A CRITIQUE OF THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT

Higher-Purpose

A CRITIQUE OF THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT 

By Jay Wegter

INTRODUCTION

The concept of the higher Christian life arose in the nineteenth century in connection with the holiness tradition in America.  The movement grew in popularity and ultimately spread to England.  Keswick, England became the home of the higher life conventions.  In time, the movement returned to America with great momentum.  “The Higher Life movement has influenced the rise of other theologically conservative movements, the founding of a number of institutions, the growth of foreign missions, and the theological perspective of several denominations.”1

Description of the Movement

          The higher Christian life is an explanation of the means and methods involved in advancing the believer’s progressive sanctification.  The purpose of this paper is to identify the areas where the higher life model of sanctification differs from the scriptural doctrine of sanctification.

          Though not identical, three terms are used synonymously to refer to the movement; “The higher Christian life,” the “Victorious Christian Life,” and “Keswick Teaching.”  In this paper, any of the three terms may be used to refer to the whole body of higher life teaching.

HISTORIC BACKGROUND

          The inception of the higher life movement is often identified with the publication of William Edwin Boardman’s book, The Higher Christian Life (1858).  The book argued that Christ was to be received for sanctification sometime after justification. Continue reading

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Lordship Salvation aka Progressive Sanctification? High fashion, yes, but not for Christians.

jesus is your sanctification

Grant Swart

I needed to jot down just a few more recent thoughts concerning the subject of (progressive) sanctification, as I have seen it gaining in popularity as a subject for discussion in certain circles, particularly I suppose, in the social media. This is additional to my most recent article on the subject at SANCTIFICATION: Why & how can God accept sinners into His Presence?

As a subject, I don’t believe that progressive sanctification should be handled with much kindness. It is a hideous and potentially fatal religious proposition. The highest possible price was paid for it, it belongs to God’s people exclusively, and it should not be allowed to become a plastic accessory to be worn by fashionistas of the commercial free-will religious order.

Free-will, works religion, also known as Arminianism or various forms of synergism, is the highly fashionable religion being practiced by great numbers of churchgoers in these times. Followers of this religious form of worship, under the guise of Christianity, now crowd the pews of the great majority of what were once, Biblical and God-fearing churches.

In these shiny new will-worshipping theatres are man-made pavilions with many steps leading upwards, each step representing a higher level of self-righteousness and perceived holiness on which proud men stand and display their shame before other men, as witness to them worshipping their own efforts and abilities (Col. 2:23).

In order to solicit more support, in the great eagerness of their own driven will, they have named this system of will worship. Some call it “Lordship Salvation”. Even more ostentatiously they might call it “progressive sanctification” and deluded men heap wondrous praise and elevated prestige onto those who put great effort into achieving improved righteousness. These great congregations, having placed themselves under the spiritual governance of the powerful hierarchies and church councils which they have elected for themselves to serve under, often find themselves becoming the victims of their own ill-begotten belief systems when the whip of contrived church discipline inevitably turns on them. Continue reading

The Matter of Church Discipline

early-christians1

 

The Matter of Church Discipline

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Mat_18:15-35)

In this passage our Lord and Savior anticipates two things. First, he anticipates the fact that differences would arise among his disciples, causing offenses. It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that God’s people in this world are sinners still. We love one another; but those who are the objects of our most ardent love are the very people we are most apt to offend. The offenses are excuseless. We ought to exercise great care not to offend. But offend we do. What husband, wife, son, or daughter has not wept bitterly after needlessly offending one in the family dearly loved? Paul and Barnabas were both brethren, faithful servants of God. But they had a falling out over John Mark. Yes, God’s people, true believers, often trespass against one another. Continue reading