THE GERMAN HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT IN ITS CHIEF EXPONENT1
It was a very remarkable campaign which was conducted by Robert Pearsall Smith in Great Britain and Germany during the years 1873–1875 in the interests of what is known as “the Higher Christian Life.” It has left behind it two imposing monuments. One of them, the great “Keswick Movement,” is known wherever the English language is spoken. The other, a parallel movement in Germany, spoken of there as “Die Heiligungsbewegung,” the “Sanctification Movement,” deserves to be better known than it appears to be. It took a peculiar form, which was given it by the circumstance that it made its way primarily in, and always by means of, “the Fellowships” (Gemeinschaften) which had come down from the times of Pietistic ascendency, and were now given new life and set upon a career of rapid self-propagation, by the impulse received from Pearsall Smith. Thus the “Sanctification Movement” inaugurated by him became in its form a great “Fellowship Movement,” which has spread throughout Germany and has extended itself everywhere in a stable organization and numerous instruments of activity. The center of its public manifestation is the great Gnadau Conference.
One of the remarkable features of this “Sanctification Movement” has been that it took its color very largely from the teachings of one man. This man was Theodor Jellinghaus, who received his Higher Life doctrine from Smith and his colleagues at the great Oxford Union Meeting for the Promoting of Scriptural Holiness, in the early days of September, 1874, and who returned thence to Germany having before him his life-work of propagating it. In 1880 he published the work which became very much the doctrinal text book of the movement, under the title of “The Complete, Present Salvation through Christ.”2 Through this book, in its successive editions, and the Bible school which he founded for the training of workers for the movement, Jellinghaus was able to give to the movement its doctrinal character. This doctrinal character, while following in the main, and at first very closely, the teachings of Smith, did not exactly coincide with them in all its details, and departed more and more from them as time went on, though never fundamentally. This was clearly marked in the successive editions of the book. A particular quality of its own was thus acquired by the German Sanctification Movement, which differentiated it as a distinct species of Higher Life teaching, while it retained its generic character.
Its development on these lines proceeded with great and fruitful quietness throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century. With the twentieth century, however, a period of turmoil set in. Fanatical tendencies showed themselves, with ever increasing violence. A consequent Perfectionism endeavored to substitute itself for the moderate Perfectionism of the Higher Life teachers, and especially of Jellinghaus, the most discreet of them all. The excesses of the Welsh Revival were imported into Germany. Worst of all, the Fellowship circles were invaded by the fanaticisms of the “Pentecost Movement”—the “Los Angeles Revival,” which brought ruin in their train. The ultimate result was an immense revulsion of feeling. The whole Higher Life system which had supported the doctrinal basis of the movement from its beginning was undermined and discredited. Jellinghaus himself, who had given his life to its propagation, published, in a remarkable book, his recantation of it.3 When the Great War lowered its curtain over the land and shut off observation of the course of religious events in it, it looked very much as if the Fellowship Movement had definitely ceased to be a Higher Life movement and had returned with happy decisiveness to the Reformation for its doctrinal basis.
Inclined as we thus are to look upon the Fellowship Movement as a thing of the past so far as it was distinctively a “sanctification movement,” that is to say, so far as it was a continuation of the Higher Life Movement conveyed to Europe in 1873–1875 by Robert Pearsall Smith, it becomes desirable as a matter of history that we should make an attempt to understand the precise character of its teaching as a “sanctification movement.” It has already been pointed out that this is practically the same thing as to undertake an exposition of the Higher Life teaching of Theodor Jellinghaus.4 He wrote a number of books;5 but it is particularly his massive volume on “The Complete, Present Salvation through Christ” which claims our attention here. We have already intimated that it advances a little from edition to edition in its departure from Pearsall Smith’s teachings. It will not be necessary for us, however, to trace this advance in detail. It is not Jellinghaus’ personal growth that we are interested in; we are seeking merely to obtain through him a clear conception of the type of Higher Life teaching prevalent in the Fellowship Movement in Germany for the forty years from 1875 to 1914. We shall, then, merely take the fourth edition of Jellinghaus’ work, published in 1898—about the middle point of our period—and observe by means of it how the matter was presented to the Fellowships near the end of the quiet development of the movement, and before the turmoil of the twentieth century set in. This is the way the adherents of the movement were being taught to think at the period of its most uninterrupted development. This is the way, in other words, in which the Fellowships connected with the Gnadau Conference have been accustomed to conceive their distinctive doctrine of full salvation through faith alone.6
Jellinghaus himself7 was, in the deepest stratum of his thinking, a good Lutheran. The characteristic Lutheran doctrine of the Word, as the vehicle of the saving operations of God, remained to the end the determining element of his conception of salvation.8 Under cover of it, he was able to teach a Pelagianizing doctrine of salvation; because, in his view, the supernatural operation conveyed in the Word brings to men only the possibility (posse), not also the actualization (actio), of that surrendering faith on which everything else is suspended. That is to say, what he teaches is that everyone who hears the Word finds himself in the exact condition in which, according to Pelagius, all are by nature; he has the posse for doing all that God requires of him, and the actio is his own responsibility.
With respect to the great doctrine of redemption his original Lutheranism had, however, early given way under the disintegrating influences of his times. Already in his student days at Erlangen the teaching of C. F. K. von Hofmann had taken from him the central doctrine of the penal satisfaction of Christ, without, however, conveying to him anything positive in its stead. His positive doctrine of redemption, acquired under influences emanating ultimately from J. A. W. Neander, followed the lines of the ordinary “mystical” doctrine characteristic of the so-called “mediating theology.”9 According to this doctrine it is not the merits of Christ which we receive through faith, but Christ Himself; and, receiving Christ Himself, we share, in organic union with Him, all His achievements. As the last Adam, the new organic Head of the race, He presents Himself a pure sacrifice to God,10 dying to sin and living to righteousness; and we who are in Him by faith die with Him to sin and live with Him to righteousness. It is possible so to attenuate this doctrine as to reduce its contents to nothing more than that, under the impression received from the religious life of Christ, we too live religiously, entering thus sympathetically into inner fellowship with Him in His death and His resurrection. Then we have Ritschlianism; and Gelshorn, for example, seems half inclined to claim Jellinghaus as, for substance of doctrine, of this party.11 That, however, although not without a show of plausibility, is to do him an injustice. It is quite clear that Jellinghaus thinks of Christ not merely as, by the movingness of His example, inducing men to imitate Him, but as releasing supernatural forces by which alone they can be assimilated to Him.
By this doctrine of redemption, it is plain, on the other hand, that a wide door was opened for the entrance of Pearsall Smith’s teaching of sanctification by faith alone. It would be more exact, indeed, to say that this was already implicitly Jellinghaus’ own doctrine. It only required to be explicitly stated, therefore, to command his assent. There were elements in Pearsall Smith’s teaching, no doubt, which should have given him pause; and it is instructive to observe that, though these elements were received at first with the rest, it was precisely they to which he sat loosely and which he gradually eliminated from his teaching—thus no doubt loosening the hold upon him of the whole of which they were organic parts and preparing the way for his final discarding of the entire system. We may instance, as a striking example, the doctrine, fundamental to Pearsall Smith’s system, as to Wesley’s before him, that justification and sanctification are two separable gifts of grace to be sought and obtained separately, and standing in no other relation to one another than that the former must precede the latter. Such a conception was utterly incongruous to Jellinghaus’ doctrine of redemption by organic union with Christ, instituted by a faith which receives Himself with all that that implies. It was accepted by him accordingly only to be gradually explained away, until in the end there was nothing left of it but a few encysted phrases bearing witness to a transcended phase of teaching.
From another point of view Jellinghaus was prepared to accord a welcome to the teaching of Pearsall Smith by his ten years of missionary experience in India. By it he was deeply imbued with the spirit of evangelization. The duty and profit of offering Jesus Christ to the sinner for immediate acceptance could not be doubtful to him. Nor could it be doubtful to him that this immediate acceptance of Christ brought with it enjoyment of all that is included in Christ’s redemption. It is not strange that, with his doctrine of redemption, he was ready to understand this as the immediate enjoyment in its completeness of all that is included in Christ’s redemption. The element of “suddenness” in Smith’s doctrine was no offense to him; it rather was an attraction and fell in with his own implicit thought.
We are only surprised therefore that he tells12 us that when “in the holiness-meetings at Oxford in September, 1874, there met him, in luminous clearness, out of the Bible, the truth that in the blood and death of Jesus not only forgiveness but also direct and immediate [the emphasis is his own] breaking of the power of sin, cleansing from sin, and uninterrupted victory over sin, are to be had on the surrender of faith,” it was a “new truth” to him. What ought to have been new to him—and what ought not to have seemed true to him even temporarily—was the representation that these two blessings were not obtained together through “the surrender of faith,” but successively by two surrenders of faith. It happens not rarely, however, that men hold to their fundamental conceptions through long periods without developing them into their implications; and, when these implications are presented to them from without, embrace them with an enthusiasm which is born not more of the convincingness of their presentation than of their reinforcement from the logical relation in which they stand to their own immanent thought. And it not rarely happens in such cases that the enthusiasm with which these conceptions are embraced, when externally presented to it, carries the mind over difficulties in the mode of their presentations, and betrays it into accepting them in forms not really in harmony with its immanent thought and incapable therefore of permanent entertainment by it.
That at any rate is what happened to Jellinghaus at Oxford. He heard asserted there in the most impressive way that we receive through faith in Jesus Christ with the same directness and immediacy as deliverance from the guilt of our sins, also deliverance from their power. He could not resist this assertion; it was a necessary implicate of his own fundamental conception of redemption. In his enthusiastic acceptance of it, he took the assertion, naturally, as it was made to him; and it was made to him in a form which implied not only a notion of the relation of sanctification to justification, but a view of the nature of justification itself which was out of harmony with his fundamental conception of redemption and which therefore could not be permanently held by him.
In his enthusiasm he went out and preached his new doctrine of sanctification as he had received it. That is to say, he preached a doctrine of justification and a doctrine of the relation of sanctification to justification, which, in conjunction with his fundamental doctrine of redemption, he could not really believe. This could not last. The inevitable adjustments soon began to set in. If we understand him correctly, he attributes the process of these adjustments to the period between 1883 and 1890, so that they received their record in the second (1886) and especially in the third (1890) and subsequent editions of his book, “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum.” He conceived himself in this process to be writing in beneath his new-found doctrine of sanctification an appropriate doctrine of redemption. He says:
“During the years 1883–1890 it became to me ever more certain that if we have to teach according to the Scriptures that the power of sin has been broken in the death of Christ, and life and the forces of sanctification have been obtained for the believer in the resurrection of Christ, then we have to conceive Christ’s atonement and redemption also as a deliverance from the guilt and power of sin, and as a restoration of eternal life, righteousness, sanctification and love through His resurrection. Not the doctrine of sanctification only, therefore, but also the doctrine of atonement and redemption through Christ’s blood and of justification and regeneration, are in need of a Biblical purification and renovation.”13
He misconceived, however, the direction of the process. What he was really doing was adjusting his new-found doctrine of sanctification to his fundamental conception of redemption. It was the latter, not the former, which really possessed his mind and formed the fixed point in the adjustments that were going on. What he really gives us in the later editions of his book is, therefore, the Higher Life doctrine launched by W. E. Boardman and the Smiths as modified to fit the requirements of the “mediating theology”—this Higher Life doctrine in the form which it takes when preached on the basis of the “mediating theology.” That is the real significance of Jellinghaus, and, under his guidance, of the German “Heiligungsbewegung” during the forty years from 1874 to 1914.
This being so, it cannot be thought in the least strange that Jellinghaus devotes a large part of his volume—at least half of it—to the vindication of the fundamental soteriological postulate of the “mediating theology,” that, as we enter by faith into vital union with Christ as the last Adam, the new organic Head of humanity, we become through this faith alone sharer in all that He has wrought, in His death and resurrection, as our complete Deliverer.14 He entitles this half of his book Justification through Christ Alone, to match the title which he gives the second half, Sanctification through Christ Alone. But this designation will be misleading to all who do not share his conception of the ordo salutis, based on the “mystical” idea of the nature of salvation prevalent in the “mediating theology.” In this ordo salutis there is no place for the “justification” of the theology of the Reformation; “justification,” too, becomes a purely subjective experience—the experience of forgiveness of sins as a result of vital union with the Christ who has transcended sin. It is only artificially separated, therefore, from sanctification; the two are in fact only parts of the same general experience, the experience of “participation in the Christ-life.”
