INTERPRETATION IN THE AMERICAN HOLINESS MOVEMENT: 1875–1920
Wesleyan Theological Journal
For the American
holiness movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the
Bible represented “the grand thesaurus of inspired truth.”
The interpretations drawn from that thesaurus, however, differed markedly from
those of many contemporaries and from earlier interpreters. How they differed
and why represents the focus of this paper. Holiness interpretation can be
better understood by comparing it with John Wesley’s theological method, often
called the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral.”
It was this method which enabled Wesley to maintain both orthodox teaching and
evangelical fervor. While altered early on,
the quadrilateral continued to influence Methodism. Because the Holiness
Movement stood in the tradition of Wesley and desired a similarly orthodox and
fervent ministry, Wesley’s theological method provides an instructive backdrop
for the study of holiness interpretation.
This movement at the
turn of the twentieth century was a diverse conglomerate of ecclesiologies,
eschatologies, personalities, and patterns of biblical interpretation. In an
attempt to capture this diversity, the works of seven influential holiness
authors from widely varying perspectives will be considered: Daniel Steele
(1824–1914), Beverly Carradine (1848–1931), W. B. Godbey (1833–1920),
Martin Wells Knapp (1853-1901), Reuben Robinson (1860–1942), George D. Watson
(1845–1924), and Joseph H. Smith (1855–1946).
A brief overview of the
four basic components of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral will provide a useful tool
for reviewing and assessing biblical interpretation in the American Holiness
Movement from 1875–1920.
Scriptural quotations and illusions are
scattered liberally throughout Wesley’s writings, prompting Albert Outler to
call the Bible Wesley’s “second language.”
These frequent quotations demonstrate not only Wesley’s respect for and
familiarity with the written Word, but also his conviction that Scripture was
“a most solid and precious system of divine truth”
and that it should be interpreted by considering “parallel passages of
Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
Wesley answered the question, “What can reason do in religion,” by saying,
“It can do exceeding much, both with regard to the foundation of it, and to
the superstructure.” Without it, he continued, how can one “understand the
essential truths contained in the Bible. . . . Is it not reason (assisted by the
Holy Ghost) which enables us to understand what the Holy Scriptures declare
concerning the being and attributes of God,” as well as other important
Dangers would accompany any over-emphasis on reason, he well knew, but he saw no
substitute for logical reflection.
Nor did he find any essential contradiction between reason and faith; the
truths of Christianity are rational. “It is a fundamental principle with us
that to renounce reason is to renounce religion. . . .”
Wesley demonstrated his
confidence in the ability of the human mind to grasp the plain teaching of the
Word by emphasizing, in his own interpretation and in his advice to others, the
literal meaning of the text. He counseled a young believer, “the general rule
of interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be
taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts; but in that case the obscure
text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly.”
Tradition. Consistent with his
Anglican heritage, Wesley used Christian tradition from the Apostolic period to
the present to shape his theology. He drew from the church’s Fathers, East and
West, and encouraged others to do the same.
Such knowledge was important, Wesley said, because the Fathers were “the most
authentic commentators on Scripture, as being both nearest the fountain, and
eminently endued with that Spirit by whom all Scripture is given.”
Because Wesley drew liberally from this fountain, his writings possess an
eclecticism and a spirit of tolerance for other traditions.
By experience Wesley meant, first, the proper posture from which interpretation
should take place. Such experience included the work of the Spirit in awakening
the sinner, lifting that person by faith, providing the assurance of salvation,
and leading that person by grace to holiness.
The Spirit who had inspired those who wrote the Bible was the same Spirit who
“continually inspires, supernaturally assists, those that read it with earnest
Experience, for Wesley, also meant a
source of confirmation for interpretation. According to Donald Thorsen, Wesley
believed “empirical knowledge—accumulated accounts of people’s experiences
(religious and nonreligious) that are open to public assessment—contributes to
the confirmation and understanding of biblical truths.”
For example, one reason Wesley altered his views of entire sanctification was
because of what he observed in the lives of Methodists.
Wesley formulated his
theology from the interplay between these four elements, the Bible always
serving as the final authority. Richard Lovelace describes this process using a
baseball diamond. “Home plate is Scripture. First base is tradition. Second
base is reason and third base experience.”
