Keswick theology—one of the most significant strands of second-blessing theology—assumes that Christians experience two “blessings.” The first is getting “saved,” and the second is getting serious. The change is dramatic: from a defeated life to a victorious life, from a lower life to a higher life, from a shallow life to a deeper life, from a fruitless life to a more abundant life, from being “carnal” to being “spiritual,” from merely having Jesus as your Savior to making Jesus your Master. So how do people experience this second blessing? Through surrender and faith: “Let go and let God.”
Second-blessing theology is pervasive because countless people have propagated it in so many ways, especially in sermons and devotional writings. It is appealing because Christians struggle with sin and want to be victorious in that struggle—now. Second-blessing theology offers a quick fix to this struggle, and its shortcut to instant victory—surrendering, trusting, and letting God’s power work—appeals to genuine longings for holiness.
This book’s thesis is simple: Keswick theology is not a biblically sound doctrine. This book tells the story of where Keswick theology comes from, explains what exactly it is, and then refutes it while building a case for a biblical alternative. No other book surveys the history and theology of second-blessing theology like this and then analyzes it from a soteriologically Reformed perspective.
This book packs an extraordinary amount of useful summary, critical analysis, and pastoral reflection into short compass. One does not have to agree with every opinion to recognize that this is a comprehensive and penetrating analysis of Keswick theology down to 1920. The book will do the most good, however, if it encourages readers in a more faithful way to pursue that holiness without which we will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
For years popular Christian teachers have been telling us the secret key to the victorious, higher, deeper, more abundant Christian life. We’ve been told just to “let go and let God.” If you’ve heard that teaching, you’ll want to read this book—the definitive history and critique of second-blessing theology. You’ll learn not only where this theology went wrong, but will also discover afresh the well-worn old paths of biblical faithfulness and holiness. Andy Naselli is an extraordinarily careful scholar who leaves no stone unturned, but also a compassionate guide who longs to help and serve the church of Jesus Christ. Readers of this work will be instructed and encouraged in their Christian walk.
—Justin Taylor, Vice-President of Editorial; Managing Editor at Crossway Publishing
Forty years ago, as a brand new Christian, I devoured Keswick theology, which had great appeal to me as a vibrant and dynamic faith. I wrote “Let go and let God” inside my Bible. But the more I studied Scripture and looked at my own life, the more I saw that much of this theology didn’t ring true. As a former insider, I found Andy Naselli’s critique to be fair, accurate, theologically sound, and biblically persuasive. Andy’s book offers the bonus of serving as an insightful study of the doctrine of sanctification. I highly recommend it.
—Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director of Eternal Perspective Ministries
Andy Naselli’s thorough description and careful analysis of Keswick theology makes a major contribution to contemporary evangelical theology and to the Christian doctrine of sanctification, more broadly. Like many others, I was early influenced by Keswick theology through books and teachers in the Keswick tradition. While I came to appreciate their stress on Christ’s ability, by His Spirit, to enable faithful Christian living, their “let go, let God” methodology is both unbiblical and deeply misleading as a means of sanctification. I wish that Naselli’s excellent study had been available when I struggled with these issues. And so now, I gladly commend this book to all sincere Christians who can both learn from the excesses of the Keswick model while also coming to see more clearly and rightly the Bible’s pathway of progressive growth in sanctification.
—Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Holiness movements are part and parcel of the church in every age. In their emphasis on the need for Christianity to make a difference, they represent an important biblical emphasis; but in their detachment from a biblical anthropology, they often tend inevitably towards legalism, lack of assurance, and, worst of all, self-righteousness. In this work, Andy Naselli subjects one of the most influential of modern holiness movements to vigorous, but fair-minded, analysis. In so doing, he makes an important contribution not just to church history but also for all those who seek to address the relevant issues in an informed and thoughtful manner.
—Carl Trueman, Academic Dean, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary
Andrew David Naselli is Research Manager for D. A. Carson and Administrator of Themelios. He earned two PhDs before he turned thirty: a PhD in theology from Bob Jones University and a PhD in New Testament Exegesis and Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School under D. A. Carson. He has taught New Testament Greek at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and he currently teaches Bible and theology as adjunct faculty at several colleges and seminaries. He has published nearly twenty articles, forty book reviews, and a few books.