Scott Russell Borderud
Before investigating art. 7 of the Statement of Faith, we must acknowledge that in some sense, the Statement of Faith is a creed or confession. We also must say something concerning creeds in general, and in particular the form and function of a creed in the Christian and Missionary Alliance. After all, this is the only official form which the C&MA doctrine of sanctification takes in our analysis in the next chapter.
First, let us understand the distinction between a confession and theology.1 In its purest New Testament form, a confession relates to the simple testimony of belief. Our first example of this is Peter's fundamental confession of Matt.16:16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This is also the approach of Paul's evangelistic preaching as reflected in Rom.10:10, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." He applied this personally to Timothy in I Tim.6:12, "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." This most probably speaks of Timothy's confession of faith at his baptism. These are obviously short and clear expressions of belief in Christ, without the theological baggage which is today associated with creeds.
These are not the only examples of creeds in the New Testament. The outstanding example of this in Paul's letters is the so-called "Philippian hymn" of Phil. 2:6-11, the form and source of which has received much scholarly attention in the last fifty years.2 This short hymn climaxes with the blessed hope, "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess...that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." There also seems to be credal form in Ephesians 4:5-7, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all..." These statements, whether written or employed by Paul, certainly had theological content in the sense of giving meaning to the Gospel, but they were pastoral in tone, with none of the anathemas which marked later confessions. Perhaps Paul drew from other literature circulating during the period, but more likely he used liturgical material familiar to the churches under his care.
There was no "theologizing" here in the academic sense of detailed arguments for or against a particular doctrine, although there were times when Paul did this in his letters. Even so, theology and theologians as we know them today did not begin to make their appearance until later, nor was there the mutual exclusiveness among the New Testament confessions, as there was among the creeds which began to appear in the 16th century. The confessions of the New Testament were clearly seen by their writers and the early Church as mutually supporting and complementing witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ. For these reasons and others it is fair to suggest that the confessions which appear in the New Testament have little in common with the creeds which began to appear within several centuries of the close of the New Testament era, and especially those of the Protestant and Catholic wings of the Reformation. By the standards of the Ecumenical Councils, these terse statements simply did not say enough to deal with their matters in question. However, we should keep foremost in our minds when discussing creeds, the central place of the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord in the credal material of the New Testament. This will help us to see the developments which follow from the proper perspective, especially as we approach the unique milieu of 19th century American church history.
The oldest, simplest, and most widely accepted creed in western Christendom is undoubtedly the Apostles' Creed. The earliest Greek text, that of Marcellus of Ancyra (336-341) translates into about 85 words in English, which by the 7th century had expanded to about 106 words in the Apostles' Creed we now recognize.3 The textual additions, such as "Catholic" and "Communion of Saints" tell us that the Church in the West was already well on the road to ever-increasing precision in its beliefs. Today this creed still plays an important role in the liturgy, catechism, and theological discussions in the churches of the West. The Nicene Creed, the oldest creed in the eastern Church, dates in its initial form to the First Ecumenical Council held at Nicea in 325. Important for our discussion is the fact that this creed was born out of the Arian controversy, the subject of that Council. We find concerning Jesus Christ the phrase, "of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of Very God, begotten, not made..." The creed in its original form adopted at Nicea ends with an anathema to the Arians. Thus, in its first major test of doctrine and unity, the church used a creed to prescribe the beliefs of those within it and to proscribe the beliefs of those outside it. The story doesn't end here: the Nicene Creed appeared with additions to "the Holy Spirit" at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381 to defend the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and again with the word filioque at Toledo in 589. This western insertion would, along with papal authority, and some other sources of conflict, bring about the division of the Greek and Latin Churches by 1054.
These councils established a precedent which would govern the function of creeds for over a millennium: to publish the results of theological discussion and agreement; to define orthodox doctrine; and to reject publicly those teachings and groups which differ from the majority opinion. This is not a criticism but a statement of fact. The period of the first seven Ecumenical Councils was a time in which theology as we know it today was under construction: the Church Fathers were under immense pressure to define Christian belief in an ambient of conflicting sects and influences. Despite Luther's famous remark "...I believe neither in Pope nor councils alone, as it is evident that they have often erred and contradicted themselves," 4 it remains that councils did in fact give tremendous credence to doctrinal and theological positions, so much so that Luther's constant battle was not against particular theologians, but against the latter non-ecumenical councils which contradicted Scripture in their pronouncements. The continuing importance of church councils in the formation of doctrine is best proved by how quickly and how often Protestants themselves formed councils and issued credal formulae during the century following the break with Rome.
This is an important lesson. Protestants generally follow in Luther's footsteps on the principle of sola Scriptura, but we also follow his practice when it comes to modern-day attacks on the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, etc., when we constantly refer back to the Ecumenical Councils as the theological lodestar of orthodoxy. This is not because councils have always represented the best in scholarship, logic, good will, or parliamentary soundness. Indeed, the smell of power politics has always been in the air. Yet councils exert a special influence on the life and belief of the Church because they do what no single theologian or preacher can do: they officially and publicly endorse doctrine on behalf of the body they represent. In this thesis it is not enough to examine Simpson's or Pardington's doctrines of sanctification. They may be often quoted and their books frequently reprinted, but they do not represent the official position of the C&MA. Only a council which produces a creed can do that. Even the strongest supporters of papal authority in the Roman Catholic Church know that the Pope actually operated with far less freedom in theological matters than Luther ever did because he was bound to support the precedent of Church councils.