The two parts of Jellinghaus’ book do not, therefore, in fact treat of what is commonly known as Justification and of Sanctification, or—to put it in language less open perhaps, in this atmosphere, to misapprehension—of deliverance from the guilt and deliverance from the power of sin. They treat of the experience of deliverance which the Christian has through faith in Christ, viewed, we might say, now from the point of sight of its inception, now from the point of sight of its completion, though that would be to speak far too strongly in terms of chronological sequence. Perhaps we would better say, viewed now from the point of sight of its general content, now from the point of sight of the completeness of the deliverance—in one of its aspects, singled out for special remark. What Jellinghaus actually attempts to do in the two parts of his book is to show, in the first part, that we receive by faith in Christ a complete deliverance, and, in the second part, that this complete deliverance includes in itself an immediately complete deliverance from the power of sin. The first part would have been more descriptively designated, therefore, had the title which its first chapter bears been given to it—The Complete Deliverer, or more explicitly, Complete Deliverance through Faith Alone. And the second part would have been more descriptively designated by some such title as this, Sanctification by Faith Alone an Immediately Complete Sanctification.
What Jellinghaus has undertaken in the first part of his book he has accomplished with complete success. He has triumphantly shown from the Scriptures that there is complete deliverance in Christ Jesus for all who look to Him for it in simple faith. That is the teaching of Scripture, and Jellinghaus brings it out with great fulness, energy, and convincingness. Of course, he writes from his own point of view, and adjusts the Scriptural proofs which he adduces, to meet particular ends as they emerge in the progress of his argument. It is his primary purpose, for example, to show, that in the complete deliverance which we receive by faith in Christ Jesus there is included deliverance from the power of sin as well as from its guilt. He is possessed by the odd notion that in the church doctrine of the penal satisfaction of Christ provision is made only for deliverance from guilt—justification in the Reformation sense, as he would conceive it—while the whole process of sanctification is left to be worked out by man himself under the impulse of gratitude for the forgiveness of his sins. He is zealous therefore to prove on the one hand that sanctification is a supernatural work, and on the other that it is inseparably connected with justification and is always present where justification is present. He frequently adduces the Scriptural proof of the completeness of this deliverance which we receive in Christ by faith, accordingly, with sharp application to such points as these, and always with particular emphasis on deliverance from the power of sin, and, naturally, in terms of the “mediating theology.”
This in no way affects the force of that proof for the main matter. But it brings with it some very interesting results with respect to the maintenance of his own special contentions. To illustrate by a single instance, he succeeds so perfectly in proving that sanctification and justification are inseparable—that in being justified by faith we obtain also sanctification—as to leave no room for the acquisition of sanctification by a second act of faith specifically directed to that end; and thus reduces himself to the necessity of distinguishing, not between justification and sanctification as separable benefits received by separate acts of faith, but between a first sanctification coming with justification and a second and complete sanctification obtained subsequently by a detached act of faith of its own—with the further effect of making complete sanctification not an “all at once” acquisition on simple faith, but a progressive attainment received in stages. This is the more pungent that, from his point of view as a “mediating theologian,” he is compelled to look upon sanctification, not as the necessary consequence of justification as in the Reformation doctrine, nor merely as the inseparable accompaniment of justification, but as identical with justification. If, when we enter into Christ by faith as the last Adam, the Head of which we are but members, we receive Him Himself, all of Him, all that He has and is, what remains to be obtained by a second act of faith as a “second blessing”?
Let us observe how Jellinghaus actually expresses himself on this fundamental matter:15
“The gospel becomes most simple and most intelligible when we, along with the Bible, present the whole saving-work of Christ as a deliverance, rescue, salvation for man held in sin and misery, and offer it to the simple acceptance of faith” (p. 52).
“It is a wholly one-sided quarter-gospel, when it is taught that Christ’s sacrificial work accomplished no more than that He blotted out guilt and earned an imputable merit, but says nothing of this—that in Jesus’ blood there are present and available for believers, hungry for righteousness and holiness, death-forces delivering from all evils, and resurrection-forces bringing all fruits of the Spirit that belong to the Kingdom of heaven” (p. 40).
“The believer seeks in Christ not only forgiveness of the guilt of sin, but also deliverance from its power and cleansing of the heart” (p. 258).
“What stands there [he is commenting on Rom. 6:3–5] is not at all that this baptism signifies only a duty of dying daily; but what it says is that all true believers are already baptized into Jesus’ death and are buried with Jesus according to the old man in this death, and therefore are free from the power of sin and uncleanliness” (p. 311).
“The Scriptures teach that forgiveness of sins, justification, the new life, cleansing and victory come of faith” (p. 259).
“Through this faith in Christ, Christ, and His righteousness, sanctification and life, which are external to us, comes into us, and becomes our possession. Yes, as soon as the man entrusts himself to Christ in faith, the Holy Spirit comes, in justification, into our heart and abides in our heart in order to testify that God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven our sins, and in order to glorify Christ in our heart, with His sanctifying death- and resurrection-power. Therefore together with justification there come also regeneration, cleansing, renovation, vivification, transference into the Kingdom of heaven, sanctification, the possession of eternal life (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11, ‘But ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified’)” (p. 263).
“For forgiveness of sins, justification, vivification, and sanctification fall at once together with faith” (p. 264).
“Regeneration, the new life, cleansing of heart and walk, and sanctification hang together [with justification] inwardly and inseparably (as Luther teaches clearly)” (p. 266).
“There exists therefore no justification and forgiveness of sins in Christ through faith without eternal life and regeneration in Christ; as Luther also says that where forgiveness of sins is there also is life and blessedness. He who really receives in faith forgiveness and justification in the blood, that is, in the death of the dead and risen Lord—he is also through the blood of Christ cleansed from sins and lives in Christ’s life (Gal. 2:16–21. Rom. 10:1–11, John 3:14–16)” (p. 255).
“If we look at our deliverance thus, it becomes clear to us that John can always speak of eternal life as the immediate result of faith in Christ, and it is also manifest how, to be justified, converted, regenerated, resurrected and sanctified hang inwardly together according to the New Testament—yes, are one and the same thing” (p. 43).
It is impossible therefore that there should be faith without works: “Faith and trust are inwardly connected with faithfulness and obedience.” He says expressly:
“There exists no Christian faith and trust without Christian faithfulness and obedience. So soon as I believe in Christ, I have come also to rueful apprehension of my disobedience theretofore. I trust in the Savior who was obedient up to death, that He will and can deliver me from the curse of the disobeyed commandment and from the slavery of sin, that is from disobedience. I believe, therefore, unto obedience. Everyone who believes in Christ, his Deliverer, yields himself to Christ, in order to die with Christ unto himself and his corrupt wilfulness, and to live in Jesus Christ and in obedient imitation of Him. Through the faith that is wrought by the Holy Spirit it always comes to obedience.… There is no faith in Christ which does not work an innermost fact and transformation, because it draws from the sanctifying life-powers of Jesus” (p. 153).
Jellinghaus undoubtedly intends that statements like these should be read as teaching that sanctification is by faith. So far are they, however, from teaching that sanctification comes from a special act of faith directed to the obtaining of it and it alone, that they rather explicitly connect sanctification with the fundamental act of faith by which we receive the forgiveness of our sins. He cannot leave the matter at that. We find him therefore very much preoccupied with the exact relation of faith to sanctification. In his discussions of this subject he sometimes speaks quite on the lines of the passages we have already quoted, and is intent only on making the supernaturalness of salvation clear. Approaching the matter from the standpoint of the “mediating theology” he often insists in this interest that sanctification is something which has been obtained for us by Christ, just like justification, objectively; which exists therefore objectively in Christ for us, and which is only to be taken over from Himself, as it were, as a whole. He objects therefore to distinguishing between justification and sanctification in such terms as “Christ for us” and “Christ in us”; it is just as proper to speak of “Christ for us” in connection with sanctification as in connection with justification, and of “Christ in us” in connection with justification as in connection with sanctification. He says:
“Where the Bible speaks of sanctification through faith it means that Christ Himself has wrought out for us our deliverance from the power of sin, and He Himself is continuously the mighty Deliverer and victorious Leader of believers. It is therefore a misleading representation of the doctrine of justification and sanctification when it is said with sharp distinction that ‘Christ for us’ is the justification and ‘Christ in us’ the sanctification of the Christian. ‘Christ for us’ is the sinner’s justification and forgiveness through faith; but in the moment in which the man, in the power of the Holy Spirit, trustingly surrenders himself to Christ as the Deliverer from sins, Christ becomes his possession and the life of Christ comes into his heart, so that he is not only justified but also regenerated and sanctified in Christ, so that therefore he is in Christ and Christ is in him.… Precisely so is ‘Christ for us,’ that is, what Christ has obtained for us by victory over the power of sin, death and the devil, or the living, risen Jesus and His holy blood, the sole foundation and power of our sanctification, on which we have to trust. Only because the Christian who thirsts after sanctification has outside himself, in Christ—the mighty Deliverer, present in the Word, who can continually wash and cleanse by His blood—a sanctifying power and a fulcrum which stands immovable, can he be confident in the midst of his changing feelings and sure of victory. Because he thus through the Holy Spirit surrenders himself in believing obedience to this full, present Deliverer and all His sanctifying powers, Christ Himself comes into his heart, and, as ‘Christ in us,’ becomes the heart’s innermost life …” (pp. 540 f.).
He objects much more strenuously, however, in the same interest of the supernaturalness of salvation, to every mode of representation that would see in the faith which procures it the ground or the substance of sanctification. If sanctification is to be by works, it would be better to say so frankly, than to say “by faith” (im Glauben) with the meaning that faith is the one work which obtains it.
“Because the truth—that Christ has already wrought out and made possible for us also our deliverance from the power of sin and our sanctification, and offers it now in Himself, as the full, present Deliverer—has been very little understood hitherto, great obscurity and uncertainty has reigned also with respect to the doctrine of sanctification by faith. Many teachers and textbooks, which teach with complete decision the forgiveness of sins through naked, simple faith alone, speak of sanctification as of a state which is gradually brought about by the virtue of our faith and our love and gratitude. Whereas, after the example of Luther, they repudiate with all decision, that faith as a sanctifying disposition (Gesinnung) justifies and discharges from the guilt of sin or even only makes us worthy to be received by Christ—they (as for example Thomasius) say without hesitation that after justification faith becomes our fundamental disposition (Grundgesinnung) and thus sanctifies. The Evangelical dogmatists speak with reference to sanctification not only of a vis receptiva (receptive power) but also of a vis operativa (self-effective power) of faith. Such a self-effective power, however, is not possessed by faith, whether in justification or in sanctification; all of its power comes from its object …, that is, from Christ” (pp. 538 f.).16
In this statement justifying and sanctifying faith are, no doubt, distinguished, but they are not separated. Jellinghaus’ real position in this matter is made somewhat clearer by a passage which occurs on page 545. He is there speaking of the one-sidedness of the Reformation doctrine, with its stress on justification by faith alone and its neglect of the twin truth as to sanctification. He adduces in illustration a form of statement which he represents as very widespread among both Lutheran and Reformed theologians, to the effect that “justification daily repeated is sanctification.” This form of statement certainly is objectionable. Justification is not, no matter how often repeated, sanctification, for the very good reason that justification directly affects only our standing while sanctification directly affects our state. In the course of the discussion, however, Jellinghaus substitutes for it the form of statement, “Justifying faith sanctifies,” which he appears to treat as its equivalent, though it very certainly is not that.
