Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)
|153rd GS MINUTES, MAY 30, 1975, pp. 214 - 248.|
STUDY COMMITTEE ON WORK
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - ADDENDUM REPORTS:
1. Review and Commentary on Warfield's Studies in Perfectionism
2. B.B. Warfield: Didactic and Polemic Theologian
The following articles by Dr. Wilber B. Wallis are reprinted from Salt (the student theological journal of Covenant Seminary), Volume 5, 1974-75, and are herewith reproduced for the benefit of churches and presbyteries in accord with the recommendation adopted by Synod (see page xxx).
Warfield's analysis of perfectionism can be better appreciated
if we have in mind the history of the development of perfectionism in
America as Warfield saw it.
The two concluding articles of Studies in Perfectionism conveniently provide this needed historical sketch. These articles, "The Higher Life Movement," and "The Victorious Life" were among the first in the series of articles printed between 1918 and 1921.
The "Higher Life Movement" takes its theme from the title of The Higher Christian Life (1859) by W.E. Boardman. The date of the publication of this volume is a convenient point from which to look back and forward in a sketch of the history of perfectionism.
Warfield first shows that the idea of "Christian perfection" was introduced into Protestant thought by John Wesley. The teaching accompanied the growth of the Methodist churches and was one of the distinguishing doctrines of Methodism in America.
About the middle of the nineteenth century, a parallel, but independent development appeared among American Congregationalists. Warfield says that the appearance of Pelagian views was responsible, since both in the American development and elsewhere, there is a correlation between the Pelagian doctrine of the will and perfectionism.
Warfield further argues that in the social flux of the American frontier these perfectionist tendencies found fertile soil. ". . . the constant interchange between the frontier and the country at large spread the contagion rapidly throughout the land. Among the other extravagances thus given great vogue was naturally a tendency to proclaim perfection a Christian duty and an attainable ideal, which none who would take the place of a Christian in this wicked world could afford to forego." (Perfectionism, II.465)
In such a milieu Boardman's book appeared, winning immense popularity in England and America. Other teachers followed Boardman's leading, especially Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith. From the influence of the latter grew the Keswick movement in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Warfield says that the real power of Boardman's book lay in its fundamentally Christian tone -- ". . .It exalts Christ, and it exalts faith. And no book which exalts Christ and exalts faith will ever fail of an immediate response from Christian hearts." (p. 473)
In this review of Boardman's book (pp. 474ff.), Warfield focuses on the key weakness of perfectionist teaching. Boardman in effect divides our one indivisible salvation into two distinct parts, each of which is received by a distinct act of faith (p. 474). This would lead to the absurdity of dividing Christ (p. 475). Yet this conception is of basic importance in Boardman's system of doctrine, so that Warfield says, ". . . This separation of justification and sanctification as two distinct 'experiences' resting on two distinct acts of faith is in point of fact Mr. Boardman's primary interest, and constitutes the foundation stone of his system. Grant him the reality of the 'second conversion' by which we obtain sanctification, as distinct in principle from the first conversion by which we obtain justification, and he will not boggle over much else." (p. 476) This sharp separation of justification and sanctification would appear to make two kinds of Christians: those who are merely justified as distinct from those who are both justified and sanctified. Yet Boardman does not really believe this, for he teaches in effect a doctrine of perseverance, since all those who are justified will sooner or later have the second experience of sanctification. Warfield then remarks, "But it falls gravely short of the teaching of Scripture which connects sanctification with justification as its necessary issue and through it the necessary issue of the indivisible faith that lays hold on the indivisible salvation of the indivisible Christ." (p. 482)