The credal statements which arose from the Reformation period were many and varied. On the Catholic side stand the Canons and Decrees of Trent (1563) and subsequent tridentine documents, which served several purposes. They unified and codified the Catholic theological and ecclesiological developments of the preceding centuries with special emphasis on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas. They made decisive efforts to curb the worst abuses and corruptions in practice which had developed during the Middle and Late-middle Ages. Most importantly for our discussion, they provided an official rebuttal to the voices of Luther, Calvin, and the other reformers, a rejection of their theology, and a stern warning to all who followed them. Each doctrinal canon was constructed with the introductory "If any man saith..." followed by a Roman doctrine placed in the negative, and concluded with "let him be anathema."
This polemic attitude is repeated in the Profession of the Tridentine Faith (1564), which ends with:
XI. I likewise undoubtingly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons and General Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent; and I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church has condemned, rejected, and anathematized
XII. I do, at this present, freely profess and truly hold this true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved; and I promise most constantly to retain and confess the same entire and inviolate, with God's assistance, to the end of my life. And I will take care, as far as in me lies, that it shall be held, taught, and preached by my subjects, or by those the care of whom shall appertain to me in my office. This I promise, vow, and swear--so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God.
The confession of Christian faith had indeed come a long way! It was now at the place where "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!" was not enough; the believer must assent to every point of teaching to be saved. This was generally not the approach of the Protestant creeds of the period. Their constant appeal was to the sufficiency of Scripture, grace, and the finished work of Christ. This is not to say that the Protestant divines were totally free from this kind of exclusiveness. The French (Gallic) Confession of 1559 states in the introductory paragraph, "And whatever our enemies may say against us, we can declare this before God and men, that we suffer for no other reason than for maintaining our Lord Jesus Christ to be our only Saviour and Redeemer, and his doctrine to be the only doctrine of life and salvation." The "his doctrine" was of course defined by them in the sections which followed. The same is true of the Second Scotch (sic) Confession of Faith (1580), which states in its first paragraph:
We all...confesse with our mouthis, subscrive with our handis, and constantlie affirme before God and the haill warld, That this only is the trew Christian Faith and Religion, pleasing God, and bringing salvation to man, quhilk is now, be the mercie of God, revealed to the warld be the preaching of the blessed Evangell; and is received, believed, and defendit by mony and sundrie notabil kirkis and realmes, but chiefly be the Kirke of Scotland, the Kings Majestie and three Estatis of this Realme, as Godis eternall trewth, and only ground of our salvation; as mair particularlie is expressed in the Confession of our Faith...To the quhilk Confession and forme of Religion we willingly agree in our consciences in all pointis, as unto Godis undouted trewth and veritie, groundit only upon his written word.
While the major Protestant creeds did not share this narrowness of view, they held something very much in common with the documents of Trent: no longer did confessions cover the principle subjects of our belief; these confessions, including those of Augsburg, Heidelberg, Belgium, Dort, and especially Westminster were really extensive theological treatises on the whole range of Christian doctrine, so that the confessional size and nature of the earliest creeds had been entirely lost and now supplanted by mammoth theological and catechistic masterpieces. Only Luther's short Catechism and perhaps the Heidelberg Catechism were really suitable for confessional instruction of catechumens. These other documents could better be described as doctrinal handbooks for pastoral candidates and for church government. By this time the creed had long since lost its original unifying function. It was now an instrument of division within Christianity between us and them, particularly with respect to the Council of Trent.
While the effect of the Reformation and its consequential political events was to compartmentalize Europe into state-churches in which confessional uniformity was accepted and enforced with limited tolerance for other traditions, this system could never hold in America. While Puritans landed in Massachusetts, Baptists originally settled Providence, Rhode Island, Catholics came to Maryland, and Quakers to Pennsylvania, the reason for their flight to America more often than not had to do with gaining religious freedom. This attitude was reflected most especially in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, where in its very first sentence it states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercises thereof..." This open declaration goes beyond toleration of minority views to a position where all faiths hold an equal position before the law.
For sure, the English, French, German, Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian and other European immigrants brought with them their confessions and creeds along with their priests and ministers. However, as wave after wave of new immigrants arrived, learned English, and assimilated into the developing American culture, the creeds of the Reformation held less and less exclusiveness. They were a form of identification with the past and a source of permanence in a bewildering new environment, but by the mid-19th century they had become for many a burden inherited from their ancestors in the "Old World." In the diverse denominational landscape of an expanding America of the 1800's, the creed served to distinguish one church's beliefs and traditions from another, but they also forced many Americans to question the existence of so many churches under one Lord.
It was in this context of smorgasbord denominationalism that some found meaning in new religions or off-shoots of Christianity. The American Unitarian Association (1825), Latter-day Saints or Mormons (1830), Seventh-Day Adventists (1863), Christian Scientists (1876), and Jehovah's Witnesses (1879) were the outstanding examples of home-grown American religions which took root in the confusing soil of the 19th century push westward across North America.
In this context other religious leaders saw ripe opportunities for ministry among the various churches. Thus began the great interdenominational movements of the 19th century in America: missionary, evangelistic, holiness, and prophetic. The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), one of the largest interdenominational missionary sending organizations in America, began in 1890.5 As of 1979, there were some 74 missionary organizations in America operating overseas which had been founded before 1900.6 Many of these were interconfessional groups. The same trend can be found in the evangelistic efforts of D.L. Moody (+1899), the rise of interdenominational holiness movements like Keswick in England (1875) with much American participation, and the cresting revival of preaching biblical prophecy under men like J.N. Darby (+1882) and C.I. Scofield (+1921). While denominational mission organizations were generally obliged to stand on the creeds of their parent churches, these interdenominational groups and movements usually had very short inclusive creeds or, in the case of Keswick or the C&MA, no creed at all. These groups saw the Church in America as horribly divided, and saw any effort to create exacting and lengthy creeds as counterproductive to the worldwide missionary task. This was clearly the case with the Alliance, whose doctrinal development we shall now examine.
We wish to outline briefly the historical background of the C&MA and its doctrine, with a special emphasis on the events surrounding the creation and acceptance of the Statement of Faith.
