Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Renovating Holiness: Contributions Round 5

Photo by morganlevy

We now have more than 130 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 24 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 1Round 2Round 3, Round 4.)

Ryan Quanstrom (Pastor, North Carolina)
Entrepreneurialism as Holy Living
I would be working off of Wendell Berry's The purpose of a Coherent Community and some work done by Peter Storey. Holy people don't let broken systems sin for them. We need people to be righteous with their purchases to do that, they need entrepreneurs. 

Janary Suyat de Godoy (Pastor & Asia-Pacific NYI Coordinator, Philippines)
Holiness and Small Groups
Is holiness an individual pursuit? I have been a part of a traditional church in my growing up years and was taught to go to church, attend all the services and programs, sit in Sunday school classes and have my personal devotional time. It is just in the last 5 years that I have been involved in small groups, and have experienced the richness it has brought to my understanding and pursuit of holiness.
My essay intends to present an understanding of holiness in a small group setting, that holiness is not just an individual affair, but something we share.

Arseny Ermakov (Booth College, Australia) 
Separation or Presence? Reimagining the Biblical Theology of Holiness
Holiness in the Bible is traditionally defined through the terminology of ‘separation’ or ‘withdrawal.’ This has a profound effect on the understanding of God (as unapproachable “Other”), the Church (as separate from the world) and the practices of sanctification (emphasizing withdrawal from the wider society and culture). 
I would like to suggest that separation is not a primary meaning of holiness in the Scripture. Depending on the context, holiness in the Bible may refer to power, glory, wholeness, perfection, goodness, morality, being set apart, and life. Moreover, holiness in the Scriptures has never been equated with God’s withdrawal or absence. On the contrary, holiness constantly indicates the presence of God in the human or heavenly realm. 
I strongly believe that in order to restore the balance in our theological universe, we ought to see holiness primarily as a concept of presence rather than one of withdrawal. This paper will demonstrate that holiness as powerful, contagious, transformative, and inclusive presence could be found in both Old and New Testaments. This notion of holiness forces us to reimagine the identity and the mission of the holy people of God in the modern world. We would have to move away from a static category of status of separation to a more dynamic and dialectical concept of holiness that embraces both notions of presence and being set apart.

Eric Vail (Mount Vernon Nazarene University)
I want to discuss the remaining need for Christ's return and all things being made new (even for those entirely sanctified). With the corruptions of relations in the world, even those whose lives manifest pure love do not experience the complete healing of all relations. 

Arthur van Wijngaarden (Pastor, Netherlands)
The Credibility Gap
In talking to non-Christian friends the question keeps coming back what makes Christians different from anybody else. Our (Christian) history of (often) not practicing what we’ve preached is still haunting us in a generation that was raised by people who’ve already left the church behind long ago. If you come from a tradition that has holiness as a central doctrine, it seems you’re opening yourself up for an extra critical evaluation. So how do we explain the desire and the need for holiness and how we as Christians can be different? I think one starting point should be the humble recognition that we fight the same fight as non-Christians (in desiring the good), but that we more deeply realize our own human incapability in truly reaching our own goals. The differences lies in the realization that without the help of Gods Spirit, we are hopelessly lost. The actual fruits in our lives might be more the result of this realization than from our ambition of holiness.

Kaza Fraley (Pastor, England)
Communal Cycle of Serving: A means of worship, discipleship, and outreach, allowing God to form us into the people God sees us to be
We have re-envisioned who we were and what we were doing.  Discipleship is done by doing.  Service to our community is an act of worship.  Outreach is done by everyone and not just those who “feel called.”  These things are the same thing, not separate from one another.  We don’t separate Christian education from outreach, service from worship, and worship from discipleship.  These things happen all together.  We become the people God is calling us to be by doing the things God is calling us to do and practicing the practices which allow God to shape and changes us.  This is not our grandmother’s Sunday morning ritual, but we have a rhythm which allows us to encounter God by allowing our community to encounter God in us an through us as we reach out through acts of service, being the love of God to people who might not encounter God’s love in other ways.

