Monday, February 17, 2014

Renovating Holiness: Contributions Part 4

Photo by Want2Know
We now have more than 100 confirmed contributors to the Renovating Holiness Project.  Having inherited our grandparents' theological house which desperately needs updating, we are faced with three options: resentment, rejection, and renovation.  Nazarenes from around the world (from at least 16 countries) are joining together to revision sanctification for our world and our time.
Here are the next round of introductory submissions.  Enjoy.

To read the previous submissions, click here: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3.)

Oswald Vidal Cole (Pastor, Sierra Leon)
In my essay I will be sharing about how Christians understood holiness or what holiness meant to them in the days when evangelical Christianity was still in its early stages in our country (Sierra Leone). I will proceed to share how the concept of holiness also seemed to have disappeared on the scene because of other emphasis on different theological concepts. I will then share the present perspective and interest of Christians on the holiness concept and where this concept stands today in the church in our nation. I will not just share the perspectives but I will also shed light on certain happenings that led Christians to come the said perspectives and conclusions on this concept.

Frank Mills (District Superintendent, Ghana)
I want to talk about the way our holy God expects His ‘holy’ children to handle the injuries caused by the decisions and actions of others…whether caused by people within the church or outside the church. We still have many people within the church who are struggling with the practicing of true forgiveness of sins trespassed against us. There are Christians who still nurse their wounds because the wounds are so deep that they find it very difficult to let go of it. I will talk more on the biblical way of handling injuries caused by others. 
The above topic is my favorite because it all flows out of my past personal struggles and experiences and I have always wanted an opportunity to put it into writing for the sake of others who currently struggle with similar challenges.

Deanna Hayden (Pastor, Missouri)
While the topic of feminism has been at the forefront of our culture for decades now, it can sometimes be a taboo topic within the Church.  To broaden the idea a little, the concept of being “politically correct” is approached by many Christians as tongue-in-cheek at best, and completely absurd at worst.  We are sometimes comfortable supporting areas of feminism like equal rights in voting or education, but when we approach feminist theological topics like egalitarianism, female ministers, or even the feminine characteristics of God, our fundamentalist tendencies might tempt us to close ourselves even to conversation about it.  Our Wesleyan-Holiness theology not only calls us to open ourselves to this conversation, but to name it as valuable and vital to our faith.

Larnie Sam A. Tabuena (Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary)
Logotheandric Witness as Incarnate Christlike Presence
The recent studies on public sphere conclusively disclosed the increasing multicultural diversity of our global village marked by a persistent exigence for profound communal life with spiritual significance.  The intersubjective dimension of ethical holiness as relevant response to the challenge of the pluralistic milieu, interactive ethos, and over-exposure to “otherness” would have a significant contribution to the notion of Christlikeness in the postmodern turn. Inasmuch as “being itself” is esse est co esse, to be is to be with; holiness as a state of being is essentially a dynamic growing relationship of transformed selves who are mutually committed to participate in each other’s spiritual journey and life toward Christlikeness.
Logotheandric witness is a holiness lifestyle of mutually practicing Christlikeness as sacramental presence to edify each other within the faith-community and to reflect the redemptive character of the gospel outside the church.  Our ethical interaction ought to effectively represent the life of Christ and the mediatorial role of the God-man to the world as well as within the ecclesiastical body.  In the final analysis, the Christian message is performative statement reflected by our very being in the context of relationship and in so doing, we become the incarnate logos theo.  
By embracing the “Personal Truth” and taking the resolute responsibility of representing all the redemptive and sanctifying attributes revealed in Christ, who is the perfect image of the Father, we become logos Christo/theo, incarnate presence of the “Living Word” to both the world and the community of faith.  If such be the case, holiness means “Word conformed.” We are living according to the written word, the Bible, as well as to the Incarnate Personal Word, Jesus Christ.  In other words, logotheandric witness is another nomenclature for Christlikeness in interpersonal dimension or the incarnational principle of a sanctified lifestyle.  Logotheandric witness as incarnate Christlike presence is tantamount to a concrete representation of Christ to others in fulfilling both the redemptive value of the gospel and the edifying potential of theos corpus.

Pablo Vargas (Pastor, California)
What I envision in writing about holiness concerns what holiness looks like in the small missional church of the Nazarene (at least I wouldn't like to believe that we are becoming missional) in a developing rural city called Delano. The emphasis I am considering is how the incarnational God is found in the ordinary and everyday life of the people of Delano. Our church consists of mostly migrant field workers. I am humbled by the thought that God would meet me in ministry after graduating from Seminary in a place such as Delano. I have  some amazing stories to tell,  and they tell of a God who meets the marginalized, the undocumented, the widow and the orphans of Delano. Holiness, participating in God's Kingdom, calls us to be in fellowship and solidarity with ordinary people and the cotidiano (the daily or ordinary everyday life) of God's people.

