Friday, March 25, 2016

Keswick's History: Keswick Theology's Rise and Development in an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 1 of 5

1.) The Background and History of the Keswick Convention and Keswick Theology

Stephen Barabas’s So Great Salvation is widely considered the standard interpretation of Keswick theology.  In the words of Fred Mitchell, Chairman of the Keswick Convention Council from 1948-1951 and writer of the book’s preface, Barabas’s book is “faithful and accurate; it is well annotated with sources of his information; [and] it is saturated with an appreciative spirit, for he himself has been so much helped by Keswick.  The book will form a text-book and a reference book on this unique movement.”[1]  Thus, its contents accurately represent the theology of the original Keswick movement.  Indeed,  Steven Barabas[’s] . . . book So Great Salvation is perhaps the single best interpretation of the message of Keswick.”[2]  Proponents of Keswick generally affirm:  “The most objective account and appraisement of the . . . Keswick . . . movement is So Great Salvation:  The History and Message of The Keswick Convention—an extraordinarily exact account . . . [written] after exhaustive research.”[3]  Thus, Keswick’s “standard interpretation is Steven Barabas, So Great Salvation.”[4]  Consequently, the analysis of the Keswick system below will engage Barabas’s book in detail while also evaluating other Keswick classics.
Barabas notes that in “the early 1870s . . . the Keswick movement had its rise in England.”[5]  The Quakers introduced the subject[6] of the Higher Life, although there were also very significant background influences of Roman Catholic mystics and heretics such as the monks Thomas á Kempis and Brother Lawrence,[7] and especially the Catholic mystical quietist Madame Guyon.[8]  Catholics and Quakers were essential theological precursors for the rise of the Keswick movement.
Thomas á Kempis, out of his “monastic formation,” zealously practiced the anti-Christian piety that springs from the Roman Catholic false gospel.  Thomas loved:
Marian devotion . . . [believed in] the sacrificial character of the Eucharist . . . “meritorious” works . . . [and] den[ied] the crucial importance of Christ’s mediatorship and sacrifice. . . . [In his writings, such as] The Imitation of Christ . . . the atoning significance of Christ’s work is overshadowed by the exemplary perspective . . . the Holy Spirit . . . remains unmentioned . . . throughout . . . [Thomas has] little to say . . . about the Lord Jesus as a ransom and as our righteousness . . . [he] cannot be considered a fore-runner of the Reformation . . . [but] brokers . . . ideas that are characteristically Roman Catholic.[9]
It is, therefore, not surprising that “Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order[,] . . . was accustomed to reading a chapter in the book [The Imitation of Christ] daily.”[10]
               Barabas claims that more orthodox writers were also antecedents to the Keswick movement.  He follows W. H. Griffith Thomas in claiming that Walter Marshall’s The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, written in 1692, is a Keswick antecedent.  However, “the Keswick view is incompatible with Marshall’s because the Keswick view is influenced by a Wesleyan second work of the Spirit that is conditioned on the believer’s consecration. . . . Despite their claims to the contrary . . . Keswick theology is both historically and theologically novel.”[11]  A more accurate and less historically revisionistic view of Marshall’s work is that the book is a “Puritan classic on sanctification.”[12]  
Barabas also claims that William Romaine’s books The Life of Faith, The Walk of Faith, and The Triumph of Faith were Keswick antecedents.  However, J. C. Ryle’s assessment that the books taught the older evangelical doctrine of sanctification, not the Keswick doctrine, is more accurate.[13]
Barabas may perhaps be cleared somewhat from historical revisionism in that he only implies that Walter Marshall and William Romaine taught Keswick theology, without actually stating it.  In the midst of his discussion of the Pearsall Smith’s actual origination of Keswick theology, he cites Romaine and also Griffith-Thomas’s claim that the essentials of Keswick are found in Marshall.  The only specific claim Barabas himself makes for Marshall and Romaine is that the men taught “the possibility of fellowship with Christ closer than that enjoyed by the generality of Christians.”[14]  Of course, an affirmation that Christians can walk more closely with God could be made for nearly every devotional book ever written in Christendom.  The reader will naturally assume that Barabas is not just making an empty affirmation that Marshall and Romaine wrote books that explained how believers could draw closer to God but that the two men actually taught Keswick theology.  It is uncertain whether Barabas qualified his specific affirmations simply because he wrote carelessly or because he knew that neither Marshall nor Romaine actually taught Keswick doctrine.
