Shall We Write Off Kenneth E. Hagin? Dave Hunt? How About E. W. Kenyon?, Part 10
by Karl Kemp 10/02/2013 / Bible Studies
Here in Part 10 we continue where we stopped at the end of Part 9, under section 14, "E. W. Kenyon and His Message on Faith: the True Story" by Joe McIntyre (Charisma House, 1997, 362 pages).
((I had a footnote: See his (Joe McIntyre's) chapter 20, "The Metaphysical Cults," for one place. On page 231, McIntyre quotes from A. J. Gordon (a solid evangelical Christian), who was contrasting Christian, Biblical healing with Christian Science healing. For one thing, he said that Christian, Biblical healings "are the result of God's direct and supernatural action upon the body of the sufferer." One point that I have emphasized in this paper is that God must be the One moving the mountain and doing the healing and getting all the glory (not our faith, etc.). McIntyre (on page 234) mentioned that many Christians back in those days were making the point that the lack of Biblical teaching on divine healing among Christians had opened the door for Christian Science, etc., and he went on to quote from R. A. Torrey. McIntyre's book is loaded with important and interesting information about those solid evangelical Christians who lived in the latter half of the 1800's and early part of the 1900s. I already knew quite a bit about many of those brothers and sisters.)) And he [Kenyon] clearly learned the basics of Christianity, with a strong emphasis on faith and victory over sin, from solid evangelical Christians. For one important thing, Kenyon always insisted that the Word of God must be given top priority, not experiences. That doesn't mean, of course, that Kenyon always rightly interpreted the Scriptures. I have tried to demonstrate in this paper that he made some serious mistakes, including his interpretation of many key passages of Scripture. But I have no doubt that he was highly motivated to be faithful to God, to His Word, and to the Body of Christ. Some, or most, of those who criticize Kenyon will admit that.
I'll quote a little from what McIntyre says on pages 89, 90 and comment on this very important topic. For one thing, it will help us understand Kenyon. "R. A. Torrey was a close associate of D. L. Moody. [[The fact that Kenyon was substantially influenced by solid evangelical teachers like Torrey, A. J. Gordon, and A. T. Pierson (McIntyre discusses all three of them in this book), and many other solid evangelical teachers, is significant. Kenyon rededicated his backsliden life to the Lord in A. J. Gordon's church in 1893, about a month after he had finished his year of study at Emerson College of Oratory (from September 1892 to May 1893).]] Torrey pointed Kenyon away from the second-work-of grace teaching and helped Kenyon see the finished work of Christ. [[The second-work-of-grace viewpoint of the early Methodists and most holiness churches teaches that the sinful nature is eradicated in a definite crisis experience that typically takes places at a time after becoming a (born-again) Christian. The finished work of Christ is taught by the Keswick movement, for example, and Charles Finney's teaching on holiness and victory over sin (which I appreciate) fits here; so too the teaching of William Durham, who strongly influenced many Pentecostals in that direction.
I don't believe the New Testament teaches a second work of grace, where the sinful nature is eradicated, but (based on what I have observed) those who teach a second-work-of-grace often put a higher priority on living a life of holiness with the victory over all sin than many of those from the finished work of Christ viewpoint, and I very often appreciate their interpretation of the Scriptures. See my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" and my paper "Twenty-Eight Articles on Holiness and Victory Over Sin," which serves as a good introduction for the book.]] The Keswick teachers held that the believer continued to have a sin nature as well as the new nature received in regeneration. The sin nature was subdued rather than eradicated as the second work of grace advocates avowed. [[The New Testament puts all the emphasis on the need for us to be united with Christ through faith in His death, burial, and resurrection; walking in the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis (thereby keeping the flesh/old man from manifesting itself in sinful attitudes, motives, or works), by grace through faith; appropriating the imputed and imparted righteousness of God; all in accordance with the gospel spelled out in the New Testament.
