"Holiness unto the Lord": toward a holiness Christian dialogue with Judaism.
Wyschogrod's view regarding Jews who convert to Christianity is admittedly a minority perspective, although one he is not alone in holding,(4) but what of his statement concerning gentile Christians' keeping the Law? While doing so is perhaps not necessarily a biblical requirement, is it nevertheless not an option for them? It is the thesis of this essay that over the past two centuries there has been a movement within evangelical Christianity in which gentile Christians have sought to keep the commandments of the written Torah, albeit without the guidance of the oral Torah and the Talmud. Rooted in the Protestant awakenings of the eighteenth century, and especially the work of John Wesley, this tradition came in the course of the nineteenth century to be more generally known as the Holiness movement.(5) Its teachings urge Christians to pursue the experience and practice of holiness in their lives, usually referred to as the state of sanctification.(6) This "higher life" of Christian discipleship is one in which believers are said to be empowered by God's Spirit to realize the divine will in their lives.(7) For its part, the divine will is understood to be revealed not only in the teachings of the Second Testament in the words of Jesus and the Apostles, but in the First Testament and the Law of Moses in particular, to which the Second Testament continuously refers.(8) More so than other Protestant Christians, Holiness proponents hold the Law that is found in the First Testament to be normative for sanctified Christian life. In short, Holiness Christians are gentiles who seek to keep the Law. The implications of this for Jewish-Christian dialogue have hardly begun to be examined.(9)
A first step toward examining them requires a clarification of the themes and emphases within the Holiness movement itself, in order to uncover its distinctive Christian form of appropriating biblical teaching about the Law. The historical (re)turn to the nineteenth century that this essay takes is necessitated in part by the history and historiography of evangelical Christianity in the twentieth century, a period in which holiness distinctives have been partially obscured. Inside and outside the Holiness movement, one still encounters the tendency to identify it uncritically with the history of Fundamentalism, an identification due in part to the oppositional stance both movements took toward what they perceived to be the cultural accommodation of modern Christianity.(10) At the beginning of this century, resistance to the Holiness movement from among other Protestant Christians was widespread. Many Holiness believers found themselves labeled sectarians and fanatics, and they either left or were forced out of their denominations and churches. Opposition was encountered across the spectrum of Protestant churches: among Reformed, Lutheran, and Anglican communions; in the U.S., England, and continental Europe.(11) Surprisingly (given the strong Wesleyan influence on the movement), by the end of the nineteenth century significant opposition had emerged even among Methodist churches, which stood in the Wesleyan tradition but for whom John Wesley's doctrines of Christian perfection had become increasingly uncomfortable.
One result of the institutional and theological opposition that Holiness proponents encountered was their widespread withdrawal from existing denominations, along with the founding of new churches or denominations. Those Holiness believers who chose not to leave their churches found themselves at times in tension with those who did. During the opening decades of the twentieth century, the rise of Pentecostalism, with its doctrine and practice of speaking in tongues, further divided the Holiness movement, out of which Pentecostalism in part emerged. Holiness emphases continued to find expression in a number of Holiness Pentecostal churches, but any consensus concerning faith and practice was lost in the polemics surrounding tongues.(12) Furthermore, both the Holiness and the Pentecostal churches sought to consolidate their new ecclesial status by patterning themselves after other churches in the dominant American Protestant tradition.
Holiness denominations were generally content by the second decade of the twentieth century to identify themselves as conservatives or Fundamentalists, without abandoning their official profession of Holiness teachings. Holiness believers shared many doctrinal and practical emphases with other conservative Protestants, including an emphasis on biblical authority and opposition to modern, historical-critical methods of interpretation; a tendency toward restorationist forms of church life; and, toward the end of the nineteenth century, an increasingly apocalyptic eschatology. Other tenets of Holiness teaching were considered eccentric even by fellow conservative Protestants, however, such as the Holiness emphasis upon the practice of divine healing. Like Pentecostalism's doctrine of the divine gift of speaking in unknown tongues, the Holiness movement's doctrine of healing appeared (and still appears) to many other Protestant Christians to invoke a supernaturalism that borders on superstition.
Divine healing and speaking in other tongues are not in and of themselves the heart of the Holiness and Holiness Pentecostal distinctive, however. Both of these practices instead are associated with an experience referred to as "the baptism of the Holy Spirit." The Holiness movement has understood itself to be a revival movement, brought about to renew the faith and practice of Christian churches. Holiness teaching holds that there is available to Christians a compelling experience of grace that achieves more than justification and the forgiveness of sins in one's life. This "more" is sanctification, which is depicted either as a second and distinctive work of grace (the radical Wesleyan version) or as a deeper realization of the grace that is already available through Christ's work on Calvary (the version of the doctrine preferred by those claiming a Reformed theological heritage). In either case, it came to be identified in the nineteenth century with the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which God engenders in the believer's life a new capacity for righteous living.
The former experience gave rise to charges of fanaticism, enthusiasm, and unwarranted supernaturalism, insofar as the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was often demonstrated by ecstatic behaviors. The latter emphasis on righteous living came to be associated in much of the popular imagination outside the movement as constituting the major characteristic of holiness. Holiness people were caricatured as dour moralists who frowned upon the pleasures of modern life. To some critics, "holiness" was synonymous with "legalism." Within the movement, however, emphasis was placed upon the positive dimensions of the baptismal experience of the second blessing and holiness. The ecstatic and the moral dimensions, when working together, engendered within one both the desire and the capacity for the higher Christian life of righteousness and even perfection. Accordingly, to one who was sanctified, the biblical injunctions were not harsh or oppressive. Just as what appeared to an unbelieving person prior to justification to be the wrath of God but was understood after one was justified to be the love of God, so what appeared to an unsanctified person prior to sanctification to be a rigid moralism was discovered after one was sanctified to be the glorious life of discipleship. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians were not so much under an obligation as they were offered an invitation to experience the higher life of sanctification or holiness, which was expressed in and through keeping the Law.
In other words, the experience of sanctification, which is linked in Holiness teaching to the (often ecstatic) experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is one in which gentile (or even Jewish) Christians are empowered to keep Torah. Perhaps on this count Holiness Christianity might appropriately be called a "Judaizing" movement.(13) This is not to argue that there was any dialogue with Jewish exegesis or theology within the Holiness movement in the course of the nineteenth century. For the most part, Holiness teachers were too busy defending themselves from the attacks of their Christian critics - and all too often attacking non-Holiness Christians - for them to engage in much dialogue with anyone. Moreover, the Holiness movement was decisively Christian in its identity, and for the most part its adherents interpreted Christianity in strictly exclusive terms. There are few examples of any of its major proponents' wavering in the conviction that justification resulted from the exclusive work of Jesus Christ, however universal one might interpret the effects of that work to be. At the same time there was a profound appreciation for the intratextual character of biblical truth and an enthusiasm to acknowledge that the First Testament's precepts remained fully in force as the Law according to which one was to live.(14) Holiness believers were understood to be empowered to live the sanctified life through the Holy Spirit.(15) Hence, while justification (being pardoned for one's sins) remained a christologically defined doctrine within the Holiness movement, sanctification (being empowered and perfected by God) increasingly came to be portrayed in pneumatological categories, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not confined to the Second Testament.
The experience of holiness opened up the movement not only to a wider appropriation of the moral or legal precepts of the First Testament but to an appreciation for the prophetic and priestly paradigms of Spirit in Judaism as well. Holiness teachers might continue to assail the Pharisees of Jesus' day, or Jews of their own day, as failing to live up to the standards of the covenant, but they tended to make similar charges against the nominal Christians of their own day as well.(16) They could not, however, escape the implications of Asa Mahan's observation that not only Jesus, John, and Paul but also Moses, the seventy elders, Isaiah, and other prophets in Israel all received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that the latter set of persons did so prior to the Day of Pentecost described in Acts 2.(17) Mahan, the first president of Oberlin College and one of the most influential proponents of holiness and perfectionist teaching in the nineteenth century, argued in an 1870 publication that there were differences between the two testamental dispensations "in the extent and universality of the gift ..., the element of permanency ..., [and] the relative power of the Spirit's manifestation."(18) Similar differences could be found among Christians as well, however. With the wider Christian tradition, the Holiness movement confessed that the Holy Spirit had spoken in a unique way through the First Testament scriptures. Holiness advocates believed that the same Holy Spirit had been experienced through a baptism that was incumbent upon all who were justified in Christ. The baptism of the Holy Spirit enabled the Christian to live the righteous life of Jewish, or First Testament, Law. Both Christians and Jews had received the same Law, and it remained in effect through the present age. The experience, of sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit were the basis for Holiness Christians such as Mahan to seek to keep the Law of God.
