Bishop Handley Carr Glynn Moule was one of the most effective expositors of the early Keswick holiness teaching. He grounded the Keswick experience of sanctification as an experience of full surrender to Jesus as Lord in careful exegesis of the New Testament, enriched and guided by a moderate Calvinism, and after his own experience of a new grace and power, that theology became an articulation of his own spiritual experience.
You can trace the transition by reading his earlier commentary on Romans in the Cambridge Bible, (1879) and comparing it with his later commentary in the Expositor's Bible (1894). I remember reading these two commentaries in parallel when I was writing about the courteous but principled disagreement between two fine Anglican Bishops, Ryle and Moule. For Ryle the idea of a final or continuing victory over sin and inner spiritual conflict was contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible and the universal experience of Christian struggle against sin as a lifetime of conflict, frustration of intention, and struggle towards holiness. For Moule, whose earlier commentary affirmed that same experience of inner contradiction, he had moved to an experience which, after his full surrender to Christ, affirmed the victory that only Christ can give to the soul which is surrendered fully to the indwelling Lord, crucified and risen, whose life is now lived through the experience of the regenerate soul by the power of the Spirit.
These were the days when Anglican Bishops argued with passion on Pauline theology, christian existence and the crucial distinctions in Christian experience that made all the difference to how we understand the Gospel. And did so with Bible in hand and with the orchestra of theological tradition and biblical exegesis in full symphonic performance.
All of which brings me in a roundabout way to Moule's earlier wee commentary on Romans. It's 270 pages, six and a half by four and a half inches, and fits nicely into an anorak pocket! Does anyone wear anoraks now? OK, a jacket pocket. Reading through it again as my daily devotions I came across the Bishop's quaint comment on Romans 1.12. This is where Paul, in full rhetorical and diplomatic flow says,
"For I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established; that is that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."
Here is Moule, his language that of a Victorian church statesman:
"The tact of the apostle is only an exquisite combination of sympathy and judgement; he speaks the true word, in the right place, and from the heart. It would be shallow criticism indeed which would see here only an ingenious religious compliment. To the sincere Christian teacher nothing is more real than the reflex aid he [or she] receives among Christian learners." page 55
Now that last sentence should be written on the door of every theological college classroom! The best teachers are learners and good learners are brilliant teachers.
Moule's stately Victorian language lends gravitas to one of the key pedagogic dispositions of the teacher - lifelong teachability. I haven't checked, but I'm not sure I'd expect to find Moule's application of Paul's rhetoric in some of the contemporary Romans heavyweights, but I'm repared to be corrected by those willing to go look. For now, I'm grateful to God for 'the reflex aid I've recieved among Christian learners.'