The point of interest for the moment is that in criticizing this latter statement, Jellinghaus declares it to be ambiguous. It may mean, he says, this: “Justifying faith is so excellent a quality and mental attribute in a man that it sanctifies the man.” He rightly says that in that sense it would be intolerable. It may also, however, happily mean this: “The same faith which lays hold of Christ for justification, lays hold of Him and experiences Him also for sanctification.” In that sense, says Jellinghaus, it is “unconditionally correct”; and that he means this in the sense, not that the same kind of faith, but that the same exercise of faith, both justifies and sanctifies, he makes plain by a qualification which he at once introduces. This is to this effect: “Only, it should not be understood by it, that faith lays hold of Jesus equally along with justification in full measure for actual sanctification.” Sanctification is obtained in the same act of faith by which justification is received—but not all the sanctification which is to be obtained. After this first sanctification there is a further sanctification accessible to us by a faith which is a purely sanctifying faith—a further sanctification which is in full measure.
Meanwhile the existence of any such thing as a purely sanctifying faith—and indeed the validity of the whole representation that sanctification, whether along with justification or alone, is received immediately by faith—hangs in the air. It is not until the book is three-quarters done17 that the needed chapter on The Scriptural Proof of Sanctification by Faith is inserted. The Epistle to the Galatians is taken up first and run through. Then Jellinghaus finds himself compelled to insert a subsection with this heading: “Forgiveness of sins through faith and sanctification through faith are in the New Testament mostly taught together.” That is to say, the New Testament does not (“mostly”) teach justification through faith and sanctification through faith, but justification and sanctification through faith. He writes:
“When we look more closely at the Epistle to the Galatians and the whole New Testament, we find that they do not make so sharp a conceptional distinction between justification and sanctification as we are now accustomed to make, and especially, that the words ‘righteous, righteousness, justify’ often include sanctification in themselves; and again in other passages the word ‘sanctify’ includes forgiveness of sins and justification” (p. 567).
He illustrates the first usage by the prophetic declaration, “The just shall live by his faith,” which he represents as including sanctification as well as justification, no doubt following W. E. Boardman’s interpretation of it. The second he illustrates by Heb. 10:10. Then he seeks a rationale of the custom he has thus announced:
“Precisely because the apostles teach that forgiveness of sins and sanctification both take place by faith apart from works of our own, they do not need to distinguish them so anxiously. So soon, on the other hand, as a forgiveness by faith in Christ alone and a sanctification by faith and works are taught, an exaggerated distinction is necessary, such as is made by many orthodox Lutheran and Reformed Church teachers, in order that the comfort of the forgiveness of sins may be left in its abiding certainty. With the doctrine of sanctification by faith, on the other hand, the doctrine of forgiveness of sins through faith is given and established almost of itself without hair-splitting distinctions” (pp. 567 f.).
He then refers us back to the first part of the volume, where, says he, “we have repeatedly shown that the apostles presented to sinners and taught a direct and immediate reconciliation with God through the surrender of faith to the justifying and purifying Deliverer. Repentant sinners are declared by them at once justified and holy, without waiting for the confirmation of their character in good works, so that forgiveness of sins rests in no way on sanctification, though it of course includes the foundation of all holiness, namely life-communion with Christ’s blood.” The whole drift of the chapter may be treated as summed up in the following words, which are more particularly a comment on the Epistle to the Colossians:
“As in the Epistle to the Ephesians, so also in that to the Colossians, it is taught that the believer, through the surrender of faith, has part in all that Jesus experienced, so that he has died with Christ, risen again, and has been transferred into the heavenly, the supramundane Kingdom of God. This is taught so crisply that it must be assumed that this doctrine and this conception of the Deliverer had already been proclaimed to them by Epaphras and the rest, since otherwise they would not have been able to understand it from this brief presentation. These fundamental truths were already the common property of the apostolic congregations in Asia …” (p. 571).
There is no evidence presented here that the New Testament represents sanctification as received immediately by faith. In point of fact there is no direct statement to that effect in the New Testament. It is to Jellinghaus’ credit that he does not adduce for it either Acts 15:9 or 26:18, which are often made to do duty in this sense.18 His strong conviction that sanctification is obtained directly and immediately by faith is a product not of his Scriptural studies, but of his “mediating theology.” According to that theology, when we receive Christ by faith we receive in Him all that He is to us at once; all the benefits which we receive in Him are conceived as received immediately and directly by the faith through which we are united with Him and become sharers in all that He is. Justification and sanctification, for example, are thought of as parallel products of faith. This is not, however, the New Testament representation. According to its teaching, sanctification is not related to faith directly and immediately, so that in believing in Jesus we receive both justification and sanctification as parallel products of our faith; or either the one or the other, according as our faith is directed to the one or the other. Sanctification is related directly not to faith but to justification; and as faith is the instrumental cause of justification, so is justification the instrumental cause of sanctification. The vinculum which binds justification and sanctification together is not that they are both effects of faith—so that he who believes must have both—because faith is the prius of both alike. Nor is it even that both are obtained in Christ, so that he who has Christ, who is made to us both righteousness and sanctification, must have both because Christ is the common source of both. It is true that he who has faith has and must have both; and it is true that he who has Christ has and must have both. But they do not come out of faith or from Christ in the same way. Justification comes through faith; sanctification through justification, and only mediately, through justification, through faith. So that the order is invariable, faith, justification, sanctification; not arbitrarily, but in the nature of the case.
For the main matter, however, Jellinghaus’ expositions of the Scriptural material are not only true, but both obvious and important. It is not exact to say that the New Testament makes no conceptional distinction between justification and sanctification. But it is true to say that it is absolutely impatient of their separation from one another, and uniformly represents them as belonging together and entering as constituent parts into the one, unitary salvation which is received by faith. The significance of Jellinghaus’ exposition of the Scriptural material is that by it it is made perfectly clear that no support from the New Testament can be obtained for separating them and representing them as two distinct benefits which may be obtained apart from each other by separate acts of faith.
Jellinghaus cannot quite make up his mind, however, to renounce altogether the notion of a “second blessing.” With the form in which he received this notion from his Higher Life teachers, of course, he has definitely broken. He cannot teach that we first receive justification by faith, and then afterwards receive sanctification by a different faith. He knows very well that justification and sanctification cannot, according to the New Testament, be thus separated. But from his own standpoint—of the “mediating theology”—he was prepared to look upon sanctification as obtained immediately by faith and not solely through the medium of justification; and on that ground he endeavors to save the notion, at least, of the “second blessing,” by representing the distinction between the first and the second blessing as turning, not on the distinction between justification and sanctification, but on that between partial and complete sanctification. Justification and sanctification are, of course, received together, that is, some sanctification. But there is room for more sanctification. Why not say that complete sanctification remains to be obtained through a new act of faith directed to it specifically? Of course, this is just as incongruous with the fundamental postulate of the “mediating theology” as the distinction which has been discarded in its favor. According to this postulate, when we enter into “mystical union” with Christ, we receive in Him all that He is and has, all at once. He is ours and all that is in Him is ours. It may be possible to make room for a progressive realization in life of the great riches which we receive all at once in Him in principle. But for a new beginning, made by a new act of faith, scarcely. There is no room for those who are already in Christ, sharers in all that He is and has, once more, by a new act, to enter into Christ and to obtain as a second benefit from Him something entirely new.
Jellinghaus finds himself, therefore, in almost as great difficulties in validating his new doctrine of the “second blessing,” according to which it is an increase in sanctification at a definite time and in response to a definite act of faith, as he would have been in, had he retained the old doctrine, according to which the “second blessing” of sanctification was contrasted with the “first blessing” of justification. We can scarcely blame him in these circumstances that, in his exposition of his doctrine of the “second blessing,” he moves along a somewhat winding path. Sometimes he seems to reduce it to merely a doctrine of progressive sanctification. Sometimes, in order to regain its distinctiveness as a “second blessing,” he appears to be almost ready to make it merely a subjective experience—the growing Christian’s sudden realization of what has been happening to him really in unbroken progress. Sometimes he seems even half inclined to confine it to badly taught Christians, in order to obtain room for a decisive change for the better; those who begin badly naturally may have to begin over again. But in the end he comes back to what seems to be a decided reaffirmation of the experience, though in a considerably attenuated form.
In one of the earlier instances of his discussion of the possibility of a sudden advance in the Christian’s experience the matter is approached through an exposition of conversion. There is a divine side and a human side to conversion; and so far as it is a human work, it admits of degrees, because both the repentance and the faith which constitute this side of it are capable of continuous deepening. From this point of view a Christian may find himself repenting and believing over and over again.
“Inasmuch as every increase of faith includes within itself a deepening of repentance, the phrase ‘daily repentance’ may be employed in a good sense, when what is meant by daily repentance is not an expectation of daily repeated falls into known sins and a weak complaining regret for them, and such a continuous condition of spiritual weakness and lamentation is not held to be necessary.19 Even the child of God who is converted and is walking in sanctification should always perceive afresh and with increasing clearness how guilty, sinful and impotent to all good he is in himself, and what grace and power he has in Jesus. Yes, when the defects of his Christian life are really made clear by God’s Spirit to a Christian and then he finds in faith greater unsuspected grace and gracious power in Jesus, it is to him often as if he were newly converted. From this it may be explained that many Christians have erroneously called by the name of a ‘second conversion’ their experience, after long stumbling, of fuller sanctification in the power of Christ’s blood through their fuller surrender to and fuller faith in Jesus as the Deliverer from all sins and as the compassionately leading Good Shepherd” (pp. 287 f.).
Here an experience presenting itself to the consciousness as revolutionary is explained as only a step in the normal advance of the Christian in the experience of grace. Similarly, we read at another place:
“This laying aside of sin and of the old man, as we have said, should begin in conversion, and every converted Christian has a right to hold himself to be dead to sin and crucified with Christ; but nevertheless the fact is apparent that even in the Apostolic age the majority of believers had need of an exhortation to do this. When, however, the apostles lay such a requirement on believers, they are not exhorting them to a half and gradual, but to an immediate and complete laying aside of sin. For what one will not do in this matter completely and at once, that he never does rightly and with effect. It is, however, self-evident that no matter how thorough and decisive the renunciation is, there remains a place for a progressive deepening: for when the degree of light on sin increases and new sins are discovered, these new sins also must be discarded and they can be laid aside only instance by instance. Where a clear knowledge of Christ’s power of deliverance exists, therefore, in the beginning of conversion, and where a faithful conflict is carried on in the power of the blood of Christ—there a more spasmodic, sudden renunciation in the Christian’s walk will be less in evidence. Therefore the more clearly the power of the blood of Christ to deliver is preached to souls from the beginning, and grasped by them, the more seldom will these sudden transitions, similar to ‘second conversions,’ occur in the life of Christians. (Just as absolutely sudden conversions are less to be expected in the case of those who grow up in good Christian nurture.) When anything like a ‘second conversion’ shows itself in the life of a Christian, it is likely either that there was no accurate knowledge of the right way of salvation possessed in the beginning, or that the converted Christian had fallen into hazardous inner unfaithfulnesses and falterings. This suddenness in the renunciation of sins and deeper sanctification which is so offensive to many would occur more infrequently if the preaching of sanctification in Jesus were clearer” (pp. 499 f.).
Here certainly the “second blessing” (note the application in the last sentence) is represented not as the normal experience of the heroes of faith, but as an abnormality due either to the insufficient knowledge or to the unfaithful life of the average Christian, which may be expected to be made rarer by faithful preaching.