In order to adequately interpret a passage—hit a home run—one must begin at
home plate and touch all the bases before returning to Scripture.
Interpretation in the
Like Wesley, the Holiness Movement regarded the Bible as its highest authority,
to be read as a unified product, interpreting Scripture by Scripture.
It also shared Wesley’s view that the Holy Spirit was active in inspiring both
the original author and the interpreter.
The implications drawn from this double inspiration, however, often went far
beyond what Wesley had intended.
The Spirit not only guided the search
of Scripture, it was his person and work for which American holiness advocates
searched. Without intending to disparage the rest of the Trinity or disregard
the “scarlet thread” of redemption, they believed it their God-appointed
mission to point out another thread, the “white one of the promise of the
Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Ghost.”
The proclamation of this promise, they believed, was the special calling of the
One wonders how comfortable Wesley
would have been with such an approach to Scripture. He was troubled when his
chosen successor, John Fletcher, described entire sanctification as the baptism
of the Spirit. It was Fletcher’s emphasis, however, which proved more
persuasive in the American milieu, especially as articulated by Phoebe Palmer.
By the end of the nineteenth century, entire sanctification, narrowly defined as
a second crisis experience subsequent to regeneration, accompanied by external
manifestations and heightened morality and described as a personal Pentecost,
came to be identified as the central truth of the Bible. “The Bible is
perfectionism,” said Godbey. “Theologians may howl and Satan may rage, but
the Bible is a book on perfectionism.”
Part of the reason the Holiness
Movement came to this conclusion was the tremendous growth and influence it
experienced in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The wide appeal of
Palmer’s “altar theology,” the international and trans-denominational
spread of the holiness doctrine, and the success of the National Camp Meeting
Association confirmed the view that entire sanctification was the “crowning
experience of the Christian life.”
This narrowed definition was then hardened in the crucible of controversy that
erupted over holiness in the late nineteenth century. Most of the polemic
contained in holiness writings was directed, not against the world, but against
the apostate church, that is, against those who opposed the movement’s
understanding of entire sanctification. “Just as the leaders of Judaism
blindly resisted the Holy Ghost,” said Godbey, “so the leaders of fallen
Christianity at the present day ostracize and interdict the holiness people, who
are preaching just what the apostles preached.”
One should not draw up a creed in the heat of controversy, warned Daniel Steele
in 1897, for then one cannot be sure that all error has been excluded and all
It was a warning which his own movement failed to follow.
To identify the Bible as perfectionism
went well beyond Wesley’s belief that “the living center of every part of
inspired Scripture was the call to be holy, and the promise of grace to answer
The focus of holiness advocates made it natural to read the rest of the Bible in
light of this truth. Leon Hynson has called this the “holiness hermeneutic.”
Examples of it are found almost everywhere.
One holiness author was complimented by
his publisher for being able to find entire sanctification “in many portions
of the Old Testament where few people have ever thought to look for either the
doctrine or the experience.”
The Song of Songs was interpreted as allegorically teaching second blessing
The book of Revelation, said Martin Wells Knapp, can only be mastered by
magnifying “the great central truth, ‘holiness triumphant,’ which gleams
from every chapter.”
Against the example of
Wesley and over the objections of some of its own leaders,
the Holiness Movement reveled in finding the deeper truths “imbedded and
hidden away in the Bible for the recognition and future use of all
They did not ignore the historical context, but quickly passed over it to
discover the more important spiritual truths built upon it.
It was, they said, their special relationship with the Holy Spirit which made
possible such interpretations. Christians have always claimed to interpret by
means of the Spirit, but the holiness movement went further. It professed to be
completely purified of the sinful nature, indwelt by the Spirit of God, and thus
perfectly prepared to interpret God’s Word. “Now for the first time,”
remarked Beverly Carradine concerning the results of entire sanctification,
“the real depth of certain Bible expressions are understood and the heart
fairly revels in them.”
Like Jesus’ second touch on the eyes of the blind man, said Carradine, “we
see into the Word of God as never before. Passages that were obscure and
mysterious become luminous with a deeper and truer meaning. The Bible becomes a
new book and an illuminated one at that.”
