Friday, April 29, 2016

Bishop G. Handley Moule: Keswick Quietist Leader, part 2 of 2

Furthermore, despite the fearful warnings of Scripture against such practices, and the terrible opportunities they gave to the devil, Moule also claimed to communicate with the dead and offered prayer for them, in a manner reminiscent of the interactions with the dead of the spiritualist Higher Life pillars Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple.  Moule also commended such frightfully unscriptural practices to others.  It was his “sweet solace” to offer “[p]erpetual greetings to” his “beloved ones” who had “gone” to the grave.  He stated:  I daily and by name greet my own beloved child, my dearest parents, and others precious to me,” although they were already dead.  Prayers for the dead were “no sin;”  rather, communication with and prayers for the dead were a “sweet and blessed help” in the spiritual life (pgs. 220-221, Veni Creator: Thoughts on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit of Promise, by H. C. G. Moule.  London:  Hodder & Stoughton, 1890; cf. repr. ed., Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 1977), so Moule himself engaged daily in such spiritualistic exercises.  Moule stated:  “I cannot think . . . that warrant for such prayer is a fact of revelation,” but although no support whatever for prayers for the dead appeared in Scripture, he stated:  “I for one cannot condemn such exercises of the soul,” and he both practiced such himself and accepted such communications as a legitimate “devotional” practice of other “Christians who so pray.”  He even commended a “beautiful . . . prayer” for the dead for the use of Christians, which included not only intercession for the dead but a wish for communication with the dead person:  “[I]f there be ways in which [he] may come. . . grant me a sense of [his] presence” (pgs. 96-98, Christus Consolator, Moule).  Such interaction with the dead—who, Moule averred, really came back, as such communications certainly were not simply the work of deceiving demons—contributed to the bishop’s belief in the continuation of spiritual gifts and his opposition to cessationism.

As a result of such fellowship with and prayers for the dead, Moule believed that “the Lord grants what can only be called visions,” so that the dead return and grant an even greater level of communication with the living than can be obtained by invisible communication with the afterlife.  Moule himself had received supernatural and “deeply sweet dreams,” where dead people he communicated with and prayed for appeared to him and looked on him “with an extraordinary look of bliss” (pgs. 220-221, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald).  Moule likewise commended others who had “veritable vision[s] of God” coming to them and telling them things; furthermore, he encouraged and supported those who received such visions to trust in their veracity (pg. 287).  In light of his continuationism, Moule’s sympathy for the leader of early British Pentecostalism, Alexander Boddy, is unsurprising (pgs. 23-24, 88, The Pentecostal Movement, Donald Gee).  Furthermore, Moule also had the ability as a Anglican Bishop to convey special powers through the laying on of his hands.  One who received such power from Moule testified:  “At my interview, he laid his hands on my head, and gave me his solemn blessing for the work. I distinctly felt that it was something very real. This was not a matter of faith, but a distinct physical experience, as definite as an electrical shock. It was not like an electric shock, but something both spiritual and physical which I cannot properly describe. . . . It had results, for both in my parish, and where I was Bishop’s Messenger, the Mission was much more successful than it usually was” (pgs. 222-223).

Moule was also ecumenical, warmly accepting as brothers in Christ High Anglican and Romanizing Anglican baptismal regenerationists and other heretics within his denomination, instead of seeking to purge such false teachers out. “His breadth of view gained for him in a marked degree the confidence of all schools of thought,” and his “genial tolerance” of non-evangelicals brought him the “war[m] prais[e]” of the “High Anglicans” (pgs. 186-187; cf. Luke 6:26).  It probably helped that Moule could make “strongly worded sacramental statement[s]” about “the Lord as present on the Table” in the sacrament of Communion (pg. 95, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  The Roman Catholic sacrament of Confirmation could bring one into the Anglican communion, Moule held—even if the Anglican “Canons might say otherwise.”  “[P]ublic renunciation” of Rome and her heresies should be “waive[d]” for entrance into Anglicanism (pg. 215).  Incense could be used in association with the sacrament of Holy Communion (pg. 218-219).  Moule permitted those under his authority to practice the “Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament” as an act of “real helpfulness” in certain situations in worship, although it was a practice involving the worship of the communion bread in Roman Catholicism (pg. 220).  Sharing wine and meals with his fellow clergy (pg. 201), Moule became “most devoted and loving friends” with “the leading Ritualist in the North of England,” whom Moule regarded as a “Christian man and minister wholly devoted to his Lord” and to whom Moule “took special delight” in providing ecclesiastical advancement (pg. 194).  Moule “quite recognized that those who held the Catholic standpoint had a perfect right to be included in the Anglican Church. And his letters breathe the spirit of kindly sympathy with this point of view. He desired that ‘all essential requirements of the High Anglicans should be met’” (pg. 196), and, as a Bishop, he “rejoice[d]” to put “important . . . living[s]” with “most important point[s] of vantage” into the hands of those with “extreme opposite” views to his generally evangelical Anglicanism (pg. 195).  Thus, he happily worked as an Anglican Bishop not to purge, but to promote those under his charge who led countless precious souls into false ritualistic gospels and the fires of an eternal hell.  Moule was so far from seeking to remove those who believed a false gospel that “he would have erred in favour to High Churchmen lest he should even appear to be unkind” (pgs. 196-197).  He wrote:

It has been my happiness, not least in my later years, to know and to love, as friends in Christ, holy men of other types and schools, and to see with reverence their Lord’s likeness in the countenance of their lives. . . . These men are beyond shadow of question at least as much Christ’s own as I dare to think myself.  From their example, from their words, sometimes from words definitely shaped by their distinctive tenets, I have often received exhortation and edification. (pg. 197)

That is, Moule thought both rationalist Higher Critics and Romanist Anglicans were as much Christians as himself, and he often received exhortation and edification from their distinctive tenets, although these were damnable heresies.  To Moule, in his appointments of ministers to lead the people of God, “the question of views was secondary” (pg. 203); “nor was he a good judge of character” (pg. 211; contrast 1 Timothy 3).  In his bishopric he brought about “entire freedom . . . from ritual trouble and partisan division” (pg. 200), although the gospel itself had to be jettisoned to do so.  Thus, Moule was “scrupulous” to treat well “High Churchmen in [his] Diocese[.] It fell to his lot to appoint incumbents to many parishes where the teaching and practice were not in accord with his personal convictions, but he was always at pains to secure the continuity of the tradition of such churches” (pg. 203).  That is, when a false gospel was being preached by a minister of Satan in a parish overseen by Moule, the Bishop was very diligent to make sure that the true gospel was not brought in; but upon the retirement of one minister of Satan, Moule consecrated another servant and preacher of Antichrist.  While the Bible affirms that believers must “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3), and although the Anglican denomination descended ever further into rationalism and Romanism as Moule grew older, he nonetheless wrote:  As life advances, I feel less and less the value of controversy, where spiritual matters are concerned” (pg. 215).

In light of his willingness to praise and commend ritualism, it is not surprising that Moule could write:  “Only it is right that I should say for my own part that not one word . . .  has been written [by me] in forgetfulness of my obligations as a presbyter of the English Church, or with faltering convictions as to the rightness of the language of its sacramental ritual” (pg. 80, Veni Creator).  Moule thus endorsed the language employed in, for example, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, in “The Ministration of Publick Baptism of Infants, to be Used in the Church,” which requires the priest to pray:

By the Baptism of thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan, [Thou, God] didst sanctify Water to the mystical washing away of sin. . . . We call upon thee for this Infant, that he, coming to thy holy Baptism, may receive remission of his sins by spiritual regeneration. Receive him, O Lord, as thou hast promised . . . that this Infant may enjoy the everlasting benediction of thy heavenly washing, and may come to the eternal kingdom which thou hast promised by Christ our Lord. Amen.

The form for “The Ministration of Private Baptism of Children” requires the priest to act as follows:

[P]our Water upon [the infant], saying these words; “I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” Then, all kneeling down, the Minister shall give thanks unto God, and say, “We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own Child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church. And we humbly beseech thee to grant, that as he is now made partaker of the death of thy Son, so he may be also of his resurrection; and that finally, with the residue of thy Saints, he may inherit thine everlasting kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The Ministration further commends the “baptizing of [a] Child; who being born in original sin, and in the wrath of God, is now, by the laver of Regeneration in Baptism, received into the number of the children of God, and heirs of everlasting life.”  The binding Anglican Confession of Faith, the 39 Articles, affirms that as “by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; [and] the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed” (Article XXVII). While one can be glad that Moule personally denied baptismal regeneration and strove, albeit with questionable efficacy, to make the sacramental language of his denomination cohere with more evangelical views (cf. pgs. 259ff., Outlines of Christian Doctrine, H. C. G. Moule.  London:  Hodder & Stoughton, 1890), he nonetheless swore commitment to the Anglican documents that actually did teach sacramental salvation, and he had good “Christian” fellowship with the multitude of his fellow Anglican ministers and members that took more seriously than he the language of Anglican creed and ritual and consequently affirmed baptismal regeneration.

Moule personally accepted grave errors, from weak views on the inspiration of Scripture, continuationism, and ecumenicalism, to prayers for the dead.  He also had a terrible lack of discernment about heresy.  It is consequently not surprising that unregenerate false teachers such as Hannah W. Smith and Robert P. Smith were accepted as Christian brethren by Moule, and their Keswick theology adopted and promulgated by him.

See here for this entire study.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Has Happened that the Gospel Has Been So Messed Up by Professing Christians? part two

This is part four of a series of an analysis of the gospel (parts one, two, three).


