The Holiness Movement is Dead

A retrospective

the author reflects on the original address in the footnotes, ten years after the original address.

The following footnoted manuscript will appear as the anchor article in the forthcoming book Counterpoint: Dialogue with Drury on the Holiness Movement .

This document is the original address--click on the footnotes to see the retrospective.


The Holiness Movement is Dead[1]

Originally delivered as an address to the Presidential Breakfast of the Christian Holiness Association

I owe a lot to the holiness movement. In 1905 I believe it was, or 1906, my grandfather, an immigrant coal miner, came from England to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania. His wife, Emmaline saw at the Five and Dime store, a woman who seemed different. The lady asked my grandmother, "Would you like to come to a cottage prayer meeting?" She had attended the Church of England all her life but since coming to America, was not attending a church anywhere. She said, "Why, sure!"

And my grandmother, Emmaline Drury, got into a small cottage prayer meeting of the holiness movement. In it she found the Lord—she got "saved." She didn't even know what saved meant, but she got it.

She came home to my grandfather, Walter Drury and told him, "Walter, I got saved tonight." My grandfather said, "Well, that's fine Emmaline," (but inside he said, "We'll see.") He always had come home from the mine and gone into the basement of that home in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and taken his coal-dust clothes off. The very next day when he came home from the mine he walked up the basement steps, right into her kitchen, upstairs to the bedroom and took all his filthy, coal-black mining clothes off and plopped them on the bed. Emmaline followed him upstairs and without a word, cleaned it all up, cleaned up the bed, took everything outside and shook it out.[2]

He did this everyday for two weeks! She smiled and with a sweetness of spirit, never said a word, and cleaned up after him every day.

This was salvation folks, not sanctification! He was so attracted to her life that he went with her to the cottage prayer meeting. He too was saved—in a holiness meeting in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

So, I owe a lot to the holiness movement. My grandparents raised my father who became a holiness preacher, and now I follow in that path.

However, what I have to say today is not a collection of bright and cheery thoughts. It is this: We need to admit to each other that the holiness movement is dead. We have never had a funeral. And we still have the body upstairs in bed.[3] In fact, we still keep it dressed up and still even talk about the movement as if it were alive. But the holiness movement—as a movement—is dead. Yes, I recognize that there are many wonderful holiness people around. And people are still getting entirely sanctified here and there. But as a movement, I think we need to admit we are dead. The sooner we admit it, the better off we'll be.[4]

We have a holiness heritage. We have holiness denominations. We have holiness organizations. We have holiness doctrines. We even have holiness colleges, but we no longer have a holiness movement. [5]

I, for one, lament the death of the holiness movement. But pretending we are alive as a movement will not make it so. In fact, it may be the greatest barrier to the emergence of a new holiness movement.

What happened to the holiness movement? How did the movement die? Who killed it? Was it a slow death, or did we die suddenly? Was it murder? Suicide? Why did the movement die? What caused it's death? I wish to suggest eight factors, which contributed to the death of the holiness movement.

1. We wanted to be respectable.

Holiness people got tired of being different and looked on as "holy rollers." Somewhere along the line we decided we didn't want to be weird. We no longer wanted to be thought of as a "sect" or a fringe group. Instead, we wanted to be accepted as normal, regular Christians. We shuddered at the thought of being a "peculiar people." We determined to fit in.

Pastors in holiness churches now tell visiting speakers, "My people here are quality people." What they mean by "quality people" is that their church is populated with sharp, up-scale, white-collar professionals. "Quality people." Respectable people. And we have become respectable. There is not a whole lot of difference now. Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans move into our churches from their former denominations with ease. They don't see that much difference, because there isn't much difference. We have succeeded in becoming average Christians.

