iSoul In the beginning is reality

E. W. Kenyon, part 2

This post continues the previous post here. McIntyre’s book provides more 19th century history and shows how E. W. Kenyon’s teachings reflected his background in the Holiness movement.

The Holiness movement in America was rooted in the Methodist church, which was the largest Protestant denomination during the nineteenth century. John Wesley had taught the doctrine of Christian perfection in earlier years, and many voices were calling the church, within and without Methodism, back to a “higher Christian life.” p.46

The most distinctive doctrine of the Holiness movement was what was known as the second work of grace. At conversion the believer’s sins were forgiven. He was justified. Then the convert was to seek an experience known as entire sanctification. This was the “second work of grace.” It consisted of an instantaneous crisis of consecration, or total abandonment to the Lord, believed to remove the sin nature which was not affected by conversion. After this crisis the believer was able to live without sinning. This experience was often referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. p.46-47

We can easily establish that Kenyon was exposed to these teachings. Kenyon was converted in a Methodist church. He spent his first years with the Lord attending a Methodist church and other Holiness meetings. He also attended services with The Salvation Army (who were among the second-work-of-grace Holiness advocates). p.46

Kenyon was, for the most part, a Holiness preacher when he pastored the Free Will Baptist church in Springville, New York (1894–1897). p.47-48

Personally, and as a pastor, Kenyon attempted to enter into an experience of entire sanctification. “In a church of which I was pastor we used to have consecration services from one to three times a week. I cannot tell you how many times I personally tried to do this,” the mourned. p.48

McIntyre then describes the teachings of the influential Phoebe Palmer (1807–1874) and others:

Palmer advocated what she called the “shorter way” into the experience of holiness. She taught that holiness was available, like justification, on the basis of faith alone. The necessary thing was to meet the conditions set forth in the Scriptures and then to believe the promises, accepting the Word of God alone as the evidence. p.50

The Free Will Baptists, with whom Kenyon was aligned at the time, were one of the denominations that embraced this teaching on holiness by faith. p.51

A positive confession of receiving the grace of sanctification was widely taught and practiced in the Holiness movement. … Palmer wrote in 1848, many years before Christian Science or New Thought developed:

But do not forget that believing with the heart, and confessing with the mouth, stand closely connected, and “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” To the degree that you rely on the faithfulness of God, O hasten to make confession with the mouth of your confidence; and to the degree you honor God, by reposing on His faithfulness, will God honor you, by conferring on you the graces of His Holy Spirit in their rich plenitude. p.51-52

Other influential teachers, including Kenyon, later reflected Palmer’s ideas of faith as a law and an unchanging principle of the kingdom [of God]. … The “law of faith” was not some rigid demand that caused God to bow to the believer’s whim, but rather a principle by which the believer met the conditions of God’s covenant promises and God performed His promise for them every time (Rom. 3:27) P.52-53

[Hannah Whitall] Smith (1832-1911) is a respected and well-known author still today. Her book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life is still quite widely read. … Smith’s book and its teachings on faith and consecration are a great representation of the teaching of the Higher Life movement, as it was often called. The idea of confession is not missing from her teaching either. She encouraged her readers:

To begin at once to reckon that you are His, that He has taken you, and that He is working in you to will and to do His good pleasure. And keep on reckoning this. You will find it a great help to put your reckoning into words, and say over and over to yourself and to your God, “Lord, I am Thine; I do yield myself up entirely to Thee, and I believe that Thou dost take me. p.58-59

Kenyon, like many other Christians of his day, had a crisis of consecration and wrote his own statement of consecration. He referred to this experience a number of times, mostly in his unpublished articles, so this event in his life is not widely known. p.60

Kenyon, while struggling with the issue of Christ’s Lordship or the necessity of total consecration of his life to God, faced … a number of what he described as “life-threatening” illnesses. He surrendered to the best of his ability to Jesus. He was dramatically healed as a result of this surrender and of the prayer of an unknown brother. … In this episode of Kenyon’s life we see both the influence of the Holiness movement and a definite experience with divine healing. p.62, 63

The next post in this series is here.

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