Baptists.  It wasn't until recently that I had heard the label, unaffiliated Baptist, and maybe it won't last.  If "independent Baptist" can't work anymore, then we might just be running out of words to use, or maybe add a really, "really unaffiliated Baptist."

Most independent Baptists are probably also fundamentalists, so the typical acronym is IFB, independent fundamental Baptist.  I reject being called an IFB, since I don't think I'm a fundamentalist, but I think there are those who don't mind that label, and will even still put it on their sign or in their advertisements.  I don't think there is a need to add the "F," because if you're independent Baptist, most people will think you're a fundamentalist anyway, even if, like me, you don't wish to be known as one.

Among those who might claim to be independent Baptist, you've got the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), who are a part of an organized association that says each member retains independency.  Most of the other independent Baptists don't think the GARBC is independent.  I've never thought of GARBC churches as being independent. They joined an association and those two terms -- independent and association -- contradict each other in my mind. You can't be both, so I will leave the GARBC out of the discussion.

Baptist Bible Fellowship (BBF) churches also consider themselves to be independent, but I would direct you to the previous paragraph.  Many others in addition to me consider these "Fellowship" churches not to be independent.  Similar to the BBF, but different, is the ABA, the American Baptist Association that is ditto on thinking they're independent churches, and yet not being truly independent.

In my mind, there are two general types of independent Baptist churches:  the revivalist and Bob Jones.  Almost all independent Baptist churches are either revivalist or Bob Jones.  I know that there is overlap or blurred edges sometimes between the two groups.  Some churches are both revivalist and Bob Jones.  Maybe those could make up a whole other third category, but still you can slot into the two general categories as to what primarily characterizes those independent Baptist churches.

The Bob Jones wing of independent Baptists probably wants to be known as historic fundamentalists, instead of the Bob Jones wing.  This group has several splinters mainly associated with colleges and seminaries.  For instance, you have the actual Bob Jones University graduates and then you have those who graduated from what I call orbiting schools, like Maranatha, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, the former Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, International Baptist College, Clearwater Christian College, Virginia Beach Theological Seminary, and Central Baptist Theological Seminary.  Parallel to the aforementioned institutions is the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF), which declares itself to be only a fellowship of pastors and not churches.

Among the revivalist independent Baptists, there are several divisions too.  You have what many call the "Hyles churches."  That is still a very large group.  There is the "Sword of the Lord" crowd.  Today you have those strongly affiliated with Clarence Sexton, Crown College, and the Baptist Friends network.  You've got those now most closely tied to Paul Chappell and West Coast Baptist College.  You have some most characterized by their association with Pensacola Christian College.  Baptist College of Ministry and Falls Baptist Church has its own group, as are those churches most closely united to Fairhaven Baptist Church and College.  You have some that are very unique, like the Ruckmanites, who identify with the teachings of Peter Ruckman.  

Some FBF men are also revivalists.  The type of folks who represent an overlap or the edges of the revivalists and the Bob Jones folks are those like the graduates of Ambassador Baptist College.   They are revivalists who operate within the orbit of the Bob Jones crowd. There may be others, whom I haven't met and don't know about, who are a bit of hybrid of the two above groups, and yet still call themselves independent Baptists.  Someone who isn't an unaffiliated, but I don't see him as either of the above categories is Lance Ketchum and his Midwest Independent Baptist Pastors' Fellowship.  Those pastors might send their young people to independent Baptist fundamentalist colleges, either revivalist or Bob Jones, but not endorse the college.

What stands out as qualifying unaffiliated Baptists most from independent ones is the lack of the former in involvement with mission boards.  The most denominational aspect of the independent Baptists is their cooperation within the boards.  Unaffiliated Baptists don't use mission boards.

More to Come

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hannah W. Smith and Catholic Mystical Quietism: part 14 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