But in our quest for respectability, we lost something. We lost our willingness to be "different." Not just different from the world—but different from average Christianity. We left the fringe. We became respectable. And somewhere along the line, we lost the movement. It is hard to be a holiness movement when we don't want to be different than the average Christian. [6]

2. We have plunged into the evangelical mainstream.

Over time we quit calling ourselves "holiness people" or "holiness churches" or "holiness colleges" or "holiness denominations," (except, of course, to each other). We began to introduce ourselves as "Evangelicals." We started becoming more at home with NAE than CHA. Local churches repositioned themselves as "evangelical" in their communities. We built respectable churches on busy highways. We quit painting "Holiness unto the Lord" on the front wall. And gradually were assimilated into the evangelical mainstream. [7]

All this, of course, was quite easy for us. Mainstream evangelical media kings like James Dobson, Charles Colson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels melted away our differences.[8] Few holiness kingpins are to be found. And even those who have a holiness background are not known as holiness leaders, so much as evangelical leaders. The influencers of our pastors are evangelicals, not holiness leaders. Gradually the theology among our people became the same generic evangelical soup served at any other evangelical church. "Holiness people" became "evangelical people." It's hard to have a holiness movement when our people are really a part of the evangelical movement, not the holiness movement.

3. We failed to convince the younger generation.

We must admit to each other that we have generally failed to convince the generation in their 40s and 30s of the importance of entire sanctification. A few preach it regularly. But many preach it only occasionally, and even then with little urgency or passion. It is not the "primary issue" for boomer and buster preachers. At best, holiness is preached as an attractive accessory, not as an essential necessity. This generation (my own) made it through the ordination hoops, then put holiness on the back burner.

Many grass-roots people like to blame the educational institutions for this, of course. But all of us must shoulder the blame. We need to face the music. Many holiness pastors have opted for the much more appealing notion of optional or progressive sanctification than for such a notion as "instantaneous," and/or "entire" sanctification. It's hard to be a holiness movement when many of the aggressive boomer and buster pastors do not preach holiness, and if they do, it is with little passion or insistence.[9]

4. We quit making holiness the main issue.

In the movement stage "the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." When the holiness movement was a movement, holiness was the main thing. Holiness was all ten of the top ten priorities. Everything else was brought into line behind holiness.

Other movements illustrate this. Consider the anti-abortion movement. There is little room for anything else. Fighting abortion is the main thing. All actions are brought under this issue. All judgments of people and organizations are made through the glasses of the "main thing." Or consider the church-growth movement. Here, growth is the main thing. Will it help us grow? Will it hinder growth? These are the questions when a movement is a movement. The dominating priority relegates all other matters to secondary priorities. This is one of the excesses of a movement. The term "balanced movement" is an oxymoron. Movements are radical by nature. [10]

There aren't a lot of excesses in the holiness movement today. We're pretty safe. Holiness is our stated belief. But in most places we don't make it the main thing. Preachers in the old holiness movement used to say, "Preach holiness and everything else will take care of itself." Who says this today? Today's trend is uplifting, cheery, help-for-Monday sermons, not holiness sermons. Where holiness is not the main thing there will be no holiness movement. Just as wherever abortion is not the main thing, there will be no anti-abortion movement. It's hard to have a holiness movement when holiness is no longer the main thing.

5. We lost the lay people.

A real movement is not made up of professionals but is lay-dominated. While holiness preachers and writers ignited and led the laymen in the old holiness movement, the laymen provided the real dynamic. But over the years, gatherings of the holiness movement like CHA have become fellowships of ministers on expense accounts, not a crowd of laymen with a personal passion for holiness. In fact, one wonders how many meetings we would have if all those who attended were paying their own way.

We no longer have a force of lay foot soldiers. We have generals without armies. Strategy, but no soldiers. It's hard to have a holiness movement without the laymen. [11]

6. We over-reacted against the abuses of the past.

I am not yearning for the past. I believe the holiness movement, in many cases, had an abusive past. But in trying to correct these abuses, we overreacted.

Some (perhaps most) in the old holiness movement were legalistic and judgmental. So we became behavioral libertarians.

Some were so ingrown as to never touch the world. So we became assimilated into the world and seldom touched God.

Some were radically emotional, running the aisles, shouting, and "getting blessed." So we became orderly and respectable, and we labeled all such emotion as "leaning charismatic."

Some were judgmental and rejecting of anyone who got divorced or had marriage problems. We became so accepting of divorce that it is quickly becoming a non-issue for all but the clergy—and even that is eroding.

They preached a fearsome, vengeful God. Now we have a soft, easygoing Mister Rogers in the sky, "who loves you just the way you are."

