Friday, August 26, 2016

Creationist and Jesus-Mythicist Videos, and a Blog for Women

Do you want a good resource for someone who thinks evolution is what all intelligent people believe in?  Have you ever run into someone who says Jesus Christ did not exist, but was a myth (a Jesus mythicist)? 

A Great Creationist Video


I am very pleased to let you know about Behind the MRI: The Testimony of Dr. Raymond Damadian, inventor of the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner.  In my experience, the most effective argument for evolution, by far, is "If you don't believe in evolution, you are incredibly ignorant."  I understand this argument, for that is where I was as an unconverted youth.  I thought that anyone who did not believe in evolution must have the intellect of a thimble.  Of course, there are huge numbers of scientists that reject Darwinian evolution, since the facts of science do not establish evolution, and many scientists who accept the Biblical account of creation, as it is the best explanation of the facts and is, of course, established by the testimony of the Creator Himself, the only One who was present at the creation.  Many people do not like to read, however, but will watch a video to take a brief break from their endless texts and tweets (LOL!).  Indeed, in our church there is a couple who came to Christ in significant part through watching creationist videos--often watching them while smoking marijuana, amazingly enough!  (Now that they are saved, they don't smoke pot anymore--not even for medical purposes ... in case you were wondering.  Also, for any potheads reading this post, please do not get high while watching the video.)  In any case, Behind the MRI gives the testimony of the scientist who invented the MRI.  It would be very difficult to argue that such a person as Dr. Damadian--one who won many awards for his scientific work, and who would have received the Nobel Prize had he been an evolutionist instead of an outspoken creationist Christian--is not intelligent.  Within a very professionally produced thirty minutes (not too long to lose the attention span of many, but not too short to have no content--actually, the content that the video manages to pack into those thirty minutes is excellent), the video discusses the nature of the MRI, interviews Dr. Damadian, so that watchers here some sound arguments against evolution and for creation from such a world-class scientist, and then proceeds to give a good gospel presentation that, unlike so many, both clearly explains the substitutionary work of Christ and includes repentance (Luke 13:3).  Furthermore, the video is free and may be shared with any lost person, Christian, secular college or high school campus ministry, church group, or with any other body that is willing to watch it.  I would encourage readers of What is Truth? to watch the video themselves, share it with their churches, and share it with lost people biased against Jesus Christ because of their unbiblical and unscientific belief in evolution.  Watch Behind the MRI today by clicking here

A Powerful Video Refutation of Jesus Mythicism in a Debate


James White, the Reformed Baptist apologist, is an excellent debater.  While I wish he would do as good a job dealing with Biblically-based King James Onlyism/perfect preservationism (which he strongly opposes, despite claiming to follow the 1689 Baptist Confession, in which he is very inconsistent; see the video here on Baptist confessions and preservation or the essay on Baptist confessions and preservation here) as he does with, say, Roman Catholicism or Mormonism, he can do a great job dealing with atheists.  (I would love to debate White myself on the topic:  "The Biblical doctrine of preservation is consistent with the Greek New Testament text underneath most modern English Bible versions," where he would be in the affirmative and I would be in the negative.  If you are able to arrange such a debate, please contact me and we will, Lord willing, get it going.)  In the debate video "Was Jesus a Myth?" James White utterly destroys Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (the largest atheist organization in the United States).  Dan Barker argues in his books and in the debate that the Lord Jesus never even existed, but was a figure copied from pagan mythology.  James White utterly destroys Barker's argument.  Since both Barker and White have equal time, and Barker is such a prominent atheist (his books are endorsed by people like Richard Dawkins), people influenced by Dan Barker's brand of militant atheism should be willing to watch the debate, and have their atheist hero melt before their eyes.  The debate is definitely worth watching.  This fact is, of course, by no means a recommendation of everything James White teaches, and things from his TULIP Calvinism, his universal church ecclesiology, his soft spot for Reformed false gospel-peddlers like Douglas Wilson, his very worldly music, and so on, are extremely dangerous errors.  Dealing with Barker's Jesus mythicism, however, White does a fantastic job. Note also the "Comments on the Barker-White debate" below the video.

May these videos be a blessing.  Please feel free to provide any related comments or questions in the comment section below.

A Blog for Women

My wife has a blog called Reflections on Eternity which is designed for Christian women.  It might be edifying to women in your church; feel free to check it out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why I'm King James and the Contrast with a Dangerous King James Version Position

Like many English speaking people, I rely on the King James Version.  I have biblical reasons.  There are biblical reasons.  The number one biblical reason is the doctrine of divine, perfect preservation of the text of scripture in the language in which it was written.  The Bible teaches its own perfect preservation, including how it was to be and is preserved by God.  This is also the historical view. The view I believe is also the view, the only view, of believers for centuries.  The King James Version is translated from that text of scripture.  There is no other English translation from that text.  For that reason, I trust the King James Version.

Translation is good.  Jesus translated.  His translation was accepted as the Word of God.  The apostles translated.  God knew translation was necessary.  God's Word isn't lost through translation.  A major reason for this is that God created man in His image with the capacity of language.   God created language.  Adam and Eve spoke in the Garden of Eden from the get-go.  Languages can be translated into other languages, because God created it that way.  You can read Don Quixote in English and understand it, even though it was was originally written in Spanish.  You can read The Art of War in English even though it was written in Chinese.

The only biblical position is that God preserved His Words, all of them and every one of them, in the language in which they were written.  For purposes of this post, I'm focusing on "the language in which they were written."  If you believe that God has preserved His Word in the English language, then you do not believe the biblical and historical position.  You don't even believe in divine, perfect preservation.  There is no way that you could.  You deny preservation.  You deny the biblical doctrine. You take a strange, new doctrine not even passed down by His people in true churches.

