Drury responds to Richard Taylor, Kenneth Collins
and Wallace Thornton
A NOTE ON THIS PAPER: In 1995 I delivered
a paper to the Presidential Luncheon of the Christian Holiness Association
Holiness Movement is Dead. In the following year or so numerous scholars
responded to the paper. Three of those
included Drs. Richard Taylor, Kenneth Collins and Wallace Thornton. Almost ten years have past since my original
address and Schmul Publishing is putting together a
text on the movement around that original address and responses to it called Counterpoint:
Dialogue with Drury on the Holiness Movement. The book will include my original paper plus the three responses
to it at the time. Each of the four of
us have written an appendix or “retrospective” updating our original papers
with insights gained in the years since 1995.
Then Schmul circulated all the papers and response to the other three
writers and we responded to each one’s response—thus the book becomes a
dialogue between the four of us. I do
not have an electronic copy of the three original papers by Taylor, Collins,
and Thornton so I cannot post them. But
I do have the first draft of my response to their original responses to my
paper—and to their updated retrospective.
Thus reading the following is like listening to one side of a telephone
conversation—you hear my responses without hearing what they said. For the whole conversation you’ll have to
buy the book—which won’t be hard since Schmule is celebrated for selling books
cheaper than just about anyone else in the business ;-)
Response to Richard Taylor by Keith Drury
I am unworthy to make any substantive response to a man of
Richard Taylor’s measure but I shall try to say a few things for the sake of
this book though they will be poor additions to his thoughts I’m sure:
not totally dead.” Dr.
Taylor’s point is well taken here, I was guilty of hyperbole—there was
still a scattered group representing holiness. Perhaps I looked too much at the old wineskins, which were
indeed brittle. There are often
more servants of the Most High then we imagine when we are in the
wilderness. On the other hand when
I re-read his list of those organizations and educational institutions who
were then his evidence of still-living movement I am disappointed to say
that a number have since become remarkably silent or divided on holiness,
and a few have become dead.
of decline.” Dr. Taylor argues the dearth of testimonies was and is a
major contributor to the death of the holiness experience. I agree with his observation. Recently I had a similar conversation
with the professor who has an office next to me, Dr. Chris Bounds. He is a young Methodist holiness
theologian who was saved as an adult and subsequently sanctified. He was not raised in the holiness
movement and thus is free of the “reaction to abuses” so many of our own
folk have. We were talking about
preaching holiness today—even in the so-called “holiness churches.” I argued that it is something like
taking a text and telling people they can fly. No matter how much passion you have and how persuasive your
sermon, the audience is so full of unbelief it gets nowhere. They know humans can’t fly. This unbelief is rooted in several
sources—some theological, some lack of preaching, and some lack of
testimony. Both of us agree with Dr. Taylor that one prominent cause of
this is the lack of testimonies to the experience. This point relates to
my own retrospective—the laity carry some blame for lack of testimonies
though pastors share it for many were keen to stamp out the testimony
meeting and replace them with more carefully controlled on-the-platform
presentations. Of course all this
is related to the church growth-CEO movement and is also related to power. Early holiness and Pentecostal
movements left substantial power in the hands of the laity (they would
argue the Holy Spirit) and away from the clergy. The laity could interrupt singing and even preaching (again
they would say prompted by the Holy Spirit). Many clergy saw this as mob rule or merely a chance for
individuals to “take over the meeting.” By the 1970’s and 1980’s holiness
clergy had pretty well gained control of worship (on the “stage”) and the
laity were assigned to become the “audience.” Whatever, a passionate
holiness testimony from a person under 40 is rare in most churches. In fact it is quite rare from those
over 40 too. To testify to a
“second definite work of grace wrought instantaneously by God delivering
one from the propensity to sin” in many churches would be greeted today
with as much unbelief as that person testifying to new power derived from
the experience of speaking in tongues.
There is plenty of blame to go around here—for the laity and
clergy, old and young.
Paralyzing forces.” Dr. Taylor
is right on target here in his mild but direct reprimand of holiness
preachers of all generations. Help us Lord..
rise of counseling.” He cites
a cause here I totally missed in my own address. I first encountered this notion from my son, David Drury, a
seminary student at the time. He
said, “Dad—you missed it. The holiness movement isn’t dead so much as it
moved over for you boomers into the twelve steps movement: you merely
exchanged an instantaneous model of altar sanctification for a progressive
therapeutic model of counseling sanctification.” His idea at that time and Dr. Taylor’s here coincide. I believe therapeutic counseling can
help people just like therapeutic surgeons can. But neither can produce the miracle work of healing of body
or of soul we have called “entire sanctification.”
church growth movement.” Total
agreement here. Why can’t we
figure out how to be evangelistic-growth oriented and holiness
people at once? Wesley did. Phoebe Palmer did. Why can’t we?
of holiness reading.” Again we
agree. And again the laity carry
some blame. No publisher can
flourish long selling books just to pastors. The laity must buy books to
make a thing marketable—including this one.
the schools at fault.”
Certainly he is somewhat correct here, though I have doubts about
pinning the shift too much on the graduate school where these professors
got their doctorates. A number of
such schools have been quite sympathetic to holiness doctrine, or at least
open to it for acedemic study—Drew, Duke, SMU, and Emory produced a great
number of doctoral dissertations in the 1990’s on Christian perfection.
