Friday, May 29, 2015

Did New Testament Christianity Borrow from Mithraism?

            Did New Testament Christianity borrow from ancient pagan mystery cults such as Mithraism?[1]  Attempts have been made to discredit Christianity or to cast doubt upon its veracity by alleging that it simply borrowed its ideas from the Mithraic mystery religion.  For this allegation to have substance, one must prove: 1.) That Mithraism predates Christianity; 2.) Minimally, that adherents of Mithraism had direct contact with the stories, rituals, and beliefs to clearly display real and significant parallels, and that there are no better candidates that serve as a model for understanding nascent Christianity, and 3.) Maximally, that there is an oral or literary dependence of the latter on the former.
            Can advocates of New Testament dependence upon Mithraism establish points one through three above?  First, archaeology indicates that the earliest Mithraic temples or mithraeum in the Roman Empire post-date the rise of Christianity by over a century.  The earliest known Mithraic inscription also dates to the second century.  Christianity cannot be dependent upon Mithraism because there is no evidence for the Mithraic mysteries prior to A. D. 100.  Furthermore, when evidence for the mystery religion begins to appear, it is almost entirely absent from Judea or Palestine where the New Testament was composed and the core doctrines of Christianity were formulated.  The only mithraeum discovered in Palestine dates to the fourth century.  Christianity could not have borrowed its teachings from Mithraism because Christianity antedates the Mithraic mystery religion in the Roman Empire.
            Second, alleged parallels between Christianity and the practices of Mithraism are greatly exaggerated.  Modern advocates of Mithraic parallels allege that Mithra experienced a virgin birth, died in a manner similar to Christ, and rose from the dead.  Christianity also allegedly borrowed baptism and the Lord’s Supper from Mithraism.
            However, Mithraic art never depicts a virgin birth for Mithra.  He springs naked from a rock, or alternatively the zodiac, or an egg, while holding a torch and a knife.  Furthermore, no clear references to the death of Mithras can be found in either Mithraic art or surviving literary sources.  Just as there is no evidence for the death of Mithras, there is no evidence for his resurrection, for the latter is inconceivable without the former. The concept of rebirth (cf. John 3:3) is also absent from early Mithraism.  The gradual identification of Mithras with Sol takes place too late to have any impact on early Christianity, as does the belief in an astrological ascent of the soul.
Is Mithraism the source for the Christian ordinance of baptism, the immersion of the believer in water as a sign of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection?  On rare occasions, post-Christian Mithraism practiced a ritual bath in the blood of a bull, but since this practice did not exist in the religion before A. D. 160, all extant references to it were in parts of the Roman empire in the west, far removed from Palestine, and the ritual bath included no notion of a death and resurrection, allegations that this practice was the source of Christian baptism are not credible.  Does Mithraism provide the source for the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper?  While a common meal was practiced as a rite in Mithraism, parallels to the Christian practice of the Lord’s Supper are extremely questionable.  First, there is no evidence that the Mithraic communal meal was practiced by all initiates.  Second, bread eaten at the Mithraic meal represented the blood of a bull slain by Mithra in hunting, not the blood of Mithra himself.  There is no evidence at all of Christian dependence upon the Mithraic common meal, and parallels between the Christian communion rite and Mithraism are, at best, highly tenuous and dubious.
It is true that the date for the Christmas holy day as celebrated in Roman Catholicism was adopted from paganism, as were the dates of many other Roman Catholic holy days.  However, the Bible never affirms that December 25 was the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, nor was Christmas brought into the developing Catholic religion until centuries after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the composition of the New Testament, and the crystallization of Christian doctrine.  It is one thing to demonstrate pagan influence upon Roman Catholicism centuries after the rise of Christianity when the Roman Catholic religion united with the Roman government.  It is quite another to demonstrate pagan origins for Biblical Christianity itself.[2]
In summary, the issue of Christian borrowing from Mithraism hinges on the issue of chronology. If the chronological priority of Mithraism is shown to be wrong, the entire issue is a moot point. Strong evidence indicates that the development of Mithraism in the Roman Empire was chronologically later, not earlier, than the advent of Christianity. Furthermore, even apart from the tremendous chronological problem, a causal connection would need to be established to prove that Christianity took its doctrines from Mithraism.  To posit such a connection contradicts the facts of history. Finally, a careful look at proposed similarities between Mithraic stories and rituals and Christianity demonstrates that clear exaggeration has taken place by advocates of parallelism.
Rather than highly dubious parallels with Mithraism explaining the background and doctrines of Christianity, Christianity had its birth and development within the context of first century Judaism.  Unlike the mythical god Mithras, the life of the historical Jesus is documented extremely well, and every key event in His life fulfills predictions in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Rather than being a product of pagan mythology, the New Testament records historically accurate events through which the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah.
           As for the rituals and traditions of the early church, they too had their source in the one culture that had the most direct impact on early Christianity, Judaism.  The initiation of the Lord’s Supper was in the direct context of the Jewish Passover meal. The sacrificial aspect of the death of Christ should likewise be understood in light of temple sacrifice, and Old Testament images of the substitutionary atonement and the scapegoat.  As for origins of the Christian baptism, one need look no further than first century Judaism and the ministry of John the Baptist.
            The idea that the New Testament borrowed or was dependent upon pagan mystery cults such as Mithraism is clearly a radically inaccurate evaluation of the historical data.  Rather than the life of Christ and the records of the New Testament being legendary accounts because of their alleged dependence on Mithraism, the idea that Mithraism is the source of Biblical Christian doctrine and practice is itself a legend and a fable, no more real than the mythical god Mithra himself.