Again, Beverly Carradine represents a widespread consensus within the Holiness movement in the last decades of the nineteenth century, that the obligations of the First Testament remained the expressed will of God for Christians: "He who commanded the Jews to wash frequently, and was careful that his ministering servants in the Temple should wear white and spotless linen has not changed his mind."(19) Carradine wrote of "two covenants God has at different times given the world." By these he meant neither Jewish and Christian dispensations nor First and Second Testament teaching. Elsewhere he wrote that under the "first covenant ... men and women served God, and went to heaven."(20) David, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself all lived under the first covenant, but Jesus prepared his followers for the "better covenant," which began for them on the Day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The second covenant did not begin with the death of Jesus but with the baptism of the Spirit, an experience that Carradine also acknowledged was not foreign to the prophets of Israel. The "first covenant" Carradine defined as the event of God's pardon, forgiveness of sins, or atonement; the "second covenant" perfected this work by writing the Law of God "in the heart and mind" (Heb. 6:10), thereby creating both the desire and the possibility of following this Law.(21)
The Historical Development of Sanctification and Spirit Baptism as a Second Work of Grace
It is important for us to see the broader social context in which this doctrine of a "second work" took shape. The Holiness movement that emerged during the nineteenth century in the United States did so in the midst of a century of rapid social change, changes that were constantly before the movement's proponents. Reflected in the pages of Holiness writings were the experiences of growing urbanization, economic advance, new ecclesiastical practices, and what was perceived by many to be a general moral decline. More importantly, this decline was taking place among people who were, for the most part, baptized members of Christian churches and who identified themselves as Christian. The collective state of sinful Christians was a significant factor in the movement. Before the Civil War, the struggle against slavery in the U.S. was closely connected with the formation of the Holiness ethos, most immediately in the Oberlin Perfectionism of Charles G. Finney and Asa Mahan.(22) After the Civil War, social issues associated with the new urban industrial situation were added to the older lists of concerns, which included temperance, secret orders, and "Sabbath" observance, among others. Race relations continued after the Civil War as well to occupy holiness teachers; even during the days of post-Reconstruction and the emergence of "Jim and Jane Crow," the imperatives of interracial fellowship were a compelling issue for many in the movement.(23) Increasingly, the role of women in church and society joined race relations in the catalogue of issues to be addressed by the movement.(24) However, while many of these social concerns were specific to modernity, the search for Christian perfection was by no means the product of a modern culture.
The leaders of the movement were, in fact, quite concerned to claim an orthodox Christian genealogy for themselves.(25) They generally tended to trace their theological origins back along two European-American trajectories, the one stemming from John Wesley and his unique blending of Puritan and Catholic spiritualities, the other from the reconstructed Calvinism of Jonathan Edwards in America. Along both trajectories of holiness, the quest for Christian perfection and a concomitant realization of social purification were compelling forces for spiritual renewal. Wesley's radical claim concerning the possibility of a realized perfection this side of death was one of his most controversial doctrines, but it was a pillar of the Holiness movement in the nineteenth century. Both Wesley and John Fletcher, the major theological systematizer of the Methodist movement in England after Wesley, took care to stress that the perfection being taught was the perfection of the capacity to love, not of knowledge or physical condition. The Holiness movement in the U.S. continued to assert this definition while placing more emphasis upon Wesley's doctrine of the eradication of inbred sin this side of death, which was brought about in the experience of perfection.
Wesley's own theology had been strongly christological in its orientation. Yet, because of the controversy surrounding his doctrine of sanctification and perfection, the theme of the Spirit's baptism came to dominate in the apologetic works of the movement. Wesley's "insistent linking of the fullness of the Holy Ghost with the experience of justification" did not predispose the early Methodists in England toward the use of the language of a special Spirit baptism to describe sanctification.(26) Rather, the language of the baptism of the Spirit that was used by Fletcher to describe the experience of entire sanctification was employed more often within the Wesleyan movement in the Americas.(27) While the fuller development of this language of Spirit baptism did not take place until the middle of the nineteenth century, already in the 1770's Methodist preacher Thomas Webb stated in a sermon in New York that the apostles, prior to the day of Pentecost, had received justification but not the Holy Spirit: "They must receive the Holy Ghost after this. So must you. You must be sanctified. But you are not. You are only Christian in part. You have not received the Holy Ghost."(28) Thus, by the opening decades of the nineteenth century, there had emerged among the Methodist preachers in America a coherent doctrinal distinction between the two works of grace, even if not yet a full theology of the second's being the distinctive work of the Spirit.
The contours of this doctrine are apparent already in the autobiographical reflection of Jarena Lee, first published in 1836.(29) She was an African Methodist Episcopal woman who found herself called by God to preach the gospel during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Her first confession of salvation was made under the preaching of Richard Allen in 1804, but for several years she struggled to realize the full conviction of her faith. Finally, after a time of spiritual turmoil manifested in physical illness, she experienced full forgiveness and was baptized. Her autobiography then relates what would become a classic holiness description of the second work of grace. I quote at length her report of the experience to show the manner in which the teaching of a second work of sanctification had achieved doctrinal status already by 1810 among African-Americans (if not yet so clearly among European-Americans). Lee wrote:
[Following baptism] I continued in this happy state of mind for almost three months, when a certain coloured man, by name William Scott, came to pay me a religious visit....
In the course of our conversation, he inquired if the Lord had justified my soul. I answered, yes. He then asked me if he had sanctified me. I answered, no; and that I did not know what that was. He then undertook to instruct me further in the knowledge of the Lord respecting this blessing.
He told me the progress of the soul from a state of darkness, or of nature, was threefold; or consisted in three degrees, as follows: - First, conviction for sin. Second, justification from sin. Third, the entire sanctification of the soul to God.... Now there appeared to be a new struggle commencing in my soul, not accompanied with fear, guilt, and bitter distress, as while under my first conviction for sin; but a labouring of the mind to know more of the right way of the Lord. I began now to feel that my heart was not clean in his sight; that there yet remained the roots of bitterness, which if not destroyed, would ere long sprout up from these roots, and overwhelm me in a new growth of the brambles and brushwood of sin.
By the increasing light of the Spirit, I had found there yet remained the root of pride, anger, self-will, with many evils, the result of fallen nature....(30)
Three months after William Scott's visit, she found her delivery. Retiring to a "secret place," she heard a voice within her inviting her to pray for sanctification. "That very instant, as if lightening had darted through me, I sprang to my feet, and cried, "The Lord has sanctified my soul!"' She immediately began telling others of her joy, finding "a new rush of the same ecstasy" when she did so.
During this, I stood perfectly still, the tears rolling in a flood from my eyes. So great was the joy, that it is past description. There is no language that can describe it, except that which was heard by St. Paul, when he was caught up to the third heaven, and heard words which it was not lawful to utter.(31)
It was not until a full century later that the language associated with this ecstatic baptism of sanctification came to be identified by Pentecostalism as other tongues. The experience of sanctification as an ecstatic blessing was, however, very much the hallmark of holiness. Some argued for a gradual experience, while for others it was instantaneous. (For Wesley himself, it had been both.)(32) As the movement developed it came more clearly to identify this work with the person of the Holy Spirit.(33) Almost all who were Wesleyans described the experience as Christian perfection, that is to say, a perfection this side of death that is not in body or wisdom but in the opacity to love.(34) By the third decade of the century, the experience received more programmatic direction not only through the publications of the Anglo-American Methodist minister Timothy Merritt but also through the organizational initiatives associated with Phoebe Palmer and the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness in New York.(35) The distinctive characteristics of Wesleyan holiness thereafter were pursued through special holiness meetings organized much as other special meetings and, after 1867, through camp meetings held specifically for the promotion of holiness. The second work of ecstatic grace to bring about the eradication of the root of sin in the soul and the concomitant claim to Christian perfection became major sources of controversy as well as renewal in American churches by the dawn of the twentieth century.
