Boardman's The Higher Christian Life and Hannah Whitall Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life , and exemplified primarily as a call to a shared but private and 'practical holiness' as a mark of the Spirit's working and as a fruit of the sanctification secured in Christ. This message was delivered mainly to Anglican Calvinists through the annual conference, its semi-official periodical The Life of Faith , and its romantic hymns and poetry. Handley Moule the Bishop of Durham between and , who gave theological acceptability and coherence to Keswick, called this a 'crisis with a view to a process' Lees ; cf.
Coutts , ; No convention was complete until the speaker called upon the up to mostly young, cultured in outlook, and comfortably circumstanced in other words, the only ones who could afford a week off!
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Later Conventions also called upon the gathered, especially the young, to commit to 'Christian service' and to 'mission'. This was a reflection of Keswick's understanding of three categories of Christian: the nominal 'unsaved Christian', the 'carnal Christian' who had not fully submitted to Christ's 'lordship' see Randall , and those who were living the 'normal Christian life' under God's full authority and with God's power see The Keswick Week Keswick's immediate object, not unlike that of the Tractarian Movement, was not mission to 'the lost' but rather the reviving of 'the saved' and the concern for their 'continual triumph'.
At the centre of this movement in its early days was a raging controversy about whether sanctification was a 'now experience' received by faith in an instant, or a 'life process' experienced progressively by faith. The only condition placed upon one for initially receiving sanctification was faith - 'holiness by faith' was the message The Keswick Week Holiness was as freely given by God as was salvation. But in order to maintain that sanctification, continued faith, 'the rest of faith' - resulting in the continuing defeat and perpetual counteracting of sin - had to be exercised.
In its early days, this form of Keswick quietism offered a contrast to the evangelical activism of other movements. However, by the end of the 19th century, this mood was becoming more prevalent as holiness was increasingly becoming democratised and the so-called 'normal' Christian life identified with a more restful form of faith.
Apart from some sporadic examples e. Meyer of holiness demanding wider social application beyond the individual believer's own piety, Keswick's anti-intellectualism and inward-looking spirituality meant that socio-political implications of its teaching were largely ignored. In , when Bishop Moule was challenged concerning the social implications of the gospel, he unequivocally restated Keswick's focus on individual experience see The Life of Faith This appears to be indicative of a widespread trend among Baptists and Congregationalists also, with those entering the ministry after being far less interested or engaged in the political implications of the gospel than their predecessors had been, a fact which was soon to be exploited in a darkening Europe.
Keswick called for a moment-by-moment form of dependence upon God wherein sin was not eliminated so much as repressed. Evan Hopkins, one of Keswick's leading theological exponents, considered the flesh to be 'effectively counteracted by … the Holy Ghost within us, so that we can walk in the paths of continuous deliverance from it' Hopkins ; cf.
Hopkins , a position trumpeted in Keswick's slogan - 'victory', and a mood characterised by 'a typical dynamic concept deriving from a Romantic frame of mind' Bebbington ; cf. Randall a Earlier in the century, More wrote:. The holiness of God indeed is confined by no limitation; ours is bounded, finite, imperfect. Yet let us be sedulous to extend our little sphere.
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Let our desires be large, though our capacities are contracted. Let our aims be lofty, though our attainments are low. Let us be solicitous that no day pass without some augmentation to our holiness, some added height to our aspirations, some wider expansion in the compass of our virtues. Let us strive every day for some superiority to the preceding day; something that shall distinctly mark the passing scene with progress; something that shall inspire an [sic] humble hope that we are rather less unfit for heaven to-day than we were yesterday.
Despite many Calvinists accusing Keswickers of championing a renewed Methodism, Keswickers disclaimed that they were sinless perfectionists and insisted that sin remains a part of the believer's experience this side of death; this disclaimer cost them popularity among some Wesleyans. However, it was this blend of Wesley's striving after personal holiness coupled with a Calvinist realism that captured and remoulded mainstream Evangelicalism in 19th century England and heavily informed conservative Evangelical piety for most of the 20th century.
Forsyth and the requisition of holiness as a theo-logical reality. The Scottish Congregationalist theologian Peter Taylor Forsyth, who spent most of his life in England, was such a swimmer. Forsyth, no more or less than others, was a product of his context. However, it was in transcending that context that he made many of his foremost theological contributions. Nowhere did he do this more overtly than in his thinking on holiness.
Thus far, I have tried to draw attention to two important and related trends: firstly, that Victorian notions of holiness were mostly associated with the negative; holiness was largely reduced to one's conduct, particularly to what one did not do. Secondly, holiness vocabulary was chiefly utilised to apply to human activity, rather than to that of the divine. Forsyth sought to reverse both these trends. For Forsyth, holiness was a fundamentally positive notion applying not primarily to one's personal conduct but to God and to God's burning self-imprinting on all reality.
As early as his Chairman's Address before a meeting of the Leicestershire and Rutland Congregational Union Forsyth , Forsyth reclaimed holiness vocabulary as a distinctly theo logical reality that required rediscovery as the key ingredient of a fitting response to romanticised speech about God. While in he confessed to perceiving in Newman and the Oxford Revival, along with Wesley and the Evangelical Revival, 'God's answer' to the 'Deism outside, and drought within' the English Church Forsyth , his account of contemporary Christianity clearly highlighted what he judged to be the poisonous fruit of Victorian romanticism:.