First, preservation entails preserving something.  It preserves something that was there already.  If it wasn't there, it isn't preservation.  Translation itself is not preservation.  What is preserved existed already.  The English language didn't exist in the first century.  The English language began with the arrival of three Germanic tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, crossing the North Sea from now Denmark to Britain during the 5th century AD.  I stress, "began," because there was still no English for quite awhile, because the Angles and the Saxons still needed to combine to the degree that a hybrid, AngloSaxon, could become a different and new language.  That was Old English, which was English until 1100.  As you observe it below, you will see that you cannot read it, because it is so different in nature than even Middle English.
As you look at Old English, you don't see Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, do you?  You can't even read the above Old English.  It is a foreign language to you if you are English speaking.  You would have had to learn Old English to read it.  It isn't spoken anymore.

God did not move holy men of God to write Old English.  The King James Version, however, wasn't even written in Middle English, the language of Chaucer and Canterbury Tales.  The King James translators translated the Hebrew and Greek that was preserved by God into Modern English, the language of William Shakespeare.  The English of today is still Modern English, even though it is late Modern English.  God did not preserve His Word in Old, Middle, or Modern English.  The English Bible of Alfred the Great wasn't the English Bible of Oliver Cromwell.

A person who believes that God preserved His Words in English in fact denies the preservation of scripture.  God preserves what He wrote.  He didn't write English.  This is so simple that it should insult someone's intelligence.  I'm hoping this insults your intelligence.  Yet, this that insults the intelligence is very common among independent Baptists among others.  They are insulted, but insulted because I'm saying God didn't preserve scripture in English.

With a prescience of what would occur regarding His Word, God in the Bible says that He would preserve "jots and tittles," which are letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  "Scripture" itself refers to the writings, the actual etchings or markings.  God would preserve the Words He inspired.  We should all be happy about that.  There are reasons God inspired His Words in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The concepts of the New Testament come through the Greek language.  We translate into English, but the very Words of God are Greek ones in the New Testament.

Many independent Baptists do not believe in the preservation of scripture.  They say, "We do believe in it -- it's in the English."  That is not preservation of scripture.  I'm saying that I don't believe the same as many independent and unaffiliated Baptists.  They believe this novel and untenable English-preservation position.

I've noticed that a bunch of King James guys will get together and they'll be together with the thought that they are all King James guys, so it's all OK.  If you get past the idea that they all use the King James and look under the surface, you see something different.  Some believe in preservation of scripture and some do not.  Some King James guys don't believe in preservation of scripture any more than a critical text guy.

My church, our church, separates over doctrine and practice.  The doctrine I believe isn't the King James Version.  I rely on the King James Version because of the text from which it is translated.  That text is the one preserved.  The doctrine is the preservation of scripture.  We separate over the denial of that doctrine.  King James men who do not believe in preservation should not get a pass from me.  I know what I'm doing when I give them a pass.  I'm saying that the doctrine isn't what matters, but that you have the approved translation.  I know I'm doing it.  It bothers me.  I know what I'm doing.  I'm starting by laying this out on the table.  It isn't going to continue.  I'm not going to keep giving a pass here.  These men do not believe in the promises of God in His Word.  They are not living by faith. They are not pleasing God.

I've been questioned on my King James position as though I'm less King James than other men, who also use the King James.  These men talk or behave as though they have the more authentic, approved King James position.  To them the King James is the final authority for faith and practice.  English is the final authority to them.  If it isn't the final authority to me, they see me as not suitably King James.  If that's what they believe, they are right that we are different, so if they separate over doctrine, I would understand their questioning.  I don't take offense at that.  I'm just saying that the very question itself manifests that they know there is a difference too.

Let me give an example that comes to mind.  1 Corinthians 13:8 says that "prophecies, they shall fail . . . . knowledge, it shall vanish away."  "They shall fail" and "it shall vanish away" -- those are different words, right?  Wrong.  They are the same Greek verb, kartargeo.  Those hearing this passage in the first century knew that Paul was using the same Greek word.  English speakers today might not know that, but it shouldn't be denied once they know.  The first is a third person plural, because the referent is plural, prophecies, and the second is a third person singular, because the referent is singular, knowledge.  That's the only difference, but it is the same exact Greek verb in both cases, both future tense, passive voice, from katargeo.  You don't have to know Greek to figure that out.  You could find it in Strong's Concordance.

On our missionary questionnaire that we give to potential missionaries to support, we have the following two multiple choice questions (all 34 questions are multiple choice):
The Bible has been perfectly preserved....
a.     Somewhere in the abundance of all the manuscripts, the hand copies from copies of the original manuscripts.
b.     In the underlying Hebrew and Greek text behind the King James Version.
c.     In the English translation of the King James Version. 
In studying the King James Version New Testament, I would primarily study the words by....
a. Finding what the underlying Greek word is and means.
b. Looking up the English word in the dictionary.
Missionaries who call or write to schedule a meeting with us will sometimes (often) answer "c" to the first question and "b" to the second.  These are the people I'm talking about.

Since there is no way that God preserved His Words in the English, what is the actual position being espoused here?  I would want to be as kind as possible to say that some have not thought this through all the way to the end.  I don't know.  The position, however, must be something that has been called "double inspiration."  If the English takes precedent over the original language, then the English has authority over the original language.  Something in the way of inspiration occurred with the translators, the Holy Spirit moving on them like He did with the human authors of the originals.

In translation work, the people who believe the above also believe that translations  to non-English languages should come from the King James Version.  They would support translators who go from the English to the receptor language.  It is no wonder that critical text supporters view this King James position like that of the Latin Vulgate with Roman Catholicism.  There are similarities.