This  study can also be accessed here.

[1]           The following study is greatly abridged from “The Mithraic Cult and Christian Origins,” Allan Di Donato, Christian Apologetics Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2007, 21-53.  The 167 footnotes in the original article provide extensive evidence from ancient sources.  Professor Donato is an instructor in Humanities at a State college in Charlotte, NC.

[2]           Compare the resources on the unbiblical and unauthoritative nature of Catholic holy days at http:/

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sons Need Dads and Same Gender Marriage: Something's Gotta Give

After the Baltimore riots, President Obama gave an explanation in the Rose Garden at a Joint Press Conference with the Prime Minister of Japan.  He said this:

In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men . . . . in those environments, if we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem.

A week after that, he made the next statement at the launch of My Brother's Keeper Alliance:

I grew up without a dad.  I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path.  

A few weeks later, he attended a poverty summit at Georgetown University, and he said the following:

I am a black man who grew up without a father, and I know the cost that I paid for that. And I also know that I have the capacity to break that cycle, and as a consequence I think that my daughters are better off.

Three times, the President of the United States, on different occasions came back to the lack of the role of the father, the role of the dad, as vital for successful raising of boys and young men.  He was saying success of raising boys was dependent on this.  He tied failure into it not happening.

OK.  Question.  If what he is saying is true, then he cannot support two women, a same-gender couple, raising a boy, can he? He must oppose that, right?  He must say about what they are doing, "I know the cost of that."  And the cost is Baltimore and other cities like it.  He can't support it.  He does, but this only underscores the poverty of his worldview, that will contradict itself for political reasons.

In 2012, Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas, did research, performed as study (in pdf), entitled "New Family Structures Study," answering the question, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-(gender) relationships?"  The study was very thorough and concluded that the children of same-gender couples fare far worse than those of two different genders, both a father and a mother.

The President says he agrees.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Gospel and Simplicity

I began a series on my assessment of independent Baptists (parts one, twothreefour, and five), and will continue, but that's how I got started on the gospel recently.  From that series, I spun off into a post on the gospel, that turned into another series (parts one, two, three, and four).  All of this occurred between April 27 and May 20.  I still plan on finishing the assessment of independent Baptists, but I want to park on the gospel still, because if men either can't admit that or don't understand it, the other points and observations won't matter.

In one of the comments in the series I was writing on omissions from the gospel, someone expressed concern over the simplicity that might be missing in an explanation of the gospel, that included the Lordship of Christ.  To be sure I represent it properly, here is a quote from the comment:

Where is the simplicity in your position? Does someone have to understand that he is giving up his life, in order to be saved? Does he have to consciously have that thought?

I included the follow up questions, but it seems that the thought was that teaching the Lordship of Christ makes the gospel too complicated or more complicated than it should be or is.  I think the opposite of that.  The true gospel is the most simple, because it is the one you can show from the Bible.  A false gospel is one where you have to read into the text of scripture, and that's what is complicated.

However, I want to consider the concept of simplicity.  I have heard in the past the thought of keeping the gospel simple.  I have four separate thoughts right away.  One, I think of the old gospel tract, "God's Simple Plan of Salvation," that many churches had in their tract rack and used, and I'm sure still do use it.  That tract told people the plan of salvation was simple, so if it isn't simple, it must be wrong.  By "simple" the tract meant very, very easy to understand even for someone of very little mental capacity.  Or as I sometimes will describe something simple -- without very many moving parts.

Two, I think of the description of Peter and John in Acts 4:13, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."  The idea here is that the gospel of Jesus is one for even the "unlearned and ignorant men."  It must be simple, because that's how the original disciples of Jesus were -- simple.

Three, I think of 1 Corinthians 1, where Paul says that the saving message isn't for the "wise" or the "scribe" or "the disputer of this world."  Since it isn't for the "wise," it must be for those not so wise.  It is the "foolishness of God," something that doesn't even make sense in its lack of complication, a simplicity that would not be expected by an intellectual researching his plan of salvation.  He would make it more sophisticated.

Four, I think of 2 Corinthians 11:3:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

That verse says point blank that the gospel is simple, so it is.  It is worth exploring what "simplicity" means in 2 Corinthians 11:3, if "simple" has the same meaning here as it does today.  The word translated simplicity, aplotes, is used eight times in the New Testament, including here.  The same word is translated "liberality" in 2 Corinthians 8:2, "bountifulness" in 2 Corinthians 9:11, and "liberal" in 2 Corinthians 9:13.  On the other hand, that word is translated "singleness of heart" in Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22.  In Romans 12:8, the KJV translates it "simplicity," but the obvious meaning is similar to 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, because it reads, "he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity."  BDAG, the foremost Greek lexicon, says concerning the meaning in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "Of simple goodness, which gives itself without reserve, ‘without strings attached’, ‘without hidden agendas’."

