From Purity to Power: A study in the development of the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit


This dissertation is looking at the development of the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit in nineteenth century America.  It will be confined to looking at the change of emphasis from purity to power during the course of the century.  Consequently, the subject of whether the baptism of the Spirit is subsequent to salvation or not will not be examined.  However, it is important to state that all those involved in the development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit believed that it was an experience subsequent to salvation.    Furthermore, the issue of subsequence has been debated widely by such scholars asJames D.G. Dunn,  J. Rodman Williams, John Stott and Max Turner1;  this is not the place to pursue this vital issue.  Another issue that will not be discussed is the debate about the initial evidence of speaking in tongues as expounded in Pentecostal circles; this is an ongoing debate with contributions from such writers as Gary McGee, Roger Stronstad and Gordon Fee2.  Although this is a vital issue for Pentecostal theology, it does not in any way contribute to an understanding of the doctrine in terms of purity and power.

 Having briefly said what is not going to be discussed in this dissertation it is now necessary  explain the purpose of this paper more fully.  It will reflect an interest that has been maintained for many years in the debate surrounding the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit; for the last three years  the focus of this interest has been the connection between purity and power.   No one to my knowledge has looked at the development of the doctrine to see the changes that have come about.   This paper then is only a beginning in an attempt to fill the gap, the attempt is being made but it is only a beginning..  Authors have been selected who had a great impact on the  development of the doctrine.   It has therefore been necessary to show both the continuing streams of Holiness teaching and the developments that led to the Pentecostal formulation.

H.I.Lederle has said,

The emphasis that Spirit-baptism was not an eradication of sin from the heart but power to live victoriosly brought a parting of the ways in Holiness circles.   Over against the Wesleyan-Holiness approach, several prominent leaders began to propagate the Keswick version of the second blessing: D.L .Moody, R.A. Torrey, A.J .Gordon, A.B  Simpson, and Alexander Dowie.   The focus of the Keswick teaching seemed to shift somewhat in America.   More and more it was the enduement with power, the anointing for ministry that was underlined rather than the somewhat uncomfortable teaching of a sinless existence via exercising “resting” faith.    The dynamics of this shift have to my knowledge not yet been researched.  That it occurred in this manner is merely an assumption which the different reports have led me to make.3

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that what for Lederele was an assumption is in fact rooted in the developments of the Nineteenth Century.   It will therefore attempt to show something of that development on the following pages.   It must be noted at the outset that although this development took place and led to Pentecostalism, there was also the continuing development of the Holiness model.   In this paper,  Daniel Steele   has been used as  an example of this.  The writing of A.M. Hills has been an influence on the discussion that follows, his book, Holiness and Power4, has been helpful as an overview of the debate then taking place.

 This paper will therefore look briefly at the historical context and then proceed to examining individual contributions to this development, it will also include a chapter on early Pentecostalism.

Historical Overview:  This section  will try to briefly set the doctrinal development in its social setting.   The nineteenth century was one of immense change, in America and the country was developing at an astounding rate in many ways.  New areas were being populated and the pioneers were pushing into the west.   The industrial society was developing with its belief in unlimited progress.   All this had an effect on the religious life of the country.   The greatest impact of all were the political developments leading up to the Civil War; these divided both the church and the nation.   The War challenged the idea  of unlimited progress and the church began to dwell on the sinful nature of mankind.   Somewhere around 1857 there was a marked transition from the postmillenial view of prophecy (with its optimistic outlook) to a premillenial view ( with its more pessimistic outlook).   At the same time there was a shift in emphasis concerning the possibility of evangelising the whole World, it was no longer considered possible to conquer the whole world for Christ, but rather to proclaim the Gospel to the whole World with little hope of a great harvest. Both D. William Faupel and Donald Dayton have shown the influence of these developments upon early Pentecostalism5.

Religious thinking was also linked to the predominance of individualism in society and this can be clearly seen in the writings of this period.   There was a great emphasis on religious experience either in the area of conversion or sanctification.   In the early part of the century this had been closely linked to a social awareness  which can be seen in the Oberlin Movement’s commitment to the abolition of slavery.  After 1857 this became muted although both the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements were greatly concerned to reach the poor and needy with the Gospel. Having said this the emphasis was on conversion not on the social problems.

It is also necessary to look briefly at some of the developments within the church regarding the development of the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.   The first formulation of this doctrine was amongst the Methodists, the American Methodists were greatly influenced by John Fletcher at this point.   Early texts point to a knowledge of  John Fletcher’s Last Check to Antinomianism6.   It is hard to trace the very early developments of this doctrine, indeed it has been suggested by Peters that the doctrine of Christian Perfection was neglected at the beginning of the nineteenth century7.    This view has been contested by Allan Coppedgee in his article “ Entire Sanctification in Early American Methodism 1812-18358”.   Coppedge demonstrates that there is evidence for the teaching of Christian perfection in this time of alleged neglect.    However, what is certain is that there was a greater emphasis from 1835 onwards; from this time Phoebe Palmer was developing her Tuesday meeting, Charles Finney and Asa Mahan were also wrestling with the doctrine of entire sanctification at this time.   Soon camp meetings for the promotion of holiness were being held and out of this thrust were to grow both the Wesleyan-Holiness stream and the Keswick higher life stream.  In the following pages,  the teaching of the following people will be examined(1)John Wesley and John Fletcher, (2) Charles Finney, (3) Asa Mahan, (4) Phoebe Palmer, (5) Daniel Steele, (6) R.A. Torrey and (7) Early Pentecostalism.

My main concern in the pages that follow is the development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the transition from the main emphasis being on purity to that of its being power. My conclusion will summarise the arguments and try to show their relevance for today.

                           Wesley and Fletcher

John Wesley and John Fletcher, through their involvement in the Great Awakening were influential not only in Britain but also in America.   Methodism soon took root in America and it was to be the teachings of Wesley and Fletcher that dominated its development.   This is particularly seen in the discussion of the work of the Holy Spirit.   It is through the Wesleyan influence that we first encounter clear teaching about a second work of grace subsequent to conversion.   As we shall see below Wesley and Fletcher differed to some extent in their presentation of this; it was Fletcher who first used the terminology of baptism of the Holy Spirit.9  Wesley did not accept this terminology.   The aim of both men was to promote holiness and they were united in their teaching of entire sanctification.   Entire sanctification was to become the distinguishing mark of Wesleyan theology as opposed to the belief in only progressive sanctification held by the rest of the evangelical movement.

John Wesley and his colleagues stressed the need for a radical cleansing of the heart subsequent to conversion, this would result in the believer being able to love God with his whole being.   Fletcher and Wesley were united at this point, it is only in the articulation of the doctrine of entire sanctification that we begin to detect the difference between the two.  It is necessary to look at the difference between these two great founding fathers of Methodism but it is important at the outset to stress the overriding unity of these two men who worked together for years.

                                                                                                                                                       When Fletcher began to use baptism of the Holy Ghost language he did so in a very different way than it is used today.  It is important to understand Fletcher on his own terms and not read back later conceptions into his thinking whether these be Wesleyan or Pentecostal.  Since the eighteenth century this language has been developed and indeed radically changed, as this dissertation will seek to demonstrate.

Fletcher’s Last Check10, is for the most part a classic statement of the Wesleyan theology of entire sanctification.  It is only a small amount of this work that sets forth Fletcher’s views about the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Although this is a clear break from Wesley’s terminology, Fletcher could never have imagined how significant this statement would be for the development of the doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit in subsequent generations and perhaps even more significantly the experiential impact this would have.  It is no exaggeration to say that the present development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit has its roots in the writings of Fletcher.

It is now necessary to outline both Wesley’s and Fletcher’s teachings.  .The examination of Wesley will concentrate on his argument as outlined  in his,  A Plain Account of Christian Perfection11.   Fletcher’s teaching will then be looked at, relying mainly upon, The Last Check to Antinomianism12 .

JOHN WESLEY;  John Wesley wrote his A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, to demonstrate that he had held to the same teaching for many years.  Mildred Bangs Wynkoop has described Wesley’s theology as “A Theology of Love”13.   This can be seen in the following words of John Wesley,

A Methodist is one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind and with all his strength.  God is the joy of his heart and the desire of his soul, which is continually crying “Whom have I in heaven but thee?  And there is none upon earth whom I desire besides Thee.”  My God and my all! “Thou art the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  He is therefore happy in God;  yea always happy, as having in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and overflowing his soul with peace and joy.    Perfect love having now cast out fear, he rejoices ever More. 14

Having stated this Wesley is only too aware of the fact of man’s sinfulness by nature and he asks what God promise’s to do.  His answer is that God will so cleanse the hearts of his people as they receive his promise, then sin is removed from the person, Wesley expressed it in these words,

But whom then, do you mean by “one that is perfect”?   We mean one in whom is “the mind of Christ,” and who so walketh as Christ also walked;  a man that hath clean hands and a pure heart, or that is cleaned from all filthiness of flesh and spirit;  one in whom is “no occasion of stumbling” and who, accordingly “does not commit sin.”15

Wesley is speaking of what he called, “sin properly so called”, not the results of the fall that lead to mistakes and wrong judgements but the wilful violation of God’s law.   Unless we understand Wesley at this point we are likely to misrepresent his views.   Wesley never taught sinless perfection.   He insisted that at all stages of the Christian life the believer would need to honestly pray the Lord’s prayer with its cry for forgiveness.

Wesley believed that entire sanctification is a second work of grace, many believers do not receive this blessing until just prior to death. However,  Wesley believed that both the Old and New Testaments in their teaching, prayers and promises, lead to an expectation that entire sanctification is available to all believers and therefore should be prayerfully sought at once.

JOHN FLETCHER;   John Fletcher’s influence on the Methodist revival was very significant, John.A.Knight said,

 Fletcher’s writings gave the Methodist Revival an intellectual and theological foundation which today is almost universally accepted as a matter of course.  After he finished what he had to say on predestination, election, free will, good works, and Christian perfection, there was little left to be said-save for the perennial task of adapting to continuously changing cultural conditions.16

It is therefore important to look at Fletcher’s contribution to the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  His teaching gave a fresh impetus to preach, study and receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit.   It is important to understand what Fletcher actually taught  rather than viewing him through the lenses of later developments. This is of vital importance when looking at his phraseology, for instance he uses the term ‘dispensations’ in a very different way to modern dispensationalist writers.   For Fletcher there were three dispensations which marked a Trinitarian pattern in history.  According to Fletcher the present age is the Age of the Holy Spirit, an age in which we can receive the rich blessings of assurance, and entire sanctification, the latter through the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  To understand John Fletcher rightly it is important to examine a rather long quotation from The Last Check.