THERE IS NO NEW NATURE, OR NEW CREATION, FOR CHRISTIANS THAT MANIFESTS ITSELF APART FROM OUR CONTINUALLY ABIDING IN CHRIST BY THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT, BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. WE ARE TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON THE GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST ON A CONTINUOUS BASIS! We were created to be dependent on God (not independent beings)! That is a good dependency! And it solves the serious pride problem!]]
Kenyon eventually parted ways with the Keswick teachers' view of sanctification as well. He came to believe that the scriptures taught man's sin nature was removed in the new birth. Unconditional surrender to the Lordship of Christ, and renewing of the mind were the missing ingredients for living a victorious life. ...." I don't doubt Kenyon's desire to base his view on the Bible, but I believe he missed it here in a rather serious way. This error goes along with his serious misinterpretation of key verses like Gal. 5:16, and of his way overstated view of the status of the recreated spirit of born-again Christians, who are able to dwell in the presence of God on terms of equality, etc.
I'll mention several important points that I picked up while reading this book (with some input from other writings): Kenyon put a strong emphasis on the Word of God (including the Word over experiences); he put a strong emphasis on fellowship with God and on doing His will in every area; he put a strong emphasis on soul winning and on trying to ground young believers in the faith; he put a strong emphasis on walking and living by faith, including for finances (which he also applied to schools he started, and churches; sometimes this made life more difficult for him, for his family, and for others, and some reacted against this); he put a strong emphasis on walking in love ((some testified of his gentleness, compassion, being generous [for one thing, he opened his home to others in need, who sometimes abused the privilege; I'm confident that this caused big problems for his first wife, who died young, and for his second wife], encouraging; he learned the names of people; and he didn't speak critically of others)); he was intelligent in some ways (but apparently he wasn't a systematic thinker, and it is shocking to me how often he was inconsistent in what he taught) and a voracious reader; he was a hard worker (including getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning and working into the evening).
McIntyre's chapter 16 is titled "The Sufferings of Christ"; chapter 17 is titled "Concurring Voices on the Sufferings of Christ"; and chapter 18 is titled "The Finished Work of Christ." I need to respond to much that McIntyre says in these chapters that deal, in large part, with Kenyon's teaching that Jesus died spiritually, took on the nature of the devil, that He then needed to be justified and born again (like we do), and that much, or most, of His atoning work was accomplished when He was tormented in hell for three days. I am going to spend a lot of time on this topic because I believe it is extremely important for us to get this right. Millions have followed Kenyon in this serious error. We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on this topic.
One thing that motivated Kenyon to teach his extreme view of the sufferings of Christ was that it proved to be effective in soul winning. It also proved effective in exhorting (some) Christians to commit themselves to God and His call to be faithful disciples. We desperately need to believe and live in line with the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. We don't need to mix in errors to accomplish God's purposes! (I'm not suggesting, of course, that Kenyon thought he was mixing in errors, quite the contrary; he believed that he was rightly interpreting the Scriptures through revelation knowledge.) We need the truth!
I'll quote the first sentence of McIntyre's chapter 16 and then comment on this sentence for a start. "The idea of Christ having experienced spiritual sufferings (as well as physical) in the work of the atonement is not an invention of Kenyon." For me, and for many others, the spiritual suffering of Christ is not an issue at all. I have always believed that the Bible teaches that Jesus suffered intensely in the spiritual dimension when He was separated from God the Father in some ways through bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties (cf., e.g., Psalm 22:1 with Matt. 27:46 and Mark 15:34; Isa. 53:10, 11 [Isaiah 53:11 and other key verses of Isaiah chapter 53 are discussed in my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."]). It would probably be difficult to overstate the suffering (especially the spiritual suffering) that He bore for us ON THE CROSS. We shouldn't minimize the suffering (spiritual and physical) that preceded the cross either.