Antonie Holleman (European Nazarene College)
Entire Sanctification should be described as a breakthrough moment in our process of sanctification. It was actually Wesley who inspired me to look at it in this way. In Plain Account of Christian Perfection he says, talking about Christian perfection: “It is so far from lying in an indivisible point, from being incapable of increase, that one perfected in love may grow in grace far swifter than he did before”. Entire Sanctification means enabling further growth, not decreasing the necessity of it. The image I have is that of narrowings in a stream, where the water accumulates. Entire sanctification describes the moment in our life when the streams of living water break through, and can flow more abundantly than ever before. Such breakthroughs are crucial moments or crises in our lives in which we struggle with God and ourselves, but in which, enabled by God’s power we come to a point of surrender, resulting in a renewal. Such crises and breakthroughs are not restricted to one moment.

Jason Matters (Pastor, Missouri)
As I reflect on the current and future discussion of holiness, I would like to propose a renewal in the theme of behavioral holiness. In my essay, I will examine the historical trajectory of rule-oriented holiness, and the reaction to it, including and especially the emphasis of perfect love.  I would argue that in our promotion of a theology of love as a corrective to legalistic righteousness, we have presented only a vague picture of holiness, to which our people have responded with vague portrayals of holiness in their lives, unable to critically assess specific lifestyle/behavioral issues.  I would argue that the Pauline language of “commands” gives both balance and a behavioral aspect to our theology of salvation by grace.  Finally, I would suggest that the theological image of Christlikeness is the preferred model for teaching a holiness that takes seriously both “being” and “behavior.”

Emily Haynes (Pastor, Tennessee)
If we, in the Church of the Nazarene, could start to realize that holiness is about wholeness of life, we would truly be set apart.  If our “distinctive doctrine” was interpreted as an insistence that God cares about every part of our lives, we would be a unique and refreshing voice.
The world is hungry for authenticity.  They won’t swallow anything that isn’t organic, local, fair-trade and socially responsible.  Yet we feed our people stale, styrofoam communion wafers.
In my essay, I will talk practically about how to embrace our distinctive doctrine without losing the power of authenticity.

Kenton Lee (Pastor, Idaho)
A central focus of holiness is perfecting love. One of the foundations of the concept of love is 'others'.  Jesus tells us that this should not just be a love for others who love us back or those who are easy to love. Nope, we need to learn to love those who have no one else, those who society casts aside or ignores, and those who are just really tough to be around.  Strangers. Travelers. Orphans. Widows. Addicts. Lonely. Depressed. Sick. Poor. Loving and befriending others is compassion in its truest form.  And it should be a central development towards holiness in heart and life.

Andy Wood (PhD Student, Auburn)
I would like to address the ties between holiness and church polity and between holiness and secular politics.  I think both have always been timely.  An example of some thoughts:  Do we pray over our decisions?  Do we pray about our reactions to the decisions made by others?  What about the state and politics?  I meet far too few honest thinkers when it comes to politics.  So many of us seem content to condemn one side or another, and those who condemn both often do so from an Olympian superiority which seems more full of pride than full of grace.  I’ll be drawing inspiration from identity discussions in early Nazarene history and Matthew 5: we are light, salt, a city on a hill. The General rules may make an appearance too.  I could address just one if someone is writing on politics or polity separately. 

Joe Gorman (Northwest Nazarene University)
A holy life is a healthy life.  A Christlike life is a fully human life.  God’s call to a fully human, fully alive life is a gracious invitation from God to integrate into one praying, playing, loving, laughing, crying, getting up, fixing and eating meals, working, going to school, exercising, living with family and friends, cleaning the house, traveling, talking, sleeping, aging, serving life what it means to live a flourishing life in Christ.  In this holistic sense, holiness is health, wellness, and wholeness in Christ.  Theologically and anthropologically, human beings are a complex and vitally interrelated ecosystem of spirit, mind, body, emotions, and relationships.  The integration and cultivation of a flourishing, holy life is a vital message for the church today and the topic I would like to address.

