Friday, August 29, 2008

The Holiness Movement - Resurrectable?

Just stumbled on this interesting article. It's a speech made before the entire "Christian Holiness Association" back in 1995. You'll notice the title of the speech is "The Holiness Movement is Dead". You can tell throughout the speech, that it is intended to be a bit inflammatory, to poke those in attendance from a doctrinal holiness to a movement once again.

Statements like:
"We have a holiness heritage. We have holiness denominations. We have holiness organizations. We have holiness doctrines. We even have holiness colleges, but we no longer have a holiness movement."

He then gives 8 main reasons he believes the movement had died (remember, this was 1995). They are:
1. We wanted to be respectable. "
we decided we didn't want to be weird"

2. We have plunged into the evangelical mainstream.
"
We built respectable churches on busy highways"

3. We failed to convince the younger generation.
"
holiness is preached as an attractive accessory, not as an essential necessity"

4. We quit making holiness the main issue.
"
Today's trend is uplifting, cheery, help-for-Monday sermons, not holiness sermons"

5. We lost the lay people.
"
(holiness conventions) have become fellowships of ministers on expense accounts, not a crowd of laymen with a personal passion for holiness"

6. We have over-reacted against the abuses of the past.
"
legalistic and judgmental. So we became behavioral libertarians"

7. We adopted church-growth thinking without theological thinking.
"
Many holiness pastors just switched movements...(to the church growth movement)."

8. We did not notice when the battle line moved.
"
The doctrine at risk in many holiness churches is not entire sanctification but "transformational conversion". Christ is "added on" to achieve a balanced life."

At the bottom, he reponds almost 10 years later (2004) to his own speech, adding some more points and explanations that enrich what he's saying here.

I think this can all be very important, especially as a member/pastor of a denomination that is the product of AT LEAST 3 theological reforms. (Protestant Reformation, Method-ism, Free Methodism) We are not supposed to "fit well" with the world around us. There is something significantly different about the way we live, and the way God has called us to live in this world. And it means a lot more than wearing a tie.

I'd say "let's do it this time, without starting a new denomination/sect"...but of Luther, Wesley, and Roberts....none of them wanted to either. But seriously...let's at least try and do this together...

I'd say, let's be in prayer together. Prayer for an entire Body of Christ. That we would, AS THE ENTIRE BODY, be putting on the "new self" talked about in Ephesians chapter 4. Not as opposition to this world and it's ways, but as a declaration of the reign and rule of God which is present HERE AND NOW.

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