We must begin with a discussion of A.B. Simpson. Gerald McGraw's dissertation treating Simpson's doctrine of sanctification, covers some 650 pages of text. This was probably demanded by the sheer volume of material: the bibliography of Simpson's writing's consulted alone covers 45 pages. Elsewhere, Alliance historian John Sawin lists 101 publications written by Simpson.7 Eugene Rivard credits Simpson with writing at least 181 hymns, many of which are still sung today.8 No doubt, this literary and musical productivity has had a continuing effect on the identity of the Alliance. Over 55 percent of the Alliance centennial history, All For Jesus, deals with the 32 years in which Simpson was President. This compares to a scant three pages for A.W. Tozer, himself a prolific writer. Also celebrating the Centennial (1987) was the scholarly Festschrift, The Birth of a Vision: Essays on the Ministry and Thought of Albert B. Simpson, previously cited. Articles and Sermons written by Simpson are regularly reprinted in Alliance Life, the denomination's bi-weekly journal. On the official level, two of Simpson's books, Wholly Sanctified and The Holy Spirit, Vol. 2, are required reading for ordination in the C&MA.9
All of this is to say that the literature of A.B. Simpson casts a long shadow over the Alliance. The best scholar would be hard pressed to refute the idea that the theology of Simpson is identified with that of the Alliance today. Likewise, one would be challenged to find a single instance of serious theological conflict within the C&MA over Simpson's doctrine of sanctification since his death in 1919. As one traces the Alliance writers who succeeded Simpson, up to the General Councils of 1965-66, he will find no significant modification of the positions taken by Simpson, especially in the area of sanctification. For these reasons, the writings of Simpson and their analysis will hold a central place in our understanding and examination of sanctification in the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But the writings of Simpson themselves reflect upon his own personal experience of God's work in his life.
Albert Benjamin Simpson was born on 15 December 1843 in Bayview, Prince Edward Island, Canada.10 He was raised in a devoutly Presbyterian home where the (Westminster) Shorter Catechism was regularly studied, and where the children were nurtured on the classics of Puritanism, such as Baxter's Saints Everlasting Rest, and Dodridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul.11 By age 14, he was committed to entering the ministry,12 and it was during his days at Chatham High School, Ontario, Canada, that he experienced conversion in a manner reminiscent of Luther and Wesley. By the rather early age of 16, he had obtained the certification to teach public school, in order to earn money for college.13
At age 17, Simpson appeared before the presbytery in London, Ontario for examination, and was admitted for study at Knox College, the official school of the Canada Presbyterian Church.14 He was graduated at age 21, and within several months was installed as pastor of Knox (Presbyterian) Church in Hamilton, Ontario. He remained there until 1873. During those nine years, at least 750 members were added to fellowship and the financial situation was greatly improved. Shortly before his departure from Hamilton, he attended as a delegate from Canada what was to be the first of many interdenominational conventions, the 1873 Evangelical Alliance Conference in New York.15
The second incident of theological concern (...the first being his conversion) came during his second pastorate, Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A. Despite his earlier successes in seminary and at Knox Church, he was without inner peace. He was frustrated by his own intense nature, his physical weakness, and frequent depressions. Added to the inner difficulties were the challenges of ministering in a community where the American Civil War had left an aftermath of bitterness.16 In the midst of this struggle, he came upon W.E. Boardman's The Higher Christian Life.17 This book spoke directly to Simpson's condition and brought him to a new peace and light. He saw Jesus Christ as his sanctifier in the present. Simpson himself relates his profound impressions upon reading this book:
He who had justified us was waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit and substitute His strength, His holiness, His joy, His love, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, helplessness, and nothingness, and make it an actual living fact.18
A.E. Thompson, Simpson's contemporary and official biographer, in a chapter dealing with this period in Simpson's life entitled "The Life Crisis," quotes Simpson:
We also believe, and this is the emphatic point in our testimony, that this experience of Christ our Sanctifier marks a definite and distinct crisis in the history of a soul. We do not grow into it, but we cross a definite line of demarcation as clear as when the hosts of Joshua crossed the Jordan and were over in the promised land and set up a great heap of stones so that they never could forget that crisis hour.19
Although McGraw discusses at length the question of whether or not this "crisis" actually occurred in Louisville,20 the C&MA has consistently identified this experience as the "secret" of Simpson's power and success in future endeavors. All For Jesus, which replaced Thompson's Life of A.B. Simpson on the C&MA ordination reading list, reaffirms Thompson when it states:
During the next forty-plus years of ministry, Simpson would repeatedly refer back to that moment of surrender to Christ as his Sanctifier, the One who alone could make him holy. It was the decisive turning point of his ministry in much the same way as the Apostle Paul looked back upon his conversion experience on the road to Damascus.21
This "crisis experience" was to be followed by a period of growing productivity in Simpson's ministry in Louisville. In early 1875, he began a series of revival meetings with the cooperation of other churches in the city. The results of this campaign included the removal of much of the post-war bitterness between churches, the changing of many lives, and the emergence of Simpson as a preacher/evangelist of regional appeal.22 After six years at Louisville, Simpson accepted the call to pastor New York's 13th Street Presbyterian Church in 1879.