Hannah Smith’s Higher Life theology, promulgated in the Keswick movement, that sanctification produces a sort of perfection of acts,[1] follows the teaching of the leading Quaker theologian Robert Barclay.[2]  However, Mrs. Smith came to her view of “the life of faith” in association not only with the “Quaker examples and influences” that from her youth led her to seek for entire sanctification,[3] but also the Catholic heretics and mystical quietists “Fénelon and Madame Guyon.”[4]  Hannah described her love for a collection of their writings and its influence upon her, and her father before her, in leading them towards the Higher Life, as follows:
I knew I was not what I ought to be.  My life was full of failure and sin. . . . I was continually sinning and repenting, making good resolutions and breaking them . . . longing for victory . . . but more often failing. . . . From the peaceful, restful lives of the Quakers, among whom I had been brought up . . . I had supposed of course that becoming a Christian meant necessarily becoming peaceful and good, and I had as much expected to have victory over sin and over worries as I had expected the sun to shine.  But I was forced to confess in the secret depths of my soul that I had been disappointed. . . . Nothing could have described my condition better than the Apostle’s account of his own condition in Romans 7:14-23.[5]  I had entered into the salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, and yet I knew no such triumphant deliverance from the “body of death” within me[.] . . . This feeling became especially strong after my discovery of the unlimited love of God.[6] . . . The Quaker examples and influences around me seemed to say there must be a deliverance somewhere, for they declared that they had experienced it[.] . . . There was also another influence in my life that seemed to tell the same story.  I possessed a book which distinctly taught that God’s children were not only commanded to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, but also that they could do so;[7]  and which seemed to reveal the mystical pathway towards it.  It was called “Spiritual Progress,” and was a collection of extracts from the writings of Fénelon and Madame Guyon.  This book was very dear to me, for it had been a gift from my adored father, and always lay on my desk beside my Bible. . . . [Concerning it, my father also testified,]  “This book proved to be of the greatest comfort to me.  I carried it in my pocket, and at leisure moments read it to my everlasting profit, I trust.  And I cannot but thank a kind Providence for giving me this blessed book.”  . . . He valued the book so highly that, as fast as his children grew old enough, he presented each one of us with a copy, and asked us to read it carefully.  Our father was so dear to us that we always wanted to please him, and I for one had made the book my special companion . . . its teachings had made a profound impression upon me[.] . . . After . . . the discovery I had made of the wideness of God’s love [universalism], I began to feel more and more uneasy. . . . And more and more I felt the inconsistency of having a salvation, which was in the end to be so magnificently complete [as every single person would be in heaven], but which failed now and here so conspiculously in giving that victory over sin and over worry . . . [until I discovered] the Methodist “blessing of holiness.”[8]
Thus, not only Quakerism, universalism, and a self-centered eudemonism that was focused upon being free from worry and having a life of ease and rest, but also Roman Catholic mysticism was key in Hannah’s discovery of the Higher Life.  In her youth Hannah had wished to “get perfectly good, just like Mme. Guyon,”[9] and even to the limits of her old age she found various affirmations of Fénelon “everlastingly true.”[10]  She further wrote:  “Fenelon’s whole teaching is to show us how to let the lower life die, and the higher life take its place[,] [that is,] . . . the ‘Higher Life’ . . . [taught in my] ‘Christian’s Secret[.]’”[11]  Likewise, Hannah Smith found “the true meaning of self abandonment” in Madame Guyon’s Commentary on the Song of Solomon,[12] found confirmation on “the subject of guidance” by the Inner “Voice” from “Madame Guyon,”[13] discovered her quietistic doctrine of resting on God in “naked faith” from “Madame Guyon” and “Fenelon,”[14] and developed her doctrine of being “one with God” from them also.[15]  Indeed, she made many discoveries from this pair of Catholic mystics, who were central to her doctrine of sanctification,[16] although other Roman Catholics were also important.[17]  Indeed, she found that not only Romanist mystics, but “[a]ll the writers on the advancing life say that a renunciation of all the activities of the soul must come before God can be all in all.”[18]  That is, quietism is the necessary prerequisite for mystical union and deification. [19]  The Higher Life “may make us lazy on the line of ‘creaturely activity,’ for all our restless strivings and agonizings will be over, and our souls will dwell in ‘peaceable habitations’ continually,”[20] but quietism is the truth, at least in the view of the writers on the advanced life, if not in the view of the Bible.
Both the Roman Catholic Archbishop Fénelon and the mystical Quietist and panentheist Madame Guyon, who in “all that concerns the distinction between Protestantism [and the Baptists] and Romanism . . .  is wholly Romanist,”[21] were enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Madame Guyon began her last will as follows:  “I protest that I die in the faith of the Catholic, apostolical, Roman Church; having no other doctrines than hers; believing all that she believes, and condemning, without restriction, all that she condemns.”[22]  She was “an outstanding proponent” of “quietism,” that “manifestation of Roman Catholic mysticism in the seveneenth and eighteenth centuries,” having adopted it from “Miguel de Molinos, a Spanish priest”[23] who was “founder of the Quietists.”[24]  Packer describes the error of Quietism:
Quietism . . . holds that all initiatives on our part, of any sort, are the energy of the flesh;  that God will move us, if at all, by inner promptings and constraints that are recognizably not thoughts and impulses of our own;  and that we should always be seeking the annihilation of our selfhood so that divine life may flow freely through our physical frames. . . . by biblical standards this passiv[e] frame of reference is altogether wrong, for the Holy Spirit’s ordinary way of working in us is through the working of our minds and wills. . . . Thus, our conscious, rational selfhood, so far from being annihilated, is strengthened . . . Philippians 2:13. This is holiness, and in the process of perfecting it there is, properly speaking, no passivity at all.[25]
David Cloud explained:
The school of mysticism that Guyon adhered to, sometimes called Quietism, was an extreme form of Roman Catholic mysticism that emphasized the cleansing of one’s inner life and included the belief that one could see Christ visibly. Before Guyon’s day, in the Middle Ages, this took strange forms in erotic “bride mysticism” with some visionaries believing they were married to Jesus. Guyon and the Quietists went further, into something called essence mysticism. They believed that their being was merged with God’s being and the two became one. This unbiblical idea survives today in the New Age and other non-Christian religions. . . . She taught that we can know of God by “passing forward into God,” going into a mindless, meditative state where we can get in touch with the Christ within the self, merge with that Christ and be lifted into ecstasy.[26]
Guyon “won many converts,” resulting in a “belief in a vague pantheism which is closer to the South Asian religions than to Christianity,” but, nevertheless, she “felt herself so close to God that she received visions and revelations,”[27] as did so many of her Higher Life successors who devoured her writings.  Madame Guyon also, with other medieval Roman Catholic mystics, believed in the abominable heresy of deification, which was also transferred into the Higher Life and Keswick milieu.[28]  Fenélon, who “admired and defended [Guyon’s] ideas,”[29] had many converts also—he became the Catholic “Superior of a house for recent converts from Protestantism and then led a mission to the Huguenots,”[30] seeking to bring those French Protestants back to the fold of that religious system, centered in Rome, that the Apostle John called the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth (Revelation 17).  Concerning these Quietists, Hannah W. Smith wrote:  “By my Quaker education, I was exceedingly inclined towards mysticism, and the books I had read—such as Madame Guyon, Fénelon, Isaac Pennington[31] and others, all of which lead to a life of introspection and self-abandonment—had greatly strengthened me in this, so that I honestly believed that wonderful spiritual light would come, and did come, to souls that gave themselves up to the control of their interior emotions and followed impressional guidance.”[32]  She stated:  “[B]ecause of my education in the Quaker Society . . . [m]y idea of guidance . . . was of having impressed upon my mind in some miraculous way the will of God;  and the teaching I received was that instant, unquestioning obedience to these impressions was the only way[.]”[33]  Quaker and Roman Catholic mysticism were at the heart of Hannah W. Smith’s Higher Life and Keswick theology.
Mrs. Smith also rejoiced in her “dear Quaker friend[s] and the Catholic Saints” who “exalted James with his justification by works.”[34]  After the death of her daughter’s Roman Catholic husband, she “covenanted that” her grandchildren from that marriage would “be educated as Roman Catholics, and she kept . . . strictly to her promise.”[35]  She wrote: “My two little grandchildren are . . . devout little Catholics, and seem to enjoy their religion, and I am glad of it.  I daresay they will be saved a good many of the perplexities and difficulties that so often beset Protestant children.”[36]  She led them to celebrate Lent,[37] to “la[y] up treasure in Heaven by giving candlesticks to a Roman Catholic High Altar” and by going to Mass[38] and the Confessional.[39] Hannah used the methods in “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” to lead “a Roman Catholic lady, a convert who was vexed by doubts about some dogma of the Church” of Rome, to an unshaken confidence in the dogma of transubstantiation.  “H. W. S. wrote out on a piece of paper, ‘I undertake never to have any more doubts about the Real Presence’ (or whatever it was), and brought it to her, and made her sign it.  After that the troubled spirit was utterly at rest”[40] in the bosom of the Whore of Babylon.  After all, nothing was wrong with Romanism, since because of a Quaker “opening,” one of the special revelations she received that supplemented or contradicted the Bible, Mrs. Smith came to realize that Roman Catholics were all one in God with other Christians.[41]  In any case, a Christian does not need to be justified by Christ’s imputed righteousness, nor believe what the Bible says about Jesus Christ—rather,  “to be a good human being is to be the best Christian that can be made.”[42]  Mrs. Smith documents how she turned away from the doctrine she had learned from the Plymouth Brethren of judicial and forensic justification by faith alone (cf. Romans 3:28), “[a]fter . . . the discovery [she] had made of the wideness of God’s love [universalism],”[43] adopting instead the heresy and works-gospel that justification means that “the life of Christ in our souls is a righteous life.”[44]  She thus denied the Biblical doctrine of justification, as well as holding to other corruptions of the gospel, both before and during the time when she began her influence as a Higher Life teacher and preacher, and she cleaved to a false gospel the rest of her life.