The social implications of holiness were more clearly manifested before 1860 in the non-Wesleyan wing of the American Holiness movement, a wing that is often identified as Reformed in its doctrine. It emerged during the third decade of the century with the Oberlin school of Christian perfection.(36) Under its principle architects - Mahan, Finney, and John Morgan - the Oberlin school shared much in common with New School Presbyterianism. Both owed a substantial theological debt to Jonathan Edwards in American Calvinism, and both were being reshaped in the midst of the Second Great Awakening of nineteenth-century America. The Oberlin theologians explicitly rejected one crucial doctrine of the New School Presbyterians, however: that perfection is attainable but not to be attained in this life prior to death.(37) The moral perfection of the will was for Mahan as much as for Finney not just a possibility but an imperative. Finney in particular defined these moral imperatives in legal terms, developing a theology that joined law and gospel in closest connection and recognized the dimensions of duty implicit in Christian perfection.(38) Sanctification that was brought about through the crisis experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit empowered one to live out the implications of social and personal moral holiness, described under the covenant of the "Old Dispensation," but not realized fully until the "New."(39) The social ramifications of these moral imperatives were not lost upon the movement. In addition to providing a clearer articulation of the doctrine of perfection, the Oberlin school provided an important foundation for later Reformed theological appropriations of holiness. After 1857 and the publication of William Broadman's The Higher Christian Life, the Reformed stream of the Holiness tradition developed more explicitly its doctrine of the suppression or counteraction of sin, in distinction to the Wesleyan doctrine of eradication.
Both Wesleyan and Reformed wings of the Holiness movement moved after the 1860's to a more explicit pneumatological understanding of holiness. By 1875 the Keswick Holiness movement in England emerged to carry the torch of Reformed Holiness theology, while the formation of the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness in 1867 (after 1893 the National Association for the Promotion of Holiness, generally called the National Holiness Association) furthered the movement within Methodist circles.(40) In both wings, an increasing amount of attention was paid to questions pertaining to the proper understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and its relationship to the experience of sanctification. Particularly important were questions about how one received the baptism and appropriated holiness.
Appropriating Holiness and Keeping the Law
We have seen that, for the nineteenth-century Christian Holiness movement, the experience of holiness itself was not conceived in the first place in moral or legal terms but to be a transformative spiritual experience that infused one with a new energizing of divine grace. The moral implications of holiness, so often mistaken by those unfamiliar with the doctrine of the second work of grace and sanctification to be the essence of Holiness teaching, flowed as necessary implications from the spiritual experience. Righteousness and justice were certainly understood to be fundamental requirements of love; love, in turn, the essence of God's will.(41) Christian perfection, which as Wesleyans always insisted was perfection in love, would be manifested in one's relationships and behaviors, which in turn gave rise to the movement's personal and social moral concerns. Perfection meant to follow the Law of God, but Christian perfection could by no means be reduced to moralism or legalism. As John Allen Wood noted, "Entire sanctification has its seat in the affections [for others in the movement this could be the will, or the inner person], in a supreme preference for God, and is preliminary to acts of obedience to him."(42) Sanctification then was first of all an energizing experience of divine grace (instantaneous or progressive), which had the effect of eradicating or suppressing those aspects of human nature preventing a fuller communion with God (in other words, sin). As we have seen, the ecstatic dimensions of the experience became identified by Holiness proponents with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The effect of this baptism was a spiritual cleansing, a purification that enabled one to realize the state of Christian perfection.
On this point John Gammie's analysis of the various models of holiness found in the First Testament proves helpful for shedding light on the experience of Christian perfection in the nineteenth-century Holiness movement. Gammie finds in the Hebrew Bible three distinct models or traditions of holiness: priestly holiness, which was concerned with "cleanness of ritual"; prophetic holiness, which was concerned with "cleanness of social justice"; and the holiness of the wisdom tradition, which was concerned for "cleanness of individual morality."(43) "The priestly theology of holiness can be summarized by the twin notions of separation and purity," he has argued.(44) Sacrifice removed the impurity of sin that had arisen from unrighteous human conduct. In the book of Ezekiel an explicit connection is made between the priestly activity of sacrifice and the ethical requirements of purity, the latter being the major concern of Israel's prophetic tradition. Where the prophets sought to bring about purification of corrupted social relations, however, the wisdom tradition of Israel "placed a distinctive emphasis on the requirement of the cleanness of individual morality and integrity before God."(45) Gammie summarizes that the implications of holiness in Israel for today "will include an attempt to keep the sabbath holy, a wholehearted pursuit of justice, and some attention to individual moral attitudes and acts."(46)
Nineteenth-century Christian holiness teachers would have welcomed Gammie's summary, for, unlike many other Christians, they did not believe that the Law revealed in the First Testament had been set aside for Christian life or that it was not intended for the church. As we saw with Carradine above, Holiness teachers did continue to uphold a theology of two biblical dispensations or covenants, sometimes identified with the First and Second Testaments. Some made use of traditional Christian exegesis concerning the relationship between the two, such as that of promise and fulfillment or of external and internal realization. However, more often they found evidence of both covenants at work in both Testaments. For Holiness advocates, the first covenant or dispensation was not abrogated by the second. The demands of the moral law - by which they specifically meant the Ten Commandments but often included the fuller holiness codes of the First Testament, were considered to be still in full effect.
Holiness teaching divided the Law that was revealed in the First Testament into two parts, the moral and the ceremonial. The latter was identified specifically with the ceremonial practice of Temple sacrifice and was considered to be completed or realized in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Its requirements, which once had been met through the priestly institution of Israel, had now been met once and for all and no longer had to be fulfilled by the individual Christian in her or his life. The same was not true for the former part, the moral law given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the Ten Commandments and the further precepts that accompanied them. This Mosaic covenant continued to represent the active will of God for the entire human community. Justification, achieved by Christ's substitutionary atonement, satisfied the ceremonial demands of the Law, thereby removing the obstacles or providing the condition of possibility for the Christian to follow the moral requirements of God's eternal Law, as these were revealed in the precepts given to Moses.
The precise relationship between the fulfillment of these two demands was the subject of much debate across the nineteenth century, indicative of an inability in the movement to reach agreement on the precise relationship between justification and sanctification and on the relationship between sin and salvation.(47) None disputed Christ's substitutionary atonement as satisfaction for the ceremonial demands of the Law, however, and none doubted that sanctification empowered one in some sense to meet the requirements of the Law in the Christian's life. Christian Holiness teachers often pressed into service at this point the concept of "two covenants" or "two dispensations" drawn from the archive of Christian doctrines, giving them a meaning that was different from other, more traditional Christian interpretations.
The first covenant or dispensation Holiness teachers generally identified with the giving of the Law to Moses and with the life of Israel prior to the time of Christ. The second was identified not with the supersession of the Law given in the first dispensation but with the ability to keep it fully. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, argued Mahan in 1870, was given in both dispensations. The presence of God's passing before Moses and the fellowship of the seventy elders with God in Num. 11:25-30 were both instances of the baptism of the Spirit, as were other incidents in the lives of the prophets and people of Israel. The difference was in the extent and degree of the baptism in the latter dispensation, in which the work of the Spirit was more universal and permanent.(48) Mahan continued:
To them [those of Israel who lived under the dispensation of Moses, prior to the apostolic age] it was revealed almost exclusively in the preceptive form... That same law comes to us, not merely in the form of command and prohibition, but also as exemplified in all its applications, through the pure and spotless example of Christ. They were taught what to do. We are taught not only what to do, but how to do it.(49)
In short, according to Mahan, in the "new" dispensation the Law is not abandoned but becomes "more attractive."(50)
Some three decades earlier Mahan had already provided a fuller definition of the moral law in philosophical terms that echoed somewhat those of Kant: "[P]erfection in holiness implies a full and perfect discharge of our entire duty, of all existing obligations in respect to God and all other beings. It is perfect obedience to the moral law."(51) His appropriation of a more general philosophical conception of duty was done in service of a specific biblical exegesis of the law:
The first, or the old covenant, then, is the moral law, that law by which we are required to 'love the Lord our God with all our powers, and our neighbors as ourselves.' This covenant, as we learn from Heb. ix 1-4, had annexed to it the types and shadows of the ancient dispensations [which were its ritual or ceremonial dimensions].(52)
Thus, while perfection might be promised under the new covenant, its definition was given in the old. Its sustained realization was the goal of Christ's coming, culminating in the baptism of the Holy Spirit among his followers. The new covenant and its accompanying gift of the Spirit, Holiness writers constantly reminded their readers, were not an invitation to antinomianism. The majority of moral injunctions invoked by Holiness proponents were, in fact, taken from Second Testament writings. 1 Pet. 1:15-16 provided a manifesto of sorts on this point: "But as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" Perfection as a moral imperative was given by Christ in Mt. 5:48 and again by the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 7:1. Mahan cited Paul, John, and Isaiah as biblical writers who had attained to this moral perfection, without noting that Isaiah would have attained such prior to the pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Christian era, or new dispensation. So closely does Mahan conceive the moral relationship between the two covenants that, almost in passing, he raised the possibility that Jews who upheld the prescriptions of the Hebrew law could be considered sanctified.
