Saturday, January 23, 2010

Exposures & Encounters

Look out world, I decided to man up, and finally finished reviewing a book I've been working on since 2008.

Chapter 9 of "The Holiness Manifesto" is called "Social Holiness: Journey, Exposures, Encounters", and is written by Jonathon S. Raymond. Raymond has a rich background with the Salvation Army, and currently serves as President at Trinity Western University.

He talks briefly about 2 (3) main views of "holiness" within the Salvation Army. First, Brengle Holiness, which crudely summarized focuses on an event or "crisis" alone. A distinctly "second" blessing of grace which God performs, subsequent to forgiveness of sins. Second, Coutts Holiness, which focuses more on the "ongoing, growing relationship, communion, and fellowship in Christ, and not just a single crisis experience."

Raymond goes on to acknowledge the faults of taking either approach as the definitive "correct" choice. He suggests another "ecological" approach, emphasizing Pauls' call to Christians to "Grow in grace". I really like some of his illustrations here, and think it's valuable to today's Church that often wonders what a life pursuing "holiness" might look like.

"(Paul) means for us to mature as we immerse ourselves in nutrient-enriched (appropriate) environments of God's grace, in context of his lovingkindness, in his presence, and in our relationships with him and others."

That along our journey towards what God is actively doing, we will experience both Exposures AND Encounters. Exposures, Raymond describes as being these "means of grace" type things, ways of being exposed to the activity and presence of God in daily living. Encounters, he continues, are Emmaus Road and Damascus Road type experiences. Upper room encounters, both heart-warming and challengingly transformational.

Raymond continues to talk quite a bit about how all of this calls us to social action, and existing in extremely inclusive communities. Echoing Wesley's sentiment that there is "no holiness without social holiness", even pointing at movements like Wesley's, and also the early Salvation Army as times where God has used large scale spiritual transformation towards social holiness to impact societal stability and progress. I don't think any of us would say "the more people focus in holiness, the closer we get to "fixing" problems we face today."......but I do think we'd agree with Raymond that there's definitely some sort of connection in God moving through His people into the world and a Supernatural-healing-taking-place....um...thing. :)

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