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.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit

QUESTION: Does the baptism with the Holy Ghost effect entire sanctification?

ANSWER: The word "baptism" implies purification.When the word "fire' is added, perfect cleansing is indicated, by the figure of hendiadys, one idea expressed by two words, cleansing and fire. This denotes the complete and final purification, while being born of water and the Spirit denotes [an] initial cleansing less radical. The Pentecostal gift was cleansing in Acts 15:8, 9.

Steele's Answers pp. 85, 86.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This was the standard view in the Holiness movement in the 19th and early 20th centuries: Baptism with the Holy Spirit is another name for Entire Sanctification. This reflects the influence of the teachings of John Fletcher, as I argue here: Spirit Baptism: Wesleyanism & Pentecostalism

However, Dr. Steele seems to me to backpedal a bit on this issue when challenged by James Mudge's book Growth in Holiness Toward Perfection. His reply to Mudge is here: Baptism With the Holy Ghost. In this response, Steele goes so far as to say: "Hence we conclude that the phrase, 'baptism or fullness of the Spirit,' may mean something less than entire sanctification." He distinguishes ecstatic (or charismatic) fullness from ethical fulness. The one does not necessarily imply the other.

And, further down the page, Steele says: "Our author's chapter on the baptism of the Spirit might have been included in his discussion of irrelevant texts, on none of which do our standard theologians ground the doctrine of Christian perfection."

So, while it is true that Baptism with the Holy Spirit and Entire Sanctification were often spoken of interchangeably in the Holiness movement, their view did not rest upon this identification.