Several months ago I picked up a book entitled The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. I got it for .25 at a thrift store.
If you know me, you know I’m going to hate this book just from the title. I knew I would going in, but it was next on my pile ‘o books.
I am about half done with it as of this writing. This book falls into what is labeled Keswick Theology. Keswick Theology is all about yielding and trusting and abiding and resting. “Let go and let God” is an appropriate summation of their thinking.
Keswick Theology is focused on sanctification–being made holy. Their opinion is that lots of people try to be holy, only to fail. They should stop. They just need to yield and God will holify them all by Himself.
I appreciate their desire to overcome sin and be holy. Nothing wrong with that. I detest their take on how it happens.
Although this theology was invented to help people overcome works and legalism, it merely puts you in another defeatist spiral of circular thinking.
“I try to be holy but I can’t” says a Struggling believer.
“Stop trying and just yield to God.” says a Keswickian believer.
“How do I yield to God?”
“Just give it all to Him.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, you know, yield. Let Him do it for you. Stop trying.”
“So I do nothing then?”
“Yes, just yield and abide.”
“Isn’t yielding and abiding doing something?”
“No, it’s yielding and abiding.”
“How do I know when I’ve yielded?”
“Because you will feel at peace.”
“What if I don’t feel at peace?”
“Stop it! Just yield. Trust your yielding, forget the feelings.”
“But you just said I’ll know I’ve yielded when I feel peace?”
On and on it goes. The bottom line is that you have to do something. The author takes 175 pages to tell me the steps I have to take to do nothing and rightly yield. You can’t just do nothing, as doing nothing is doing something. It’s a confusing jumble of circular reasoning.
I find it very frustrating to read this and frustrating to talk to people who buy into it. The Bible is filled with verses about fighting, running, fleeing, putting off and putting on, bringing the body under subjection, etc.
Keswick Theology never mentions these verses. They’ll talk about vines until they are blue in the face, however.
This Happy Life book is a Keswick Classic. It is written by Hannah Whitall-Smith. Her and her husband were Keswick leaders and went all over the world preaching, teaching, and writing about yielding and the victorious life.
This continued until Mr. Smith started having adulterous flings. He renounced Christianity and divorced his wife. Hannah also renounced Keswick Theology and became a Universalist.
Although you can’t necessarily dismiss a theology because the theologians behind it are creepy, it certainly should enter into your critique of the theology.
I have little respect for Keswick Theology. It’s nothing more than the opening rounds of Positive Thinking gibberish. Think it and you will be it.
Sorry. Sanctification is warfare; not some sort of transcendental meditation, feel good, psychological blather.
Thank you. I feel better now. I am, in fact, currently A Happy Christian. Hey! The book worked!