The meaning of the word translated "simplicity" in 2 Corinthians 11:3 fits with the understanding of a true gospel.  The simple gospel, the true one, is one in which it is clear cut who is saved.  You can know it.  It doesn't muddle it up with convoluted explanations of the nature of Jesus.  It isn't this contemporary gospel, where it is almost impossible to judge, because a person could live in a nearly perpetual state of carnality and still be saved.  This is the one that seems to come with a hidden agenda that plays around with the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  You receive Jesus as Savior in the complicated gospel, and then maybe or maybe not, you receive Him as Lord at some later date.

As all of the doctrine of salvation relates to the modern understanding of simple, the later additions or omissions to a true gospel have complicated the simplicity.  Salvation comes through believing in Jesus Christ, and He's either the Jesus of the Bible or He's not.  If someone diminishes the identity of Jesus to widen the threshold or broaden the appeal of Jesus to the lost, you get another Jesus.  That's actually what 2 Corinthians 11:3 is talking about more than anything as related to the distortion of the gospel, that is, another Jesus Who will not save, albeit a more palatable Jesus to someone who wishes to remain in charge of His own life.  The false teachers at Corinth were presenting another Jesus and, therefore, teaching another gospel.

I'm afraid that the simple that people want, as it regards salvation, is something as simple as a glancing thought about Jesus.  A modern audience may want to "click in" to Jesus on the right index finger to its mouse.  You're now saved sort of like the one motion that sends an email, or publishes a post or comment, or makes a purchase.

If there is a simple plan of salvation, as close to what we would understand "simple" today, then it is found in the gospel of John.  I would agree that if you want to make it simple, have someone read John, because John writes (John 20:31), "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."  John could be the Bible's gospel tract, giving the most fundamental or simple information that would end in someone believing in Jesus Christ with the consequence of eternal life.  What does John say to believe about Jesus?  "That Jesus is the Christ" -- "the Christ."

"Christ" is found 569 times in the New Testament.  John says if you "believe that Jesus is the Christ," you "have life through his name."  If salvation is simple, then that is as simple as it gets.  If it must be more simple than that, then it is too simple.  With it being so simple, then a lot of people were saved, right?  A lot of people got life through Jesus, right?  Wrong.  Was it not simple enough?  Did it need to be more simple?

When you read John, you see Jesus separate the true followers from the false ones.  He whittles down His crowd like no other preacher, by today's estimation just making it harder and harder for folks.  He totally blew multiple opportunities in John by a modern gospel assessment.  What was it that made the gospel so difficult for people, when it was so simple?

It's simple to "believe that Jesus is the Christ," right?  I think it's as simple as it should be.  I've not noticed it being complicated in my experience.  You've got to believe.  It must be "believe," but people easily mess that up.  It must be "the Christ," and then people also distort that.  I've found that they usually corrupt it by twisting it into something of their desire, so that it is less than believe and less than "the Christ," and usually both.

If John is about convincing people that Jesus is the Christ, so that people will believe that He is the Christ, then reading John, to see Who that is, is necessary.  Is it too complicated to find out Who Jesus is in John? With most evangelicals and independent Baptists today, I think it is.  That would take too long and require reading skills or perhaps a lot of time of explanation.

As I have read through John many times, and taught through it a few times, it reads like it's arguing for the content of saving faith.  Let me offer you a sample.  In John 5, Jesus goes down to one of the feasts in Jerusalem.  It doesn't say which one.  It's obvious that John 5 is thematic, furthering the evidence for what John says in John 20:31, like it already has been up to that point.  It reads like part of a master plan.

At the beginning, Jesus performs a sign or miracle.  He does it on the Sabbath, on purpose.  In this case, he has the lame man stand up, pick up his bed, and walk, so that he would violate their Sabbath laws.  He does that so that they could see that He was Lord of the Sabbath, just like His Father.  Jesus works on the Sabbath, just like the Father works on the Sabbath.  How does the Father work?  He upholds the entire universe on every Sabbath, a never ending task of sustaining the entire creation. Jesus argues that His work is the same as the Father's work, which is giving life and judging, which encapsulates everything that man experiences.  Jesus is the Author of it all.  

I could explain further, but I'm just pulling John 5 out as a sample.  John reads like it offers one sample after another.  All of this is to convince that Jesus is "the Christ."  "The Christ" is the Anointed One.  That's what the term means.  "Anointed" for what?  To reign.  Jesus is the Messiah. He is the coming King, Who comes to rule.  You have to believe that.  

"Belief" is not just intellectual assent.  The word means more than just registering something in the brain, what most evangelicals want "belief" to be and twist it into.  Interpretation is guided by the laws of language.  Belief must be what belief is.