The passage is found in Scripture Doctrine of Christian Perfection from 1839, wherein Mahan wrote:
An objection, deserving a passing notice, is sometimes brought to the view of the new covenant here given. This covenant, it is said, is applicable to the Jews only. To this position I reply,
1st. That to the converted Jew, at least, entire sanctification is undeniably attainable. Why deny it to other Christians?
2d. Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant. Does he, as Mediator, sustain one relation to the Jewish, and another to the Gentile Christian?(53)
The president of Oberlin College was addressing an objection that would appear to have been raised by others claiming that the holiness injunctions in the Bible pertain only to those under the "Old Covenant." Mahan's intertestamental reading brought these moral injunctions into the "New."(54) He understood the Apostle Paul's argument against the Jews in Rom. 7 and 8 to be that they taught that justification and sanctification were both obtained by keeping the Law.(55) In this vein, Mahan argued against the "legal spirit," which was "the spirit of the ancient Pharisee and the modern moralist."(56) The argument he was intent on refuting, however, was that the moral or legal aspect of the Law is applicable to Jews only.(57) Mahan's reply implied that the observant Jew who converts to Christianity, that is, who accepts that in Christ the sacrificial demands of the Law were met and the atonement for sins realized, embodies a model of entire sanctification that should not be denied other (gentile) Christians.
Observant Jews who do not so believe in Christ seek unsuccessfully to fulfill the requirements of the Law, because they do so through their own efforts, he argued (incorrectly so, I would hasten to point out). However, converted Jews who keep the Law realize that which gentile Christians seek through sanctification. While Mahan's second point above referred to the first-century context of controversy between Jewish and gentile Christianity, which concerned issues such as table fellowship and circumcision, the first referred also to contemporary Jewish Christians. The implications of Mahan's remark are stunning: Christians who would attain entire sanctification are approaching the piety of observant Jews. The baptism of the Spirit enables and inspires gentile Christians to observe what at least they understood to be fullness of the Law revealed to Moses.
Needless to say, Mahan and other Holiness teachers, as the vast majority of Christian interpreters have done, offered what at best can be called a distorted picture of Judaism as a legalistic faith. Without a doubt, this was due to a triumphal attitude of superiority on the part of Christians, which has often led them knowingly or unwittingly to deny or ignore the covenantal context of God's gracious activities that are presupposed in the revelation to Moses at Sinai. Christians in general, not just Holiness Christians of the last two centuries, have exhibited a general ignorance of Judaism and, especially, of the manner in which the Rabbis addressed the crisis of the destruction of the Temple by preserving and deepening the teachings of Judaism encompassed in Torah.(58) Few Christians, Holiness or otherwise, have ever had more than a passing exposure to the way of Torah that is found in Halakhah (the practice of laws and precepts) and Midrash (interpretive narratives bringing out moral lessons).
Holiness Christian teachers knew next to nothing of the Talmud. Yet, the movement engaged in a double appropriation of the Law in a manner comparable to that of Halakhah and Midrash. A fuller comparison of the practice and interpretation in these two faith traditions is beyond the scope of this essay. However, the place where such a comparison would begin, at least from the side of Holiness Christianity, I would argue, is with the attempt by Holiness Christians to keep the precepts of the Law as they have read them in their own modern (nineteenth- and twentieth-century) context and with the narrative (re)enactments of the life of Israel. On both accounts, Holiness Christians have emphasized the experiential and performative dimensions of faith rather than the cognitive and doctrinal dimensions alone.
The precepts of the faith have been identified by Holiness Christians, in agreement with the wider Christian community over time, as preeminently the Ten Commandments written on the stone tablets that were delivered to Moses on Sinai. Narrative reenactment of the journey that accompanied the giving of the Law and of the sojourn through the wilderness that followed has long been the theme of Holiness Christian camp meetings. Both modes of appropriation incorporate significant elements of ritual and ceremony that might seem more logically to be excluded, given the distinction between moral and ritual law that we saw was propounded. The rituals that were performed by Holiness Christians were not often those of sacrifice and atonement, however, but were ones of consecration and empowerment. At the heart of this Holiness tradition lies a profound appreciation for the theophanic event of Sinai.
Such an appreciation led Holiness Christians to seek ways to keep biblical precepts and norms, a point that needs to be made explicit. Against both the religious criticisms that regard such observant ways as "legalism" and the sociological interpretations that regard such practices only in terms of social utility or protest, Holiness Christians have been compelled by a deeply biblical spirituality.(59) Well-known Holiness strictures against women's wearing jewelry, for instance, certainly carried sociological meaning; but they were derived first of all from an exegesis of Is. 3:16-24. Strictures against consumption of alcoholic beverages did (and still do) have utilitarian meaning in light of the substance abuse found in urban, industrial society, but they also reflected Holiness readings of biblical passages such as Is. 5:11 and 22.
Especially important in this vein is the Holiness Christian emphasis on the Sabbath. Holiness believers have generally advocated much more stringent observance of a Sabbath day than have other Christians. They have done so not on account of the benefits a society supposedly reaps from having one day in seven set aside for rest (an argument that became popular as Sabbath-day proponents sought to gain support for their cause in the wider secular society). The Sabbath is, first of all, a biblical injunction, found in the Ten Commandments whose moral authority had not been abrogated. The fact that the majority of the Holiness movement has kept the Sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday reflects in part the belief that they are keeping the same Law in a new dispensation or age. Yet, even this "new dispensation" interpretation has not be unanimously accepted. Seventh-day Adventists, for instance, are Holiness Christians who, as their name indicates, dispute such a dispensational shift.(60)
These practices and observances are by no means the only biblical precepts around which controversy has ensued for the Holiness movement. There are on-going debates concerning divorce, debt, tithing, and personal habits. Some, such as the Methodist Episcopal minister Thomas Doty, identified among the temptations confronting those who profess holiness those of gluttony, use of stimulants, and eating "swine's-flesh, the mother of scrofula."(61) Many believed that the requirements of Christian holiness found in the pages of the Second Testament were as strict as those found in the pages of the First, and they sought to apply these biblical commandments in a meaningful way in their own nineteenth-century-American context. Although the movement as a whole failed to reach consensus on a number of points of interpretation concerning the Second Testament's precepts, there was agreement that the eradication of sin was a biblical imperative. Efforts to change personal and social practices that were considered sinful were not seen as expressions of legalism but were manifestations of the desire to live a life of Christian discipleship.
The sanctified life of discipleship was one empowered by God.(62) An enduement of divine grace was considered the necessary condition for living according to the will of God. In order to realize this divine grace, the nineteenth-century Holiness movement gave rise to special meetings or worship services. In the Wesleyan Holiness movement these were modeled after the class meetings Methodists generally employed, the prototype being the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness in New York, begun in the 1830's and associated with the ministry of Phoebe Palmer. Alongside these regular Holiness meetings, the revival meeting rivaled the attention of the leadership as a method to realize the second blessing.
Special meetings and revivals were most often held apart from the regular worship services of the church and came to be increasingly outside the domain of clerical or denominational sanction, a fact that accounted for much of the institutional friction the movement experienced toward the end of the century. During the last years of the nineteenth century, the emergence of separate holiness churches and denominations facilitated the return of the holiness experience to the context of worship in the church. In African American Holiness churches in particular, part of the worship took place at the altar rail in what became known as the "tarrying service," still practiced in many Holiness and Pentecostal circles today. Perhaps the most important of these liturgical adaptations was that of the camp meeting, which after 1867 became a specifically organized means for attaining the second-blessing experience of holiness.