George Watson spoke for the movement when he wrote:
. . a plain man entirely sanctified, without learning, and with the Bible in his
hands, has an understanding of the divine promises, sees farther into the
prophecies of God, gets a firmer grasp on God’s Word, than all the doctors of
divinity that are not sanctified.
Ironically, the same
holiness interpreters who claimed to receive interpretations from the Spirit did
not hesitate to interpret the Scriptures for others.
Earlier, Augustine had highlighted the inconsistencies of such a practice:
“Why does he not rather send them direct to God, that they too may learn by
the inward teaching of the Spirit without the help of man?”
Wesley considered reason an invaluable aid in biblical interpretation, but the
Holiness Movement was not so sure. Although it is “blessed to be sanctified,
and even more blessed to be intelligently sanctified,” Carradine noted,
“it is not by reasoning that the world knows God or the things of God.”
Watson conceded a place to reasoning and theology, but insisted that God’s
work goes beyond what can be grasped by “mere brains and carnal reason.”
Far better than the “slow process of reasoning” is the God-given ability to
discriminate between truth and error
when the Spirit of God speaks to the inner spirit of the Christian through
intuitions and “instinctive perceptions of divine verities” which are
“superior to logic.”
The science of determining the logical and plain sense of a passage was
supplanted by the “lightning flash of intuition, that leaps over the plodding
process of slow reason and knows things more surely without learning them, than
reason does with all its logic.”
This devaluation of reason may be why the movement became preoccupied with the
more-than-literal sense of Scripture. The Spirit, in sending this lightning
flash of intuition, was “marvelously lighting up some obscurity in the
Scriptures, or revealing whole trains of new truth.”
To discover the true hidden meaning of these obscurities and to announce the new
truth became the objective.
By the late 1800s, the populist
hermeneutic had lost much of its prominence. Some groups abandoned it, while
others like the Holiness Movement continued to employ it with a few
modifications. Common sense remained an essential for proper biblical
interpretation, but something more was needed. Not surprisingly, it was during
this period that entire sanctification came to be seen as the key to
understanding the Bible. The sanctified individual with common sense had
everything necessary to interpret Scripture. “The Bible is a plain book,”
said Godbey, “needing nothing but common sense and the Holy Ghost to
W. B. Godbey’s assessment of tradition was shared by many in the Holiness
Movement: “Martyr blood and fire,” he judged, “had kept the Church humble,
poor, unpopular, and despised three hundred years. Meanwhile she had no creed
but the Bible.” With the conversion of
Actually, the Holiness Movement did not
so much reject tradition as redefine what it was and how it should be used.
Convinced that “God has always had a true people on the earth,”
the movement traced a line forward from the New Testament period-the “golden
days” of holiness
across a narrow ridge of orthodoxy to the time of the Holiness Movement.
Godbey saw this slender line of piety traversing the Waldenses in the third
century through the Moravians to the Methodists. He also included the
Augustinian a Kempis, the French Catholic mystic, Fenelon, and the Quaker
founder, George Fox.
Less important than knowing the identity of each element in this pure lineage
was knowing that such a lineage existed and that the modern Holiness Movement
was a direct descendant.
Unlike Wesley who valued the church
Fathers because they came so close to the fountain, holiness authors preferred
more contemporary heroes such as Madame Guyon, John Bunyan, John Fletcher,
Richard Watson, Hester Rogers, and, of course, the Wesleys. John Wesley had used
the early church Fathers to shape his teaching, while the Holiness Movement used
more recent figures to prove it was right. Tradition was now defined, not
broadly as the work of God among his people in the past, but narrowly as God’s
work of sanctification among his people, especially in the centuries immediately
preceding their own. For the Holiness Movement, tradition was not used as a
source of writings to guide the interpretation of the Bible, but for examples to
illustrate their favorite doctrine found in it.
The devaluation of tradition began, for
American Methodists as far back as Asbury himself, whom Outler considers to have
had “next to no sense of tradition.”
It also owed something to the populist hermeneutic which considered tradition
the cause of schism, worldliness, and dead formalism. The “Christian”
movement of Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell began with the expressed
purposes of restoring the New Testament church
and giving everyone the right to privately interpret the New Testament.
