Monday, February 10, 2014

Renovating Holiness: Contributions Part 3

Photo by Houstonian
Introductory essays for the Renovating Holiness project keep rolling in.  For the third installment today, notice the increase in ladies and international contributors.  (See other contributions here and here.)

Lori Ward (Pastor/Teacher, South Korea)
I’d like to write about holiness expressed through hospitality.  We are invited by Christ to open ourselves in vulnerability, welcome, and service to others.  When we welcome the stranger, when we share a meal, when we open our homes, when we are present with others in celebration and suffering, we engage them with the love of Christ.  The work of Christ in us enables us to lower our guard and to invest our lives intimately with others, especially those who live in the margins.  Holiness expressed through hospitality does not set us up as proprietors, but as hosts—broken and consumed by those we love and serve, that we may embody the presence of Christ in our world.

Steve Walsh (Pastor, Australia)
Using the insights provided by Floyd T. Cunningham's Holiness Abroad: Nazarene Missions in Asia, as well as the research found in J Fred Parker's Mission to the World: A History of Missions in the Church of the Nazarene Through 1985, and Cunningham's Our Watchword & Song: The Centennial History of the Church of the Nazarene, my essay would seek to examine the relationship between our emerging contemporary understanding of the theology and experience of entire sanctification and the international and intercultural dissemination of our distinctive message by endeavoring to answer the question "What might Hiram F Reynolds say to the Church of the Nazarene today?"  Reynolds addressed the concerns of his contemporaries who worried about "doctrinal confusion, and a low standard of experience" in churches planted on foreign mission fields, which would lead the church to be ashamed to call its progeny  "Nazarene". I believe this parallels concerns especially of the American church as the denominational demographics change dramatically. The essay would consider the tensions between missional strategies aiming at both the indigenisation and internationalisation of the Church of the Nazarene as it wrestles with the forces of globalisation and localisation. From its inception, the Church of the Nazarene was both "missionary-oriented and American-centered"The pragmatic Reynolds, one of the founders of the Church of the Nazarene, and the architect of early Nazarene mission policies and strategies, who maintained  that "the work and manifestations of the Holy Spirit are practically the same in all countries" has much to say to the Church of the Nazarene today on such issues as contextualisation of theology, holistic ministry, and missional strategy.

Jason Robertson (Olivet Nazarene University)
Over the past year I’ve been contemplating our tradition’s emphasis on the “radical optimism of grace.” This notion made sense at the turn of the 20th century when optimism was woven through the fabric of American society. But does it work for a generation that is not given an optimistic outlook on most areas of life? “Optimism” is an anemic notion better suited for the social sciences. Millennials and Xers have to fight to be optimistic about the future, and older generations seem more optimistic about days gone by. From my experience those who are most passionately teaching radical optimism are hardly optimistic about the direction our world is going. The disconnect for their younger audience is obvious. I think our tradition needs to recover the robust, biblical notion of hope. Hope draws us into the future with expectation of something better for the world, as well as our own souls. I would make a distinction between hope and optimism and then suggest the holiness tradition should recapture the essence of hope as a lived reality in light of God’s kingdom, past, present, and future.

Tara Smith (Pastor, Indiana)
I would like to discuss holiness as participation in the life of God.  When Nazarenes recall that the word "holy" means "to be set apart," we still struggle to understand what this could possibly mean concerning a human life.  So we fall short in our practical application:  to be holy is to be particularly good at following rules; to be holy is to be counter-cultural; to be holy is to love slightly better (more often?) than the average person.
It's my suggestion that we apply the word holy quite literally to God, who is something other than we are; i.e., set apart.  To "be holy as [God] is holy" is to participate in God's life.  This may mimic the rule-following, counter-cultural-operating, optimal-loving lifestyle, but its source is never any of those things.  Rather, the source of holiness is only ever God, and thus our stake in it only ever our participation in the divine life.  

Jon Middendorf (Pastor, Oklahoma)
I'd like to write about sanctification, and I think I'll use a story that has captured my imagination- about method actors (actors who so immerse themselves in their characters and roles that they blur the lines between themselves and the characters they are portraying).  I tell the story of Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.  There is a fascinating report of a conversation between Jack Nicholson (also a method actor who'd played the Joker) and Ledger; Nicholson warned Ledger about playing this particular character, warning that method acting would so blur the lines that Ledger would have trouble extricating himself from the Joker's grasp.  As it turns out, Nicholson was prophetic.  To the horror of many on the set, Ledger wasn't acting like the Joker- Ledger had blurred the lines, Ledger became the Joker.
As sad as this story is, it can be for us a helpful explanation of Paul's words in Galatians 2, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live....."  I describe sanctification as method acting, immersing oneself in the person of Christ, blurring the lines.

Janel Apps Ramsey (pastor)
For Nazarenes worshipping in congregations that are not part of the CotN, the holiness message instilled in us becomes a vehicle for helping others find wholeness. Many people are broken, hurting, and searching; they have lost parts of themselves, and are longing to live a whole life. They want to be part of an authentic community, and experience the wholeness of a life dedicated to God. By helping others, and often ourselves, learn how to make all the parts of our lives be redeemed, made whole, and made to function in the fullness of God’s grace, the Kingdom of God becomes more than just part of a prayer, but the reality of the life we live now.