The position I'm describing departs from the Bible and from historic Christian doctrine.  Some would call it "heresy," and I would understand that.  It corrupts the true doctrine of inspiration and of preservation.  This position has taken on almost sacramental nature among some independent and unaffiliated Baptists.  They are more serious about that position than they are the gospel.

Very often, I've noticed that the ones with this advanced Holy Spirit revelation of the King James Version also look for the Holy Spirit to keep talking to them today.  It fits.  The double inspiration of the KJV would be a form of continuationism.  It is consistent with a position that the Holy Spirit is still talking.  The two go together and are very often both believed.  You will hear the same language, both positions.  The KJV translators must have received some special unction and these men are still receiving some special unction of the Spirit that tells them what to preach, who to preach to, and whether to build a building.

A very common position on the Bible among independent and unaffiliated Baptists is false and dangerous.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Erroneous Reliance on Circumstances as Evidence of the Holy Spirit's Leading

Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five   Part Six

Very often through the years, I have witnessed or heard professing believers speak about "waiting on the leading of the Holy Spirit," and what they meant actually was "waiting on circumstances that they interpreted as the leading of the Holy Spirit."  The terminology, "waiting on the leading of the Holy Spirit," is very ambiguous.  What does someone even mean when he is saying that?  When someone does say or write it, I've seen people nodding their heads with understanding, but I'm very sure that people don't really understand.  It is almost utterly subjective and allows for a great many outcomes with ultimate interpretation being that God told someone to do what he was doing almost without question.

What are people expecting when they say, "I'm waiting on the leading of the Holy Spirit?" Sometimes they mean they are waiting for an impression or a feeling or a strong desire, some kind of nearly irresistible urge.  It isn't much of a different experience than the LDS "burning in the bosom."  It can't be a burning in the bosom if the person isn't Mormon, but it carries with it equal authority to the LDS experience.  The Mormons, however, use James 1:5 as a biblical basis for their experience, essentially saying that the feeling is the wisdom they were asking for.

The language of waiting on the Spirit isn't in the Bible.  I'm not sure where it originated.  Spirit-filling isn't waiting.  It is active, even as "be filled with the Spirit" is present tense, continuous action.  A believer is never to be waiting as it relates to his relationship to the Holy Spirit.  "Walk in the Spirit," another biblical teaching, is to be continuous.  The biblical idea of waiting is to wait for our reward, wait for the coming of the Lord.  We don't wait to start obeying what He said.

Sometimes the "leading of the Spirit" is a series of circumstances that form a picture to a person like a mosaic, a version of "reading the tea leaves" or "reading of the coffee grounds" in Middle Eastern tradition.   I admit, it is funny to me, but then I stop laughing, recognizing that it shouldn't be funny because many people are deceived in this way.  I estimate that more than half, maybe three quarters, of independent or unaffiliated Baptists, and many more evangelicals and fundamentalists, label this kind of approach to decision making as "the leading of the Spirit."

I recognize that people have instinct and gut feelings, but they shouldn't call that "the leading of the Spirit."  Gut feeling can't rise to the level of God talking.  Some people have better instincts than others, for which they should be thankful.  I've driven along a road, trying to find some place for which I'm looking, and then see enough landmarks to know that I've arrived.  That isn't the Holy Spirit. It is a combination of my own experience, thinking, knowledge of city planning, road design, and memory.  Police detectives use the same type of instincts for solving crimes.  They look at a body in a murder investigation and clues narrow their search to a set of specific individuals that they call suspects. You've heard someone say, "Follow the money."  That isn't the Holy Spirit.

I played little league and then high school baseball.  Baseball is a slow moving game that requires some focus and concentration that at times I did not either possess or practice.  In the middle of a practice, or even a game, while my mind was wandering, a shadow would move toward me in the field, and I would duck.  My instincts said, "duck," because a ball was coming.  It wasn't a ball, but a low flying bird.  People in the stands saw someone convulsing and wondered what was wrong, since a pitch hadn't even been thrown.  My arm raised in self preservation.  I had this happen several times in my childhood.  What my mind interpreted as a baseball was actually the shadow of a bird flying over.  Some of you reading know what I'm talking about.  I shouldn't call that a baseball just because of an impression I had.

I'm not saying that circumstances have nothing to do with decision making.  I'm not saying either that the Holy Spirit isn't involved in circumstances.  The Bible teaches the providence of God.  I'm fine with someone calling circumstances the providence of God.  Everything that happens is either allowed or caused by God.  It wouldn't happen without Him.  However, how someone reads circumstances should not be called "the Holy Spirit leading."  The Holy Spirit leads through the Word of God.  When we practice scripture we are being led by the Spirit.

Circumstances can and should be read.  If the price goes up on a particular item, you might not buy it. It's now too expensive.  You were going to take a trip, but you put the necessary money into a repair of your water heater or the car is acting up, so you can't trust it to take you out of town.  When you are talking to someone in evangelism, he keeps looking at his watch or looking back over his shoulder.  You ask him if he wants you to continue.  He says, "No."

Furthermore, you candidate as a pastor for a church.  The committee or the church members ask you what you believe and practice.  You tell them everything.  They believe and practice different than you do.  They don't want you as pastor, so you don't get the percentage of vote required by their church constitution.  Someone has a sign that says, "No soliciting."  You don't solicit.  You visit every house in town and no one receives the gospel.  You start on a different town. Jesus approaches a Samaritan town and they tell Him to leave.  He leaves. Are all of those the leading of the Spirit?   The Holy Spirit is not disconnected from the above decisions, because the Bible has something to say about all of them, but I know that isn't what people mean when they say they are "waiting on the leading of the Spirit."