Contrast Barabas’s inaccurate and hagiographical explanation of the development of the Keswick movement with B. B. Warfield’s accurate one, which carefully documents the widespread influence of both Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their connection to earlier and later errors in sanctification, in “The ‘Higher Life’ Movement,”Chapter 4 in Perfectionism, Vol. 2,Benjamin B. Warfield, pgs. 463-558.  Note also Chapter 5, “The Victorious Life,” pgs. 559-611; and Chapter 1, pgs. 3-218,“Oberlin Perfectionism,” which examines the perfectionist errors of Mahan, Finney, and others.
In addition to Catholics and Quakers, the “Higher Life teaching . . . [in] the books of the American religious leaders, T. C. Upham and Asa Mahan . . . [and] W. E. Boardman’s The Higher Christian Life[15] is also undisputed theological background for the development of the Keswick theology; Barabas thus recognizes Thomas C. Upham as a Keswick antecedent.[16]  He notes without a hint of criticism that Upham wrote Life and Religious Experience of Madame Guyon, a book which Barabas affirms contributed to “the interest of the Church in the subject of sanctification and the Spirit-filled life,” as did other works of Upham.[17]  What, then, was Upham’s theology?  Upham “experienced [entire] sanctification under Phoebe Palmer’s influence and gave popular expression to the doctrine in a series of books drawing . . . explicitly on Catholic mysticism and Quietism.”[18]  Upham taught, in addition to his Quietistic and Romanist Higher Life doctrine of sanctification associated with Wesleyan perfectionism and Pelagianism, that God was a duality of Father and Mother instead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  However, this Duality became a Trinity through the appearance of a Son, who is identified with the created order itself.  Upham sought to prove this gross idolatry from sources ranging from ancient Gnostics such as Valentinus and Heracleon, to the Jewish Cabala, to assorted other later heretics and perfectionists.  He blasphemously wrote:
God is both Fatherhood and Motherhood . . . from the eternal Fatherhood and Motherhood . . . all things proceed. [A] Maternal Principle . . . Sophia . . . [exists] in the Divine nature[.] . . . [T]he Jewish Cabala . . . [speaks of] a feminine deity . . . called Sophia. . . . John’s Gospel . . . identif[ies] the Logos and the Sophia. . . . Sophia . . . was God; not only with God, but was God. . . . [T]he somewhat mystic words of the Apostle John . . . [are] the announcement of the infinite Paternity and the infinite Motherhood. . . . Valentinus . . . speaks of the Aeon Sophia . . . [T]he mystics and Quietists . . . recognized . . . the divine Sophia[.] . . . [T]he Sophia . . . or Maternal Essentia or Personality of the Godhead . . . incarnated itself in Christ . . . caused him, in a mother’s Spirit though in a male form, to endure his great sufferings[.] . . . [T]he Familists . . . recognize the Maternal Principle as a true and distinct Personality in the Godhead. . . . [The] Shakers . . . [and] Bible Communists . . . [recognize] that the Divine Nature is dual in its personalities . . . and includes the fact of a divine maternity[.] . . . [T]he Catholic Church is often regarded . . . as embodying the idea of the Motherhood element which exists in the Infinite, in its recognition of the holy or deific nature of Mary . . . and in the high honors, and even worship, which it is understood to render to her. . . . [U]nder the influence of inward suggestions, which I will not stop to explain and define . . . [and to] the thoughtful mind . . . the duality of the Divine Existence, written everywhere in the book of nature, necessitates a Trinity. . . . we must supplement the eternal Fatherhood and Motherhood by the eternal Son . . . the great and unceasing out-birth of the Divine Duality. . . . Generically, or considered in the whole of its extent, the trinal out-birth, otherwise called the Son of God, without which the eternal Fatherhood and Motherhood could have neither name nor power nor meaning, is the whole of creation from its lowest to its highest form. . . . [N]ot an insect that floats in the air, nor a fish that swims in the sea, nor a bird that sings in the forests, nor a wild beast that roams on the mountains; not one is or by any possibility can be shut out and excluded from the meaning and the fact of the divine Sonship[.] . . . All living nature then . . . constitutes the Son of God.[19]
Upham continues to develop his stomach-turning idolatry in the subsequent pages of his book, but the quotation above is enough, if not far more than enough, of a sampling of his vile and devilish nonsense to give the sense of his doctrine.  Despite being an unconverted idolator, he was very influential:
Upham . . . became a Methodist holiness leader after contact with Phoebe Palmer.  He studied Fenelon and Guyon, writing a biography of the latter entitled Life, Religious Opinions, and Experience of Madame Guyon.  His [works] . . . influenced much of nineteenth and early twentieth century thinking on faith, including A. B. Simpson . . . leade[r] of [the] CMA [Christian & Missionary Alliance].[20]
Like many other Higher Life writers, Upham also emphasized ecumenicalism and sought to prepare for the one-world religious system of Revelation 17.  Thus, “[o]n the basis of his experience of the baptism of the Spirit, T. C. Upham proposed the foundation of a League of Nations.”[21]  Such a man was Keswick antecedent Thomas Upham.

