Skip to comments.Why “Let Go and Let God” Is a Bad Idea
Posted on 06/22/2014 11:28:54 AM PDT by SoFloFreeper
What is let-go-and-let-God theology? Its called Keswick theology, and its one of the most significant strands of second-blessing theology. It assumes that Christians experience two blessings. The first is getting saved, and the second is getting serious. The change is dramatic: from a defeated life to a victorious life; from a lower life to a higher life; from a shallow life to a deeper life; from a fruitless life to a more abundant life; from being carnal to being spiritual; and from merely having Jesus as your Savior to making Jesus your Master. People experience this second blessing through surrender and faith: Let go and let God.
Keswick theology comes from the early Keswick movement. Keswick (pronounced KE H-zick) is a small town in the scenic Lake District of northwest England. Since 1875, it has hosted a weeklong meeting in July for the Keswick Convention. The movements first generation (about 1875 1920) epitomized what we still call Keswick theology today.
People who influenced Keswick theology include John Wesley, Charles Finney, and Hannah Whitall Smith. Significant proponents of Keswick theology include Evan H. Hopkins (Keswicks formative theologian), H. Moule (Keswicks scholar and best theologian), F. B. Meyer (Keswicks international ambassador), Andrew Murray (Keswicks foremost devotional author), J. Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael (Keswicks foremost missionaries), Frances Havergal (Keswicks hymnist), and W. H. Griffith Thomas, and Robert C. McQuilkin (leaders of the victorious life movement). People who were influenced by Keswick theology include leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (A. B. Simpson), Moody Bible Institute (D. L. Moody and R. A. Torrey), and Dallas Seminary (Lewis Chafer and Charles Ryrie).
Beginning in the 1920s, the Keswick Conventions view of sanctification began to shift from the view promoted by the leaders of the early convention. William Scroggie (1877 1958) led that transformation to a view of sanctification closer to the Reformed view. The official Keswick Convention that now hosts the annual Keswick conferences holds a Reformed view of sanctification and invites speakers who are confessionally reformed.
Keswick theology is pervasive because countless people have propagated it in so many ways, especially in sermons and devotional writings. It is appealing because Christians struggle with sin and want to be victorious in that struggle now. Keswick theology offers a quick fix, and its shortcut to instant victory appeals to genuine longings for holiness.
Keswick theology, however, is not biblically sound. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
1. Disjunction: It creates two categories of Christians. This is the fundamental, linchpin issue. 2. Perfectionism: It portrays a shallow and incomplete view of sin in the Christian life. 3. Quietism: It tends to emphasize passivity, not activity. 4. Pelagianism: It tends to portray the Christians free will as autonomously starting and stopping sanctification. 5. Methodology: It tends to use superficial formulas for instantaneous sanctification. 6. Impossibility: It tends to result in disillusionment and frustration for the have-nots. 7. Spin: It tends to misinterpret personal experiences.
You can tell that Keswick theology has influenced people when you hear a Christian testimony like this: I was saved when I was eight years old, and I surrendered to Christ when I was seventeen.
By saved, they mean that Jesus became their Savior and that they became a Christian. By surrendered, they mean that they gave full control of their lives to Jesus as their Master, yielded to do whatever He wanted them to do, and dedicated themselves through surrender and faith. That two-tiered view of the Christian life is let-go-and-let-God theology.
The Keswick Convention commendably emphasized personal holiness and left a legacy of Christian service, but holy and fruitful living by no means distinguishes Keswick theology from other views. All of the major views on sanctification have adherents who are exemplary, inspiring Christians, and disagreeing with a particular view of sanctification in no way questions the devotion to Christ of those who hold that view.
We shouldnt determine our view of sanctification by counting up who we perceive to be the most holy Christians and seeing which view has the most. Scripture, and Scripture alone, must determine our view of sanctification.
As John Murray reminds us, The cause neither of truth nor of love is promoted by suppressing warranted criticism. Constructively criticizing a faulty view of sanctification can actually advance the cause of truth and love.
