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

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

Why Discernment Ministries Fail (and Succeed) (2)

flock guardian dog 12 

 Grant Swart

This is the second installment of “Why Discernment Ministries Fail (and Succeed)”, Part 1 of which I published a year ago, almost to the day. Rather than repeating much of that which I wrote before, may I suggest that you refer to Part 1 here: Why Discernment Ministries Fail (and Succeed) (1), if you are interested in this subject, and have not previously done so. In Part 1 I attempted to establish the groundwork for bringing this installment into perspective, and it should provide an evenhanded and fair approach to the subject. A modern phenomenon, few ministries which place themselves under the banner of “discernment” have Biblically principled intent or calling, and the trend has in a very short period of time, drifted completely out of alignment with Christianity.

Regrettable and diverse are the failures of an overabundance of internet based “discernment” ministries, websites and blogspots, radio and television programs, publications, documentary films, etc. Frequently, these self-appointed and so-called discernment ministries are highly visible, easily accessible and present themselves as representatives of the truth. Often they regard themselves as whistle-blowers tasked with identifying threats to their specific brand of religion, “exposing” perceived falsehoods and acting as guardians of the Christian faith. Many of these “ministries” are the creations of self-appointed “watchmen” who claim to possess divine inspiration for their fake discernment abilities, which purportedly surpass those of the average Christian. In addition, these “watchmen” defend their position, which by the very nature of their ministries cannot be regarded as biblical, with an aggressive fervour which resembles religious and occult fanaticism.

The all too evident failure of the vast majority of these so-called “discernment” ministries, is in no small measure due to the fact that they are not founded on biblical prescripts, neither do they consistently accept or proclaim biblical doctrines. The reason for the rare success of a small minority of others is simple: they are not “discernment” ministries per se, they are truly Christian ministries in as much as they are led by heaven sent shepherds, true servants of the church, watchmen who have been appointed by God. (link here to Heaven Sent Preachers and Man Made Preachers – There is a Difference )

Isa 52:7-8  How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen–they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.

From this passage in Isaiah, read in conjunction with Romans 10:15, we understand that it speaks of true Gospel preachers and teachers. The Spirit of God describes all true Gospel preachers as watchmen. Continue reading