The success which Simpson experienced in his New York City pastorate proved to be the death of his ministry in the Presbyterian Church and the birth of the Alliance. The respectable 13th Street Church was hardly able to contain the energy and vision of Simpson. Beyond eloquent preaching and extensive pastoral visitation, Simpson began a ministry to Italian immigrants and started a missionary periodical, The Gospel in All Lands. It was also during this short pastorate that the physical demands of ministry brought about a third crisis in Simpson's life, this time as he took Jesus Christ as his healer. During a family vacation in the summer of 1881, Simpson attended a series of healing services held at Old Orchard, Maine, by a Dr. Cullis of Boston, Massachusetts. During those meetings, Simpson responded:
He went into the pines of Old Orchard, raised his right hand to heaven and made "three great and eternal pledges"; He accepted without questioning that divine healing was part of the Gospel of Christ; he took without doubting the Lord Jesus for his healing and health; he promised without fail to use this blessing to the glory of God and for the good of others.23
We quote this, not because we wish to deal with the question of healing, but because it is further evidence of a pattern in the development of Alliance doctrine: with the single exception of eschatology (Christ as "Coming King"), the distinctives or emphases in Alliance doctrine and practice parallel the distinct crises in the life of its founder, A.B. Simpson. His salvation experience, his sanctification experience, and his healing experience are all manifested in his preaching, writing, and hymnody, which in turn constitute three central teachings concerning Jesus Christ in The Fourfold Gospel. If Simpson preached only what he personally experienced (...he is quoted somewhere to that effect), then the obverse is also true: if he did not experience it, he would not preach it. This is certainly the case with the gift of tongues. Simpson did not preach, as did others, that the experience of speaking in tongues was the privilege of every believer. This was because Simpson had never personally spoken in tongues, though he sought the experience earnestly for some time.24 Had he done so, we would most certainly have had a Pentecostal Simpson and a Pentecostal Alliance.
We must mention in the context of Simpson's life, the contribution of one of his closest friends and co-workers. George Pardington (+1915) produced Outline Studies in Christian Doctrine, a theological handbook which remains even today the reference for ordination exams. Pardington taught at the Missionary Training Institute in Nyack (1897-1915), and was considered by Simpson to be the man who most completely understood the Alliance teachings.25 He also wrote Crisis of the Deeper Life (1906), which was recently reprinted and to which we shall refer later. As the title implies, it supports the experience and teaching of Simpson.
The death of Pardington and then Simpson was followed by a succession of five Alliance presidents, all of whom were committed to the doctrines formulated by Simpson, but none of whom were as prolific in writing or original in theological thinking. Paul Rader (1917-24) was a prominent evangelist, Frederic Senft (1924-54) was an excellent preacher and administrator, as was Harry Turner (1954-60). Nathan Bailey (1960-78) was both preacher and first-class parliamentarian. Their most significant contributions were not in doctrine or hymnody, but in giving leadership to an expanding missionary society on the road to becoming a denomination.
The death of Pardington and Simpson was followed by a theological drought in the C&MA which would last until the rise of A.W. Tozer (+1963) as editor of the Alliance Witness in 1950 and V. Raymond Edman (+1967), president of Wheaton College and editor of the Alliance Witness during the 1965-66 formulation of the Statement of Faith. While neither of these men were theologians in the ordinary sense, their devotional books and editorials fairly represented the official understanding of Alliance doctrine as handed-down from its founder. Again, we shall refer to both of them in our exposition of the C&MA doctrine of sanctification in the next chapter.
The variety of denominational backgrounds represented in the early years
of the C&MA, as well as its status as an interdenominational "society"
really prevented a formulation of creed until necessity demanded it. This
interdenominationalism was so strong and so pervasive in the Alliance that
many would question the need for a doctrinal statement applicable to the
entire denomination, right up to the point of its adoption in 1965. But the
growth of the Alliance, along with the various theological conflicts in 20th
century American Christianity called for clear articulation of doctrinal
positions. This first occurred during Simpson's tenure as president of the
C&MA, with the "Conference for Prayer and Counsel Respecting Uniformity
in the Testimony and Teaching of the Alliance, May 25-28, 1906" (see Reading
15.2). Although this meeting of official workers of the Alliance occupies
brief space in the centennial history,26 its
results represent the point at which the distinctive C&MA doctrine of
sanctification became formally adopted through the debate and agreement
of a council. This conference apparently did not discuss the recent development
of Pentecostalism,27 but instead concentrated
on sanctification and the doctrines of eradicationism and suppressionism,
which had made inroads into the Alliance movement. A committee of five, appointed
by the Board of Managers, prepared a document which was then sent to all
Alliance workers. A.B. Simpson was a member of the
committee.28 The document proposed certain topics
for open discussion: church government; the subjects and mode of baptism;
Calvinism and Arminianism; and practices such as foot-washing. Important
for us is the fact that this paper did not make the central features of the
Alliance doctrine of sanctification a matter of debate. Under par.II, "Our
Distinctive Testimony," the Alliance teaching was stated, beginning with
"1. Christ, our Savior" and then:
It is understood that all our Alliance officers and teachers are at liberty to present the truth of sanctification in such phrases as his own convictions warrant, in general accordance with the above specifications, but with the understanding that such extremes as are sometimes taught under the name of "eradication" or "suppression" shall not be presented in an aggressive or controversial spirit toward those who differ.29
R.P. Gilbertson, in a recent dissertation on Simpson, considers this section to be the hermeneutical key to understanding his doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.30 Unfortunate for us is the fact that no minutes or papers of this conference are extant. We cannot tell what opposing or modifying opinions were voiced, or even what aspects of this statement produced the greatest discussion. However, an Alliance periodical published soon after the conference stated joyfully:
The spirit of the conference has been exceptional. Some of the questions before it were anticipated with some apprehension, especially those relating to the varied components of the doctrine of sanctification. But the great Teacher has guided us into the truth with singular unity of spirit and judgment.31
This would seem to indicate that the position of Simpson and the other committee members on Alliance distinctives was well supported by the constituency, and that this in fact represents an early credal statement on sanctification. We shall explore the meaning of this teaching in chapter IV.