Adam Jantz (Pastor/Professor, Korea Nazarene University)
What Is Holiness Today?
Basically comparing and contrasting about the history of the standard definition of holiness by most church tradition and then show how that has been guided by more of tradition than theological understanding.  The idea of knowing the how and when is not a sign of or lack of holiness but more of the legalistic point of view held on by our elders that could easily be compared to that  of the Pharisees as they held on to the Old Testament laws  without understanding the deeper meaning when confronting Jesus.
Walking through the experiences of what holiness means today to most holiness  Christians under the age of 50 today. How Holiness for our generation is more about the journey and progressive growth in our walk with God and not about the wow factor that has been so tightly held onto by many of our elders.
Of course this would be done in a passive way, not scorning the old ways but showing that Holiness is not looked upon as a privileges status of the few who can attain it, and judge others with it.
People still do have that ahha moment but that is not as common today for those living in a modern country but still can be very prevalent in countries that are still deeply isolated from outside influences.

Jason Rowinski (Pastor, Kansas)
My response to this project is based on the need for the sacred practice of "confession (or reconciliation)" as essential to the holy life. Having been Roman Catholic in my childhood & having practiced excellent Wesleyan accountability throughout my life - the older I get, the more I realize how much I need these safe places to be honest about myself and to hear the priestly words of grace pronounced over me.   Wesley's 22 questions, bands, and class meetings are all various levels of communal confession.  There is no holiness but social holiness. 
We need the honesty and vulnerability of confession in order to become fully human. We need to practice the spiritual disciplines of continual confession. Revivalism destroyed continuous confession - and created an abomination of "sinless perfectionism" and holiness as "emotional experience.”  I believe - firmly - that one cannot be truly Wesleyan without practicing the faith (methods) consistent with Wesley's theology, a theology built through the practice of continual confession. I would add to this a need to build confession/reconciliation into the practice of the church life similar to Roman Catholicism - but with a Wesleyan foundation.

Musung Jung (Korea Nazarene University)
Wesleyan Sanctification Encountering Buddhist Dono-Jeomsu
This essay briefly explores a possibility of an interfaith dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism in terms of Wesleyan sanctification.  One of main doctrines of Korean Buddhism is Dono-Jeomsu (頓悟漸修), which literally means ‘sudden enlightenment and gradual cultivation.’  This doctrine is reminiscent of Wesleyan sanctification in that both of them emphasize not only human achievement of being a perfect status without egoistic desires but also human endeavor to continually grow into perfection (more correctly revert to original nature) after the consummate moment. In spite of their divergence (i.e. method), this convergence can serve as a point of contact when Korean Wesleyans including Nazarenes evangelistically reach out to Korean Buddhists.     

Paul Dazet (Pastor, Washington)
One of the major challenges in restarting a church is confronting an unhealthy understanding of Holiness amongst the existing congregation.  Even today, I had a staff member, who has a ministry degree from one of our colleges, explain to what a holy christian was.  Their definition looked nothing like Jesus.  
Understanding Holiness as Christlikeness is critical in moving existing congregations away from a legalistic view of church-life, towards a more missional engagement with their community.  Jesus is our primary example of Holiness.  Renovating Holiness must start with this transition.
My essay would focus on the transitioning a congregation from a legalistic understanding of Holiness towards a view of Holiness defined as Christlikeness.  

Davide Cantarella (District Superintendent, Russia/Italy)
Language as a Metaphor for Holiness
“Blessed are you, when the persecute you”, “don’t get angry at your brothers”, “if your eye sins, gouge it out”, “if someone slaps you, turn the other cheek”, “love your enemies”. Things like these may sound very foreign to us. Yet, this is the language that God has always been speaking to us; it is a language that became flesh in Christ – the language of holiness.
The ability of children to pick up language is truly amazing. When adults talk to babies, they do so knowing that the latter do not fully understand what is being said; yet they persist because they know that children will eventually learn. I contend that holiness is essentially gradually picking up “God's language” spoken to us in Christ. It may sound foreign and unintelligible at first, but God patiently keeps speaking to us by his grace so that we slowly get it.