“We are persuaded that it is high time for us not only to think, but also to
act for ourselves; to see with our own eyes, and to take all our measures
directly and immediately from the Divine Standard.
“No creed but the Bible” became a common rallying cry in nineteenth century
Protestantism. Wesley’s dependence on the opinions of the past stood little
chance of survival in this atmosphere. It is not surprising that the Holiness
Movement considered creeds to “have had more to do with originating and
perpetuating the divisions in the Church than anything else.” Indeed, said
Godbey, “Creed making has been the fatal mistake of Christendom.”
The devaluation of tradition was, in
part, a symptom of the modernization of American society taking place at the
turn of the last century. Among the components of this process, according to
Peter Berger, were a future rather than a past orientation and an emphasis on
individual choice over the will of society.
While the Holiness Movement would have bristled at the idea that it was
influenced by modernism, its words make it rather obvious. There is clearly a
future orientation in Godbey’s view that God revealed the discovery of Codex
Sinaiticus in 1859, “just in time to boom the present holiness movement, the
glorious millennial dawn” which has finally arrived after the “long, dark
chasm of intervening ages” or the “devil’s millennium.”
When it celebrated the ability of each person, who, with the aid of the Holy
Spirit, was said to be able to arrive at interpretations completely novel, it
revealed its prejudice toward the present and against the past.
In some ways, experience filled the same role for the Holiness Movement as it
did for Wesley. Both considered Christian experience the proper stance for
accurate biblical interpretation. Differences in how Christian experience was
defined and the extent to which experience shaped interpretation, however,
produced dissimilar results.
Christian experience, for holiness
interpreters, meant entire sanctification, narrowly defined in terms of what
it was, how it was received, and what it would produce.
Having embraced the creed of second-blessing holiness, they were convinced that
only the entirely sanctified could properly interpret the Bible. Godbey
counseled interpreters to get all the rocks of depravity eliminated from the
heart, leaving it soft, tender, and filled with perfect love. Then one could go
down into the profound mysteries of revealed truth, be flooded with new
spiritual illuminations, and progressively be “edified by fresh revealments
of the Divine attributes in glory, though you never saw a college nor inherited
With Wesley, the movement also regarded
experience as a source of information to help refine interpretation. Carradine
found “some scripture passages can only be unlocked by experience. We may
think we understand; but it requires more than a knowledge of grammar,
rhetoric, and the laws of exegesis to clear up the mystery.” The relative
values he ascribed to exegesis and experience can be seen in his reference to
the former as “exit Jesus” and to the latter as “Commentary Life.”
One of the strengths of Wesley’s quadrilateral was its system of checks and
balances which prevented another element from dominating Scripture. Holiness
interpretation, by minimizing reason and tradition, became a bilateral of
Scripture and experience and lost its balance. As it tilted, holiness
interpretation came to be dominated by experience rather than Scripture.
When the movement read the Bible
through experience, it discovered entire sanctification in places where a
natural reading of the text does not suggest it. They found holiness proof-texts
in the prohibition against wearing a garment mixed with wool and linen, the
process of cleansing the leper, and many other places.
Old Testament texts were interpreted to show how the second blessing came to
Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, and many others.
Wherever Scripture spoke of two of anything or when something occurred twice,
this was seen to teach a second definite work of grace. Passages like the second
cleansing of the temple by Jesus, the two sisters of Lazarus, the two elements
which flowed from Christ’s side and the double touch on the eyes of the blind
man were all treated as holiness texts.
In fact, confessed Godbey, “If I were to notice everything in the Bible
setting forth this glorious double salvation, it would take me the balance of my
Far from being derided within the movement, practices like these were lauded as
commendable; the ability to do so was sought in prayer.
Anticipating the criticism that might
come for such practices, the movement developed criteria by which to test the
validity of an interpretation, one of the more important being whether or not it
“harmonizes with the experience” of a Christian.
Carradine was certain that manna typified salvation since both are bread from
heaven, are sweet to the soul, and both seem to disappear in the heat and
struggle of the day. “If this is not a true picture of the regenerated
life,” he noted, “then have we failed to see, hear, and feel correctly.”
These interpreters would, of course, claim they were reading the text properly.