Camp meetings were a familiar institution in nineteenth-century America. As a major vehicle for facilitating individual conversion in Protestant America, they were part of the wilderness experience of frontier life that was increasingly romanticized as the nation underwent industrial development and population growth. A turning point in the history of the camp meeting in America occurred in 1867 when a group of leading Holiness advocates within the Methodist Episcopal Church (North) gathered in Vineland, New Jersey, to organize the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness.(63) From that point on, camp meetings in America shifted from being identified with the work of converting new believers to Protestant Christian faith, to being identified with the second-blessing teaching of the Holiness and later Pentecostal movements.
Already prior to the Civil War, the frontier character of the camp meeting was often at odds with the actual social reality of its participants. Many who went into the woods to pray and seek repentance during the first decades of the nineteenth century came from the populated centers of urban America, from both the growing middle class and the working classes. Many who attended the holiness camp meetings sponsored across the country after 1867 did so no doubt out of a sincere desire to receive the second blessing of sanctification and renewal. Just as compelling, however, as Bishop Simpson noted in 1869, was the chance to leave the crowded cities for a godly vacation among like-minded folks, enjoying nature or bathing in the ocean in the context of an experience of spiritual renewal.(64)
Nevertheless, more was at stake in the retreat into the forests and along the seashore than a vacation to escape the pressures of urban living. The retreat into the woods was intended to reenact the spiritual experience of Israel in the wilderness. As God had called Moses and all the people of Israel to journey from the land of Egypt out into the wilderness to worship, so God was calling Christians to experience once again the revival of the Spirit amidst the summer woods.(65) As in the wilderness Israel received the Law, and in the wilderness Israel celebrated the feast of Tabernacles, so in the wilderness the Christian could expect to receive sanctification.(66) Through their reenactment of these biblical wilderness narratives, Christian camp meetings sought to appropriate Israel's biblical heritage in the modern context. On the camp grounds Christians from differing social classes and sometimes races lived side by side in rough tents, free from the distraction and comforts of modern urban life. Most camp grounds sought to maintain a strict code of behavior, such as by enforcing Sabbath-day regulations (although usually on Sunday) and encouraging extended periods of prayer and exhortation. These experiences allowed Christian believers who were otherwise unobservant of biblical holiness codes to observe the stricter discipline of biblical Law for short periods of time that were associated with powerful sanctification experiences of personal and social renewal.
Journeying out of the cities to camp in rustic surroundings without regard for the distinctions of social class or identity, engaging in prayer and worship, and observing biblical holiness created an experience that many found delivered them from sin and enabled them to consecrate their lives anew to God. The experience of camp meeting combined ecstasy with discipline; one engaged enthusiastically in prayer, song, and worship in a rustic setting that encouraged strict observance of biblical commandments. At its best the camp meeting enabled a practical experience of holiness among participants, empowering them to return to life in the office, home, or factory to live more fully the promised sanctification of the Spirit. Short-term retreats to the wilderness for holiness helped Christian believers to fend off the assaults they experienced amidst the increasingly secular culture of nineteenth-century America. At the same time they helped sharpen the Holiness movement's critique of the increasing prosperity of both the American church and society and the increasing dependence of the churches in particular on secular means for growth. The camp-meeting experience in the wilderness served to intensify Holiness critiques of material wealth in the churches - and these were already abundant.(67) Camp meetings took people out of the cities to experience the ecstasy of the second blessing, but in doing so they fostered personal and social ideals of compassionate community even while they helped construct an oppositional identity that was resistant to much of the newly dominant cultural values of nineteenth-century America.
Contemporary critics of the nineteenth-century Holiness movement perceived in it a threat to the hegemony of these new cultural values in America. They did not generally attack the movement for its reappropriation of the Hebrew Bible's holiness codes. Rarely were Holiness advocates charged by their Christian opponents with being "Judaizers." The closest Christian critics came was to charge the movement with Pelagianism, a charge that was directed primarily against the Wesleyans. For their part, Wesleyans responded that their position was one of "sanctification by grace," parallel to the Protestant Reformation's doctrine of "justification by grace," and that what they advocated was not "work's righteousness" (the Reformation's charge against the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation) but a baptismal grace that enabled holiness. Wesleyans were self-proclaimed Arminians who acknowledged the role of human agency in responding to divine initiatives of grace, while the Holiness movement in all its branches recognized the human capacity to respond to be itself a gift of grace, or the work of the Holy Spirit.
There are numerous examples of nineteenth-century Holiness teachers charging more radical spiritual perfectionists with being antinomian, other conservative evangelical critics with being institutional sectarians, and liberal Protestants with being cultural accommodationists. Criticism of Holiness by other Christians was generally directed toward its sectarian tendency of separating Christians into spiritual classes-those who were converted but who continued to live in sin, and those going on into the higher Christian life. From within the Holiness movement itself these criticisms were reflected in warnings against spiritual pride and, by the last decades of the century, in countercharges that holiness people were not "come-outers" (people who felt compelled to come out from churches and denominations that denied the Holiness doctrines) as much as other Christians were "put-outers" (putting people out of their churches and denominations for being adherents of Holiness doctrines).
Through all these controversies, the Holiness movement remained situated as a reform movement, or a movement of renewal, within the broader world of evangelical Protestantism. The second-blessing teaching grew in response to the need to satisfy a deep spiritual hunger among Christians, one that had been brought about in part by modern industrialization, increasing wealth, and the rise of disbelief. Christian holiness believers have continued to share with others - Christian, Jewish, and secular - a conviction that such a hunger could be satisfied only through renewing the moral life. With Jews, however, Holiness Christians share a profound appreciation for the life of holiness portrayed in the life of the people of Israel. The nineteenth-century Holiness evangelist and founder of Asbury Theological Seminary, H. C. Morrison, summarized this insight succinctly in his "Preface" to Carradine's 1894 book, The Second Blessing in Symbol. Wrote Morrison: "The perfect harmony existing between these two books [First and Second Testaments] unites them into one Book. The great doctrine of the Book, the doctrine toward which all other doctrines lead, and in which they all center, is the doctrine of holiness."(68) It is not the person and work of Jesus Christ, not the doctrine of the Trinity, and not the church but the doctrine of holiness that is at the center of Christian faith and unites the two Testaments into one, said Morrison. Here might be a proper starting point for contemporary Holiness dialogue with Judaism.
It is not always clear from their own writings to what extent nineteenth-century Holiness teachers were aware of the piety and practices of Judaism in their time. Certainly there is among Holiness and Holiness Pentecostals today a greater awareness and openness to dialogue. Many Holiness Christians continue to place a great deal of emphasis upon the Law of Moses and seek to fulfill its obligations in their daily lives as the proper expression of their sanctification. They do so, of course, without the guidance of the Talmud. Yet, Holiness interpretations often parallel rabbinic exegesis, in content if not in method. One area for dialogue would be to examine Talmudic and non-Talmudic readings of Torah and to clarify the role the Second Testament plays for Holiness Christianity's interpretation of the First.
Such dialogue might demonstrate more clearly that, on a number of points, Holiness Christians share theological commitments with Jews that are not shared with other, non-Holiness Christians. As we have seen throughout this essay, for instance, Holiness Christians place a high degree of spiritual and theological emphasis upon the revelation of God at Sinai.(69) Indeed, the story of events on the Day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts can be seen as referring to the revelation at Sinai, the conclusion being that on the Day of Pentecost the fire of Sinai spread to the nations.(70) Morrison's insight that the theme of holiness is the central doctrine of the Bible would be confirmed in the centrality of the events at Sinai, where the giving of the Law was accompanied by the fire of God (an event Holiness and Pentecostal Christians have long taken to be a baptism of the Holy Spirit).
Holiness Christians share with other evangelicals strong convictions about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Most affirm Christ as having satisfied the sacrificial demands of the Law, a priestly ("ceremonial") event that has brought about once and for all - and for all humankind - the justification that was realized through the sacrifice in Israel. On this point Holiness Christians can be said to be supersessionists, in that the death of Jesus Christ is understood to supersede the on-going practice of sacrifices in the Temple. However, on this point Rabbinic Judaism is also in some sense supersessionist in relation to Second Temple Judaism, insofar as it has provided for the priestly dimensions of sacrifice and justification, through prayer and the keeping of Torah, in an age following the destruction of the Temple. Furthermore, Holiness emphasis upon the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Israel opens the door to a more inclusive understanding of salvation.(71) Pursuit of the higher Christian life leads not to the supersession of the Law of Moses but to its realization, now enabled through the indwelling power of the Spirit. On this point Holiness Christians and Jews could reach agreement in the language of scripture and praise when together they proclaim, "Holiness unto the Lord."
