My Holiness: Rules and Regulations

JimThobabenHiResI just watched this awesome video on the Asbury website, it’s a bonus feature from their chapels. It’s pretty funny to me that they have bonus features from their chapels.

The video is several of my favorite professors from Asbury discussing the holiness movement. They talk about the history of the movement and the future of the Wesleyan holiness tradition. I have been thinking a lot about holiness lately. I am taking a class called “Becoming A Holy People” which is forcing me to reread two Nazarene favorites on the subject of holiness. I have also been thinking about Nazarene holiness as I am preparing to teach a membership class in a few weeks, and as I am trying to be faithful to our denominational distinctive as a pastor.

In the video Dr. James Thobaben says that he believes the holiness movement needs some codification in order to remain true to its roots, and distinct as a movement from the rest of evangelical Christianity. He believes that our “rules” should be in the areas of pure sexual ethics, and simplicity in relating to the environment. He thinks we should be environmentally minded, not willing to exploit natural resources and willing to live simply with regard to possessions.

Dr. Joe Dongell comes in to correct Dr. Thobaben by saying that any specificities should be tied to love. I think that is really helpful, except that it’s not very specific. He doesn’t elaborate any from there. It would be helpful if Dr. Dongell was allowed to list some rules that would be tied to love.

Dr. Thobaben goes on to say that there will be false positives to a holiness test based on love. Which means there will be people who help the poor, are pure sexually, and recycle, who also harbor bitterness in their hearts, and do not love the Lord with all their hearts. However, there will be very few false negatives. In other words, there will be very few people who will truly seek to be transformed by the Holy Spirit who don’t remain pure sexually, and who don’t care for the marginalized in society.

Even with ethical codes based on love, it is tempting to fall to legalism on one side. On the other side, when love is the rule, it is tempting to fall to antinomianism (which says there is no law by which Christians must abide). Dr. Larry Wood is careful to point out that love tends toward antinomianism.

I don’t have a set of rules yet, it would be interesting to hear what kinds of rule people could make that are tied to love.


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