Eric Frey (pastor, Canada)
I would like to work with the theme of holiness and priesthood.  It would take its cues from the OT priesthood, the pauline notion of a priesthood of believers, and the patristic work of Ambrose, Cyril, etc who view the anointing with chrism at baptism as a type of Aaron's ordination into the priesthood.  Holiness then, in this context would emphasize sanctification (separation, set-apart-ness) for mission.

Ruben Fernandez (Regional Education Coordinator, MesoAmerica, Costa Rica)
Holiness in Postmodernity: Revaluing the Wesleyan DNA to minister effectively today.  
My focus is in Wesleyan practices that we have neglected and that are totally transferable to our postmodern world. 

JR. Forasteros (pastor, Ohio)
Throughout the history of our holiness tradition, we've envisioned holiness as a separateness from culture. Drawing on the same model of holiness we find in the Holiness codes of the Old Testament, we think of Holiness as something fragile, to be protected from contamination by the outside world. But Jesus reinterpreted the Holiness codes - touching dead bodies, disease, bleeding women. And rather than being contaminated, Jesus spread his holiness. Unclean became clean under his touch. This model of holiness can transform how our churches engage popular culture, challenging us to bring Jesus lovingly into the world, rather than hide his good news in fear.
Holiness traditions draw a hard line between the Church and the world. But if we believe that Jesus is the Truth, then anywhere we find Jesus, we find God. Christians can wade faithfully into our culture, to discover the spiritual conversations being held in politics, education, film, literature, social media and more. Guided by the Scriptures, our reason, tradition and experience, we can enter into holy dialog with our culture. Our loving and truthful explorations of our culture's conversations can enable us to embody the loving witness to Jesus' good news to our non-Christian neighbors.

Roberta (Robbie) Cansler  (Pastor, Illinois)
Holiness is freedom. For many who have experienced a church in the holiness tradition, such a phrase seems an oxymoron. Holiness has been bondage, a list of do nots, a restrictive way of life with limited joy. This restrictive and bonded life is counter to what holiness should be.
Holiness is a life of abounding freedoms. Freedom to experience cultures, food, art, love, life, and joy abundant without the fear and guilt that comes with a misuse of these gifts. A freedom that allows us to walk into neighborhoods and interact with people others would not, to share that freedom.

Heather Renee Ardrey (Intervarsity, Harvard)
Holiness, Hospitality & Witness
In our growing toward perfect love we must love of 'the other' around us, whomever they may be. Loving the other is not a matter of simply letting them in if they happen to show up. It's a matter of creating space – love anticipating the needs the other might feel and filling them before they can ask or demand it of us. There are many differences (cultural, ethnic, generational, etc.) that make someone 'other' and it's too easy to organize ourselves and our community in ways that only serve our own demographic. I fear that in doing so we debilitate our witness and instead of being fruitful we end up shouting out instructions to deaf mutes and becoming frustrated when we don't hear them respond. Using the example of Jesus in Mark 7:31-37 (Jesus healing of the deaf man), I will talk about the importance of the hospitality our communities utilize in our worship and our witness as we seek to introduce those 'outside' of our current demographics to Jesus.

Dick Eugenio (Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary)
Humanization of Humanity
Holiness involves transformation, but this does not involve an ontological metamorphosis that makes gods out of humans. In short, holiness is not the deification of humanity. Humans become holy as humans. It is precisely as humans, with our inherent finitude, that we are asked to be holy. Holiness, therefore, is to be who we were intended to be, as creatures dependent and obedient to God. Holiness is the renewal of our lost humanity, the antidote to Adam and Eve’s desire to be “like God” (Gen 3:5). Jesus Christ, the true human, lived out and exemplified the holy life.

Tara Beth Leach (Pastor, Illinois)
What is holiness through the perspective of Paul?  What does holiness look like when ecclesiology gets the first word?  For Paul, the ultimate goal wasn't so much the saving of individuals or personal sanctification, rather, human redemption was a means of creating a holy people of God.  We will look at Paul's language for holiness in the people of god which includes "holy ones," "saints," and “a holy nation.”  In our life together we, the new creation, reveal God’s character and love for the world.  Finally, we will look at concrete examples of corporate holiness embodied in the local congregation.    