1 Michael Wyschogrod, "Letter to a Friend," Modern Theology, vol. 11, no. 2 (1995), pp. 165-171. This letter, along with the responses of seven other scholars and Wyschogrod's response to his respondents, were published together as a "Symposium on 'Jewish-Christians and the Torah.'"
2 A much fuller investigation of the entire question of the Second Testament's teachings regarding Jewish Christians and the Law is found in Gerd Luedemann, Opposition to Paulin Jewish Christianity, tr. M. Eugene Boring (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1989).
3 Throughout this essay I will capitalize "Law" when I am referring to the written Torah. I realize that this term does not do full justice to the meaning of Torah, but it is the one most commonly used in Holiness writings and lends itself to this use in my essay.
4 Notable in light of this essay are the increasing number of Jewish converts to Christianity who share this position, many of whom identify themselves as "Messianic Jews." Bruce L. Cohen has written: "The clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures is that for Jewish believers it is God's directly-stated will that we still practice whatever of the Torah is able to be practiced.... Jewish believers [in Jesus Christ] are not saved by their adherence to the Law; however, contrary to popular opinion in the church, they are told nowhere in the New Testament to abandon it. They are, in fact, not given the 'liberty' to do so, any more than non-Jewish 'Christians' are given the liberty to disregard what the Torah says about moral behavior" ("Why Messianic Judaism?" paper published by Eshkol Ministries Ltd., 1994 [n.p.], italics and underlining in original).
5 Throughout the course of this essay I will capitalize "Holiness" when it is being used as the name of the movement but will use the lower case when it is used as a descriptive. My use here is parallel to that of capitalizing "Pentecostal" in contemporary usage, drawing attention to the distinctive character of the Holiness movement that warrants the use of a proper name.
6 For the basic historical shape of this movement and tradition, see Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Holiness Revival of the Nineteenth Century, Studies in Evangelicalism 1 (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1980). A good introduction to the Wesleyan theological debt of the movement is found in Paul Bassett, "A Study of the Theology of the Holiness Movement," Methodist History 13 (April, 1975): 61-84. A comparative study of Protestant theological concepts is found in Myung Soo Park, "Concepts of Holiness in American Evangelicalism: 1835-1915," Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1992. Comprehensive bibliographical data can be found in Charles Edwin Jones, A Guide to the Study of the Holiness Movement (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1974); idem, Black Holiness: A Guide to the Study of Black Participation in Wesleyan Perfectionist and Glossolalic Pentecostal Movements (Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1987); and William Kostlevy, Holiness Manuscripts: A Guide to Sources Documenting the Wesleyan Holiness Movement in the United States and Canada (Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1994).
7 The phrase "higher life" was made popular by William E. Boardman's influential book, The Higher Christian Life (New York: Garland Press, repr. 1985; orig., 1858).
8 One of the more influential Holiness leaders of the nineteenth century, George Watson, argues in his book White Robes, or, Garments of Salvation (Cincinnati, OH: self-printed, 1883), that there are three biblical "epochs" or "days" of salvation, signified by three mountains: law, signified by Sinai; vicarious sacrifice, signified by Calvary; and "sanctifying fire," signified by "the upper room on Mount Zion" (p. 47). He then continued on pp. 49-50: "[I]n a full Bible experience these three days are permanent co-residents in the same breast, flowing like parallel streams along the line of a holy life. The baptism of the Holy Ghost purifying the soul from original sin, makes the law glorious, and deposits the God-written decalogue within as the jewel of a sanctified conscience. The holiness of the law is fulfilled in us. True holiness must have Mount Sinai enshrined within; it is harmony with Sinai." The quote serves to express a more general Holiness Christian theme: Christian life is finally fulfilled in the realization of holiness, through keeping the Law of Moses.
9 I recognize that the terms of any Christian-Jewish dialogue have been radically altered by the experience of the Holocaust in the twentieth century and that any such engagement today takes place in a post-Holocaust context. A review of some of the issues that have emerged for Christian theology from dialogue in this context is provided by Stephen R. Haynes, "Christian Holocaust Theology: A Critical Reassessment," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62 (Summer, 1994): 553-585. A recent evangelical perspective is provided by Stephen T. Davis, "Evangelical Christians and Holocaust Theology," American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, vol. 2, no. 3 (1981), pp. 121-129. In the pages that follow, however, I will be pursuing the historical basis for dialogue within the Holiness Christian movement, for which, as I will argue below, the nineteenth century is decisive. One who is engaging in such dialogue from a Christian Holiness perspective is Michael E. Lodahl. See his "Christo-Praxis: Foundations for a Post-Holocaust Ethical Christology," J.E.S. 30 (Spring, 1993): 213-225; and his Shekhinah/Spirit: Divine Presence in Jewish and Christian Religion (New York: Paulist Press, 1992). Lodahl has sought to address explicitly the doctrine of God by developing an ethical Spirit Christology, whereas I perceive the point of dialogue in the nineteenth-century Holiness movement to be the Mosaic Law as the revealed will of God. However, I believe that his work supports and further develops the nineteenth-century emphasis on the doctrine of sanctification that I am exploring in this essay.
10 The major proponent of a historiographical alternative that distances the Holiness and Pentecostal traditions from Fundamentalism in the evangelical movement is Donald W. Dayton; see his Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, 2nd ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988) and his Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, 3rd ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987). A critical discussion of Dayton's historiographical thesis is found in the "Symposium" in Christian Scholar's Review 23 (September, 1992): 10-71. For further insight into the problematic relationship between the Holiness movement and Fundamentalism, see Paul Merritt Bassett, "The Fundamentalist Leavening of the Holiness Movement, 1914-1940: The Church of the Nazarene - A Case Study," Wesleyan Theological Journal 13 (Spring, 1978): 65-85; and Gerald T. Sheppard, "Pentecostalism and the Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism: Anatomy of an Uneasy Relationship," Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 6 (Fall, 1984): 5-33.
11 The trans-Atlantic character of the Holiness movement is examined in chap. 4 of Dieter, The Holiness Revival, pp. 156-203.
12 An important point to be noted here is that, while Pentecostalism was rooted in the nineteenth-century Holiness movement, there quickly emerged within it a non-Holiness party as well, with the resulting distinction between Holiness Pentecostals and Pentecostals. On the historical and theological issues involved, see Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmaas Publishing, 1971); and Thomas George Farkas, "William H. Durham and the Sanctification Controversy in Early American Pentecostalism, 1906-1916," Ph.D. thesis, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1993. An excellent introduction from a Holiness Pentecostal perspective is Steven J. Land, Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993).
13 One rarely finds the Holiness movement charged with being "Judaizing." More common is the charge of "works-righteousness" that is often raised by Lutheran and Reformed critics of Wesleyan, Holiness, and Pentecostal teaching regarding the requirements entailed in the full experience of salvation. It should be noted that John Wesley himself, in his sermon of 1748, "Upon the Lord's Sermon on the Mount: V," argued that Jesus called from his followers more piety than the Pharisees, not less. Wesley warned against interpreting the Gospels to be maligning the Pharisees as a class, arguing instead that Jesus expected (and still expects) his disciples to be more pious and more committed to keeping the commandments than the Pharisees (and, perhaps by extension, the Jews of Wesley's own day). See the sermon in Albert C. Outler and Richard P. Heitzenrater, eds., John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1991), pp. 207-221, esp. pp. 217-220; also see Wesley's sermon of 1750, "The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law," in Outler and Heitzenrater, John Wesley's Sermons, pp. 255-266.