Upon the whole, it is, I think, undeniable, from the first four chapters of the Acts, that a peculiar power of the Spirit is bestowed upon believers under the Gospel of Christ; that this power, through faith on our part, can operate the most sudden and surprising change in our souls; and that when faith shall fully embrace the promise of full sanctification, or of a complete “circumcision of the heart in the Spirit,” The Holy Ghost, who kindled so much love on the day of Pentecost, that all the primitive believers loved or seemed to love one another without sinful self seeking; and as soon as we do so “God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us,” 1John iv,12; John xiv, 23.

Should you ask, how many baptisms, or effusions of the sanctifying Spirit are necessary to cleanse a believer from all sin, and to kindle his soul into perfect love; I reply, that the effect of a sanctifying truth depending upon the ardour of the faith which that truth is embraced, and upon the power of the Spirit with which it is applied, I should betray a want of modesty if I brought the operations of the Holy Ghost, and the energy of faith, under a rule which is not expressly laid down in the Scriptures….. If one powerful baptism of the Spirit “seal you unto the day of redemption, and cleanse you from all [moral] filthiness,” so much the better.  If two or more be necessary, the Lord can repeat them:  “His arm is not shortened that it cannot save;”  nor is the promise of the Spirit stinted: he says, in general “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.  If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father[ who is goodness itself] give his Holy [ sanctifying] Spirit to them that ask him!”  I may, however, venture to say, in general, that before we can rank among perfect Christians, we must receive so much of the truth and Spirit of Christ by faith, as to have the pure love of God and man shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us, and to be filled with the meek and lowly mind which was in Christ.   And if one outpouring of the Spirit, one bright manifestation of the sanctifying truth, so empties us of self, as to fill us with the mind of Christ, we are undoubtedly Christians in the full sense of the word.17

The above quotation shows clearly that Fletcher equated the baptism of the Spirit with entire sanctification.   The emphasis for Fletcher is thus upon purity not power.  This passage also demonstrates the continuities and discontinuities between Fletcher and Wesley.  The emphasis on holiness and entire sanctification is a direct continuation of Wesley’s thinking.  The distinction comes through describing the experience as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

This passage also shows a difference between Fletcher and most subsequent teaching on the baptism with the Holy Spirit.   Fletcher perceives that there may be a need for more than one baptism with the Spirit, subsequent teaching has stressed the uniqueness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as one unrepeatable experience.   It can be seen from the above that Fletcher had a greater fluidity to his teaching than later formulations.   The later Holiness and Pentecostal formulations do not have the same regard to the relationship between God and the believer as is found in Fletcher.

Fletcher’s great passion was to see holiness in the lives of believers.  His teaching on the baptism with the Spirit was subservient to this, as he saw this as a means to an end.  Because of this Fletcher emphasised not only the crisis but also progressive growth in grace.  Fletcher urged people to seek instant deliverance from their sins while at the same time  realising that God may not grant the blessing according to the expectation of the believer.   Fletcher’s strong belief in what the Holy Spirit can do, gave him high expectations but it never tied him to a neat formula.   Although Fletcher in his setting forth of the doctrine of sanctification is clearly synergystic, he gives the primacy to divine grace but the role of the individual in responding to that grace is presented forcefully.

CONCLUSION;  Wesley and Fletcher are very close in their thinking, their unity needs to be stressed more than their diversity.  While this is true, one needs to recognise their individual contributions to the doctrine of holiness.   John Wesley seems to have first articulated the idea of a second work of grace but it was John Fletcher who identified that work with the baptism of the Spirit.   Dayton says,

Wesley and Fletcher shared much, but their differences were more than semantic and terminological.  These hints of conflict reveal some fundamental divergence’s that underlay their commonality.  In other times and other circumstances these subtle nuances could become accentuated and reveal more clearly a basic ambiguity inherited from the era of classical Methodism.18

In the following chapters we will see how some of these nuances became accentuated in the American Holiness Revival.

                            CHARLES FINNEY

In approaching Charles Finney we need to briefly look at the transition years between him and the earlier writings of Wesley and Fletcher.   Timothy Smith implies that Methodism adopted the Pentecostal terminology direct from Finney but this is disputable on the evidence of the very text that he appeals to George Peck’s, Christian Perfection.19   George Peck can be quite critical of Finney and believes the view that he sets out is the orthodox Wesleyan one.   Before  proceeding it is important to let Smith speak for himself;  he says,

The transfer of Finney’s Pentecostal language into American Methodism was direct and immediate.  George.O.Peck, editor of the influential Methodist weekly, the New York Christian Advocate, paid close attention to Finney’s lectures as they appeared in  The Oberlin Evangelist in 1839 and 1840.  In the fall of the latter year, he became the first Methodist I know since John Fletcher to have equated the experience of entire sanctification with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.20.

In a footnote Smith describes Peck’s Christian Perfection as a response to Finney when he says “this volume consists of his lectures in New York City in response to developments at Oberlin.”21   Daniel Steele offers a very different explanation for the writing of Peck’s volume, he says,

In addition to these are the testimonies of some who held the so-called Zinderzorf theory of entire sanctification in the new  birth. A notable instance is that of Dr. Francis Hodgson, who was tried about sixty years ago by his conference for this heresy……. The New York conference which tried him, at the same time requested Dr. George Peck to write a refutation of this error. Thus originated Peck’s Christian Perfection, which was for a long time in the course of conference studies.22

Peck himself says,

The writer professes no new light-broaches no new theory; his views, as far as he understands the subject, are strictly Wesleyan. These views he endeavoured to free from false glosses, to vindicate against objections, and to enforce by reasons which address themselves to the highest principles and susceptibilities of our nature.23

This statement shows clearly that Peck did not see himself as departing from the orthodox teaching of the Methodism of his day.   It seems that what was being taught in the church was a minor development of John Wesley’s and John Fletcher’s teaching, indeed Peck, appeals to Wesley and Fletcher in the development of his thinking.   The most credible view seems to be that entire sanctification was preached and taught within the churches but the orthodox view had to be defended in print when it was criticised from both within Methodism and from without.   Indeed the material gathered by Allan Coppedge in his article “Entire Sanctification in Early American Methodism 1812-1835”,  points in the same direction24.   It seems evident that although there had been a decline in Holiness preaching in the early years of the nineteenth century as Peters demonstrates25 there had not been an entire abandonment of classic Wesleyan teaching.   Indeed, it is quite probable that others were advancing in their formulation of this doctrine.   Peck is more indebted to Fletcher in his theology than he is to Finney.   His quotations from, The Last Check, show this dependence clearly.   Peck should therefore be seen as one who stands consciously and consistently in the Wesleyan tradition.   In the light of the above we need to ask, how much was Charles Finney influenced by Wesleyan thinking?   In 1837 Finney gave some lectures on Christian perfection in which he shows an awareness of perfectionist literature, he says,

I will say despite the errors into which some of these so called perfectionists have fallen, the Bible does teach Christian perfection, and the Bible doctrine on this subject is what nobody needs to fear, but what everybody needs to know.   I disclaim, entirely, the charge of maintaining the peculiarities, whatever they be, of modern perfectionists.   I have read their publications and have much knowledge of them as individuals, and I cannot assent to many of their views.   But the doctrine of Christian perfection is a duty is one which I have always maintained, I have become more convinced of it in these last few months, and that it is attainable in this life.26

A few pages later Charles Finney explicitly refers to John Wesley and his views of Christian perfection, he said,

I have recently read Mr. Wesley’s  Plain Account of Christian Perfection, a book I never saw until lately.   I find some expressions in it to which I should object, but I believe it is the expression rather than the sentiments. And I think, with this qualification, it is an admirable book, and I wish every member of this church to read it.27

The above quotations were written two years before Finney started to articulate his view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.    This seems to demonstrate clearly the influence of Wesleyan thinking upon Finney.   It raises the question, did some of the books Finney read identify the baptism of the Holy Spirit with entire sanctification?

 Charles Finney’s thinking developed over the years, his earliest teaching about the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given in 1839-40 and is contained in the collection of essays and letters compiled by Timothy Smith under the title The Promise of The Spirit.28   His mature thinking is contained in his, Power from on High29.   Some editions of Power from on High were under the same cover as Asa Mahan’s Baptism with the Holy Ghost30.  Finney and Mahan were good friends and both made significant contributions to the development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.    Asa Mahan’s teaching will therefore be examined in the next chapter.

The Development of Charles Finney’s teaching: Although Charles Finney did not start teaching about the baptism with the Holy Spirit until 1839-1840, one can see in some of his early writings, the seed from which his thinking developed.  This can be seen in some of his comments in his, Lectures on Revival31 .   These lectures were delivered in 1834 and show Finney’s views in an embryonic form.  Chapter 7, shows the need for Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit and yet Finney has not yet embraced the doctrine of entire sanctification, as can be seen in his reference to the struggle caused by “your remaining  corruption’s” 32.   But Finney is already stressing the need to be filled with the Spirit and correlating this with power for evangelism.   Finney says,

You will know how to use tools and strategies to convert unbelievers.   The Holy Spirit in you will lead you to use means wisely.   You will adapt them well and avoid hurting people.   No one void of God’s Spirit is fit to direct the tactics of revival.   Their hands are all thumbs–unable to take hold–and they act as if they missed out on common sense.   But the person led by the Spirit will have correct timing and apply the truth to fullest advantage.33

Finney taught at this stage that being filled with the Spirit gave assurance and power.  Finney strongly exhorts believers to be filled with the Spirit but at this time he has not yet developed the teaching on the baptism of the Spirit.  It is important to note at this early stage Finney is already using the altar terminology which is normally associated with Pheobe Palmer.   An example of this is when Finney says,

True conversion involves consecrating ourselves and all we have to Him, as far as we understand what this implies.   But new believers are in no way aware of everything involved in consecration’s highest forms.   At first their only thought is to lay their soul naked upon the altar and give their whole hearts to God–their possessions or other things close to them. They surrendered everything they thought of at the time about every appetite, passion, inclination, desire and love– everything they call their own–and thoroughly surrender them all to God.  Gaining such knowledge takes time.

And yet fully surrendering everything we are, have, desire and love, as quickly as these objects come to mind, is a condition of growth in God’s favour.34

The emphasis on consecration here is also similar to later Keswick teaching.

One passage that proves that Finney had not yet accepted the teaching of the baptism of the Spirit as a second work of grace, is his comment made in the context of his discussion of growth in grace, Finney says,

The fact is that every step of progress in the Christian life is taken by a fresh appropriation of Christ by faith, a fuller baptism of the Holy Spirit. As our weaknesses, infirmities, and recurring sins are revealed to us by the circumstances we face, our only help is found in Christ.   We grow only as we step by step appropriate Him more fully, as we fully “put him on.”   We mature only as fast as we are emptied of self-dependence, as we renounce any expectation of forming holy habits through our own obedience, as we partake by faith of deeper and deeper baptisms of the Holy Spirit, and as we thoroughly put on the Lord Jesus  Christ.35

Finney seems to have some concept of a baptism of the Holy  Spirit but this seems to be a very profound spiritual experience which enables the believer to grow in grace.   Although he would stress growth in grace to his dying day, his views on sanctification and the baptism with the Holy Spirit were to develop over the years.