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]              That is, “the necessary consequence of consecration and faith . . . is a present and complete deliverance from sinning. If my soul is really entirely surrendered to the Lord Jesus and if I am really trusting Him to work all the good pleasure of His will in me, I must be delivered from sinning” (Journal, February 16, 1869, reproduced in the entry for May 12 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.).
[2]              Barclay wrote:
This most certain doctrine then being received, that there is an evangelical and saving light and grace in all . . . as many as resist not this light, but receive the same, in them is produced an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all these other blessed fruits which are acceptable to God; by which holy birth (to-wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us) as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the sight of God. [Barclay thus teaches that sanctification and justification are received exactly the same way, and that justification is not by Christ’s imputed righteousness, but by becoming inwardly holy, a rejection of the gospel, in which Hannah W. Smith follows him; cf. pgs. 193-194, Every-Day Religion, or The Common-Sense Teaching of the Bible, Hannah W. Smith. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1893.] . . . In whom this holy and pure birth is fully brought forth, the body of death and sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their hearts united and subjected unto the truth, so as not to obey any suggestion or temptation of the evil one, but to be free from actual sinning, and transgressing of the law of God, and in that respect perfect. Yet doth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth a possibility of sinning, where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord. (pgs. vii-viii, cf. pgs. 87ff., Proposition 7, “Concerning Justification,” and Proposition 8, “Concerning Perfection,” An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers, Robert Barclay)
Hannah Smith cites Barclay repeatedly and positively in her writings;  see, e. g., her Journal from 1849, reproduced in the entry for January 3 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[3]              See, e. g., her Journal from 1849 & 1861, reproduced in the entry for January 2 & 29 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[4]           pg. 232, The Unselfishness of God.  Methodist influences were also present, as explained below.
[5]              Hannah adopts the Higher Life view of the passage that considers it as a description of Paul in self-dependent defeat.  She goes on to give the standard Keswick argument that Paul must pass out of defeat in Romans 7 into victory in Romans 8 because of Romans 7:25a, ignoring Romans 7:25b, Paul’s actual conclusion in Romans 7:14-25.
[6]              That is, after she rejected eternal torment and became a universalist.
[7]              That is, the Higher Life and Pelagian doctrine of the equation of obligation and ability, here taught to Hannah Smith by Guyon and Fénelon.
[8]              Pgs. 172-176, 185, The Unselfishness of God, Princeton, NJ: Littlebrook Press, 1987.
[9]              Pg. 2, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith, reproducing Letter to her Cousin, Annie Whitall, 1850.  Hannah was 18 at the time.  Her writings contain other references to being “much helped” by Madame Guyon (cf. pg. 164, The Unselfishness of God, Hannah W. Smith, Princeton, NJ: Littlebrook Press, 1987).
[10]            Pg. 213, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith, reproducing Letter to her Daughter, Mary Berenson, March 25, 1910.  Hannah was 78 at the time.
[11]          Letter to Daughter Mary, October 9, 1881, reproduced in the entry for October 30 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[12]            Journal, Millville N. J., August 27, 1865; reproduced in the entry for February 3 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[13]            Letter to Abby, Millville N. J., September 6, 1865; reproduced in the entry for February 4 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[14]            Letter to Carrie, March 12, 1881; reproduced in the entry for October 25 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[15]            Letter to Carrie, March 12, 1881; reproduced in the entry for October 25 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.  Guyon and Fénelon also assisted Hannah move all the further away from literal interpretation of Scripture to the “inner sense” of allegorical, mystical, and non-literal interpretation that supported the doctrines she was imbibing from the Romanists.
[16]            Compare Letter to Sarah, March 7, 1881; Letter to Priscilla, 1883; Letter to a Friend, January 17, 1883, Providence, R.I., reproduced in the entries for October 24, November 16, & December 7 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[17]            For example, Hannah enjoyed the works of Frederick W. Faber, who journeyed with Cardinal Newman from the false gospel of Anglo-Catholicism into the arms of the Roman harlot itself (Revelation 17).  She quoted him favorably in chapter 22 of her Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.  Commending him to another, she likewise wrote:  “I wish you had Faber’s Growth in Holiness to read a little of it as a part of your devotions. I find him very helpful” (Letter to Carrie, February 2, 1881, reproduced in the entry for October 23 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  See further representative examples of her positive view of Faber in Letter to Robert, July 20, 1873, Letter to a Friend, September 2, 1873, Letter to Anna, September 29, 1876, Letter to a Friend, August 17, 1879, reproduced in the entries for July 2, 5, August 9, September 20, of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter, etc.
[18]            Letter, 1880, reproduced in the entry for October 19 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.  Fenelon and Guyon were the most prominent of these “writers on the advancing life” or “spiritual writers”;  cf. Letter to Carrie, March 12, 1881, reproduced in the entry for October 25 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[19]          Hannah W. Smith’s doctrine would have been in accord with her fellow preacher and founder of the Broadlands Conferences, Lord Mount Temple:  “My Lord Jesus, as Thou didst take my humanity, I pray Thee impart to me Thy Divinity” (pg. 183, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890).
