April 11, 2006

Revival

Here is an interesting article: A Revival of Prayer - Christianity Today Magazine.

I find it interesting that when people start talking about a revival of holiness they come back to the writings of John Wesley. I don't think he is the only one to ever discuss holiness, but I think he has a lot to say.

We should not be confused about what John Wesley actually said and what the denominations that claim him as their patron saint say he said. I think there is a great need for holiness in the Church. I think the Holiness Manifesto was a good start (though I am not sure it will impact the working theology of the participating denominations). The denominations that currently call themselves "holiness" may be unable to lead the Church into a revival of holiness because they carry too much baggage from the holiness movement.

Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy is one of the best modern works on holiness I have seen. We are to glorify and honor God the Father and live obediently to His commands. Jesus is our Savior and example of what the followers life should look like. The Holy Spirit cleanses, leads, and empowers the follower to actually live a holy life.

Legalism has no place in true holiness. It is not about the rules, it is about loving God and others. For too long holiness has been hijacked by the morality police, and the holiness church has become nothing more than a modern-day Pharisee. Jesus spent his time with the tax collectors and sinners, not the "holy" people.

We certainly need a revival of holiness, but we need one that leads to righteousness and justice. The holiness movement has often focused on the personal and individual, but the Bible is more concerned with the communal. We are part of a community. We are called to bring justice to our world. God will call us to purify ourselves, but that should lead us to better serve and love the lost, the least, the lonely, and the lesbian. We are called to love, not to judge.

When I was in college there was one of these mini-revivals on my college campus. I remember people falling on their face in repentance, confessing sin, and calling for the transformation of lives. I also remember that once the experience was over, most people went back to life as usual. Revivals are good if they start a fire that burn slow, but often "revivals" are more like a flashbulb. They light up quick and bright, but they burn out quickly.

John Wesley's genius was not that he was a revivalist, but that he had a system in place to support believers. He didn't focus on the experience of Revival as a meeting where people were overly emotional. He did call for confession of sin and repentance. The Wesley revival was a long-term venture. It lasted because John Wesley created a small-group system to support believers and send them out in meaningful ministry. George Whitefield, who possibly spoke to more people than John Wesley, failed to have as broad and as lasting an influence because he did not have a system in place to support the believers.

1 comment:

  1. I am a late arrival to the wonderful whole wide world of the internet, and blogs! So, my first blog search attempt on the topic of "holiness movement" turned up your recent article. A good thing too, for it was very helpful in giving me some perspective.

    Your pointing out the effective system Wesley had in place, makes me wonder if my idea of a free association or fellowship of like-minded, devout Christians becoming a holiness movement, without organization is a mere phantasy?

    Your statement that the Bible is more concerned with the communal, rather than with the personal and individual, is interesting. We are a community, you say. Yes, indeed, but I thought that the Bible was more cocerned with a specific community, the household of God, and its communion, or fellowship. But I understand that we have to minister Christ to all those L's in hells.

    I like your blog. You obviously know what you are doing. I say this before I have tried to look at any profile.

    Now I am off to see the Holiness Manifesto.

    Thanks.

    Leaner Lourens

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