In his sermon on Christian Perfection published in 1837 and quoted above, Finney clearly embraces entire sanctification but his views seem closer to Wesley than to Fletcher.    Finney was forced by his early revival ministry to ask himself some searching questions and as a result try to be more effective in ministry.   The result of this was he gave closer attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.   Finney published the results of his reflections in the Oberlin Evangelist in the period 1839-1840 (and reprinted as The Promise of The Spirit).   It is in these articles and letters that he first teaches the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Timothy Smith thinks that in these articles we have the roots of much of the holiness teaching of the nineteenth century36, however, Finney’s comments are somewhat vague.  The biggest problem at this point is that Finney mentions the baptism of the Spirit and the need for it, but he never defines it! Indeed Finney seems to presume that his readers will know what he is talking about, but did they?   The context of the surrounding sermons might cause one to think that he is referring to entire sanctification but one cannot be sure.

Finney’s letter of 6th May 184037 is concerned about grounding new Christians in their faith so that they would grow in the knowledge and grace of God.   Point 5 develops the idea of entire sanctification and is followed by point 6 where Finney teaches the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   This is an example of Finney presuming his readers would understand him although he does not define his terms.   The irony of the matter is that Finney does not do what he call for in this letter when he says,

Converts should therefore have their attention definitely directed to what this blessing is–its nature, how it is to be obtained, to what extent and with what degree of permanency it may be expected.    In short, they need to be baptized into the very death of Christ and by this baptism to be slain and buried and planted and crucified and raised to a life of holiness in Christ.   Anything short of this will leave the convert to inevitable backsliding; and to this attainment I am persuaded he may be led by suitable painstaking on the part of his religious teachers.38

Finney clearly links entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit but the question must be asked:  Is the baptism an experience of cleansing or empowering?   The context gives no clear answer to this question.   In his next letter dated 3rd June 1840,39 Finney seems to see the baptism in terms of power.

Now the thing which they need and must have, before they will have power with God or man, is the baptism of the Holy Ghost.   Without this they will forever remain in the dark in regard to spiritual wants of the church. And however learned, philosophical, metaphysical, logical or, if you please, theological their sermons may be, they will always be wide of the mark and never meet the necessities of the church until they are baptised with the Holy Ghost.   They need to be set apart to the work by the anointing of God.40

In this letter Finney refers to being endued with power from on high, powerful ministries are ascribed to the baptism of the Spirit. At this stage ambiguities are apparent in Finney’s teaching.  Purity and power are both taught but the link between them and the baptism of the Holy Spirit is never explicated.   John Gresham notices the difference between the two letters when he says,

In the second letter, Finney stressed the importance that ministers be baptized with the Holy Spirit.   In the context he stressed not the sanctifying effects of this Baptism, but its empowering.   This was the one needful thing, more important than ministerial education, that the minister of the gospel be “endued with power from on high” that he receive this anointing which would give him “power with God or man.”   The “main design and bearing” of this baptism of the apostles at Pentecost, as well as ministers today, “was to fill them with light and love and power in preaching the Gospel.”41

Finney’s use of Pentecostal language to describe the baptism with the Holy Spirit is seen in its fullest development in his book Power from on High42.   The title shows that Finney’s concern at this point is receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.   It is this book which has had a profound effect on Pentecostal and Charismatic views of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   It would appear that R.A Torrey was also influenced by Finney’s teaching at this point.   An extract from the early pages of, Power from on High, will illustrate this emphasis on power, Finney said,

The apostles and brethren, on the day of Pentecost, received it. What did they receive? What power did they exercise after that event?    They received a powerful baptism of the Holy Ghost, a vast increase in divine illumination.   This baptism imparted a great diversity of gifts that were used for the accomplishment of their work.   It manifestly included the following things: The power of a holy life.   The power of a self-sacrificing life.   (The manifestation of these must have had great influence with those to whom they proclaimed the gospel.)   The power of a cross-bearing life. The power of great meekness, which this baptism enabled them to exhibit.   The power of a loving enthusiasm in proclaiming the gospel.    The power of teaching.   The power of a loving and living faith.   The gift of tongues.   An increase of power to work miracles. The gift of inspiration, or the revelation of many truths before unrecognised by them.   The power of moral courage to proclaim the gospel and do the bidding of Christ whatever it cost them.43

The above quote clearly shows that at the end of his life, Finney was emphasising the power dimension of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Power from on High  was first published in 1870.).   Even areas that had been emphasised by some as entire sanctification are now seen in terms of empowerment rather than cleansing.

One question that arises from time to time is, how do I receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?   No clear answer to this question is given by Finney.  A.M. Hills commented on this when he said,

Signally useful as that beloved man of God, President Finney, was, I cannot but believe that he would have led many more into an experience of sanctification, had he held a different philosophy.   He himself had experienced a marvellous baptism with the Holy Spirit, which made him an example to the world of “holiness and power.”   But when he tried to lead others into an experience similar to his own, something stood in his way.   President Mahan says of him:  “No one ever disciplined believers so severely, and with such intense and tireless patience as Brother Finney.   Appalled at the backsliding which followed his revivals, he put forth the most earnest efforts to induce among believers permanence in the divine life.    He gathered his theological students together and instructed them in renunciation of sin and consecration to Christ, and purpose of obedience.   They would renew their renunciations, consecrations, and purpose, with all the intensity with which their natures were capable.  But they were not told to exercise faith for the blessing;  and all their human efforts and consecrations ended in dismal failure, and left them in groaning bondage, under the law of sin and death.” If he had only told them to exercise their faith in Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit as their Sanctifier, “to will and to do” in them, they would have received the establishing and keeping blessing.44

 It is encouraging to see that one so close to Charles Finney as A.M. Hills, should find the same lack of clarity at certain points and this also underlines some of the ambiguities that Finney shows regarding purity and power.   With these ambiguities in mind it is interesting to note that the early Pentecostal leaders came from holiness backgrounds and wanted to emphasise both purity and power.

When one reads what Finney has to say about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the ambiguities noted above, it is  not surprising that both Holiness and Pentecostal/Charismatic writers claim him for themselves.   Gary B McGee makes this helpful comment,

Belief in a second work of grace was not confined to the Methodist circuit.   For example, Charles G. Finney believed that Spirit baptism provided divine empowerment to achieve Christian perfection at the same time that his theology refused to sit comfortably in either Wesleyan or Reformed categories.45

McGee rightly perceives that Finney’s teaching does not fit neatly into any theological schema, but it is interesting that this Pentecostal scholar interprets Finney’s teaching in terms of endument of power.   Finney’s teaching seems to have influenced the early Pentecostal leaders either directly or indirectly through Moody and Torrey.

Finney’s contribution to the development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Spirit was motivated by pastoral concerns, this may account for the fact that this subject is omitted from his Systematic  Theology46.   Finney’s influence as a revivalist and teacher undoubtedly gave an impetus to the interest in the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   If Finney had not taught the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, one wonders if the subject would have developed in the way it has.   Certainly, the power motif has by the end of Finney’s life taken a place of greater importance than purity.

                               Asa  Mahan

Asa Mahan is a crucial person in the development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  As already noted, Asa Mahan was a friend of Charles Finney and it is also important to note that he was friendly with the Palmers.   Through these connection he was to influence both the Holiness Revival and the Keswick movement.    Asa  Mahan was the first person to publish a complete book on the baptism of the Holy Spirit entitled, The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.47     It is in this volume that we encounter Mahan’s use of Pentecostal language with its emphasis on power.   Because of this one must ask, does his doctrine stress power at the expense of purity?    The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that for Mahan, the baptism of the Holy Ghost is an endument with power from on high so that one may live a holy life.    This is not to deny that Mahan sees a close connection between entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, rather he affirms the connection but places the emphasis on power not cleansing.   However, it should be acknowledged that Mahan believed that his teaching was consistent with the holiness testimony of Methodism, Mahan said,

 We may now clearly apprehend, we remark once more, what will hereafter constitute the glory or the shame of Methodism.   The central article of her creed is the great central truth of the Gospel, to wit: full and free redemption in Jesus Christ.   In the holding and advocacy of that truth, her ministry and membership glory before the world. In her early founders and favourite memoirs, Christ and the promises of his grace are fully and distinctly revealed to all her membership and to all the world as “a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness.”   Now if this denomination shall remain true to her heaven-descended mission by continuing to hold and advocate that great truth, and by a living faith shall exemplify its all purifying influence, both before the Church and the world this will be her “wisdom and understanding,” in the judgement of all nations, who shall hear of this great salvation.48

One cannot do justice to Mahan’s views unless one sees his conscious dependence upon Methodism.   Although Mahan was not Wesleyan in the totality of his theology, there is no doubt that he perceived himself to be Wesleyan at this point.   Indeed Mahan would have rejected outright the later Pentecostal developments as can be seen from this statement,

No careful reader of the Scriptures at the present time confounds the gift or the promise of the Spirit with any miraculous endowments.   It is undeniable that these endowments had for ages been in the world, while the “Holy Ghost was not given” until after “Jesus was glorified.” We are also positively taught, as we have seen, that “the sealing and earnest of the Spirit” were never accompanied, except in a few instances, by any form of miraculous gifts. “The promise of the Spirit” is to all believers in common.   Miraculous gifts may, or may not, be imparted to any, and never were imparted but to a few.49

Having seen that Mahan saw himself to be in continuity with Wesleyan thinking, it is now time to explore Mahan’s presentation of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, noting both the continuities and the discontinuities with Wesleyan Theology.

In his opening chapter Mahan makes it quite clear that he is speaking of the believer being endued with power from on high;  he ties this into the subsequent nature of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   Also,  Mahan emphasised that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was to be received by faith.   Mahan at this point seems to be stating his doctrine more clearly than Finney.  For Mahan the role of faith is vital and his emphasis here certainly influenced holiness teaching and the later Pentecostal movement.   One paragraph from Mahan illustrates this quite clearly,

The indwelling presence and power of the Spirit, “the baptism of the Holy Ghost,” are, according to the express teachings of inspiration, to be sought and received by faith in God’s word of promise, on the part of the believer, after he has believed; just as pardon and eternal life are to be sought by the sinner prior to justification. “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”  Between the believer and the gift of the Spirit, lies a divine promise: “the promise of the Spirit.”   If this promise is not embraced by faith, the gift, “the sealing and earnest of the Spirit,” will not be vouchsafed.50

Statements like those above, have appeared in both holiness and Pentecostal/Charismatic publications showing the influence of Asa Mahan either directly or indirectly.