In my first post this week, I began explaining why Christians are perverting the gospel or allowing it to be perverted.  Almost all the reasons I gave were theological.  Everything is theological, because this is God’s world, so everything relates to God, but there are more practical reasons why this occurs as well, that still relate to theology.


Men design “plans of salvation” that will be to varying degrees more acceptable to someone.  These fall short of a biblical gospel, but men think people will grasp them easier and more likely accede to their requirements.  Just praying a prayer is very easy to grasp and requires nothing, except perhaps a small amount of mental assent to certain propositions.

I mentioned that everything was theological still.  Turning the gospel into repeating a prayer corrupts the gospel, so that is theological.  The adherents to this method would call it “simple,” even aping the title of the classic Ford Porter tract, “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation.”  The plan of salvation isn’t too hard to understand, but scripture doesn’t call it “simple,” so that's theological too.  It isn’t simple in the sense that they mean it.  Praying a prayer is simple, but that’s also not what the gospel is.   Chapters 1-11 of the book of Hebrews are the plan of salvation.  Chapters 1-5 of Romans are the plan of salvation.  Those two sections aren’t “simple” like is explained by those who simplify to the extent that it isn’t the gospel any more.

A few thoughts buttress the concept of simplicity as a necessary quality of gospel presentation.  One, if you love people, you want people to be saved, and so you do what it takes for that to occur.  According to this line of thought, you're more loving if you make it simple, because more people accept it when it's simple.  People who make it "hard" don't love as much.  Two, if it is more than simple, then it isn't gracious, so it isn't grace.  When you make it hard, difficulty speaks of work.  If a person has to work, then it isn't grace.  Both of these are answered in a similar way.  Love and grace are both what the Bible says they are.  If they're not hard, it's because God is working and enabling.  It's not loving, however, if it isn't actual salvation, and God's grace doesn't purvey something short of the truth.  Salvation is impossible for a human being, so everyone needs grace to be saved.  It's easy insofar that the yoke is Jesus' yoke and the burden is Jesus' burden to carry.


The Bible is a big book and a lot of it talks about salvation.  All those multiple books and chapters in scripture written about salvation weren't written so that we could ignore most of them, and then reduce the plan of salvation to a very few verses for the most part taken out of their context to use in a pitch.  So-called believers though may not participate in evangelism if they've got to know too much.  With that as a valid excuse to some, to bring more massive involvement to produce more professions, the method is streamlined and simplified.  That's been done and then passed along as a legitimate method.    In scripture though, we don't see formulaic evangelism that might enable even an unbeliever to "win someone," because that requires little to no faith.

Scripture shows putting on the armor of God and the skillful use of the sword of the Lord, which is the Word of God (Eph 6:10-18).  It reveals the stronghold in someone's mind assessed and then pulled or cast down into submission to the Lord (2 Cor 10:3-5).  The evangelistic sermons in the Bible from Jesus and the Apostles aren't formulaic.  They don't contain various "plans of salvation," and neither are they some neat cookie cutter technique.

The plan of salvation or the gospel has been modified by preachers and churches to allow for faithless people to succeed in ministry.  You don't have to know the Bible.  You don't have to put in much time at the moment of contact.  Short time equals many professions. The factors of knowledge and time and unsuccessfulness hover out there to rebuff potential workers.   A way has been shaped to counter all those negatives and turn them into positives.  Many new workers are realized.  If you start with weak professions, you need a faithless program to succeed.


False teachers distort the gospel in many different ways.  They arrive at false conclusions from hermeneutical contortions of the text.  Jesus uses a fishing analogy.  In every case, He uses the net in His illustration.  Since Jesus uses fishing on different occasions as a picture of evangelism, they conclude the need for different "lures," pointing to line-fishing with the use of bait.

Lure and bait aren't part of the metaphor.  Line-fishing isn't part of Jesus' parable.  There is no lure and there is no bait.  If there were a lure, the lure is the gospel itself.  Whether someone is saved or not is whether he receives the gospel, not whether we can lure him into the gospel through some means other than the gospel.  The gospel itself is the threshold.  Nothing is better than the gospel that could lure someone to the gospel.  Using a lure or bait diminishes the gospel itself.

This example isn't the only type of faulty exegesis one might hear or read that distorts the gospel.  I provide this one as a sample alone.  This one among others should be rejected.


Men wouldn't get away with hermeneutical contortions so much if other men judged them as error. Judging false doctrine has become out of fashion somehow.  Men often get away with the false teaching, because other men let them get by with it.  There are many possible reasons for this.  Each of the following paragraphs of this section will give some of those reasons.  They are really excuses, but they are treated like reasons.

We live in an era of toleration.  You may not be judged for error, but you will be judged for being unloving if you judge someone's error, so men are more afraid of an appraisal of unloving than one of error.  This goes along with mass uncertainty.  You are proud if you judge people because "you think you know it all."  It would be better to admit your own uncertainty and then go ahead and accept a lot of what other people think and say.  While you are busy judging people, people are going to hell, some would say.