Warfield says that the most difficult point in Boardman's teaching is to be sure what one receives in the "second conversion." There is a contradiction between the teaching that sanctification is process (p. 484) and the idea that this sanctification is secured instantaneously. Warfield concludes, "In one way or another, Mr. Boardman also certainly teaches that when we accept Christ for sanctification, we not only make our sanctification certain but obtain it at once." (p. 485) This impasse is resolved by Boardman's idea that when we accept Christ for sanctification we receive in Him freedom from all conscious sinning and at the same time we receive absolute assurance in Him that He will progressively cleanse our "heart and life" in His own good time and way from all sin. (p. 485)
Warfield is confident that Boardman's scheme is perfectionism. He says, "It ought to be added, however, that in his latest years Mr. Boardman appears to have exchanged this most ingenious form of perfectionism by which a constant, conscious perfection is maintained in the course of a steady, actual growth towards real perfection, for that exaggerated mysticism which has become a characteristic doctrine of the later advocates of the Higher Christian Life." (p. 489)
Some incisive criticisms of the Boardman scheme are offered by Warfield. It is not a real sanctification. What the Christian receives when he accepts Christ for sanctification is not sanctification but peace. "But this only uncovers to us the ingrained endimonium of the whole Higher Christian Life movement. It is preoccupied with the pursuit of happiness and tends in many ways to subordinate everything to it." (p. 491)
Warfield continues his sketch of the progress of perfectionistic thinking, reviewing the life and teaching of Robert Pearsall and Hannah Whitall Smith. Warfield believed that through them the movement begun by Boardman attained its widest extension and most lasting influence.
Mrs. Smith remained a Quaker all her life. "In her later years, even the fundamental mystical doctrine of the "divine seed" is quite clearly enunciated and the characteristic Higher Life teaching developed out of it." (p. 495) Her doctrine is "quietistic mysticism." (p. 497) She held very strongly a doctrine of universal salvation. (p. 534)
Robert Pearsall Smith (1827-1899) acquired his perfectionist ideas under Methodist influences, in Methodist Holiness Meetings. He and his wife became enthusiastic adherents of the Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification by faith. Smith appears to have followed Boardman rather closely (p. 530). His principal book, Holiness Through Faith, appeared in 1879. He continued to preach and teach, and appeared in London in the spring of 1873, beginning a remarkable series of meetings which ran up to the Oxford Union meeting of August 29 to September 7, 1874. Boardman joined Smith and his wife in the fall of 1873, and together they met select parties of ministers and Christian workers of London, speaking of the Higher Christian Life. It will be recalled that Boardman's popular book had appeared in 1859 and was very popular in Britain. It was reprinted in many editions in England and one publisher alone sold 60,000 copies of it before 1874 (p. 473). Large popular meetings followed, climaxing with the great Oxford Union Meeting of September, 1874. Another influential perfectionist teacher appeared along with Boardman and Smith. This was Dr. Asa Mahan, the outstanding Oberlin perfectionist. During the next year, 1874 - 1875, such meetings continued in England, and Smith also preached in Germany with remarkable results. It is noteworthy that the Smith - Boardman meetings coincided with the two year Moody - Sankey campaign in England and Scotland, which began in June, 1873. Warfield says the Higher Life movement was "embroidered" on the Moody - Sankey evangelistic campaign (p. 470).
The Oxford meeting of 1874 was amazingly effective, so that the teaching and interest spread through Britain and over to the Continent. Smith preached at Berlin, Basel, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Barmen. Smith returned to England and led a great international convocation at Brighton from May 29 to June 7, 1875. Plans for continuing the campaign were suddenly broken off when it was announced that Mr. Smith's engagements had been canceled and that he had returned to America. Apparently, Smith had "lapsed into antinomianism" (p. 508) and had said that those who are in Christ are no longer subject to the law of God, as the rule of their conduct. Smith went into retirement for the rest of his life.