Mahan also stressed that Jesus himself had been transformed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and, if this is the case, the believer is in more desperate need of power for service.51  In these early statements the power motif is to the fore  but it is power for serving the Lord in holiness of life.

Mahan in his exposition of Zechariah 13:1, brings together the themes of purity and  power, he said,

But when the Holy Ghost falls upon the believer, and his soul is “filled with the Spirit,” in that baptism of fire, of love, of light, and joy in God, there is a cloudless apprehension of truth, and every truth apprehended has transforming power upon the heart and character….

Now it is this higher form of experience and attainment, this baptism of fire, of love, of power, and of spiritual purification, this outpouring of the Spirit promised to the Church in these latter days, that special reference is had in the text.52

Mahan envisages a time of great moral and spiritual power coming upon the church.   He sees the baptism of the Holy Ghost  brining purification and power to the church.   Some of Mahan’s statements at first glance seem to be Wesleyan, yet one finds that the power motif has the predominance.   Perhaps this is best illustrated by a statement from the very end of the book,

There are two distinct and opposite states and relations in which the believer in Jesus may be contemplated.    In the one state he has repented of sin, “believed to the saving of his soul,.”   Entertains sincere purposes of obedience, and is not utterly barren of good works. In the other state, he has all these with “the power of the Spirit” superadded….. In the latter state, the equally marked characteristics of that experience are, courage and strength; “everlasting consolations, and good hope through grace;” “victories by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony;” “full assurance of hope,” and “full assurance of understanding;”   “all-sufficiency in all things,” and thereby “abounding unto every good work;” immortal fellowships and “fullness of joy;” and God as “everlasting light,” while “the days of our mourning are ended.”53

Mahan stressed the element of power in the baptism of the Holy Spirit but this was always linked to holy living.  Although he mentions purification as a result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he has moved away from the Wesleyan view that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an act of divine cleansing.   Mahan believed in entire sanctification and makes a connection between it and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   Although Asa Mahan emphasised power in his book, it is always power to lead a holy life in service of a Holy God.   He did not seek power for power’s sake but for the glory of God.

                            PHOEBE PALMER

It has been said that “One cannot understand the Holiness Movement today without a knowledge of Phoebe Palmer and the Tuesday Meetings.”54    This statement shows the tremendous influence that Mrs Palmer had.   Her ministry touched the lives of many, some of whom were to have a decisive impact on Christian History, such as William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.   Mrs Palmer’s ministry started in a humble manner in the Tuesday Meeting that she and her sister founded;  these meetings were to spread to many parts of America.   Mrs Palmer and her husband were involved in evangelistic campaigns and in camp meetings.   The Palmers also spent time in Britain influencing the founders of the Keswick Convention. In all of this Phoebe Palmer’s main concern was to promote holy living.

Phoebe Palmer used testimony as her major teaching tool and she therefore had a very strong emphasis on the experiential nature of the Christian faith.   This has caused some to see her as overly subjective in her teaching.   This is an understandable reaction but it does not always do justice to Mrs Palmer’s desire to be a Bible Christian. Her aim was to draw people into the fullness of biblical faith and holiness of life.    With a background  of Methodism, her Wesleyan theology shows through at many points in her teaching; this is so even when she develops her thinking in novel ways.    Mrs Palmer was known for her Altar theology and many attribute this to her.  If this is so, Finney took this terminology on board at a very early stage. The other alternative is that this phraseology was already in use by the 1830’s and Mrs Palmer developed it.    She was active in ministry for many years before she equated the reception of holiness with the baptism of the Spirit.  Timothy Smith says,

Phoebe Palmer…was so involved in the elaboration of John Wesley’s language of Calvary that she was one of the last to adopt the new terminology, but she did adopt it, in the fall of 1856, after a summer of immense spiritual refreshing in camp meetings in Western New York.   Her next major book, Promise of the Father for the Last Days, made Peter’s text at Pentecost the basis of faith for the “second blessing” and the foundation as well of a biblical argument in favour of women’s right to preach the gospel.55

Smith here refers to the Palmer’s, The Promise of the Father, but before returning to this volume one needs to look at her earlier teaching and see how this prepares for her later teaching on the baptism of the Spirit.

Phoebe Palmer is perhaps remembered best for her book, The Way of Holiness. In this volume we are confronted with a woman who desires to be a Bible Christian at any cost.  She struggles to find a way forward to a more holy life.   This book was to influence the whole tone of holiness teaching, by showing how to enter the blessing of entire sanctification.   Although Mrs Palmer did not refer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit in her early ministry, she did believe in a second work of grace subsequent to salvation.

Teaching through testimony was Mrs Palmer’s strong point, she never claimed to have presented a systematic theological approach to the subject.   Phoebe Palmer wanted to use her biblical knowledge to see lives transformed.   Her book, The Way of Holiness, was criticised in her own day because it was claimed  that she downplayed the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and replaced it with syllogistic holiness.    This was linked to her altar terminology and her teaching about naked faith.    Although Mrs Palmer is probably not guilty at this point, it is very easy to see how her followers would arrive at this position.

William Greathouse makes this helpful comment,

Eventually the altar theology became one of the common ways of preaching and teaching in the holiness movement.    Mrs Palmer herself was able to satisfy most of her critics that her teachings were “substantially orthodox and Wesleyan,” but many who taught the Palmer way failed to achieve her balance at essential points. Her “theological syllogism” as Dieter calls it, led to a pattern of teaching into which the ensuing movement often fell, pressing upon seekers a simplistic stereotyped formula that was in danger of precluding an authentic spiritual experience.56

Mrs Palmer intended to be a biblical Christian and therefore her use of altar theology was meant to be Christocentric not anthropocentric.   Her emphasis on the atonement and its application to the believer is one which points to the merits and glory of Christ.   Every blessing received by the believer is given as a result of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. Mrs Palmer’s use of testimony could be construed to be a man centred approach, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Phoebe Palmer uses testimony to lead to Christ, she says,

I will let every high state of grace in name, alone, and seek only to be  fully conformed to the will of God as recorded in His written word.    My chief endeavours shall be centred in the aim to be an humble Bible Christian. By the grace of God, all my energies shall be directed at this one point.   With this single aim, I will journey onward even though my faith may be tried to the uttermost by those manifestations being withheld, which have been previously been regarded as essential for the establishment of faith.57

Phoebe Palmer realised her utter dependence upon God and his grace, this led her to a deeper consecration; she surrendered her whole being to God for his service.   She saw this consecration as a response to the richness of God’s grace.   We can see this in an important section of The Way of Holiness, when she says,

With poverty of spirit her heart was constantly giving utterance to its emotions with the poet-

“Thou all our works in me has wrought,

     Our good is all divine,

The praise of every virtuous thought

                            And righteous act is thine.”

And when (as she still continued in a waiting attitude before the Lord) the Spirit appealed to her understanding thus “Through what power have you been enabled thus to present yourself a living sacrifice to God?” Her heart replied, “through the power of God, I could no more have brought myself, but through faith in God, believing it to be his requirement, than I could have created a world!”  Immediately the Spirit suggested, “If God has enabled you to bring it, will he not, now that you bring it and lay it on the altar, accept it at your hands?   She now, indeed, began to feel that all things were ready!   And, in thrilling anticipation, began to say, “Thou wilt receive me! Yes, thou wilt receive me!    And still she felt something was wanting. “But when and how shall I know that thou dost receive me?” Said the importunate language of her heart. The Spirit presented the declaration of the written word in reply, “Now is the accepted time.”58

She realised that faith must be placed in the written word of God and not in feelings, ”Yet, faith and feeling are two distinct objects, though so nearly allied”.59   Because of this she realised that she had been seeking feelings rather than exercising faith in God and his Word.   Her error at this point was to lead her to emphasise naked faith in the Word of God.  One other point arising from the above quotation is that she ascribes the altar terminology to the Holy Spirit.

In section 6 of, The Way of Holiness,  Mrs Palmer shows that her view of faith is now centred upon the word of God, therefore, God must keep his promises.   This section is interesting because while there is a strong emphasis on faith in the promises, there is also testimony given to the working of the Holy Spirit at the same time.   Here we clearly see that Word and Spirit are not divorced in her thinking.    It is interesting that in a chapter which emphasises the act of faith, that we also find Phoebe Palmer’s testimony to the inner witness of the Spirit.   This inner witness leads quite naturally to a greater awareness of the centrality of Christ; she said,

Her perceptions of the absolute need of the atonement were never so vivid as while journeying onward in this way.   She felt she could not take one progressive step, or for one moment present an acceptable sacrifice, but through the merits of her Savior.60

Mrs Palmer’s altar theology has been referred to above but for a proper understanding of her thinking, it is now necessary to briefly examine her explanation of this point.   The whole concept of altar theology is linked to and grows out of Mrs Palmer’s emphasis on faith in the written word of God.   In the Old Testament dispensation the altar sanctified all that was placed on it; this is seen by Mrs Palmer to be a shadow of the good things to come in Jesus Christ.   In the New dispensation, Christ himself is the altar and therefore when a believer places himself on the altar of Christ that person is cleansed from all sin.  The act of consecration is the means to entire sanctification and was later to become identified in Mrs Palmer’s thinking with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   In section 9 of, The Way of Holiness, Mrs Palmer expounds at length her views on this vital subject.      Some examples of her argument are given below.

