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?
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