[20]            Letter to Priscilla, September 20, 1882, reproduced in the entry for October 25 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[21]          pg. 376, Perfectionism, vol. 2, Benjamin B. Warfield.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003; reprint of 1932 Oxford ed.
[22]          “Guyon, Jeanne-Marie Bouvier De La Mothe,” pg. 402 in the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 3, James Strong & John McClintock. Elec. acc. Christian Library Series vol. 2. Albany, OR: AGES Software, 2006.
[23]            Pg. 901, “Quietism,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell.
[24]            “Molinos, Miguel De,” Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, John McClintock & James Strong, vol. 6, elec. acc. AGES Digital Software Library.
[25]            Pg. 127, Keep In Step With The Spirit, Packer.
[26]          “The Delusions of Madame Guyon,” by David Cloud.  Port Huron, MI:  Fundamental Baptist Information Service, November 16, 2010.  It is likely that the medieval Roman Catholic erotic bridal mysticism was ultimately at the root of the theological trajectory that led to Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s reception of the doctrine, although Henry Foster was the more immediate instrument of their adoption of the heresy.
[27]            Pg. 902, “Quietism,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell.
[28]            Madame Guyon wrote:  “The essential union is the spiritual marriage where there is a communication of substance, when God takes the soul for His spouse, unites it to Himself, not personally, nor by any act or means, but immediately reducing all to a unity. The soul ought not, nor can, any more make any distinction between God and itself. God is the soul, the soul is God” (cited pgs. 82-83, The “Higher Life” Doctrine of Sanctification, Henry A. Boardman).  “Communication of substance” is classical Trinitarian language for the possession of the undivided Divine essence by the Son through His being eternally begotten by the Father, and of the Spirit’s possession of the undivided Divine essence by eternal procession from the Father and the Son. To affirm that the Divine substance is communicated to a human being, so that the soul is God, is horrific blasphemy. Sundry Keswick advocates, such as Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, accepted the mystical heresy of deification, which was present in the Keswick movement from the time of its genesis in the Broadlands Conferences.  Since the Higher Life and Keswick theology developed out of a historical trajectory involving Guyon, Fénelon, and mystical Quietism, this acceptance of deification is natural.  However, more orthodox proponents of Keswick theology agree with Stephen Barabas and deny that sanctification involves “the merger of the personality with that of God . . . [or] the destruction of the personality” (pg. 121, So Great Salvation, Barabas);  those Higher Life writers who agree with Barabas have allowed Scripture to remove this particular heresy from the historical stream of Keswick theology within which they swim.
                The Word of Faith movement likewise calls believers “god men” and preaches deification, as did the nineteenth century New Thought movement, which developed “the Divinity of Man” through “obedience to the Indwelling Presence which is our source of Inspiration, Power, Health, [and] Prosperity” (pgs. 106-107, A Different Gospel, McConnell).  The metaphysical and Word of Faith doctrine that through “deification” men “are transformed into gods,” since “man was created with the divine nature, sinned, and was filled with satanic nature;  but through the new birth, he is again infused with the divine nature,” so that “to be born again” is to receive “the nature and life of God in one’s spirit” (pg. 119-121, ibid.) is also very similar to the doctrine of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, and the Word of Faith system arose from the Higher Life antecedents that produced Pentecostalism.
[29]            Pg. 902, “Quietism,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell.
[30]            Pg. 89, “Fénelon, Francois de Salignac de Mothe,” Who’s Who in Christianity, ed. Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok.
[31]            Pennington was a Quaker mystic and heretic.  Hannah W. Smith repeately refers to him (e. g., April 23, May 6, September 9, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life:  The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith, ed. Melvin Dieter).
[32]            Pg. 206, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[33]            Pg.  240, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[34]          Pg. 234, My Spiritual Autobiography, Hannah W. Smith.  James does not teach that one is justified in the sight of God by works, nor contradict in any way the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith alone (Romans 3:28).
[35]          Pgs. 158, 144, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.  She would not have even “the narrowest Catholicism” taken away from her granddaughters (pg. 194, ibid).  See also pg. xx.
[36]            Pg. 139, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.  Letter to Miss Olive Seward, March 28, 1898.
[37]            Pg. 158, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.
[38]            Pg. 158, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.
[39]            Pg. 174-175, 184, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.
[40]          Pg. 153, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.
[41]            “I had one of my ‘openings’ in regard to all the Catholic ceremonies, that took away forever my prejudices, and made me feel that it was a fact that we are all one in God.  Such openings are tremendously enlightening.  I love to have them”  (pg. 216, A Religious Rebel: The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith).
[42]            Pg. 256, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[43]          pg. 237, My Spiritual Autobiography, Hannah W. Smith.
[44]            Pg. 193-194, Every-Day Religion, Hannah W. Smith.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Is It Scriptural To Stereotype Certain Cultures or Ethnicities?