‘Let go and let God’ is a life-saving prayer for many of us who struggle in our daily lives with bad habits. We learn to let go of our attachments, especially the wicked ones, and turn them over to God. ‘Let go and let God’ is a simple prayer, complete in itself. Like most prayers, it works best when repeated over and over.
Advanced theologians might disagree, but I stick with what works.
I see nothing wrong with it.
I think it was Steven King who wrote “There may be farries and there may be elves but God helps those who help themselves.”
Shouldn’t this be in “Religion” or maybe “Chat?”
Sounds like what happens to a lot of people. You accept Christ but there is no immediate change outside of that, you have to struggle for a while before you can say you have truly left the world behind.
Obviously this won’t happen to a lot of people who will struggle with sin and temptation to sin all their lives.
That's an obvious step in the right direction for many.
Many people want to become Christians but how many truly surrender? How many people can truly say they are no longer concerned about worldly things and can ignore temptations that had haunted them before?
I think this article is a bit misleading. It imposes with a broad stroke second blessing Pentecostal theology on Keswick. If one reads a collection of sermons from the forst 50 years of Keswick as can be found in Keswick’s Authentic Voice, Herbert F. stevenson 1875 - 1957. I don’t think one can come to the conclusions summed up in this article. Such great pastors and theologians as Andrew Murray of South Africa and Oswald Chambers hardly downplayed sin or nor advocated perfectionism or a second real salvation experience. I think many people desired and had experienced a indwelling and fullness of the Holy Spirit that empowered them to live victorious lives overcoming sin daily that was sought after and encouraged as a reality as one becomes more yielded to God and His word. How this conflicts with orthodox Christian theology is not apparent. What it conflicts with is certain theological positions that assert nothing else is required after one is in a salvific relationship with God.
A favorite period of mine. Btw, I don’t believe Finney had anything to do with Keswick. However, a real emphasis was placed on sanctification and its concomitant effects. There likely were people who continued in veins of thought that would be considered wrong by many as this was the pre-Pentecostal movement but when people were still serious scholars and not driven by simple emotional experiences outside of scriptural balance. It was nondenominational so obviously divergent views would be expressed. Much of the Protestant missionary zeal of the late 19th and early 20th century coincided and is a direct result of these meetings and we could only do as well today.
I don’t of any Christians who have surrendered to God. By surrender, I mean relinquishing complete control to God. That’s what surrender means. If that were even possible, it would mean that that Christian no longer sins, because God does not sin. If I’m surrendered, i.e. 100%, totally in accord with His will, then I must not ever sin again. That contradicts scripture. The only person to achieve surrender to God was Christ.
That does not mean that I can’t have peace with God through Christ. I can by confessing my sins and asking Christ to forgive me. ONLY Christ has the authority to judge my salvation. It was given to Him by the Father.
I also agree that it’s good to try and let God lead a person in all things, but being the imperfect people we are, we’re going to continue to fall short. We still need periodic washing. I believe this is what Christ meant when He washed the apostles’ feet. They were only a little bit dirty.
Obviously this wont happen to anyone, because we all struggle with sin and temptation and continue to sin all our lives.
One can only hope to sin far far less.
“The author’s beef is not with the prayer, but with the idea that Christ can be one’s Savior without being one’s Master.”
Many Christians slip into a life of sin or self-control. The church of Corinth a prime example. In all Paul’s discipline, he never said they were not believers. He exhorted them to walk with Christ.
That any believer anywhere would come to the place spiritually, where she realizes she has never submitted to Christ as Lord of here life, is a good thing.
I wish more would do so.
Absolutely. My point, and the author's, is that such a person never genuinely accepted Christ as Savior - a realization that is a good thing as it gives one the opportunity to correct that.
well said. It does work. God’s in charge. It is nice to do the footwork and take responsibility for my actions and also let the all powerful do His job with other people, places, and things which are truly out of my control. Unless I want to choose to be deluded otherwise—which isa always an option and often a painfully, sad one at that.