Prior to exegeting a passage, Watson asserted, “I will give a simple exegesis
of the words. I do not wish to add anything to the Word or to take anything from
it, but simply explain the Word as it lies there.” In the preceding sentence,
however, he confessed, “I never knew how to read that text in my life until
the Lord gave me the experience which the text contains.”
There are several reasons why
experience became so important to the Holiness Movement. Viewing experience as
the test of truth owed something to a pragmatic American society which had
practically canonized the seventeenth century English philosopher, Francis
Bacon. To those who wanted to discover the sanctified life, Carradine suggested
that they “try the Baconian or experimental method.”
The Holiness Movement was not made up
largely of well-educated persons;
these were individuals for whom “a simple word or tear or metaphor or
illustrative incident has done more to kindle a fire in a cold heart than a
whole ton of the cold coal of logical argument would have done.”
It is not surprising, therefore, that experience should weigh so heavily. The
importance of experience among holiness interpreters can also be explained as a
reaction to the intellectual revolution that was underway at that time.
Discoveries like those of Charles Darwin, the rising importance of sociology and
psychology, and the study of comparative religions brought challenges to the
faith. The element of this intellectual revolution that dealt the severest blow
to the church, however, was biblical criticism. Until this period, there had
been general agreement that the Bible was the Word of God and that it could be
interpreted using common sense. Growing respect for biblical criticism from
For the Holiness Movement, the whole
question was settled by the experience of entire sanctification. Once people
have experienced the second blessing, they are never again troubled with doubts
of the inspiration of the Bible. The hungry person, finding bread that perfectly
satisfies and nourishes, has no difficulty with the sophistry which would prove
it was made of chaff and not of wheat.
After this experience, “the enemy is no longer able to keep you in doubt about
the divinity of Christ or the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. . . . Nothing
but the Holy Ghost can make all of these things real to us, but, bless the Lord!
He can do it.”
revolution helped to make the late nineteenth century a time of suspended
judgment. As was observed by Charles Kingsley, this was a generation when “few
of us deeply believe anything.”
These lines from the English poet, Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861), expressed
the sentiment of the period on both sides of the
say it, all who think it,
straight, and never blink it!
it is so, let it be so,
we will all agree so;
the plot has counterplot,
may be, and yet be not.
It was by experiencing
entire sanctification that one was able to deal with the complexity of the day.
“We walk amid quagmires and crooked paths,” said Watson, “but the
sanctified believer walks on marble.”
With the certainty of knowledge being questioned, it was reassuring to know that
“one experience in the converted or sanctified life is worth ten thousand
By experiencing God’s love one apparently can know God with a swiftness, a
certainty and a personal communion, that surpasses all the boasted knowledge
of science, and furnishes the only true interpretation of creation and
This assumption helps to further explain how experience came to play such an
important role in the epistemology of the Holiness Movement. Lacking what was
needed to dispute the critics and reassert certainty, the movement turned for
refuge to their own experience. Within this shelter, they were able to maintain
their faith against the prevailing winds.
interpretation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did not
take shape in a vacuum. The heritage of Wesley and American Methodism, the
relative absence of higher education among its holiness adherents, a culture
where people were their own interpreters, success on the campgrounds, conflict
with other Christians, tumultuous societal forces, and growing isolation from
others, shaped what the Holiness Movement found within the pages of the Bible.
Because these influences went generally unrecognized and unacknowledged by the
movement, their effect was even more potent in shaping interpretation.
By the late nineteenth
century the Holiness Movement had lost its trans-denominational constituency and
was speaking to itself. Without a critical audience, there was no one to
challenge its novel interpretations. By neglecting the Wesleyan
Quadrilateral’s “built-in” critical audience - the scrutiny of reason
and the rich heritage of the past - what remained was a hollow hermeneutic. When
experience filled this vacuum, what resulted often were interpretations far
different from what the Scriptural authors intended. Ironically, such
interpretations may well have hindered outsiders—those who did not share the
presuppositions implicit in the holiness hermeneutic—from embracing what the
movement considered the crowning experience of Christianity.
B. Godbey, Commentary
on the New Testament, vol. 2, Hebrews - Jude (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist, 1897),
The notion of the Wesleyan quadrilateral was first proposed by
Albert Outler in the late 1960s.
