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 titles The 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 ;-)


My draft:



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:

  1. “Its 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.
  2. “Evidences 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.
  3. “The Paralyzing forces.”  Dr. Taylor is right on target here in his mild but direct reprimand of holiness preachers of all generations. Help us Lord..
  4. “The 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.”
  5. “The 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?
  6. “Neglect 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.
  7. “Are 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.
  8. “The 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),
  9. “Materiality 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:

  1. “The movement has run its course.” I hope not.  I’m afraid so.
  2. “Entire 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.
  3. “Liberty 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.
  4. “The problem of past abuse.” Yes.
  5. “A 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.
  6. “Intellectual 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. 
  7.  “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.
  8. “Programmatic 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.
  9. “Lack 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. 
  10. “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

  1. “The 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
  2. “The 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.
  3. “Holiness 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 this.
  4. “A 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 that meeting.


  1. “Two 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.
  2. Hubris 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.”
  3. “Sophisticated 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.
  4. “Decline 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

  1. “Appeal 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.
  2. “Appeal 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 re-born. 
  3.  “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 lands. 
  4. “Appeal 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.
  5. “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.
  6. “Appeal 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 eventually.


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 else. 


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 love again?


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.