While the abuses of the old holiness movement were glaring (and perhaps responsible in part for our own overreaction), the abuses of our own generation have been no better. We have led many holiness folk far from essential holiness doctrine and experience. We now have holiness theologians and speakers (like myself) who are better at articulating what holiness is not, than what it is. It's hard to have a holiness movement when much of what we are is merely a reaction against who we were. [12]

7. We adopted church-growth thinking without theological thinking.

We discovered that in America, numerical success is the doorway to respect. We wanted to be accepted into the mainstream and we found that church growth gave us the chance. When the church-growth movement first came along, holiness people were wary. We were nervous about too much accommodation to the world in order to win the world. But evangelism has always been a twin passion with holiness. So, many holiness churches—at least the growing ones—suppressed their natural reticence and adopted church-growth thinking in a wholesale way. Pastors became CEOs. Ministers became managers. Shepherds promoted themselves to ranchers. Sermons became talks. Sinners were renamed "seekers." "Twelve steps" became the new way to get deliverance, instead of at the altar. Growth itself became the great tie-breaking issue. Everything else was made to serve growth.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with church growth. And if people are getting saved, there should be church growth. But is there anyone who would argue that the church-growth movement is in any sense a holiness movement? In fact, much of the movement is quite openly anti-holiness, instructing us that "perfecting the saints" is an unfinishable task which should be given secondary importance to the primary task of initial disciple-making. Most of us in the holiness movement (myself included) joined the church-growth movement with great gusto. And with little theological thought. (I might add that this transfer of loyalties from the holiness movement to the church-growth movement was encouraged by most holiness denominational leaders like myself. And we leaders restructured all the denominational reward and affirmation systems to encourage only two things: growth and "bigness.") And we got what we rewarded—at least for awhile.

Holiness pastors became enthusiastic foot soldiers in the expanding church-growth movement—which was indeed a movement. They read church-growth books, attended church-growth conferences, subscribed to church-growth magazines, and networked with other like-minded church-growth pastors. This is the stuff of a "movement." These holiness pastors had simply switched movements. They traded in the rusting, old holiness movement for a bright, shiny new church-growth movement. [13]

(As a side point, one wonders, now that the church-growth movement is crumbling[14], where these pastors will go next. Presumably, the church-growth movement will continue to produce publications, hold conferences and grant "D. Min" degrees in church growth for many years. And I suppose that sooner or later someone in that movement will speak to a gathering of church-growth thinkers and pronounce the movement dead.

Many holiness pastors just switched movements. They became members of a bigger, stronger, more popular and better financed movement. Can anyone deny this? In many holiness churches, growth is king, not holiness. Pastor and people are in the church-growth movement. And because of the radical nature of a true movement, it is difficult to ride two horses at once. So we ride the church-growth horse and have turned the holiness horse out to pasture. It's hard to have a holiness movement when our hearts have already been given away to another lover . . . another movement . . . the church-growth movement.

8. We did not notice when the battle line moved.

Many of us believe we are in danger of losing the doctrine and experience of "second-blessing holiness"—an experience through the Holy Ghost which cleanses the heart of its inclination to rebel and enables the believer to live above intentional sin, producing a life in obedience to the known will of God.

We believe that we should stand our ground for the holiness message. That holiness is the "front line" of battle, if we use military terms. But while we have been meeting and talking to each other about holiness, and while we have been discussing doctrine in the Wesleyan Theological Society, and while we have been having our denominational conventions where we show each other our self-congratulatory videos, the battle line moved on us.

Many of our people do not need to be sanctified—they need to be saved! The doctrine at risk in many holiness churches is not entire sanctification but "transformational conversion." We may need to stand at Luther's side awhile before we can rejoin Wesley.[15]

Few will admit it knowingly, but many of our churches have replaced "transformational conversion" with a softer, user-friendlier style of building the local church. "Membership assimilation" or "assimilation evangelism" or "faith development" models seem so much more attractive today than the old sin-repentance-conversion-restitution models of the past. The notion that people can repent of their sins in a single moment and be transformed instantaneously into new creatures with a radically changed lives, is increasingly at risk, even in holiness churches. Modernity teaches us that nothing can be done in less than twelve steps!