When you criticize others for a wrong belief or practice, they aren't going to like that.  You can't afford to have too many people who don't like you.  They will also think you don't like them, and should you be known for not liking people?  You might like them, but they'll think you don't.  You'll lose your influence.  You won't be recognized as an important person.

When you criticize people, it causes conflict.  Conflict is a distraction.  Overall, the conflict will cause stress on everyone, including yourself.  As people get older, you'll see them ease up often, even in their parenting, because they're tired of fighting.  You waste a lot of energy fighting, and criticism will cause fighting.

If you treat people nicely, they'll want to change.  They won't think you're nice if you criticize, and so they won't change.  To open up opportunities to change, you've got to become less critical.  Then people will want to listen when you stay positive.

Autonomy relates to judgment.  In my experience, I've noticed that if you do judge others from other churches, they often pull the autonomy card on you.  They claim you are trying to govern them when you judge them.  You don't have authority over them.  I've written on this recently.  God and the Bible have authority over everyone.  I can say they're wrong and I can separate from them.  That isn't governing them in any way.  It is judging them.  If you think the autonomy of the church means you can't judge doctrine and practice of those outside of one's church, then you don't know what you are talking about.  I'm judging that.

People get judged (ironically) when they judge.  People will judge you for being too judgmental. God wants us to judge and to reject false doctrine and practice, especially a false gospel (Gal 1:6-9). It is a very serious matter.  You can be attempting to live peaceably with all men and still speak out against a false gospel and not fellowship with one.  You should.


If you separate from someone over the gospel, you aren't in unity with that person.  That might be interpreted by some to oppose unity.  However, scripture teaches that you should not be in unity with someone who preaches another gospel.  You should not be indifferent to a false gospel.  The way to preserve the gospel, so it isn't messed up, is to point out the false gospel and separate from it.  You can only have biblical unity based upon the truth.   If you don't separate from a false gospel, you are disobedient to biblical teaching on separation.  The one who disobeys the truth is the one who causes disunity, not someone who separates over it.

When you accommodate a false gospel, just so you won't have to separate, that's just fake unity.  I compare it to the unity people might have at a family reunion, where subject matter of conversations must be limited to the weather.  Anything else is beyond the line.  That isn't unity.  It's more like a ceasefire.

I understand a desire not to separate.  We should do everything we can to help someone come to the truth.  The last resort is separation.  However, you should not just ignore it.  You should care enough about doctrine and practice to know whether someone has this wrong.  Staying ignorant is not how you should practice.  You are not respecting God and His Word when you remain ignorant in these matters, thinking perhaps that ignorance excuses you.  You will also harm yourself and others with your ignorance.  I'm talking about real harm, not the fake harm of hurt feelings.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What Has Happened that the Gospel Has Been So Messed Up by Professing Christians?

Last week I wrote two posts about so-called gospel declaration in independent Baptist churches (one and two).  The warped or corrupt or lacking presentation of Kurt Skelly just represents what's already all over.  It's bad that he and that whole direction of practice is so admired among independent Baptists or that even those not with him still think of him as successful.  Evangelicals as a whole are worse in general than these independent Baptists.  I don't think it's close on this, especially considering an article in Christianity Today last week, naming the most influential Christians in 2016, which included the pope and Hillary Clinton -- very sad.  What has happened?  Why did this happen?

Satan and the world system has already been at work through all history blinding men to the truth. Because of the nature of human fallenness, man in his lost condition tends toward what is really bad. We should be amazed anything good happens with this darkness in and all around.   There are always going to be multiple fronts of false teaching to deal with and if you take scripture literally, it's going to get worse before it's going to get better.  You can count on a lot of bad stuff, but knowing that, to have scriptural discernment, we need to look out for it, see it, and call it out when we do.  Let's say that you have known what I've written in this paragraph.  Now what are the specifics that explain what we see occurring today?

Lack of conversion leads to further lack of conversion.  Unsaved people can really twist the gospel and large numbers of them have done so through history since Christ.  This is not my saying that Kurt Skelly isn't saved, but false teachers almost as a definition are not saved people.  They aren't telling the truth, because they themselves haven't believed it.  They may have believed some truths, but not enough saving truth to be saved.  This doesn't explain how all this lack of conversion started, of course.  You can trace false teaching back to something from an unsaved person, a doctrine of demons (1 Tim 4:1), then passed along to unsuspecting, gullible believers.  True teaching doesn't often change in giant, radical shifts, but in incremental steps (the frog in the kettle).

James 3:1 says, "Be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." Teachers have far more responsibility.  We need to be more serious about judgment of them, even doubting the salvations of those who won't stop teaching a false gospel.  We should at least regard ("let them be unto thee") them as unsaved, even if they are not (cf. Mt 18:17).  I see a sweeping disregard of required components of a true gospel among independent Baptists.