Of course, in these circumstances, it cannot be taught that the “second blessing” is necessary, if we are to have all that Christ has in Himself for His people. We read without surprise:
“It is quite possible, in the case of a Christian soul, that his surrender to Christ in his conversion should be so decisive and complete, and remain so true to his increasing knowledge in the course of his Christian life, and should grow so constantly, that there is no room for a temporally distinct, renewed surrender which essentially and instantaneously changes the inner condition. There is needed only a steady growth of surrender, since no partial disobedience and no partial retrogression is found here. When surrender and trust have been complete from conversion and have grown evenly side by side and soundly—then a distinct, renewed surrender, which would change the inward condition essentially and suddenly for the better, and notably advance it, would not be possible, precisely because it would be already existent” (p. 507).20
“We are not then to assume,” we read on the next page, “that according to the Bible, a second temporally distinct event of a complete surrender must occur in the case of every believing Christian.” But it is immediately added: “But according to actual experience, it is true that in the case of most believing Christians a lack of complete faith-surrender and a partial walking in self-seeking or self-sufficiency, or self-tormenting, or world-serving, shows itself in the case of most believing Christians not long after conversion and the first warmth of love.” This hardly means anything else than that the need of the “second blessing” is due to the failure of the Christian to receive or use the first blessing aright: it is not an essentially different transaction communicating an essentially different blessing, but only a reparation for past failure. It therefore does not surprise us to find Jellinghaus writing as follows:
“Some have maintained in England and America, and very lately in Germany too, that a converted man does not become a complete Christian and does not become a really blessed, powerful instrument for God’s Kingdom, until he has received suddenly and consciously a second baptism with the Holy Spirit. In this there is only so much true as that a great multitude of men of God have suddenly experienced, after their conversion, a new deep baptism with the Holy Spirit; many of them at a time when the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and the greatness of the love of Christ had come brightly before their eyes in knowledge and experience. But the New Testament nowhere requires a second sudden baptism with the Holy Spirit for all believers. In the case of the most, the deeper filling with the Holy Ghost comes gradually, with sufferings, humiliations and marvelous answers to prayer and deliverances, through the deeper experience of the powers of Christ’s death and resurrection.—He who teaches that every Christian must have the experience of the eradication of his sinful nature, and of his sinlessness, through a second baptism of the Holy Spirit, is an anti-Biblical fanatic and a victim of delusion” (p. 71).
This is in principle to discard the whole idea of the “second blessing” as taught by W. E. Boardman and the Smiths, to say nothing of John Wesley standing in the background.21
At the very end of his book22 Jellinghaus devotes a page to repeating all this, led thereto by the emergence of what he himself recognizes as the most serious difficulty in the way of the contention that believers must believe again in order to become fully sanctified. This is that we read nowhere in the New Testament that believers are to receive the sanctifying power of the death and resurrection of Christ only by a second surrender. The New Testament writers always refer the duty, the right, the power, to die to sin, to the communion in the death and resurrection of Christ which has been entered into at conversion. Jellinghaus does not think of denying that this is the fact; and he feels constrained to add: “According to the Bible, there is no justification and regeneration which does not already include in itself the essential beginning of all sanctification.” That is to say, in brief, the faith which justifies sanctifies—at least in the beginnings of sanctification, beginnings which include in themselves the promise and potency of all sanctification. In these circumstances he feels it necessary to add further that it cannot be denied that it is possible (unfortunately he underscores the “possible”) “for a Christian at once at justification and regeneration so to enter into communion in the death- and the resurrection-life of Jesus, that he has a power of victory over external and internal sins in Christ or”—he adds—“that he at least so grows gradually into it that there is no question of a particular second point of time for a fuller sanctification.” He is compelled to go even further than this, and to say that not only is such an experience possible (with the underscored “possible”), but it is in certain circumstances the normal history of the soul. If the soul has been fortunate enough to enjoy from the beginning—the beginning of its life or of its Christian experience—correct instruction with respect to the way of salvation, and has given faithful and unwavering obedience throughout (perhaps we are not to read this as an impossible condition)—why, this is the normal course. He says:
“This must be set forth clearly and plainly, that we may not fall into un-Biblical artificialities and repel those who know their Bibles. A sharp separation of two distinct sorts of sanctification, we do not find in the Bible. It cannot be taught on Biblical grounds that we must all first be justified and regenerated, and then we must all later, at a definite time and by a sudden, definite transaction, be sanctified in complete fashion” (p. 692).
We are sorry that Jellinghaus holds back a little even in this declaration. The Bible not only does not teach that we must “all” be first justified and then by a distinct act of faith “all” be sanctified. It does not teach that any will be so dealt with. What it teaches is that justification and sanctification are but successive steps, inseparably joined together by an immanent bond, in the realization of the one salvation which is received by faith. Jellinghaus does not quite come to this point of view. He says it is possible for a man to be sanctified at the same time that he is justified, if—. He is thinking of sanctification not as the necessary issue of justification, included in principle in it, but as some sort of a separate entity, which the Scriptures join with it invariably, it is true, but which is not in the nature of the case its inevitable consequent. And therefore he at once qualifies even this admission—for it is after all an admission with him. “However true that is,” he adds, “we may not, according to the teaching of the New Testament, and according to Christian experience, maintain that every justified man manifests and must manifest already in his life the whole sanctifying power of the death and resurrection of Christ.”
That is, however, precisely what we must maintain—if we are to be true to the New Testament; that is to say, of course, if we mean it in the New Testament sense. For the words have a certain ambiguity buried in them, and Jellinghaus means them in the wrong sense, in the sense, that is, that sanctification in its completeness is received all at once at the very moment of justification. “We dare not say,” he explains, “that justification and actual sanctification fall absolutely together; that he who is fully justified is sanctified in the full measure in which this is possible on earth; that he who has experienced the sanctifying power of the death and blood of Christ only in a partial way is also not yet fully justified.” And then he appeals to New Testament passages in which those who are assumed to be justified are exhorted to advance in their Christian walk! Of course we dare not say anything of this sort, for sanctification is a progressive thing, as is already allowed indeed when it is pointed out that the New Testament exhorts Christians to advance in their Christian walk. Temptation to say anything of the sort can assail those only who conceive of sanctification as some kind of limited entity which can be received all at once. It is because Jellinghaus so conceives it that he is unable to accept, without qualification, what he himself recognizes as Bible teaching.
If it seems to us that the shadow of the “second blessing” to which alone Jellinghaus can cling after this is hardly worth clinging to, especially at the cost he is compelled to pay for it, that is probably because we underestimate the constraint he was under, arising from his doctrine of perfection, to preserve at least some shadow of it. His interest, it is true, does not center immediately in the “second blessing.” But it does center in what he calls, in the title of his book, “full, present salvation through Christ.” He wishes to teach that we may enter by faith alone into the immediate enjoyment of the whole salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Suddenness of entrance into this full salvation belongs accordingly to the essence of his doctrine. Jesus would not seem to him a complete Deliverer if we had to wait for the deliverance received in Him to be gradually accomplished in us through a long process of growth, especially if this prolonged itself throughout life. At least our experience of salvation must be at once complete on faith. That indeed is already involved in the postulate of his “mediating theology,” and this is the reason of his strong insistence that sanctification too, as well as justification, must be conceived as objectively perfect and ready for us in Christ, to be taken over from Him by faith alone.
The postulates of his “mediating theology” would interpose no obstacle, it is true, to supposing that this full sanctification, objectively complete, ready for us in Christ, is taken over in the same act of faith by which we receive justification. Rather, they are really patient to no other supposition; and he finds himself in straits on this account as he seeks to save for himself even the shadow of the “second blessing” which he preserves. The Scriptures to which he appeals to justify his doctrine of the immediate reception of complete sanctification by faith, also connect this reception of complete sanctification with the same act of faith by which we receive justification. But there were powerful motives operating to prevent Jellinghaus from following in this either the postulates of his fundamental theology or the implication of his Scriptures. It is too clear to be denied, that the Scriptures are full of exhortations to men, assumed to be justified, to make advances in their holy walk, and therefore cannot mean to teach that every justified man is by the very act by which he received his justification also at once fully sanctified. It is also too clear to be denied that, in point of experience, not all who must be presumed to be justified are fully sanctified—unless we are prepared to refuse to recognize as a Christian at all any one who is not obviously perfect—a position to the intolerableness of which Jellinghaus shows himself to be keenly sensitive.
The assumption of such an attitude towards the Christian body at large would, moreover, abolish the chief religious motive which is urged in justification of the doctrine of immediate sanctification by faith—the need of encouragement for men who, having believed, yet find themselves still undelivered from sinning, and who are ready therefore to despair of salvation itself. These men need to be assured that, despite appearances, they have not believed in vain, that their faith avails for deliverance from the guilt of sin, and the way is open still for them now to believe again for deliverance from its power. Under the stress of such considerations, that he might maintain his fundamental doctrine of immediate sanctification by faith, Jellinghaus was under necessity to preserve at least a shadow of the doctrine of the “second blessing.”
In the former portion of this article it has been pointed out that the task which Jellinghaus set himself was, essentially, to adjust the Higher Life doctrine which he had received from Pearsall Smith to his own fundamental thinking, which ran on the lines of the so-called “mediating theology.” We have seen that the primary effect was to destroy, in principle, the notion of the “second blessing,” which formed the pivot of Smith’s teaching; and that a semblance of this doctrine was preserved only in the interests of the idea of immediate sanctification by faith, which Jellinghaus found it necessary in one way or another to maintain.
It is quite true that his doctrine of the nature of the immediate sanctification, which we receive by faith alone, has itself also suffered somewhat from his endeavor to give it a form which may at least seem to be tolerable, in the face alike of intractable Scriptures and plain facts. He is very careful, for example, not to lift the idea of sanctification—of the “perfection” which he supposes is received immediately by faith—too high. In endeavoring to define it moderately he sometimes no doubt employs language of it, which, if taken strictly, would lead us nowhither. For instance, at one place he says:
“The Christian should and can become pure and remain pure from all sins and all impurity of a kind (welche geeignet ist) to interrupt his inner communion with God and his peace with Jesus” (p. 621).23
Of course there is no sin of conduct and no sinfulness of disposition, of whatever sort, kind, or degree, the proper effect of which is not to interrupt our communion with God and our peace with Jesus. If it does not actually interrupt our communion with God and our peace with Jesus, that can only be because our communion with God and our peace with Jesus have their ground not in our own holiness, but in Christ Himself—rest, in accordance with 1 John 2 on what Jesus has done for us and is doing in us, and not on any works or attainments of our own. The effect of Jellinghaus’ statement is to declare that there are some sins which God will tolerate in His children and some which He will not. This seems to reintroduce the exploded distinction between mortal and venial sins, and appears to license Christians to commit a certain class of sins. In order to learn what degree of sinfulness God tolerates in His children, that is to say, what is the quality of their “perfection,” however, we must go elsewhere.
We are as little advanced in our understanding of the matter when a “perfect” Christian is defined as “a Christian to whom God’s Word ascribes a pure heart and holiness.”24 For, as Jellinghaus himself reminds us, God’s Word ascribes a pure heart and holiness to all Christians indifferently. They are all addressed as “saints” and spoken of as “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” A “saint” in Scripture is not an eminent believer—a twofold believer, a believer who has believed twice—but any believer at all. This is reinforced by the fact that the Bible seldom addresses or speaks of believers as “sinners,” as we have grown accustomed to do.25 Accordingly Jellinghaus has a certain unwillingness to use the word “perfection” only of a higher class among Christians.
“All Christians from their regeneration onward can be perfect in their kind, and it therefore creates confusion when a last, highest, concluding stage of perfection is so spoken of” (p. 705).
“The word means what we now designate by the expressions ‘entirely Christian,’ ‘rightly Christian,’ ‘rightly standing,’ ‘decisive Christian,’ ‘truly Christian.’ As we speak without hesitation of complete, true, decisive, rightly standing Christians, we need not hesitate to say, according to the Bible, that Christians can and ought to be ‘perfect’ ” (p. 707).
He is not denying here that there are “stages” of Christian attainment or that there is such a thing as the “second blessing.” He is only arguing that “perfection” is not a word to be frightened at, and that all Christians may and ought to be “perfect.” He wishes, however, to be discreet in the use of language and in the definition of conditions. And therefore he says:
“It is thoroughly Biblical to say that Christians ought and can be perfect, entire, holy, sanctified, and unblamable. But it does not at all follow that, according to the Bible, we may speak of entire sanctification, perfect holiness, complete sanctity. By uniting these words into one notion an entirely new sense arises, which does not lie in the separate words. I can call a king ‘a complete king,’ and ‘a wise king,’ and ‘a righteous king’ without intending to maintain that the king is ‘altogether wise’ and ‘wholly righteous.’ Similarly I can, according to the Bible, say of Christians, that they are entire, perfect, holy, pure and unblamable. But I cannot on that account appeal to the Bible when I speak of ‘perfect holiness’ and ‘entire sanctification’ and ‘complete purity’ ” (p. 709).