The altar, thus provided by the cojoint testimony of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is Christ.    His sacrificial death and sufferings are the sinners plea, the immutable promises of the Lord Jehovah the ground of claim.   If true to the Spirit’s operations on the heart, men, as workers together with God, confess their sins, the faithfulness and justice of God stand pledged not only to forgive but also to cleanse from all unrighteousness.61

And though she apprehend that nothing but the blood of Jesus could sanctify and cleanse from sin, yet she was scripturally assured that it was needful for the recipient of this grace, as a worker together with God, to place himself believingly upon “the altar that sanctifieth the gift,” ere he could prove the efficacy of the all-cleansing blood.  Gracious intentions, and strong desires, she was convinced, are not sufficient to bring about these important results;  corresponding action is also necessary;  the offering must be brought and believingly laid upon the altar, ere the acceptance of it can be realised.  In this crucifixion of nature, the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and worketh mightily to will-but man must act.62

Mrs. Palmer here strongly affirms a synergistic view of salvation and sanctification.  Because of this she stressed the need to lay all on the altar.   This in turn led her to stress that once one has placed oneself on the altar that person is sanctified, hence the accusation of syllogistic holiness.   This is to take her teaching out of context because she is always emphasising the experiential nature of her faith and indeed the Spirit’s working within.63   Mrs Palmer taught that consecration was something that must be maintained;  it was not a once and for all act but rather a constant keeping of oneself on the altar by the power of the Holy Spirit.64

Turning now to Mrs. Palmer’s teaching on the baptism of the Spirit, it has been noted that Mrs Palmer was one of the last to adopt this terminology.   In her, Notes by the Way, there is an interesting reference to baptism in the Spirit,  Mrs Palmer has been recounting the story of a man seeking to enter the way of holiness when she says,

For about four hours he was no more under his own control, or that of his friends around him, than the apostles were when first baptized with the Holy Ghost.  Many others were baptized as suddenly at the same time.  He still continues a flaming witness of saving grace.65

It is quite clear from the context that Mrs Palmer identifies this experience with entire sanctification. Mrs Palmer in her book, Full Salvation,66 mentions the baptism with the Holy Ghost and links it not only to purity but also to power.  After discussing a case where someone has not been converted until his mother has been baptised by the Holy Spirit, Mrs Palmer makes these interesting comments,

We have known very marked cases other than the one we are just now about to present, where the conversion of dear ones, though long prayed for, was delayed till after the pleader had received that power from on high which the full baptism of the Spirit brings.67

The context of this passage clearly shows that Mrs Palmer identified the baptism of the Spirit with entire sanctification;  the power that comes from this full baptism is one that comes from the cleansed soul.   She does not conceive the baptism with the Spirit to be primarily about power for service but rather the cleansing of the soul so that the person can live for the glory of God.   In her book, The Promise of the Father,68 Phoebe Palmer continues to identify the baptism of the Spirit with entire sanctification.   She expresses this very clearly in the following words,

A recognition of the full baptism of the Holy Ghost as a grace to be experienced and enjoyed in the present life, was the distinguishing doctrine of Methodism.  And who can doubt but it was this speciality that again brought out a host of Spirit-baptised labourers, as in the apostolic days?  And the satisfaction with which this apostolic man [Wesley] recognised and encouraged the use of the endowment of power is everywhere observable throughout his writing.69

Mrs Palmer as she refers to Wesley in the above passage, shows that she identifies his teaching on entire sanctification with her teaching on the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Mrs Palmer throughout her ministry was consciously Wesleyan in her theology.    Her main emphasis was upon purity of heart and it is the purified heart that is empowered to do God’s will.

                             DANIEL STEELE

Daniel Steele was very obviously a man of scholarship, warm hearted discipleship and worship of  God.   He maintained a pastoral heart and used his learning for the benefit of the ordinary believer.

His writings include;  Love Enthroned,70 The Gospel of the Comforter,71  Milestone Papers,72 and Defense of Christian Perfection.73      All of these volumes have been consulted for this chapter but the following discussion will concentrate on, Love Enthroned,  and, The Gospel of the Comforter,  for it is in these two volumes that Daniel Steele presents his views in a systematic manner.   Although, Love Enthroned, was published in 1875 and, The Gospel of the Comforter, in 1897, there is a continuity of thinking.    These volumes are clear statements of Wesleyan Theology and as such represent the growing Holiness Movement.   With his distinct teaching he resisted equating the baptism of the Spirit with power for service;  he was convinced that entire sanctification and the baptism of the Spirit are to be equated.   This reminds us that although there was a growing emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit being an enduement with power from on high, we cannot claim this is the only emphasis.  Two streams of thought were developing which were to result in the emergence of the Pentecostal and Holiness Movements as we know them today.    It is therefore vital that we evaluate this restatement of the Wesleyan position.

 Love Enthroned:   Love Enthroned, by its title, leads one to expect a restatement of the Wesleyan position.   Steele also brings his  scholarship to bear in a creative manner in this debate and therefore makes a significant contribution of his own.   Steele was influenced at many points by Fletcher.    This is apparent in his approach to both the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the concept of three dispensations.   Also Steele brings his knowledge of the Greek text of the New Testament to bear upon the discussion.    The emphasis on purity comes through clearly when  Daniel Steele says,

The age of miracles is not past.   Jesus changed unresisting water into wine, but the Holy Ghost transfigures the sinful soul bristling with antagonisms, transforming depravity to purity by the mighty alchemy of Love. The power to effect such revolutions in character constitutes the standing miracle of Christianity.74

Steele goes on to argue that entire sanctification must take place in this life if we are to avoid any concept of purgatory;  he believes that the classic position held by Protestants turns death into a purgatorial process thus transforming an enemy into a friend.   Steele also believes that entire sanctification is possible now because of the clear promises, commands and statements of Scripture.   He says,

The promises of sanctifying grace are available to believers now, or they are worthless.    For true faith can be exercised for spiritual grace for ourselves only as it rests on the promise which includes the present moment.   “Knowing this, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  This promise of the destruction of sin begins now, and is followed by a glorious  henceforth of emancipation this side of death.75

Although Steele spoke of entire sanctification in glowing terms, he was also aware of the results of the fall.    Steele recognised that the sanctified believer is still involved in spiritual warfare, wandering thoughts caused by health and tiredness were still problems to contend with.  The whole of chapter six shows that Steele had wrestled with the problems which are posed by those who are opposed to entire sanctification.    He also had obviously thought through issues that would have perplexed those who claimed to be entirely sanctified.

The purpose of his seventh chapter is to demonstrate that entire sanctification and the baptism with the Spirit are identical.    Steele commences his argument with reference to Acts15:9;  he identifies the purifying of the believers hearts with the second work of grace because he believed that Cornelius and his household were already justified and thus their need was for the fullness of salvation found in entire sanctification.   Steele says,

The conclusion is inevitable, that the baptism of the Holy Ghost includes the extinction of sin in the believer’s soul as its negative and minor part, and the fullness of love shed abroad in the heart as its positive and greater part, in other words, it includes entire sanctification and Christian perfection.76

Steele believed like, Fletcher whom he quotes, that a knowledge of the three dispensations of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are essential for the preacher who would lead his people to perfection.    He held that the present dispensation is that of the Holy spirit, the provisions of this dispensation are that of cleansing from sin and the reception of God’s blessing so that the believer may live a holy life.    Steele believed that with the witness of the Spirit in the believer’s life it was possible to live a triumphant life. Steele does not see a conflict between purity and power but rather he sees love as power, love overcomes sin.   Steele does not turn all this into a neat formula but rather he recognises the diverse ways God treats the individual believer.  He warns against setting up well known Christians as the standard to which believers should conform.    Steele showed pastoral wisdom when he said,

While, therefore, everyone should covet the best gift, he should not rest satisfied till he has received the grace of the Holy Ghost in the plenitude of his purifying and inspiring efficacy.   Then he should thankfully employ the gift bestowed, and not in vain repining covet the more showy gift of his fellow-laborer in the Lord’s vineyard.77

Throughout, Love Enthroned, Steele shows the greatness of God’s salvation but he teaches that these blessings can only be received by faith.    It is therefore important that the believer should be instructed in the fullness of God’s grace.   Only when the believer  realises that the blessings are available to him, will he respond in faith and receive all that God intends for him.    Steele in his teaching is consistently Arminian;  this can be seen in his synergistic presentation of the gospel.   He gives primacy to God’s grace at the same time as he teaches mans responsibility to respond to that grace.

The Gospel of the Comforter:  this book is a continuation of Daniel Steele’s theological presentation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.    Even though, The Gospel of the Comforter was written twenty four years after Love Enthroned,  there is a great deal of overlap, as well as some complimentary teaching.    In this sectiion the discussion will be confined to looking at aspects of the teaching that are clarified in, The Gospel of the Comforter.

The first point that will be  looked at is, in which ways Christ is the sanctifier and in which ways the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier.   Steele says,

When Christ is spoken of as our sanctification, it is meant, not that he enters into the hearts of believers and cleanses them, but that he provides the purifying medium, His own shed blood, and the sanctifying agent, The Holy Spirit.    The Son’s work is external, the Spirit’s internal, or in philosophic terms, the work of one is objective, that of the other is subjective; the one sanctifies provisionally and the other effectualy.78

This passage is important to any understanding of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. By stressing the objective work of Christ and the subjective work of the Spirit, Steele is able to demonstrate the unity of purpose between Son and Spirit without compromising or confusing their roles in the economy of salvation.   Christ’s unique work of redemption is upheld in all its glory while at the same time upholding the dynamic nature of the Holy Spirit’s work in the application of that work to the believer.   Steele is keen to maintain that entire sanctification is a crisis experience through which the believer can receive the blessing of inner purity.79  Because of his emphasis on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit at this point, no one could accuse Steele of holding to a syllogistic holiness.

Steele discusses the whole issue of the connection between purity and power in chapter seventeen, which is entitled, “Christ’s two receptions and two bestowal’s of the Spirit”.  In this chapter he states that the believer needs to be cleansed before he is empowered. Steele says,

A sinners first need is newness of life imparted by the Holy Spirit, the Lord of life, before he can walk in the footsteps of Christ.   In the plan of salvation there is a divine order which must be followed to attain the best results.   In this order purity normally precedes power.   This proposition implies that purity is not power.  Jesus was perfectly pure and sinless during the thirty years preceding his baptism, but there was no miracle, no astonishing wisdom revealed to the people of Nazareth.  He was known only as a blameless young man and a good carpenter.  But when filled with the Spirit, “Many hearing him were astonished, saying, whence hath this man these things?   And what mean such mighty works wrought by his hands?”

If even Jesus needed “the power of the Spirit,” and did not enter his work till he received it, surely every Christian needs the same power to do public or private work to which he is called.   But let him follow the divine order for its attainment, life before service and purity before power.80

Steele also discusses the relationship between purity and power in chapter thirty one, “The  Fullness of the Spirit”. In this chapter, he is keen to maintain the priority of purity over power.    He acknowledges that some have sought the baptism of the Spirit as a full endument for service, however, he maintains that in such cases, when one examines the testimonies given, there is clear evidence given to show that purity has priority over power.    Steele states it this way,

It is quite evident that purity is a prerequisite to this indwelling fulness  of the Spirit.   This is the divine order, first cleansed, then filled.   All filling presupposes emptying.   It is true that the baptism of the Spirit has been sought and received as a full endowment for service.   But a careful examination of such experiences reveals the fact of the Spirit’s revelation of an inward bias to moral evil, and of the seekers full consent to its extermination by the purifying fire of the Spirit before he his abode within.   This consent is part of his irreversible and all-embracing self-surrender to Christ, the great Physician, whose healing power is prepatory to the full endowment with the Holy Spirit.[1]81

The above quotation shows that although Steele would not deny the testimonies of others, he was not willing to accept that the baptism of the Spirit was anything less than an experience of divine cleansing.