One reads somnambulant sermons about coming into tune with the infinite, about cultivating the presence of God, about pausing in life to hear the melodies of the everlasting chime, and all the rest of the romance of piety breathed beneath the moon in the green and pleasant glades of devotion - all without a hint of the classic redemption, or even of the Christ, whereby alone we have access to any of the rich quietives of faith. The preacher has glimpses of the paradise, but no sense of the purgatorio. He has the language but not the accent of that far heavenly country.
We want more than romantic and temperamental piety. We want the accent of the Holy Ghost, learned with a new life at its classic capital - the cross.
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We want something more than a lovely Gospel with the fine austerity of a cloistered ethic. Forsyth Here he was not entirely alone. In , his compatriot Thomas Chalmers commenced his Bridgewater Treatise castigating those merely 'poetical' believers who practiced a 'mild and easy religion' and who:. Bridgewater Seventy-two years later, in , Forsyth concluded that the situation had changed little and that it had perhaps grown graver.
By despoiling and excorticating love of its holiness, by repudiating the moral note and the Scriptures' own stress on God's holiness, his and earlier generations had, he believed, dwarfed sin and distorted the majesty of God's love.
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What Forsyth and Chalmers bore witness to was not a self-absorbed obsession with personal holiness, but to a love of God's and an awareness that therein lay creation's true hope, for apart from holy love there is no restraint to human wickedness, nor hope that the Holy One may conquer all. Forsyth, therefore, called on preachers to 'saturate … people in the years that are to come as thoroughly with the idea of God's holiness as they have been saturated with the idea of God's love' Forsyth b The theme was taken up in Forsyth's sermon 'The Holy Father' Forsyth and continued throughout his ministry.
In part, it was his response, certainly from onwards, to what he judged to be the shock brought to popular Christianity because of World War One WWI , among other factors, to 'the loss of the sense of the holy God amid the fair humanities of new religion' Forsyth b This loss, in his judgement, also manifested itself ecclesiologically in the form of irreverent worship, sentimental piety, ethical laxness, and a replacing of the biblical idea of God's wrath for 'the slack God of the period' Forsyth a Forsyth sought nothing less than that God's own holiness and the primacy of the moral - not the war, or economics, or debates about biblical criticism or liturgy or the relationship between science and faith, or social questions - be restored as the 'ruling interest' Forsyth a; ; and centre of the Church's life, worship, polity, engagement with the state, mission, and theology.
Goroncy Although Forsyth stresses that the focus of the Church's thinking should not be shaped by the concerns of the War, he does hope that the horrors of WWI - the 'revelation of the evil power, the man of sin' Forsyth - might serve as a wake-up call about the centrality of holiness not as a 'bourgeois' notion concerned with respectability but as the moral reality undergirding all life: 'If such a war as this do not make us face reality, what will?
Here again he is not alone. Graham Scroggie's comments at the Keswick Convention see Sloan Forsyth welcomed such voices while lamenting that such had indeed been absent for many generations, one consequence of which was, in his estimation, the lowering of 'the whole temperature and authority of religion'. The war's service as a revelation of human evil, among other things, is that it ends 'the comfortable, kindly, bourgeois, casual Victorian age, so credulous in its humanism' Forsyth ; cf.
Forsyth a Firstly, as can be deduced from this compendious disquisition, notions of holiness played a not insignificant part in shaping secular and religious thought and life in Victorian and Edwardian England. Secondly, both 'secular' and 'religious' notions of holiness, among other ideas and practices, were informed and shaped by broader philosophical currents.
For the Victorians, the influence of both the Enlightenment with its confidence in progress and Romanticism with its fascination for the sublime and for a reality more substantial than secular materialism promises profoundly informed thinking regarding holiness. This serves as a reminder that no theological idea can be entirely uprooted from the soil in which it grows, and that ideas do take on the flavour and smell of the soil where they exist, generating new ways of thinking that can enrich the idea's tradition and value.
However, it also raises a contemporary challenge. Many have observed that much 19th and 20th-century Christian thought is beholden to the framework and programme set by the Enlightenment, in which Christian faith is reduced to a package to rescue people from the evil world, ensuring forgiveness in the present and heaven hereafter.
The Enlightenment-soaked wider world has then too uncritically received this evaluation of Christian faith, one consequence of which has meant that it has largely been unable to engage in meaningful ways with the moral realities of evil.
kieranefis.tk So Wright :. Here, the enduring significance of Forsyth's message comes to the fore. Finally, many of the patterns of Christian spirituality that Victorians developed and nurtured continue to have a significant impact on the ecclesiastical and devotional life of Christians, not only in England but wherever the footprints of English-speaking missionaries lie. If Christians are to better locate their voice, better articulate such in a humility and register that communicates beyond their own ecclesial precincts, and better nurture practices that bear witness to their defining and reconstituting spring, then they can scarcely do so without knowledge of their own history.
And because modern Church life has been so deeply affected by patterns of Victorian religion, it behoves us to try to understand them - what shaped them and their responses - and to take encouragement as well as warning from their example. The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article. Arnold, M. Arnstein, W.
Bebbington, D. Berlin, I. Boulger, J. Bouyer, L.