Timothy Whetstone (Chaplain, Point Loma Nazarene University)
As believers it's important for us to not only claim Jesus as savior but as Lord. We surrender to self and ask, "Lord, teach us to pray.” It's in prayer (or better yet, relationship), that we begin to see His mission. From prayer we are moved to worship and from worship to service.These however, are not steps to being a missional Christian. It's a cyclical discipleship movement. It's a way of living in the Kingdom (in Christ and Christ in me). In God’s power, it becomes a way of living corporately as active participants in His will and kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.
Therefore, we seek for healthy transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, we desire to experience the love of God through Christ. We find inherent value in every individual. We commit to embrace and serve one another while continually reflecting on scripture, tradition, reason and experience so that we may discern how to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus Christ. Discipleship and mission are married together in His presence as we live, love and serve through faith in Christ as a means of grace.

Matt Rundio (Pastor, Arizona)
An Altar Call Every Week
This essay would focus on ways the Eucharist shapes holiness. Three topics come to mind that I might explore. First, the idea of the oblation of the community at the Table. This bread is the body of Christ and we, the church, are the body of Christ. So it is we who are on that table as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in union with the sacrifice of Christ. Second, the ongoing nature of sanctification (rather than a one-time commitment). Eucharist, our oblation, our surrender, are not singular events but part of the weekly life of the church. Third, the centrality that the worshiping community plays in the process. The Lord's Supper is a communal action, not a private one and thus sanctification is communal in nature not individual.

Mark Mann (Point Loma Nazarene University)
Holiness as Primal Shalom and New Creation.  
I’ll be looking at holiness through the lens of cosmic creation, cosmic fall, and cosmic reconciliation (the new heavens and new earth), pulling together Gen. 1-3 and Revelations 20 through the lens of Paul's belief that (expressed throughout his writings) that redemption in Christ involves all things, seen and unseen. So, this essay would explore the larger biblical narrative of cosmic redemption in which human sanctification is framed. 

Waleed Al Madanat (Pastor, Jordan)
The Challenge of Islamic Culture upon the Christian Life of Holiness 
Islam has its own understanding of holiness.  Islamic theology (if there is one) describes God in a very different way from Judeo-Christian faith.  For Allah (the Arabic word for God, god - for the sake of this study I will use it to refer to the god of Islam) has different standards of holiness.  This has profound effects on the influence of Islam and Islamic culture upon our culture as Christians.

Doug Milne (Pastor/Professor, New York)
Functional Holiness
Believers can function in the life of holiness because God is holy. While living an ethical life dedicated to Christ is part of holy living, making holiness about something believers do negates the fact that living holy is possible because God makes it functional. Using this term is essential for this lifestyle of holiness: those things believers say and do, the love they offer, and the blessings they extend are available because God empowers them to live holiness. Furthermore, as a significant proponent of biblical and practical holiness, John Wesley is an important source of information for this study.

Patrick Taylor (pastor, Tennessee)
Divine Comedy
I would like to explore the idea of holiness as satire.  Today’s comics fulfill the role of prophet, offering social critique that is affirmed communally by laughter indicating shared experience and empathy. The church of the Nazarene stands as satire of the holiness movement in our different holiness code- implicit in our existence is that we believe we can “do holiness” better. Satirical holiness is both critique and invitation to rethink and reevaluate the ways in which we embody the gospel. For Wesleyans, and definitely those in my generation for whom irony is an identifying trait, perhaps God with a sense of humor is a better framework for understanding holiness, than a wrathful God has been for some who have come before us.

Brent Dirks (Professor, South Korea)
Why Just a Second Work of Grace? 
Mildred Bangs Wynkoop made a great contribution to the Church of the Nazarene by defining the second work of grace in a metaphorical way in her book, “A Theology of Love.” By defining this as a deeper work, it would seem that the timing of such an experience (quantity) would not be as crucial as the reality of such an experience (quality). Such a definition would seem to be supported by Scripture by such people as Abraham and Moses, whom the text clearly articulates as having unique relationships with God.

Eric Paul and Ryan Fasani (Pastors, Hawaii)
Holiness Now: Resurrection and Shalom on the Big Island
The life of holiness is the embodiment of shalom in a particular place with a particular people--where Christ's life has become our own. The doctrine of holiness is the church’s way of talking about the enactment of Christ in the world.  Through reflection on the social and cultural context of the Big Island of Hawaii as it relates to the shalom community described in Micah 4, we will envision holiness here and now.  Holiness, then, is the eschatological vision of shalom, enacted in the resurrected Christ, practiced among our neighbors.

Marco Velasco (Mexico)
The Role of Sociology in my Understanding of Sanctification
My own discoveries in the field of Sociology have helped me to see broader dimensions of my understanding of entire sanctification and contribute to a better practice social and ecclesial. It is my wish to relate the entire sanctification as understood it Juan Wesley and the sociological concept of social construction of reality and to discern how they are distinguished from each other and how they work together, especially considering that the social construction of reality helps to a better understanding of the doctrine of Holiness that overcomes the individualism and religious intimacy and helps us to live social Holiness as Wesley proclaimed it. 

