Friday, May 06, 2016

Keswick's History: Keswick Theology's Rise and Development in an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 4 of 5

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Specifically, the Keswick form of the Higher Life theology was formulated through the central influence of Hannah W. and Robert P. Smith at the Broadlands, Oxford, and Brighton Conventions that immediately preceded the first Keswick Convention.  The first and following Broadlands Conferences were held at the invitation of the dedicated spiritualists Mr. and Mrs. Mount-Temple, and all sorts of infernal spirits, doctrinal differences, and heresies were warmly welcome.  Speakers included the universalist George MacDonald, who received his prominent speaking position at the direction of his good spiritualist[1] friends[2] the Mount-Temples.[3]  He became good friends with fellow universalist Hannah W. Smith.[4]  Nonetheless, while Christian orthodoxy was by no means held in common by the Broadlands speakers, “[t]he ‘Seed,’ of which George Fox spoke, was rooted in them all,”[5] and those in “the Society of Friends”[6] rejoiced at the messages brought, as did the spiritualist Mount-Temples, who continued their very influential patronage of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
At the first and flagship 1874 Broadlands Convention Robert “Pearsall Smith was chairman and principal speaker, though, before the week was done, it became evident that his wife, Hannah Whitall Smith, was a herald of the evangel they carried yet more effective than himself.”[7]  Indeed, she was the chief of the Broadlands preachers.[8]  Further Conventions, led by Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith and with ever-larger crowds, were held at Oxford and Brighton[9] to perpetuate the Higher Life teaching of Broadlands.[10]  Mrs. Smith’s captivating preaching bewitched her audiences, so that at Oxford and Brighton no hall was large enough to accommodate the crowds that flocked to hear her.[11]  The meetings reminded Hannah W. Smith and others “of the days when George Fox,” the founder of the Quakers, saw countless numbers “convinced . . . during . . . his meetings,” or of the “wonderful Yearly Meetings” that took place in the days of the prominent Quakers “Elisabeth Fry and Joseph John Gurney.”[12]  Following these Conventions, meetings specifically in the English town of Keswick, from which the new doctrine preached by the Smiths came to obtain its name, were proposed in 1875.  An Anglican minister,[13] “Canon T. D. Harford Battersby . . . [who] . . . was part of an old and well-to-do west-country Quaker family that had moved into evangelical Anglicanism in the early 19th century,”[14] and “a friend of his, Mr. Robert Wilson, a Quaker who also was specially blessed [at the earlier Higher Life meetings led by the Smiths] . . . decided to hold a Convention at Keswick, where similar teaching should be given.”  The “chief Brighton speakers,” of whom the most important were certainly “Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith, [were] to take part in it.”[15]
Thus, Quakers were so far from being convicted of sin and of their need to turn from their false religion and false gospel to Christ for the new birth, and instead so happy with the Higher Life theology of Keswick, that one of them could become co-founder[16] of the meetings at Keswick, be the “the heart and soul” of the Keswick mission fund,[17] be lauded by many Keswick writers and speakers,[18] and even be termed “the father of the Convention.”[19]  Since the Quakers Hannah and Robert Smith formulated and spread the Keswick theology at the preparatory Broadlands, Oxford, and Brighton Conventions,[20] such acceptance of Quakerism was entirely expected.  As one Quaker periodical noted, extolling the teaching of the Brighton Convention:
[T]his wonderful gathering . . . [taught the] truth [of the Higher Life and] the renewed [post-conversion] baptism of the Holy Spirit . . . [which had been] revived in a time of darkness by the early Friends[.] . . . It has been often said that the Friends have always upheld this cardinal truth[.] . . . This is undoubtedly true, and many of the early Friends walked in the light of it, as testified by the writings of Fox, Penn, Barclay, Penington, and others[.] . . . Hannah W. Smith . . . felt that she had an especial message to the Friends in this country, and from [her] lucid setting forth of this truth many of us have derived deep and lasting benefit. . . . Perfection lies in this [Higher Life system]. . . . [T]housands . . . every day flocked to hear the Bible readings of Hannah W. Smith, eagerly accepting her clear and winning settings forth of the life of faith . . . [at] the Friends’ Meeting House . . . to a crowded assembly, those of our own body were proclaiming in triumphant strains the glory and richness of this full salvation[.][21]
