Friday, June 21, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick Faith Healer (part 4 of 22)

Penn-Lewis also discovered, after staying at Bethshan, Boardman’s faith-cure “House of Rest,”[1] the doctrine of healing espoused by Asa Mahan, William Boardman, and Andrew Murray, learning “what it meant to take [Christ’s] life and strength for [the] body when needed for His service.”[2]  Shortly after adopting the Faith Cure doctrine, she began seeking a “Spirit baptism” of the sort “Finney and Asa Mahan”[3] experienced, and, not able to figure out whether or not the Bible taught their doctrine,[4] set aside the Word of God and all “books” of theology to simply pray until God revealed directly to her what she could not figure out by means of the Bible that is “more sure” than even His audible voice (2 Peter 1:16-21).  Through a vision and “revelation” where she saw a “hand holding up in terrible light a handful of filthy rags” and heard what was allegedly God’s voice, she adopted what became an influential Keswick doctrine of crucifixion with Christ and the central aspect of her later preaching and writing, based on a misinterpretation of Romans 6, and as a result of receiving that crucifixion doctrine by revelation, she also received the kind of baptism that Finney and Mahan had experienced.[5]

She further explained, in continuity with the Keswick healing doctrine stretching from Boardman through to Simpson, Murray, Nee, and many others, that she was “healed . . . when the Baptism of the Spirit came . . . in 1892 . . . when there came to me that revolution in Christian life which can only be described as a ‘Baptism of the Spirit’ . . . [and which] enabled [me], physically, to endure and to accomplish labour . . . beyond both natural and physical powers,”[6] since the believer’s co-crucifixion with Christ gives him both spiritual victory over sin and Satan and physical healing.  Penn-Lewis wrote:
If you have learned the inner life of victory . . . you . . . have in union with Christ . . . life and healing for soul and body. . . . [It is the weak Christian] who is not able to trust beyond the use of means for recovery[.] . . . Isaiah said, “By His stripes we are healed.” . . . I got the inside clue [when] . . . I saw this Hebrew rendering . . . “IN HIS HEALED WOUNDS THERE IS HEALING FOR US!” . . . [J]ust as we are “crucified together with Him,” and share in His victory over sin and Satan, so in a still deeper sense “crucified with Him” when we stand in victory over sin and Satan, the life of Jesus ministered by the Holy Spirit indwelling the spirit, can heal the bruised and broken bodies of all who thus by faith apprehend their identification and union with Him . . . as I stand in identification with His death, the VERY LIFE that healed Him, which comes to me as I am joined to Him in spirit, can heal my broken body . . . It is “identification” again, with Him in His death, and a deeper appropriation of His Risen and healing life. . . . [H]ealing . . . is all for each believer in the finished work of Calvary.[7]

Thus, bodily healing is part of the Christian’s inheritance for today and also a product of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so that the truly spiritual Christian will reject medicine for the Faith Cure; Penn-Lewis bore her “testimony to the truth of Matt. viii. 17, and Rom. viii. 11” and “st[ood] by faith upon these Divine facts,”[8] for “[h]ealing is part of the finished work of Calvary[,] [and] ‘In His healed wounds there is healing for us[.]’ . . . The same life-power that healed and restored His broken body can heal and quicken my broken body.”[9]  Consequently, “on the basis of Romans Six you may put in your claim for the healing of any bodily disease.”[10]  One simply “definitively drop[s] [one’s] ‘body’ at the Cross” and then becomes “quite well” as Christ’s bodily life then begins to flow into the person who has entered the Higher Life;[11]  healing comes by “taking the Risen Life of the Crucified Christ to quicken the mortal body,”[12] since “diseases spr[i]ng from inward soul sicknesses such as lust and anger . . . [and] deliverance and victory over the soul’s imprisoning passions was a part of Christ’s victory on the Cross.”[13]  Evan Roberts exercised this healing ability on himself, so that he was “bubbling over with joy and shouting about his wonderful new body that had become strong by faith,” delivered from “nine years” of sickness—delivered, that is, at least for a few hours, since “twenty four hours later he was knocked out completely with strain” and continued to be as ill as before.[14]  Similarly, “fellow-Welshman, Stephen Jeffries, in the early stages of his ‘Faith healing’ that caused scores of conversions in South Wales . . . became a celebrated figure in London,” at least until “some of the healed people testified that they had not been healed permanently.”[15]  Such a loss of the effectiveness of a Keswick healing had an explanation, however; just as the Higher Life will spiritually be lost by ceasing to maintain the decisive act of faith, so bodily healing is lost whenever one ceases to maintain faith,[16] in radical discontinuity with the type of healing practiced by Christ and the Apostles.  In further discontinuity with the truly miraculous healings recorded in the Bible, which brought about actual and perfect physical deliverance from disease, Mrs. Penn-Lewis’ “healing” at the time of her alleged Spirit baptism left her with “large cavities” in her lungs which were from thenceforth in perpetual danger of “active disease,”[17] and she continued to endure terrible “ill-health and suffering”[18] and “constant poor health and much pain”[19] for the rest of her life as “the lung weakness” grew ever the “more manifest.”[20]  The poor woman suffered from “bouts of pleurisy and neurasthenia . . . weeks of asthmatic attacks and hypertension . . . weeks each year . . . plagued with chills, migraines, and bronchial attacks, which left her too exhausted to think . . . pneumonia [that left her] just a shadow of herself . . . pain and helpless weakness . . . over-straine[d] heart . . . recurrent flu . . . enforced convalescence . . . serious hemorrhage . . . almost fatal illness . . . [and other] sicknesses for forty years.”[21]  Her doctor told her, “Your lungs have been weak ever since I have known you—now 30 years or more,”[22] and she lived in “constant expectation of a ‘final release’ from her pain-racked body.”[23]  Finally she died, with work she felt she still had left to do,[24] although she had taught that, because of “the fifth to the eight [sic] of Romans,” she “expected to be enabled for full service in all the will of God until the Lord comes.”[25]  She did not, however, manage to live until the Lord came, or even until all the work she thought she was supposed to do was accomplished—instead, she died just like people who did not share her revelatory insight into Romans.  However, there were other explanations for her continuing and severe illnesses, and for her death, than that her Keswick doctrine of healing was erroneous; for example, when she suffered three serious attacks of pneumonia in 1926-1927, each time being “brought very near the gates of death,” and each one leaving “her weaker in body,” until, at length, she actually died in 1927 at the age of 67, her ill health was not because of a false doctrine of healing, but because, in line with the teaching at the Broadlands Conference[26] and later Keswick meetings, by getting pneumonia she was enduring “the ‘fellowship of the sufferings of Christ . . . for His Body’s sake, the Church,’ which made it difficult for the physical frame to respond to the life which the Risen Lord was ready to give.”[27]  Those who are skeptical of her extra-biblical revelations and doctrines, instead of accepting such an excuse as valid, would rather greatly pity both her severe bodily sufferings and her continuing Keswick Faith-Cure delusion. 