Again, and more to our point:
“It is said of Christians in the Bible that they should and can be perfect, but it is not declared of the holiness or the purity of Christians that it is perfect and unsurpassable. We are not justified, then, according to the Bible in speaking of ‘complete sanctification’ and ‘perfect holiness’ with respect to Christians sanctified in the higher sense, as, after the example of Charles Wesley, many otherwise excellent theologians in England and America do. The Bible declares plainly that ‘holiness’ and ‘perfection’ belong to the complete or rightly standing Christian, this side of the grave. But that does not give us the right to speak of perfect holiness or complete holiness or even only of complete sanctification. This is to go beyond the Biblical modes of expression” (p. 709).
He is speaking here of those who have received the “second blessing.” They are “perfect,” but the notion of “perfection” must not be pressed too far. That is all that we learn from this discussion.
When we come to inquire what the condition thus called “perfection” precisely is, we are not left, however, without some very extended descriptions of it. It lies in the nature of the case that these should be introduced in connection with discussions of the relation of Christians to sin. There is a section, for example, on the “necessary marks of regeneration, justification, conversion, and the state of grace.”26 The chief of these marks is found not in faith but in a holy life. We read, however, in exposition of this holy life such statements as the following:
“The most important mark of regeneration for the Christian himself and also for outsiders is decisive renunciation of all and every conscious sin” (p. 327).
“Whoever of set purpose and wilfully commits sin and yet would fain be in favor with God wretchedly deceives himself in contradiction to God’s clear Word” (p. 328).
All commission of wilful sin is avoidable; the power to avoid it comes with faith.
“He who is regenerated and depends on Christ in faith, has also not merely the ‘good will’ to desert sin, but also in Christ the power to avoid all plain, gross sin. The true Christian has the will to be obedient to Christ and also is obedient to Him; Paul therefore often designates the whole of Christianity as the obedience of faith. For there is no faith and no surrender of faith in Christ without obedience of faith. We must certainly have some doubts with respect to all those Christians who of course wish to be obedient in general but say in some particular matters, in opposition to God’s will, ‘I cannot do that,’ or ‘God cannot demand that sacrifice of me’ ” (p. 328).
It surely needs no argument to prove that defiant sinning is inconsistent with a Christian profession. That there are some sins which may be committed by a Christian, however, without forfeiture of his status as a Christian, does not seem to be denied. It is indeed already allowed, when what is said is that “conscious” sinning—naturally at once corrected into “premeditated and wilful” sinning, which, by the way, is not at all the same thing—cannot be thought of in a Christian’s case.
A distinction is intimated here. And this distinction is pursued. We read:
“Many now have maintained that a regenerated man must necessarily be free also from the sins of weakness and of thoughtlessness, and from the inner stains that arise from the sinful passions of hate, jealousy, covetousness, timidity, lewdness, frivolity and pride” (p. 329).
This is not the contention which Jellinghaus himself makes. He says:
“Assuredly this is the aim and privilege of the regenerated man—that he should have victory over these things too.…
“But [he is constrained to add] it contradicts a whole multitude of Bible passages and also Christian experience when this is set forth as a necessary mark of life from God and of living faith.
“The same John [he says, that is, the same John who seems to say that a Christian does not sin at all] says in 1 John 2:2, ‘If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father.’ Paul says, in the same passage in which he asserts as unconditioned fact ‘that those who do such things (that is, live in conscious open sin) shall not inherit the kingdom of God,’ of the weak condition of many Galatians (Gal. 5:15–24), ‘For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: these are contrary one to the other, that ye do not what ye wish.’ ”
If there are sins, then, which a Christian cannot commit, there are others which he may possibly commit, and we must not deceive ourselves or judge others harshly in this matter.
“That this distinction between conscious, intentional sins which are committed and not resisted, and unconscious sins and sins of weakness which are hated and resisted, and by which men are overtaken, is often not kept clearly in mind is true. It is important, however, that this distinction should always be made, in order that souls may not deceive themselves, and brethren may not be rashly and unjustly judged” (p. 329).
But the warning is added:
“Let every Christian bear well in mind that so soon as he no longer hates, repents, resists his sins of weakness and steadily more and more conquers them in Christ, they become to him condemning sins of wickedness” (p. 330).
Much the same ground is gone over again later in the volume, when the topic of “the victory over sin” is formally taken up.27 A beginning is made here with a survey of “the several senses of the word ‘sin.’ ” The word is used first, we are told, in the sense of “conscious, intentional transgression of God’s commandment, or of conscious sins with malice.” Sin in this sense, we are told, is “wholly incompatible with Christian faith and a state of grace”; “a man who commits such a sin either never has been a believing Christian or has fallen out of the state of grace.”28 Such a statement is, of course, wholly without warrant, and we are not surprised to find Jellinghaus at once addressing himself to mitigating it. He says, among other things, that the Bible does not permit us to brand as “a conscious sin in the full sense, every sin with reference to which the man has some feeling that he is doing wrong”—and instances Peter’s denial as an example in point! It emerges then, after all, that “conscious” sins are not absolutely incompatible with a state of grace, and we are glad to read a few pages farther on a wise warning against making too much of the element of clear consciousness in sinning:
“Accordingly it would be very dangerous to take the notion of sin too narrowly and to make the Christian consciousness and the conscience the sole judge of the sinfulness or rightness of conduct: it would be decisively contrary to true humility and self-knowledge should we deny that God sees badness and evil in us and our actions (1 Cor. 4:4, Luke 12:47, the fifth and sixth petitions of the Lord’s prayer, Matt. 6:12–15), which we do not see. Most ‘unconscious sins’ can be traced back to our original sin, inasmuch as the human power of discrimination with reference to God’s will and between good and evil is much weakened by it and man finds himself prone to evil. Other unconscious sins are the result of a ‘little faith’ which is displeasing to God. We must therefore humble ourselves and ask God’s forgiveness for these our hidden faults and offences also. It is often, too, previous indifference, lukewarmness, failure in love which is responsible for a Christian’s doing something, without noting it, that is sinful. Therefore the Roman Catholic maxim, Invincibilis ignorantia excusat a toto (invincible ignorance completely excuses), is not altogether true. It is a more important and a truer evangelical maxim that we are to find sin not merely in individual evil deeds, but in the evil dispositions of the heart. He who sees sin only in individual deeds, falls easily into work-righteousness and self-deception” (pp. 609 f.).
Nevertheless the distinction between “conscious” and “unconscious” sins is so far clung to as that, whereas conscious sinning is pronounced incompatible with Christian faith, it is allowed that no Christian can be free from unconscious sinning while here on earth.
“For [it is explained] so long as the Christian is not perfectly pure and good in his own nature and is not omniscient, he will fall into error and will, with the best intention, through error act wrongly” (p. 610).
Nor is this all that is to be said. There is another category of sin still to be reckoned with. We read further:
“If we should understand, however, still more broadly by sin, ‘lack of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God,’ it is clear that the Christian can never be without sin in this world—yes, that all that he does, even though he does it out of a pure heart and a hearty love to God and man, would be sin or infected with sin.”
On this statement we must pause a moment, for it is a very remarkable statement—in the sense which Jellinghaus puts on it. For he is not speaking of “original sin” here, and the condition of man as fallen in Adam and a member of a sin-infected race. He is speaking of the natural constitution of man. “In this sense of holy,” he says—meaning in the sense of “holy” implied in the definition of sin as “lack of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God”—“pure and perfect as God, Adam was not sinless even before the fall”—an assertion which he lamely supports by an appeal to 1 Cor. 15:45–47, whence, he says, it follows “that Adam did not yet possess the spiritual nature and the spiritual mind of the perfected righteous man, and was therefore no doubt guiltless but still defective”—a perfect nest of confusions. “The Bible, however,” he adds, “never uses the word ‘sin’ in this sense”; and that is true if what he means is that the Bible never uses it in a sense which confuses it with the incomplete; and he adds equally truly that to give “sin” this sense would be “to erase the sharp contradiction between sin and righteousness.”
It is not so clear, however, that the Bible does not use “sin” in the sense of any “want of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God.” In point of fact, on the contrary, that is just the sense in which the Bible does statedly use the word, though it does not understand itself as thereby convicting man as man as sinner, but only as convicting man as fallen as sinner. Jellinghaus does indeed declare29 that it is made clear that the Bible “does not use the word ‘sin’ in this sense”—the sense, namely, of any “want of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God”—by this, “that it maintains that the Christian can walk righteously, holily, perfectly, umblamably, and not sin.” But here he has overreached himself in his eagerness to make a point in favor of his Perfectionism. This representation of the condition of the Christian relative to sin is obviously just as inconsistent with a universal inherent sinfulness of mankind referred to its fall in Adam, as if it were referred to its nature as created by God. And Jellinghaus does not deny that man is fallen in Adam, or that, as fallen in Adam, he is inherently sinful with a sinfulness which infects him up to the grave, so that, therefore, on this account also, no man can be free from sin so long as he lives in this world.
That the fact of “original sin” could slip out of Jellinghaus’ thought at this point of the discussion is no doubt evidence that it played no great part in his conception of the Christian’s condition in this world. He does not think of such a thing as denying the fact of “original sin” or its infection of men throughout the whole duration of their lives on earth, even as Christians. On the contrary, he gives formal recognition to these facts.30 He speaks freely of man’s “sinful nature,” calling it “the flesh,” and describing it as “an evil fundamental nature (Naturgrund).” He declares repeatedly that this “evil fundamental nature” is not eradicated in the Christian but remains in him up to the end. He speaks of it indeed as suppressed in its activities, so that it lies as it were inert and “dead” in the background of the Christian’s life. And thus he makes a place for his declaration that the Christian can be in a sense without sin, that is to say, without sinning.
“Sin in this sense ought to be crucified in the Christian and brought by Christ’s blood into the condition of death, and should be held in that state, so that it cannot reign and cannot make the heart unclean, and therefore the Christian is also actually in this sense ‘free from sin,’ and sins not (Rom. 6). [But he feels bound to add at once with strong emphasis:] But it is still there in the fundamental nature (Naturgrund), up to the grave, in the case of the most sanctified” (p. 607).
If it were not there, he goes on to say, those sanctified in this high degree could never fall into sin again, and their children would be born sinless.
Though crucified in Christ and slain on His cross, then, sin remains very much alive. It does not affect the Christian’s activities as he walks in his holy life—and yet it lies there in the background so far affecting him that it is due to it that he can sin again, and that he does sin if he ever sins again. Our complex soul-body nature “cannot be sanctified this side of the grave in the fashion that the seed of sin in it is forever eradicated and offers no longer a handle for sin.”31 “Yes, the flesh remains in Christians unholy”;32 “the old man and the flesh are no doubt crucified by their connection by faith with the crucified one, but are not eradicated nor destroyed”;33 “the flesh with its lusts is no doubt crucified in the believer, but is still existent and in a certain sense living and always capable of being resuscitated.”34 But Christ stands between us and this, our fundamental evil nature, and makes it as if it were not our inner selves but a dead thing encysted within us.
“If the old man and the flesh are actually thus crucified and thus buried with Christ through faith in the Holy Spirit as the gospel plainly testifies (Rom. 6:6), then the Christian has the right to look upon the old man and the flesh as something external, from which he is actually divided and separated by the cross of Christ so long as he abides in Jesus. He may confidently believe that Jesus’ blood is nearer to him than the old man; yes, that Jesus’ blood and cross stand between him and the old man as a no doubt transparent but trusty shield” (p. 625).
We perceive, then, that while a true “Perfectionism” is taught by Jellinghaus, the perfection which he teaches is, in the first place, a perfection only of acts, not of nature. In their fundamental nature (Naturgrund) the perfect remain sinful. In the next place this perfection of acts is not an objective perfection. The perfect man is perfect only by his own subjective standard which is always imperfect and always changing.
