Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Can Repentance Based on Fear be Genuine?

QUESTION: Can repentance be genuine, if based upon hope of reward or fear of punishment? Is the following sentence true, "Virtue founded on fear is only vice in a fit of dejection"?

ANSWER: this kinds like the distant echo of the New England Hopkinsian doctrine that holiness is disinterested benevolence, that the least regard for our own well-being is inconsistent with true holiness, and repentance is not genuine if it does not include willingness to be damned for the glory of God. In the first quarter of the last century, a boy named Mark Traffon, in a Calvinian inquiry meeting in Maine, was asked if he was willing to be sent to hell forever for God's glory, and replied: "No, sir, I have decided objections." He went to hear an Arminian preacher, was converted, and became an eminent minister. Moses had respect to the recompense of reward, and Noah, moved by fear, prepared for himself an ark. In Christ's preaching he perpetually appealed to men's hopes and fears, especially to the latter. He uttered more alarm truth and said more about hell fire than any other person in the Bible. Many modern preachers seem to be wiser than the great Teacher. They think that the doctrine of retribution is not promotive of genuine piety, and for this reason drop it from their sermons, and then wonder why sinners are not converted, and comfort themselves with the declaration that "the times have changed and the age of revivals is past." Says Bishop Butler in his Analogy: "Veracity, justice, regard to God's authority, and our own chief interest, are coincident; and each separately, a just principle. To begin life from either of them, and persist, produces that very character which corresponds to our relations to God, and secures happiness."Repentance from the lowest motive leads to the higher and ultimately to the highest.

Steele's Answers pp. 76, 77.