A false gospel can't then but produce false sanctification.  People aren't saved by a false gospel, so the production of change that comes only from a true gospel shouldn't be expected either.  Very often the Skelly type of "gospel" preaching doesn't expect the continuous obedience that marks the identity of a true believer.  The endurance in actual Christian living is the biblical assurance of salvation.  Their means of change will be similar to the false gospel, however, usually some kind of manipulation.  In many cases,  I've seen it to be one program, one human strategy, after another, that doesn't then bear biblical gospel preaching either. Carnality just begets more carnality.

The carnality that crafts external changes has resulted in numbers.  The numbers bring a sort of validation, justifying the methods before men.  They say it's spiritual because things happened that they made happen.  When things happen that they make happen, they testify that God did it.  If God did it, they must be right, because God isn't wrong.  However, God's Word sufficiently lays out the manifestations of true spirituality. God's Word is the confirmation of whether it is of God.  If you hear a false gospel, it's still wrong, because it isn't biblical -- the same with a false sanctification.

The numbers of people interested in false teaching don't make it true.  The effect of false teaching doesn't make it true.  Numbers are particularly convincing short term even to many true teachers. They want to see something work.  They are afraid to say something is wrong that seems to be working.  On the other hand, they don't want to say it isn't working, when it looks like it is working.  They do a very surface level, superficial, investigation, perhaps asking leading questions, softballs that allow for plausible deniability. They also might fear a charge of "sour grapes" or jealousy or bitterness.  They may think they are failures who don't deserve to criticize.  A lot of this relates to how we endure hardness and find joy in the Lord.  Men look to results for their happiness when their actual joy is in the immoveable. Don't forget this.

On a more short term consideration, I believe that the lack of biblical preaching, the deficiency of true, actual exposition of scripture has resulted in perverted doctrine.  The doctrine of salvation comes from exegesis of God's Word.  Men are crafting sermons, using the Bible, not preaching the Bible.  Apparently many think this is how to use the Bible, like some kind of divining rod that yields messages not necessarily found in the text itself.

On the other hand, some preachers just don't know what they're doing, which relates to their view of sanctification.  They judge on a mystical basis that they must be preachers, disconnected from the preparation and then actual objective proof that they rightly divide the Word of Truth.  Preaching is mostly a mystical event rather than God speaking through the plain meaning of the text.  The true meaning of the text exists separate from a subjective experience.

As a result of not knowing how to study the Bible, and, therefore, not actually studying the Bible, they don't have a solid doctrinal standing from the Word of God.  They are weak in their theology, because they don't know the Bible.  They don't have a grasp of doctrine as a basis of their practice and methodology. Further, their doctrine isn't historic.  They don't have beliefs rooted in historic Christian doctrine.  To relate to the mystical experience men have sought as validation, theology is said to be dead.  They wouldn't want to be caught being too theological, and, therefore, dead.

What's practical is the practice of scripture.  Much of the practice in churches comes from the silence of scripture.  It's right because the Bible doesn't say it's wrong.  Practice relates to what works rather than what God's Word says.  When something is practical, however, it explains the practice of scripture, not how you can succeed at implement methodology that will yield success.

In a broad category, false teachers have centered the gospel on man.  You see this corrupt tendency in two different directions in scripture, either legalistic or licentious.  Salvation is not by works, lest any man should boast, so it isn't legalistic.  When grace is an occasion to the flesh, that's also man-centered.  God's grace teaches to deny ungodliness and worldly lust.

Skelly purveys the latter of the previous paragraph.  The whole world has the same problem.  Skelly misidentifies his audience.  He sees them as consumers to whom he markets his message.  Instead, they are sinners, and sin isn't changed through sales type techniques.  The needs of sinners are the ones God Himself identifies.  We don't start with what sinners themselves feel or what they might feel.  We start with what God says.  When someone is so concerned with what his audience feels, he shapes his message to their feelings and that twists the gospel.  The foundation of this corruption is not starting with the Bible and the teaching it reveals.  This centers on man again.

Men do not by nature seek the gospel.  No one is a consumer of and for it.  It is not something to be sold on men's terms.  It is completely God's.  Man's disinterest should not shape the message.  We must depend on the message itself.  The message itself is the means.  Everything I'm writing here is theological, and it is theology that needed more consideration from the men who crafted these plans.

Wrong doctrines resulting in a wrong message from a wrong message exhibit faithlessness.  In Matthew 12:39, Jesus said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign."  The Charismatics have their signs.  Many independent Baptists seek for their own signs.  The Bible is true whether lots of people believe it or not.  If we believe it, then we like it. We love it.  We preach it.  We're not ashamed of it.  We preach it to people like it's the greatest thing, because we think it is.