14 The Methodist Holiness teacher, Beverly Carradine, in The Sanctified Life (Cincinnati, OH: Office of the Revivalist, 1897), p. 153, wrote of biblical commandments concerning keeping the Sabbath, fasting, and tithing: "Not only will the commandments be faithfully kept, but statues and teachings of the Kingdom that are regarded as secondary and less important, and often overlooked by the regenerated or carelessly dropped, will be faithfully observed by the truly sanctified." I would point out here, and will examine in more detail below, the significance of his distinction between the "regenerated" and the "truly sanctified." It is a distinction between Christians who have been pardoned or justified and those who have been purified or sanctified. The latter strive to keep all the Law, including the injunctions of the First Testament as well as those of the Second.
15 While at this point there was strong precedence for the appropriation of the Hebrew biblical law in Calvin's doctrine of the third use of the law, the nineteenth-century Holiness movement added to Calvin's third use the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the empowering experience. Seventeenth-century precedence for such a Spirit-tradition is found in both Puritanism and Quakerism, and both proved to be important for Holiness self-understanding. On the latter, see Geoffrey F. Nuttall, The Holy Spirit in Puritan Faith and Experience (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992; orig., 1946).
16 Such direct attacks upon contemporary Judaism are quite rare in nineteenth-century holiness writings but become more common by the turn of the twentieth century. So, William B. Godbey would write in The Incarnation of the Holy Ghost (Louisville, KY: Pentecostal Publishing Co., 1910): "The two hundred and fifty millions of Jews and Mohammedans are the organic succession of the Mosaic church, still magnifying the patriarchs and prophets, devoutly worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but rejecting Christ" (pp. 79-80); or, more severely: "Hence in all the ranks of Moslem and Jew, with their boasted Monotheism, there is not a ray of light or a gleam of hope. In the Old Testament dispensation the Holy Ghost was the Revelator of the Father.... [But] God out of Christ, is a consuming fire" (p. 91). Godbey did not discern much more light or hope among the ranks of Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox Christians, it should be pointed out, nor for that matter among the unsanctified Protestantism of his own day, as his blistering criticisms on p. 77 of the same book demonstrate. It should also be pointed out that by 1900 the influence of John Nelson Darby's particular brand of Dispensational theology was being felt in the North American Holiness movement, not least among such persons as Godbey, and a hermeneutical distance between the two Testaments that was foreign to the earlier Holiness movement had been introduced; see Park, "Concepts of Holiness"; and Daniel Payton Fuller, "The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism," Th.D. dissertation, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1957.
17 Asa Mahan, Scripture Doctrine of Christian Perfection: With Other Kindred Subjects, Illustrated and Confirmed in a Series of Discourses Designed to Throw Light on the Way of Holiness, 2nd ed. (Boston, MA: D. S. King, 1839), p. 40; and idem, The Baptism of the Holy Ghost (New York: W. C. Palmer, 1870), pp. 59-66.
18 Mahan, Baptism, pp. 68-69 (emphasis in original).
19 Carradine, Sanctified Life, p. 244.
20 Beverly Carradine, The Better Way (Cincinnati, OH: God's Revivalist Office, 1896), p. 26.
21 See also Beverly Carradine, The Second Blessing in Symbol (Columbia, SC: L. L. Pickett, 1894).
Dale T. Irvin (American Baptist) has been Professor of Theology at New York Theological Seminary since 1989. He holds a B.A. from Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ; an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D. (1989) from Union Theological Seminary (NY). He has recently served as a visiting professor in the Theological Faculty of the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and as an adjunct professor in the Theological School of Drew University, Madison, NJ. Ordained by the American Baptist Churches in 1990, he has served in youth and community ministries in United Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic settings and on the board of the Ocean Grove (NJ) Camp Meeting Association. He was recently appointed to the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. He has published Hearing Many Voices: Dialogue and Diversity in the Ecumenical Movement (University Press of America, 1994) and edited, with Akintunde E. Akinade, The Agitated Mind of God: The Theology of Kosuke Koyama (Orbis Books, 1996). His articles have appeared in Studia Theologia, J.E. S., The Ecumenical Review, and The Journal of Pentecostal Studies.
22 See Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage; and Lawrence Thomas Lesick, The Lane Rebels: Evangelicalism and Antislavery in Antebellum America (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1980). As will be noted below, the Guide to Christian Perfection (after 1845, the Guide to Holiness) makes no mention of the social reforms that were to be important in the Oberlin School of perfection, representing a more socially conservative wing of the movement.
23 So Thomas K. Dory noted in his Lessons in Holiness (Salem, OH: Convention Book Store, 1881), p. 144, that, while race and social class "may properly be used to promote the holiest fellowships, they must not debar them. Holiness destroys the line of color-prejudice. It is an equalizer, for holiness is equal everywhere, and holy fellowship is on a level." Two years before the publication of this volume, Doty had written the introduction to the African-American Holiness woman evangelist, Julia A. J. Foote's A Brand Plucked from the Fire: An Autobiographical Sketch (Cleveland, OH, 1879; repr. in William L. Andrews, ed., Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women's Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century [Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1986], pp. 161-234). There Doty had argued that, "if there be crime in color, it lies at the door of Him who 'hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth' [Acts 17:26], and who declares himself to be 'no respector of persons' [Acts 10:34]. Holiness takes the prejudice of color out of both the white and the black, and declares that 'The [heart's] the standard of the man'" (p. 164).
24 See Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, chap. 8, "The Evangelical Roots of Feminism," pp. 85-98; Nancy Hardesty, Women Called to Witness: Evangelical Feminism in the 19th Century (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1984); and idem, Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Revivalism and Feminism in the Age of Finney (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1991).
25 See, e.g., in the Guide to Christian Perfection 4 (November, 1842): 116, the favorable quotation of an English contemporary of John Wesley's: "In John Wesley's views of Christian perfection are combined, in substance, all the sublime morality of the Greek fathers, the spirituality of the mystics, and the divine philosophy of our favorite Platonists. Macarius, Fenelon, Lucas, and all of their respective classes, have been consulted and digested by him, and his ideas are essentially theirs." Thus, one who followed Wesley's teachings could be assured of an essential orthodoxy, whether or not one knew the Platonists or Lucas for oneself.
26 Herbert McGonigle, "Pneumatological Nomenclature in Early Methodism," Wesleyan Theological Journal 8 (Spring, 1973): 63, 68.
27 Ibid., p. 68.
28 Quoted in John Leland Peters, Christian Perfection and American Methodism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985; orig. - New York and Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1956), p. 82, from J. F. Hurst, The History of Methodism, vol. 3 (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1902), p. 1252.
29 The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, A Coloured Lady, Giving an Account of Her Call to Preach the Gospel Revised and Corrected from the Original Manuscript, Written by Herself (Philadelphia, 1836), repr. in Andrews, Sisters of the Spirit, pp. 24-48.
30 Ibid., p. 33.
31 Ibid., p. 34.
32 Peters, Christian Perfection and American Methodism, pp. 47-51; and George Allen Turner, The More Excellent Way: The Scriptural Basis of the Wesleyan Message (Winona Lake, IN: Light and Life Press, 1952), pp. 149-180.
33 Donald W. Dayton, "The Doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Its Emergence and Significance," Wesleyan Theological Journal 13 (Spring, 1978): 114-126.
34 A full doctrinal statement accompanied Timothy Merritt's The Christian's Manual: A Treatise on Christian Perfection with Directions for Obtaining That State (New York: N. Bangs and J. Emory, 1825), esp. pp. 14-33. Merritt is best seen as a spiritual director (in today's terminology), leaving for others the responsibility of working out the theological implications of the doctrine of Christian perfection. See also George Peck, The Scripture Doctrine of Christian Perfection Stated and Defended: With a Critical and Historical Examination of the Controversy, Ancient and Modern; also Practical Illustrations and Advices (New York: Carlton and Phillips, 1954); and Peters, Christian Perfection and American Methodism.
35 See George Hughes, Fragrant Memories of the Tuesday Meeting and the Guide to Holiness and their Fifty Years' Work for Jesus (New York: Palmer and Hughes, 1886).
36 See Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Abingdon Press, 1957); and Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage.
37 See Mahan, Scripture Doctrine, p. 48.
38 See David L. Weddle, The Law as Gospel: Revival and Reform in the Theology of Charles G. Finney (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1985).
39 For a fuller consideration of Finney's theology of Spirit-baptism, along with support for Timothy Smith's conviction that this distinctive holiness doctrine owed its initial formulation in American Christianity to Charles G. Finney, see John L. Gresham, Jr., Charles G. Finney's Doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987).