Gabriel Benjamin (South Africa)
In this paper I wish to explore the role of the biblical concept of holiness as a doctrine which inspired the ethnic Eurocentric exclusivity of Apartheid.  I would also like to examine holiness as a political tool which encouraged the “silence of God’s lambs”. By saying this I will explore 1) holiness as respect for government; 2) Reverence for the law of the land; 3) and the political correctness and passivity (turning the other cheek) of the missionaries (not specifically Nazarene)  as a model of a  holy life to the cultures of the South Africans.  

Fito Lopez (Mexico)
Christians today, in my context at least, are looking into Christian communities, experiences that could be significant for them to change their lives.  But in practice their values can be distorted by not having a solid foundation in the Word of God.  Some of that movement we could call "Psycho-heretics," it means, psychological techniques that encourage experiences that can be cathartic and emotionally good, but do not stand up to theological interpretation. Therefore, we should take the Word of truth that sanctifies, as Jesus said, and perhaps explore the question: “Are Nazarenes altar experiences truly Wesleyan? I will explore the experience of Tertullian who joined the Montanists (perhaps the charismatic movement in time of the Apostolic Fathers), who considered this a "movement of the spirit."

Gabi Markusse-Overduin (Netherlands)
From early youth, I’ve had a longing to know and serve God. I would like
to sketch my search for knowing him in this short essay. This search has
taken me on a journey from anguishing at the altar, wondering why the
promised joy and peace had not been given to me, to learning to give even
my struggles and lack of faith and as a sacrifice to God to use as he
pleases. Searching for holiness has meant among other things, finding
Jesus in friendship with the unlovely, sharing the shame given them by
those more accepted by society.  However uncomfortable, this is also what
I’ve found presented in the Gospels.

Anthony Manswell (Jamaica)
A Wesleyan Perspective of a Social Theology in the Church Militant
What is the practical implication of sanctification? How does it affect holiness? How does holiness affect social action? The Church must have a social theology in the world in which it subsists. This paper is an exploration of a Wesleyan perspective of a social theology in the Church Militant, and its implications for today. The Wesleyan concept of love has implications for social obligation. Love assists and performs. These are vital facets of sanctification and holiness. 
The writer will explore the idea that the social implication of the message of sanctification is love. The writer will propose that the Church can be militant, but the root of its militant spirit from the Wesleyan perspective is love. This love should be found in the midst of social ills and aggressive social action, and it should permeate the intention of social activity. Sanctification must propel us to action!

Nell Becker Sweeden (George Fox University)
Being a Holiness Denomination in a Post-Denominational Age 
My interest lies in how young people are seeking to renovate holiness through social responsibility and engagement in combating global injustices through the church, parachurch organizations, and/or community organizing. This topic can be address specifically from a confessional perspective (a.k.a those still in the church and a particular tradition) or from a post-denominational perspective. My recent work has been exploring this along the lines of postdenominationalism.  
Linked to education and the information explosion of the twenty-first century, U.S.-based younger postdenominationals, ages 18 to 30, have a growing awareness of global injustices and a strong desire to act. Though more research needs to be done before identifying the size and scope of a social conscious orientation—and the practices contained therein—one does not have to go far to recognize an expanding market niche that embraces a turn toward social responsibility. From TOMS shoes, to buying Red products, to Kiva, it has become clear that at least in consumer choices and investment opportunities there are outlets for young people’s social mindedness. And yet, if one scratches below the surface of consumer-driven scripts, one finds a well of creativity—though it is not tied to denominations and sometimes not even a public face of Christianity. Courageous entrepreneurs, community organizers, and quiet Christians committed to action, postdenominationals have started ecclesial gatherings and conversations, non-profits and churches that seek to alleviate suffering, come alongside marginalized persons, and combat injustice around the globe. [Witness organizations like Cupcake Girls, To Write Love on Her Arms, to, Q ideas, Micah Challenge, Invisible Children, Love 146; not to mention larger Christian parachurch organizations that have risen to prominence like World Vision, World Relief, Sojourners, etc.]
       Through the lens of what I believe to be a still emerging awareness of global injustice and commitment to Christian social engagement, especially among young people, I explore the place of denominations in twenty-first century post-denominationalism. The identity and mission of denominations appear to be sidelined due to what “post-denominationals” may perceive as leaders’ hyper focus on declining membership and the maintenance of the institution. Rather than suggest structural changes and adaptations, I propose a way forward for denominations in examining, uncovering, and re-telling their theological identity narratives with a new complexity, multiplicity, and transparency. To provide context to my proposal, I signal the potential that lies within the shared historical narratives of social transformation and social holiness across Wesleyan-Holiness denominations. Through this case study, I suggest new possibilities for evangelical denominations in being collectives of theological identity narratives. Furthermore, I offer new possibilities for co-laboring across denominational lines through shared narratives and practices regarding the church’s response to issues of global injustice.