A good account of Outler’s intention and a fuller development of this method can be found
in Donald A. D. Thorsen, The
Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience as a
Model of Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury/Zondervan, 1990).
Outler’s essay, “The Wesleyan Quadrilateral In John Wesley,” Wesleyan
20:1 (Spring 1985),
7–18, provides a summary
of his views. Some have questioned the existence of a quadrilateral. Ted
Campbell considers the identification of tradition anachronistic to Wesley
(Ted A. Campbell, “The ‘Wesleyan Quadrilateral’: The Story of a Modern
Methodist Myth,” Doctrine
and Theology in the United Methodist Church, ed. Thomas A. Langford, Nashville: Kingswood-Abingdon, 1991), 154-161. Comparing
holiness interpretation to Wesley’s quadrilateral is not meant to imply
that the quadrilateral is the only proper way to interpret the Bible or that
Wesley is the only standard by which to evaluate his followers.
Albert Outler suggests that changes were made in the
quadrilateral long before the late nineteenth century. “Wesley’s
theological method was distinctive, and maybe unique, because one cannot
identify any of his disciples who adopted it as a whole or in his
theological spirit” (Outler, “Quadrilateral,” 16).
Daniel Steele was a highly respected Methodist Episcopal educator
and pastor. Author of several commentaries and popular works on holiness, he
remained a loyal Methodist all of his life. See Daniel Steele, Love
Enthroned: Essays on Evangelical Perfection, rev. ed. (New York: Methodist Book Concern,
1875), 275, 278–79;
Minutes of the New England Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, 1915,
130. Carradine, another loyal Methodist, represents the Southern branch of that
church. Converted and called into pastoral ministry from a career in
business, he became a nationally known holiness evangelist and writer
(Beverly Carradine, The
Sanctified Life [
John Wesley, Preface, Sermons
on Several Occasions (London:
Epworth Press, 1944 ), vi.
Outler, “Quadrilateral,” 13.
John Wesley, Explanatory
Notes Upon the New Testament
(London: Epworth, 1948 ), 9. Helpful treatments of this
material include Timothy L. Smith, “John Wesley and the Wholeness of
Scripture,” Interpretation 39
(1985), 246–62, and Basic
United Methodist Beliefs: An Evangelical View,
ed. James V. Heidinger II (Wilmore, KY: Good News, 1986),
Wesley, Preface, Sermons on Several Occasions, vi.
John Wesley, “The Case of Reason Considered,” The
Works of John Wesley, reprint
from 1872 ed. (
Ted Campbell describes reason as “reflection on experience”
(“Myth,” 157). Wesley felt sufficiently familiar with logic to write a Compendium
of Logic (1750).
John Wesley, “To Dr. Rutherford,” 28 March 1768,
John Wesley, “Letter to Sam Furly,” 10
May 1755, The Letters of John
Wesley, ed. John Telford (London: Epworth, 1931), 111:129. Wesley
was however, influenced by the Pietist view that the “drama of the
race—of Creation, Fall and Redemption—is to be reenacted in each life”
(Claude Welch, Protestant Thought
in the Nineteenth Century, 1799-1870, vol. 1 [New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1972], 18.)
John Wesley, “Address to the Clergy,” The Works of John
Wesley (1872 ed.), X:484.
794. Something of how this works is described in the Preface, Sermons
on Several Occasions,
John L. Peters, Christian Perfection and American Methodism
(Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury-Zondervan, 1985 ), 30–31. Cf. Thorsen, 214–15.
Lovelace, “Recovering Our Balance,” Charisma,
August, 1987, , 80, as quoted in Thorsen, 72.
George D. Watson, Love Abounding and
Other Expositions on the Spiritual Life
(Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist, 1891), 52-53.
W. B. Godbey (Commentary
on the New Testament,
vol. 3, EphesiansPhilemon [God’s Revivalist, 1898],
159–60) implied such double-inspiration when, at the end of his commentary
on Colossians, he confessed, “The Blessed Holy Spirit, who gave to Paul
this wonderful epistle, has illuminated the foregoing expositions.”