The Higher Life movement of the 1870s was carried on in the Keswick movement in Britain and in the "Heiligungsbewegung" (Holiness Movement) in Germany. Warfield believed that these movements "kept the essential teaching but mitigated some of the most objectionable features" (p. 556)
At the beginning of this paper, there was mentioned the movement from the Congregational side -- the "new divinity". This movement produced Oberlin College under the leadership of C.G. Finney and Asa Mahan. The appearance of Mahan with Boardman and Smith at the Oxford meeting in 1874 was symbolic and significant. Perfectionism from the Wesleyan side and the "new divinity" side were in essential agreement. Warfield's summary brings these strands together: "Mahan's life long propaganda of the earlier form of Oberlin Perfectionism was not barren of fruit. The 'Higher Life Movement' which swept over the English-speaking world -- and across the narrow seas into the continent of Europe -- in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, was not without traits which derived from Oberlin. And Mahan lived to stand by the side of Pearsall Smith at the great Oxford Convention of 1874, and to become with him a factor in the inauguration of the great "Keswick Movement," which has brought down much of the spirit and many of the forms of teaching of Oberlin Perfectionism to our own day. If Oberlin Perfectionism is dead, it has found its grave not in the abyss of non-existence, but in the Higher Life Movement, the Keswick Movement, the Victorious Life Movement, and other kindred forms of perfectionist teaching. They are its abiding monuments." (p. 213)
Warfield's extensive research in the backgrounds of perfectionism makes us aware of the principal forces and historical developments which entered into the emergence of perfectionist teaching in nineteenth century America. The review of Boardman and Smith points out the dominant influence of the Wesleyan teaching. Mrs. Smith's Quakerism contributed a strain of mystical quietism, while the appearance of Mahan with Boardman and Smith in London in 1874 represents the pelagianizing new divinity from New England. This latter movement is examined in detail (p. 1 - 214) under the title "Oberlin Perfectionism." The last section of this article reviews the theology of Charles G. Finney. It is most instructive as an exercise in systematic theology, since it shows forcefully the interrelations of Finney's Pelagianism throughout his system, and sets in clear light his unsatisfactory governmental doctrine of the atonement. The effects of mysticism on perfectionist doctrine is shown in Warfield's exposition, "The Mystical Perfectionism of Thomas Cogswell Upham," (p. 337 - 459). A more general article on "Mysticism" is also found in the volume, Studies in Theology. Upham (1799 - 1872) was a brilliant and able teacher of psychology and philosophy at Bowdoin College. Warfield characterizes him thus: "He was a Congregationalist before he became a Methodist Perfectionist -- a Congregationalist of the 'New Divinity' type, and holding the 'New Divinity' firmly, though not in an extreme form. What we have to do within him, accordingly, is a somewhat mild 'New Divinity' Congregationalism, overlaid with Wesleyan Perfectionism, endeavoring to read the quietism of Madame Guyon in harmony with itself." (p. 373)
Warfield sums up the findings of his wide-ranging and thorough investigation of perfectionism: ". . . as wave after wave of the 'holiness movement' has broken over us during the past century, each has brought, no doubt, something distinctive of itself. But a common fundamental character has informed them all, and this common fundamental character has been communicated to them by the Wesleyan doctrine. In all of them alike, justification and sanctification are divided from one another as two separate gifts of God. In all of them alike, sanctification is represented as obtained, just like justification, by an act of simple faith, but not by the same act of faith by which justification is obtained, but a new and separate act of faith, exercised for this specific purpose. In all of them alike the sanctification which comes on this act of faith, comes immediately on believing, and all at once, and in all of them alike this sanctification, thus received is complete sanctification. In all of them alike, however, it is added, that this complete sanctification does not bring freedom from all sin; but only, say, freedom from sinning; or only freedom from conscious sinning; or from the commission of 'known sins.' And in all of them alike this sanctification is not a stable condition into which we enter once for all by faith, but a momentary attainment, which must be maintained moment by moment, and which may readily be lost and often is lost, but may also be repeatedly instantaneously recovered."