Belief involves the will.  If someone believes Jesus is the Christ, he has acquiesced to Jesus' authority.  The reign belongs to Jesus, not himself.  In John, just from the minimal sample of John 5, he knows that Jesus does the works that the Father does. Someone who stays on the throne of his own life doesn't believe that.  However, most evangelicals and independent Baptists want that still to be belief and that still to be Jesus.  It isn't.  It's a distortion. The distortion is what complicates simplicity.

It's simple.  Jesus is either Lord or He is not.  That's simple.  That's not hard to grasp.  What makes it hard?  People want to stay in charge, want their own way.  They want to be saved, sure.  People want a Jesus who will save them, but not rule them.  If they believe in that Jesus, does he save?  No, because that isn't Jesus.  Men present this alternative Jesus, because he's easier to accept, but he doesn't save, because he isn't Jesus.  He isn't the Messiah. He isn't Christ.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hannah W. Smith Learns the Higher Life from a Sexual Predator and Fanatic: part 16 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

Having rejected justification by faith and the new birth and having become a universalist, in association with what she learned “among the Methodists .  . . [of] the ‘Doctrine of Holiness’ . . . [Hannah Smith learned about] an experience called ‘sanctification’ or the ‘second blessing’ which brought you into a place of victory.”[1]
She explains what she learned by means of Methodist meetings on the second blessing:
[I] found . . . what Paul meant when he said, “Not I, but Christ,” and that the victory I sought, was to come by ceasing to live my own life[.] . . . I find there are some Christians who say that [we] receiv[e] Christ by faith for our sanctification, just as we received Him by faith for our justification . . . a Methodist doctrine . . . but it seems to be the only thing that can supply my needs . . . this is the Methodist “blessing of holiness.”[2]
She wrote:
This new life I had entered upon has been called by several different names. The Methodists called it “The Second Blessing,” or “The Blessing of Sanctification;” the Presbyterians[3] called it “The Higher Life,” or “The Life of Faith;” the Friends [Quakers] called it “The Life hid with Christ in God.” . . . I have most fully set it forth . . . [in my book] the “Secret of a Happy Life” . . . [where the teaching is expounded that] practical sanctification was to be obtained, like justification, by simple faith; and that, like justification, it was to be realized in any moment in which our faith should be able to grasp it.[4]
The Higher Life “is what the Quakers have always taught. Their preaching is almost altogether about it.”[5]  Quaker men and women “receiv[ed] the blessing of full salvation or death to sin” in Quaker meetings and went on to become “very successful in holding Holiness meetings.”[6]  Indeed, Mrs. Smith thus noted that the Quakers, Methodists, and Catholics all taught the Higher Life doctrine she also embraced:
[T]his discovery, which I have tried to set forth, was the beginning of a great revival in the spiritual life of the Church everywhere . . . the life of faith [was found] not only among the Methodists, but among the Quakers and among the Catholics as well, and in fact it is I believe at the bottom of the creeds of every Church . . . The Life of Faith [is] . . . what the Quakers had always taught. . . . They were in short “Higher Life” people[.][7]
Hannah W. Smith refined the Higher Life perfectionism that was her Quaker birthright, not only from Roman Catholic influences, but from Methodist perfectionism also.
            Mrs. Smith further developed her doctrine of sanctification by faith and the Higher Life through a discovery she stated was “more fundamental”[8] than any other.  She received this Higher Life truth through the influence of a Methodist minister who experienced demonic revelations and was a sexual predator.  She explained why she was open to his twisted ideas:
[I]n my search after the deep things of God . . . I think all the fanatics in the United States must have found their way to my presence to try and draw me into their especial net, and . . . I was always ready to listen sympathetically, hoping that among them all I might at last find the truth[.] . . . I [could] be completely taken in by anyone who professed to be “guided by the Lord.”  This was owing, I expect, to my early Quaker teaching about Divine Guidance.  People had only to say to me that the Lord had led them into such or such a course, for me to bow down before them in profound reverence. . . . I was made to believe that . . . I should be able to understand the Divine reasons for what seemed to me violations of good sense and even of simple morality.[9]
In contrast, concerning a local “Baptist clergyman . . . [who] preaches such a pure gospel,” Hannah affirmed, “I cannot enjoy close contact with such people,”[10] finding preachers of a pure gospel repulsive,[11] but fanatics of all sorts much more attractive, in keeping with her background, associations, and unrenewed nature.  She stated:  “My first introduction to fanaticism, if I leave out all that I got from the Quakers to start with, which was a good deal, came through the Methodist doctrine of entire sanctification.  That doctrine has been one of the greatest blessings of my life[.]”[12]  This blessing came in association with Dr. Henry Foster and his Clifton Springs sanitarium;  the Pearsall Smith family had known Dr. Foster since at least 1871 when Robert had stayed at the sanitarium and learned from the spiritual doctor the doctrine of erotic Sprit baptism.  Hannah described her association with this Methodist minister and his family, the insight into the Higher Life she received, and evidenced her incredible spiritual blindness,[13] as follows:
In the year 1879[14] we took a furnished house in Coulter Street, Germantown,[15] for the summer.  A lady who lived next door to us had lent her house to some friends who had the reputation of being wonderful Christians, and of having great revelations and marvelous experiences.  As I was at that time in search of remarkable experiences, I was exceedingly interested in these people, and very soon made their acquaintance.  The head of the household was a Methodist minister named J. L., and I found him to be a most impressive and interesting man.  He had a way of suddenly turning to you when conversation was going on and saying that he had a message for you from the Lord[.] . . . There were also in the house two sisters named W., whose father, Dr. W., was a man of position and authority in the Methodist Church, with a great reputation for piety. . . .
        From the first I was profoundly impressed by the apparent holiness and devotedness of this household, and felt that they must have been brought there on purpose to help me onward in my earnest search for a realised oneness with Christ, a oneness which they seemed to have attained in a very marvellous degree.
        The thing which interested me at first was the remarkable way in which they seemed to understand the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all the little daily affairs of life. . . . I must say here that their way of looking continually, moment by moment, to the Lord for His Guidance, and their perfect certainty that He did indeed, according to His promise, direct their every step, seemed to invest them with an atmosphere of holiness and to surround them with the conscious presence of the Lord. . . . They seemed literally to live and move and have their being in God . . . hungering . . . to know the utmost possibilities of the life hid with Christ in God, [so that] it seemed [to me] that it ought to be almost like entering the very gates of Heaven to be in their presence, and I threw myself with intense eagerness into their teaching and their influence.
        No one could associate with them and not believe that they thought themselves special Divine favourites.  They professed to be so minutely guided in life that I was very anxious to attain the same experience, so finally I got Miss W. to give me a sample of the way in which she was guided.  She said it was like this:  that when she was awakened in the morning her first conscious thought was to consecrate the day to the Lord, and to ask Him to guide her every step of the way throughout the whole day.  She would then ask Him whether she was to get up or not;  and very often, although it was apparently very important that she should get up, the Lord told her to stay in bed.  Then, perhaps, in a few minutes the voice would order her to get up.  Then she would proceed to get up.  As she put on each article she asked the Lord whether she was to put it on, and very often the Lord would tell her to put on the right shoe and leave off the other;  sometimes she was to put on one stocking and leave off the other;  sometimes she was to put on both stockings and no shoes;  and sometimes both shoes and no stockings;  it was the same with all articles of dress.  She also said that often during the day, when she was seated at work, the Lord would tell her to get up and go out of the room, and when she got out would tell her to come back.  And often she would be told to move from one chair to another, or to go and stand on the front doorstep, or to do all sorts of erratic things.  She said that the object of this was to make her pliable so that she would be ready to follow the guidance of the Lord on the instant.  I immediately thought that I would like to live this way, so the next morning after this conversation I began the process, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I got dressed or downstairs to my duties, as the voice kept telling me all sorts of things.  Then when I did get downstairs I could hardly get through my breakfast, for the voice would suggest, just as I would get a mouthful nearly into my mouth, that I must not take it.  I spent the morning running about from one chair to another, going out to the steps and coming back again, and running from one room to the other, and even going so far as to take off my shoes and stockings, and then to put them on again without any apparent cause.
        I kept this up until about twelve o’clock, and then . . . I said to myself . . . [“]I have just got the ideas from what Miss W. told me, and I am making it up all out of my own head,” and I was forced sorrowfully to conclude that I had not fathomed the secret of Divine guidance yet.[16]  This did not, however, weaken my desire to know the inner depths of the experience of which I heard[.] . . .
        In spite of all their evident holiness, I had been conscious all the while of something mysterious about the whole household, an intangible atmosphere of something wrong which seemed to fill the house, and to look out of the eyes of its inmates, and to be heard in the tones of their voices.  There was nothing I could lay my hands upon, or could even formulate in my thoughts, and whenever the feeling forced itself upon me I blamed myself as being as yet too unspiritual fully to enter into their heights of spirituality and set myself more determinedly than ever to attain to their divine level.  Believing, as they taught, that human reason must be laid aside in spiritual matters, and only the interior voice of the Spirit obeyed,[17] I . . . tried to convice myself that I was in this way being uplifted more and more into the secret things of God’s immediate presence.