Almost anyone reading this knows at least the left in the United States says it's wrong to profile or stereotype.  I wrote, "says," because they don't practice it themselves.  The left stereotypes and profiles "fly-over country" and President Obama is famous for profiling small town Pennsylvanians who "cling to their guns and religion."  Now almost the entire national police force is categorized as racist.

Former New York Times columnist, African American Bob Herbert, wrote the following in 1993:

Jesse Jackson is traveling the country with a tough anti-crime message that he is delivering to inner-city youngsters. In Chicago he said, "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

One of the most famous stereotyping rants of all time, I recalled, was in 1998 when the late pro football player, Reggie White, said the following:

When you look at the black race, black people are very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance, and if you go to a black church, you see people jumping up and down because they really get into it. . . . White people were blessed with the gift of structure and organization. You guys do a good job with building businesses and things of that nature. And you know how to tap into money pretty much better than a lot of people around the world . . . . Hispanics were gifted in family structure. You see a Hispanic person, and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home . . . . When you look at the Asian, the Asian is very gifted in creativity and invention. If you go to Japan or any Asian country, they can turn a television set into a watch. They are very creative.

Perhaps you remember the uproar about said speech by White about which many laughed and laughed at these comments.  Should someone do this?  Or maybe better, can someone do this?  Is it even possible to be right about this type of information?  Is it helpful?  In the first chapter of Titus, the Apostle Paul was instructing Titus, whom he left on the island of Crete, on how to deal with his audience there in that culture, and listen to what he wrote in verses 10 to 13 (bold print mine):

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.  One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

Paul quotes a well known Cretian, Epimenides, who stereotypes the Cretians, his own people, and Paul, having been there, says in essence that he concurs -- "This witness is true."  Epimenides was a poet and teacher in the sixth century B.C., ranked as one of the seven wise men of Greece, and originally this particular poem, a known one, characterized his people in hexameter.  Paul says this respected man is dead on, exactly right.

Epimenides and the Apostle Paul engage in some pretty serious profiling that makes Reggie White look angelic:  "alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."  Ohhhkaay.   It's obviously helpful to do this, because Paul does it.  It's in the Bible, God's Word.  It's inspired by God. And it is written to help the people.  The world today would warn against what Paul does here, but proper profiling and stereotyping can aid in successful spiritual warfare.  He buttresses his entire strategy for dealing with them upon pegging them in an accurate way.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Scan of 100,000 Galaxies and No Alien Life: What's That Supposed to Mean?

A news source that culls the internet for the kind of articles I like to read directed me to "A Scan Of 100,000 Galaxies Shows No Sign Of Alien Mega-Civilizations."  Ouchie for that particular worldview -- not saying that it had an iota of hope ever anyway.

