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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Pope

QUESTION: When was the first Pope made in the Roman Catholic Church, and how was the papacy begun? 

The Roman Catholic contention is that Peter was designated by Christ as the earthly head of the universal church, and under Divine guidance Peter, accompanied by Paul, went to Rome, where he presided as bishop twenty-five years, from A. D. 41 to 67. But when we ask for the scriptural proof of events so fundamental to church history, to the question of the genuineness of modern Christianity, and of the way of salvation, we find not a particle of evidence that Peter was ever in Rome, or Italy, or Europe. The Acts of the Apostles begins with giving Peter prominence, but soon drops him as not specially important, and notes minutely the history and journeys of Paul till his death in Rome. The Papacy seems to have arisen on this wise: Rome was the dominant city in the world. The church in Rome came to be regarded as the most important and its bishop the highest in dignity. To sustain this dignity the legend of Peter as first bishop was concocted and repeated to subsequent generations of Romans ambitious for the greatness of their city, till it became an accredited tradition. To find a historical basis, fabulous histories were written and genuine annals were interpolated by putting "et Petrus" (and Peter) after the name of Paul in Rome. Thus a stupendous falsehood was foisted upon the church and the world. But it took several centuries, and the invention of the Isidorean Decretals, forged decrees of early Christian Ecumenical Councils, to make the bishop of Rome king of all other bishops and to make his diocese absorb all of their dioceses.

Steele's Answers pp. 83, 84.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

On the Temptation of Jesus

QUESTION: (1) Does temptation imply a desire on our part to do wrong? (2) If so, was Jesus tempted in that manner? (3) Had Jesus freedom of will, so that he could have fallen? 

ANSWER: Temptation is an appeal, not to any desire to do wrong, but to our wish for immediate happiness and for the avoidance of present suffering, as hunger in the case of Jesus in the wilderness. His desire for food was innocent and his gratification of it by miracle would not in itself have been sinful if it had not been in violation of his Father's purpose that his Son should exactly observe our human conditions of service and put forth no more power to shield himself from pain than we have. Hence he wrought no miracle for himself even on the cross, when he could have commanded to his rescue more angels than the Roman Emperor had soldiers. To deny perfect free agency  to Jesus would degrade him below the lowest man he came to save. It would divest him of all his moral attributes and make him a machine. His holiness while on the earth was certain, but not the result of necessity. He was holy not because he could not sin, but because he would not. God's holiness is the same. He is a free agent, always abstaining from wrongdoing. There is no risk to the universe in the perfect freedom of the Father and the Son to violate the moral law grounded not on the will of either, but in the very nature of things. When it is said, "god cannot lie," it is not a natural "cannot," but a moral one like that of Joseph when solicited by Mrs. Potiphar (Gen. 39:12). The distinction between a Calvinist and an Arminian lies in answer to this question, "Is a thing right becasue God does it, ot does he do it because it is right?"

Steele's Answers pp. 82, 83.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bearing Fruit

QUESTION: What does Jesus mean by "fruit" in John 15:2: "Every branch that beareth fruit he cleanseth it that it may bear more fruit"? Bruce says, "the spread of the Gospel."

ANSWER: 1, holiness; 2, service. The two are inseparable, for the first is the preparation for the second, and the second without the first is a failure. Holiness implies love, and love must find expression in the spread of the good news. Verse 16 is a proof of the first, and John 4:36 is a proof that fruit includes service. Says Wesley in his note on bearing more fruit: "Purity and fruitfulness help each other. This is one of the noblest rewards God can bestow on former acts of obedience to make us yet more holy and fit for farther and more eminent service." A decline in the spirituality of the church is always attended by a decline in its aggressiveness and converting power.

Steele's Answers pp. 81, 82. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Has the Kingdom Come?

QUESTION: Has the Kingdom of God been established?

ANSWER: it was initially established on the day of Pentecost. When the Son of God "had overcome the sharpness of death, he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers." The kingdom of God is the same as the kingdom of heaven. It is invisible. All who submit to Christ are it's subjects. However, in some of Christ's parables the kingdom of heaven is apparently identified with the visible church containing the good and the bad, the fares and the wheat, the wise and the foolish virgins. It is spoke of as a drag-net enclosing fishes worthless and good. 