The signs that people seek they often produce.  Then they say they must be right because they got a sign.  The sign was how many people prayed prayers or how many people gathered in their building in any one week.  They produce an environment in which people feel like something spiritual is taking place.  This is all faithlessness.

Signs were for unbelievers, because they didn't believe.  Believers don't need them, because they do believe.  Needing them is again faithlessness, not faith.  God is pleased by faith, not by mass producing experiences as a means of self-validation, which also relates this to pride.  Man is being pleased and he feels proud of what he sees.

Because men seek validation through these numbers, they also honor those who see the most.  Very often, bigger churches have the most influence, because it is assumed they most know what they are doing.  Years of succeeding provide a buffer against criticism.  The benefit of the doubt comes because of the report of mighty events occurring, not the account of faithful, obedient service.

More to Come.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Keswick's History: Keswick Theology's Rise and Development in an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 3 of 5

While earlier perfectionist heretics were important, Barabas recognizes that “the Keswick movement had its [actual] genesis . . . [through] Mr. and Mrs. Robert Pearsall Smith [and the influence of three of their books, including Mrs. Smith’s] The Record of a Happy Life,”[1] after “Conferences . . . at Broadlands . . . Oxford . . . [and] Brighton.  Robert and Hannah [Smith] were at the very center of it all.”[2]  Barabas provides not the slightest warning about Mrs. Smith’s poisonous false doctrines, despite repeatedly citing her book My Spiritual Autobiography: How I Discovered The Unselfishness of God, which she wrote specifically to turn people from Christian orthodoxy to heresy, and where her universalist heresy is blatantly and grossly set forth.[3]  In any case, it is clear that “the first steps . . . [towards] [t]he Keswick Convention . . . owe . . . everything to a Quaker glass manufacturer from Philadelphia, Robert Pearsall Smith[.]”[4]  Mr. Smith “was instrumental, not only in establishing Keswick as a perennial convention, but also in introducing the Keswick emphases back into the United States.”[5]  Barabas indicates that “[b]oth [the Smiths] were born and bred Quakers,”[6] having “always held the Quaker teaching concerning the Inner Light and passivity.”[7]  They brought their Quaker theology and other distinctive heresies into the Keswick movement, which they founded.
The “new revelation [of the Keswick theology of sanctification] came to Mrs. Pearsall Smith about 1867. . . . At first her husband . . . was somewhat frightened . . . thinking she had gone off into heresy . . . [but then he] came into her experience when she called his attention to Romans vi. 6.”[8]  Unfortunately, Mrs. Smith did not interpret Romans 6:6 correctly, and she led her husband into an erroneous view of the verse as well.  The erroneous interpretation of Romans six adopted by Hannah and Robert P. Smith continued to dominate the Keswick convention for many decades:
In the history of the Keswick Convention, if one passage of Scripture is to be identified as playing a larger role than any other, it would have to be Romans chapter 6.  Evan Hopkins said at the thirty-first Convention that no passage of Scripture was more frequently to the fore at Keswick than this one.  Steven Barabas finds himself not only agreeing with this statement but adding:  “It is doubtful whether a Keswick Convention has ever been held in which one or more speakers did not deal with Romans 6. . . . There is no understanding of Keswick without an appreciation of the place accorded by it to this chapter in its whole scheme of sanctification.”  The key to this chapter, in the early Keswick teaching . . . [of] Robert Pearsall Smith and his wife Hannah . . . is verse 6.[9]
The misinterpretation of Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith “was largely unchallenged from the Keswick platform until 1965 when John Stott gave Bible Readings on Romans 5-8.”[10]  It was very easy for the Smiths to misinterpret Scripture because “[n]either of [the Smiths] had any training in theology,”[11] in keeping with their Quaker backgrounds; for example, Hannah Smith testified:  “[A]s a Quaker, I had no doctrinal teaching . . . I knew literally nothing of theology, and had never heard any theological terms” since in her youth “no doctrines or dogmas were ever taught us . . . a creature more utterly ignorant of all so-called religious truth . . . could hardly be conceived of in these modern times [that is, in 1902].  The whole religious question for me was simply whether I was good enough to go to heaven, or so naughty as to deserve hell.”[12]  Despite woeful ignorance of theology and an inability to accurately exegete Scripture, following Hannah’s lead, both Mr. and Mrs. Smith embraced and began to zealously propagate the doctrines of the Higher Life that were enshrined in the Keswick movement.
From its “beginning . . . some of the foremost leaders of the Church attacked [the Keswick doctrine] as being dangerously heretical.”[13]  Indeed, “the opposition the work was subjected to at the beginning, even from Evangelical clergy,”[14] was extreme, so that, indeed, the Keswick theology was “looked upon with the gravest suspicion by those who were considered as the leaders of the Evangelical section of the Church.”[15]  Consequently, “very few Evangelical leaders ever attended . . . the Keswick Convention . . . which was quite an independent movement,” since “the leading Evangelicals held aloof and viewed it with undisguised suspicion.”  Rather than attending and supporting Keswick, evangelicals “openly denounced it as dangerous heresy.”[16]  Evangelical opposition to Keswick was intense because the founders of Keswick seriously compromised and corrupted or even outright denied the evangel,[17] the gospel.  For example, evangelicals found unacceptable Hannah W. Smith’s opposition to the sole authority of Scripture, proclamation of universalism, and rejection of the Pauline doctrine of justification.  Robert, while formally adopting a weak and wobbly concept of justification by faith for a time, instead of simply rejecting that core gospel doctrine as he had before, continued to reject eternal security and tied his Higher Life theology into his opposition to the preservation of the saints.  Warfield describes the Arminianism inherent in Robert Smith’s argument against progressive sanctification being incomplete until death, as propounded by Smith at the Oxford Union Meeting of 1874:
Smith, in the very same spirit, exhorted his hearers not to put an arbitrary limitation on the power of God by postponing the completion of their salvation to the end of their “pilgrimage,” and so virtually attributing to death the sanctifying work which they ought to find rather in Christ. “Shall not Christ do more for you than death?” he demands, and then he develops a reductio ad absurdum. We expect a dying grace by which we shall be really made perfect. How long before death is the reception of such a grace possible? “An hour? A day? Peradventure a week? Possibly two or three weeks, if you are very ill? One good man granted this position until the period of six weeks was reached, but then said that more than six weeks of such living” — that is, of course, living in entire consecration and full trust, with its accompanying “victory”—“was utterly impossible!” “Are your views as to the limitations of dying grace,” he inquires, “only less absurd because less definite?” The absurdity lies, however, only in the assumption of this “dying grace” . . . Smith describes it as “a state of complete trust to be arrived at, but not until death.” The Scriptures know of no such thing; they demand complete trust from all alike, as the very first step of the conscious Christian life. It finds its real source in the Arminian notion that our salvation depends on our momentary state of mind and will at that particular moment. Whether we are ultimately saved or not will depend, then, on whether death catches us in a state of grace or fallen from grace. Our eternal future, thus, hangs quite absolutely on the state of mind we happen (happen is the right word here) to be in at the moment of death: nothing behind this momentary state of mind can come into direct consideration. This absurd over-estimate of the importance of the moment of dying is the direct consequence of the rejection of the Bible doctrine of Perseverance and the substitution for it of a doctrine of Perfection as the meaning of Christ being our Saviour to the uttermost. The real meaning of this great declaration is just that to trust in Jesus is to trust in One who is able and willing and sure to save to the uttermost — to the uttermost limit of the progress of salvation. Death in this conception of the saving Christ loses the factitious significance which has been given to it. Our momentary state of mind at the moment of death is of no more importance than our momentary state of mind at any other instant. We do not rest on our state of mind, but on Christ, and all that is important is that we are “in Christ Jesus.” He is able to save to the uttermost, and faithful is He that calls us, who also will do it. He does it in His own way, of course; and that way is by process—whom He calls He justifies, and whom He justifies He glorifies. He does it; and therefore we know that our glorification is as safe in His hands as is any other step of our salvation. To be progressively saved is, of course, to postpone the completion of our salvation to the end of the process. Expecting the end of the process only at the time appointed for it is no limitation upon the power of the Saviour; and looking upon death as the close of the process is a very different thing from looking upon death as a Saviour.[18]
Hannah W. Smith also believed, at least for a while, that Christ was the “redeemer . . . from past sins” who will only “redeem . . . from all future sins . . . if [one] will . . . submit . . . wholly to Him,”[19] a clear anti-eternal security position.  However, since she had become a universalist before becoming a Keswick preacher, denying eternal security had became largely a moot point for her.  Since Robert and Hannah Smith held extremely compromised views of the gospel, and Hannah even avowed, “I cannot enjoy close contact with [those who] . . . preac[h] . . . a pure gospel,”[20] it was not surprising that those who loved the true and pure gospel violently opposed the Keswick movement.
Furthermore, Christian evangelicals, recognizing the command of the Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), objected to the fact that “Robert . . . did not try to convert unbelievers; his call[,] [he believed,] was to [preach] a state of Holiness in those who already believed, whatever their creed.”[21]  What is more, both Robert and Hannah Smith “belie[ved] in the inner light [doctrine of Quakerism,] to which they [were] . . . united in sentiment. . . . Mr. P. Smith [and his wife’s writings] embod[y] the mysticism of Madame Guyon and the medieval mystics, as well as the semi-Pelagianism of Professor Upham.”[22]  Consequently, both Mr. and Mrs. Smith rejected the evangelical fundamental, sola Scriptura—Robert, for example, proclaimed:  “I get one half of my theology from the Bible, and the other half by watching my children,” citing “Coleridge” as support for this astonishing affirmation.[23]  Both the Smiths also anticipated Word of Faith heresies.[24]  The demonism and spiritualism of the Mount-Temples and their influence on the Smiths and Keswick through the Broadlands Conferences also constituted a matter of grave concern.  Thus, evangelical rejection of Keswick theology was entirely natural.  Nevertheless, despite vociferous and continuing evangelical opposition, Barabas indicates that both Mr. and Mrs. Smith began to preach to large audiences a “doctrine of sanctification by faith [alone that had been] allowed to lie dormant for centuries, unknown and unappreciated . . . it remained for Keswick to call the attention of the Church to it.”[25] 

See here for this entire study.