The next development toward the adoption of a creed came in 1928. The first forty years of the C&MA had witnessed the founding of at least nine Alliance Bible Institutes and schools in the U.S. and Canada, some under control of local districts.32 General Council in 1928 directed the Board of Managers to reduce and reorganize the higher education program. The result was the immediate closure of four Alliance-wide schools,33 and important for us, the adoption by the remaining schools in Nyack, St. Paul, and Toccoa Falls, of a common doctrinal statement, known as the Doctrinal Statement of 1928 (see Reading 15.3).
The 1928 doctrinal statement, an important document used in preparation of the later statement, was used in all Alliance Bible Schools and had to be signed annually by each of the teaching staffs. Framers of the statement simply took the nine articles of the Christian Fundamentals Association and attached to them the distinctive Alliance testimony embodied in the Fourfold Gospel.34
While other "doctrinal statements" were employed by various agencies or organizations within the Alliance, the 1928 statement was the only official credal statement accepted by General Council and listed in the C&MA Manual from 1929 until the General Councils of 1965-66. However, this was only official in the sense that it had jurisdiction over schools; neither the local churches nor the Alliance as a whole had a common creed. Paragraph 9 of the Doctrinal Statement concerns sanctification:
It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and thus be sanctified wholly, being separated from sin and the world and fully consecrated to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service. This is recognized as an experience wrought in the life subsequent to conversion.35
The differences between this paragraph and its corresponding article in the Statement of 1965-66 (see Reading 15.4) as quoted in the Introduction are cosmetic with the exception of the final clause, where the latter document clarifies the sanctification experience with the words, "crisis and progressive." Thus, the Doctrinal Statement, written only 9 years after the death of Simpson, represents a direct and principally unaltered connexion between the theology of A.B. Simpson and the theology of the C&MA ratified by General Councils in 1965-66. The official history admits as much when it states: "Rather than a formulation of new theological positions hammered out by intense debate and exhaustive research, it represents a summary of beliefs long held."36
While the Bible Schools of the Alliance were raising up several generations of pastors and missionaries under the 1928 Doctrinal Statement, the C&MA had no practical need to adopt a denominational Statement of Faith which applied to Alliance congregations; the Bible schools were insuring theological unity and consistency at the "front door." This situation would change, however, with certain ecclesiastical developments. By 1960, the Missionary Church Association, headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.A., had entered into negotiations to merge with the C&MA. The Missionary Church Association brought to the discussions a rather detailed doctrinal statement of their own, while the C&MA had none. In the same year, president Nathan Bailey reported to General Council "the lack of clarity in doctrinal teaching and experience." 37 These two factors forced the C&MA to consider the writing of a denominationally-applicable creed for the first time. At the 1962 General Council in Miami, Florida, a proposed constitution for the merger of the C&MA and Missionary Church Association was submitted for discussion which included "Articles of Faith." The article treating sanctification was decidedly longer and more restricted in meaning than the 1928 statement, possibly reflecting the influence of dialogue with the Missionary Church Association:
Sanctification is the work of God whereby the believer is set free from the law of sin, filled with the Holy Spirit and enabled to live a life of holiness. The conditions for being thus filled are death to the self-life, entire surrender, complete dedication, and appropriating faith. When the Spirit fills the believer, He imparts power for holy living and effective service. This is an experience wrought in the life subsequent to conversion, resulting in an obedient walk, a growth in Christlikeness, and a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit.38
While the merger was approved by Alliance delegates at Miami, the Missionary Church Association voted down the merger by a narrow 42-vote margin (of 5,170 votes cast) in January of 1963. 39 The proposed constitution was scrapped, but the discussion of a new doctrinal statement continued through the 1964 General Council in Columbus, Ohio, where a modification of the above article was submitted for discussion and review by the Board of Managers (the executive body of the C&MA), who had adopted it during their September 1963 meeting:
Sanctification is that experience wherein the believer is wholly separated unto God, enabled to live a life of holiness and render effective service through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The conditions for being filled with the Holy Spirit are death to self-life and entire surrender in complete dedication to God. This is an experience wrought in the life subsequent to conversion and is followed by a consistent walk, growth in Grace, and manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit.40
Although this version was shorter than that proposed in 1962, it was still longer than the doctrinal statement for Bible schools which appeared first in 1928. General Council solicited comments from the Alliance, with a deadline of 1 November 1964, which would allow time for the Board of Managers to review comments and return to General Council the following year with a final draft.
The Board of Managers met in December 1964, and received a "Report of Special Committee on DOCTRINAL STATEMENT." This committee of five consisted of three members appointed by the Board of Managers in April 1963 (who submitted the above article to the Board of Managers at the September 1963 meeting)41 and two selected personally by president Nathan Bailey at the May 1964 Board Meeting.42 Those appointed were: Gilbert H. Johnson, first full-time Education Secretary for the C&MA and faculty member at Nyack; Harold Boon, Nyack Missionary College president; and Robert W. Battles, long-time pastor and General Secretary of the Alliance. Those selected by the president were: Samuel Stoesz, who wrote several books on Alliance history and doctrine for Sunday School use, now professor at Canadian Bible College (C&MA) in Regina, Saskatchewan, contributor to the Alliance Centennial history, All For Jesus,43 and author of the recent Sanctification: An Alliance Distinctive;44 and Jack Shepherd, founder of Jaffray School of Missions (1960), which was to become Alliance Theological Seminary in the late 1970's.