These graduate schools may not be advocates, but they are at least
friendly to solid scholarly work on the subject. From my own observation I’ve noted that if a person enters a
doctorate full of the Holy Spirit they come out likewise. On the other hand if one enters a
doctoral program with a bogus experience someone forced you to claim when
you did not have it, you are likely to abandon this pseudo-sanctification
(and should). In my mind the lack of experiencing
entire sanctification is what affects these “young doctors” more than the
teaching they received in graduate school. I believe this because I do
not know of any teacher powerful enough to take away an experience.
impact of one book.” When Dr. Taylor first published this article I
grinned and admired his gumption here.
It is hard to fight city hall.
He was fighting city hall with his direct rejection of Dr.
Wynkoop’s book. In his 2004
appendix he primarily addresses this matter again, as if all the other
matters are now self-evident.
Personally I liked Wynkoop’s book when it came out. I am one of those “Boomers” who came
through the hippy-counseling era—complete with touchy-feely small groups
and a relational orientation in our values in the church. I liked how to book released us from
seeing the “carnal nature” as a “thing” to be taken out of us, as if there
were some sort of material substance inside us that needed “eradicated.” I am of a scientific generation who liked
to preach about the work of entire sanctification as something like
getting a wheel alignment on our car—nothing is taken out or put in just
made aright. Wynkoop provided for
my generation an escape from what we thought were the errors of an
uneducated and simplistic understanding of “what was really
happening.” However, more recently
there is emerging what may become the biggest bombshell to the holiness
movement ever. (see next item),
of the carnal nature.” While
conclusions can not yet be made and proof is still developing, there is
growing evidence that scientists may discover the propensity to (at least
some) sin is indeed genetic and thus material! The issue emerged first when facing the homosexual issue—are
homosexuals “born that way” or do they choose the behavior? Was there a say when we “chose” to be
heterosexual? These questions
caused a ruckus among many Baptists but many holiness folk immediately
responded with, “So what?” They
have for years taught that there is within a person a general inclination
to all sin, and specific inclinations to particular sins. Holiness people have taught that even
possessing this proneness to sin a person was not automatically destined
to sin—they could resist their carnal nature if they were saved. Thus holiness people taught victory
over sin for saved people.
However, beyond this “victory theology” holiness folk said a person
could have their “proneness problem” healed by grace through faith. Thus to holiness people weather a
homosexual was born with a predilection to this sin or not made no
difference (of course, it made a big difference to Baptists who
want to say we all sin every day yet they didn’t want homosexuals to do
so!). Holiness folk proclaimed
both victory and deliverance for all sinners—gay or straight. But the evidence on a genetic link to
homosexual practice is still unproven.
However, there is increasing evidence from scientific research that
other behaviors and habits the Bible calls sin may actually have genetic
causes. That is, scientists may
indeed discover that the inclination to sin is material—it may be something actually in our genes
and DNA. If this turns out to be
true, then some of the old-timers who preached about the carnal nature as
being a thing may turn out to be right after all. It will give the Wesleyan Theological
Society something to deliver papers to each other about for several
decades. Further, if the
inclination to particular sins (and even all sin) turns out to be material, holiness folk will merge
their two early passions: holiness and healing, for the model for
sanctification will be similar to the model for healing. Now be careful—don’t go off half-cocked
on this idea—it is still too soon for the sort of solid scientific
evidence to make the connection yet, but it seems to be coming. My whole generation who delighted in
fleeing the eradication model as if the carnal nature were a thing
may have to go crawling back and revisit the notion of original sin if it
turns out to actually be material.
Response to Kenneth Collins’ original paper by Keith Drury
I was honored that Dr. Collins would even reference my
address in his work—he is a wonderful scholar. His perspective on the movement
and message is delightful. Indeed I
sometimes wonder if the best exponents of holiness for the future may arise
from non-holiness backgrounds where they do not have all the “baggage” that
makes them spend more time saying what they’re not saying than saying what
they’re saying. My colleague at Indiana
Wesleyan University, Chris Bounds is just such a person who along with Collins
and others may be able to teach us more than our own holiness preachers and
denominational officials who so often “do their own therapy” when they preach
about holiness. In fact perhaps one
errors the movement has made is forgetting to preach holiness to the
unchurched—after all, most of those not in the church have a higher expectation
of what grace ought to do than many in the church. I will make several footnote responses to Dr. Collins’ original
article and also his appendix:
movement has run its course.” I hope not. I’m afraid so.
Sanctification is doubted.” A brilliant connection to the “Half-way
covenant!” I agree that many
holiness folk have exchanged an instantaneous crisis sanctification often
pinned on Phoebe Palmer for a progressive sanctification model which is
often pinned on Wesley. I am not schooled enough in the matter to enter
the debate between Palmer’s and Wesley’s approach but I think such clear
assignments in these two approaches is too simplistic. I do however believe that there is a
difference in these two approaches and what we know as “Wesleyanism” in
America may be more “Palmerism.”
The question of course is what is Jesus-ism and Paul-ism.
of the new birth repudiated.”
Well put! Gradualism is so
well entrenched today that it is a given in approaching everything. We
probably could “market” holiness as a “twelve steps program” better than
an instantaneous experience. One
good thing that the post-modern approach has given us: we admit that all
approaches to history are done with “our own glasses.” That is, all historians are biased one
way or another and when they “connect the dots” they are likely to find
dots that support their own biases to connect and ignore the “naughty
dots” that do not fit their preconceived bias. This is so easy to do in Wesley—he lived so long, wrote so
much, and changed enough to enable us to find just about anything we want.
problem of past abuse.” Yes.
climate hostile to the testimony.” It is interesting to me that so
many of us addressing the matter see the loss of testimony as a key factor
in the declining holiness movement.