“He would not be unblamable and holy before God, if God would try and judge him and his works out of Christ according to the law of holiness that belongs to angels” (p. 639).35
Still further, the perfection of the perfect man is not such that even his own conscience does not accuse him. He does things which even he himself feels to be wrong, and must judge his own conduct, as he ought to judge that of others, benevolently.36 Nor is his perfection such that he is free from sins of weakness, inadvertence, hastiness, ignorance, even if these sins are rooted in bad habits or bad judgment or bad conditions which have been created by his own former sins.
“If we must say, according to the Scriptures, that the Christian can have a clean heart and need not sin, we must nevertheless say also and emphasize in the clearest manner, that the Christian is not delivered by complete faith and complete surrender to Christ’s sanctifying power, from all sins of ignorance, and omissions of good things which come afterwards into his consciousness; and not from errors and wrong actions which arise out of defective knowledge and insight” (p. 634).
It is even possible for the perfect man to be very imperfect in his life-manifestation in the just view of his fellow-men. There is many a man who makes a poor showing before his fellows—burdened as he is with inherited prejudices, narrowness of associations, weak memory, poor training, and handicapped by sickness or shattered nerves—who will be very differently judged in the forum of Heaven; which seems to say it is only by an exercise of mercy towards him that God can count him acceptable.
“The Christian who abides in Jesus and follows the Good Shepherd steadily, is holy, irreproachable, blameless, in the eyes of his merciful Father in Christ Jesus, who requires of him, His weak child, nothing that surpasses his powers. He is, however, not irreproachable, unblamable, faultless and perfect in the eyes of his fellow-men—especially in his characteristics as pupil, maid, soldier, craftsman, artist, teacher, theologian, and the like. Men can see much that is incompetent, wrong and faulty in his works” (p. 639).
It goes without saying, of course, that moral perfection and technical perfection are different things; and we are not unwilling to allow also—as we are often exhorted to allow—up to a certain point, that moral perfection and religious perfection are not quite the same thing. But Jellinghaus is not appealing to these distinctions here; he wishes us to understand that a man may be perfect in the sight of God (who judges in full view of all the circumstances), in whom his neighbors must recognize much that is imperfect not only from the technical, but from the ethical, and not only from the ethical, but from the religious, point of view. Perfection with him is so little a matter of exact conformity to a perfect moral and religious standard that it is consistent with not only a fundamental evil nature lying in wait in the background of life, but with a multitude of actual sins, committed in ignorance, or inadvertence or haste, or out of ingrained prejudices or fixed habits of conduct, even when the commission of them is not unaccompanied with some sense of wrong-doing.37 It must be admitted that Jellinghaus deals very tenderly with the imperfections of the perfect. And we think it must be admitted also that the model from which he has painted his portrait of the perfect man was drawn rather from the ranks of what most of us would speak of merely as sincere Christians.
Jellinghaus himself, however, insists that the portrait he has painted is that of the perfect man. We are not playing with words here. We have pointed out that Jellinghaus explains that the term “perfect” is used in the Scriptures in a sense equivalent to what we would mean if we spoke of a “sincere” Christian. But Jellinghaus defines for himself the sense in which he is arguing that perfection is within the reach of Christians in this world. And the characteristic on which he insists—despite the amount of sinning which he in the end allows to his perfect Christian—is precisely “that they are free from sin,” that they “do not sin.” We have just38 quoted a sentence from him in which he declares39 that the Bible “maintains that the Christian can walk righteously, holily, perfectly, unblamably, and not sin.” And we might quote any number more to the same effect. Precisely what he contends for, he tells us, is that “a continuous abiding in Christ and continuous victory over sin”40—that “continuous preservation from sin in Christ”41—is possible for us all. And this he must contend for if he is to save anything for his “second blessing” at all, since he allows that it brings not a new gift, sanctification in contrast with justification, but a new stage of the gift of sanctification already received in the first stage in and with justification. Naturally he makes use of the parallel between the two transactions, after the custom of the Higher Life writers, in order to commend and explain the second. He begins his discussion of “sanctification and victory through the blood of Jesus,” for example, with this parallel. Jesus as a Deliverer present in the Word “has taken away our guilt” on simple faith.
“Similarly, or almost identically, is it with the victory over the sins of weakness of the believer and with the attainment and preservation of a clean heart. If Christ has really broken the power of sin in the cross and in the resurrection, and if He has become a complete, accessible Deliverer from all sins, so that sin, flesh, old man, world, death, devil are vanquished foes with Him, and for everyone who takes refuge with Him and will die to sin with Him and in His power—then a sure victory and energetic walk in sanctification even now is to be hoped for for believers, and looked for in faith with assurance. If the Scriptures testify the fact that Christ is a complete Deliverer from ‘the power of sin and the anxieties of our own guidance,’ just as plainly and clearly as the fact of deliverance from the guilt of sin, then we can be even now sure in joyful trust, and experience, that not only is the Biblical doctrine of the forgiveness of sin a good tidings of free grace for the guilt-laden, but that also the Biblical doctrine of sanctification similarly offers us as a good tidings the free grace and gift of sanctification and victory obtained for us in Christ, to be believingly accepted and possessed now, no matter how weak we are in ourselves” (pp. 438 f.).
“It is with the deliverance also from the finer power of sin precisely as it is with the deliverance from the guilt of sin. Because Christ has fully wrought out deliverance from the guilt of sin and brings it Himself in the Word, therefore the sinner who comes to himself can ‘immediately’ (jetzt gleich) and ‘just as he is,’ receive in Christ ‘through faith,’ grace and forgiveness. Since now Christ has also wrought out deliverance from all the power of sin through His death and His resurrection, and is now a mighty emancipating Deliverer and Shepherd from all sins and ways of our own, the Christian who is hungering after righteousness can enter ‘immediately’ according to the measure of his knowledge into this victorious power and the peace-bringing leading of Christ, and persist in this present salvation, in this continuous Now of victory and peace. For in any case it is a matter of a continuous Now and a continuing deliverance, not of a once-for-all faith and a once-for-all victory” (p. 670).
The emphasis in this statement is on the immediacy of the effect; as we received forgiveness of sins at once on our first believing, so do we receive our full deliverance from the power of sin at once on this our second believing. But, along with this, emphasis is thrown on the continuousness of both the cause and the effect. Jesus saves us now—if I believe now; and the believer is to live in a continuous believing and consequent continuous salvation. This is, of course, the well known “moment by moment” doctrine of the Higher Life teachers.42
The main purpose of this teaching is to prevent us from supposing that the source of our holiness is in ourselves. But it has the additional effect of denying with great emphasis that the seat of our holiness—any of it, at any time—is in ourselves. It thus makes our holiness in all its extent purely a holiness of acts, never of nature. What we obtain by faith is Christ—as a Preserver from sinful acts. By continuous faith we obtain Him continuously—as Preserver from sinful acts; and only from those particular sinful acts with which we are for the moment threatened. We do not at any time obtain Him as Savior from all possible sins, but only as Savior from the particular sinful acts for protection from which we, from time to time, need Him. Thus we are never made “holy” in any substantial sense, so that we are ourselves holy beings. And also accordingly we are never made “holy” in any conclusive sense, so that, being holy in ourselves, naturally we continue holy. This is the way Jellinghaus expresses himself:
“They [believing Christians] are not called upon to appropriate to themselves all the powers of sanctification which are present in Jesus immediately (jetzt gleich) and to become immediately transfigured in an especially high degree into the image of Christ; but only to trust Christ as a victorious helper and to experience His help for the needs of sanctification of which they are presently conscious, and against the foes, outer and inner, which are at the moment making themselves felt. The believing Christian should in any case never seek to have in himself a store of sanctification, but rise every morning poor, in order to depend on the present gracious powers of his rich Deliverer. The sanctified Christian remains in himself poor, absolutely poor in power and wisdom, but he has confidence that Jesus leads him in His wisdom and continually grants him the necessary powers of grace for every necessary work and struggle” (pp. 671 f.).
We are, says Jellinghaus, like a poor relation living in a rich man’s house as a dependent, and receiving all he needs day by day from his benefactor, but never being made rich himself.
The purpose in view here is to emphasize our constant dependence on Christ. But this is done so unskilfully as to end in denying the possibility of our sanctification. We never are ourselves made holy; only our acts are provided for. We ask nothing and we get nothing beyond the meeting of our daily needs in sustaining our struggles on earth. As for ourselves, we remain unholy, apparently forever. We are told:
“Even the most sanctified Christian must confess of himself that in him, that is in his flesh, nothing good dwells” (p. 626).
That is to say that nothing in the way of betterment has happened to him himself. The illustration used is that a piece of iron, in itself cold and black, is in the fire hot and glowing.
“So, the Christian is in himself fleshly and can perform only works of the flesh; but in Jesus he is free from the dominion of the flesh and clean, and can also walk and behave like Jesus” (p. 626).
“Not in himself is the believer dead to sin, but in Christ; not in himself is he lively and powerful for the walk in holy love but in Christ, the saving and sanctifying head and leader” (p. 627).
But—is not hot iron hot and glowing in itself, and not merely “in the fire” by which it is made hot and glowing? There is a confusion here between the source and the seat of the heat.
“A Christian obtains [we read in a parallel passage] through regeneration or through a higher stage of sanctification not an independent holiness, not a freedom from the old man in his own strength, or such a strength of the new man that it can itself hold the flesh in death. The Christian can be pure only as a member of Christ our Head, as a branch of the vine. In himself every Christian is a branch of sinful humanity and is prone to sin. Only through implantation into Christ’s death and resurrection can he be and remain holy. Separated from Christ and His purifying blood (blood signifies the life of Christ given in death and resurrection), he is sinful and has sin” (pp. 456 ff., commenting on 1 John 1:8).
If this be true then salvation is impossible. We are never saved. We only seem to be saved, because Christ works through us the works of a saved soul. That is not the way John conceived it, or Christ. Naturally most painful results follow from such representations. For example, our aspirations are lowered. We are never to wish or seek to be holy ourselves, but are to be content with being enabled to meet in our unholiness the temptations of the day. We lose the elevating power of a high ideal. And we are to be satisfied with never being “well-pleasing to God.” Says Jellinghaus:
“When God is pleased with us, it is with what Christ works in us, not with what we in our own power and imagined goodness and wisdom do” (p. 672).
What the Scriptures teach is that we shall be more and more transformed into Christ’s image until at last, when we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him, and therefore in ourselves—as He has made us—well-pleasing to God.
There is expressly included in this doctrine a provision for a progressive sanctification, along the ordinary lines of the teaching of the Higher Life Movement in this matter. We have seen Jellinghaus in passages just quoted limiting the ability of the Christian to enter “immediately” into the victorious power and peace-bringing leading of Christ, by such phrases as “according to the measure of his knowledge,”43 and “for the needs of which he is presently conscious.”44 The Christian is freed from all the sinning which at the stage of Christian knowledge to which he has attained he knows to be sinning; and as his knowledge grows so his objective sanctification increases. It is apparently also repeatedly suggested that it depends entirely on the Christian’s own action whether or not he retains his hold on Christ and so continues in his sanctifying walk. Undoubtedly this is in accordance with Jellinghaus’ fundamental conception of the relation of the Christian to Christ and the way of salvation. He continually suggests that our standing in Christ depends absolutely on ourselves. Those that believe in Christ, he tells us for example,45 “have in Him forgiveness and righteousness, and also shall retain it so long as they abide in Christ.”
It is, he continues, like a king granting public amnesty in terms like these: He who appears within a year at a particular place, lays down his weapons, and swears fealty—to him then shall be handed an already prepared diploma of pardon, and he will remain pardoned so long as he maintains his loyalty. He tells us:
“Justification is, no doubt, a judicial sentence on God’s part external to us; but it is a judicial sentence which proceeds on a relation of faith to Christ which has been entered upon, a judicial sentence, which therefore also remains valid only so long as the man remains faithful in his faith in Christ” (p. 273).