        I must confess it was all very fascinating. . . . in many respects their teaching was exceedingly valuable.  And I did receive during the course of the summer a real revelation of God that has made my life to me a different thing ever since [that is, the Higher Life doctrine of sanctification in greater fulness]. . . . It was the continual habit of this strange household to refer everything to God. . . . Their one universal reply to everything was simple, the words, “Yes;  but then there is God”;  and no arguments or questionings could turn them from this by so much as a hair’s-breadth.
        As may be imagined, during my intercourse with them, because of all the unexplainable mystery accompanied by the apparent wonderful holiness that seemed to surround them, I often found myself in a good deal of spiritual perplexity, and, as I looked upon them as religious teachers deserving the highest confidence, I continually went to one or other of them with my difficulties, chiefly, however, to the oldest of the W. sisters, Miss Caroline W., who was a woman of great culture and intelligence and unusual spiritual power.[18]  I would pour out to her all my interior perplexities and difficulties and temptations, to which I must say she always listened very patiently, but when I would pause for some comforting or helpful reply, there would always ensue a moment or two of silence, and then she would always say in a tone that seemed utterly to conclude the matter, “Yes, that may all be true, but then, there is God.” . . . [M]y most impassioned or despairing stories of my spiritual woes could never elicit anything more than this.  “Yes, yes,” she would say;  “I know it all.  But then, there is God.” . . .
        Towards the end of their stay, one night, a friend who had come to sit at their feet and I had gone to be in great perplexity, full of questioning as to how it could be that God would permit people who wanted to follow Him, and were trying to walk in His paths, to wander into error.  We went to sleep in this perplexity, unable to see any light;  but somehow, in the morning when we met, we turned to each other and said, in the sense that we had never said it before, the single word, “God!” and with that word came to us a recognition of the all sufficiency of God in a way that has never left us. . . . It would be impossible to put into words just what seemed to come to us that morning, but it certainly was a satisfying revelation of the all-sufficiency of God, just the bare God[19] . . . for all our needs. . . . I shall never cease to feel real gratitude to this strange household for having brought me to this, although I very soon found out some dreadful things about them. . . .
        One day . . . I received a telegram from Mrs. C. in Boston, begging me to come and see her at once on a matter of vital importance.  The message was so urgent that I took a night train, and arrived there the next morning.  Immediately Mrs. C. told me that she thought I ought to know the state of things in this household, and she had sent for me to tell me about it.  She brought in a highly respectable woman doctor, who told me the following facts.
        The doctor said that she had two very intimate friends in Boston, who were ladies of very good standing, and, in fact, one of them was at the head of a large school or college, and was considered an authority on education . . . and were, in fact, devoted Christians.  They had become acquainted with Mr. L., the Methodist minister, who was the head of the mysterious household next door to me . . . and had seemed to find great spiritual uplifiting from his teachings.  This doctor was at that time in charge of a hospital, and these ladies would often come to see her.  She noticed that one of them seemed to be losing her spirits, and to be greatly depressed, with so far as she knew no apparent reason.  She seemed to be on the verge all the time of saying something to the doctor which she appeared afraid to continue, and the doctor felt that her friend had a confidence to make to her which for some reason she was reluctant to make.
        One night this friend came to stay all night at the hospital and slept in the room with the doctor.  As she was standing by the looking-glass arranging her hair, the doctor noticed something peculiar in her appearance, and it flashed across her mind that her friend was in the family way.  She explained, “Oh, darling, what is the matter?” and her friend burst into tears.  Nothing more was said;  the doctor was too shocked to speak;  she would as soon have expected to find the Angel Gabriel in such a plight as her friend;  and they spent the night both weeping, but saying nothing till towards the morning.  Then her friend opened her heart and confided in the doctor.  She told her that she and her companion had been greatly impressed by the teaching of this Mr. L., to whom they had been introduced by Miss –—, a religious teacher of a great deal of spirituality, living in Boston.[20]  They had both become greatly influenced by Mr. L’s teaching, and gradually he had unfolded to them that it had been revealed to him that he was to be the father of a race of children that were to be born into the world as Christ was, and that the Lord had shown him that they themselves were to be the favoured mothers of these children. . . . Mr. L. . . . not only believed that he was Christ, but thought that he was destined to be the father of “Christ’s children,” who were to found a race that was to revolutionize the world.  