Hank Spaulding (Mount Vernon Nazarene University)
Manna or Mammon: Holiness as Economic Theology 
This essay will explore the modern situation of consumerism and economic disparity that confronts contemporary Nazarenes. The economic logic of these systems confronts and exploits the imagination of believers and affect the realm of what appears possible for the purpose of human existence. I will argue how the logic of holiness undercuts the logic of economic language at the point of the imagination. First, holiness begins at a place of plentitude where economics begins at scarcity. Second, I will show how this logic of value finds root in re-narrating what it means to desire. Third, I will show how all of this constructs what I will call a sanctified imagination that can see the lies of economic disparity in light of the coming of Christ. 

Keith Davenport (Pastor, Kansas)
Holiness Is for Everyone
The call to holiness is not an exclusive one – just given to pastors, professors, or missionaries – but an inclusive one, inviting the entire Christian body to the holy life. Continuing on from Conversations on Holiness, I would like to discuss the importance of talking about holiness in the local church and the methods of doing so without losing the theological depth and significance of the doctrine. A major segment of this essay would be devoted to how to explain rich theological terms in understandable ways without simply replacing them altogether with modern language (Example: the tendency to replace “sanctification” with “transformation” and by so doing losing some finer points of the doctrine).

├ünderson Godoy Salguero  (Colombia/Philippines)
Entire Sanctification as an Integrative Element in Multi-religious Contexts.
The Church of the Nazarene calls entire sanctification its distinctive doctrine. In the basic sense of the word, “distinctive” refers to that which separates something from something else. Could it be, however, that the concept of entire sanctification is primarily an integrative concept, rather than one of segregation? I happen to believe so. In my essay I would like to explore the integrative role of the doctrine of entire sanctification in light of today’s multi-cultural and, especially, multi-religious context.

Rod Reed (Africa Nazarene University)
The essay I would like to contribute will ironically not look forward but backward to the history of the holiness movement and the churches that sprang from it to see what we can recover from it that may be helpful as we "renovate for the future".  It will be something of a reminder of what persons like Timothy Smith, Donald Dayton and myself have argued elsewhere that the holiness folk of the 19th century were key players in many of the social causes of their day: abolition of slavery, women's rights, human trafficking, prohibition, children's homes, prison reform, etc. Far from being the kind of evangelical Christians who eschew involvement in social reforms, these people were the spearhead for several of those reform movements of their day.  I will highlight what it was in their understanding of the doctrine of holiness that gave them that impetus.  Space allowing I will also reflect on what subsequently happened that caused the holiness tradition to abandon this kind of social activism by the middle third of the 20th century.

Sveltlana Khobnya (NTC - Manchester, England ... from Russia)
The author of the Ephesians is convinced that no impurity should come from the holy ones in Christ (Eph 5:3). Impurity is closely associated with sin. It is a characteristic of the former life without Christ (Eph 4:19). The author insists that this is something that needs to be eradicated in the present life in Christ. They have to be cleansed from their past allegiance to sin. Putting away a former way of living is through the renewal in the spirit of the minds. This is described as becoming new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24). 
Based on this brief sketch it is evident that the identity of Christians and their holiness is expressed in Ephesians in additional terms of purity/impurity (employed in rich vocabulary). Since the terms are very closely used this leads some scholars to associate holiness simply with “cleanness” or as the “bond” with Christ that has no “fellowship with wickedness and impurity.” Others would relate purity/impurity to the human response to divine holiness; “the awareness of holiness brings consciousness of impurity.” Yet, others specify purity/impurity in the light of the anthropological findings as patterns of order/disorder in the society, as descriptions that communicate the specific values of that society and its conventions. That is to say that the characteristics of holiness are defined by the society’s system of purity. So, an object (person) or action is pure when it conforms to the specific norms of the society that “make up the symbolic system of a particular social group.” There are different ways of looking at holiness and purity/impurity and different points of departure. 
If we take this latter explanation as a working model for studying Christian holiness in Ephesians two series of questions become particularly crucial. First: What is this specific holy society in view of Ephesians? How is it defined? In other words, who are these holy and blameless who share a common symbolic worldview? The second series of questions are: What characteristics belong with this society and what do not? What are the values of this society and what are its conventions? In other words, what makes the holy community pure and what does not? 

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