Such is perfectionism as Warfield saw it. In reply, he constantly reiterated the teaching of Romans 6. "The whole sixth chapter of Romans, for example, was written for no other purpose than to assert and demonstrate that justification and sanctification are indissolubly bound together; that we cannot have one without having the other; that, to use its own figurative language, dying with Christ and living with Christ are integral elements in one indisintegrable salvation. To wrest these two things apart and make separable gifts of grace of them evinces a confusion in the conception of Christ's salvation which is nothing less than portentous. It forces from us the astonished cry, 'Is Christ divided?' And it compels us to point afresh to the primary truth that we do not obtain the benefits of Christ apart from, but only in and with His Person; and that when we have Him we have all." (p. 569)
One of the most remarkable features of B.B. Warfield's total literary production is the quantity of work produced at the very end of his life in the investigation of the roots of perfectionism. The two volumes of collected articles entitled Studies in Perfectionism, (N.Y., 1931), contain 1,000 pages of very thorough historical and theological discussions.
A preceding article (Salt, Vol. 5, No. 2, Nov. 1974) gave a sketch of the contents of the second volume, since it dealt with the American origins of perfectionistic teaching, and only slightly touched on the exportation of the movement to England and the continent.
The first volume of Studies may at first seem to be of less immediate relevance and interest to American readers. It is probably for that reason that only two of its articles have been included in the later volume Perfectionism, reprinted in 1958.
Though, (or perhaps, because) the first volume deals with phases of perfectionism in Germany, it can be very instructive in understanding the problems which perfectionism raises. Since Hebrews assures us that without holiness no one will see the Lord, the very importance of the topic gives relevance to the remarkable history of perfectionism in German theology. On the one hand, there appeared in Albrecht Ritschl and his successors an exegetical perfectionism. That is, the Ritschlian rationalistic treatment of the Christian life ran to the extreme of asserting that the apostle Paul taught perfectionism. Of course, Ritschl and the rest did not believe in the objective reality of perfectionism: fastening this teaching on Paul, thus making him appear extreme and fanatical, only served to discredit supernatural Christianity.
Perfectionism had another course of development in Germany. Pearsall Smith made a brief and dramatic tour of Germany in 1875, and addressing large audiences through interpreters, powerfully presented perfectionistic teachings. The impulse of Smith's preaching, as Warfield saw it, was grafted on to what was known as the "Fellowship Movement," which descended from the pietism of an earlier time. The last two articles in Warfield's volume trace this development. Chapter six, "Die Heiligungsbewegung." (The Holiness Movement) is a comprehensive sketch of the perfectionistic development, from its American beginnings in W.H. Boardman, through Pearsall Smith and the Oxford conference in 1875, and the attendant transplantation of the teaching to France and Germany. The polemical strife which perfectionism produced in the Fellowship Movement, with the ultimate separation of the Fellowship Movement and the Gnadau Conference from perfectionism, will be traced in greater detail in this paper.
The last chapter of Warfield's volume, "The German Higher Life Movement in Its Chief Exponent," is not easy reading. It is Warfield's masterly analysis of the progress of the thought of Theodore Jellinghaus. Jellinghaus attended the Oxford Conference, and took up the exciting emphasis of Pearsall Smith. He grafted perfectionism on to his "mediating theology" received from C.F.K. von Hofmann at Erlangen, and wrote the definitive theology of the Fellowship-perfectionist movement: The Complete, Present Salvation through Christ (first edition, 1880). After this work went through several editions -- the last in 1903 -- Jellinghaus in 1912 dramatically renounced the perfectionist emphasis with the publication of a book entitled Avowals about my Doctrinal Errors, and turned toward stable Reformation doctrine.
We turn, then, to a brief commentary on Warfield's study on the rationalistic handling of the theme of the Christian life.
Warfield's first two chapters form a unitary study: "Albrecht Ritschl and His Doctrine of Christian Perfection: Article I. Ritschl the Rationalist," and "Article II. Ritschl the Perfectionist."