Steele, as has been demonstrated above was thoroughly Wesleyan in his theology.   He lifted up the banner of “scriptural holiness” and expected believers to have their lives transformed by the cleansing and empowering baptism of the Spirit.

Daniel Steeele in his work laid the foundation for a Holiness Theology which others would build upon and it is a pity that this work is unknown outside of Holiness circles.   In the course of his life he made a great contribution to the debate about the baptism of the Holy Spirit but he also contributed other helpful insights into the work of the Holy Spirit that are outside the remit of this paper.

                           REUBEN A. TORREY

   Reuben A. Torrey was an influential Bible teacher and evangelist who was influenced by  D.L.Moody and, through him by Finney82.   With Torrey and his little book, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit,83 we come to a much more clearly defined statement of the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit in terms of power.    Torrey denied that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was connected to sanctification.   Torrey’s views seem to have influenced some in the early Pentecostal Movement but his teaching is acknowledged more readily in Charismatic circles.  J. Rodman Williams, in his, Renewal Theology, Volume 2, says,

I add here a word about Reuben A Torrey, Moody’s successor and the first head of Moody Bible Institute (opening in 1899).  Even more strongly than Moody he stressed the need to be filled, or baptized with the Holy Spirit…….Neither Moody or Torrey stood in the Holiness tradition with its stress on “entire sanctification.”  They both viewed baptism with the Holy Spirit as following upon regeneration and as empowerment for ministry.   Torrey especially has had significant influence on the charismatic renewal.84

Williams in the above passage illustrates the importance of Torrey for our study.    It is with Torrey that we find the clearest statements about the purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit in terms of power.    The ambiguities that we discovered in Finney are missing here.   Torrey obviously considered his little book to be vital to his teaching on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.    He included the text of this book in his larger work,

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.85    Torrey was convinced that nobody was fitted for Christian service until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit;  he says,

If a man has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit he is a saved man, but he is not fitted for service until in addition to this he has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.86

Torrey then goes on to affirm that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected to testimony and service.   He then denies any connection with entire sanctification, indeed, he denies that the idea of entire sanctification is biblical.   To see how Torrey explicates his position we need to look at a rather long quotation.   Torrey says,

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the purpose of empowering for service.   It is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit to cleanse from sin.   Further than this there is a work of the Holy Spirit where the believer is strengthened with might in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in his heart by faith, that he might be filled unto all the fullness of God (Eph.3:16-19 ASV).

There is a work of the Holy Spirit of such a character that the believer is “made… free from the law of sin and death” (Rom.8:2), and through the Spirit does “mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body” (Rom.8:13).   It is our privilege to so walk daily and hourly in the power of the Spirit, that the carnal nature is kept in the place of death.   But this is not the baptism with the Spirit, neither is it the eradication of a sinful nature.   It is not something done once and for all, it is something that must be momentarily be maintained.   “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal5:16).   While insisting that the baptism is primarily for the purpose of empowering for service, it should be added that the baptism is accompanied by a great moral uplift.   (See Acts 2:44-46;  4:31-35)  This is necessarily so, from the steps one must take to obtain the blessing.87

Torrey’s  views as expressed here are closer to Keswick teaching with its idea of suppression of the old man.   He also expresses clearly the line that was to become familiar, that the baptism with the Spirit is separate from sanctification.   However, one must ask whether even Torrey maintains the distinction convincingly, after all he does say that the blessing is accompanied by a great moral uplift.     This point will be returned to later as it needs further development in the light of other passages we have not yet looked at.

Torrey’s exposition of the baptism of the  Holy Spirit as enduement with power for service became the model which later developed into the full blown Pentecostal doctrine. During the Nineteenth Century there had been this gradual shift from the emphasis on purity to that of power.   There had been various influences in this development as has been seen in previous chapters.   At this point we should also note the influence of the British Methodist, William Arthur.    His book , The Tongue of Fire,88  was published in 1856 and was widely read both in Britain and America.   Arthur, in his use of Pentecostal language, shifted the emphasis from purity to power.   It is not known whether Torrey read Arthur’s book but the point is that this book had a pervasive influence.  We do know, however, that Moody and Finney had both influenced Torrey;  both of them had,  in setting forth their views of the baptism of the Spirit, emphasised power.   Torrey developed his teaching and clarified what he believed the baptism with the Spirit is.  Torrey exercised a wide preaching and teaching ministry in which he frequently spoke of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.   During these meetings it was Torrey’s desire to lead people into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.    It may be that the spoken word carried more influence than the printed page, certainly some of the testimonies that Torrey cites would lead one to conclude this to be the case.

Although Torrey emphasised that the baptism with the Spirit was for power for service, he also listed a number of conditions for receiving the baptism with the Spirit.   These conditions raise some questions as to the consistency of his thinking as they are directly linked to purity.   Daniel Steele had maintained that purity must precede power.   Reuben Torrey agrees with this up to a point but denies that purification is part of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  Torrey would argue that purity is connected to sanctification and one needs to have renounced sin to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit.   He strongly believed that Holiness teaching is mistaken when it identifies the baptism with the Holy Spirit with entire sanctification.   Torrey clearly states the need to renounce sin when he says,

The second step is also found in the word repent.   While the change of mind about Jesus is the first  and prominent thought, there must also be a change of mind about sin – a change of mind from a sin-loving or sin-indulging attitude to a sin-hating and sin-renouncing attitude.   This is the second step:  renounce sin, all sin, every sin.89

It is important to note this connection between the renunciation of sin and the baptism with the Holy Spirit.    Sadly this emphasis was to be lost in later generations.

Torrey’s fourth step is also connected to sanctification, it is, obedience.   When Torrey explains this fourth step, he comes very close to the Holiness emphasis, especially in his use of altar terminology.  Torrey says,

What does obedience mean?  It does not mean merely doing some of the things or many of the things or most of the things that God bids us do.   It means total surrender to the will of God.   Obedience is an attitude of the will lying back of specific acts of obedience.  It means that I come to God and say “Heavenly Father, here I am and all I have. Thou hast bought me with a price and I acknowledge Thine absolute ownership.  Take me and all I have, and do with me whatever Thou wilt, I surrender myself and all that I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever to thy control and use.”

It was when the burnt offering-whole no part held back- was laid on the altar that “there came forth fire from before the Lord” and accepted the gift (Lev.9:24), and it is when we bring ourselves, a whole burnt offering to the Lord and lay ourselves thus upon the altar that fire comes and God accepts the gift.90

The altar terminology that Torrey uses is very similar to that of Phoebe Palmer’s and shows the influence of Holiness teaching even when it is being denied.    Torrey would claim that this is just a step that

is not to be identified with the baptism itself.   It could be claimed that the real differences between the two parties are minor because both want to see Christians leading pure lives and being empowered by the Spirit.    However, this would lead to a minimising of the differences that are real, especially as regards entire sanctification.

Torrrey’s views also lead to a syllogism of power, if you have asked for the baptism of the Spirit, you have received it. Torrey puts it this way,

If Christ has been accepted as Saviour and Lord and openly confessed as such in God’s way;  if sin has been searched out and put away;  if there has been total surrender of the will and self to God; if there is a true desire, for God’s glory, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit– if these conditions have been met, any reader may ask God to baptize him with the Holy Spirit.  He then can say, when the prayer has gone up, “That prayer was heard;   I have what I have asked: I have the baptism with the Holy Spirit”;  and he has a right to get up and go out to his work assured that in that work he will have the Holy Spirit’s power.

But someone will ask “Must I not know that I have the baptism with the Holy Spirit before I begin to work?”  Certainly, but how shall we know? I know of no better way of knowing than by God’s Word.    I would believe God’s Word before  my feelings any day91

This seems to negate any concept of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and at this point Torrey’s view is different from that of the Pentecostal model.   Pentecostalism would promote the idea of initial evidence as a demonstration that the believer had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.   Torrey did not completely deny the inner witness of the Spirit but rather he believed that it would come as the believer stepped out in faith.

Reuben Torrey’s formulation of the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as empowerment for service was to have a great influence on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements of the Twentieth Century.

                     EARLY PENTECOSTALISM

The birth of Pentecostalism shows the impact of diverse views of the baptism of the Spirit.  Developments within the Holiness Movement and the evangelical circles influenced by men like Moody and Torrey would all have their influence.92  Many early Pentecostal leaders had come from a Holiness Movement background and retained their belief in entire sanctification.    This position is still maintained by Holiness Pentecostals today.    The new scheme saw a threefold blessing;  conversion, entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   In this scheme of the threefold blessing the baptism with the Holy Spirit was seen in terms of power for service.    This was how William Seymour and the other leaders of the Azusa Street Revival understood the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   The first issue of,  “The Apostolic Faith”93 contains many references to the need for sanctification prior to the baptism of the Spirit.   The following short article demonstrates this clearly.


We preach old-time sanctification, and old-time baptism with the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of power upon the sanctified life, and God throws in the gift of tongues..

1st. Justification deals with our actual sins.  When we go to Him and repent, God washes all the guilt and pollution of our hearts, and we stand justified like a new babe that never committed sin.   We have no condemnation.    We can walk with Jesus and live a holy life before the Lord, if we walk in the Spirit.

2nd.  Sanctification is the second and last work of grace.    After we are justified, we have two battles to fight.   There is sin inside and sin outside.   There is warfare within, caused by the old inherited sin.   When God brings the word, ”It is the will of God, even your sanctification,” we should accept the word, and then the blood comes and takes away all inherited sin.   Everything is heavenly in your soul, you are a son of God.   The Spirit of God witnesses in your heart that you are sanctified.

3rd.   The Spirit begins then and there leading us on to the Baptism with the Holy Ghost.   Now, as a son of God, you should enter into the earnest of your inheritance.  After you have a cleat witness of the two works of grace in your heart, you can receive this gift of God, which is a free gift without repentance.  Pray for the power of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost will give you a new language.   It is the privilege of everyone to be filled with  the Holy Ghost.   It is for every believing child.94

This short article demonstrates quite clearly the doctrinal structure of early Pentecostalism.   Of course, this is not just a doctrinal statement but it also  an expectation of an experiential reality.   The witness of the Spirit is clearly expected for both justification and sanctification.   It is only with this witness of the Spirit that one can then go on to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit.   Stephen Land in his book, Pentecostal Spirituality,95 shows that this teaching was being re-emphasised in 1908 in another article in The apostolic Faith, the article which is presented in question and answer form, has some overlap with the previous article but it shows also that some issues had been more clearly thought through.   The article says,

                                Questions Answered                                                                           Should a person seek sanctification before baptism with the Holy Ghost?         Yes, sanctification makes us holy, but the baptism with the Holy Spirit empowers  us for service after we are sanctified, and seals unto the day of redemption. Sanctification destroys the body of sin, the old man Adam. Rom6.6,7… When a man has been saved from actual sins, then he consecrates himself to God to be sanctified, and so his body of sin is destroyed or crucified…

What is the real evidence that a man or woman has received the baptism with the Holy Ghost?