Some Christians have used the words "Jesus died spiritually" to mean only that Jesus was separated from God the Father in His atoning death. I agree that He was separated from God the Father in some very real way, but it causes significant confusion to say that "Jesus died spiritually," because when we speak of spiritual death, we include the idea of having a sinful nature. Jesus was a man, but He was much more than just a man; He was the eternal Son of God who condescended to become the God-man (cf., e.g., John 1:1-3; Phil. 2:6-8; and Heb. 1:1-3). Kenyon (wrongly) believed that Jesus took on the nature of the devil in His atoning death.
When Jesus was separated from God the Father in some ways in His atoning death, He still was God the Son, not at all in the category of what we mean when we speak of people being spiritually dead sinners. Jesus did NOT take on the nature of the devil. Bearing our sins with the guilt and penalties was very different than taking on the nature of the devil or becoming a sinner. He bore the penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin and Satan's kingdom (so we could be born again and live with the victory over sin and Satan's kingdom, with all the demons), but He did not die spiritually (at least not in the sense that Kenyon defined what it meant for Jesus to die spiritually)! He was the Perfect Lamb of God! He paid an infinite price to save us!
One of my primary purposes for writing this paper (along with my paper, "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?") is to try to convince those who have followed Kenyon's teaching on Jesus dying spiritually that he was wrong, seriously wrong, on this topic. As far as I know, he was the first Christian to come up with what he taught on this super-important topic.
I'll include an excerpt (still in McIntyre's chapter 16, page 179) from what McIntyre calls Kenyon's "first article on the spiritual sufferings of Christ," that was written in 1900. "Jesus died twice on the cross [spiritually and physically]. I knew this for many years, but I had no scriptural evidence. One day I discovered Isaiah 53:9, the answer to my long search: 'And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.' The word death is plural in the Hebrew. Many of you who have Bibles with marginal renderings will notice it. That is, Jesus died two deaths on the cross: he died spiritually before He died physically."
Quite a few commentators on the book of Isaiah make the point that an intensive Hebrew plural was used here, which fits the violent, unique nature of Christ's death. Those of us who speak English are often surprised when the Hebrew uses a plural for various reasons (like a plural of majesty, plural of extension, or plural of amplification) where no plurality was intended, and where we would use the singular in English. The NASB, NIV, KJV, and NKJV all translated the plural as a singular in Isa. 53:9 because the translators (who were experts in Hebrew, but not infallible) didn't believe a plurality was intended. I'm totally confident that a plurality of deaths was not intended.
In endnote 9 (still on page 179), McIntyre mentions "that A. W. Pink was in agreement with Kenyon's interpretation of Isaiah 53:9 [and he quoted from Pink]: 'The margin of Isaiah 53:9 tells us that Christ was "with the wicked in his deaths" for in His soul He tasted of the second death, and in His body He suffered natural death; thus He experienced both a spiritual and natural Resurrection.' ("Gleanings From Paul: Studies in the Prayers of the Apostle" (Moody Press, 1967), page 137."
I was able to get a copy of Pink's book through the Inter-Library Loan, published by The Banner of Truth Trust in 2006. The book seems to be exactly the same as the book quoted by McIntyre, except for the page numbers. (A. W. Pink, 1886-1952, was an evangelist from England. Based on what little I know about him, he was considered to be a solid evangelical; it is quite possible though that he didn't know Hebrew.) It is quite significant that Pink wouldn't agree with hardly anything that Kenyon taught about Jesus dying spiritually. I'll include several excerpts from Pink (pages 174, 175) to demonstrate this important point.
"The 'pains of death' [referring to Acts 2:24] refer to what Christ endured UPON THE CROSS [my emphasis]: not only, and not primarily, the bodily pains of natural death (acute and many though they were) but the soul anguish of spiritual death. John Calvin stated, 'If Christ had merely died a corporal death, no end would have been accomplished by it: it was requisite also that He should feel the smart of the divine vengeance in order to appease the wrath of God [He had to bear the penalty of our sin ON THE CROSS] and satisfy His justice. Hence it was necessary for Him to contend with the power of hell and the horror of eternal death.' The pains of that that 'death' came upon Him when He exclaimed, 'Now is my soul troubled' (John 12:27). Those pains increased in intensity in Gethsemane, and were experienced in their fullness during the three hours of darkness [ON THE CROSS, from noon to three in the afternoon (Luke 23:44)], when God then 'loosed' them, so that Christ experienced a resurrection of soul. [As I pointed out in my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?," Calvin didn't teach that Jesus literally went to hell, but that he experienced hell for us ON THE CROSS.]