These popular assimilation models turn the gospel into something else. It is more sociology than theology. People ooze into churches without ever becoming saved. Repentance is replaced by "accepting Christ." Christ is "added on" to achieve a balanced life. Sinner is traded in for "seeker," absolutes for options, and theology for therapy.

And people do come into the church. And growth—even great growth—results from these "nonconversion" conversion models of church growth. But it is hard to have a holiness movement dedicated to the possibility of "instantaneous sanctification," when many folk do not even have an experience of "instantaneous salvation." It's hard to have a holiness movement when many of our own church members are not even saved, let alone sanctified.

My sense is that we are dead, as a movement. And the sooner we admit it, the better off we'll be.[16] While the doctrine and experience of holiness still has more life than the movement, my sense is that these too will follow the movement in death. And, if I am correct—even half-correct—holiness people are at a critical point in their history.

But here is the irony in all this: There has seldom been a time when the church more desperately needs the holiness message. Spiritual shallowness is rampant. Sin among believers is commonplace. Christians boldly advertise on their bumper stickers, "I'm not perfect—just forgiven." What was once an eroding morality in the world is now an eroding morality in the church. People like Peggy Campolo call themselves "evangelical," yet they "enthusiastically endorse . . . monogamous, loving, intimate relationships between people of the same sex." Evangelical?

The church watched Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith succeed in becoming crossover artists . . . and then followed them with our crossover worship services.[17] We were delighted that our music, support groups and encouraging talks were popular with the world. We started to fit in. The world liked us! Christians are less and less different than their unsaved neighbors. They are out for the same thing. They lie, cheat and get divorced just like their unsaved neighbors. The old riddle was prophetic: What's the difference between the church and the world? Answer: About ten years. Perhaps even less.

Evangelicals have accommodated to divorce. "Worldliness" is seldom mentioned, and even then only in jest. Evangelicals now attend the same movies as the world does. They rent the same videos. They watch the same TV shows. Evangelicals watch things on television that they would have called "pornography" twenty years ago. Christian families are falling apart. Even sets of board members get divorced and marry each others' spouses—all while staying on the board! And evangelical churches are filling up with people who have never had a genuine experience of transformational conversion. They oozed in through the sociological assimilation process.

Isn't it ironic, that just as the holiness movement enters its waning years, the church at large is in its greatest need for a holiness movement. What does God want? I believe He wants a holiness movement. A new holiness movement.

- A movement which will preach boldly that God is holy and does not accept sin.
- A movement which will have the integrity to tell some Christians they need to get saved.
- A movement which will preach a second work of grace which God does in the life of a believer to cleanse and empower him or her, enabling an obedient life of devotion to God.
- A movement which will call people to abandon worldliness even at the risk of losing some people to the positive, upbeat, cheery service offered down the street.
- A movement which will adopt an external mission—to recruit, persuade and mobilize other evangelicals as aggressively as the church-growth movement or the anti-abortion movements have done—to recruit them to holiness.
This is the holiness movement today's church so desperately needs. A new holiness movement.[18]

So I am not essentially gloomy in my outlook. True, for the holiness movement of the past decade or two, I am gloomy. But for the new holiness movement of the next decade or two, I am quite optimistic. I believe we will see it! God will bring it!

The disturbing question is this: Will the old holiness movement be in the new holiness movement? Or will God go outside of our circle to raise up someone else to lead the new movement?

I think it would be wonderful if God would raise up a new holiness movement within the holiness movement. Maybe we will admit that the holiness movement is dead. And we will organize as a "remnant" within the holiness movement. We will become more like an underground movement than an official movement. A holiness movement within the holiness movement. Perhaps we could become the "holiness good news" movement within the holiness denominations. We could be it. But I fear it will not be. God is often forced to use new wineskins to carry His new wine. We may care more for our old wineskins—camp meeting, revival meetings, holiness conventions and the like—than we care for the new wine.