Divine love which is charity. Charity is the Spirit of Jesus.   They will have the fruits of the Spirit.  Gal5.22.   “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith temperance, against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”.  This is the real Bible evidence in their daily walk and conversation; and the outward manifestations; speaking in tongues and signs following; casting out devils, laying hands on the sick and the sick being healed, and the love of God for souls increasing in their hearts.

Is it necessary to have hands laid on in order to receive the Holy Ghost?

No;  you can receive Him in your closet.   The gift of the Holy Ghost comes by faith in the word of God.   You may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost right now, that is if you are sanctified… The baptism of the Spirit is a gift of power on the sanctified life, and sooner or later they will speak in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.   A person may not speak in tongues for a week after the baptism, but as soon as he gets to praying or praising God in the liberty of the Spirit, the tongues will follow.   Tongues are not salvation.   It is a gift that God throws in with the Holy Spirit.   People do not have to travail and agonise for the baptism, for when all work ceases then God comes.   We cease from our works, which is a very type of the millennium.

Does a soul need the baptism with the Holy Ghost in order to live a pure and holy life?

No, Sanctification makes us holy, Heb.2.11… The Holy Ghost never died for our sins, it was Jesus who died for our sins and it is His blood that atones for our sins. 1John1.9,  7…It is the blood that cleanses and makes holy, and through the blood we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Ghost never fails to answer to the Blood.96

At these early stages of Pentecostalism we can see a very clear link between Wesleyan theology and a   newly  developed doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   The early leaders did not want to depart from what they had learnt in the Holiness Movement.   As leaders were added from other backgrounds we find a shift in some circles.  Later developments in such groups as the Assemblies of God,  would lead to a departure from this model.   W.H. Durham was to contest the whole idea of entire sanctification and preach instead a more Reformed view of sanctification which led to the finished work of Christ controversy.    At this time,  this denomination moved away from the whole idea of entire sanctification; many other groups would follow their example, leaving the Holiness Pentecostal denomination to carry the original message.  William Durham made his position quite clear when he said,

I began to write against the doctrine that it takes two works of grace to save and cleanse a man.   I denied and still deny that God does not deal with the nature of sin at conversion.   I deny that a man who is converted or born again is outwardly washed and cleansed but that his heart is left unclean with enmity towards God in it…. This would not be salvation.   Salvation is an inward work.   It means a change of nature.   It means that old things pass away and all things become new97

The above statement demonstrates that Durham was clearly opposed to the doctrine of entire sanctification, but one has to question whether he really understood what he was fighting.   He seems to believe that entire sanctification implies a denial of an inner working of the Holy Spirit at conversion.   The writings of Wesley, Fletcher, Palmer and Steele all testify to the inner working of the Spirit at conversion.    However, Durham’s view was to prevail and with it, in some circles, less of an emphasis on a holy life.  In this scheme the baptism of the Spirit is seen as endument with power from on high, attested by speaking in tongues.   Power has been emphasised in Pentecostal circles and when this has been combined with an evangelistic heart, thousands have been won to Christ.   The presumption that all that is needed for sanctification has been given at the new birth has tended to downplay the need to stress the holy life.   There is a real irony at this point because many Pentecostals complain bitterly about the standard evangelical view of the baptism of the Spirit, which is seen as taking place at conversion, deprives believers of power.   The argument could be turned around to say that the view that says that all that is needed for sanctification is given at conversion deprives the believer of the resources for a holy life.   The Charismatic Movement has followed in the steps of the majority of the Pentecostal Movement.    However, one must not forget that there are still several denominations of Holiness Pentecostals who still maintain the threefold blessing of justification, entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

All of the Pentecostal teachers,  whether stressing a threefold blessing or the finished work view, agreed that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is given for empowering the believer.  The major difference between the two parties was whether entire sanctification is available to believers in this life or whether sanctification would only be completed at death.   The Holiness Pentecostals all believed that entire sanctification must precede the baptism of the Spirit;  in contrast ‘finished work’ Pentecostals only believed in progressive sanctification.   These differences must not detract from their basic unity in believing that the baptism with the Spirit is an experience of the reception of divine power.

It has been presumed until recently that Durham’s finished work concept was accepted mainly by those coming from Reformed and Baptist backgrounds but D.William Faupel shows this is not the case, he says,

At first glance it does appear that those from Reformed and Baptist backgrounds tended to accept the Finished Work doctrine, while those that came from a Wesleyan background did not.   Upon closer examination, however, this breaks down. Charles Parham, for example, in his spiritual pilgrimage, rejected most of his Wesleyan heritage, and was strongly influenced by Alexander Dowie, A.B. Simpson, D.L. Moody, R.A. Torrey and Frank Sandford who all fell into the Reformed camp.   Elmer Fisher of the Upper room was Baptist before entering the Pentecostal  movement.   A.J. Tomlinson was a Quaker when he came upon the Church of God that had primarily Baptist roots.   Charles Mason and most of his early converts in the Church of God came from a Baptist background.  N.J. Holmes, who became a major leader in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, led a group of Presbyterians into that denomination in 1915.    Likewise the Free Will Baptists who accepted the Pentecostal message remained in the Second Work camp.98

Faupel demonstrates the complexity of the issues outlined above but it is quite clear that one cannot categorise the adherents of either view by their previous backgrounds.   There does seem to have been a disposition among some early Pentecostal leaders to be looking for new revelation, many of these accepted Durham’s position.    On the other hand, many believed that any new revelation would not contradict doctrines already accepted and therefore repudiated the new teaching.99

Although the above discussion is important, both the Second Work camp and the Finished Work camp interpret the baptism with the Holy Spirit as an experience of empowering.   It is power that is expected not purity; sanctification has,  for both views been separated from the baptism of the Spirit.   This transition in thinking has made a great impact upon both the Pentecostal Movement and the Charismatic Movement during the Twentieth Century.


The argument for the development of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit has so far been illustrated by various writers and by looking at the Early Pentecostal movement.  The purpose of this chapter is to synthesise these findings..    An attempt will be made to show the ongoing relevance of the issues raised for the Church today.   If all the issues that will be raised were to be dealt with fully, one would need not only to work in the area of Historical Theology but also in the areas of Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies.   These areas of overlap cannot completely be ignored but they will have to be mentioned in passing and perhaps provide pointers for further study.

The development of this doctrine of the baptism of the Spirti was quite rapid in comparison with other doctrinal developments.    It is vital that we recognise the influence of the experiential dimension in this development.   The appeal to experience is found throughout the discussion in some cases this is more obvious than in others.    At times cases experience seems to take a leading place and at other times Scripture takes the leading role.   Whether the attempt is to expound the scriptures or give testimony, the experiential dimension is not far from the surface.   This means that our approach must be sensitive to the context of the experiential dimension without necessarily accepting the doctrinal conclusions drawn from an encounter with God.   For instance, Mrs Palmer’s Altar Theology is largely based on her encounters with the Lord but this does not mean that one has to accept as valid all of her interpretations of Scripture.   What is said about Mrs Palmer applies equally to the other authors.

Several questions arise from the above discussion, the most obvious being, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit an experience of cleansing or empowerment?    This question has dominated the discussion for the last 100 years but is this really the right question?     Has this very question caused an unnecessary division in the body of Christ?   It is therefore important that we ask whether the above question is a symptom of the problem we face.  An important question that must be posed is, are the elements of purity and power meant to be held together according to the biblical pattern?    We also need to ask whether power and purity are meant to go together in one reception of the Holy Spirit?

Perhaps it seems that the nineteenth century developments of this doctrine throw up more questions  than answers.    This conclusion is not justified by the evidence as will be demonstrated below.    It is important to recognise that some of the teachings developed then, rather than being inherently opposed to one another were in fact complementary facets of one doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Daniel Steele said, “love is power”,100 perhaps these three words provide the key to the problem that we face.   It is interesting to note that the Bible’s emphasis on loving God and neighbour, so clearly emphasised by Wesley and his followers, is also clearly emphasised in the New Testament teaching on the gifts of the Spirit.  Every reference to the use of the gifts of the Spirit are to be found in a context which stresses love.    What is needed is a theology of love, that is wider than the Wesleyan formulation and embraces within it the charismatic dimensions of early Pentecostalism.    What is being suggested is that to divorce purity from power, or power from purity has a tremendous impact on the believer’s life.   In  Charismatic circles some have begun  to call for a greater emphasis on the need for holiness in the formulation of the doctrine.    The result of the separation between purity and power in the theology of the baptism of the Holy Spirit amongst Pentecostals and Charismatics has led to an emphasis on power at the expense of the call for a holy life.   In some circles this has been combined with an antinomian view of God’s gracious dealing with mankind.   This has led to a devaluation of the Decalogue amongst believers.    This in turn,  has led to rather low expectations of a holy life.   Power when stressed without purity tends to be self seeking rather than God honouring.   On the other hand the Holiness believer can so stress holiness that the need for power is neglected especially in regard to spiritual gifts.    Entire sanctification is the solution to all problems.   These comments about the relationship between purity and power do not reflect the best theological writing of either camp but rather the reaction amongst believers and preachers who are not balanced theologically.

The Holiness and Pentecostal Movements are both strongly evangelistic and both would claim that their respective views of the baptism with the Spirit are a source of this passion. The evangelistic passion of the Pentecostal is easily explained in terms of power, whereas the Holiness Movement can easily explain their passion for evangelism as flowing from the love of God and one’s neighbour that originate with entire sanctification. In recent discussions, authors as different as David Pawson101 and Kenneth Grider102    have suggested that the baptism of the Holy Spirit includes both dimensions; it seems that this is the only way forward in this debate.   Could it be that the ambiguities of Charles Finney’s position arise from the fact that the biblical  text calls for both dimensions?   The tensions we find in Finney’s thinking can only be overcome by a more holistic approach to the doctrine

It seems that, in Pentecostal circles, Luke/Acts dictates to the rest of the biblical text the shape of the doctrine;  other elements of biblical teaching need to be integrated into a full understanding of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.    One such example is John the Baptist’s proclamation that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit;  the context of his proclamation seems to be that of salvation from sin.    Indeed, one would not gather  from this initial proclamation any concept of power for ministry.    The normal extrapolation to the fact that Jesus was empowered at the coming of the Holy Spirit does not do justice to the context of the Baptist’s words.    Other passages of Scripture also associate the coming of the Spirit with a holy life, these would include the promise of the Spirit given in the Old Testament prophets.    The Apostle Paul also holds together the issues of purity and power as can be seen for example in Titus3:3-8.    Here Paul links justification and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with holy living.    This is not the place to develop these arguments but rather to state that these  need to be taken into account in any full elaboration of the doctrine.    The lessons of the nineteenth century and indeed this century, are that to emphasise purity at the expense of power or power at the expense of purity is to impoverish our Christian life and witness. This is not meant in any way to deny the important contributions made by all those that we have looked at in this paper, but rather a call to treasure the truths on both sides of the debate and bring them into a more holistic formulation of this doctrine.