... Before His church could be vitally brought forth, Christ had to endure in His soul the pangs of labour, and He died under the same pangs spiritually, when He was separated from God, THOUGH THREE HOURS LATER HE WAS LOOSED FROM THEM [my emphasis; when He died at about 3 in the afternoon] ... His 'It is finished' [[His atoning work was finished ON THE CROSS, and, significantly, Pink doesn't speak in terms of Jesus nature changing (taking on the nature of the devil), or of His needing to be justified and born again (like we sinners do), or of His being tormented in hell after He died.]] announced that full payment had been made, yet His body was not 'loosed' from the grave till three days later...."
Now I'll turn to McIntyre's chapter 17, "Concurring Voices on the Sufferings of Christ." Actually, as with A. W. Pink, I don't believe any of these "concurring voices" agree with hardly anything Kenyon taught about Jesus dying spiritually. One reason I found this study interesting is that I want to understand the all-important atoning death of Christ as well as I possibly can. It is good to think about the details. McIntyre starts out this chapter with a quotation from Billy Graham that states that the primary "suffering of Jesus Christ was his spiritual death." I'm confident that Graham didn't mean anything more than that Jesus was separated from God the Father and bore the penalty for our sin ON THE CROSS.
McIntyre discussed J. N. Darby on pages 184-186. He mentioned that "Kenyon acknowledged his debt to Darby and other Brethren authors in 1902." They were (and are) considered to be respected evangelical Christians. I have known quite a few of them. McIntyre's excerpts from Darby don't demonstrate anything beyond the fact that Jesus suffered spiritually in His atoning death ON THE CROSS. As I mentioned, the same thing applies to John Calvin, who he discussed on pages 186, 187. And the same thing applies to Charles Spurgeon, who he discussed on pages 188-190.
I'll include a brief excerpt from one of the excerpts McIntyre has from Spurgeon. "...God treated Him as if He had been a sinner, which He never was, and never could be. God left Him as He would have left a sinner, till He cried out [while still ON THE CROSS], 'My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' God smote Him as He would have smitten a sinner...." On pages 190-192 McIntyre discusses R. W. Dale, "1829-1895, a respected British theologian and Congregationalist pastor and preacher...." McIntyre made an important statement about Kenyon's viewpoint in this section, "Kenyon never suggested that one's salvation depended on accepting his understanding of the atonement." (I have to say though that I have had Christians question whether I was really a Christian, much less a Bible teacher, since I don't believe what Kenyon taught on this topic.) I'll quote part of the excerpt that McIntyre has from Dale here that deals with the "spiritual sufferings of Christ." "The light of God's presence is lost, He is left in awful isolation, and He cries, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' In the 'hour of great darkness' which had fallen upon Him He still clings to the Father with an invincible trust and an immeasurable love [He didn't take on the nature of the devil], and the agony of being deserted of God is more than He can bear. ... ("The Atonement" (The Congregational Union Lecture of 1875), 24 edit. (Congregational Union of England and Wales, 1905), pages 119, 121, 123-124." I believe McIntyre would agree that the Christians he has dealt with so far in this chapter don't support any of Kenyon's ideas beyond the fact that Jesus suffered greatly spiritually, including His being separated from God the Father in some ways in His atoning death. There is nothing about His taking on the nature of the devil, of His need to be justified and born-again (like we do) because He had taken on the nature of the devil, or that he went to hell for three days to be tormented.