However, I may be totally wrong in my proposition. Maybe God will raise up the old holiness movement to be the new one. Perhaps I have painted too bleak a picture. Perhaps I am too much like one of the mourners at the funeral of Jairus' daughter . . . I lament her obvious death. She's pale. She is dead. She's gone. But Jesus is standing nearby. And He will say, "She is not dead, but asleep." I will laugh! But He will take our movement by the hand . . . and speak to us: "My child, GET UP!" And a new holiness movement will arise out of the old one.[19]

Whatever He does, by birth, renewal or resurrection, when the new holiness movement comes along . . . I want to be in that number! [20]


Original address by Keith Drury, 1995. Retrospective footnotes added almost ten years later in late 2004





[1] The opportunity to deliver this address at the CHA Presidential Luncheon came from Dr. O. D. Emery.  I am not sure if he was pleased or disappointed by the address and its effects.  I’m not sure I am either.  Words once given cannot be recalled and one never escapes secondary reinterpretation by others.  Did the address help or hinder the promotion of holiness across the lands?  I am not sure.  If the passion for promoting holiness had leaked out of the movement, and the movement (as a movement) had indeed died or was dying, then this address was an awakening call and I have no regrets delivering it.  However, not a few enemies of the holiness message (as a second work of grace) gleefully greeted the obituary of the movement and used it to speed along the demise of the doctrine and experience, not just the movement. (9/13/2004)

[2] This behavior of my grandfather was of course reprehensible. One Methodist church leader formerly form the holiness movement delivered a tirade to me on this point arguing that such behavior was typical of the holiness movement males.  My telling the story here was intended to show how an unregenerate male could act.  Once converted (and later sanctified) my Grandfather Walter Drury was considered to be a living example of holiness in Elizabeth Pennsylvania and especially at Bentleyville Camp Meeting.

[3] This is a reference to Psychotic motel owner Norman Bates who was so attached to his mother he kept her corpse dressed up in an upstairs room sitting in a rocking chair and chatted with her regularly pretending she was alive.  It is a reference to what I believed at the time: the holiness movement was pretending to be a movement when the movement part of our heritage was already a corpse.  More directly I may have been reminding those at CHA that the association might meet annually to “speak with the corpse” but the corpse was long dead and pretending life did not make it so.  At the time I hoped that shocking the association into facing the corpse in front of it might bring about a new aggressive strategy of promoting holiness and maybe even a renewed identity as a movement.  Whatever effects of the address, a significant renewed “movement mentality” has not emerged in my opinion. 

[4] In an earlier draft of the address I had even said that we were like the Medieval Catholics who bring out their shrine of Mary once a year on a festival day and parade it through the streets—this was too harsh of an estimate of CHA or the Wesleyan Theological Society.  At least I thought so then.

[5] This point of my address was largely ignored, especially by some Nazarene theologians. This paragraph is the essence of my argument—that the movement was dead though the doctrine remained.  I was not addressing  the death of the holiness message or doctrine but the movement (and experience). That is, I believed the movement—as a movement—was dead and the experience was even fading but that the doctrine still continued The noisy response form some quarters claiming the “holiness doctrine is alive and well” did not rebut my original point but dodged it.  Doctrine is the last to go.  I believed at the time (and still do) that a movement fades first, then the experience, and finally the doctrine.  Doctrine usually outlasts the death of the movement and experience by decades.  Face it, the United Methodist church’s statement on Christian perfection is a great statement to this day.  I heard noisy claims of the robust doctrines of sanctification still thriving in the various denominations of the holiness movement.  “That don’t impress me much.”  I was arguing that the movement and experience of a second definite work of grace known as “Entire Sanctification” was gone for all practical purposes, though the doctrine-on-paper continued on the books.


[6] I have taken a beating from a number of my critics at this point.  They have argued that being different was merely a strange sociological phenomenon of the movement and not related to theology. They  argued that holiness churches need not be different or strange when compared with Baptists, Presbyterians or any other denomination.  That the difference should be in doctrine more than lifestyle.  They thus dismissed this point as sociology not theology.  Which is precisely what I was doing—practicing sociology not theology.  My entire paper has scant reference to theology.  (Others have explored this aspect of the demise far better than I) .  My paper was essentially proclaiming the death of the holiness movement.   Thus it was indeed more sociological than theological.  However they are not totally unrelated.  I have a strong hunch that the movement may and the message are intertwined.  That is, we are yet to discover the extent to which the holiness message (theology) will be maintained without the movement (sociology).