Warfield believed that "The perfectionist teaching of Ritschl presents a highly individual example of a Pelagianizing Perfectionism quite independent of all either Mystical or Wesleyan influences." (p. 4). Ritschl denied any native bias to sin in men. Every man comes into the world with a bias to good, and yet every man forms an evil moral character. This he does because of the evil of society which infects every man with a social inheritance of evil. Nevertheless, Ritschl apparently believed and taught that just as a man forms an evil character, he is capable of reversing his activities, and revolutionizing his character. Being motivated by the community in which he lives, he may help to build up a Kingdom of God in which he may be perfect.
Ritschl constantly asserted an independent power of the human will: the will has power to determine itself. Warfield remarks: "Though all explanation of the possibility of the exercise of such an independent power of the will fails, "the assertion of its reality is persistent." (p. 7).
Thus Ritschl was confronted with the fact of man's universal sinfulness, contradicting his doctrine of the independent power of the will. He believed that the universality of sin ". . . is due to the reaction of the uniformed will to the temptation of social life. . . Ritschl does not scruple to say that in the environment with which man is thrust he cannot avoid sinning." (p. 14). Warfield rejoins ". . . the cause of sin must be found in something in the sinner rather than in something in his environment" (p. 15). "It is not altogether easy to comprehend how Ritschl, with his descriptions of the depth of the evil which pervades the kingdom of sin, preserves any individual from the full strength of this bias to evil. It must be that, after all, he thinks of sin lightly." (p. 18).
Warfield further traces in Ritschl a defective view of the soul. There is not really a substantially existing soul: the soul exists only in the multiplicity of its functions. The possibility of character and immortality are denied (p. 21).
Further, as Warfield notes ". . . it is not the soul of man alone which is dissolved in the acid of Ritschl's non-substantial metaphysics. The being of God is dissolved in it also." (p. 23). He knew of no trinity, no pre-existent Christ, and no personal Holy Spirit (p. 23).
In the final analysis, Ritschl eliminated supernaturalism from Christianity: ". . . the proclamation of the Gospel and the impression made on men by the personality of Christ bring about their justification and regeneration. . . by awakening faith in them." (p. 27). He explains regeneration wholly within the sphere of human action (p. 29). "Jesus Christ does not live in His church. It is only His Gospel -- the memory of him -- which lives in it and works the conversion of men." (p. 35). "The whole truth is that Ritschl in contending for 'the dependence of Christianity on the historical revelation of God in Christ' is not neglecting merely, but denying, the dependence of vital Christianity on the immediate operations of the Spirit of God in the heart." (p. 36).
Ritschl was a thorough-going anti-supernaturalist (p. 37). He did not teach the proper deity of Christ (p. 40). "Like Jesus, and under the impulse received from him (through the community), we are to live in faith, humility, patience, thankfulness, and the practice of love in the kingdom of God. Doing so, we shall be divine as he, doing so, was divine. This is to Ritschl the entirety of Christianity: and this is at bottom just a doctrine of 'imitation' of the 'religion of Jesus.' " (p. 46).
Though Ritschl was thus an anti-supernaturalistic rationalist, yet he ". . . clothes his naturalistic system with the terms of supernaturalism, or, to be more precise, of conservative evangelicalism. He himself thought of this procedure as a reminting of the old coin; it is not strange that the evangelical public itself looked upon it as rather counterfeiting it." (p. 49). The effect, of course, was that the public was deceived. It is not difficult to recognize in the description of Ritschl's system the outlines of the "modernism" or "Liberalism" which persists and underlies much of so-called Christianity today.
Upon this rationalistic anti-supernaturalistic system Ritschl nevertheless advanced a doctrine of perfection. Warfield's second article "Ritschl the Perfectionist" expounds Ritschl's teaching. ". . . Ritschl's whole doctrine of sin, guilt, forgiveness, reconciliation moves, not in the realm of realities, but in that of the subjective consciousness." (p. 57). We are not really under condemnation: justification is simply the assurance that we are wrong in thinking that we are, and that all is well with us.
Warfield shows that Ritschl presented justification as "a profoundly immoral doctrine" (p. 64) because God simply arbitrarily forgives sin, as He must, since there was no expiatory or sin-bearing character in the work of Christ.