I watched some Olympic pole vaulting on the internet.  Certain participants would skip a height to reduce their potential number of misses, since that is a tie break in the competition.  It also saves on energy to make less attempts.   Skipping heights isn't a good decision by a pole vaulter if he can't clear the height he has skipped to.  His decision should be based upon some knowledge that he can succeed at an attempted height.  Many Olympic events require strategy.  The Kenyan long distance runners unsuccessfully took the 10,000 meters out to a very fast pace to wear out Britain's Mo Farah. He still had enough in the tank to pass them at the end and win despite even tripping and falling at one point in the race.  Decisions Christians make take in similar considerations for decision making in their lives and its good to give God credit for enabling a good decision, but these are not "waiting on the Spirit to lead."

The people of Israel were to recognize the arrival of Jesus.  To do that, they needed to be sensitive to biblical cues from the Old Testament.  A lot of evidence existed to point to Him as the Messiah.  Jesus talked about this in Matthew 16, when he excoriated the Pharisees for their application of meteorological knowledge while failing at scriptural evidence.  He was saying they had the ability to make good decisions -- they just were taking that ability and not using it where it counted most.  Judging the sky for good weather is appropriate decision making for a fisherman.  That is not "waiting on the Holy Spirit to lead."

Jesus uses a similar illustration as the one in Matthew 16 in Luke 14, where He speaks of men calculating the cost of building a tower before they start to build it.  He uses the analogy for the consideration of following Him.  He doesn't deride the basis of calculating cost.  He uses it as an illustration for the right way of making a decision.  Jesus did this all the time.  He said not to cast pearls before swine.  That's a waste of time, so it's a bad decision to do it.  You don't need to "wait for" those to make a good decision.  They are the kind of basis one uses to make a right decision.

Charismatics among others often teach a concept they call "praying through."  The idea, as I have read, is something like trying to get satellite radio while under an overpass.  Your prayers are being disrupted by demonic or Satanic activity, but they will get through or God will get the answer through to you if you go through enough sacrifice for that to occur.  The idea is that you might need to go without food and spend hours praying to get the leading of the Holy Spirit you need for a right decision.  God removes the disruption, but only if you pay the price.  Applying the "praying through" concept to purchasing a house would be to fast and pray, asking God to show whether you should buy the house, and then the Holy Spirit talks to you in your head, telling you what to do.  That is very often what people mean by "the leading of the Holy Spirit."

What people will "pray through" to get in the way of "the Holy Spirit leading," they already have. You don't have to wait to find out if you are supposed to evangelize somewhere.  The next person is fine.  Just do it (my apologies to Nike).  It's fine to talk to the first person in town like Paul did Lydia in Acts 16.  When we started here in the Bay Area in 1987, I went to the person closest to us, and my next person was the next closest person to us.  I didn't skip those two to get to the third closest person, because of a feeling I had.  A huge part of the decision where we started was that there was no church in the entire town.  None.  No church.  It was a town that had no church (and no gas station).

We have the Holy Spirit's leading.  We are led by the Spirit, if we are saved.  We don't need to wait on it.  It's already arrived.

If I buy a piece of furniture at IKEA, which requires assembly, I wait to read the instructions before I start putting it together.  I have to wait for certain supplies or tools to do a project.  Usually you don't marry the first man or woman you meet.  I can talk to the first person I see in class, but that doesn't mean he's my new best friend.  Scriptural thinking precedes decisions about marriage, about friendship, and about many activities.  It doesn't tell me how to put together IKEA furniture.

I could preach the gospel to several people a day for a month without anyone receiving Christ.  I'm not seeing any results, but I don't give up.  I'm doing what God wants and I'm waiting on Him for the results.  God has put His love in my heart for these people.  That's how you wait on the Lord.  You take fulfillment in your position in Christ, the hope of eternal reward, and enjoy the multifaceted and plenty of the goodness of God.  You don't become impatient and do something unscriptural to speed up the results.  That's how you wait on the Holy Spirit.  I waited until I had done all of the above.  I'm now ready to move on.  I waited until now to do that.

I take complete, thorough records.  I have knocked on every door in town and left literature three different times.  By following up, I have preached to someone at every door twice.  In addition, I have preached to all my neighbors who would listen and every person who would listen with whom I do business.  No one has received Christ.  That is legitimate waiting.  It's up to the town now whether they will follow the Lord Jesus Christ or not.  I don't feel guilty.  I don't take the blame for their indifference.  They've got to do what they've got to do, and they haven't done that.  I've waited for them the amount of time I'm supposed to wait and I have a biblical basis for moving on, which is how the Holy Spirit leads.

What people call "waiting on the Holy Spirit to lead" can be disobedience to God.  They shouldn't be waiting.  Their waiting is not working or not serving or not loving.  It's an excuse.  It can be spiritual pride.  Someone says he's waiting on the Holy Spirit, so that people will think he's got some type of elite channel to the Holy Spirit beyond others.  God talks to him directly unlike others, perhaps because he has sacrificed more.  The people saying they are receiving these messages from God operate out of a wrong understanding of scripture, making apostolic and prophetic activity normative for today.  They aren't.

There is a kind of deniability to the described signs "evidence" of the Holy Spirit.  They aren't the fraudulent tongues or healings of Charismaticism.  They are just not enough signs to deny they're signs, at the same time being signs.  People are waiting for something.  This "leading" is something. They are a unique voice in the head, validated by some circumstances or series of circumstances, that are a sign that the voice is authentic.  Enough people believe in this kind of activity that they validate one another.  They point to each other as a confirmation of its reality.  They accept each other for saying they are getting these experiences.   It spreads to others.