Steele's Answers p. 81. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Justification, Then Sanctification

It took eight years of earnest Bible-study for two young men in England, one of whom was John Wesley, to make the discovery, "that men are justified before they are sanctified." "God then," while they were still in eager pursuit of heart purity, "thrust them out to raise a holy people."

This incident in the life of the founder of Methodism would not be deemed worthy of a place on the first page of the book of Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church over the signature of every one of her American bishops, living and dead, if it were not for the vital truth connected with it, "that men are justified before they are sanctified," and that the great purpose of this great religious movement is to raise a holy people by spreading scriptural holiness over all lands.

A clarified theology lies at the basis of the incandescent zeal of early Methodism. As Luther cleared the doctrine of justification of the rubbish which Romanism had piled upon it, burying it out of sight of despairing millions, so Wesley cleared the doctrine of sanctification of the errors which for ages had thickly encrusted it, purification by works, by growth, by imputation, by death, and by purgatorial fires after death. He taught believers to magnify the intercessory office of our adorable risen Saviour in procuring and sending down the Holy Spirit in pentecostal power to flow through the ages a river of water, thoroughly cleansing all who will plunge therein.

Milestone Papers, Part 1, Chapter 6.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Transition Points in the Life of Abraham

There were three remarkable transition points in the religious development of Abraham.

The first was separation from his kindred and country at the Divine command. The call of Abraham is typical of that call of the Holy Spirit, which sooner or later comes to every sinner, to turn away from all known sin as a preparation for saving faith in Christ.

The second point of transition in Abraham's life was his justification by faith. He believed in Jehovah; and He counted it to him for righteousness. St. Paul cites this as a conspicuous instance of justification by faith under the old covenant. Abraham had exercised faith in obeying the call to separation; but it was what theologians style prevenient rather than saving faith.

Twenty-four years after Abraham's first call, and several years after his justification, he passed the third and final transition in his religious career, which in modern parlance would be called his spiritual perfection. When he was ninety years old and nine (Gen xvii.1) Jehovah disclosed to him His almightiness under the name of El-Shaddai, Almighty God, as the ground of a new commandment, "Be thou perfect."

With this injunction was the institution of circumcision as necessary to the perfection required, demonstrating typically that spiritual circumcision or entire sanctification is the gateway into Christian perfection, or pure love, styled by John "perfect love" which "casteth out" all "tormenting fear." For in "the self-same day" in which Abraham was commanded to walk before God and be perfect, he submitted to the painful rite of circumcision, the removal, in Hebrew conception, of that bodily impurity with which he was born. Here we find a striking type of original or birth sin, denied by all the self-styled modern liberalists, put away by "the circumcision of Christ" through the agency of the sanctifying Spirit, not by a gradual outgoing of native depravity, but by the heroic treatment of instantaneous excision. Hence the doctrine of spiritual circumcision is a two-edged sword, cutting away Pelagianism with one edge and gradualism with the other. The first is the denial of inbred or birth sin, and the second is the denial of its instantaneous extinction when faith lays hold of Him who "is able to save unto the uttermost."

Some persons may insist that there was a fourth crisis in the life of the father of the faithful — the supreme test of his faith in obeying the command to offer up Isaac. It was a crisis, but not a transition from one state of grace to another. God found Abraham perfect in loyalty and love, and demonstrated this fact to all the coming generations of Bible-readers. The three marked epochs in his life were his separation, his justification, and his entire sanctification, the beginning of his perfect walk before Jehovah and not before misjudging mortals.

Mile-Stone Papers, Part 1, Chapter 5.

Friday, October 4, 2013

When Was the Holy Spirit Given?

QUESTION: Harmonize the following: "Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost." "Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." "For the Holy Ghost was not given because Jesus was not yet glorified." How could men be filled with the Holy Spirit before he was given?

ANSWER: We believe that the Holy Spirit is Divine. Hence he has by his essential presence always been in the world as the author of all the piety in the ages before Christ. But on the day of Pentecost he became officially present. In the mysterious economy of the Trinity, he came to fill the office of the Paraclete. His great work is to glorify Christ, to keep him ever in the minds and hearts of men. Without this office of the Spirit, Jesus would long ago have been forgotten by men. This constitutes the chief difference between the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament and in the New. He has now much better tools to work with, all the facts in Christ's earthly life and all the truths he uttered. 

Steele's Answers pp. 79, 80

Saved to the Uttermost

QUESTION: "What is the meaning of "uttermost" in Heb. 7:25: ''He is able to save to the uttermost,'' etc.

ANSWER: It refers not to extent of time, but the thoroughness of the salvation. The Greek (παντελης) properly means ''unto completeness,'' perfectly, utterly. See R. V. Margin. "Well does Delitzsch say, "Christ is able to save in every way, in all respects, unto the uttermost; so that every want and need, in all its breadth and depth, is utterly done away." He calls it "an all-embracing salvation for those who in faith make use of the way of access which he has opened by the removal of the barrier of sin."

Steele's Answers p. 79

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Can Love Be Commanded?

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. vi. 4, 5).

We are here met by the question, "Can genuine love be evoked by command? Is it not the free, spontaneous outflow of the heart towards the object for which it has affinity? How then can a soul void of all affinity for God, love Him supremely?" This question is more important than the theological puzzle, the origin of sin in a holy universe, inasmuch as the cure of an evil is of far higher interest to the sufferer than its genesis. If we turn to Romans viii. 7, we shall be appalled at the vastness of the multitude to whom the great command of both the Law and the Gospel is an utter impossibility, "because the carnal mind is enmity against God." But before we rashly accuse God of injustice, in reaping obedience where He has not sown ability, let us further read our Bibles and get the whole of the Divine purpose in this case. It is possible that a scheme of wondrous mercy may be found instead of severity. It is remarkable that most of those who find fault with God, have the least knowledge of His revelation. Turn again to the Old Testament at Deut. xxx. 6, and the difficulty vanishes, and God's moral character is vindicated. He proposes, by a direct supernatural interposition of His almightiness, with man's free consent, to perform a piece of spiritual surgery, to cut away the carnality which prevents love and invites enmity, and to clear the way for the natural up-springing of love, filling to the brim every faculty of intelligence and sensibility. "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live," or have real and internal well-being. Carnality in the least degree is obstructive of love of the purest and most perfect kind.


— from Mile-Stone Papers Part 1, Chapter 5.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Two Testaments, One Religion

The Old Testament and the New contain not two different religions, but one in different stages of development. Well did Augustine say: "In the Old Testament the New lies hidden; in the New Testament the Old lies open." The essential principal of Judaism and of Christianity is the same supreme love to God. The Great Teacher and Law-giver sums up the law, and the prophets, and all human duty in this great word LOVE. It is the natural and necessary inference from the unity of God, as opposed to polytheism; hence it follows the "Shema," the first words every Hebrew child is taught to speak, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. vi. 4, 5).

— from Mile-Stone Papers Part 1, Chapter 5.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An Ante-Pentecostal State

It is a painful fact that many who profess faith in Jesus Christ, and evince a degree of spiritual life, are practically in the condition of the first twelve believers in Ephesus; they have not in the depths of their own hearts so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." They are living in the ante-pentecostal state, in the rudimentary dispensation of John. They do not know "the exceeding greatness of Christ's power to us-ward who believe." The Credo, "I believe in the Holy Ghost," is on their lips, but it is as ineffectual for spiritual transfiguration as the Binomial Theorem. Their thirsty souls stand at the well of living water, and let down their buckets, and draw them up empty, not because the well is dry, but because their rope is not long enough to reach the water. An orthodox creed lying dead in the intellect is like a dry bucket hanging midway down the well. Merely intellectual believers lack a vigorous, appropriating faith.

— from Mile-Stone Papers Part 1, Chapter 4.