Quakers were unequivocally welcomed at Keswick as true Christians.[22]  Thus, “[a]t the outset the management of the Convention was entirely in the hands of the two conveners, Canon Harford-Battersby and Mr. Robert Wilson.”[23]  The Quaker “Robert Wilson [was] one of the two founders of the Convention and its chairman from 1891 to 1900.”[24]  Speakers were for some years only selected at “the personal invitation of the conveners,” Wilson and Battersby, although in later times the “the Trustees of the Convention” began to make the selections.[25] William Wilson, Robert Wilson’s son, continued his father’s work when Robert became Keswick chairman,[26] Robert being the “successor” of Harford-Battersby after the latter man’s retirement.[27]  The succession was the more natural because Wilson was Harford-Battersby’s “principal parish worker,” regularly attending the Canon’s Anglican assembly Sunday evenings after attending the Friends’ Meeting in the morning.[28]  Indeed, Robert Wilson was not only co-founder of Keswick and chairman of the Convention for nearly a decade but was also the author of the Keswick motto “All One in Christ Jesus.”[29] Truly, “without Mr. [Robert] Wilson’s support and brave backing, there would have been no . . . Keswick story . . . at all.”[30] 
Consequently, the Anglican with a Quaker background, Harford-Battersby, and his chief parish worker, the unrepentant Quaker Robert Wilson, together founded the Keswick convention and  “invited . . . leading speakers [such as] Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith.  Mr. Pearsall Smith promised to preside.”[31]  “Robert . . . [was] invited . . . to preside and . . . Hannah Pearsall Smith . . . to give daily Bible Readings,” that is, to preach,[32] as well as to run the ladies’ meetings.[33]  Indeed, Keswick was to be “arranged around the Pearsall Smiths.”[34]  However, when Mr. Smith hastily withdrew because of a doctrine and practice the Brighton Convention Committee[35] was hesitant to explain, the Keswick movement almost collapsed.  Robert had been teaching that the baptism of the Holy Ghost was accompanied by physical sexual thrills because of the esoteric union of Christ with His people as Bridegroom and Bride, as described in the Song of Solomon.  Public confesson and repudiation of Robert Smith’s abominable teaching would indeed have cast a dark shadow over Keswick, since it was an indisputable fact that even without Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s presence “a continuity of teaching [was] maintained . . . the same as that given at the Oxford Conference,”[36] where the great spiritual secret of erotic Baptism was publicly proclaimed.  In that day of Victorian propriety very few would have wanted to propagate and preach a theology of sanctification invented by such persons.  The Keswick Committee consequently deemed it best to conceal the reasons for the withdrawal of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  In this manner the Higher Life could be proclaimed while the embarrassing shadow of the unholiness of its originators remained cloaked in obscurity.

See here for this entire study

[1]               Lord and Lady Mount Temple determined that MacDonald should “have an hour all to himself” to address the Holiness Conference participants. (Circular letter, Broadlands, & December 30-31, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter); cf. pg. 33, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.  MacDonald was perfectly aware of the spirititualism of the Mount-Temples.  For example, he wrote to his wife about how he witnessed a medium at Broadlands winning a convert to spiritualism by employing her supernatural powers (pg. 26, Ruskin, Lady Mount-Temple and the Spiritualists:  An Episode in Broadlands History.  Van Akin Burd.  London:  Brentham Press, 1982).
[2]              Cf. pg. 27, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[3]              E. g., Mrs. Smith recorded the events of another conference at Broadlands in 1887 where George MacDonald taught (pg. 98, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith, reprinting a Letter to Her Friends of August 1887).
[4]              The friendship between Mrs. Smith and Mr. MacDonald continued for many years; for example, in 1893 he was her guest at her home, and she wrote of him:  “George MacDonald . . . is the dearest old man, so gentle and yet so strong, and with such a marvellous insight into spiritual things. . . . [H]e has done a beautiful work in the world” (pg. 120, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith; from Letter to Her Friends, September 11, 1893).  Hannah recommended George MacDonald’s book Diary of an Old Soul to her daughter Mary, affirming that it “will help you” (Letter to Mary, January 27, 1883, reproduced in the entry for December 9 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  Mrs. Smith likewise wrote of her great “unity” with “George MacDonald,” saying that they “got very close,” and  affirmed:  “It has been a sort of dream of my life to . . . sit at the feet of [him],” as she was able to do at the Holiness Conferences at Broadlands.  MacDonald was a welcome presence and speaker at English Holiness Conferences, for if Hannah W. Smith’s universalism was no barrier to her, neither was his universalism a barrier to him—indeed, to Mrs. Mount-Temple, universalism was a reason to receive promotion and influence (Circular letter, Broadlands, & December 30-31, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).
[5]              Pg. 62, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie.
[6]              Pg. 64, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie.
[7]              Pg. 64, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie.