See here for this entire study

[1]              Pgs. ix-x, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[2]              “Keswick and the Higher Life,”
[3]              Pg. 20, Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed. Stevenson.
[4]              Pg. 112, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Dayton.
[5]              Pg. 15, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[6]              Pg. 224, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, Its Method, and Its Men, ed. Charles Harford.
[7]              Pg. 223, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford; cf. pg. 482, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875, for testimony to discovery of the Higher Life through “Brother Lawrence” at Brighton.
[8]              Pg. 223, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.
[9]              Pgs. 97-102, Sweet Communion: Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middle Ages through the Further Reformation, Arie de Reuver.
[10]             Pgs. 74-75, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, Its Method, and Its Men, ed. Charles Harford. 
[11]             Pg. 72, 211 Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology, Andrew D. Naselli. 
[12]             Pg. 692, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, J. R. Beeke & M. Jones.  Compare also  “Sanctification by Faith: Walter Marshall’s Doctrine of Sanctification in Comparison with the Keswick View of Sanctification,” Cheul Hee Lee. Ph. D. diss., Westminster Theological Seminary, 2005.
[13]             Cf. pg. xxix, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots, J. C. Ryle. London: William Hunt and Company, 1889.
[14]             Pg. 16, So Great Salvation.
[15]             Pg. 16, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  The wider background to the Keswick Convention included the “work of such figures as Charles Finney; Asa Mahan; W. E. Boardman; Hannah Whitall Smith and her husband, Robert Pearsall Smith; Charles Cullis; and others” from the Wesleyan, Oberlin, and Higher Life perfectionisms and continuationisms (pg. 104, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Dayton).  Thus, for example, as noted in more detail below, both the persons and books of Mahan and Boardman were promoted at the Oxford Convention (e. g., pg. 90, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).
[16]             Pg. 16, So Great Salvation, Barabas. 
[17]             Pg. 16, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[18]             Pg. 81, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Dayton.
[19]             Pgs. 49-78, Absolute Religion, Thomas C. Upham.  New York, NY: Putnam, 1873, pgs. 45-67; cf. also pgs. 337-459, Warfield, Perfectionism Vol. 2.  Italics in original.  The “inward suggestions” of which Upham speaks came from the devil, who worked through the Higher Life preacher’s corrupt and unregenerate nature.
[20]             Pg. 43, Only Believe:  Examining the Origin and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies, Paul L. King.  See also “The Mystical Perfectionism of Thomas Cogwell Upham,” Chapter 3 in Perfectionism, Vol. 2, B. B. Warfield.
[21]             Pg. 21, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger.

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