Warfield then expounds Ritschl's conception of the Christian life, and in so doing exposes Ritschl's perfectionism. "We perceive that Ritschl's conception of the Christian life amounts briefly to just this: free ethical life inspired by a sense of wellpleasingness to God. Justification is viewed as the assumption of a new attitude of trust towards God and entrance, in this trust, into participation in God's aims to found an ethical Kingdom; and this Kingdom of God is viewed as the society of those animated by this motive and sharing in this endeavor. Justification thus prepares for the ethical effort, the Kingdom of God is its sphere. This free ethical life under this inspiration constitutes now Christian perfection, in Ritschl's nomenclature; that is to say, it is all that is necessary to have in order to be a Christian -- it makes us perfectly Christian though it may not make us perfect Christians." (p. 68).
Warfield shows that Ritschl regarded his doctrine of Christian perfection as embodying the essence of his religious teaching (p. 70). "Ritschl did not make little of his doctrine of Christian perfection, or thrust it into a corner." (p. 72).
In a very effective section, Warfield compares Ritschl's conception of the Christian life with that expressed by Melancthon in the Augsburg Confession. "According to the Confession the Christian life receives its form from three fundamental reactions. These are sincere fear of God, assurance of His reconciliation through Christ, and confidence that He will answer the prayers of His people." (p. 75). Ritschl, however, transposed these Evangelical themes into the rationalistic key: there is no God to dread, since He is love and only love. He needs no placating sacrifice, and He does not answer prayer (p. 76).
Warfield approaches the detailed discussion of Ritschl as perfectionist by ascertaining his doctrine of salvation. ". . . justification, reconciliation, regeneration, have as their aim, and issue into, a purely subjective change, that and that only. We need not, because of them, find ourselves in any objectively different situation from that occupied before; we in point of fact, do not. There has come about a change only in our tone of feeling.' " (p. 79). Ritschl conceives eternal life to mean an attitude toward the actual course of this world. This attitude is a 'tone of feeling.' ". . . it is now, this general point of view or tone of feeling' (Gesinnung) which constitutes, on the religious side, what Ritschl calls Christian Perfection. He who is of this way of thinking and feeling is a Christian, and is all that he need be, from the religious point of view, in order to be all that a Christian is." (pp. 84-5). Ritschl's idea of perfection emerges in the description of the Christian's ethical task, which is making God's self-end his own, and God's self-end is the Kingdom of God. "He that is faithful in his vocation has performed his whole duty in the Kingdom of God, and, being thus whole in himself, is perfect" (p. 86). Warfield comments: "we perceive that the chief concern which Ritschl shows in developing his doctrine of vocation is to utilize it so to limit the range of duty as to make it possible for the Christian man to be ethically as well as religiously perfect" (p. 87). Ritschl ". . . repels the evangelical doctrine that even in the state of grace we must always be mindful of the imperfection of our moral conduct, so that we may never be tempted to depend for our salvation on our own works, which never meet the demands of the law, but only on Christ received by faith alone." (p. 87). Warfield believed that one of Ritschl's leading motives was to find a remedy for the Protestant perplexity regarding the assurance of salvation (p. 88). Warfield is surely right in assuring us that ". . . to find salvation in progress is as sound evidence of salvation as to find it completed -- provided salvation be a supernatural work" (p. 88). Perfectionism spoils this assurance, because ". . . in proportion as it is made the Christian's duty not so much to work out his salvation continuously, but to enjoy it at once in its completeness, the believer, conscious of sin, loses his confidence that he is a believer at all. If this attainment of complete salvation is made coincident with justification, all sense of continued sinfulness is a clear disproof of present salvation." (p. 89). On pp. 90-1, Warfield gives an eloquent exposition of the Reformation doctrine of the Christian life. If our sense of sin makes us dissatisfied with ourselves and more satisfied with Christ, we may find assurance in Him. Ritschl taught, however, that the satisfaction of the Christian has its ground in himself. Ritschl apparently actually undertook to prove that the Reformers in teaching dissatisfaction with ourselves were at odds with the Scriptures. "The exegetical justification of this contention he seeks to supply in a passage in the closing pages of the second volume of his main work which has become famous and which has exerted a greater influence than any other portion of his of the perfection of the Christian. In this passage Ritschl declares that the relation in which the Reformers place the believer's supposed consciousness of continued imperfection to justification was wholly unknown to Paul." (p. 91). This sense of dissatisfaction was repugnant, and impossible to Ritschl, so that he was compelled to develop a conception of the Christian life which involved perfection (p. 94). That perfection, however, had the fatal error attaching to all perfectionism -- the antinomian substitution of a standard other than the law of God. "In the absolute freedom of his will he chooses his own end; and that end determines his rules of living for him. These are the elements of Ritschl's ethics." (p. 97).