Ironically we find ourselves in the midst of a postmodern
generation where testimony (i.e. “story”) has great validity, even
authority. So the question for those who want to re-ignite the wet wood
is: which shall we start with—the chicken or the egg? If testimony is important to ignite
experience, yet testimony follow experience how do you jump-start this
cycle? For sure a church might start by sharing desire, belief and journey
even if not realized yet—these create a hunger.
dissipation.” I am not as
pessimistic about education I think, but then again I am in it and my
office is next to Dr. Chris Bounds a
recent doctor who stands for holiness stronger than any of the old
guys I’ve run with for years. I
suppose I think the problem is the loss of the experience not the gaining
of a degree. I would offer as evidence
of my position here the many Pentecostal scholars—so many of whom claim a
transforming experience and a PhD at once. Indeed the changes most doctoral students make are usually
in detailed belief systems more than experience.
- “Accommodation and compromise.” I
will only address one issue here that is not Dr. Collins’ central point
but it is on my mind. Holiness people have a powerful anti-miraculous bias
today. We dismiss as a fraud or
superstition most all emotional or ecstatic experiences and have come to
doubt miracles of healing in all but rare cases, and then often we
secretly think of them as “miracles of coincidence.” I am not a “tongues person” but I
sometimes wonder if the holiness movement’s total repudiation of the
charismatic movement’s experiential claims has had something to do with
our rejecting our own experiential heritage. I recognize at the time (the 1960’s and 1970’s) it “seemed
like the right thing to do” but I wonder if it set up a template for later
response to other post-conversion works of grace. Was it a mistake to so totally
repudiate the charismatic movement?
We may not know before we get to heaven.
issues.” Collins’ observation
about separate denominations is well put.
I believe in my own denomination (The Wesleyan church) every time a
“conservative” group left it merely allowed the rest of the denomination
to move “the center” over. Perhaps
if we’d all stayed in the Methodist church the message would be better off
today? His second point here is
convicting to anyone committed to holiness. Yes, I should be more
committed to Love God than loving holiness. Thank you.
of leadership and vision.” Agreed.
Again, the “boomer generation” did not produce leaders of the
movement—these would be the leaders in their ‘forties and fifties” Dr.
Collins is talking about. They
never showed up for duty. I often put myself in the “boomer” generation,
but actually I was born a year or so before the boomers came on the scene. There are few boomer leaders of holiness. However leaders also need a venue in which to exercise their
leadership. If someone rose to
lead a holiness revival where would they go to speak? To revival meetings that now are held
as one-morning special services?
To camp meetings? To
“indoor camps?” Where would a “holiness evangelist” go to get a crowd who
did not already believe what he or she was preaching? This is the question for the future.
- “A ray of hope.” Like Dr. Collins
I desperately want to have hope for the holiness movement. How many years (or decades) can one
maintain hope? Where am I
now? My hope is in the Lord. God calls us to be a holy people. God will give the provision for
whatever He calls us to. God
always seems to delay rescuing His people longer than they want. But He always shows up.
Response to Kenneth Collins’ appendix by Keith Drury
rise of liberal holiness scholars.”
Yes, I see this—once again, “boomer scholars.” Yet it is not just
the scholars in my opinion (though he is accurate still). It was a generation—a whole generation of people “35-55 years
old”—scholars and pastors and laity—who all together rejected entire
sanctification. Scholars are an
easy target as if all our students go to college full of the holy spirit
and the scholars talk them out of it.
I have students in my class who speak in tongues and have been
healed by a miraculous action of God. Do you think I could talk them out
of it? No. I can talk people into rejecting
experiences they’ve never had, but it is a gargantuan task to talk a
person out of their experience.
But I agree that many scholars do not testify to this
experience—they never had it and thus doubt it is even possible (again
they are teaching from their own experience). So my question at this point is,
“Why?” What was it about the
holiness movement in the 50’s and 60’s that turned so many boomers off?
Most all of them? Did they
experience Entire Sanctification then later lose it then decide they never
had it? Or did they claim a
pseudo-experience to satisfy some authority then later realized they
“never had it.” Did they not ever
meet a real example of what a sanctified life was? My hunch is many sought the experience
but never found it the way it was described so they became disillusioned
and generalized their own experience assuming their own experience
indicated there “was nothing to it.” But that may be a simplistic
explanation too. More holiness
historians need to study the movement in the 1950s and 1960s and tell us
what made a whole generation turn away from this experience. It is my hunch that these scholars are
merely representing their own generation’s views and they did not lose
their entire sanctification coming out of graduate school because they
took no entire sanctification in with them. The generation more than their representative
scholars are the question I now want to explore. It is my opinion we may
want the scholars to do what we have not done in our own churches and
preaching. I see this continually
in my own work with college students.
Churches, pastors and parents hope I will do for their child what
they failed completely to do themselves.
I can try, but if we had ten thousand scholars like Chris Bounds in
our schools it would not help enough when the students come into college
with a deep unbelief about entire sanctification—as important as a college
professor is it is very hard to overthrow what the parents and local
churches built into a student.
Certainly we should do better, and certainly we have some scholars
who are very casual about holiness, but I think they only represent an
entire generation’s attitude. I
wish somebody would describe what the 1950’s and 1960’s were like that
caused so many of these folk to not experience the “real thing.” At least one holiness scholar thinks it
is simply, “they sought it but did not find it.” Is he right
holiness tradition being redefined.”
Dr. Collins here gives a pointed rebuke to those of us with an
affinity for our Anglican roots and even the eastern fathers. I must think more about this for I have
found in the eastern fathers strong support for many holiness ideas John
Wesley held dear and I enjoy the Anglican heritage. Dr. Collins is swimming upstream here,
but I am taking his chiding under advisement.
antinomianism.” I have been
thinking along the same lines as Dr. Collins here mostly prompted by Steve
DeNeff (Whatever became of Holiness)
who is the pastor of the local church where I attend. I have worked at humanizing the
standard of holiness (somewhat following Dr. Taylor’s admonition to use
care in raising it too high).