” from a defeated life to a victorious life;”
As far as I know this is a change which occurs in the heart and may not at all be accompanied any sort of earthly victory. God’s definition, as far as I can perceive, of ‘victory’ is attaining Heaven AFTER your life.
The author is correct in insisting that sanctification is not a work. It is not the result of making a right decision (a work). Sanctification is simply God using actions committed in His name for His purposes. They are “in spite of my failings” actions taken up and blessed by divine spirit. Sanctification is not a reflection of the individual’s state of spirituality. It is God using the actions of His servants.
Paul taught us all that we needed to “renew your mind to the Word of God”. God did NOT tell us to just sit idly by and God will do everything for us. We are required to read the Bible and pray .. and help other people (charity).
However, I’ve met a lot of Christians and the main reason between enjoying your new life in Christ .. is your level of faith.
Faith comes by, hearing and hearing, by the Word of God. Which means that the more you read and study the Word, the more faith you will acquire .. faith that what God has said in the scriptures is true.
I have 30 years of testimonies about God’s ability to heal, and restore. The secret for me was accepting the Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Whether you believe in that or not, God never required it, He only invited those who believe (in Christ), to come and receive. But, when you do receive it, it increases your faith in God’s word, and thus you do experience a higher level of life in Christ.
I am living proof.
But still he writes the most horrible stories that any screwed up mind could imagine.
My concern is that his renewing of his mind has a long, long way to go.
What points did the writer make that you disagree with, and where did he go biblically wrong?
Early on in sobriety I met a young black kid with needle tracks up and down both arms. One night at a meeting he said “I hear people say ‘Fake it til you make it.’ I ain’t doin’ that because I’m afraid when I die God’s gonna’ say ‘Well, you was fakin” it so you didn’t make it.’”
I see nothing wrong with it.
I lived some of my early Christian years in a church that had Keswick overtones, and more than once I heard someone say something like, “I made Christ Lord of my life.” Rather illogical.
I’ve never taken “Let go and let God” to mean what many are saying on here - that there is some two-tiered understanding of salvation.
I’ve always understood it to mean that we are not to concern ourselves with the results of our efforts, but to let God take care of that. We are called to obedience, not so much results.
A story I heard once illustrates this:
God came to a new believer one day.
“What can I do for you, Father? How can I serve you?”, the believer asked.
God pointed to a large boulder. “I want you to push that rock”.
The believer immediately ran to the rock and began to push against it with all of his might. No matter what he did, the rock did not move. He looked around and God was not visible to him anymore. He returned to pushing on the rock.
He continued to push against the rock hour after hour, day after day, for many years. He pushed when it was hot, cold, stormy, clear. He pushed with all of his might every day.
One day, years later, God came to him again. “How are you, my friend?”, He asked.
“I am frustrated and I am angry”, said the believer. “You told me to push on this rock and I have done so. I have been faithful and pushed with all of my might. And the rock has not moved even a little bit. Why would you give me such an impossible task?”
God replied, “I did not give you an impossible task. I asked you to push the rock. You have been faithful and obedient and have done as I asked.” He paused. “I did not ask you to move the rock, only to push.”
“Now, I will move the rock”.
I think that’s more of the meaning I take from the phrase, “Let go and let God”. We do what we are asked and let God take care of the results.
Bingo. I made Him Lord.
(means... “shhh.... I’m Lord”)
The Reformation needs a reformation.
I became a Christian at 21 not coming from a Christian home, and entered the ministry after college. All my training and study was Keswick-based.....and my ministry. I have studied all of the teachers mentioned initially in this article. There is much that is true and good in it.
But at the core is a key error, I believe. It indeed gives man credit for some level of performance. And it does often divide believers into two groups: those who know they are “failures”, defeated, and cannot make the grade; and those who think they are indeed “fully committed” and sold out to the Lord - and who become proud of their ‘spirituality’, and better Christians than others. i.e., Christian Pharisees. ref. Luke 18:9.