McIntyre listed Henry C. Mabie next, but I'm going to discuss several others before I come back to Mabie. Now we come to G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945) "who was another favorite Bible teacher of Kenyon's. Morgan, who eventually became the pastor of the famous Westminster Chapel in London (from 1904-1917), was a popular and respected Bible expositor. Like E. W. Kenyon, he was without academic training...."
I'll quote part of the excerpt that McIntyre (page 195) quoted from Morgan ("Crises of the Cross" [Fleming H. Revell, 1936], page 358). (I was able to find the Hodder and Stoughton edition of this book on the internet. The page number is the same.) "In the deep and unfathomable mystery of the cross, His spirit was separated from God, and that Spirit separated from the body passed down into hades. ... One who...[[has obtained a double victory over sin.... These words which McIntyre didn't quote are quite important in that Morgan was saying (as the preceding pages show) that Jesus did not sin in the sense of originating evil, without being tempted (like Satan did), or when He was tempted to do evil; that's what Morgan meant by a "DOUBLE victory over sin." To further demonstrate the important point that Morgan made it clear that Jesus did not take on the nature of Satan or literally become a sinner, he (earlier on this page) asked the question, "Why did this HOLY ONE [my emphasis] pass into Hades?" So Morgan didn't teach that Jesus took on the nature of Satan or needed to justified or born again (like we do). Now I'll continue to quote the part that McIntyre quoted]] has taken upon Himself the responsibility of the sin of a race, and in those solemn hours between the passing of the Spirit of Christ on the Cross, and the resurrection morning, the holy body of the Man lies in the tomb. His Spirit has passed into hell, the place of lost spirits. Now hear His words, 'Thou wilt not leave My soul unto hades" [Acts 2:27]. ((I had a three-paragraph footnote: The Greek has the noun "hades" in Acts 2:27. The KJV typically translates hades as "hell," which has caused considerable confusion.
It has always been clear to me and to very many others that Jesus went to the righteous compartment of Hades, which is sometimes called "Paradise." Back on page 258 Morgan had mentioned what Jesus said to the repentant man on the cross, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). See "A Discussion on the Meaning of the word 'Hades' in Acts 2:27, 31; the Meaning of the word 'Paradise' in Luke 23:43; and the Meaning of 'Abraham's Bosom' in Luke 16:22" in my paper on Ephesians chapter 4.
On page 60 of his "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne," Kenyon said that Jesus didn't say to the repentant man on the cross that he would be with Him that day in Paradise. He wrongly said that Luke 23:43 "should be read like this: 'I say to you Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise." I don't believe that there is any possibility that Kenyon's interpretation of Luke 23:43 is correct. We don't need to tell people that we are speaking to them today, but the man on the cross was very concerned about where he was going when he died (that day), and where he was going to spend eternity. [The three-paragraph footnote ended here.])) Even though Morgan switched to the word "hell" and further specified "the place of lost spirits," he made it clear that Jesus finished His all-important suffering and atoning work ON THE CROSS. (Also see his page 266.) It is reasonable to speak of Jesus taking our place in hell while He was ON THE CROSS, but that's not what Kenyon taught.
I'll quote a few more sentences from what Morgan said here on page 358 (that McIntyre didn't quote): "In the mystery of the Cross, all the penalty of sin has been borne. IN THE PLACE OF FIRE [undoubtedly meaning hell] THERE IS NO PAIN FOR THE HOLY ONE because ON THE CROSS [(my capitalization for emphasis)] all the penalty of sin has been borne," and Jesus wasn't a sinner with the nature of Satan who needed to be justified and born again, like Kenyon taught.], Who exhausted all the fierceness in the terrible experience of His Passion [ON THE CROSS]. In His body [ON THE CROSS] has He borne man's sin, and that work having been as He said finished [ON THE CROSS], the corruption which means the disintegration of the body, cannot touch Him. 'Thou wilt not give Thy Holy One to see corruption' [Acts 2:27]."