When I confront Charismatics on their lies, they huff and puff with offense.  I'm unloving to doubt their experience.  I haven't found it different with Baptists and their special means of advanced revelation. In addition, they throw down autonomy.  You think you're the pope if you question them. It's going to keep going and get worse at this rate.

I consider the "waiting on the Spirit" language to be verbal and theological gobbledygook, essentially erroneous reliance on circumstances.  Deny it.  Leave it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Keswick's Quakerism, Rejection of Doctrine and Rejection of Studying Scripture: in Keswick's Errors--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 3 of 17

Keswick’s heavy Quaker influence illustrates the failure among its leadership to separate from even the most serious of errors and a lack of discernment about what is involved in even being a Christian at all.[1]  For example its co-founder Robert Wilson was a Quaker, and from its inception the Keswick convention allowed those in soul-damning error, such as the Quaker Hannah Whitall Smith, to mold its doctrinal position.  Holiness, sanctification, and separation share the same word group in the Hebrew and Greek languages, and the disobedience of the Keswick Convention to the Biblical commands to practice ecclesiastical separation cleary hinder its intention of promoting holiness.  Compromise on any area of the truth hinders growth in holiness, for sanctification takes place by means of the truth (John 17:17).[2]  What the Keswick Convention boasts of as a strength, “that no man or woman has ever been known, through the influence or under its teaching, to leave one communion for another,” so that “those who accept the Keswick teaching and enter into the [Keswick] experience . . . incline to remain where they are . . . [even in] moribund or dead churches,”[3] is no strength at all, but, in fact, a very serious weakness.  Keswick unites those professing paedobaptism and believer’s baptism; those who think that sprinkled infants are Christians and those who believe that one must be converted to become a Christian; those who advocate hierarchical denominational structures and those who practice congregational church government; those who believe in liturgical ritualism and those who accept the regulative principle of worship; those who preach the inherent goodness of man inherent in the Quaker “Divine seed” heresy and those who accept the total depravity of man; and those who embrace corrupt sacramental gospels with those who profess the true gospel of justification by faith alone through Christ alone apart from religious ceremonies.  When all such, together with sundry sorts of other doctrinal deviants, get together for a “united communion service,”[4] one can be happy that the Lord’s Supper is not really being practiced, as only true Baptist churches can celebrate it, for the gross doctrinal and practical disharmony might lead to many suffering serious illness or early death (1 Corinthians 11:30) as Divine judgment.  In sum, Keswick ecumenicalism is unscriptural and dangerous.
               A related error of Keswick, which developed out of the identical position at Broadlands[5] and which accorded well with the ecumenicalism of the movement,[6] is that it “is interested in the practical application of religious truth rather than in doctrinal or dogmatic theology.”[7]  Biblically, no disjunction exists between doctrine and practice—on the contrary, sound doctrine and practice mutually reinforce each other (1 Timothy 4:16).  In keeping with its belittling of Biblical doctrine, Keswick has produced an ocean of non-doctrinal books, “many volumes of devotional literature.”[8]  This non-dogmatic “literature of the Convention . . . ha[s] circulated far and wide . . . throughout the world.”[9]  Likewise, myriads of “addresses [have been] given at the Convention year after year for over seventy-five years.”  Nevertheless, “Keswick furnishes us with no formal treatise of its doctrine of sin, and no carefully prepared, weighty discourses of a theological nature”[10] of any kind.  This lack was abetted by the total lack of formal theological training on the part of many early Keswick leaders.[11]  Keswick’s neglect of carefully prepared theology is a definite weakness, although natural for those who accepted Robert P. Smith’s view that for “souls i[n] vital conscious union with Christ . . . the effects of any errors of judgment are neutralized.”[12]
What was important at Keswick, as in the teaching and ministry of Hannah and Robert P. Smith, and at the Broadlands Conferences,[13] was not the careful study of what Scripture said, but feeling happy—the secret of a happy life.[14]  While Keswick’s neglect of the careful study of Scripture suited the Quaker exaltation of immediate extra-canonical revelation, for those who wanted to know what God’s Word said about sanctification, it was a great hindrance that at “the early Conventions . . . [a]ll the addresses were extemporaneous,”[15] so that none of the spiritual guides who were to lead others into the way of holiness could preach carefully exposited Scripture.  All speakers had to teach unprepared:
Canon Harford-Battersby . . . . assigned . . . speaking roles each evening for the following day, after a time of prayer with the chairman [Robert Wilson] in his vicarage drawing room . . . informal planning of the speakers for each day, undertaken only during the week itself, characterized the Convention for more than fifty years. . . . Some may see in that a more noble leading of the Spirit, whilst others may call it flying by the seat of your pants[.][16]
Keswick maintained “a remarkable absence of planning and organizing of speakers.”[17]  It is not surprising that a later Keswick president thought that “the reason that Convention blessings were short-lived” was the “lack of solid exposition” at the Conference.[18]  Keswick’s oft recognized[19] lack of carefully prepared and theologically precise views of sin and the solution for it is evident in its inaccurate presentations and bungling refutations by Keswick advocates of alternative positions on sanctification, its failure to deal comprehensively and carefully with the scriptural data related to the believer’s growth in holiness, its invalid arguments, its allegorical interpretation of Scripture, and its faulty exegesis of key texts on sanctification.[20]  In all these ways, while unfaithful to the Bible, Keswick continued faithful to its roots at Broadlands, where the misinterpretation of Scripture was tightly connected to the Quaker Divine Seed heresy.[21]  From the Divine Seed doctrine many an allegorization of Scripture came forth—what need was there of careful exegesis of the Bible for one who has the Divine Seed within, and from his allegedly sinless spirit receives new revelations?  Keswick does not do well to set against each other “exegetical skill” and “present illumination and anointing of the Holy Spirit,” claiming to value the latter despite downplaying the former.  In fact, Keswick’s theological sickness is evident in the affirmation that the “distinctive vitality” of “Keswick meetings” is “lost” if “exegetical skill instead of . . . present illumination” is employed in preaching.[22]  Indeed, Keswick authors have testified that the generality of those that accede to their theology do so not as a result of their having exegeted and searched the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), but because of their pleasant feelings and experiences at Keswick conferences.[23]  It is consequently not surprising that the key requirement for ascending the Keswick platform during its founding decades was not doctrinal orthodoxy, but, as at Broadlands, the experience of entering into the carefree happiness of the Higher Life.[24]  Keswick’s inability to support itself exegetically, and its reliance upon testimonies and pleasant words and deeds to lead people into its system, is explained by Robert P. Smith:
Do not press this fulness of the Gospel [the Higher Life], in its doctrinal, dogmatic side.  It is not so much a doctrine to be argued as a life to be lived.  Confess Christ—do not profess to be anything. . . . Your life must be your argument to those who see you constantly.  Do not worry them by doctrinal statements, but love them into the fulness of salvation.  It is usual to hear persons say, “I was wrong.  I could meet the arguments, but the life of my friend has convinced me that she was right.”[25]
Thus, careful statements of Biblical teaching only “worry” the generality of those who accede to the Higher Life.  Although arguments for Keswick doctrine from the text of Scripture can be easily met, as the Bible does not teach the theology of the Pearsall Smiths, the appearance of a carefree and happy life full of rest and quiet leads many to adopt the Higher Life.  The theological imprecision that results by setting the Holy Ghost against painstaking exegesis of the Word He dictated is also a major explanatory factor for the other Biblical errors in the Keswick theology.  Keswick statements on theological issues are often better when they are not taken seriously, but only their general intention is considered; taking Keswick too seriously leads to serious error.