DeNeff and Collins are happy to raise it. The late Jimmy Johnson, Wesleyan evangelist used to say to
me, “Drury, the people you are trying to get sanctified I’m trying to get
saved.” It is an important
point. I need to think more about
ray of hope?” I hope this
whole book is not too pessimistic.
Then again when we look back it is easy to be pessimistic. It is only when we look ahead (and up)
that we can be optimistic. Where I
see the greatest hope is among the young people 18-21 whom I teach each
day. Even those from so-called
holiness churches have never heard this curious idea and this may be a
good thing. They are startled by
it. They cannot believe it at
first. But they do know that they
constantly struggle with defeat.
This is there experience.
When someone tells them God has remedies they never heard of they
are (rightfully) suspicious at first.
But sooner or later (if this experience is true and not something
conjured up by manipulative evangelists) some of these students will
experience cleansing and speak of it.
They might call it something different. They might “get it wrong” to old-timers like us. But it will be a real experience that
gives them purity and power. And
these will become the Phoebe Palmers of John Wesleys of the future. I have no hope other than in the
Lord. He delays too long for
me—but I know he always shows up.
Response to Wallace Thornton by Keith Drury
Dr. Thornton’s responses to my original address at CHA/CHP
best represents a view of that address from a perspective within a group of
churches known variously as the
Conservative Holiness Movement, the come-outers, the IHC crowd, the splinter
groups, the scattered remnants, and some other less flattering labels. Thus his response and appendix deserve
serious response by me since I have not addressed that group in my writing and
the first address was not directed to them, their being largely absent from
holiness movements.” He is
right—the context of my address was the CHA/CHP convention and thus I did
not address the remnant movement of the so-called come-outers. I suspect my original address to the
CHA/CHP and the “mainline holiness denominations” had minor applicability
to the conservative holiness groups when I gave it. Indeed many conservative groups greeted
it by cheering and quickly used it to say “I told you so” and to grab the
label “remnant true holiness church.”
They used the address to say that anyone who really cared about
holiness should leave the apostate mainline holiness churches and come out
and join the remnant groups.
However, in the near decade since its original delivery an
increasing number of conservative holiness churches see the points of my
address hauntingly relevant to their own churches and movement. I am not a member of the conservative
holiness movement. I don’t measure
up to some of the group’s lifestyle and other expectations. I have only attended one IHC
convention, and only occasionally have I visited the campuses of the
conservative Bible schools and then never to speak or preach. Thus my information on the conservative
movement comes from my reading and from second hand reports from individuals
in that movement who consider me their friend. The central question I did not address in my first paper is
this: “Did the holiness movement simply migrate from the mainline
holiness churches and the CHA/CHP and is now alive and well, in the
remnant churches and the IHC?”
My answer to that question is this: “If the movement did migrate it
is simply dying there just a little slower.” In my opinion the difference between the Methodist Church
and the mainline holiness churches is about 25 years. And the difference between the mainline
holiness churches and the conservative holiness churches is about 25 years
too—maybe less. Is it any wonder
some children “save 25 years of trouble” by making the shift faster? So far I am unconvinced that the
difference between the conservative holiness movement and the mainline
holiness churches is more than that of a time lag. However I welcome someone to prove me
wrong on this opinion. I guess
only the next 25 years can do that for sure.
as the seminal problem. The
proposition of Dr. Thornton’s entire paper is fascinating. It reminds me of some great
expositional messages I’ve heard on St. Paul’s epistles—by the end of the
sermon I think that the preacher has gotten out of Paul’s words more
profound connections than Paul ever thought of! I never intended to make the first item on my list
foundational to all others. Yet
once I read this paper I recognized one could make that argument. Hubris in indeed threaded through each
of the later causes I listed. So,
while I can take no credit for being clever enough to intentionally place
the quest for respectability first in my original list I embrace the
notion that it should have been. I do agree that hubris is indeed a major
factor, perhaps even the root one.
I was then addressing a movement (CHA/CHP) in the late stages of
the effects of hubris. The
conservative holiness movement is now in the early (perhaps medium?)
stages of the same process. Thus,
what was gleefully greeted as an obituary for the mainline holiness
movement and exoneration of the come-outers might now be summarized as: “ask
not for whom the bell tolls—it tolls for thee.”
academic institutions.” I am
biased here so my comments perhaps should be received with a grain of
salt. I understand what he is
saying—the need for acceptance and accreditation places a religious
institution under the mores of those outside the circle. He is right. This indeed can create a temptation to
compromise our religious standards and convictions unless we are willing
to “pay the price” for our convictions when pursuing accreditation. But I would like to outline my own
position for consideration also. I
think there are other factors besides “educational institutional
hubris.” In some sectors (but not
all) of the holiness movement for many years we did not care much for
education except for the training of preachers. We were a simple plain people with simple plain jobs that
required nothing more than a high school diploma. But we knew training ministers was
vital to resisting false teaching and to performing the ministry
well. So we founded Bible schools
to train our preachers (again,
only on some sectors—other sectors started first with liberal arts colleges).
Our Bible schools supplied a steady stream of pastors for our churches and
enough other Christian workers for church planting and missions. Families
sent off their children called into the ministry to Bible School to get
their training. But what of the
rest of their children? That’s
the point. What do the rest of the
children do—those not called into ministry? Well, at first they followed their parents and got jobs in
factory, coal mines, and steel mills—“blue collar jobs.” They became loyal tithing laymen.
