This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. I am slowly blogging through Steele's Answers, posting each Q & A in the order in which they appear (whether I personally agree with the answer or not). But, these posts come from several other sources, as well. I post particularly eloquent passages from Dr. Steele's other writings. Occasionally I post "guest blogs" from other holiness writers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why is Madame Guyon Called a Mystic?

QUESTION: For what reason is Madam Guyon styled "a mystic?"

ANSWER: The word signifies mysterious, hidden, incomprehensible. To a worldly person a spiritual experience of the witness of the Holy Spirit and of Communion with God is mystical. Most ardent piety breathes in the hymns and other writings of this good lady persecuted and imprisoned by a church so fallen that it could not appreciate the seraphic ardor of this woman. All true Christians are mystics. Only nominal Christians and worldlings dislike the term and try to cast reproach upon it.

Steele's Answers pp. 196.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christ Preaching to the Spirits in Prison (1 Peter 3:19)

QUESTION: Explain I Peter 3:19, Christ preaching to the spirits in prison.

ANSWER: We have several times answered this extendedly. We now only quote Wesley's Notes: "He preached through the ministry of Noah to unholy men before the fiood; who were then reserved by the justice of God as in a prison, till he executed the sentence upon them all; and are now also reserved to the judgment of the great day."

Steele's Answers pp. 196.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Liberty and Law

QUESTION: What is the relation of Liberty to Law?

ANSWER: Perfect obedience to Law is perfect freedom, because the consciousness of law is lost in love, which prompts us to do spontaneously and gladly all the loved Lawgiver requires. Duty is not seen because LOVE is written over it in so large letters. Whom the Son maketh free is free indeed. His yoke is easy. Love knows no burden.

Steele's Answers pp. 195, 196.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On Those Professing a Third Blessing

QUESTION: What should be my attitude towards an apparently sincere company, very bitter towards the churches, though professing the third blessing attested by the gift of tongues?

ANSWER: We should cherish a kindly feeling of pity toward these misguided people, who answer well to our definition of fanatic. Since they claim plenary inspiration it will do no good to try to show them their error, but it may save others from being led astray by them, just as the Bremen may save the exposed houses, although they cannot save that one which the fire is rapidly consuming. By these remarks we do not assert that the charisms, or extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, are limited to the Apostolic age, but that the phenomenon of unintelligible]e words without an interpreter, so that no thouglit is expressed for anyone's benefit, is not now needed as a Christian evidence.

Steele's Answers pp. 195.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Did Wesley Mean by "Enthusiasm"?

QUESTION: What does Wesley mean when he thus cautions professors of Christian holiness, "Beware of that daughter of pride, enthusiasm." Is  not enthusiasm a good quality?

ANSWER: In  modern usage it has a good meaning, as it originally had among the Greeks. Take it to pieces and you will And it means en Theos, in God, denoting inspiration. But it soon began to take on the meaning of fanatic, in which sense Wesley used it. Isaac Taylor, in his Natural History of Enthusiasm, says: "A fanatic is an enthusiast transformed or developed. A typical enthusiast has a warm imagination and a sensitive heart with the malignant element still latent." He lives for only one object, and when opposed the evil is apt to become aroused; then he ceases to be an enthusiast and becomes a fanatic, wild, extravagant and unteachable in his religious opinions. He is infallible, being directly inspired by the Holy Ghost, as he imagines. He thinks every thought is from God and that he has no need of the Bible. "Why do I need a guide-board," I heard a fanatic say in a pulpit, "when I have the Guide?" Another boasted that he had not looked in the Bible during a month. The devil easily trips such people up by injecting temptations to evil acts which, not being tested by the Scriptures, are supposed to be right because inspired by God. This is the road to ruin, trodden by many who were once earnest Christians. Wesley cut off sixty fanatics from his Foundry Society in one day. They called him "poor blind John." Beware of fanaticism, the devil's trap for those whom he can catch in no other way.

Steele's Answers pp. 194, 195.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Will There Be Degrees of Happiness in Heaven?

QUESTION: Does the Bible teach that there will be degrees of happiness in heaven?

ANSWER: Every one will have as much happiness as he can hold, but a thimble full is not quite equal to a hogshead full. The penitent thief may be the thimble and St. John may be the hogshead.

Steele's Answers pp. 193, 194.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Editor's Note: About This Blog

Just lately I've been too busy to post anything at this blog. But, I thought I would take a moment to say a little about it and about its future.

Several years ago I acquired a copy of the old book Steele's Answers. I wanted to scan it and include it with the other Steele books I had put up on the web. For a long time, I couldn't figure out how best to do that. The book has no chapters, only short questions & answers. It didn't fit with what I had been doing up to that point. Finally it occurred to me that the short entries in the book lent themselves to the blog format. So I started to scan it (without having previously read it) and posted the entries in the order in which they appeared. In doing this I discovered that the book really isn't very good — though it is a good reflection of its times. So, I started posting entries drawn from Dr. Steele's other writings — and a few things from other holiness writers.

I have been posting the questions and answers in the order in which they appear in the book.

I would say I'm through about 3/4 of the book at this point, so the Steele's Answers blog will continue into 2015 at least. In the mean time, I also started a blog drawn from the writings of Thomas C. Upham.

You might wonder: why do I find these writers interesting, when I don't always agree with them?

