For many years, I believed that Christianity had a Varsity squad and Junior Varsity squad. The JV squad consisted of those who had accepted Jesus as their Savior, and the Varsity squad of those who had accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord. I saw members of both squads in my own church. I believed that baseline Christianity was JV. These were the people who were going to Heaven but who nevertheless didn’t care very much about Jesus. I believed that Elite Christianity was only for the few varsity players. These were the people who not only weren’t going to hell but who also followed Jesus in this life on their way to Heaven.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my two-tiered view of the Christian life was influenced by Keswick theology. This theology colored my spiritual worldview in some very unhelpful ways. It affected my evangelism, since I thought it was my job to recruit for the JV squad only. It affected my ecclesiology, since I thought widespread carnality among church members was the norm. I thought all churches were comprised of some members who really loved Jesus and of some who didn’t.
In time, however, I came to see that my Keswick view on things was not rooted in what the Bible actually taught, and the discovery became a Copernican revolution in my theological formation.
Perhaps this version of the Christian life is something that you recognize. Perhaps you didn’t know that there is another more faithful way of understanding scriptural teaching on the subject. That is why I am happy to highlight the release of a new book that thoroughly analyzes and critiques the history and biblical foundations of Keswick teaching.
Andy Naselli, Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology (Logos, 2010).
Who should read this book? The author answers the question this way:
“Many people have a form of second-blessing theology in their background: some of them still embrace it enthusiastically; some embrace it unknowingly; some know there’s something not right about it but can’t clearly explain why; some reject it and would like to know more. This book is for them. I deeply desire to help.
“Some people don’t have much second-blessing theology in their background. Some of them aren’t sure why it’s wrong, and others believe it’s wrong but would like to know more. This book is for them, too.” â€“pp. 29-30
I’m certain that many of you fall into one of these categories, and I think this book will help you if you are. Naselli is a careful, biblical scholar who really gives this teaching a working-over. I encourage you to look here at Tom Schreiner’s forward, many illustrious endorsements, and Naselli’s own preface. This is an important book, and I hope many read it.
Awesome. I got some B&N gift cards for my birthday… I’ll definitely have them order this one.
Andy was Bob Yarbrough’s teaching assistant in the first (and best) class I ever took at Trinity. He was a really good guy, and I could tell he was going to be a productive writer. I remember he was proofing one of Carson’s manuscripts at the time.
I’m not varsity. I’m not junior varsity. I’m like the back up water boy for the junior varsity.
“I thought all churches were comprised of some members who really loved Jesus and of some who didnâ€™t.”
They are. But their called “wheat” and “tares”, not “Varsity” and “JV”.
Joe, me too. John, you are right about that.
Oops. That would be “they’re”, not “their”.
Does the problem of “JV” versus “Varsity” grow out of a misunderstanding of “the gospel” as something the initiate has graduated from? A more biblical understanding of “faith” and “gospel” may be part of the remedy.