I ask you to think about all the things that occur by accident here.  It's not just the individual detail, but the composite complexity of each item that makes up other composite complexities that are part of other composite ones upon other ones upon other ones.  Just one of them is more than what you see in those 100,000 other galaxies and we're supposed to believe, according to them, that every one of ours occurred by accident.   That's the prevailing view of all the state and almost all the private school and university systems, so much so that it's the only position they allow.  You get fitted for the dunce cap right when you walk through the door.  Take your stupid pill at matriculation and then keep taking them all the way up to the wizard giving you the diploma.

People are planning a trip to Mars.  Why?  These are supposed to be the smart people.

Founder and owner of Tesla, Elon Musk, spends three days a week at his SpaceX company, and in a recent article, "The Elon Musk Interview on Mars" in Aeon (if you follow this link, careful with the beginning, and the foul language), Russ Andersen reports:

Musk told me he often thinks about the mysterious absence of intelligent life in the observable Universe. Humans have yet to undertake an exhaustive, or even vigorous, search for extraterrestrial intelligence, of course. But we have gone a great deal further than a casual glance skyward. For more than 50 years, we have trained radio telescopes on nearby stars, hoping to detect an electromagnetic signal, a beacon beamed across the abyss. We have searched for sentry probes in our solar system, and we have examined local stars for evidence of alien engineering. Soon, we will begin looking for synthetic pollutants in the atmospheres of distant planets, and asteroid belts with missing metals, which might suggest mining activity. 
The failure of these searches is mysterious, because human intelligence should not be special. Ever since the age of Copernicus, we have been told that we occupy a uniform Universe, a weblike structure stretching for tens of billions of light years, its every strand studded with starry discs, rich with planets and moons made from the same material as us. If nature obeys identical laws everywhere, then surely these vast reaches contain many cauldrons where energy is stirred into water and rock, until the three mix magically into life. And surely some of these places nurture those first fragile cells, until they evolve into intelligent creatures that band together to form civilisations, with the foresight and staying power to build starships.

"Human intelligence should not be special"(I'm laughing out loud).  Perhaps Musk or Andersen, because the Penn State 'scientists' had honed the 100,000 qualifying galaxies down from 100 million galaxies in their search, should restate their statement that humans have yet to undertake an exhaustive search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  This seems to be the equivalent of googling space and the search coming up with nothing.

Human intelligence isn't special -- ya know -- compared to God, but, trust me, it's special in the sense that there isn't anything matching anywhere to the furthest reaches of space.  However, the theory of evolution would assume that this should be occurring very regularly.  With everything that we have on earth, as many times as it has happened, there is either a very intelligent and powerful designer, or we should have found something else out there.  If you don't want to believe in the former, you're left with the latter, and it doesn't make any sense at all not to have found anything else.  At.  All.

Traveling to Mars is the ultimate leap of faith for those signing up for the trip to Mars.  They can't trust God or the Bible, and they really are true believers in their myth, likely aided by a few too many science fiction films.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Save Money on the Large Majority of Internet Purchases