My Christian conversion experience was in the context of a holiness camp meeting. I am abidingly thankful for the message I encountered there — but for a long time the "entire sanctification" aspect of their teaching was a conundrum to me. I couldn't seem to experience or understand it. In seminary I sought out some classic holiness writings to try to comprehend this teaching. The writings of Daniel Steele were some of the most helpful I found. I have now come to feel that he is probably the one writer that best captures the Wesleyan holiness movement in its 19th century form. And, I think there are worthwhile insights in his writings.

My intention is to post all of the questions and answers in the book. And, this project will continue when I have some more time to devote to it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Danger of a Light Estimate of Sin

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged." — John 16:7-11 ASV.

A light estimate of sin is the bane of modern Christian thought. It is attended by a depreciation of the moral law. Since the law underlies the atonement, whatever lessens the majesty of the law detracts from the necessity and value of the atonement. Thus these fundamentals all suffer loss when one of them, sin, law, atonement, is discounted. To these three vital doctrines we may add the pardon of sin and sanctification, together with eternal retribution. When one of these doctrines is undervalued, all are soon weakened. Says Principal Moule:

A full, strong current of opinion in the professing Church of Christ runs at the present day directly against a grave, thoroughgoing doctrine of sin and its correlative truths of eternal judgment and of the unspeakable need of the atoning blood and of a living personal faith in the crucified and risen One. One would think that some earnest teachers had learned, by some other path surely than that of the Word of God, to look with temperate eyes upon sin as a phenomenon sure at last to disappear under long processes of divine order.

The final evanescence of moral evil is a pleasing delusion of liberalism which cannot endure the idea of sin as an eternal blot on the face of the universe. A careful study of the parables of Christ shows the human family in the day of judgment separated and sentenced to the opposite destinies of punishment and reward with no hint of an ultimate reunion. Moral evil as a finalty under the government of omnipotent goodness is a problem of less difficulty than the permission of sin by absolute holiness. The argument which justifies the arbitrary non-prevention of sin will justify its sovereign non-extinction. But we need no such argument. God has only one way for the extinction of sin, the blood of His Son presented by penitent faith. He will never crush sin with an almighty trip hammer, as Universalists desire; nor will He crush the sinner into nonentity to suit annihilationism. Hence final impenitence can have no other sequence than everlasting misery. Without any revelation Plato comes to this conclusion. His moral reason demanded it. Hence it is not unreasonable.

What is the remedy for inadequate and superficial views of sin as a transient, cutaneous disease soon to be outgrown by the soul? Preach earnestly and persistently the office of the Paraclete as the convincer of the stupendous sin of unbelief toward Christ, of righteousness and of judgment to come. Liberalism can be cured only by the awakening truths of Christ's gospel. No office of the Comforter can be neglected without moral disaster, which always overtakes those who advance beyond the New Testament in their fancied progress. "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ hath not God" (II John 9, Revised Version).

— from The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 6.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Conviction for Inward Sin

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged." — John 16:7-11 ASV.

The Spirit not only convicts unbelievers of willful sin, but He also convicts the regenerate of "sin improperly so called" (Wesley), a wrong state of the sensibilities lying back of the will. Even after the will has, through the new birth, been brought into an attitude of submission to Christ, there remain tendencies and propensities perilous to the spiritual life and antagonistic to the new principle of love to God which is now enthroned within. This rendered many of the Corinthians "carnal," so that Paul hesitated to call them "spiritual," though they were, "as babes in Christ," possessing a feeble spiritual life instead of that more abundant life which Christ came to impart. This lingering carnality, "the easily besetting" or closely clinging sin, styled by Delitzsch "the indwelling evil," was the force which was impelling many of the Galatians downward instead of upward; for having begun in the Spirit, they were ending in the flesh. We must ascribe to the same cause that lack of perfect loyalty and perfect devotion to Christ in all of Paul's band of missionary helpers in Rome, Timothy excepted, of whom the sorrowful apostle says, "For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ." By such a remark as this the apostle to the Gentiles does not de-Christianize those members of Christ's body who are still actuated by selfishness. Rather he represents them as weak and defective believers who have not yet submitted to a total self-crucifixion as a prerequisite to perfect love to Christ. Paul does not include himself and Timothy in this class (Phil. ii. 19-21).

— from The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 6.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Salvation by Faith in Christ

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged." — John 16:7-11 ASV.

Another truth implied in the Spirit's conviction of the world is that present salvation and eternal life depend solely on faith in Christ for which there can be no substitute. By this declaration the pious, God-fearing pagan living up to his best light is not excluded from salvation. He evinces that he has the spirit of faith and the purpose of righteousness which are accepted in the involuntary absence of a knowledge of the historic Christ. He has engraven on his own character, through co-operation with the universal activity of the Holy Spirit, the imperfect outlines of the image of Christ, styled by Joseph Cook "the essential Christ." When the apostles demonstrated to the conscience of the Jews that there was salvation in no other name, not even in Abraham their father nor in Moses their lawgiver, they were convicted of the most stupendous crime possible, but not beyond the forgiving grace of their disowned and crucified Messiah. Great as was their first crime of murdering their King, their second offense of rejecting His claims did not place them individually beyond His pardoning mercy, if they would repent and believe, although it sealed their national doom. Their unbelief vitiated all their fancied righteousness sought from the law and rendered it detestable and all their sacrifices abominable to the searcher of hearts. They were preeminently guilty of unbelief. The temporal consequences to their nation manifestly confirm the assertion that it was the most heinous of all sins.

— from The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 6.