40 On the Keswick movement, see Steven Barabas, So Great Salvation: The History and Message of the Keswick Convention (Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1952). On the origins of the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness, see A. McLean and Joel W. Eaton, eds., Penuel, or Face to Face with God (New York: W. C. Palmer, Jr., 1869).
41 See Owen Roger Jones, The Concept of Holiness (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1961), p. 138.
42 John Allen Wood,Mistakes Respecting Christian Holiness (Chicago: The Christian Witness, 1905), p. 65.
43 John G. Gammie, Holiness in Israel (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1989), p. 2 (emphasis in original).
44 Ibid., p. 43.
45 Ibid., p. 149.
46 Ibid., p. 198.
47 Some argued for a greater distinction between justification and sanctification as two works of grace and gave greater emphasis to the role of the Spirit in the latter, while others emphasized the manner in which these two dimensions of salvation are made available through the one work of Jesus Christ. Supporters of the former position often identified it as Wesleyan, while the latter was sometimes referred to as the "baptistic" view, or associated with the Keswick movement. Although it was not necessarily a Reformed theological perspective, it was more reflective of Reformed spirituality. The former position held that the tendency toward sin could be finally eradicated through the perfecting work of sanctification, a doctrine of "Christian perfection" for which they claimed John Wesley's authority. The latter position held that even Holiness believers continue to be simul iustus et peccator (simultaneously justified and a sinner) and that both justification and sanctification are works of Christ. For more on the differences among evangelical perspectives, including Reformed, Wesleyan, Holiness, and Pentecostal perspectives, see Melvin Easterday Dieter et al, Five Views on Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1987); and Donald L. Alexander, ed., Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988).
48 Mahan, Baptism, pp. 58-70.
49 Ibid., p. 75 (emphasis in original).
50 Ibid. (emphasis in original).
51 Mahan, Scripture Doctrine, p. 7.
52 Ibid., pp. 22-23.
53 Ibid., p. 28.
54 See also ibid., pp. 192-193, where Mahan wrote, "the moral law...constitutes an essential element of both covenants."
55 Ibid., p. 101.
56 Ibid., p. 98.
57 Elsewhere in ibid., Mahan wrote, "In the first covenant, holiness is required of the creature. In the new covenant, the same thing is promised to the believer" (p. 80); and "The condition on which the blessings promised under the first covenant are [sic], Do and live.... The condition of the new covenant is, Believe and live" (p. 81).
58 I have found useful as an introduction to Oral Law, to Rabbinic literature, and to the process by which Mishnah and Talmud came into being the study text, Jerusalem to Jabneh: The Period of the Mishnah and Its Literature - Units 8, 9, 10 (Tel-Aviv: Everyman's University Publishing House, 1981), a text to which Peter Ochs of Drew University introduced me. See also Jacob Neusner, Rabbinic Judaism: Structure and System, with a contribution from William Scott Green (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995); and Hayim Goren Perelmuter, Siblings: Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity at Their Beginnings (New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989).
59 It is a fundamental mistake to interpret Holiness Christian practices purely in sociological terms, as an attempt to create a separate identity distinct from the dominant culture around them. The error lies not in seeing the element of separation involved in such practices; indeed, the very word for "holiness" in Hebrew connotes separation and otherness. It lies, instead, in reducing these practices to their sociological effects, for such reductionism ignores the Holiness believers' convictions that the biblical precepts embody the universal will of God for human life on earth.
60 Michael E. Lodahl, in "Sabbath Observance as a Theological Issue in Jewish-Christian Conversation," in Tamara C. Eskenazi, Daniel J. Harrington, and William H. Shed, eds., The Sabbath in Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: Crossroad, 1991), pp. 262-269, has argued that contemporary Sabbatarian Christians, situated as they are between Judaism and majority Christianity (worshiping on Sunday) and free from supersessionism, can play an important role as "crucial witnesses pulling the church back to consider its Jewish foundations" (p. 268), an argument I find important for other Holiness Christians to consider.
61 Doty, Lessons in Holiness, p. 179. Due in part to concerns over maintaining the dietary laws of the First Testament, especially regarding meat, many Holiness Christians have historically advocated vegetarianism. It is not uncommon as well to find Holiness Christians who abstain from eating shellfish and other foods prohibited in the First Testament.
62 One of the more compelling scholarly accounts of the empowerment found in the African American Holiness experience is Cheryl J. Sanders's Saints in Exile: The Holiness-Pentecostal Experience in African American Religion and Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). See also idem, Empowerment Ethics for a Liberated People: A Path to African American Social Transformation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995).
63 For a first-hand account of the origins of the National Association from John Inskip, one of the organization's major leaders, see McLean and Eaton, Penuel. Other accounts are found in George Hughes, Days of Power in the Forest Temple: A Review of the Wonderful Work of God at Fourteen National Camp-Meetings from 1867 to 1872 (Boston, MA: J. Bent, 1873); and John E. Ayars, The Holiness Revival of the Past Century: Commemorative of the National Holiness Camp Meeting Association (Philadelphia, 1913).
64 McLean and Eaton, Penuel, p. xi.
65 Hughes, in Days of Power, pp. 4-5, noted that forests were traditionally sacred places of worship and that each age of human history had witnessed the revival of religion in the forests. He continued: "Methodism, among its other revivals of lost religious arts, has brought again into prominence these forest services...a temporary occupancy of the summer woods for sacred worship...a sanctification of the green tree and the high hill to their true Creator and Lord."
66 Bishop Matthew Simpson, in his introduction to McLean and Eaton, Penuel, p. xi, wrote: "The 'Feast of Tabernacles' among the Jews in some respects seems to be the precursor of our camp-meetings."
67 John Allen Wood, who is credited with having made the original suggestion for a National Holiness Camp Meeting in 1867, six years earlier in his book, Perfect Love: or Plain Things for Those Who Need Them,. Concerning the Doctrine, Experience, Profession and Practice of Christian Holiness (Philadelphia: S. D. Burlock, 1861), had criticized Christians for "...depending for the prosperity of the church upon her wealth and popularity, or upon the learning, talents, and eloquence of her ministers, rather than upon the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and a solid, high tone of piety in her ministry and membership" (p. 126).
68 Morrison, in Carradine, Second Blessing, "Preface."
69 On this point, Holiness Christians would be inclined to side with Michael Goldberg's critique of Ronald Thiemann's reading of the book of Matthew and the narrative identity of God that Thiemann claims to find there. See Michael Goldberg, "God, Action, and Narrative: Which Narrative? Which God?" Journal of Religion 68 (January, 1988): 39-56; and Ronald Thiemann, "The Promising God: The Gospel as Narrated Promise," chap. 6 of his Revelation and Theology: The Gospel as Narrated Promise (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985), pp. 112-140. Both essay are reprinted together in Stanley Hauerwas and L. Gregory Jones, eds., Why Narrative? Readings in Narrative Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1989), pp. 320-365. Goldberg argued that Thiemann ignored the covenant of Sinai in his narrative rendition of God's identity, focusing exclusively on the promises to Abraham and David, a concern Holiness Christians have likewise raised repeatedly of other Protestants. However, Goldberg, implying that this exclusion of Sinai is implicit in Matthew's gospel as well, and not just Thiemann's reading of the gospel, wrote: "Indeed, throughout the course of the Matthean narrative, humankind is consistently pictured as being wholly unable to lend any hand at all to the work of its salvation" (Hauerwas and Jones, Why Narrative? p. 359). Yet, Goldberg has ignored extensive sections of Matthew, such as the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus is depicted explicitly as interpreting Torah to his followers and demanding of them their participation in the work of salvation. The parting discourse of the risen Christ to the disciples in Matthew instructs them to teach all nations, which in Matthew's context means to teach all the precepts and commandments of the Law. A Holiness interpreter would point out that Jesus' teaching on the mountainside intentionally recalls the Sinai event.
70 See Rickie D. Moore, "Deuteronomy and the Fire of God: A Critical Charismatic Interpretation," Journal of Pentecostal Theology 7 (October, 1995): 11-33.
71 Michael E. Lodahl has explored from a Christian perspective some of the christological and pneumatological aspects of this shift in emphasis. See his "Christo-Praxis" and Shekhinah/Spirit (note 9, above).
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|Author:||Irvin, Dale T.|
|Publication:||Journal of Ecumenical Studies|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1997|
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