Pride - spiritual pride - is the greatest sin of most Christians who think they are spiritual. (What is the most lacking single element of the character of the Lord Jesus in Christian leaders today? Humility.)
No one ever completely surrenders to the Lord. Only Jesus did. It is a life-long process, being conformed to His image, knowing Him more, yielding more to Him as we learn his love and amazing grace.
We never “arrive” at any one state that changes us. If we walk in His grace and love, we change daily - though that cannot be measured or seen. He is the one who changes us, transforms us, as we come to know Him more and more.
It was at the end of Paul’s life that he wrote Philippians 3:8 - 13. His goal from the day of his conversion had not changed.
Having this attitude (Phil. 2:1-8) is one of them greatest missing elements of modern Christianity - in believers of all stripes and colors.
I think of it more like, "God can move mountains, but you better bring a shovel."
Hardly know what to make of this one. Is the author a Christian?
Makes about as much sense as an argument over whether one larger angel or two smaller angels can dance on the head of a pin...
Then again, my mother had the gift of faith - which is more than the grace of faith all Christians have to believe. When she prayed about something, that was it, done deal. She laid it down and walked away - what this author would call "let go and let God."
Most of us tend to pray about something, let go, then pick it up again, pray again, lay it down - on and on.
But mom did not doubt God. She didn't worry, fear or complain. Done deal. Many miracles happened in and around my mother's life. Healing miracles, of course, and more.
So, yeah, the author's position sounds very strange to me.
We are grateful for her example and that you honor her.
Thank you for your encouragements, dear aposiopetic!
Unfortunately, it sounds like you aren’t letting go if you have to keep repeating it.
I think it is less of “turn it over to God” but more like “the lilies of the field”. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will wear (like the Pharisees did) but trust that God knows what He is doing.
Too often, turning things over to God becomes “hoping for the outcome you desire without working for it” or “assigning God a task like He is your employee”. I hear this a lot in urban gospel music where God is going to pay your light bill or end your money troubles.
It fits with your idea of giving it to God and then picking it up again. You never really let go. If you trust God to pay your light bill and it didn’t get paid, did you really trust Him?
“One can only hope to sin far far less. “
God gives us grace to forgive us for our transgressions.
It’s up to us to train our minds and control our thoughts. Some days I can do it and other days, distracted, my brain ends up in the gutter.
Daily circumstances seem to be the biggest distraction in contrast to outright spiritual attacks on specific weaknesses—which do happen and reinforces in me the acknowledgement that we live in a spiritual world.
The timing of those attacks illuminates that I’m doing the right thing. It’s even humorous at times to see the enemy flailing against the fortress.
Then other times, especially when I’m tired, I leave the gate wide open and get pounded. Oops. Teach me not to do that again.
Addendum to my prior post:
“Teach me not to do that again.”
And again, and again, and again.......
“I made Christ Lord of my life. Rather illogical.”
yea! Who’d ever want to do that!
The sweetest words you'll ever hear: "My good, and faithful servant."
Talking about this subject is fraught with troubles. For instance, talking about sinning as mortal man can be very frustrating. We all do it. It can get you down and cause you to quit trying. I think it’s best to just do your best and not try to keep score. When you fall, simply get up, dust yourself off, and go back into the mode of being as good as you can be. This process should not cause you to be hyper, agitated, or finding yourself frustrated. You simply live as good as you can, and accept Jesus sacrifice to make up the difference.
Paul said something to the effect that he failed daily. None the less he kept trying. I think that’s what we need to do.
The point I’m trying to touch on, is that we should not work ourselves up over failure. Jesus doesn’t expect us to obsess on it to the point it impacts our health. We merely do the best we can in our everyday life, being cheerful and the best examples of the Christ-like lifestyle we can be.
It sounds as if you miss the subtlety in my remarks.