[1]              Pgs. 15-16, So Great Salvation, Barabas; cf. pg. 193, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.
One must not confuse Mrs. Smith’s memoir of her son Frank, who died at eighteen years of age (cf. pgs. 33-37, Remarkable Relations, by Barbara Strachey), entitled The Record of a Happy Life (New York, 1873), with Mrs. Smith’s classic statement of Higher Life doctrine, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (Boston, 1875; often reprinted).  One hopes that Barabas has not done so but has simply cited Mrs. Smith’s far less influential biography of her son for some reason instead of her far more influential Keswick classic.  Both works do contain Higher Life theology.
[2]              Pg. 13, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[3]              Pgs. 17-18, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Compare the discussion of Hannah W. Smith and her writings above.
[4]              Pg. 920, “A Hundred Years of Keswick,” John Pollock. Christianity Today 19:18 (20 June 1975): 6-8.
[5]              Pg. 86, Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan.
[6]              Pg. 17, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[7]              Pg. 316, The Puritans:  Their Origins and Successors, D. M. Lloyd-Jones.
[8]              Pg. 18, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[9]              Pgs. 228-229, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall, citing pg. 94, The Keswick Week, 1906, & So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[10]             Pg. 234, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.  “Increasingly, the teaching at Keswick in the later decades of the twentieth century would owe more to traditional Reformed thinking about sanctification as a process than to Keswick’s nineteenth-century and earlier twentieth-century views . . . [t]he change in emphasis can be traced by looking at the way in which expositions of the letter to the Romans were given” (pg. 80, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).
[11]             Pg. 18, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[12]             Pgs. 163, 45, The Unselfishness of God, Hannah W. Smith.  Princeton, NJ:  Littlebrook, 1987.  Note Hannah’s false gospel of salvation by works.
[13]             Pg. 5, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[14]             Pg. 168, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[15]             Pg. 162, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford.  The specific reference in the quotation is to the leaders of evangelical Anglicanism.  However, English nonconformity opposed Keswick even more strongly than the evangelical Anglicans opposed it.
[16]             Pgs. 193, 127, Handley Carr Glyn Moule, Bishop of Durham:  A Biography, John B. Harford & Frederick C. Macdonald.
[17]             eujagge÷lion.
[18]             Chapter 4, “The Higher Life Movement,” in Perfectionism, Vol. 2, B. B. Warfield; see pgs. 55-57, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.
[19]             Journal, April 7, 1852, reproduced in the entry for January 12 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[20]             Pg. 29, Remarkable Relations, Strachey; Italics in original.
[21]             Pg. 42, Remarkable Relations, Barbara Strachey.  Robert Smith’s call was “communicating” the Higher Life “to Christians of all names and connections alike” (“Die Heiligungsbewegung,” Chapter 6, Perfectionism, B. B. Warfield, Vol. 1).
[22]             Pg. 102, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875.
[23]             Pg. 118, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Likewise, Hannah W. Smith preached at the Broadlands Conference:  “I have learnt to know God in my nursery with my children on my lap” (pg. 222, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.).
[24]             For example, Robert preached at the Oxford Convention:  [B]e sure to say [Christian language] aloud—there is marvelous power reflected by thoughts put into spoken words.  Keep on saying [such language], even when the heart rebels” (pg. 221, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874; cf. pg. 42). Hannah similarly advised:  “[I]f thee continually talks of thyself as being old, thee may perhaps bring on some of the infirmities of age” (pg. 187, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith, reproducing Letter to her Daughter, Mary Berreneson, March 5, 1907).
[25]             Pg. 107, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Barabas qualifies his admission that the Keswick doctrine of sanctification was unknown for centuries with the statement “except by a few isolated Christians,” since to admit that the Keswick doctrine was unknown to the church of God for over 1800 years would lead to severe doubts about its character.  None of these alleged “few isolated Christians” who believed in the Keswick doctrine before the latter portion of the nineteenth century are named, nor do they appear to have provided any written evidence that they ever existed, unless Barabas views idolators like Upham as Christian Keswick advocates and refers to them.
               It should also be noted that it is more appropriate to denominate the distinctively Keswick position “sanctification by faith alone” rather than simply “sanctification by faith.”  The necessity of faith for growth in holiness is non-controversial among Bible-believing Christians.