Our continued justification depends therefore absolutely on our continued faith, and the implication is that this is left wholly in our hands. Justification cannot therefore be made to cover our future sins—the sin, for example, of failing faith. The predominant mode of expression confines it to past sins—and also, almost as if it were a concession somewhat grudgingly allowed, to our present sins. We read:
“We must hold in the most definite way that to him who believes in Christ, all sins are forgiven completely and wholly through the blood of Christ. Yes, we must even understand that not only all our past sins but our present sinfulness also is forgiven us, and for Christ’s sake will not be reckoned to us.… Luther says: ‘Let everyone learn to understand and believe that Christ has given Himself not only for little and conquered, but also for great and unconquered sins’ ” (p. 270).
Past and present sins—one would think that they would cover all actual sinning, and that would be enough. But Jellinghaus’ mind is disturbed about the sins yet future, and here he falters—justification does not cover all of them. It may perhaps be permitted to cover some of them—the less heinous of them, but not all. He writes:
“We may venture to say, then, that, when God justifies a believing soul, for Christ’s sake, He forgives his past sins, his present sinfulness and the still future sins of weakness (only no sins of malice aforethought or wanton, conscious indifference and unlovingness to Jesus and the brethren)” (p. 271).
This limitation of the scope of justification as regards future sins to “sins of weakness” is of course without Biblical warrant, and equally of course without intelligible meaning. Are we to suppose that the grosser sins, though unprovided for in prospect, nevertheless when actually committed fall at once within the scope of justification (which covers present sins) and are forgiven? They are not forgiven before they are committed; but as soon as they are committed they are forgiven? Whereas the milder sins do not wait for their forgiveness until they are committed, but are already forgiven in prospect?
What Jellinghaus is really laboring for here is to make room in some way for “falling from grace.” He is possessed with the fear that if he does not limit the scope of justification, at least with respect to the grosser future sins, he will give license to sin, which in the end means merely that he has more confidence in man’s efforts than in God’s grace. What he has succeeded in doing is only to destroy all possibility of assurance of salvation. Men are cast back on their own works, whether of faith or of conduct, for their hope of ultimate salvation. God’s justification is valid only if they maintain their faith and commit no sins of malice aforethought, or of conscious indifference, or unlovingness.
There is happily, however, another current of feeling which flows through Jellinghaus’ mind, disturbing the even flow of these disturbing sentiments. Christ, he tells us, has secured by His life, temptations, sufferings, death, and resurrection, this—
“that He is now, for all who give themselves to Him, a mighty, present Deliverer and Good Shepherd, who has the power not only to deliver them from the guilt and power of sin, but also to guide them surely in the way of God. This right and this might Jesus has possessed since He rose and was exalted—that He through the Holy Ghost can dwell and rule in His own” (p. 586).
In these words the negative and positive sides of Christ’s sanctifying work are both emphasized; He both delivers His people from the dominion of sin and leads them in the paths of holiness. And now, we continue:
“The power of their evil self-will is broken in believers through Christ’s death, so that they are ready and able to follow. And Jesus as the exalted one has also received believers as a possession given by the Father (John 10:29), so that no world-power and no nature-power can hinder Him in His leading of them: rather all things must work together for good to those that love and follow Jesus, and break out a way for them” (p. 587).
We read again:
“The apostles often bear witness to a firm conviction not only of the present state of grace of the Christians to whom they write, but also of their happy perseverance to the end” (p. 356).
“Precisely this chapter, Rom. 8, is full of the most glorious assurances not only of our present state of grace, but also of our abiding in the love of Christ up to the end” (p. 368).
Yet, he can say again in this general connection:
“Only conscious, deliberate sin and deliberate, witting desertion of the covenant of grace brings back again to the standpoint of an unconverted sinner” (p. 371).
Which affirms again the possibility of “falling from grace.” Obviously Jellinghaus is in this matter of a divided mind. He himself says, as a kind of conclusion to the whole matter:
“Both are taught in the Holy Scriptures—that a branch of Christ, therefore a converted man, can be cut off again on account of unfruitfulness—and that there is a personal assurance and sealing not only of the present state of grace but also of perseverance to the end, and of faithful abiding in Jesus” (p. 378).
Jellinghaus’ critics have found it difficult to make it clear to themselves precisely how he conceived sanctification to be received by faith and exactly what happens to the believer when he believes in Jesus as his complete Deliverer from the power of sin.46 What happens to the believer is that he ceases to sin; that is to say, to commit deliberate sins; ceases to sin, that is, in the sense in which Jellinghaus understands that even the sanctified cease from sinning. No change is wrought in the believer’s nature. Jellinghaus is quite vigorous in repudiating what he calls
“the unhappy error that after the reception of forgiveness of sins, we now, through an independent operation of the Holy Spirit, receive a new, independent, sanctified nature” (p. 480).
He speaks, it is true, of the cleansing of the heart, but by the heart in this connection he does not mean the nature, but only the inner springs of action; he is merely providing for the cessation of deliberate inward as well as outward sinning—our victory is over sinful desires as well as sinful transactions.47 Now, what Jellinghaus insists upon is that this transformation of heart and life (not nature) is the direct and immediate result of faith in Christ, or rather of Christ, laid hold of by faith. He that believes receives from Christ directly and immediately—these words must be taken in their strictest meaning—freedom from sinning, inward and outward. He says:
“According to the New Testament, Christ, the crucified and risen one, is the sole ground, means and power of sanctification” (p. 535).
In further explanation, he proceeds:
“Because God is holy, He wishes to restore men to holiness. It was therefore that He sent His Son on the holy sacrificial path through death to an heavenly altar. Jesus sanctified (consecrated) Himself for the men to be delivered in His sacrificial death in order that repentant men might consecrate themselves to die and live with Christ and so be sanctified in Him in the truth. Biblical sanctification is not a self-sanctification by means of self-mortification and self-improvement, or a transformation by means of mystical operations of the Holy Spirit, but it is participation in the death and resurrection power of Jesus, or in Jesus’ holiness.”
So much as this his “mediating theology” compelled him to say; but he does not make it very plain how we by thus laying hold of Him by faith become “partakers of Jesus’ holiness.” In the passage we have been quoting he treats the subject externally under the category of “consecration.” The altar sanctifies the gift, he tells; and we are thus sanctified, apparently by a kind of contact, by standing in the service of God. He only adds that in the New Testament view “this sanctification … must ever manifest itself as practical, or actual, cleansing and righteousness in the love of Christ”; that is, if we rightly understand it, the gift sanctified by the altar is made not merely sacred but holy—made holy because sacred, that it may be suitable for the service it renders.
This is of course to speak in figures. We seem to get somewhat closer to Jellinghaus’ notion of how we actually are sanctified by the reception of Christ, our Deliverer, in faith, in those passages—they are very numerous—in which he insists that sanctification is the immediate effect of “the blood of Christ” apprehended by faith, “blood” standing as the symbol of “the death-and-resurrection-powers” of Christ.48 By faith we participate in the dying and resurrection of our “organic head,” Christ, and therefore both die with Him to sin and rise again to holiness. In one of these passages,49 he more elaborately explains that sanctification is the co-product of three factors—the blood of Christ, the word of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Precisely how it is wrought by these three cooperating agents it is still not very easy to make clearly out. As the blood of Christ is communicated by the Word (the blood “im Worte” is a constant phrase) working by virtue of the Spirit inseparably connected with the Word (according to the constantly asserted Lutheran doctrine of the Word), it is natural to understand the idea intended to be conveyed to be that sanctification (it is, remember, a sanctification only of acts) is wrought directly by man’s own volition, under the influence of the Spirit, communicated by the Word concerning the cross and resurrection. We act holily because we are incited thereto by the Holy Spirit, operating in connection with the preached gospel.
This scarcely appears, it is true, to allow full validity to the constantly repeated assertion that “the blood” of Christ immediately and directly delivers from the power of sin;50 it appears rather to represent it as delivering from the power of sin only mediately and indirectly, namely, through the Word, the Spirit, and our own volitions acting under their influence. Nevertheless this seems to be essentially the manner in which the process of sanctification is conceived. The Word of God, or the gospel of Christ, the gospel of His blood—of His death and resurrection—testifying to the victory of Christ over sin and the devil, communicates to us, by the Spirit of God inseparably connected with it and always acting in, by and through it, the posse to refrain from sin and to do righteousness; we, in this communicated power walk now in newness of life, in Christ’s life, sharers with Him in His death to sin and resurrection to life. It is not out of our own nature that we do this—our own nature is evil and evil continually; it is out of “the blood of Christ,” communicated to us as a posse by the Spirit in the Word. The actio always remains, however, our own. Apparently it was thus that Jellinghaus brought together his fundamental Lutheran doctrine of the Word and the over-lying doctrine of the Mystical Union derived from the “mediating theology.”
For the latter also has something of importance to communicate. What this is we may learn from the following extract. He asks:
“How now are we, then, to understand this—that the Word of God and the truth sanctifies and vivifies us and makes us free from sin?”
And he answers:
“Is this to mean merely [this emphatic ‘merely’ is surely significant] that the teachings of the Bible make so deep an impression upon those who read and hear them that they are converted, and flee from sin, and love that which is heavenly? In that case [that is, if we think the effect is wrought merely by the natural power of the truth conveyed] the Word would give only a doctrine but not the power to regeneration and sanctification. In that case, the power to good and to victory would still come in the last analysis out of our good hearts. The Word of God and the gospel of Christ are on the contrary, such a life-giving and sanctifying power, because it is a witness of the great victory of Christ over sin and the devil, and because in the Word concerning Christ we trust in the present, mighty Deliverer. Where this Word and its declarations are now believed, there Christ is active, just because they declare true facts which authenticate themselves as true, so soon as we believe them and act accordingly” (p. 475).
In this passage the rationalistic doctrine, that the whole power of the preached gospel resides in the natural effect on our minds of the truths contained in it, is repudiated. But what is substituted for it seems not to be merely the Lutheran doctrine of a supernatural action of the Holy Spirit inseparably accompanying the Word—though that is reiteratedly provided for elsewhere—but the power of the great facts proclaimed in the Word, which, when understood, believed, and acted upon, authenticate themselves as true. To believe and rest upon these facts is to believe and rest upon Christ, the Deliverer, whose work of deliverance these facts portray. And when Christ is rested upon in faith, He is active in salvation. Our sanctification thus is an immediate, supernatural work of Christ, or, as it is currently expressed with no further meaning, of “His blood.” Precisely how Christ works it, however, remains in the vague mysticism of the “mediating theology.”
We may be advanced a little in apprehending how these two points of view—sanctification by the Holy Spirit working in the Word, and sanctification by the “blood of Christ” operating immediately on the heart—are harmonized, if we will attend to the rather extended discussions of the manner in which what Jellinghaus calls regeneration is wrought. For regeneration with him, we will remember, is the sanctification which believers receive at their first believing, and differs from the sanctification which they receive at their second believing in nothing except in its relative incompleteness. Arguing now with reference to it that it does not come gradually, but all at once, he writes as follows:
“If regeneration were a self-improvement by faith’s own power under the assistance of Christ, it would necessarily be always a very slow work. Now regeneration or the state of regeneration occurs only through Christ and in Christ and exists only in Christ, and so it can take place at once, if the sinner truly surrenders himself in trust to Christ and his sin-sick soul rests on the Crucified and Risen One. Therefore pardon, justification, sanctification and regeneration are in the Bible almost always brought into connection with the blood, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus, for only through Christ’s death and resurrection is this miracle made possible. Being regenerated means being in faith in the blood of Christ, being and becoming in the blood of Christ the Son of God justified, vivified, purified, and sanctified” (p. 303).