[8]              Note, e. g., that a list of Broadlands Conference speakers and attendees places the Smiths first, following only the hosts, Lord and Lady Mount-Temple (pg. 34-35, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  Cf. pgs. 186-187, where in the list of participants in the last Conference of 1888, she is prominent again, the first woman in the list after the Mount-Temples.).  “Amongst the speakers [the Broadlands historian] think[s] first of Mrs. Pearsall Smith[.] . . . ‘The angel of the churches,’ Lady Mount-Temple used to call her” (pgs. 48-49, Ibid).
[9]              The most popular sessions of the Brighton Convention were those in which Hannah [W. Smith] preached her practical secrets of the happy Christian life to audiences of 5,000 or more, mostly clergymen who were theologically opposed [correctly, 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 1 Corinthians 14:34-37] to the preaching ministry of women” (“Smith, Hannah W. & Smith, Robert Pearsall,” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Timothy Larsen).
[10]             Approximately eight thousand attended the Brighton Convention from around twenty-three countries (pg. 23, So Great Salvation, Barabas).
[11]             Pg. 124, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.
[12]             Letter to Father and Mother, June 9, 1875, reproduced in the entry for July 26 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.  Compare the articles on Elisabeth Fry and Joseph John Gurney in The Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.
[13]             Barabas, who fails to mention that the Anglican minister in question, T. D. Harford-Battersby, had a Quaker background, does record that Harford-Battersby had made the theological rounds from apostate Anglo-Catholicism, to modernistic and evolutionary Anglican broad-churchism, to more evangelical Anglican low-churchism that was “strongly influenced by English Methodism” (pgs. 15, 24-25, So Great Salvation, Barabas).  One hopes that Mr. Harford-Battersby did not merely adopt better theology than the Anglo-Catholic and modernistic heresies that he had formerly followed, but if he was himself personally born again after turning to Anglican low-churchism Barabas makes no mention of such an event.  Indeed, Harford-Battersby’s two hundred and thirty page biography only states that he “he drew by degrees, but steadily, towards a calm and firm settlement in what are known as evangelical beliefs” (pg. x, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford),  “[b]eginning as a Tractarian, [but] little by little be[ing] led to Evangelical views”  (pg. 75, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  Not a single sentence of the biography of Battersby mentions a new birth experience associated with his rejection of high-Anglican or Tractarian heresies.
It is not at all a good sign that the only record of anything like a conversion to Christ in Harford-Battersby’s biography is his own testimony that he first began to repent and believe when he received confirmation.  He wrote:
I had little of Christian principle. I was altogether a thoughtless, vile creature. I . . . was plunged . . . into idleness and dissipation . . . justly might I have been cut off in the midst of this course, but the Lord most graciously kept me[.] . . . [In] the care and goodness of God to me[,] He so ordained it that confirmation should come very soon[.] . . . Then I first learned to turn my thoughts really towards heaven, to repent, and believe in Jesus (pg. 6, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford).
Harford-Battersby thus indicates that he was a vile person, full of idleness and dissipation, but the Lord graciously kept him alive until he received the rite of confirmation, through which he came to repent and believe in Jesus.  Belief in such a ritualistic false gospel in his allegedly more evangelical and non-Tractarian childhood would provide an easy explanation for his ability to adopt the Roman Catholic heresies taught by (the later Roman Catholic Cardinal) Newman and the other high-Anglican Tractarians at Oxford during Harford-Battersby’s college days, such as a “visible church with sacraments and rites, which are the channels of invisible grace, an episcopal dynasty descended from the apostles, [and] an obligatory body of doctrine, to be found in Scripture, but only recognised there by the aid of Church tradition” (pgs. 24-25, Memoir).  “Mr. Battersby came under the spell. He missed no opportunity of hearing, not only Newman himself, but Manning and Pusey, and other leaders of the [Anglo-Catholic] movement. He discussed the sermons with his friends. He wrote about them in his letters home, and thus drew down upon himself grave warnings from his father as to the dangers of Romanising views” (pgs. 28-29, Ibid).