Dean Blevins (Nazarene Theological Seminary)
Holy Church, Holy People: A Holiness Ecclesiology
I will basically argue that God’s holiness is first a corporate calling that results in a holy people

Marty Michelson (Southern Nazarene University)
Holiness Structure and Holiness Practice.
The frame of creation demonstrates that the Creator structures the world in an intentional way, toward goodness and blessing. (Gen 1)  This framework is destabilized by the choice of human persons (Adam/Eve/Cain/Abel/Noah's generation Gen 1-10.)  Where the Creator intends a certain order that reflects holy purpose, even when humans muck up God's creation, God does not give up on creation.  In fact, the framework of God's forming a new community in and out of the Exodus story is about creating a holy nation and priestly kingdom (Exodus 19:1-6).  The practices of this worshiping community, though - in their becoming holy - requires their participation in co-creating with God the tabernacle (Exodus 26-4)   - and in priestly and communal practices (especially Lev. 1-8 - but all through Deuteronomy) that mimic God's intentions in Genesis 1 - such that the holiness of God can be made known to and for the world.  In these ways, the worship practices of ancient Israel reflect the idea that God intends for our practices in life - and practices in shared worship - to make us holy people who reflect and embody God's intentions for the world's stability, order and structure.

Stretch Dean (Pastor, Nebraska)  [This one was the most fun, and it's not even really a submission!]
Thinking about the working first reaction was a brief pause.  I immediately asked, "Does Holiness really need to be 'Renovated,' though?" (I dunno, just seems to me, Holiness is Holiness...kinda w/ a period after that.) Christ-Likeness, Purity, Set Apart for God's Special, Unique Use...that kinda remains unchanged, right?
Are we maybe talking about...
    Holiness Re-understood?
        Rediscovering Holiness?
            Holiness...The Update
                Holiness...The Remix
                     Holiness...What Have You Done for Me Lately? 
                       ( ) [Yes this is a Janet Jackson link.]
                        (Sorry...a misspent youth)
                      What If Christ had Come in 2014?
                           How Do We Do Holiness, Now?                        
                               Holiness 2.0
                                    Holiness ReKindled?
But I'm in.
The more I think about it...Renovated might actually be the right term.
Let me give some thought as to the direction I should go...
Thanks for putting your heart and soul into the fabric of who we are!

Craig Drurey (Pastor, Ohio)
One aspect that did not seem to carry over into the Church of the Nazarene from our Methodist heritage and John Wesley was the class meeting. The class meeting was an intentional discipleship model that was intended to help fellow Methodists move forward in the grace God was offering in each moment. In our highly relational day, I believe the holiness message would benefit from a retraditioning of the Wesleyan style class meeting. This retraditioning would make moving on into perfect love or holiness intentional. I propose to write an essay that demonstrates how a retraditioned Wesleyan style class meeting would help communicate, search for, and live out holiness in today’s world. 

Jay Sundberg (Missionary, Bulgaria)
I have a desire for the new generations to grasp the concept of holiness in ways and language that they understand and embrace.  And of course, it is vital to this generation that they live it out with their lives.  It will look different than how holiness was expressed among our parents and grandparents, but it is just as valid and just as necessary.
I’ve come to believe that my life calling is to help believers become more devout in their faith and discipleship.  Most of my preaching for the last 10 years has had that as a focus.  So if I was included in this project, I would want to write about the discipleship that is required for living a holy life today.  I think some things really need to change.  A few of the major points in my doctoral thesis were that we need to look at discipleship, living the holy, not as my individual, sole responsibility, but rather as a group project.  We need to be accountable to each other to make sure we are continuing to grow in Christ.  There is been some great stuff recently in the area of contemporizing some aspects of the Wesley class meeting.  I really like what David Lowes Watson has done with Covenant Discipleship.  Another aspect of this is how to live a life of holiness in the today's fast-paced, technology age.  Is there a way that technology can help us in the in living a holy life today.  This was a main focus of my thesis.

Samantha Chambo (Theologian, Africa)
I am thinking of writing on how Holiness should be interpreted in the light of the African Renaissance.   African renaissance refers to the rebirth of Africa marked by a return to aspects of Africa’s indigenous civilization, i.e., prominence of African languages, thought patterns, traditions, art and industry. Early converts to the Church of the Nazarene had to renounce almost all of their African culture, because it was seen as pagan, however, postmodern Nazarenes value their African heritage and this has great implications on the manner in which we will interpret holiness in Africa. Is it possible to value African tradition while avoiding syncretism? 

Dierdre Brower-Latz (Nazarene Theological College - Manchester, England)
I am interested in a couple of the areas that you raise: one is, the relationship of a global church (is it globalised?) to the concept of Holiness, and whether or not (in my words) holiness can be reminted, reformulated in contextually shaped ways. If so: what are the ‘holiness’ minimals? I think that as I briefly consider it there are some issues here relating to culture, cultural expressions of faith, trust, empowerment, the mission models that we use and integrity. And I would quite like to play with some of those ideas.

Keegan Lenker (Pastor, California)
I'd love to look at the ways our honesty in brokenness contributes to our process of holiness. This can happen through situations out of our control or ones that we have contributed to ourselves. My 7-year old son just had is cancer return after almost 6 years in remission. While we are devastated, we also don't blame God and recognize the importance of leaning into this situation aware of the opportunities of God's glory. Going through this before my wife and say this is the worst and best situation for us because we would never have been who we are in Christ without it. I don't wish it on anyone, but in the same frame, it provides an invitation to transformation. 
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