Warfield forthrightly attacked Ritschl's construction as immoral (p. 100). "We perceive that Ritschl holds strongly that every transgression of moral law is sin and that there can be no perfection where the whole moral law is not kept. His mode of escape is to deny the validity of all 'statutory law.' There is no such thing as a universal moral law imposing duty in all its items on all men alike. Each man secretes for himself his own moral law, and in order to be perfect must fulfill only it in all its requirements" (p. 101). Ritschl's perfection, like all perfectionism, is a delusion.
In this paper, it will be impossible to trace in detail the development of Ritschl's influence, as expounded by Warfield in the section entitled "Miserable-sinner Christianity in the Hands of the Rationalists." Warfield traces the development of Ritschl's ideas over a period of some thirty-five years, from the publication of Ritschl's work on justification in 1874, through the discussion provoked by the work of Wernle in 1897. This in turn led to a development in liberal exegesis which came to final expression in the work of Windisch in 1908.
Warfield's estimate of the effect of the rationalistic assault on Reformation doctrine was that it helped the perfectionist parties at work in the church. It was ". . . in effect an attempt to supply to the contentions of these perfectionist parties a scientific exegetical basis. . ." (p. 298). Of course, the rationalist held the Methodist in contempt: "Bousset, in the very act of declaring that, among modern religious tempers, that embodied in Methodistic Christianity comes nearest to the Christianity of Paul, remarks that nevertheless to modern men it is abhorrent. . ." (p. 298). The purpose of the Rationalists was to assault the Reformation teaching, and they saw in the perfectionist movements similar revolts against the Reformation doctrine of the Christian life and the process of salvation (p. 299). The Rationalist, though despising the perfectionist, claimed him as an independent witness to the correctness of the Rationalist interpretation of the New Testament.
Parallel to and contemporaneous with the Rationalistic development which has just been traced, was another movement in Germany, known as the Fellowship Movement. It had sprung from Pietistic sources. Layen within the national church carried on a varied work of hospitals, orphan asylums, and Bible schools. Warfield felt that the movement represented the formation of a "great German Free Church." (p. 308). It was a revolt from the idea of a state church. It was partly parallel to the Keswick Movement, (p. 312) having received the ministry of Robert Pearsall Smith. It was a holiness movement, and the Gnadau Conference was the center of its public life.
Warfield gives some of the eyewitness accounts of the excitement attending Smith's ministry in Germany which moulded the Pietistic tendencies into a movement. Warfield regarded the movement as a prolongation of the American Holiness movement, and the immediate effect of the "very extravagant English upheaval." (p. 323). The movement had extravagant and fanatical perfectionist tendencies, and these were accentuated by "a staggering blow from the importation in the spring of 1905 of the Welsh Revival with more than the Welsh excesses." (p. 326). That was followed by the impact of the Pentecost Movement, stemming from the Los Angeles Revival of 1907.