Martin Wells Knapp, Lightning Bolts from Pentecostal Skies
(Cincinnati: Office of the Revivalist, 1898), 13, 140.
W. B. Godbey, Ephesians–Philemon, 111, 191.
W. B. Godbey, Christian Perfection
(Louisville: Pentecostal Publishing, 1886),
Beverly Carradine, Sanctification (Columbia, SC:
Pickett, 1890), 202.
W. B. Godbey, Commentary on the
New Testament, vol. 5, Acts
and Romans (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist, 1899), 121.
Daniel Steele, The Gospel of the Comforter (Rochester, PA: Schmul, n.d. ), 272.
Cf. Hynson’s work on this topic, “The Wesleyan
Quadrilateral in the American Holiness Tradition,” Wesleyan
Theological Journal 20:1 (Spring 1985), 19-33.
W. McDonald, from the Introduction to George D. Watson, Coals
of Fire: Being Expositions of Scripture on the Doctrine, Experience, and
Practice of Christian Holiness (Boston:
McDonald, Gill & Co., 1886), 3.
George D. Watson, The Divine
Love Song: An Exposition of the Song of Solomon (
Martin Wells Knapp, Holiness Triumphant, or Pearls from
Knapp Out of
There is nothing of the allegorical in Steele’s commentary on
Joshua. Instead, he confines himself to the historical and critical
on the Old Testament, vol. 3, Book of Joshua, ed. D. D. Whedon, (New
York: Nelson and Phillips, 1873). Cf. Steele’s criticisms of the Plymouth
Brethren for their more-than-literal interpretation in A Substitute for Holiness
or Antinomianism Revived; or The Theology of the So-Called
Plymouth Brethren Examined and Refuted, 3rd ed. (Chicago:
Christian Witness, 1899 ), 76.
Beverly Carradine, Second Blessing in Symbol,
2nd ed. (Louisville: Pickett, 1896 ), 27; Revival Sermons (Dallas: Holiness Echoes, n.d. ), 45. Steele believed such interpretation flourishes among
those whose minds “are easily captivated by types which are purely
fanciful, the cunning inventions of men” (Substitute, 76).
Carradine, Sanctification, 133.
Revival Sermons, 90.
Carradine, Second Blessing,
G. Watson, Love Abounding,
For examples of such injunctions, cf. Carradine, Sanctified Life,
114–15; Robinson, A
Pitcher of Cream (Louisville:
Pentecostal Publishing, 1906), 156; Knapp, Christ
Crowned Within (Cincinnati:
Revivalist Publishing House, 1893) 195;
Out of Egypt, 142; Double
Cure (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist Office, 1898), 81; Godbey, Spiritual Gifts and
God’s Revivalist Office, 1895), 45; Godbey, Commentary
on the New Testament, vol.
7, Gospels part 2 (Cincinnati:
God’s Revivalist Office, 1900), 533;
Work of the Holy Spirit (Louisville: Pickett, 1902), 71;
The Bible (Nashville: Pentecostal Mission Publishing, n.d.), 44;
Illumination (Greensboro, NC: Apostolic Messenger, n.d.), 31.
Preface to On Christian Doctrine, 623. Augustine,
vol. 18 of Great Books of the
Western Word, ed. by Robert
Maynard Hutchins (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952).
Beverly Carradine, The
Old Man (Chicago:
Christian Witness, 1896), 262–63.
George D. Watson, Love
George D. Watson, A Pot
of Oil or the Anointed Life as Applied to Prayer, the Mental Faculties, the
Affections and Christian Service (n.p., n.d., ), 32.
George D. Watson, Steps
to the Throne (Dallas:
Holiness Echoes, n.d. ),
George D. Watson, Our Own God,
Psalm 67:6: Treating the Personalities, the Knowledge, and the Fellowship
of God (Cincinnati:
Revivalist Office, 1904), 3.
G. Watson, Steps to the
The background and development of the populist hermeneutic and its
importance for holiness interpretation are examined more fully in Stephen J.
Lennox, “Biblical Interpretation in the American Holiness Movement, 1875–1920”
(Ph.D. diss., Drew University, 1992).
