No Quick Fixby Andrew Naselli
Length: To read (111 pages).
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The Keswick Movement and its underlying Higher Life Theology is probably not something commonly addressed by name in many churches. What is frequently quoted and what undoubtedly plays a role in the lives of many believers, however, is the Keswick Movement’s famous message of “Let go and let God.” Although that message is easily embraced and may sound positive to many believers, the reality is that Higher Life Theology is not only unbiblical but also can pose as a very real threat to a person’s understanding of the Gospel and the vital concept of sanctification. To help the reader understand the message of Higher Life Theology, its history, and why it is dangerous to embrace, Andrew Naselli offers the brief yet helpful book “No Quick Fix.”
Who should read this?
From the beginning of his work, Naselli stresses the universal value of believers gaining a greater understanding of Higher Life Theology. As he says in his introduction:
“Higher Life theology is so widespread that you will be able to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ better if you understand what it is and why it’s dangerous.”
Even if you may disagree with the author on other aspects of his work, it is hard to miss the widespread usage of phrases such as “Let go and let God.” As such, I believe the author is correct in his belief that this work is valuable for all believers.
“No Quick Fix” is split into two basic parts. In Part I the author offers a brief history and summary of Higher Life Theology. In Part II, the author offers a biblical critique of Higher Life Theology and a discussion on why it is ultimately a dangerous set of beliefs.
Despite the fact that Part I is limited to around 40 pages, it offers a surprisingly comprehensive history and overview of the theology being critiqued.
To ensure that he offers a fair picture of Higher Life Theology, Naselli strives to use language that would be embraced by those within the Keswick movement.
Using the schedule of once popular week-long Keswick meetings, the author breaks down his overview of Higher Life Theology into five separate “days” where an attendee would hear of their problem of sin, God’s provision for victorious Christian living, the necessary crisis experience in which you are instructed to “let go and let God,” the need to be Spirit-filled, and the believer’s role in Christian service. It is only after presenting this thorough overview that the author moves into his critique found in the second part of the book.
As part of that biblical critique of Higher Life Theology, the author offers ten separate reasons why Higher Life Theology is dangerous. The greatest of those concerns is Higher Life Theology’s belief that there are two different categories of believers; those who are Spirit-filled and those who are often called “Carnal Christians.” In order to demonstrate why those categories are false and ultimately dangerous, Naselli provides not only exhaustive lists of passages and more in-depth diagrams of two passages (I Corinthians 2:6-3:4 & Romans 6:1-23) that are particularly vital to the debate.
After offering his thorough (yet still relatively brief) biblical critique of Higher Life Theology, the author returns to his calling to readers. That calling, which overflows from an extremely helpful pastoral concern, is not simply the calling to dissect unbiblical concepts. It is also the call to better understand the vital concept of sanctification so that we might all be better prepared to live out our Christian calling.
Strengths and Weaknesses
“No Quick Fix” provides a relatively brief yet extremely helpful overview of a theological issue that, at its core, is a relatively simply argument. By addressing this problem in a book just over 100 pages, the author succeeds in providing something helpful to both trained pastors as well as to any layperson within the church.
One strength that was particularly helpful to me was the author’s overview of Higher Life Theology found in Part I. In writing a book of this nature, it would have been easy to present a caricature of Higher Life Theology that would only satisfy those looking for an easy way to criticize those within the Keswick Movement.
At no point in time, however, did I get the impression that his overview was in any way inaccurate or exaggerated. Rather, it was an overview I fully believe those within the Higher Life Movement would gladly read. This is a strength commonly missing in other works of this genre.
One additional strength of this book not previously mentioned in the summary is Naselli’s inclusion of an afterword by John MacArthur in which Macarthur offers a brief telling of his own experience within the Higher Life Movement and how that experience shaped him as a young believer.
This brief testimony included at the end of this book is an effective reminder that Naselli’s treatment of Higher Life Theology and the topic of sanctification is not simply an intellectual exercise. It is, in all reality, an issue that, when wrongly understood, can and does cause great harm to the daily walk of a believer.
As a pastor I find Naselli’s work to be an extremely helpful review of a movement that continues to play a role in the lives of many people I serve and I trust it will serve a similar role for many other pastors, as well. Beyond that, I believe in his thorough yet brief treatment of this subject Naselli has put forth a work that is accessible and beneficial to any believer who is seeking to better understand this common yet mistaken theological system.
“Let go and let God” is undoubtedly a refrain many believers use and will continue to use in the future. Still, I pray that “No Quick Fix” will be a useful tool of correction in the hands of the many who can be used by God to more correctly proclaim, in the words of J.I. Packer, “Trust God and get going.”
“Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people.” – page 99
“It is impossible for a Christian to be justified without at the same time experiencing progressive sanctification.” – page 52
“The Christian’s motto should not be ‘Let go and let God’ but ‘Trust God and get going!’” (quote from J.I. Packer)