So, what McIntyre said about Morgan near the beginning of this section wasn't accurate. He said, "As mentioned earlier, Kenyon believed that Jesus suffered in hades [Kenyon spoke of Jesus being tormented in hell in a very intense way for three days] on until the time of the resurrection. Morgan also believed and taught this." Morgan did not teach that Jesus suffered in hell [or hades] between His death and His resurrection. His suffering was completed ON THE CROSS.
McIntyre discussed Charles Cuthbert Hall next (on his pages 196, 197). McIntyre included excerpts from Hall's book, "Does God Send Trouble?" (Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1895), pages 49-50, 54. I downloaded (from the internet) chapter 3, "The Historic Atonement and the Punishment of Sin," which covers pages 39-54 of Hall's book. (The entire book was available on the internet.)
I'll include the first and second excerpts of the four excerpts that McIntyre includes from Hall: "There is but one place on earth where man obtains a glimpse of what the punishment of sin is as a crime against God. That place is the Hill of Calvary, where stands the Cross of Jesus Christ. When we can look into the secret anguish of that sacred heart; when we can comprehend the horror and misery that rent His soul; when we can understand the hideous sense of alienation from all good which surged over Him in that frightful darkness, wringing from His lips the shriek, 'Forsaken' [referring to the words, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?"]; when we can rise to the point of grasping that, - then, and not until then, may we think that we comprehend what the punishment of sin is" (page 49). Hall, like every Christian writer we have looked at so far, is speaking of the suffering that Jesus did ON THE CROSS, and there is no idea whatsoever of His taking on the nature of Satan, being tormented in hell for three days after He died, etc.
"And when I think of the nameless horror of His punishment, the only uninspired language which approaches a description of it is that clause in the creed [the Apostle's Creed] (which some tell us we ought to reject as unscriptural), 'He descended into hell [or, hades].' I cannot reject these words from the creed. Ah! When that shriek, 'Forsaken,' burst from the pallid lips of Jesus Christ, was He not descending into hell?" (page 50). It is necessary to understand that Hall is saying, like Calvin did, that Jesus bore hell when He took our sins (with the guilt and penalties) ON THE CROSS. I'll include two more excerpts from this chapter (excerpts that McIntyre did not include) that confirm that Hall believed Christ's atoning work was finished ON THE CROSS. It was finished when He said "It is finished" in John 19:30.
"But FROM THE HOUR THAT CRY SOUNDED [my emphasis; referring to the cry, "My God, My God, Why Have You forsaken Me?" Hall had just mentioned "that cry of His, 'Forsaken,' " in the preceding sentence.], the world was redeemed.... ... Before that suffering there was nothing in store for the world but that nameless horror [of our being forsaken by God in the full and final sense of the lake of fire]; but by that suffering the horror is lifted from Humanity for all save those who finally and forever reject Christ. Let us not confuse the revelation of God's love by attempting to pronounce on the destiny of those who have entered and have left the world in ignorance of Christ and of His Sacrifice. We may safely trust Him with them and trust them to Him. ..." (pages 51, 52).
"I believe that sin has been judged, condemned, and punished in this world, once for all, in the awful sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I believe that that sacrifice OF THE CROSS [my emphasis] is the one divine event toward which the whole creation moves" (pages 52, 53).
So, McIntyre has misunderstood what Hall meant when he spoke of Jesus descending into hell. It is easy to misunderstand writings like these.
In chapter 18 McIntyre deals with A. J. Gordon, and then A. T. Pierson (both recognized as solid evangelical Christians), both mentors for Kenyon, to try to demonstrate that their views on the atoning death of Christ had a lot in common with Kenyon's view. After spending some time reading what those brothers had to say on this topic, I am confident that neither one would agree that Jesus took on the nature of Satan and needed to be justified and born again like we do, or that He still had to suffer the torment of hell for three days after He died. I believe McIntyre misunderstood what these brothers said.
We will continue this study in Part 11.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.