For the background in which the populist hermeneutic developed in
Richard W. Pointer, “Scottish Realism,” Dictionary of Christianity in America, eds. Daniel G. Reid, Robert D. Linder, Bruce L. Shelley, Harry
S. Stout (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).
Godbey, Hebrews - Jude, 232.
209. “No creed but the Bible” was one of the hallmarks of the
Godbey, Ephesians-Philemon, 210.
Lightning Bolts, 72.
W. B. Godbey, Sanctification (Dallas:
Chandler Pub., 1956 ), 10; Daniel Steele, Milestone Papers: Doctrinal, Ethical and Experimental on Christian
OH: Schmul, n.d. ), 154.
W. B. Godbey, Sanctification,
10. Godbey appears
to identify the Waldenses as the predecessors of those who
followed the teaching of Peter Waldo in the twelfth-century. Steele would
add the Lollards and Mystics to this slender line of piety (Milestone
Albert C. Outler, “‘Biblical Primitivism’ in
Early American Methodism,” The
Wesleyan Theological Heritage,
eds. Thomas C. Oden and Leicester R. Longden (Grand
Rapids: Francis Asbury-Zondervan, 1991), 150.
Restorationism in American Protestantism was linked with the populist hermeneutic
in its desire to return to the days when the religious leaders were
fishermen, there was minimal religious establishment and (supposedly) no
interfering creeds of tradition. Such views blended with the understanding
that the Bible was to be interpreted normatively—a book whose characters
and events provide models to be followed today. Normativity is important
to the populist hermeneutic because it makes the Bible so much easier to
For an overview of this Christian tradition in contemporary dialogue with
a holiness body, the
“Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of
Washington” (Washington, PA, 1809), as quoted in Hatch, Democratization, 162.
W. B. Godbey, “Church-Bride-Kingdom” (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist, 1905),
61. In Six
Tracts by W. B. Godbey.
Peter Berger, “Toward a Critique of Modernity,” Religion and the Sociology of Knowledge:
Modernization and Pluralism in Christian Thought and Structure, ed. Barbara
Hargrove (NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1984), 339, 342.
111. Codex Sinaiticus is an
important manuscript of the entire New Testament and portions of the Old,
dated to the middle of the fourth century and discovered in a monastery at
the foot of
Among the authors studied, Steele stands as the exception to this
narrowing. Cf. Half-Hours
W. B. Godbey, Commentary on the New Testament,
vol. 6, Gospels,
part 1 (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist Office, 1900), 403.
 Beverly Carradine, Heart
Talks, 3rd ed.
(Cincinnati: M. W. Knapp, 1899) 207; The
Better Way (Cincinnati:
God’s Revivalist, 1896), 244; Golden
Sheaves, 4th ed.
(Chicago: Christian Witness, 1904 ), 30. Cf. Knapp, Revival
Kindlings (Cincinnati: Revivalist Publishing, 1890), 323.
W. B. Godbey, Commentary
on the New Testament,
vol. 1, Revelation (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist, 1896), 231; Carradine, Sanctification,
G. Watson, Coals of
Fire, 7–28; Carradine, Sanctification,
110–11; W. B. Godbey, Visions
90, 95-96; Knapp, Double
W. B. Godbey, Holiness or Hell (Louisville:
Pentecostal Publishing, 1899 ), 139–40.
Carradine, Second Blessing, 33.
Carradine, Second Blessing,
G. Watson, Love Abounding,
Carradine, Sanctified Life,
194; Knapp, Double Cure, 2.
Knapp, Revival Kindlings,
Mark A. Noll, Between
Faith and Criticism: Evangelicals, Scholarship and the Bible in
Steele, Love Enthroned, 261.
Reuben Robinson, Honey in the Rock (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist, 1913),
176, 113; cf. G. Watson, Love
As quoted in Walter E. Houghton, “Character of the Age,” Backgrounds
to Victorian Literature,
ed. Richard A. Levine (San Francisco: Chandler, 1967), 39. It was the controversy with this Anglican cleric which
led John Henry Newman to write his Apologia pro vita sua.
As quoted in Houghton, 37. This
unfinished poem deals with the nature of humanity.
G. Watson, Love Abounding, 173.
Carradine, Sanctification, 8.
G. Watson, Our Own God, 3.