After all, some of their parents were drunks and vagrants who were saved
in a holiness mission—having a steady job was an improvement in the
family’s status! Yet, over the
decades two things changed. First,
America’s economy changed and factory jobs started slipping out the back
door to other nations. Parents
began to doubt that their children could survive and raise families on a
“good factory job” any more. The
factory jobs were disappearing.
Second, these blue-collar parents hoped their own children (those
not already called into the ministry) might not have to do factory work
all their lives but might do something else. Maybe it was hubris.
Maybe it was parental love.
Many hoped their other children might be able to escape the factory
and become nurses, computer programmers, business managers, school
teachers, or maybe even an attorney or medical doctor. The problem then became choosing where
to get the required education for these jobs. These holiness parents could send their called children off
to Bible school and feel they would be trained right. But where would they
send their not-called child to become a nurse or doctor? There was always the anti-God state
schools but they feared the attacks on the faith their children might
experience there while gaining a career.
Another option was that the Bible schools could grow into colleges
with various offerings so even those children not called into ministry
could be prepared for their lay careers in a godly atmosphere—and thus
came the “Christian College” from the Bible College. (Again, let me point
out that some holiness denominations did not follow this route and took
another path). Thus, once holiness people had a son who wanted to become a
medical doctor (or even a medical missionary) legitimate accredited
certification became important and the educational institutions then had
to serve accreditation standards. Thus it is my view that while seeking
accreditation may be partially due to institutional hubris, there are
other more complex social changes in America and among holiness families
that are deeper causes of the need for accreditation. But, as I admitted above, as an
educator I have a bias in explaining all this—I am like a barber who is
asked if one needs a haircut.
of camp meetings.” I agree
that the decline of camp meetings correlated with the decline of holiness
teaching and experience in the movement.
However, I am not sure which is the cause and which is the
effect—they went down together.
Camp meetings were once given over to the “special” means of
promoting holiness. I once taught
on the notion of a “movement” and developed one of those cute matching
word models we preachers like too much.
It listed the required ingredients of a “movement” like this: A movement requires six M’s:
Message, Meeting, Magazine, Money, Music and a Man (or woman) to lead.
For the holiness movement the primary meeting was the camp
meeting. As culture changed camps
didn’t. When my grandfather
attended Bentleville camp meeting in Western Pennsylvania he lived in a
cottage that had neither insulation nor running water. When he went home to Elizabeth he lived
in a house that had neither insulation nor running water. In fact, for my grandfather camp
meeting offered the only “air conditioning” of the day—a pleasant grove in
which to sit in the shade. In one
sense his lifestyle improved
when he went to camp meeting. Over
the years our homes improved far more than our camps. (Some camps have identical cottages and bathrooms today they had for my
granddad!) I wish some economist would study this. We often imagine that our grandparents
were able to buy a nice cottage at camp back then really cheap. Could they? Or did they sacrifice more to have nicer things at camp than
we are willing to sacrifice for today?
I don’t know this answer but somebody should prove it clearly, for
such assumptions are at the foundation of many decisions regarding (the
remaining) camp meetings.
Whatever, a “meeting” is what a movement needs. A convention could do the trick
too. So could an ocean cruise I
suppose. It is even possible that
in our attempt to prop up camp meetings we lost opportunities to use
better meetings for the “special promotion of holiness.” The real question for the holiness
movement is not how to keep the camp meeting alive. It is “What meeting will be
given over to the special use of promoting holiness?” If the answer is the camp meeting then
get about making it happen. If it
is some other convention or meeting, then invest in that.
Response to Wallace Thornton’s appendix by Keith Drury
for a fair hearing.” Yes. This was true among both the
conservative holiness churches and the mainline holiness churches. Too many holiness folk and former
holiness folk simply dismissed the title of the address with a speedy
true-false answer. But we always pay for such casual attitudes
eventually. So now some have
discovered they are deeper in debt than they can work their way out
of. This is because of their
caviler attitude toward the matters raised in all these articles. However this is the role of a prophet
and I accept it. It often takes
years to know if a prophet has told the truth. Time will tell.
for charitable assessment” These are wise words of admonition. All
should take note. Introspection can lead to paralysis. Admitting the death or ailing state of
the holiness movement can send us off looking for the perpetrators. While this was not an effect in the
mainline holiness movement I believe it may have been one negative effect
in the remnant come-out movement. Blaming each other for the corpse is not
the answer, for we all share blame.
In giving the address I had secretly hoped my original address
would prompt the CHA/CHP to establish some sort of a think tank, blue
ribbon committee, or dream team to plan a massive effort to “spread
holiness across the lands.” That
is, I had hoped the shock of the address would trigger action to be the
holiness movement again.
Alas! The next five years
were spent discussing how the corpse died or if the corpse was indeed dead
after all, then the following years have been spent in trying to decide
what we’ll now become. Too much
introspection about what and who got us here is not healthy. A radical and risky venture to spread holiness
to America’s Christians—all of them, regardless of whose church they end
up in, should be the focus of a real holiness movement. I hoped a movement might be born—a movement intent
on spreading holiness as much as the Mormons spread their doctrine. I hoped for a movement as committed to
persuading others as the animal rights movement. I had hoped to see a movement on holiness as strong as the
pro-life movement. I would even
have settled for a movement in the church as committed to holiness as the
church was to conservative politics.
But alas! No movement
emerged—only a proper burial for the movement that had already been
abandoned of not rejected. Who will rise to re-ignite a movement that goes
beyond their own church or connections?