Rusty Brian (Pastor/Prof, Northwest Nazarene University)
Can-do, or Positive Holiness
Is Holiness about what we do not do or what we do? My goal will be to explore the positive nature of holiness, as defined by our actions, rather than our in-actions or that which we abstain from. It is my belief, that not only is positive holiness more consistent with Wesley, and the roots of the Church of the Nazarene as a whole, it is far more appealing to young people today. As such, positive holiness, might be our strongest case for growing the Church in the 21st Century. 

Tim Crutcher (Southern Nazarene University)
I'd be interesting in articulating some implications of Trinitarian-relational approach to holiness for the way we approach the problem of sin and it's "eradication." American Holiness folks made sin a thing to be removed, and that had problems. In response, many relational folks are leery of talking about sins "removal" at all, and will often talk like it never goes away. I think you can talk relationally and still offer a hope of "entire sanctification" and I'd like to explore that.

Tim Gaines
Practicing Holiness in a Technological Age
By nearly all accounts, late modern humans are being formed by technological forces.  The ubiquitous use of technology has not only shaped our view of the world, but our relationship to it as well.  Late moderns believe, consciously or not, that we can master the world through our application of technology.  Time, space, and hardship can be overcome if we are to will it by making use of various technological media.  Further, technology in and of itself lacks a teleological bearing, a characteristic it shares with the classical image of the sinful person turned in upon the self.  I argue that among the convenience of the technological practices, an alternative set of practices is needed to direct us toward holiness of heart and life, leading us toward an end beyond ourselves, an end “lost in wonder, love and praise.”

Trent Friberg (Pastor, NW)
Millennials need words that work. What I would like to explore is how the verbage that the Church of the Nazarene has used for generation falls short to articulate accurate and precise theological concepts and to inspire growth in grace. Millennials may need a new way of speaking about holiness. Pastors, ministers and educators may need to lay down familiar ways of speaking about holiness in order to reach millennials. There is no territory to defend on this issue. While we need theological integrity and Biblical congruency, we do not need to clutch on to ineffective modes and words.

Sadrack Nelson (Pastor, Haiti/US)
Holiness and the situation of alienation and poverty in Haiti. 
I intend to show that given our experience of colonialism/neocolonialism/imperialism and the resulting effects of dehumanization, alienation, and depersonalization in the lives of our people, we can no longer teach holiness in Haiti as if it was a status that we achieve independently from our cultural and social conditioning. 
I want to argue that Sin is not simply a metaphysical reality. It is entrenched in very real, detrimental, and life-threatening social practices and realities. 
Therefore, Holiness does not emerge in a vacuum nor is it a simple matter of freedom over sin for the sake of freedom. Holiness is fundamentally and more positively concerned with integrity and fullness of life. It is about the full realization of our humanity through the boundless love of God. 
True dedication/total devotion to God or  “holy obedience in love made perfect” cannot be achievable without the ability to recover our own selfhood.  We can’t possibly offer ourselves to God in total devotion if we are estranged and alienated from our own self. 
Hence, the first step toward a sound teaching of holiness in the Haitian context must start with the realization of both our enslavement to and victimization from sin. In other words, it must start with the awareness of our alienating, oppressive, and exploitative condition and its distorting effects on every aspect of our human life. It must start with the recuperation of our own identity,  and human dignity. Then we will be truly free not only to offer ourselves consciously and deliberately to God, but also to experience authentically the integrity and fullness of life that is holiness.

Megan Pardue (Pastor, North Carolina)
There is discontinuity between the Manual's understanding of Christian holiness and the embodiment of Christian holiness in many North American Nazarene churches.  The Manual states in the Covenant of Christian Conduct, "We believe Christian holiness to be inseparable from ministry to the poor in that it drives the Christian beyond their own individual perfection and toward the creation of a more just and equitable society and world."  Not only are we lacking any structure by which to hold churches and members accountable to such social holiness, it seems that few North American Nazarenes even know that our Church holds such strong commitments to be in solidarity with the poor, the oppressed and marginalized.  For too long, we've told our members what holy people don't do, instead of empowering them to live into what holy people do.