See here for this entire study.






[1]              Compare Jessie Penn-Lewis’s “deep conviction” that “many who have been reckoned ‘Modernists,’ even in the Mission field, are not really so in heart,” but are really “servants of Christ” that Keswick partisans should “labour to help . . . all that is in our power” (pg. 280, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard).  Many theological modernists are not, Penn-Lewis affirms, unregenerate false teachers who should be marked, avoided, and rejected.  Rather, they are servants of Christ who should be assisted as much as possible; they are simply in need of some Higher Life teaching so that all will be well.  If even modernists should be accepted, it is no surprise that Penn-Lewis preached that “divergent views on prophecy, on sanctification, on healing, and other matters . . . should be put aside” to assist in bringing about “the UNITY of the Body of Christ in view of His soon Return” (pg. 283, Ibid.).  Since the Keswick co-founder, Canon Harford-Battersby, was himself High Church, then Broad Church, and only then an evangelical Anglican, and all without a conversion experience, Jessie Penn-Lewis’s statements are not surprising.
[2]              The following statement illustrates the less-than-proper view of truth advocated by many Keswick proponents:  “Keswick itself has been and is still criticized; but that is of no serious consequence.  The truth of God is bigger than any one view or school of thought” (pg. 10, So Great Salvation, Barabas).  Contrary to Barabas, true theology has the objective propositional content that was given by the Father to His Son as Mediator to reveal to the church by the Spirit through the Scriptures.  Rather than lightly treating criticism of Keswick because the truth of God is allegedly bigger than any one view, such criticism should be evaluated Biblically and acted upon if it is accurate, or rejected if it is unscriptural.
               Of course, the statement that the truth of God is bigger than any one view is itself incoherent.  If the truth of God is bigger than any one view, it is bigger than the view that it is bigger than any one view, in which case the truth of God is not bigger than any one view.
[3]              Pg. 35, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[4]              Pg. 149, So Great Salvation, Barabas; cf. pg. 98, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.  The open communion service would take place in the meeting place of T. D. Harford Battersby’s Anglican congregation, where the severe errors of the Anglican communion liturgy were recited week by week (pgs. xiv-xv, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford).
[5]              E. g., at the 1874 Broadlands Conference Robert P. Smith taught that the “purpose of this gathering together . . . was different from that of other religious gatherings.  It was not for the teaching of religious truths,” but for the inculcation of the Higher Life in which the “teaching of the Spirit should be heard” (pg. 120, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890), in accordance with the Quaker doctrines of the Inner Light and the Divine Seed.  The “aim [was] less to enforce a creed than to inspire a life” for Broadlands preachers such as the universalist George MacDonald (pg. 59, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  “The Conferences were, as Lord Mount-Temple said at the opening of the first one, ‘not for the promulgation of any new system, nor for the combined execution of any organized plan, but a meeting of grateful, loving hearts, united . . . to lead a higher and deeper Christian life’” (pgs. 119-120, Ibid.).
[6]              Thus, in the words of very sympathetic Methodist writers, whose purpose in writing was generally to defend the Keswick theology and perfectionism (as taught, in their view, most perfectly by Wesley) against Higher Life critics:
The [Keswick] theology . . . does very seriously expose itself to misconception through its lack of systematic coherence and completeness.  A certain consciousness of this seems sometimes to disturb the equanimity of the teachers, and tempts them to speak disparagingly of dogmatic theology[.] . . . It is not to be expected, of course, that the leaders of the movement . . . should publish to the world their precise creed . . . [since they] have generally been careful to disavow any connection with denominations and communions . . . on the principle of keeping out of view everything that might raise the question of sectarian differences . . . ignor[ing] . . . the formalities of worship, and ritual, and sacraments . . . effac[ing] . . . the distinction of pastorship and laity . . . [and] not always tak[ing] . . . sufficient care . . . to preclude . . . the imputation of Pelagianism . . . brought by almost all the censors against the movement. (pgs. 100-101, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875)
[7]              Pg. 42, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[8]              Pg. 42, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[9]              Pg. 9, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[10]             Pg. 51, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  This fact mentioned by Barabas does not mean that nobody associated with the Keswick theology has ever produced anything with at least a certain amount of scholarly value; it does mean that no Keswick advocate has ever composed a careful and scholarly presentation or theological defense of the distinctives of the Keswick doctrine.  Rather, Keswick writings are “a mass of unsystematic literature, not always absolutely consistent with itself” (pg. 259, “Means and Measure of Holiness,” Thomas Smith.  The British and Foreign Evangelical Review [April 1876] 251-280).  Barabas is by no means the only Keswick advocate to recognize that no carefully prepared and theologically precise presentation of its position has even been written—this absence has been continually recognized from the very origin of the Keswick movement.  R. W. Dale noted:
I said to Dr. Boardman only a few months ago that it seemed to me that this [Higher Life] movement had prophets, but had not teachers; and he acknowledged that there was a great deal of truth in that.  I asked where he could show me a theological book in which this doctrine was so stated as really to satisfy any theological mind, and he was obliged to acknowledge that it was very difficult indeed to name any such book. . . . I have been called upon as one not hostile to this movement, [but] as favorable to it.  (pg. 450, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875)
[11]             E. g., Evan Hopkins & Webb-Peploe “had no formal theological training” (pg. 68, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck); neither did Hannah or Robert Pearsall Smith, Robert Wilson, or many other Higher Life leaders.
[12]             Pg. 186, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Smith’s doctrine that errors of judgment have no negative consequences for people who experience the Higher Life as he had done helps explain both his adoption and continued propagation of the erotic Bridal Baptism doctrine.  His judgment might indicate that he was propagating the vilest of perversions, but such judgment was to be set aside for the thrills of a “conscious union” where the rational could be set aside.
[13]             The wonder of the Higher Life resulted in “[t]he intense happiness experienced at Broadlands,” which was “as the dawn of a fresh springtime in th[e] lives” of many (pg. 267, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  Although the vast body at the Broadlands Conferences had never been born again but were wretched and unconverted sinners, they were not led to feel their awful misery, but were confirmed in carefree happiness and self-delusion.  “[A]t Broadlands . . . changed lives and characters . . . could not be gainsaid . . . one noted a great and marked increase in gladness and cheerfulness” (pgs. 246-247, Ibid).  Indeed, Broadlands leaders testified that the spiritualism and the presence of demons impersonating the spirits of dead people contributed to the great happiness of those present.  As the Mount-Temples believed, “the presence of unseen heavenly ones added to the deep gladness that was felt” (pg. 262, Ibid.).
[14]             Thus, at the Oxford Convention, people learned:  “If our preaching does not make people glad, we have not got the right message” (pg. 263, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).  For the Oxford Convention, then, it would seem that the Lord Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, did not have the right message when He proclaimed:  “Blessed are they that mourn” (Matthew 5:4; cf. Luke 6:25; 7:32; 1 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 7:7; James 4:9; Daniel 10:2; Joel 2:12, etc.).  Rather than the message of Christ and the Apostles, Hannah Smith taught at Brighton that the Holy Spirit is not “one to make us unhappy”—thoughts that make one unhappy “always come from Satan” (pg. 376, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).  The Christian is to enter into the Higher stage where “he abides in utter unconcern and perfect rest . . . perfect abandonment of ease and comfort . . . the Higher Christian Life” (Chapter 3, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah W. Smith).
[15]             Pg. 16, Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed. Stevenson.  It is admitted that Keswick addresses were often “rather disjointed” because of this lack of study (pg. 17), even as at the Brighton Convention Robert P. Smith noted:  “I do not think that there has been a single address arranged; I know there have been no formal preparations made in any respect,” as not until late in the evening were speakers for the next day selected  (pgs. 12, 437-438, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).  Likewise at the Oxford Convention it “was not so much what was said, in the purely extempore remarks or addresses,” for all that the people heard were “unpremeditated extempore addressess,” concerning which what mattered was “the preparedness of the heart to listen” (pgs. 180, 200, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).  People were profoundly prepared to accept in their hearts whatever the speakers said or taught in their unprepared and unpremeditated addresses; this was possible because, as Robert P. Smith explained, for those in the Higher Life “the effects of any errors of judgment are neutralized” (pg. 186) so no negative effects would result from the many misinterpretations and misapplications of the Bible.
[16]             Pg. 205, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall; pg. 44, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[17]             Pg. 49, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.  Quotation marks within the reference above have been removed.
[18]             Graham Scroggie; see pg. 71, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.
[19]             For example, Hannah W. Smith stated:
As to the matter of theology in this [doctrine of the Higher Life], I beg, as I always do, that nobody will listen to me with theological ears.  It is very likely that I make plenty of mistakes in that direction, but if you get hold of the experience, then you can put the matter straight . . . [I may not give] a very clear or exact statement of Christian truth; but I am sure . . . that [I present] an exact statement of Christian experience. (pg. 54, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875)
Of course, it is impossible to have an exact view of Christian experience without an exact statement of Christian truth, and believers are always to evaluate what they hear with “theological ears” that are carefully sifting with Scripture what others affirm (Isaiah 8:20; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1-3).  If Mrs. Smith admits that she makes many mistakes with Christian truth, she ought not to be preaching at all—a certainty in any case (1 Timothy 2:11-15).
[20]             The phenomena mentioned in this sentence are examined in more detail below.