Who will rise to spend with reckless abandon to send magazines and
books out to every pastor in the nation like the Seventh Day Adventists
do? Who will rise to publish
economical low-profit books for the laity like Wesley’s “Penny
tracks?” Who will rise up to buy TV
time to persuade people of holiness even though they will never show up at
your church and tithe making the money spent “a good investment?” Who will rise up to found totally new
venues for the promoting of holiness—concerts or cruises or tours or
whatever—and take personal and financial risks on it like those first
Methodist pastors did at Vineland New Jersey? Who will rise up to carefully “target” students in a PhD
programs and send them persuasive materials on holiness? Who will launch a massive and
aggressive campaign on the Internet where holiness literature can be
gotten for free? This is what I had most hoped for—an aggressive return to
“holiness evangelism” instead of merely trying to preserve holiness in our
own churches. In fact all that I
have described would accurately describe a true “movement.” When the holiness movement was a
movement these are the sorts of things they did—in their own culture. If we see another movement these are
the kinds of things we’ll see again.
Sure, some of these things do exist though they are so under-funded
that they are only tokens. But
when you see such signs as these you will know that the movement is being
- “Appeal for spiritual appraisal.” Again, such wise counsel! The problems with holiness
denominations, institutions and local churches are spiritual. The
spiritual malaise that has settled on both the former and present holiness
denominations and the conservative holiness denominations cannot be solved
by better fund-raising techniques, smarter leadership principles and nicer
fellowship halls. Spiritual
malaise can fall on people with wedding rings and people with hair in a
bun. It can inflict people who go
to movies and people who do not have a TV alike. At the core the holiness movement was always a spiritual movement. Thus we should measure our success in
terms of the rate of spiritual things, things like fasting, prayer,
Scripture reading, simplicity, solitude, confession, forgiveness,
sacrifice, and serving. How can
there be a holy people without holy habits? Not that these disciplines make us holy, only God does
that. But these habits can be a
“means of grace” where God is most pleased to channel His grace to
us. There is something wrong
spiritually in the holiness movement.
Indeed (as I shall address later) there has been something wrong in
the whole movement for decades—in both
branches of the movement. Until
that problem is addressed we may never see holiness spread across the
for Wesleyan sources.” I
pronounced the death of the holiness movement in 1995. If I were pressed to offer the single
best evidence of my proposition it would be this: we have no new
holiness hymnody. The movement ran out of steam in writing new
holiness songs. What new holiness
songs have emerged recently and leaped over the movement’s walls to
influence other denominations? I
agree with Dr. Thornton that the music now influencing the theology and
experience of our people comes from another (stronger) movement, the
charismatic movement. Who was the
last great holiness hymn writer?
Who was the last great holiness gospel song writer? Who today is putting the holiness
message in song and is spreading it across denominational lines to
Lutherans and Baptists? Our
favorite holiness songwriters are all dead! We sing their songs in our churches. We still stick them in our hymnals and
songbooks. But the stream has dried up.
There is no holiness hymnody.
In my “Movement Model” above I listed the “six Ms of a movement—Music was one of them. Without music there is no
movement. Not just music from the
1870-1950, but music form today.
The “worship wars” in many churches was settled by either adopting
the prevailing charismatic choruses or refusing to budge and clinging to
the old holiness hymns. Both are
inadequate responses. If a
movement does not have fresh music written to support its message it will
calcify. Those who still care
about the holiness movement should pray that God would call out holiness
song-writers and musicians to write this message into new songs in current
styles in order to persuade new generations of this truth. A movement of the next century cannot
be maintained on the music of the previous century.
- “Appeal for practical piety.” I
must admit that reading all of these articles and address has been
convicting for me personally. They
are sobering. On the matter of
charity and caring for the poor and downtrodden I fully agree we have
backslidden—all of us. Once
holiness people escaped their mission churches they seldom returned to the
neighborhood. Once we scrambled up
the socioeconomic ladder we forgot those still on the bottom rungs. If we could do a tenth of the social
work done by Phoebe Palmer we would double our charity. His point is so true. However, this brings me to one
disturbing thing about my address and all of the responses to it: we
may too easily conclude an effect is a cause. That is, I am haunted by the thought
that none of the things I outlined (or were subsequently added including
this one—charity) were actually causes—they were effects. Certainly these things dulled the
blade, but it is possible that holiness was lost first and these things
went afterward. When looking
backwards it appears that losing these things caused the loss of the
holiness movement but they may only be evidence of the loss—the
effect. In the case of charity it
would mean that once we lost true holiness we then lost our passion for
the poor (rather than “once we lost our passion for the poor holiness
began to erode”). Is this true? Why this is important is that we can
too easily reverse the cause-effect into a cause-cure connection. We can think that if we will just start
resisting materialism, and just quit trying to be accepted, and just get
out and help the poor more then the holiness movement will get rolling
again. This may not be true. Perhaps it may be better to say, “Once
we all experience a radical work of grace from the Holy Spirit that
fundamentally changes us so thoroughly that we are gripped with the
obsession of spreading holiness across the land then (and only then) will
all these other things get added unto us.” It is worth thinking about.
I am not positive I am right on this, but it haunts me as I reflect
on my address and other related articles.
As Americans we are always looking for a recipe. I pray that these articles do not
become merely another recipe book for revival—start caring for the poor,
sell my Buick, do some fasting and the holiness movement will return. It is God we must seek and the
work of the Holy Sprit we must receive.
Many individuals reading these words have been filled with the
spirit without a doubt. But has
your church been filled with the spirit. We all gather in one place
often, but has the holy Spirit come and filled us all so that we “were all
fill with the Holy Ghost?” You may
have exuberant demonstrations but has your church ever been sanctified—our
only certain individuals here and there?