These children, according to him, were to be begotten in a spiritual way, without bodily contact, but his practice did not bear out his assumption. . . . [H]e succeeded in completely deluding these ladies, and in carrying out his purposes, and this poor thing was now expecting to be the mother of one of those children.  The agonies of mind that she had gone through could not be described.  She dared not admit the idea that it was a delusion, for her whole spiritual life seemed to depend upon believing that she had been rightly guided;  for if she could think that in the most solemn moments of consecration the Lord could allow her to be so deceived, she would feel that she could never trust Him again.[21]  She clung with a deathlike grip to the belief that it was Divine guidance, and that she was greatly favoured to be allowed to be the mother of one of these wonderful children.  How to get through the earthly part of it, however, was the great difficulty.  But her doctor friend stepped in to the rescue;  she took a house out of the city, brought her friend there, took care of her until the time came, carried her safely through her confinement and kept the facts hidden from everybody.  The lady told her mother, who had been anxious about her health, that she was broken down by so much teaching, and was going to the country for a complete rest, and there was no exposure.
        Mr. L. was a constant visitor at the house, as the doctor had not the heart to plunge her friend into the abyss of despair which would have been her portion if she had lost faith in him.  The doctor did not like his ways at all, and herself believed that it was pure human lust.  However, the thing was carried through;  the doctor adopted the baby, and her friend went back to her usual avocations.  She never lost her [faith in Mr. L.] during my knowledge of her.  Mr. L. married the other lady, the companion who had shared in her delusion, and, soon after the birth of the baby the mother went to live with him and his wife, and for many years they formed one household.
        The dear sister who had lent Mr. L. the house . . . a wealthy widow . . . came so much under his influence . . . [that] she was tempted to go away with him. . . . [He] had almost succeeded in persuading her to put all her private property into his hands, and go and live with him.  We at once, in his presence, told her the whole story as we had heard it, and while he acknowledged the facts, he stuck to his position that he was commissioned of the Lord to bring forth these children, and that they were not begotten according to any natural process.  We succeeded, however, in frightening him so much as to our revelations that might be made, that he himself told our friend he did not believe she was called to go with him[.] . . . How many poor souls were beguiled during that strange summer I do not know.
        Of course, from that time my intercourse with these dear misguided Christians[22] ceased, but about a year after I received a very impressive and solemn note from one of them saying that the way was still open for me to return to the Lord if I would give up my self-will and consent to be guided as the Lord led. . . . Since then, I have never seen nor heard about them. . . .
[Nonetheless, from Mr. L and his household] I did discover one truth, more important to Christians than any warnings about dangers in this world . . . and that truth was God. . . . [In] the summer . . . [of] 1879 . . . when the L. household lived next door to me[,] The Lord . . . t[aught] me very blessed lessons about the interior life[.] . . . He [had] sent some of His children to spend the summer in a house [next door].[23]  One of them especially [was] helpful to me.  She is what I call a “mystic”—one of those who know the Spirit’s voice, and who walk alone with God. . . . At last I begin to understand what this means, and I believe I am beginning to live it. . . . Definitely and forever I consent now to die as to any recognized self-life.  It shall be henceforth no more I, but Christ. . . . [I]n spite of . . . [their] frightful fanaticism . . . [which made me question if I ought to be] content to know but little of the inward voice . . . [since] they have tried so faithfully to find it, and have been deluded . . . [yet] I know the truth about it must exist[,] . . . [and] I had gained from the summer’s experience a knowledge of God . . that . . . brought me into a peaceful resting in Him that has never been seriously disturbed since. . . . It may seem strange that such an acquaintance with God could have come to me out of such a hotbed of fanaticism, but there is the fact, and there is no getting around it.  Whatever else these dear deluded fanatics may have been or have done they did live in the presence of God in a most unusual sense[.][24] . . . “Pure religion,” says Fénelon, “resides in the will alone.”[25]  And again, “the will to love God is the whole of religion.”  I . . . am thankful beyond words that . . . I was brought at last to see that a quiet stedfast holding of the human will to the will of God and a peaceful resting in His love and care is of . . . great[est] value[26] in the religious life.[27]
Thus, Hannah Whitall Smith learned what she considered her greatest spiritual discovery, not from the study of the Scriptures, which would have prevented her from adopting such a sort of pagan spirituality, but from the demonic revelations of a Methodist minister who was a sexual predator, to whose ideas she was open because of her background in Quaker and Romanist mysticism, Methodist fanaticism, and her expectation of Quaker revelations from the Inner Voice. 

