Friday, June 07, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Spirit-Baptized Woman Preacher (part 3 of 22)

Mrs. Penn-Lewis soon became “a fluent and powerful” woman preacher in “open air” meetings connected with Evan Hopkins’s assembly,[1] although because of a difficult ministry experience she “would have cracked” without the stabilizing influence of some other women.[2]  Also, opposition because of “her unorthodox views . . . caused [her great] pain.”[3]  Nonetheless, throughout her life she regularly preached in congregations, conventions, and settings of the most varied kinds to both men and women,[4] despite “strong prejudice based upon misunderstanding of Paul’s” prohibitions in 1 Corinthians 14:34-40 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15,[5] but in accordance with the Quaker practice of “encouraging women to be ministers.”[6]  Generally, “the pastors [were] strongly opposed,”[7] but women were to reject pastoral counsel, receive women preachers anyway, and preach themselves; many did,[8]  being “faithful to the power of the Lord” against their “local clergym[e]n, who said women should not speak at meetings.”[9]  Penn-Lewis knew that Paul did not really mean to prohibit women preaching to men when he wrote:  “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church,” and “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”  Rather, Penn-Lewis knew that “Psalm lxviii 11-12 (see R. V.) must surely have been a prophecy of these days in which we live,” proving that women in the New Testament dispensation are “to prophesy and preach”[10] to men, although nothing of the sort is in view in the psalm if one adopts a grammatical-historical interpretation of the Hebrew text, the Authorized Version, or even the Revised Version to which Penn-Lewis refers.  However, “God had given her the text of a ‘new translation’ of [the] Psalm.”[11]  Soon after beginning her public work, she “saw that [she] should know the Holy Spirit as a Person . . . through reading Andrew Murray’s Spirit of Christ,” leading her to a variety of special spiritual experiences, although she testified, “I could not understand why it made so little difference in my service . . . [i]n these respects [of serving Christ in different ways], I was just the same as before, until, some three years later,” she received a “Baptism of the Spirit for service.”[12]  She later was able to meet “Mr. Murray” and have “a long talk” with him, “the first contact of a fellowship in God which deepened into a bond in the Spirit between [their] two souls.”[13]  Their continuing friendship is evident from, for example, the fact that Andrew Murray wrote a preface to the Dutch edition of Mrs. Penn-Lewis’s book The Cross of Calvary and Its Message[14] and that she led various groups of people in studies on spiritual life based on Murray’s writings.[15]  Those who translated Murray’s writings often translated hers as well.[16]
Mrs. Penn-Lewis also employed other texts that do not, literally interpreted, prove her point about women preachers, such as Joel 2 and Acts 21:9.[17]  In her argument for women preachers from the Spirit baptism text in Joel 2, Penn-Lewis follows the argumentation of Phoebe Palmer, the Methodist woman preacher with a Quaker background who made that passage central to her case for women preachers, [18] as well as popularizing the connection between the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification and Spirit baptism, in which she had the help of Asa Mahan.[19]  Palmer’s “work quickly extended beyond Methodism into a large number of Protestant denominations, helping to fuel interest in Christian perfection, holiness and ‘the higher Christian life’ throughout much of English-speaking Protestantism.”[20]  Her views of Spirit baptism and entire sanctification “largely defined the ‘holiness revival’ or ‘holiness movement’ that grew from her work and that of other proponents of Christian perfection, Christian holiness and the higher Christian life. . . . In England, Palmer introduced her ideas during an extended preaching tour between 1859 and 1863. Later, other American revivalists, notably Robert Pearsall Smith and his wife Hannah Whitall Smith, and Asa Mahan, followed up her visit, preaching versions of her theology throughout the British Isles. Their work led directly to the organization of the Keswick Conventions and the ongoing Keswick ‘Higher Life’ Movement among British evangelicals . . . [and] also influenced modern Pentecostal and charismatic movements. . . . [I]t is clear that her emphasis on Pentecost and the baptism with the Holy Spirit and her interpretation of the early chapters of Acts . . . laid the groundwork for much modern Pentecostal and charismatic thinking.”[21]  Naturally, Mrs. Palmer was a continuationist, as her preaching of post-conversion Spirit baptism and perfectionism led to “trances, visions, sleeps, dreams, and miracles.”[22]  Interestingly, her husband was a homeopathic physician,[23] supplying another strand in the web that connects the pagan ideas of the nineteenth century Mind and Faith Cure movement to the healing theology of the twentieth century Pentecostal and Word of Faith movements.