I wonder if we have overlooked this corporate aspect of entire
sanctification in our privatizing and individualizing religious
experience. If God moved in on our
churches and baptized the whole crowd with His Spirit as He did on the day
of Pentecost, perhaps all these evidences of holiness would flow
naturally. The believers did not
share their possessions in order to be filled with the spirit—they were all
together at once when God filled them all—then they shares their
possessions. Restoring the effects
of the last revival may not bring a return of the cause—seeking the cause
(the Holy Spirit’s work) may be the real solution. It is worth thinking about anyway.
for divine leadership.”
Amen. Reading this has been
convicting for me. It is
true. Only God can solve our
problem. But we don’t need
Him. Or at least only need His help. We can do just about everything in the
flesh now—including filling up an altar.
All we need God for is to add His “blessing.” Perhaps this is why God has
particularly blessed the poor through the ages. They have no other source but Him. We are not poor. We
are rich. We started out like
children wholly dependent on God for everything. But we have grown up and can provide for ourselves now. We are like thirty year old children
with lucrative jobs and expensive homes who visit their parent’s humble
abode. There is nothing the
parents can help us with any more.
We have it all. When they
give us a set of dishes that has been precious to them for years we take
it home and store it—it isn’t cool enough for us to use. Is this true? Are we so materially blessed that we hardly need anything
from God but his blessing on top of our own labors? If so we are more impoverished than we
thought. I think Dr. Thorton’s
point here is well taken. Only God
has the resources—spiritual resources—we need to spread holiness
across the lands.
Finally I wish to address two items raised by Dr.
Thornton’s writing but not explicitly stated in his titles.
Form and content
The holiness movement has often been
associated with lifestyle “standards”—collective convictions about behavior,
activities, “worldliness,” how to dress, or how to wear one’s hair. Holiness people were different. They
even proclaimed their difference believing that to live a holy life was a call
to “come our from among them, and be ye separate.” Thus holiness people were a distinct sub-culture—you could often
even identify a holiness person (especially a woman) walking the street or in a
discount store. Lifestyle matters in
Wesleyan thought. To be Wesleyan is
more than checking off a list of doctrines or beliefs as if doctrine alone
defines a Wesleyan. Lifestyle was also
important. It makes sense that a person
completely given over to obedience who has been cleansed and filled with the
spirit will live differently than an unbeliever, or even different from a
casual Christian, Thus (with some
regional exceptions) the lifestyle of most holiness became reasonably
common—avoiding extravagance in clothing, jewelry or make-up, shunning
materialistic ostentation, dressing modestly, and avoiding various sorts of
worldly activities like Sunday-purchasing, dancing, and attending motion
pictures or watching a television.
These things were not holiness itself, but became “marks” of the
holiness people—identifiable traits of a sub-culture intent on swimming
upstream against the worldly culture.
These “marks” became the form containing the content of the holiness
message. The form was a sub-culture
lifestyle, the content was a transforming experience by the Holy Spirit. The form was the “carrier” for the content
I am about to suggest something that many of my
peers in the mainline holiness movement will reject while those in the
conservative holiness movement may greet it with glee. I know I am doing this
and know these words may be “used” for other kids of purposes. However, I have a hunch that both content
and form are required and fiddling with one changes the other. I have a hunch that the form (lifestyle,
sub-culture) is the “carrier” of the content (message, truth). While theoretically I think one ought to be
able to change form without affecting content, when it comes to real life I
don’t think it happens this way.
Theoretically an Amish family should be able to buy a John Deere, a
Buick and dress up in jeans and sweats yet still maintain Amish theology and
ecclesiology. Theoretically the animal-rights-vegans should be able to eat
meat, wear leather shoes and maybe even go hunting while maintaining some sort
of love of animals. Theoretically
holiness people should be able to discard their swimming-upstream lifestyle and
keep the holiness message alive. But in
each of these cases what I suspect can be done theoretically does not happen in
reality. My instinct tells me that a
movement that tosses out the form intent on keeping the content will lose both
Again I must point out that I am squarely in the
middle of the mainline holiness movement and all this makes me sound far more
conservative than I actually am. But I
sense this is true, even though it “preaches right back to the pulpit” where I
stand. The mainline holiness movement
thought it could discard the form and keep the content. Indeed we loved the content while hating the
form. I believe we failed to keep
either. However, the conservative
holiness movement is not without fault in the content and form matter. Many conservatives have enshrined the form
and lost the content. They are earthen vessels with no treasure inside. They can check off every lifestyle
expectation perfectly yet are missing something inside. I am suggesting here that form and content
are so interdependent one cannot alter one without changing the other. Form without content is empty; content
without form is blind. The first is
the error of the conservative holiness movement, the second that of the
mainline holiness movement.
Can there be a holiness movement without the old
forms? How much can the old forms be
re-formed? Can the
Anglicanized-Nazarene movement discard the old forms and pour the content into
this new form? Will the content
remain? Or will the new form change the
content? How fast can a form be changed
without endangering the content? Which
is most likely to change first: content or form? What does one do if the old content is good but the old form is
a bad wineskin? If a “movement” is itself a sociological phenomenon and this
form is critical, can there be a “movement” without forms? If a form is required what sort of form is
best suited for the holiness content? I do not have the answers to these
questions. People smarter than I are thinking about the relationship of form
and content in the holiness movement.
When they have got something better than my questions I want to read
their work. Until then I have a hunch
form and content are more related than we want them to be.