The addition of Stoesz and Shepherd to the special committee appears to have had a significant effect on its results. In the preamble to their report of December 1964, the committee reversed the trend which had developed through General Councils of 1962 and 1964, which had been to construct lengthy, exacting, finely-tuned credal statements. After a careful review of all correspondence and the doctrinal statements and references found in the 1964 Manual of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, they concluded that:
...The need of the Society would best be served by perfecting the Doctrinal Statement on page 157 ff. of the 1964 Manual and presently subscribed to by the faculties of our Alliance colleges. An endeavor was made in the preparation of this statement to adhere consistently to the spirit and intent of official statements and those affirmations of truth which have been published and have received official endorsement in the history of the Society. Furthermore, the committee sought to keep the wording of the original statements as far as possible.45
Indeed, this conservative approach yielded a statement on sanctification differing only slightly from its ancestor of 1928. Words in parentheses were removed or modified. Words in italics were new insertions:
It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and (thus) be sanctified wholly, being separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated (consecrated) to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service. This is recognized as an experience wrought in the life subsequent to conversion.46
The report was adopted by the Board of Managers without amendment to the article on sanctification. A copy of this doctrinal statement was sent to all official workers of the Alliance during January 1965. Of the 32 letters received, ten gave approval to the entire statement, the remaining offering changes to individual articles, including Article 7 (sanctification).47 The comments on sentence 2 convinced the Special Committee to recommend its deletion. The committee was troubled by "This is recognized", which they did not consider to be "the language of creed." They also saw redundancy in the term "subsequent to conversion" because conversion is already implied in the use of "believer" in sentence 1.48 Finally, they remarked:
The second sentence might restrict all that is said in the first sentence by limiting the scope and meaning of the statement in relation to the process of maturity and growth in the Christian life.49
At the April 1965 meeting of the Board of Managers, the motion was made to delete the second sentence. A voice vote was mixed, and the chairman called for a parliamentary division of the house. Before a roll-call vote could be taken, the motion was withdrawn. A subsequent motion was made to delete "recognized as" from the article. It passed. After discussion of other matters, the revised statement was adopted as amended and referred to General Council 1965,50 held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
General Council in Minneapolis was held from 12 to 17 May 1965. On the afternoon of 14 May, the doctrinal statement adopted by the Board of Managers in April was read to the delegates, paragraph by paragraph. At first reading, no amendments were offered to paragraph 7 (sanctification), but after the entire statement was considered, a motion to delete the second sentence was made from Council floor. The motion was lost by voice vote.51
Discussion continued on Council floor again on Saturday afternoon, 13 May. A motion was made to delete "an experience" from the second sentence, which would make it read: "This is wrought in the life subsequent to conversion." A parliamentary division of the house resulted in the motion to amend carrying by a 66 vote margin of over 800 votes cast.52 In the heated discussion which followed, a subsequent motion was made to add "a crisis and a progressive experience" and "of the believer" to the last sentence. The motion passed by voice vote.53 After discussion of other articles, a parliamentary call for prior question (adoption of the Statement of Faith as amended) prevailed and a motion was made and carried to adopt the Statement of Faith.54 This adopted document was then subject to ratification, as stipulated in the C&MA Constitution, at the next year's General Council, to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, 11 to 16 May 1966.
On Friday, 13 May 1966, discussion of the Statement of Faith began with a motion to confine deliberations to the question of including it in the C&MA Constitution. The motion carried. A second motion, to vote on ratification by secret ballot, was lost. After a call to consider the previous question (of ratification) passed, the vote to ratify was lost.55 It would appear that this failure to obtain a majority vote and the lack of necessity of the Council to call for a division of the house, would indicate serious trouble ahead for the new creed. Indeed, there were some on Council floor who felt that a doctrinal statement could be done without. Anita Bailey wrote in the Alliance Witness concerning this disappointing showdown vote: "An elaborate Statement of Faith would be a departure from the traditional simplicity of the organizational structure of the Alliance."56
This remark reflects a problem which plagued the 1966 Council discussion. Whereas in 1965, the central issue was one of doctrinal truth, the 1966 Council discussions focused on the role this new statement would fill in the C&MA. There is not one mention in the official records of the Vancouver meetings of any dispute over the doctrinal content or wording of the Statement of Faith adopted the year earlier. The real issue was whether this new statement would be ratified as an amendment to the Constitution and condition of membership in Alliance Churches.
Thus, a motion was made to return to the short statement found in the 1965 edition of the Manual of the Christian and Missionary Alliance:
The condition of membership shall be satisfactory evidence of regeneration, belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in the verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures as originally given; in the vicarious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ; in the eternal salvation of all who believe in Him and in the eternal punishment of all who reject Him; recognition of the truths of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King, as taught by the Christian and Missionary Alliance...The Fourfold Gospel; full sympathy with the Society's principles and objects, and cooperation by contributing to its work.57 (italicized words added)
The motion was referred to the Committee on President's Report and General Legislation for deliberation. The committee was unwilling to back down: They returned the resolution to Council floor with the recommendation that the shorter statement not be adopted as a substitute. The committee recommendation was adopted. The committee also recommended to Council that
the Board of Managers replace all existing statements of faith in all departments, except those in constitutions adopted by Council, by the Statement of Faith adopted in 1965.58
The recommendation was adopted by voice vote. Thus, the committee had avoided the touchy problem of including the now ratified Statement of Faith in the C&MA Constitution, but still managed to get a majority of General Council to approve of it. Strictly speaking, the proposal in 1965 to include the new Statement of Faith in the Constitution, was not upheld (ratified) by Council of 1966. However, Anita Bailey spoke for the majority when she wrote concerning this parliamentary maneuver:
The Statement of Faith adopted in 1965 does stand, however, as the position of the Alliance on such matters, and for the sake of uniformity it was voted to insert it in all subsidiary documents of the society in lieu of present statements.59
Thus, the Statement of Faith adopted at Minneapolis one year earlier was not the official creed of the Alliance. In retrospect, the six years of committee work and discussion at both the executive (Board of Managers) level and legislative (General Council) level yielded little fresh fruit; the Statement of Faith of 1965-66 differed little from is predecessor, the Doctrinal Statement of 1928 for Bible Schools of the C&MA. Changes are noted below. Again, words in parentheses were removed or modified and words in italics were new insertions:
It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and (thus) be sanctified wholly, being separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated (consecrated) to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service. This is (recognized as an) both a crisis and a progressive experience wrought in the life of the believer subsequent to conversion.