               Thus, one can hope against hope that Harford-Battersby was indeed born again at some point, but there is certainly no mention of such an event at any point in his biography.  Neither in his childhood before he adopted—which a true Christian will not do—an accursed sacramental false gospel (Galatians 1:8-9), nor after his entry into Anglican holy orders, when he “elected to begin ministerial work in a High Church parish” where baptismal regeneration and other sacramental heresies were taught because of his “admiration for Newman and the other leaders of the Oxford movement,” (pg. 52, cf. 43ff, Ibid), is there any evidence at all of a genuine conversion.  All that is recorded is that he gradually abandoned ritualism for rationalism and the broad-church Anglicanism of Frederick Myers, the curate of the town of Keswick under whom Harford-Battersby served after leaving his first ministry, and whom he regarded as “a guide and as a prophet” (pg. 288, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals) although Myers was a spiritualist (pgs. 23-24, The Keswick Story, Polluck).  Under him Harford-Battersby learned not to be concerned about “trying to find out the right theory of inspiration” (pg. 67, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford).  He finally replaced Myers as curate after his predecessor’s death and then gradually moved towards evangelical ideas—which meant assent to the “truth of Protestant principles” rather than “Anglo-Catholicism” (pg. 60, Ibid), not personal conversion and the new birth.  Finally, after being convinced by the doctrine of Hannah W. and Robert P. Smith, Harford-Battersby was “persuaded that the current teaching of the Evangelical school itself was defective and one-sided, and . . . of the general truth of the teaching upon which the holiness movement was based” (pgs. 175-176, Ibid).  He then abandoned mainstream Anglican evangelicalism for the Higher Life doctrine characteristic of the Keswick theology, destitute of a clear testimony to a new birth, but possessed of a clear testimony to the second blessing of the Higher Life.  Such was the spiritual progress of the Anglican Canon without whose entry into the Higher Life at the “Oxford Convention . . . the . .  . Keswick Convention would never have had a beginning” (pg. 29, Forward Movements, Pierson).
[14]             pg. 340, Review by Ian S. Rennie of Keswick: A Bibliographic Introduction to the Higher Life Movements. by D. D. Bundy. Wilmore, Kentucky: Asbury Theological Seminary, 1975, in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19:4 (Fall 1976) 340-343.
[15]             Pg. 170, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford.
[16]             Pgs. 25, 168, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Canon Harford-Battersby, despite Wilson’s Quaker theology, considered him a “dear brother” (pg. 195, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford), and at the Canon’s deathbed, Wilson was by his side (pg. 219, Ibid).
[17]             Pg. 145, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, Method, and its Men, ed. Harford.
[18]             For example, the Keswick classic The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, Method, and its Men, ed. Charles Harford, is dedicated “to the memory of Thomas Dundas Harford-Battersby and Robert Wilson, Founders of the Keswick Convention.”  In a chapter on Keswick men, J. Elder Cumming breathes not the slightest warning about Quaker heresies but concludes his very laudatory description of Robert Wilson with the following affirmation, after recounting Mr. Wilson’s death:  “Truly, the end of that man was peace! Who would not wish for such an end, if prepared for it, as he was?” (pg. 64, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford).  Thus, although Quakers deny justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ and other essential aspects of the Biblical gospel, Keswick leaders wished to be in the same place as Quakers like Mr. Wilson at death.  While one can hope that, somehow, Mr. Wilson did not actually believe in Quakerism and its false gospel but was truly converted, wishing to be associated in death with Quakers is not a little unwise.
[19]             Pg. 110, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie.
[20]             Pg. 118, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890; pgs. 335, 371, 407, 416-420, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.
[21]             Pgs. 453-464, “Reflections on the Brighton Convention,” The Friends’ Quarterly Examiner, 9:23-26.  London:  Barrett, Sons & Co, 1875.  Note that pages 416-420 of the Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875 consists of excerpts from this article in the Friends’ Quarterly Examiner extolling the teaching at Brighton.
[22]             Pg. 111, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[23]             Pg. 13, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, Method, and its Men, ed. Charles Harford.
[24]             Pg. 60, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford; cf. pg. 119, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[25]             Pg. 20, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.
[26]             Pg. 14, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.
[27]             Pg. 51, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.
[28]             Pg. 30, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[29]             Pg. 60, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.
[30]             Pg. 61, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.
[31]             Pg. 25, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[32]             Pgs. 29, 149, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.
[33]             Pg. 197, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, its Method, and its Men, ed. Harford.
[34]             Pg. 11, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[35]             The Committee included Evan Hopkins, Stevenson Blackwood, the chairman of the Mildmay Conference, and Lord Radstock.  All these were solid Broadlands men, and Blackwood’s suggestion led to the expansion of the 1874 Broadlands Conference at the Oxford Convention (pg. 17, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).
[36]             Pg. 20, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford.  Harford-Battersby testified to the profound influence of Robert P. Smith upon him and countless others:  “Not that I would shrink from confessing the great debt which I, and thousands more with me, owe to that remarkable man whose name has become a by-word and a reproach in the estimation of many whom I greatly honour” (pg. 173, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford).  Thus, “Mr. Smith . . . was at this time an honoured instrument in the hands of God for reviving the spiritual life in the hearts of hundreds, and even thousands, of devoted servants of Christ, both in this country [England] and on the Continent” (pgs. 174-175, Ibid).  That the teaching of Keswick was that of the Smiths is historically indisputable.

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