“The Babylonian garment under
the tent.” While Dr. Thornton did
not speak specifically to this issue the scope and tenor of his entire paper
raises an issue I would like to address in closing. I do so trembling but feel compelled to at least raise the issue
and see if the Holy Spirit does anything with it. Face it, the remains of the holiness movement is not doing
much. The mainline holiness
denominations in our country are flat and show growth mostly by manipulating
numbers or using worldwide figures.
Organizationally we can proclaim health and progress here and there but
is there anyone who will proclaim that these denominations are effectively
making even half the dent on other Christians like the holiness movement of the
19th century? No. These denominations are barely able to
maintain holiness among their own people—let alone spread it anywhere
But the conservative holiness
groups are no better. They have
maintained many of the outward signs of the movement and preach the message
more frequently but have they been used of God to lead thousands upon thousands
of Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists into this experience? No.
They may be proud they have “not bowed to Baal” and they have maintained
some of the “standards” of holy living but they have done nothing much to turn
America’s Christians into holiness people. The remnant groups are mostly
“holiness preservation societies.”
Holiness teaching, holiness camp
meetings, holiness colleges and holiness denominations all continue and even
flourish but not for the purpose of spreading holiness, but (at best) to
maintain it. Where is the movement that
aggressively converted people of all denominations into holiness people then
sent them back into their own anti-holiness denominations? It is gone.
The movement that provided holiness song that captured the imagination
of all denominations is gone. Indeed,
another movement has moved in and is doing that now—the Charismatic movement.
The holiness movement has only a minor impact on the millions of Christians in
America. We may have a mini-movement, a leftover movement, an echo effect, but
we are not a massive nation-changing movement now. We are preservationists.
We have preserved a sample of the old movement for our children to see
like taking them to an antique shop. We
do not have the spreading-like-wildfire radical nation-changing movement that
the Wesleys and Phoebe Palmer saw. We
do not even have what we had in the first half of the 20th
century. These papers have suggested
some of the causes of this decline. I
wish to add one more in closing. I personally
think it is core reason for the demise of the holiness movement in our
generation. I knew it when I gave the
first address, but everyone who needed to hear this was not present so I left
it out. Now, almost a decade later I am
ready to say it. Our root problem may
be one single thing: there is sin in the
camp. Both camps. We do not talk much about this sin. It is hidden under the floor of our
movement’s tent. Or two tents.
In the last half of the 20th
century during the final come-out movement holiness leaders sinned against each
other both in attitude and action. These actions and attitudes were all for a
good cause of course—“preserving the denomination” or “standing for
truth.” But sin was committed. Some denominational leaders were
autocratic, tyrannical, and merciless.
Some come-outers were judgmental, fractious and divisive. Leaders during this painful time said things
holiness people should never say. They
took actions and spread rumors holiness people should never be guilty of. Winning became more important than loving.
Men sought power. Others wielded power. Men defended their territories and
positions while other men sought to build personal kingdoms. Perhaps women, too. There was ill will,
enmity, malice and strife. There were
accusations, anonymous letters, character assassinations and inter-group
hostility. Lawyers were hired. Suits
were filed. And once the divorce was
finalized there came resentment, bitterness, and grudges—both personal and
institutional. “Shunning” emerged and
everyone quietly buried these sins under their tent floor and tried to forget
about them and “move on.” This is the sin in the camp—both camps. It brings me to the real question to ponder:
Did God kill the holiness movement?
Did we grieve the spirit? Did our unholy actions quench the Spirit’s
work among us? Was God fed up with the
unholy way we treated each other in the last half of the 20th
century and simply decided we no more were worthy to carry His banner of
holiness? Will addressing all the
maladies pointed out in these papers and articles never fix our real problem
until we dig up the sin under the tent floor and deal with that?
We “holiness people,” of all
people, ought to know what to do. We
seek reconciliation. My hope for the holiness movement is pinned on this one
thing more than any other. Will those
leaders confess their sins one to another and be healed? Nobody needs to decide who was more to blame
than the other—there is plenty of blame to go around. Some of the primary leaders in these affairs are already
dead. The rest are becoming old
men. When men get old they sometimes
reflect on their life’s deeds done in the heat of battle and recognize their
own faults. Old men sometimes want to
set old relationships straight before meeting God. The coming few years will be
the last time the primary leaders will be able to do this. After that it will be left to later
generations to “confess the sins of their fathers” (Lev 26:40). Reconciliation may never happen though if left
to future generations. They will live
in our tents never knowing the curse we have bequeathed to them. It will affect
them and their churches but they won’t know it. Could it be possible that holiness people would ask forgiveness
from each other? Is their refusal to do
so what really cut our movement short?
Certainly we shall never merge again—the divorce was final. But could we
One attempt at such a
reconciliation meeting was actually made not long after my original
address. I know because I was asked to
broker this meeting. The meeting never
happened. Hidden resentments still were
deep and bitterness long buried bubbled to the surface and blocked the meeting
from happening. Perhaps that was a
premature attempt, however. Maybe it will
happen now. Soon. Please do not think I am saying any of these
men are bad men. They are not. They are godly men. But sometimes godly men intent on godly acts
do some rather ungodly things. In fighting to protect the greatest commandment
some of these men broke the second.
They know that when they sense their brother has something against them
they should go and be reconciled. They
also know that if they have something against their brother they are to go and
be reconciled. But they have not yet gone. Instead they try to forget about it. But God has not forgotten. Neither has their brother. These brothers are now dying off and are
leaving their legacy under the tent floor of our movements and
denominations. Could we pray that God
would move on the hearts of all of them?
Could we pray that they would find it without our hearts to forgive our
brother—and to ask for his forgiveness?
Could holiness people do such a thing? This may be the hope of
the holiness movement.