If in this closing definition the state of regeneration (Wiedergeborensein) appears to be identified with the state of faith—he who is “in faith in the blood of Christ” is in the state of regeneration, apparently with nothing further to say—that impression must be corrected by the declaration that regeneration is after all a “miracle,” wrought by the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is understood, in other words, definitely as a supernatural effect. But now, we continue:
“Accordingly regeneration takes place precisely like justification, above all through Christ’s cleansing and sanctifying blood, and not through the Word and the Holy Spirit alone.… By the Word … alone Jesus cannot produce regeneration; His blood (His life given in atoning death and resurrection) itself must come really into the heart, in order to vivify it and make it new. Only when the Spirit and the blood of Jesus come to actuality in the heart through faith, along with the Word, and we have died and risen with Christ, is the new birth and the new life in Christ present. If regeneration took place only through the Word and the Spirit, we could still think it an independent new life of our own in the soul, and we should be brought into the perplexity (in which so many find themselves in this question concerning regeneration)51 of supposing ourselves bound to seek a new nature in ourselves; and, not finding it, we should fall into despair and doubt. As our regeneration and our new birth and our new life lie, however, in the blood of Jesus or in the crucified and risen Deliverer-Head, we have simply to take and hold in faith the new birth or the new life in and with Christ, our Life. We need not anxiously seek a new nature in ourselves; for since our new nature does not exist independently of our connection in faith with Christ, we shall never find in us anything that satisfies.… The state of regeneration is ‘being in Christ’ or ‘being crucified and risen with Christ’ or ‘being in the blood of Jesus.’ It can therefore also be said that Christ, the Crucified and Risen One is through our surrender in faith in the Holy Spirit, our life and our regeneration.… Though it is often said in the Bible that regeneration takes place through faith, that is not to be understood as if faith itself was the cause of regeneration, or even was the regeneration itself. Regeneration takes place through faith only in the sense that through faith, the Word and the Holy Spirit and Christ’s death and resurrection come in us to life-giving activity and also abide in us only through faith. My faith is not my regeneration, but my faith has laid hold of Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, the Beginning of the New Creation, the sure Guide, Shepherd and King, through the word of the Holy Ghost, as eternal life and the author of my childship to God, and holds fast to Him. The producing cause of justification, regeneration, conversion and sanctification is Christ’s word, spirit, blood; faith is, on the other hand, only its receptive cause” (pp. 304–306).
It all comes back, then, to this, that regeneration—and with it sanctification—is being in Christ, the Holy One, and sharing, because we are in Him, in His holiness. Faith is the bond that unites us to Christ, and therefore it is through faith that we are in Him and have His holiness. Nothing is really explained beyond that; but the vagueness belongs not especially to Jellinghaus himself, but to the mysticism of the “mediating theology,” whose conceptions he is here only repeating.
Two children clearly are striving together in the womb of Jellinghaus’ mind. He is doing what he can to transmit faithfully the Higher Life doctrine he received so enthusiastically at Oxford. But his fundamental theology does not run on its lines. The result is that the Higher Life doctrine is profoundly modified. All its framework remains. We still hear of immediate deliverance from the power of sin by faith alone. We still hear of the second blessing, of cessation of sinning, of complete sanctification now. But the old language does not carry with it the old fulness of meaning. Everything is reduced, and the real constructive force, working under the modified explanations, proceeds not from the Higher Life conception but from the “mediating theology.” Jellinghaus’ “Perfectionism” thus is a more moderate “Perfectionism” than that of his Higher Life teachers. It remains, nevertheless, though a moderate “Perfectionism,” yet a real “Perfectionism.” It is therefore no more really acceptable than theirs. We need not, however, stay to point out in detail its inherent impossibilities. Jellinghaus has himself passed judgment on it; and, not content with passing judgment on it, he has actually executed it. Let it rest in the grave to which he has himself consigned it.
1 From The Biblical Review, iv. 1919, pp. 376–406, and 561–590: published by The Biblical Seminary in New York; cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 343–399. http://faithsaves.net.
2 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” 1880, 1886, 1890, 1898, 1903.
3 “Erklärungen über meine Lehrirrungen,” 1912.
4 Of course it is very possible to avoid the appearance of this, as Hermann Benser does in his “Das moderne Gemeinschaftschristentum,” 1910, pp. 24 ff., as also in his article on the same subject in Schiele und Zscharnack, “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” ii. 1910, coll. 1267 f., by writing ostensibly on the Piety of Fellowship Christianity. It comes, however, to the same thing in the end. Cf. Th. Hardeland’s admirable exposition in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, pp. 42 ff.
5 “Das völlige gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” (1880) 1903; “Der Römerbrief,” 1903; “Die I. Joh. Epistel,” 1899; “Sieg und Leben,” 1906; “Leben aus Gott,” “Erklärungen über meine Lehrirrungen,” 1912. He edited also from 1899 Mitteilungen aus der Bibelschule.
6 Valuable expositions and criticisms of Jellinghaus’ theology will be found in: Th. Hardeland, “Die Evangelisation mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Heiligungsbewegung” in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, pp. 53 ff.; L. Clasen, “Heiligung im Glauben; mit Rücksicht auf die heutige Heiligungsbewegung,” in the Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, x. 1900, pp. 457 ff.; and P. Gennrich, “Wiedergeburt und Heiligung mit Bezug auf die gegenwärtigen Strömungen des religiösen Lebens,” 1908. The former two use the second, the last the fifth edition of Jellinghaus’ book. Cf. also Ernst Rietschel, “Lutherische Rechtfertigungslehre oder moderne Heiligungslehre?” 1909; and Paul Fleisch’s series of books on the “Gemeinschaftsbewegung.”
7 Born at Schlüsselburg near Minden in Württemberg; became missionary in India in 1865; pastor at Rädnitz near Grossen on the Oder in 1873; pastor at Gütergotz, near Potsdam, in 1881; made Emeritus in 1894. He founded in 1885 the first Bible school of the Fellowship Movement and trained in it many workers; he also published, from 1899 on, Mitteilungen aus der Bibelschule.
8 For example, p. 144: “The same word concerning Christ that brings Christ to our hearts, works also the power to faith in us through the Holy Spirit who dwells in it, so that everyone who will can believe in Christ”—that is, every hearer of the gospel who will, not everyone absolutely.
9 Those who wish to see this doctrine expressed in a form indistinguishable from Jellinghaus’ may profitably read the essay on “The Work of Jesus Christ,” in F. Godet’s “Studies on the New Testament,” E. T. ed. 5, 1883, pp. 148–200, to which Jellinghaus elsewhere makes admiring allusions. It was published in 1873, nearly a year before the Oxford Meeting of 1874.
10 Jellinghaus’ doctrine of sacrifice belongs to the class of “symbolical” theories, grounded on the hypothesis of Baer. There is no “juristically substitutive, bloody penal death”; the significance of the rite lies not in the idea of “expiation,” but in that of “drawing near.” The chief matters are the “altar” and the “blood,” the symbols respectively of the presence of God and the life of the offerer. The offerer approaches God, but being himself impure, comes into His presence through a substituted pure life. This is somehow supposed, by an organic union with the victim, to purify him.
11 Die Christliche Welt, xix. 1905, coll. 890 ff.
12 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” 1898, p. 20.
13 Op. cit., p. 21.
14 The terms erlösen, Erlösung, Erlöser, have, in Jellinghaus, no connotation of “redemption” in the proper sense of that term—as indeed Lösegeld itself has no connotation of “ransoming.” They are all confined strictly by him to the general idea of “deliverance.”
15 Unless otherwise indicated, the quotations, given with page numbers only, are from the fourth edition of “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum.”
16 Cf. the parallel statement, pp. 376 f., note.
17 Part II. chap. vii. pp. 557 ff.
18 He does, however, adduce Acts 15:9 in this sense elsewhere. For Acts 26:18, see p. 567.
19 In contact as he was with a Pietistic community, Jellinghaus was much exercised over the Pietistic idea of the Christian life as a “daily repentance,” the exact antipodes of his notion that we receive by faith immediately full sanctification—which leaves no room for daily sins to be repented of. He says (p. 123) that “it is utterly un-Biblical to assume that every believing Christian falls into known sins daily and therefore must repent daily.” He says it is unendurable that Christians should pray: “Forgive us the many unconscious and conscious sins which we have done this day.” “That is,” he asserts, “in the case of really converted Christians, who commit no sin with knowledge and intention, and to whom the saying belongs, ‘Rather die than to sin consciously,’ a highly unthinking mode of speech” (p. 126). He is thrown into a flutter by every suggestion that Christians “sin daily” or that the mark of the Christian is continuous repentance. We are to repent once for all (p. 122) and after that—not sin. In what sense he is willing to admit the propriety of “daily repentance” the passages quoted in the text show.
20 “In the Bible,” it is immediately added, not without significance, “most is said of the first surrender at conversion.”
21 The phrase “baptism with the Holy Spirit,” means with Jellinghaus just regeneration; e.g. p. 312, “the baptism with the Holy Spirit, that is, regeneration.” He does not admit the propriety of its use of a new experience superinduced on regeneration and sanctification, as, for example, “Pastor” Paul used it.
22 Pp. 691 f.
23 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” ed. 4, p. 621. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations with page numbers are from this work.
24 E.g. p. 640.
25 P. 601. The exceptions are such as in 1 Tim. 1:15, where Paul speaks of himself as the “chief” of sinners—referring, Jellinghaus alleges, solely to his past; and James 4:8 and 5:20, which certainly refer to the present.
26 Pp. 325 ff.
27 Pp. 600 ff.
28 Pp. 602 f.
29 P. 611.
30 Pp. 606 f.
31 P. 625.
32 Pp. 300 f.
33 P. 627.
34 P. 633.
35 Cf. p. 627, where we are told that the believer “knows that the dominion of sin reaches further than his consciousness of sin.” “Therefore it is,” he adds, “also a wrong expression to speak of ‘complete holiness and perfect purity, of a work free from sin and sinless, or even of the sinless perfection’ of the wholly consecrated Christian: for, according to the declarations of the apostles there is no such thing as an objectively ‘complete holiness and purity’ of the Christian.”
36 Cf. p. 614, for example, where we are told that 1 John 3:19–21 assures us of the fact that “even souls which are sanctified in a high measure, like those to whom John writes, are often entangled in things of which they are not sure whether they are brought by them into guilt and separation from God”; and then it is added: “Sanctified Christians often are burdened by a more or less clear feeling of guilt because of some particular matter, or because of their whole condition.”
37 L. Clasen, Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, x. 1900, p. 472, very naturally remarks that there is an appearance “that Jellinghaus himself has no real confidence in his ‘possibility of not sinning.’ ” His “no longer sinning” in point of fact means little more than the ordinary “no longer living under the dominion of sin” (p. 471).
38 Above, p. 380.
39 P. 611.
40 P. 390.
41 P. 676.
42 A parallel passage will be found on p. 233.
43 P. 670.
44 P. 671.
45 P. 265.
46 What P. Gennrich (“Wiedergeburt und Heiligung,” 1908, pp. 34 ff.) objects to is really the strong supernaturalism of Jellinghaus’ teaching. It outrages him that Jellinghaus should say: “We are just as little to produce the Christian nature and sanctification as we produced the Adam-nature itself” (“Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” ed. 5, p. 465; ed. 4, p. 468). It certainly is difficult nevertheless to understand precisely how “the blood of Christ,” received by an act of faith, produces immediately a sanctification which is not of nature but of act. All that the mystical writers like Jellinghaus say in explanation is that Christ by faith in Him becomes our “organic Head,” and we as His members receive all that He has and is, and therefore are in Him free from sinning. This, however, explains nothing.
47 Pp. 617, 625.
48 A careful statement by Martin Schian of what Jellinghaus means by “the blood of Jesus” will be found in Schiele und Zscharnack’s “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” i. 1909, col. 1701: “Through a theory of sacrifice derived from the Old Testament he opens the way to the fundamental proposition that Christ’s blood means not only the death of Jesus but also the resurrected life of Jesus: in the blood of Jesus there are not merely the death-powers of Jesus, but also the eternal life-, love-, truth-, righteousness- and sanctification-giving resurrection-powers of Jesus.… Christ’s blood is in the end nothing but a combination of the powers lying in the death and resurrection; but in other passages the blood appears apparently as something distinct by the side of the death and resurrection: it is almost a saving-power for itself.”
49 Pp. 474 ff.
50 There is an amazing instance of the use of this notion in an extremely physical sense in a footnote on p. 554.
51 There is an echo here of an old debate in the Fellowship circles. Cf. Gelshorn, Die Christliche Welt, xix. 1905, col. 855.