We need to recognize at this point that the Holiness movement in America had undergone a development. It is now generally recognized that the Pentecostal movement appeared in Holiness circles. Donald W. Dayton says: "Many interpreters fail to distinguish between the holiness movement and Pentecostalism. There are many similarities and historical connections. In the late nineteenth century, holiness writers began to speak of 'entire sanctification' as a baptism of the Holy Spirit' on the model of Pentecost. It was in this milieu and thought pattern that Pentecostalism was born in America." (The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 475a). See also the article "Pentecostal Churches" by R.S. Clouse in the same volume.
Under the impulse of the Pentecostal idea, one of the leaders of the Gnadau Conference, Pastor Paul, began to speak in tongues (p. 327). The excesses of Pentecostal manifestations provoked a reaction. Pastor Paul's perfectionism, linked to Pentecostal motifs, was condemned by Gnadau in 1911: "We must cease to offer salvation to our people in three distinct stages, (1) forgiveness of sins, (2) sanctification, (3) the Baptism of the Spirit." (p. 329).
Warfield analyzes Pastor Paul's doctrine, and finds that it did not differ from ordinary Wesleyan teaching, particularly in the sharp separation between sanctification and justification, and in teaching an immediate santification on faith, by which the sinful nature is eradicated (p. 332).
These developments caused the leading theologian of the movement, Theodore Jellinghaus, to break with the excesses and produce a book entitled Avowals about My Doctrinal Errors (1912). Many people apparently followed Jellinghaus' cry "Back to the Reformation."
The last article of Perfectionism -- I, is a detailed study of the teaching of Jellinghaus. It parallels the one just reviewed, but brings under scrutiny the influential book of Jellinghaus, which was written out of the inspiration received at the Smith-Oxford Conference of 1874.
Jellinghaus was a Lutheran, but his doctrine had become "mediating" under the influence of C.F.K. von Hofmann, who had taken away from him the central doctrine of the penal satisfaction of Christ (p. 349). His mystical doctrine of redemption combined with Smith's teaching of sanctification by faith alone. (p. 350).
The net result of Warfield's detailed review of Jellinghaus is to show the instability of attempting to separate justification from sanctification, instead of linking them together: one salvation received by faith from the one Savior; justification by faith, and through justification, sanctification.
The 1,000 pages of Warfield's Studies in Perfectionism are rewarding reading, and a must for understanding the modern charismatic movement. Along with it should be read Counterfeit Miracles. I should say that both of these works lie in the area of a Theology of the Holy Spirit, and give massive support to the Reformation viewpoint. Both of these works lie near the end of Warfield's life: Counterfeit Miracles appeared in 1918; and the articles now found in Studies in Perfectionism appeared at the very end: some in fact were published after his death. These massive productions of the last decade of the great theologian's life bear out in a broad way the schematic suggestion of our first study. The major emphasis of Warfield's thought may be traced by decades: 1880-1890 emphasized Biblical foundations; 1890-1900 brought the clash with McGiffert over Christian origins; 1900-1910 was Christological; 1910-1920 logically was concerned with the application of redemption and the theology of the Holy Spirit. No doubt Warfield held the whole grand system from the beginning. It was only as the advance of rationalistic liberalism successively attacked first the Scriptures and then Christ and the salvation accomplished by Him, that Warfield responded with his masterly analysis. The Studies in Perfectionism must stand as a model of immensely thorough and learned defense of the Biblical doctrine of the Christian life. The very thoroughness of Warfield's analysis speaks of the importance of the subject and his deep concern for a sound doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
There is now available a bibliography of Warfield's published works by John E. Meeter and Roger Nicole: A Bibliography of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield: 1851-1921, issued by the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. Much more material is now available and better perspective of Warfield's breadth of learning is now possible. One can hope that in due time an adequate biography will be written.
It was moved that Synod receive the reports and make them available for study to the presbyteries and sessions and to continue the committee to revise the report for the 154th General Synod.
An amendment was passed that the report be placed early in next year's docket. A further amendment that Synod instruct the presbyteries to report their findings back to the committee by January, 1976. The main motion as amended carried.
[Documents of Synod, pages 289-300.]
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