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. 10, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.
[2]              Pg. 13, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[3]              Pg. 41, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[4]              E. g., Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard, pgs. 77-78, 88-96, 107-109, 130-131, 156-158, 185-187 (in Moody’s church and college, where her influence led to a “revival” where “[a]ll order was dispensed with . . . [s]ome would be praying for pardon, some were singing, and some asking for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and others for Healing,” pg. 105, The Trials and Triumphs of Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones), 187-188 (A. B. Simpson’s church and the CMA Nyack Institute), 194-196 (1901 Scottish Keswick convention to both men and women, where, as at many Keswick-themed conferences in other parts of her homeland and in many foreign countries, her preaching to men was “blessedly sealed by the Spirit of God,” so that “in after years there was no suggestion of a limited ministry [to women only] whenever [Penn-Lewis] was able to come to Scottish Conventions”), 199, 203, 274, 277 (“the Voice of the Spirit of God” leading her to powerfully preach a misinterpretation of John 12:24 at the Swanwick Conference she started), 286 (many “ministries revolutionized” by the doctrines she preached), 301, Ibid.  She also led meetings where men and women prayed in different languages at the same time in a confusion that clearly violates the pattern set in 1 Corinthians (cf. pg. 80, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard; pgs. 53, 57, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones, where a confused meeting was said to be “a forerunner of the Welsh revival.”).  Compare also, for her preaching, pgs. 41 (at Keswick), 45 (leaving her husband behind while she went on preaching tours in various countries), 49-57, 71-74 (pg. 74 records an example, not only of a mixed preaching service, but a special “men-only” service), 86, 97 (“meetings and conventions in Canada and the great northern cities of the United States,”), 103-108, 113, 138-139, 146 (preaching at the Welsh Keswick at Llandrindod and influencing Welsh holiness revival men like Seth Joshua, while “open[ing] up new truths to such key people”), 149, 153, 161-162, 196-197, 232, 235 (where the men handled the simple matters, but she, as one above them, “would step in later to comment on the more complex questions”), 240-241, 259-265, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[5]              Pg. 73, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.
[6]              Pg. 431, “Friends, Society of,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell.
[7]              Pg. 50, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones; cf. pgs. 161-162.
[8]              Compare “God Is Using Women: Opportunities for Women at Keswick,” chap. 8, pgs. 148-166 in  Transforming Keswick: The Keswick Convention, Past, Present and Future, by Charles Wesley Price and Ian M. Randall.  Carlisle: OM, 2000.
[9]              Pgs. 138-139, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.  Mrs. Penn-Lewis followed her own advice of rejecting pastoral counsel. When, in 1897, even “several Keswick leaders, including her own Vicar [Evan Hopkins], distrusted her teachings as ‘too subjectivist,’” and Hopkins warned her about “a misinterpretation and a misapplication of texts of Scripture,”  rather than submitting to their objections, she “felt the Lord was calling her to publish her messages as a top priority” because she was “[i]solated more and more from former colleagues” (pg. 60, 62, Ibid.).
[10]            Pg. 73, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.
[11]            Pg. 50, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[12]         Pgs. 13-15, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard.
[13]            Pg. 48, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard.
[14]            See pgs. 220-221, Garrard; pg. 203, The Overcomer, December 1914.
[15]            Pg. 97, Ibid.
[16]            E. g., pg. 204, Ibid.).
[17]            See pgs. 73-74, Jessie Penn-Lewis: A Memoir, Garrard. (“Keswick and the Higher Life,”
[18]             “Keswick and the Higher Life,”
[19]            “Asa Mahan and the Development of American Holiness Theology,” Donald W. Dayton. Wesleyan Theological Journal 9:1 (Spring 1974) 60-69). 
[20]            pg. 502, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.
[21]            Pgs. 502-503, Ibid. 
[22]            Pg. 66, Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Synan.
[23]            Pg. 501, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.

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