The C&MA does not distinguish between dedication and consecration in its sanctification literature. Also, the insertion of "of the believer" in the second sentence is probably unnecessary in view of the applicability implied in the words "subsequent to conversion" which follow. Therefore, the only significant change relates to the insertion of the words "crisis and progressive". In view of the relative ease with which General Council 1965 passed the motion adding this phrase (without a division of the house), and the subsequent silence at Minneapolis, we should conclude that its inclusion represents a clarification on the part of General Council, of what the Alliance means when it uses the term "sanctification experience". Again the C&MA literature of Simpson and his successors strongly supports this insertion....
Our earlier discussion told us several important things about the C&MA Statement of Faith. We found that with full respect for the committee work which preceded the General Council of 1965, this creed was not essentially different (particularly in art. 7) from its predecessor, the 1928 doctrinal statement for Alliance schools. This statement in turn was found to be an Alliance adaptation of a fundamentalist creed, to which the articles dealing with the C&MA distinctives of healing and sanctification were inserted.
We also observed that the Alliance was never doctrinally oriented in the sense of beginning with a well defined set of beliefs. The C&MA was not the product of a preacher-theologian like Calvin or even an evangelist-theologian like John Wesley. It was the result of a pastor-turned-missionary statesman whose arrival in the spotlight was during a period not of polemics, but of refreshing ecumenical cooperation in evangelism and world missions. Simpson never perceived theological orthodoxy to be a major problem of the Church in 19th century America. The focus of the Alliance from its earliest days was upon the development of the deeper Christian life and the aggressive execution of the world-wide missionary mandate of the Church. Simpson saw the Church as unable to reach the world for Christ because believers were living shallow, defeated lives.
The need for a denominationally applicable Statement of Faith was not apparent until the early 1960's, when discussions of merger with the Missionary Church Association demanded a doctrinal identity, and when all of the other institutional features of a denominational church body had already begun to coalesce. Even then the C&MA retained a strong interdenominational orientation through its involvement in the NAE and other Evangelical enterprises.
Most important for our discussion was the realization that certain features of the doctrinal statement reflected the personal experiences of the founder of the C&MA, Dr. A.B.Simpson, especially with respect to the crisis experience of sanctification and healing. This historical connexion cannot be gainsaid. This personal experience left an indelible impression, not only upon the life and ministry of Simpson himself, but also upon the organization which was his legacy: the Christian and Missionary Alliance. We are not far off the mark in suggesting that the C&MA is the institutionalization of Simpson's ministry, and that art. 7 of the Statement of Faith is the codification of Simpson's experience of sanctification.
As we said earlier, to a greater or lesser extent the C&MA was a pioneer or participant in each of the movements within the 19th century evangelical ecumenism. As a "movement" or a "society" (two terms which continue to appear in C&MA literature), the Alliance sought, as implied in the name, to unify Christians of diverse denominations under the banners of the fullness of Christ and the Great Commission. There was also the feeling among some in the Alliance that (systematic) theology had nothing to do with the practical aspects of the Christian life.60 This is still a problem in Evangelical and especially Pentecostal churches today. For these reasons there was no official creed from the founding of the Alliance in 1887 up until 1965, and even then there was some resistance to adopting one. As Dr. M.E. Vance once remarked: "Our hymnal was our Statement of Faith." 61 This also explains why the NAE creed is so short: any attempt to be theologically explicit would defeat its unifying purpose among a host of Evangelical church bodies of very diverse traditions.
Once adopted, the creed of 1965-66 began to serve two central functions in the Alliance. The first was internal and regulatory. The C&MA now had one standard for all of its higher education institutions, churches, agencies, and especially for the licensing of its official workers and ordaining of its preachers. The second was external and explanatory. In a small, young and relatively unknown denomination which grew through evangelism and missionary work, it was and is important for outsiders to understand that the Alliance works within the theological framework of the historic Church. Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists generally do not need to explain themselves. The Alliance does. The Statement of Faith serves to tell visitors to C&MA churches and unchurched people in a community that the C&MA is a legitimate Church denomination with Christian beliefs. This function is critical for a denomination which doubled its constituency in the period 1978-87 and continues to be one of the fastest growing Protestant denominations in America. The people added during this continuing period of growth have not generally come through the biological reproduction of existing adult members, but from the evangelism of those unaffiliated with any denomination and also from those leaving other churches. While this latter type of growth has never been the Alliance plan, the C&MA has been, along with many other evangelical denominations, benefactor of a massive walkout from large mainline denominations during the 1970's and 1980's by Christians looking for a more biblical (N.B. conservative) expression of their faith.
Absent from this internal-external purpose are the traditional catechistic and liturgical functions. The Statement of Faith is not the basis for Christian Education or Sunday school material in the Alliance, although from time to time there have been calls to develop a catechism for new believers and children in C&MA churches. In its now 27 year history the Statement of Faith has not been recited aloud in unison in C&MA churches on an even irregular basis. Of course, it was never constructed for such use. Thus it has neither the tradition role of the Apostles' or Nicene Creeds in the worship of some Alliance churches, nor the place of the Westminster and Heidelberg Cathechisms in the life of Presbyterian/Reformed churches. Because of the historic interdenominational roots of the Alliance and its simple forms of corporate worship, we doubt that the Statement of Faith, or any succeeding creed will ever attain such a confessional status in the C&MA.