Brian Postlewait (Urban Missionary, Vancouver, Canada)
For better or for worse, I've been a Nazarene my whole life.  Ok, pitfalls aside, it's been for the better.  As a young boy, back when good Nazarene's went to church on Sunday evening too, I fondly remember spontaneously passionate and tearful testimonies.  They were stories of real transformation.  God was working to make good people better people.  I wanted that too--the kind of God connection "they" had discovered.  But the saintly stories of sanctified people were complicated.  The stories  betrayed our community, in spite of a quest for the higher life.  Interrupted by the brokenness of broken people, this was no small time sinning.  You know the stories. The incongruity of it all made for messy notions of the sanctified life.  
So, I decided to fake until I made it.  
That's what they say it Alcoholic Anonymous.  It's a way of telling newcomers not to get too anxious about the long road ahead--just work the program because it works. 
I've spent a lot of my adult life around alcoholics and drug addicts, some in recovery, some not. During my first pastorate I attended the AA meetings that met in our fellowship hall every Tuesday night as a grateful guest.  I remember being so amazed at how open, honest and transparent these Twelve-Steppers were.  In fact, it shamed me.  Everyone's souls were laid out naked before me.  All the while I was hiding in the corner awkwardly covering mine with tattered cloth. ...
Twelve-Steppers embrace with abandon the acceptance of failure as the necessary process of turning our life and will over to God.  This wisdom of walking through the world with unveiled faces is practiced one day at a time.  In that sense, to "fake till you make it" is not an exercise in hiding your faults or pretending to be holier than the next person.  It's just the opposite.  It is the continual recognition of my own incompleteness.  It's not a helpless state because it's coupled with the subtle anticipation of unity with the one whom I can find completeness within.  Faking it is the only way to make it.       

Monica Fernandez (Professor, Costa Rica)
The church is facing the challenge of discipling and engaging in the Missio Dei to a new emerging generation who wants "to change the world."  I will explore methodological changes in the context of competency-based education and the valuing of young talent in businesses, and responses from holiness theology to the concerns and needs of the postmodern young people.  
How do we connect youth with a holiness way of living? How can a young person invest his/her talent in the missio Dei? We need to trust the talent of young people for the mission.  This has been the constant in the history of salvation.

Dong Hwan (Bill) Kwon (Professor, APNTS)
Nazarenes once held a conservative perspective in media use as a practice of Holiness life, but seemingly it is already an old fashion in the contemporary society. Media, indeed, have become the most powerful single medium that constructs contemporary culture. Furthermore, contextual missiology that promotes a receptor-oriented communication paradigm escalates the active use of contemporary cultural products as a way of engaging into the society. Yet, in this article, I will argue that both medium and message of media may threaten the Christian church and be the “forbidden fruit of the tree (Gen3:1-11)” that destroys the image of God.

Josh Sweeden (George Fox University)
Ordinary Holiness
Wesley asserted that "inward change" would be accompanied by "outward righteousness." In various sermons (esp. "Scriptural Christianity," "The More Excellent Way," and "Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity") Wesley admonishes the people called Methodists to attend to ordinary matters such as sleep, prayer, work, food, conversation, diversions, and money as the embodiment of a holy life. This essay will highlight the significance of holiness through what Wesley referred to as the "ordinary fruits/gifts" and concomitantly claim that ordinary holiness demands on-going practical moral reasoning. Our Nazarene forebears may have once been correct to relate holiness to matters of dress, drink, and excess—indeed, Wesley was deeply concerned with similar matters—but those interpretations are now widely viewed as static and outdated. The task today is to understand the "contextuality" of ordinary holiness. Inasmuch as Wesley's everyday directives were a response to his own context, the challenge for Nazarenes today is to recover ordinary holiness that responds to the contemporary version of Wesley's question, "Why Christianity has done so little good in the World" ("Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity"). Such a response would include, for example, a commitment to ordinary practices that addresses issues such as global poverty and environmental degradation. What everyday directives might Wesley provide for Nazarenes today? The food we eat and the clothes we buy may still be a matter of ordinary holiness, even though it will look different than our Nazarene forbears once proposed.

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