Another issue that must be addressed in any formulation of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is how does this all fit into or relate to the conversion-initiation process.  This needs to be addressed because it not only affects the doctrinal but also how that doctrine is realised experientially.    Again this cannot be addressed in this paper but it is an issue that arises from the research contained in this paper.   This whole area needs a multidisciplinary approach;  we need the contributions of Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Historical Theology and Pastoral Theology to address this doctrine in a holistic manner.    It is hoped that in some small way the research in this paper will contribute to that process.



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1 J.D.G.Dunn  Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  ( London, SCM.  1970.); J R.W. Stott,. The Baptism and Fullness of the Holy Spirit  ( London, IVP 1964 .);  D. Pawson  The Normal Christian Birth (London, Hodder and Stoughton.1989,);  Max Turner The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts Then and Now.  (Carlisle, Paternoster Press 1996  .);   J. Rodman Williams,Renewal Theology Vol 2  (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, 1990.).

2G. W. McGee (Ed),  Initial Evidence,  (Peabody, Mass, Hendrickson 1991.); Roger  Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke   (Peabody, Mass. Hendrickson 1984); Fee, Gospel and Spirit.  ( Peabody, Mass.  Hendrickson, 1991).

3H. I. Lederle, Treasures Old and New  (Peabody, Mass. Hendrickson, 1988), 14.

4A.M.Hills. Holiness and Power    (Salem, Ohio. Schmul Publishing 1988)

5D. William Faupel. The Everlasting Gospel ( Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press 1996).            Donald Dayton  Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Peabody, Mass. Hendrickson              1987).

6 John Fletcher The Last Check to Antinomianism, The Works of John Fletcher volume 2      (Salem.Ohio, Schmul Publishers 1974)7John L Peters  Christian Perfection and American Methodism, see chapter 4. (Grand Rapids,  Zondervan, 1985)

8Allan Coppedge ‘Entire sanctification in Early American Methodism 1812-1835’  Wesleyan       Theological Journal 13, 1978.

9See Herbert McGonigle ‘Pneumatological Nomenclature in Early Methodism’  Wesleyan Theological Journal  8  and Randy L. Maddox Responsible Grace. (Nashville TN, Abingdon Press, 1994, 136 and 177)

10 John Fletcher’s Works vol. 2.

11 John Wesley A Plain Account of Christian Perfection  (Kansas City, Miss. 1966)

12 John Fletcher The Last Check to Antinomianism.  Works of John Fletcher volume 2,                (Salem Ohio. Schmul Publishers 1974).

13 Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, A Theology of Love,  (Kansas City, Beacon Hill Press, 1972.)

14 John Wesley  A Plain Account of Christian Perfection   ( Kansas City.  Beacon Hill Press.  1966)

15 John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.  36.

16 John. A. Knight. ‘John Fletcher’s influence on the development of Wesleyan Theology in   America’  Wesleyan Theological Journal 13.

17 John Fletcher The Last Check against Antinomianism,   Works of John Fletcher vol.2 (Salem, Ohio, Schmul Publishers, 1974),  632-3.

18 Donald Dayton  19 George Peck Christian Perfection  (Salem ,Ohio. Schmul Publishers .1990)

20 Timothy Smith, The Promise of the Spirit  (by Charles Finney,) (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers. 1980), 25.

21 Promise of the Spirit  footnote 69,32.

22 Daniel Steele Defense of Christian Perfection  (Salem, Ohio, Schmul Publishing, 1984),70.

23 George Peck Christian Perfection.  (Salem, Ohio. Schmul Publishing, 1990), 3.

24 Allan Coppedge ‘Entire Sanctification in Early American Methodism 1812-1835’.                  Wesleyan Theological Journal 13

25 J. L. Peters Christian Perfection and American Methodism,   (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House. 1985.)

26 C. Finney Principles of Holiness. ( Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers 1984)  23.

27  C. Finney Principles of Holiness 33.

28 C. Finney, The Promise of the Spirit  (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 1980)

29  C. Finney  Power from on High  ( Fort Washington. CLC. 1996)

30 A. Mahan   The  Baptism of the Holy Ghost  (Pickett Publishing. 1870.)

31 C. Finney,   Lectures on Revival.  (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishing, 1988)

32 Lectures on Revival section 7. 79.

3334 Lectures on Revival. 278.

35 Lectures on Revival 281.

36 See his introduction in The Promise of the Spirit  9-33..

37 The Promise of the Spirit  259-263.

38 The Promise of the Spirit.  262

39 The Promise of the Spirit  263-265

40 The Promise of the Spirit. 263-264

41 John L Gresham  Charles G. Finney’s Doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  (Peabody, Hendrickson Publishers. 1987).  18.

42 Charles Finney.  Power From on High  (Fort Washington, CLC. 1996).

43 Charles Finney Power from on High.  (Fort Washington, CLC. 1996),  7.

44 A.M.Hills, Fundamental Christian Theology vol..2

(Salem, Ohio. Schmul Publishing. 1980). 253.

45 Gary B McGee, Systematic Theology, (edited by Stanley Horton  Springfield. Miss. Logion Press, 1995).

46 Charles Finney Systematic Theology   (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers 1994)

47 Asa Mahan. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.   (Louisville, Ky. Pickett Publishing 1870)

48 The Baptism of the Holy Ghost   150.

49 50 The Baptism of the Holy Ghost. 13.

51 See, The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.  25.

52 Baptism of the Holy Ghost. 139-140.

53 The Baptism of the Holy Ghost  212-213.

54 This statement is found on the back cover of The Way of Holiness.  (Salem, Ohio, Schmul Publishing 1988)

55 Timothy Smith  The Promise of  the Spirit. 25.

56 Paul M Bassett and William M Greathouse Exploring Christian Holiness volume 2 The Historical Development.  (Kansas City.  Beacon Hill Press. 1985),. 301.

57 Phoebe Palmer The Way of Holiness.  (Salem, Ohio. Schmul Publishing 1988)  16.

58 The Way of Holiness.   27.

59 The Way of Holiness  28.

60 The Way of Holiness.  39.

61 The Way of Holiness.  43.

62 The Way of Holiness.   46.

63 For a slightly different approach to this subject see, Ivan Howard, ‘Wesley versus Phoebe Palmer:  an extended controversy’.  Wesleyan Theological Journal 6. Howard believes that Palmer’s view is more scriptural than Wesley’s.

64 See  The Way of Holiness    87.

65 The Way Of Holiness.    113.

66 Phoebe Palmer67 Phoebe Palmer  Full Salvation.   35.

68 Phoebe Palmer  The Promise of the Father.   (Salem, Ohio, Schmul Publishing. n.d.)

69 The Promise of the Father.   55..

70 Daniel Steele Love Enthroned   (Salem ,Ohio. Schmul Publishers. 1984)

71 Daniel Steele The Gospel of the Comforter.   (Salem, Ohio. Schmul Publishers. 1960)

72 Daniel Steele The Milestone Papers.    (Salem, Ohio. Schmul Publishers  1984)

73 Daniel Steele Defense of Christian Perfection.   (Salem, Ohio.  Schmul Publishing 1984)

74 Love Enthroned.  14.

75 Love Enthroned   44.

76 Love Enthroned.   66.

77 Love Enthroned   214.

78 The Gospel of the Comforter   105.

79 The Gospel of the Comforter   109.

80 The Gospel of the Comforter  139.

81 The Gospel of the Comforter   246-247.

82 For a  discussion of the relationship between these three men see, Donald Dayton,  Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, (Peabody, Hendrickson 1987) 100-104 and  John L Gresham,  Charles Finney’s Doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit  (Peabody, Hendrickson, 1987 ) 75-77.

8384 J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology volume 2   (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1990), footnote 63, 250.

85 Reuben A Torrey  The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.   (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1910).

86 Reuben A Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit   (Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers. 1972).  17.

87 The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.   19-20.

88 William Arthur. The Tongue of Fire: or, The True Power of Christianity  ( London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room,.  1856).

89 The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.  41..

90 The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.  44.

91 The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.   58-59.

92 See the helpful discussion in John L Gresham,  Charles Finneys Doctrine of the Baptism of The Holy Spirit (Peabody, Hendrickson, 1987) 64-85.

93 The Apostolic Faith. was the magazine set up to spread the news about the revival at Azusa Street and to propagate its teaching.

94 The Apostolic Faith vol.1 no.1.  September 1906. p3.

95 Stephen Land Pentecostal Spirituality.   (Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press 1993)

96 Stephen Land Pentecostal Spirituality.  91-92..

97 Chick Yuill. We Need Saints!   (London, the Salvation 98 D. William Faupel,  The Everlasting Gospel   (Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press. 1996). 259-260.

99 For a full account of the Finished Work controversy see, Faupel. The Everlasting Gospel Chapter 7.

100 Daniel Steele. Love Enthroned   212..

101 David Pawson,  Jesus Baptises in one Holy Spirit.  (London, Hodder and Stoughton. 1997)

102  J. Kenneth Grider, A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology  (Kansas C

About pneumaandlogos

David Rollings was born in Luton in1949 and raised by my Christian parents in the Gospel Standard Strict Baptist denomination( Hyper-Calvinistic} in the sixties I rebelled against this background and got involved in left-wing politics. I became a Christian in 1969 and soon started reading Francis Schaeffer's books and came to embrace a Christian Worldview. I had the privilege of being on the staff of L'Abti Fellowship from1975 - 1979. After L'abri I studied at London School of Theology where I gained my BA.(1983) A few years later I studied for my MA by distance learning with The Nazarene Theological College Manchester (1999) For the last 25 years, I have been an elder of Shoreham-by-Sea Baptist Church. I also regularly attend the Christian Doctrine Study Group of the Tyndale Fellowship.
This entry was posted in Arminian, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, body of Christ, Charismatic, Christian Perfection, filled with the Spirit, Holy Spirit, Mahan, Phoebe Palmer, Power, Purity, sanctification, Seymour, Spiritual gifts, THE CHURCH, Wesley, Wesleyan and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to From Purity to Power: A study in the development of the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

  1. Pingback: Pentecostal/Charismatic Theology: A Select Bibliography | Pneuma and Logos

  2. Pingback: A good Bibliography in Pentecostal/Charismatic Theology? #ourCOG – ourcog

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