These facts notwithstanding, the Statement of Faith, is an important document because it provides outsiders an indication of what the C&MA believes, and it tells church members (and especially official workers) what they must believe to remain in good standing. For these reasons alone we should take seriously the words and meaning of the creed. We would hope that it expresses faithfully the traditional understanding which the Alliance has of sanctification. Most importantly we should expect that the creed provide a credible witness to the message of Scripture. This is especially true in a denomination in which the Old and New Testaments "constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice" (art. 4, Statement of Faith). In this connexion especially, Philip Schaff reminds us of "The Authority of Creeds":
The value of creeds depends upon the measure of their agreement with the Scriptures. In the best case a human creed is only an approximate and relatively correct exposition of revealed truth, and may be improved by the progressive knowledge of the Church, while the Bible remains perfect and infallible. The Bible is of God; the Confession is man's answer to God's word62. . . .
* Scott Russell Borderud, Chapter 3 of "The Doctrine of Sanctification of The Christian and Missionary Alliance as represented in its Statement of Faith of 1965-66" (a thesis completed for the degree of Doctor of Theology at the University of South Africa, 1992).
1. Biblically, a confession relates to the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord. However, in the history of the church, creeds have really become theological positions. This is most evident in the longer confessions. See I.H. Eybers, et al (1982), p.340ff.
2. In the case of Phil.2:6-11, see Donald Guthrie (1970), p.539-40.
3. Philip Schaff (1931), p.20ff
4. As quoted by Alfred Th. Jorgensen (1953), p.119.
5. Samuel Wilson (1979), p.265.
6. ibid., p.53.
7. Hartzfeld and Nienkirchen (1986), p.279ff.
8. Appendix to "Rediscovering the Music of A.B. Simpson" in Hartzfeld and Nienkirchen, op cit., p.100-105.
9. Christian and Missionary Alliance, "Reading List for Ordination" (Revised, 9/88).
10. A.E. Thompson (1960), p.3.
11. ibid., p.9.
12. ibid., p.14.
13. ibid., p.18.
14. ibid., p.27f.
15. ibid., p.51.
16. Gerald E. McGraw (1986), p.68, footnote 66.
17. ibid., p.147ff.
18. A.B. Simpson as quoted in Robert L. Niklaus, et al. (1986), p.7.
19. A.E. Thompson, op cit., p.67.
20. Gerald McGraw, op cit., p.149-204.
21. R.L. Niklaus, op cit., p.7-8.
22. ibid., p.11-12.
23. ibid., p.41. For a detailed discussion of his theology of healing, also see David M. Pett (1989), p.23-33. and John Wilkinson (1991), p.149-67.
24. For a detailed discussion of Simpson's struggle to experience the gift of tongues, see C. Nienkirchen, "Albert B. Simpson: Forerunner and Critic of the Pentecostal Movement" in Hartzfeld and Nienkirchen, op cit., p. 125f.
25. See Simpson's posthumous introduction in Pardington (1926).
26. Niklaus, op cit., p.110-11.
28. R. Gilbertson (1988), p.42ff
29. ibid., Appendix 2, p. 259ff.
30. ibid., p.38f. Gilbertson's thesis is: This document may best depict the general outline of the distinctives of the early C&MA movement. Moreover, it provides a means of overcoming the difficulties faced in study of Simpson's work: 1) With this guide, the enormous volume of Simpson's material can be more easily sifted through by providing a framework for analysis; 2) The use of this guide provides an analytical structure which flows from within the material; 3) The statements in the 1906 document are also helpful in understanding the genre of Simpson's writing, since the phrases and relationships between various doctrines are formally laid out for the reader. This document therefore greatly assists in unpacking his affirmations in sermons and periodicals. (p.38-39) After this writer's review of the available material, we must congratulate him on extremely clear insight into the problem of and solution to understanding Simpson's doctrine of sanctification.
31. ibid., p.43.
32. Niklaus, op cit., p.150,174.
33. ibid., p. 174.
34. R.L. Niklaus, op cit., p.229.
35. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Manual of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (1964), p.157.
36. R.L. Niklaus, op cit., p.229.
37. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of General Council 1960, p.224-25.
38. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of General Council 1962, p.265.
39. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of General Council 1963, p. 212
40. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of General Council 1964, p.243.
41. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of Board of Mangers 9;63, bound volume p.228.
42. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of Board of Managers 5/64, bound volume p.174.
43. Hartzfeld & Nienkirchen (1986).
45. "Report of Special Committee on DOCTRINAL STATEMENT" in Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of Board of Managers 12/64, bound volume p.333.
46. ibid., bound volume p.334.
47. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of Board of Managers 4/65, bound volume p.15.
48. ibid., bound volume p.16.
50. ibid., p.3 and bound volume p.18.
51. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of General Council 1965, p.208.
52. ibid., p.211 and 216.
55. Christian and Missionary Alliance, Minutes of General Council 1966, p.206.
56. "Vancouver Highlights", Alliance Witness (6/22/66), p.8.
58. Christian and Missionary Alliance, minutes of General Council 1966, p.238.
59. "Vancouver Highlights", op cit.
60. This attitude was reflected in a letter to this writer from John Sawin, Alliance historian, dated 15 April 1987: "systematic theologians of the reformed mold, i.e. B.B. Warfield, have little sympathy with the holiness viewpoints, i.e. Wiley and Miley. You can safely assume the two views are mutually exclusive...Systematic theologians, for all their value, have not shown much interest personally in this area. This statement is not intended to be a negative critique of them, but simply a statement of fact. B.B. Warfield was merciless on A.B. Simpson, et al. Which was hardly required. Deeper/higher Christian life meant to A.B. Simpson the only route to world wide evangelism and bringing back the King. In his day the average Christian, not liberal in theology, was doing virtually nothing in missionary outreach. Commitment, dedication, the filling of the Spirit, sanctification, whatever the phrase, it was this experience that fired up otherwise docile, complacent Christians. The greatest significance of sanctification is not in the area of systematic theology, but practical life and outreach."
61. Personal remark made to author on several occasions during 1987-88 in our discussions of sanctification in the Alliance.
62. Philip Schaff (1931), Introduction.