[21]             For example, teachers at the Broadlands Conference proclaimed:  “Whenever I meet a man, I know the germ of the Christ-life is there. . . . Christ is the life of men, the Divine seed in every one” (pgs. 178-179, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  The Divine Seed led to many allegorical misinterpretations of Scripture at Broadlands.  For example, in Revelation 22:2, “The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” is not about the leaves of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem, but really means:  “We cannot live in this world without longing to be healers”  (pg. 179, Ibid).  After all, the New Jerusalem only “signif[ies] glorified humanity” (pg. 132).  With similar allegory, “The birds of the air came and lodged in the branches” (Matthew 13:32) means, to the amazement of the student of Scripture:  “We are to be the support and sustainers of those who are seeking rest” (pg. 179, Ibid. Italics reproduced from the original.).  Indeed, Broadlands even made the astonishing discovery that in Luke 16 Lazarus was worse off than the rich man:  “Lazarus was the most wanting in brotherly kindness, for Dives [the rich man] got no help from Lazarus . . . They were both in Hades.  Better to be a sufferer than a helpless witness of suffering. . . . The only true heaven is a character like God’s” (pg. 208, Ibid.  Italics in original.).  Perhaps such an exaltation of the rich man in hell above Lazarus in paradise was assisted by the Broadlands confusion of the Antichrist with Christ in texts such as Revelation 6:2 (pg. 207, Ibid), but such is uncertain.
Keswick allegorization and Scripture-twisting thus followed the pattern set at the Broadlands Conference and its successors.  At Broadlands in 1874 a “very distinct feature of this Conference, [which] must not be omitted in any attempt to delineate it . . . [was] the conversations over passages in Scripture [where people] had not tarried in the letter of the Word, but had discerned everywhere beneath it the living Word . . . unveiling . . . the inward and spiritual meaning in the Jewish history and ceremonial” (pgs. 122-123, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.  London:  Printed for private circulation, 1890).  Consequently, for example, the Oxford Convention took the fact that “[a]ll priests are Levites, but all Levites are not priests” and allegorized it to support the division of Christians into those living the Higher Life and those not.  Furthermore, the number of days it took to cleanse the temple in 2 Chronicles 29:17 was allegorized into Higher Life truth, and an address was given on “Joseph a type of the risen life.”  Another allegorization included Samuel’s predictions about the conclusion of Saul’s search for his father’s donkeys, receipt of bread from people, and encounter with a company of prophets in 1 Samuel 10 as “a picture of the Christian life” where people are “first chosen, then consecrated.”  Likewise, the water coming from Ezekiel’s Millennial temple (Ezekiel 47) teaches the Higher Life; the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7, 15; Isaiah 65; Hosea 2) is “the place of entire absolute renunciation of all discovered evil for a door of heavenly blessing”; “Kadesh Barnea” is allegorized into a font of Higher Life truth; the fact that Solomon wrote the Song of Songs teaches that the Higher Life is a “reign of peace,” and so on (pgs. 58, 60, 124, 128-130, 148, 268-269, 306-7, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).  It is difficult to know whether it is better to laugh at such ridiculous allegorizations or cry because of their dishonor to God’s holy Word.
Similarly, Keswick convention founder T. D. Harford-Battersby adopted the Higher Life theology after hearing an allegorical misinterpretation of John 4:46-53 by Evan Hopkins (cf. pgs. 157-158, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby; pg. 52, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, its Method, and its Men, Harford; pgs. 113ff., 174, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874).  Compare also the numerous examples of severe eisegesis in the elenctic examination of controverted passages on sanctification and the several vignettes of central Keswick leaders in the various chapters of this book.  The Higher Life was found in countless texts when allegorized, although it was not in any when principles of grammatical-historical hermeneutics were applied.
[22]             Pg. 214, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, its Method, and its Men, ed. Harford.
[23]             For instance, A. E. Barnes-Lawrence, in The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, its Method, and its Men, ed. Harford, on pgs. 188-191 describes how a typical “cleric of devout mind who for the first time has come to Keswick, prepared to find fault, but for the moment is withholding his judgment” is brought to adopt the Higher Life doctrine.  He goes to a prayer meeting, sees a lot of people who are fervent (pgs. 188-189), hears “the flood of melody as the hymn is taken up by the great assembly,” is impressed by the “sudden hush and expectant quietness that falls” in the “Bible Readings,” concludes that his own “best sermons” arouse “languid” interest in comparison with those at the Convention, and that people at the Convention are more “keen” than those in his congregation, and he therefore adopts the Keswick theology, even while averring:  “It was not the address, certainly not . . . and I should have treated that last point quite differently myself” (pg. 190).  By such impressions and feelings, rather than by careful study of the Bible, hundreds of ministers receive the Keswick message (pg. 191).  “Such a testimony is not unfrequent, and it carries its own imprimatur” (pg. 190).
               For further examples, note Griffith-Thomas’s attempt to respond to Warfield’s crushing critique of the Keswick theology by testimonial, rather than exegesis, in this work’s chapter on whether Keswick critics misrepresent Keswick; cf. also pgs. 66, 85-86, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.
[24]             “The only qualification required from the speakers [at Broadlands] was that they should have personal experience of the truths they uttered” (pg. 120, cf. pg. 265, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  Of course, Christian preachers should know experientially the truths that they proclaim, but testimony to having received a certain experience is by no means a sufficient standard for allowing a person behind a pulpit (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3, 13; 2 John 7-11).
[25]             Pg. 291, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Italics in original.  Cf. pg. 263.  Note that the generic “friend” who leads another to adopt the Higher Life is a “she.”