The following are the parts of this series:

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick and Welsh Revivalist, Quaker and Freemason (part 1 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Conversion (?) and Higher Life (part 2 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Spirit-Baptized Woman Preacher (part 3 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick Faith Healer (part 4 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Her Inspired Writings (part 6 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired Woman Preacher (part 7 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: her mystical false god (part 8 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Worldwide Keswick Impact  (part 9 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Welsh Revival and Pentecostal Preparation (part 10 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: War on the Saints (part 11 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Christians Demon Possessed (part 12 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Warfare Prayer and the 1914 partial Rapture (part 13 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding Satan (part 14 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding and Loosing (part 15 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: “My Demon Possession Key to My Keswick Teaching” (part 16 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired “Truth” on Demon Possession (part 17 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Throne Life / Power and the Higher Life (part 18 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Soul Force, Only the Human Spirit Regenerated, And Other Bizarre Foolishness (part 19)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, I (part 20 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, II (part 21 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, III (part 22 of 22)

[1]              Pg. 16, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard.
[2]              Pg. 17, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard.  She records an instance where Murray’s doctrine allegedly worked to cure a cold on pgs. 101-102, Ibid.
[3]              Pg. 24, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard.
[4]              The Bible certainly does not teach the Finney/Mahan doctrine of Spirit baptism.  See the appendix “Spirit Baptism: A Completed Historical Event. An Exposition and Defense of the Historic Baptist View of Spirit Baptism.”
[5]              Pgs. 18-29, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard.
[6]              Pg. 183, “An Autobiographical Sketch,” The Overcomer magazine, ed. Jessie Penn-Lewis, December 1914.
[7]              “Experimental Difficulties,” pgs. 186-187, Overcomer, 1911.  Capitalization and italics retained from the original.  It is not clear who Mrs. Penn-Lewis received her unusual “Hebrew rendering” from, for the Hebrew text is properly rendered “with his stripes we are healed,” as in the Authorized Version, while the rendering that gave Mrs. Penn-Lewis the “inside clue” is a corruption of the passage.  Note her very clear identification of the Higher Life for the spirit and the Higher Life for the body, the Keswick theology and the Faith Cure.
[8]              Pg. 264, Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.  However, she also affirmed that a certain kind of bodily weakness can assist one in prayer and thus may be spiritually beneficial.  Perhaps she made this affirmation because she was herself in a very weak bodily state at the time of her writing.
[9]              Pgs. 278-279, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[10]            Pg. 134, Overcomer, 1914.  Pg. 278, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard, records an instance of a girl healed from some unspecified affliction by adopting Penn-Lewis’ view of Romans 6.
[11]            Pgs. 149-150, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.  See also pgs. 284-285.
[12]            Pg. 271, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[13]            Pgs. 273, 276, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[14]            Pgs. 248-249, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.  Thus, for the next number of months, he was so sick that he was “in no state to do anything,” even answer letters.
[15]            Pg. 271, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[16]            Pg. 149, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[17]            Pg. 65, Garrard; cf. pg. 93, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones; pg. 183, “An Autobiographical Sketch,” The Overcomer, December 1914.
[18]            Pg. 17, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[19]            Pg. xi, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Brynmor Pierce Jones.
[20]            Pg. 190, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[21]            Pgs. 14-15, 19, 67, 79-85, 91, 93, 113, 163-164, 204-207, 213, 231, 249-250, 277, 292, 298-299,  The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[22]            Pg. 298, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[23]            Pg. 15, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[24]            Pgs. 301-302, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones, for instance, records her plans for “a new syllabus” for various writings, articles for the next edition of The Overcomer, and “advance plans the Eccleston Hall Conference” where she had chosen the “Keynote speech.” 
[25]            Pgs. 263-264, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[26]            Pg. 25, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.
[27]            Pgs. 297-298, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.  While Mrs. Penn-Lewis employs words that are similar to those in Colossians 1:24, her meaning is certainly very different from that of the Apostle Paul.  Compare pg. 186, “Experimental Difficulties,” The Overcomer, 1911, for Mrs. Penn-Lewis’s doctrine of Christians “sharing His [Christ’s] suffering for souls, and for the world.”

No comments: