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.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Were the Disciples Purified Before Pentecost?

QUESTION: Is not John 15:3 a proof that the disciples were completely purified before the day of Pentecost? If not, what is the true exegesis?

ANSWER: It is a pleasant play upon three Greek words, airei, cleanse, cathairoi, clean. Bishop Westcott, an eminent Greek scholar, says: "The spiritual work representing this "cleansing" was potentially completed for the apostles, the representatives of his church. It remained to be realized by them (compare Col. 8:8, 5). They were clean "because of the word." The word, the whole revelation to which Christ had given expression, was the spring and source, and not only the instrument, of their purity (it is "because" of (Revised Version), and not "through", John 6:57). He then cites John 8:81, 82, Eph. 5:26, James 1:18. In John 17:17 Christ thus prays, "Sanctify them in thy truth," a needless prayer, if they were already wholly sanctified. Let me illustrate this "cleansing potentially completed.," but as yet not "realized." A father presents to his son Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, saying, "Now, my son, you are made complete in the English language." The son says, "By diligence I hope to realize your design."

Steele's Answers pp. 200, 201.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Not All Professors are Possessors

QUESTION: If all sin is eradicated from the heart, what is the source of the impatience, harsh criticism, censoriousness, etc., that we see in those who are stoutly contending that they are sanctified wholly?

ANSWER: Not all is gold that glitters; not all professors are possessors. This is as true of justification as of sanctification.

Steele's Answers pp. 200.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Roman Catholic Scheme of Perfection

QUESTION: What is the Roman Catholic scheme of perfection?

ANSWER: By fulfilling "the three counsels of perfection," the vow of poverty, of obedience to the superior of the monastery or nunnery, and chastity. The priests promise only subordination to the hierarchy and celibacy — a far different thing from chastity. Neither the secular priests nor the laity can attain perfection, except by going through purgatory.

Steele's Answers pp. 199, 200.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Matthew 12:43-45

QUESTION: Explain Matt. 12:43-45, "But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of a man, passeth through waterless places seeking rest, and findeth it not." * * * "Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation."

ANSWER: The gross idolatry of Israel had been cast out through captivity in Babylon, so that they were "empty and swept" of that evil, but they had permitted a sevenfold greater to come in, namely, Pharisaism embracing self-righteousness and unbelief culminating in the rejection of their Messiah King and Savior. To show the enormity of these sins and their dreadful consequences he uses a parable suggested by his miracle just wrought by casting out a demon (verse 22). The whole description bears a parabolic impress, and the several features should not be overstrained or "made to go on all fours." The whole subject of demoniacal possessions is greatly alleviated by the idea that while Christ was on the earth the Almighty lengthened their tether, permitting them to take possession of some men in Judea, where a basement window was left open, so that Jesus by casting them out could demonstrate that demons were subject to him while angels ministered unto Him, thus showing his universal Lordship. This theory is sustained by the fact that demonical possessions did not often occur in the Old Testament nor to any great extent in the New Testament after the time of Christ. "Waterless" or desert, places are witnesses of the sin of mankind — a sticking proof of the  disappearance of Paradise. Hence deserts are suitable places for demons outside of hell. See Isa. 13:21, 22; 34:13-15, Rev 18:2. The number seven  denotes completeness. "Empty and swept" signify sloth; "the idle man's brain is the devil's workshop." "Garnished" — here the pure soul appears as the bride wooed by heaven and hell. The unclean man is fascinated by purity which he desires to defile. This passage of Scripture is full of deep moral truth, the most alarming of which is the possibility of a Christian's final and eternal apostasy. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

Steele's Answers pp. 198, 199.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Scriptural Proof that the Saved can be Lost

QUESTION: What do you regard as the strongest Scriptural proof that a person who has been truly converted may be finally and eternally lost?

ANSWER: The words of Christ in John 15:1, 6 can have no other meaning. A person who is "a branch in me" (Christ) may become fruitless and "withered" and "cast forth as a branch," and "gathered" and "cast into the fire," and "burned." If this figurative language is not a solemn, deliberate and graphic declaration of the possible perdition of a soul once regenerated and savingly united with Christ, then it is impossible to express this idea in human language. These words should lead every professor of Christ to ask himself daily, am I bringing forth such fruit as Jesus Christ is looking for, (1) the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and (2) the fruit of saved souls (John 4:36) "How a man can be 'in Christ,'" says Bishop Westcott, "and yet afterwards separate himself from him, is a mystery neither greater nor less than that involved in the fall of a creature created innocent." The scholarly bishop must have forgotten that the fall of a Christian under the assaults of the devil is less mysterious than the fall of the angels who fell without temptation.

Steele's Answers pp. 197, 198.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Can We Expect Revival?

QUESTION: Can the people of God expect a revival in a church filled with card players, dancing and whiskey drinking, by praying through, over or around these detestable abominations?

ANSWER: Yes; after a plenty of unsparing preaching in rebuke of sins dishonoring the holy Christ. Then let there be united and tremendous praying and believing. Read the article "The Heavens Opened," in the Methodist Review for March and April, 1907. It will tone up your faith.

Steele's Answers pp. 197.

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.