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           pg. 240, The Unselfishness of God.  The Methodist doctrine of the second blessing or perfectionism affirms:
[In] the entirely sanctified . . . “concupiscence” has lost its evil, and [has] reverted back to . . . mere desire incident to the flesh, without any complicity or affinity with sin . . . victory is perfectly gained through the overwhelming might of the Spirit in the inner man, so that [those who have been perfected] have only to keep themselves from the external enemy who seeks to “touch” them, and to preserve or maintain the victory over self which God has given them. . . . The natural will being dead, the agony of a divided life and purpose is gone;  for now our glorious motive power, God’s own will, works in us, freed from internal opposition . . . released from the inward proneness to sin. . . . God is pleased to reckon as a fulfilment of the law . . . perfect love[,] [which is] possible to the faith of the Christian. . . . “Christian perfection” was indeed a favourite expression . . . [of] Mr. Wesley[.] . . . [T]his perfection is always wrought in the soul by a simple act of faith;  consequently, in an instant.  But [there is] a gradual work, both preceding and following that instant. (pgs. 118-124, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875;  comparison is made to the second blessing doctrine of Robert P. Smith, which is evidenced to be very similar to that of Wesleyan perfectionism.)
[2]              pgs. 242-243, 245, The Unselfishness of God.  Italics in original.
[3]              That is, Presbyterians such as William Boardman;  Presbyterian orthodoxy rejected the Higher Life movement.
[4]              pgs. 261, 264-265, The Unselfishness of God.
[5]              pgs. 269-270, The Unselfishness of God.
[6]              Letter to Priscie, reproduced in the entry for September 4 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.  Hannah Smith speaks of the Quaker woman preacher Helen Balkwell.
[7]              pgs. 272-274, 280, The Unselfishness of God.
[8]              Pg. 267, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.  Italics in original.
[9]              Pgs. 194-195, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[10]            Pg. 29, Remarkable Relations, Strachey.  Italics in original.
[11]            Hannah preached and testified:  “When I entered this [Higher] life . . . [t]he Lord delivered me from [judging]. . . . I feel it is not my place to judge anybody” (pg. 368, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).  Mrs. Smith was relatively consistent in her failure to judge and condemn heretics, universalists, and fanatics, despite Christ’s command to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24) and the Apostolic pattern of judging people for false doctrine and practice (1 Corinthians 5:3; Galatians 2:4-5).  However, she seems to have made an exception for Baptists who preached a pure gospel—these, she judged, were repulsive and intolerable—a feeling reflective of her view of their Master (Matthew 10:40; John 13:20).
[12]            Pg. 203, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.  Hannah Smith went on to warn that the Methodist doctrine had “introduced [her] into an emotional region where common sense has no chance, and where everything goes by feelings and voices and impressions,” which she did not think was good, as, at the time she was writing, she did not think that very extreme fanaticism was commendable.  However, she did not go on to reject the Quaker Inner Light heresy, or the Methodist errors of entire sanctification and extra-Scriptural revelations, for a consistent sola Scriptura stand and a truly Biblical doctrine of sanctification, such truths being aborrant to her because of her unregenerate state (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).  Thus, she remained a fanatic herself.
[13]            Compare the chapter “An Excerpt from ‘A Warning Exhortation Against Pietsts, Quietists, and all Who in a Similar Manner have Deviated to a Natural and Spiritless Religion under the Guise of Spirituality,’ by Wilhelmus á Brakel.”  Wilhelmus á Brakel describes and penetratingly warns against the pseudo-spirituality of the sort espoused by this Methodist minister which Hannah W. Smith esteemed so highly and adopted.
[14]            Note that 1879 was by no means the first introduction of the Smiths to Clifton Springs or to the erotic Baptism doctrine;  both Mr. and Mrs. Smith had learned and adopted the doctrine from Dr. Henry Foster years earlier.  The fact that they still fellowshipped with him in 1879 shows that association with their mentor in spiritual eroticism was still acceptable to the family even after Mr. Smith’s downfall in England for preaching the erotic Baptism.
[15]            Germantown was in such close proximity to Clifton Springs that Hannah could state in a letter that she was staying in Clifton Springs in the summer of 1879 (see Letter to Anna, written from Clifton Springs on July 8, 1879, reproduced in the entry for September 16 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  It is not possible from the historical record to determine if Mrs. Smith wrote “Germantown” in her published book and “Clifton Springs” in her unpublished letter to make it more difficult for readers to associate the Methodist sexual predator whom she does not name with Dr. Henry Foster’s Clifton Springs Sanitarium.  It is also very possible that she simply frequented both the adjacent locations.
[16]            Neither, of course, had Miss W. discovered such a “secret,” and close attention to the real Divine guidance in the Word of God would have kept both women from such unhesitating submission to the suggestions of their own sinful hearts and the openness to Satanic influence that went along with it.
[17]            The truth is that neither fallen and corrupt human thinking nor the “interior voice” was the proper authority—the sole authority in spiritual matters, and all other matters it addresses, is the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).
[18]            Note that this is Mrs. Smith’s description of this women even after she knew about the fleshly abominations in which she participated.
[19]            That is, the generic god of natural and pagan religion, associated for Mrs. Smith with a merely natural and unregenerate intellectual assent to various facts about Jesus Christ, not the true God of the regenerate, the Father, who has reconciled His people to Himself through the substitutionary sacrifice of His eternal Son Jesus Christ, and regenerated and justified them through the sole instrumentality of Spirit-produced faith.
[20]            For, truly, Boston was a hotbed of fanaticism, Faith Cure, Mind Cure, New Thought, and other wretched abominations at the time.
[21]            Note that Robert Pearsall Smith came to exactly this conclusion—when he rejected the erotic Spirit baptism at the heart of his Higher Life ministry, he also rejected Christianity for agnosticism and Buddhism.
[22]            For, Hannah W. Smith believed, they were indeed Christians, despite such abominable heresies and evil works—since they were the human instruments through which she came into her most fundamental knowledge of spirituality and of the Higher Life, how could they be otherwise?
[23]            That is, Mrs. Smith believed that these deluded fanatics and filthy fornicators were sent by God to teach her spiritual truth.
[24]            Mrs. Smith affirmed that they lived in the presence of God in an unusual sense.  However, the true God describes people like them in words such as:  “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).  Passages such as the following provide Jehovah’s view of such persons:
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh . . . [and] speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 4, 8-13)
Thus, the only god that these fanatics could be unusually in the presence of was the god of this world, Satan, the source of their deluded Higher Life spirituality.
[25]            Robert P. Smith also cited this maxim of Fénelon at the Brighton Convention (pg. 140, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).
[26]            That is, Mrs. Smith learned, in the most fundamental way, the tremendous value of the natural and pagan “spirituality” of the Roman Catholic mysticism and quietism of Fénelon from these Methodist fornicators and fanatics;  such was the spirituality of Mrs. Smith’s Higher Life.
[27]            Pgs. 182-193, 259, 267-270, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.