It is possible to save money on the large majority of Internet purchases by signing up for Ebates.  Then, whenever you want to purchase something online, simply go to their website, click on the merchant you wish to buy items at, and you will get back a certain percentage of what you spent in cash back!  Signing up is free, and Ebates will never take a penny from you as a customer, ever--the company makes money from the advertisers on its website, not from customers who sign up for its service.  In fact, there is a way to get c. 4% back on all purchases you make, whether on the Internet or not, using Ebates:  click here to find out how.  Furthermore, if you sign up with the button below, you will get a $10 gift card just for joining.  I have had a positive experience with Ebates for a number of years and have received a large amount of cash back simply for clicking through their website and purchasing what I would have purchased anyway.  You can get cash back at stores such as, Walmart, Macy's, Barnes and Noble, and hundreds and hundreds of other major merchants.  They also keep track of coupon codes for the merchants so you can easily find out if, say, your favorite store has a special 50% off deal that you would not know about otherwise.  Ebates is also a high quality business;  they have treated me well personally as a customer and they have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 6/2000 and earned an A+ rating.  Start saving with Ebates today by clicking on the icon below and then clicking on the "join" button on the top right of the page:
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Another company that does the same thing as Ebates is Main Street Shares (Big Crumbs until early 2015), a competitor of Ebates.  Main Street Shares often has slightly higher cash back amounts than Ebates, but not as many companies are part of its network (although one can still get cash back on popular companies from Ebay to Best Buy to Walmart.)  It is also entirely free to you as a customer, since its business model is similar to that of Ebates.  However, it also offers special profit-sharing potential that creates the possibility for significantly higher cash back with the company than with Ebates (find out how by clicking on the banner below.)  You can save the most money by joining both companies and then comparing the two to see which gives you a better deal when you want to purchase something online.  Main Street Shares (formerly Big Crumbs) is not BBB rated.  I have had no problems with them and have received lots of cash back, but if lack of a BBB rating is an issue for you, I definitely understand.  You can join Main Street Shares using the button here:
I asked Main Street Shares (formerly Big Crumbs) about the BBB issue, since I was concerned about what the BBB website said about their company.  I received a reply, most of which I have reproduced below, from Big Crumbs customer support.  It somewhat alleviates my concern about the matter, although I cannot say I am on board with their view of the BBB.  I personally have used Big Crumbs (and am now a Main Street Shares member) since June of 2013, have received large amounts of cash back, and have not had problems with getting cash back or with their customer service, which has been prompt and helpful.  However, I obviously cannot speak for all customers, and if someone does not find their explanation below convincing, I certainly understand; I would recommend that such a person save money with Ebates but pass on Main Street Shares.
Thanks for your interest and for your very astute question [about the lack of a BBB rating]! In fact, the mismatch between your experience with BigCrumbs and our BBB rating is precisely the reason we don't "cooperate" with the BBB! The explanation requires a bit of detail/background, but please bear with me...
Contrary to popular belief, the BBB has no ability or authority to regulate or rate businesses. Many people think that the BBB is affiliated with the federal or local government, however, this is not the case. In fact, their "rating" system is self-serving and we find that the BBB's practices border on extortionate. If you search the Internet, you will find many businesses that have made similar observations, as well as 20/20 and other investigations into their practices.
Essentially, it comes down to this: Consumers complain to the BBB, frequently believing that the BBB wields some type of regulatory or arbitration authority. But, the BBB simply demands that businesses respond to these consumers using the BBB's own system, or face a negative rating, thus further contributing to the BBB's perceived value in consumers' eyes. Yet, the BBB has no knowledge of how the business functions and is not in a position to make a judgment as to whether the customer was treated fairly.
So, the BBB's rating system has absolutely nothing to do with whether the business has earnestly attempted to satisfy customers or treated them fairly. Instead, it frequently rates primarily whether the business allowed itself to be coerced into replying to the BBB and increasing the BBB's value. Any business that does not cooperate with the BBB's demands, thus risks earning an "F" rating. That's exactly what happened to BigCrumbs.
Worse, the BBB has a "Reliability" or "Accreditation" program in which the business can pay to be considered reliable by the BBB and, further, for the honor of participating in the BBB's scheme to cooperate in increasing the BBB's perceived value. The 20/20 investigation found very strong evidence that low-rated companies suddenly received high ratings upon paying to be members of their "Reliability program". Of course, that makes sense. How can any company that is being paid to "rate" other companies possibly be objective?
And, when we received our first complaints (along with threats by the BBB to respond via their system or face a negative rating from them), we earnestly responded and attempted to resolve the matter. However, we later realized how naive we were and that the BBB had no idea how our business operated. So, when a member attempted to use the BBB's system to place unreasonable demands on our business, we decided that we would no longer cooperate in the BBB's scheme as a matter of principle.
Still, in over nine years in business and millions of dollars in cash back paid across millions of purchases, BigCrumbs has received only ten or so complaints to the BBB, with five of these coming over the past three years. So, the overwhelming majority of members have had the same positive experience that you have. Yet, in spite of all of this, there we stand with an "F" rating from the BBB! This, when we never agreed to be rated by them or have them act as an intermediary between BigCrumbs and our valued members.
That  in itself shows that the BBB has virtually no value as an objective rating authority. In our estimation (and that of many others), it serves to promote its own interests, using the notion of assisting consumers as a thinly veiled tool to coerce businesses into participating in, and paying for, their programs.
I hope this long-winded explanation helps! It's really a story that all consumers should know[.]

This study can be accessed here.

Note: After being a happy member of both companies and getting thousands of dollars in cash back by simply clicking in the right place, I decided to become an affiliate of both Ebates and Big Crumbs. If you use the buttons on this webpage, I will receive financial compensation for helping you to save money.  I can in good conscience say that there is nothing on this website that I would not have said were I not an affiliate of the companies, and I believe that it is appropriate that we both benefit from the information I have put together for your benefit here (1 Timothy 5:18).  However, if you are bothered by the fact that I will be compensated if you use these buttons to sign up, you can sign up on the webpage of either or both companies without clicking on these buttons, and I will get nothing.  If you choose to use the buttons on this webpage, I offer you my sincere thanks.