[7] While my paper addressed the movement sociologically this is a good point at which to cite recent doctrinal statements, mission statements and “strategic plans” produced by several of the former  holiness denominations that are clearly “evangelical” and abandon any attempt to self-identify as holiness or even Wesleyan.  While the self-labeling of denominations and educational institutions does not a doctrine make, it is indicative of the shifts in the decade since this address was first given.  To identify the Free Methodists Nazarenes, or Wesleyans as an “evangelical denomination” would raise few eyebrows today. The deed is done, the labels switched. 


[8] The situation is unchanged in the intervening decade since this address.  The names of the evangelical influencers change as past leaders fade away and new evangelical leaders emerge, but our influencers are exclusively “evangelicals.”  We switched movements, from the smaller more specific one to the larger more generic movement.

[9] Perhaps I erred in placing too much blame on my own generation—the “Boomers.”  In this section I was stepping outside of my own generation and speaking to the generations above us.  That is they (the older generations) had failed to convince us(the boomers) of the holiness message. I am convinced that the holiness movement was “lost” when the boomers took over.  We boomers may be to blame for not taking it up.  But it is the preceding generations that are to blame for failing to pass it on.  As for boomers I tend to be a serious critic of our contribution to the church. While I believe the boomers have contributed much to the growth and professionalism of the church we have contributed little to its spiritual quality.  The church we inherited may have needed reform, but the one we bequeath need even greater reform.  However, while the boomers may have “dropped the holiness ball” the blame still falls to the previous generations who so hopelessly fumbled the handoff.

[10] This radical nature of movements may be a factor in the holiness movement’s demise.  With the rise of a better educated ministry and a laity populated mostly with transfers from other churches, many formerly holiness churches sought to be “balanced” and “sensible.”   While I personally greeted this trend with gladness I do admit that the dulled the movement and hastened to route to blend in to the generic evangelical soup du jour.

[11] I now wish I had developed this point further.  I have a hunch it is far more important than it seems here.  My grandfather whom I mentioned in the beginning story—the coal miner who tested his newly converted wife—left his books in the family and they eventually came to me.  This man’s library included nearly a hundred holiness books.  These books were not just testimonies and sermons but serious theological books as well.   He was a simple coal miner but clearly he was what we’d call today a member of the “educated laity.”   Lay people in the last twenty years still buy books. (at least the women do, according to the publisher’s research) but it is a rare lay person today that amasses a serious collection of works on holiness.  I am not yet aware of any serious work investigating the connection between the laity and holiness, but I suspect it is more than I made of it in this address.  Perhaps I lay too much blame on denominational leaders and the ministers and have let the laity off the hook here.

[12] I was attempting here to allow for an abusive legalistic past while pointing out that we had ridden the pendulum too far in reaction.  I now teach an emerging generation of more than 400 ministerial students here at Indiana Wesleyan University and see that “what comes around goes around.”  These younger ministerial students are fearsomely gifted at seeing the glaring errors of the boomer generations and they intend to correct them.  Will they yearn for the miraculous purifying work from God we called “entire sanctification?”  We are yet to see.  While they see excesses of then boomer generations, they are at the same time hopelessly trapped in many of the boomer anti-miraculous style of thinking. Except the Pentecostal students, that is.

[13] A decade of reflection since this address has convinced me more than ever that if I had to pick a single executioner of the holiness movement it would be the church growth movement.  The way it happened provided a choice to most churches---holiness or growth.  Theoretically and historically this is a false choice.  You should be able to be a church growth person and a holiness person.  But in the 1980s, the way it functioned, many churches saw only two options: be a small-but-pure backwards declining holiness church, or become a large, inclusive, evangelistic growing church.  Most pastors, and almost all district superintendents and denominational officials chose the church growth option. 

[14] While this address is best known as discussing the death of the holiness movement perhaps the most shocking statement here was this one pronouncing the demise of the church growth movement when it was at its zenith of power.  Ironically many holiness people abandoned a movement measured in centuries to join one that did not survive two decades! 

[15] Ten years later I realize that this claim (which was largely ignored in later analysis) should have been the headline of my address.  Instantaneous sanctification is not the primary matter before us now—it is instantaneous conversion.  Year after year in my surveys of youth from our “holiness-now-evangelical” churches I discover that an instantaneous conversion experience is increasingly becoming the minority experience.  Some are still saved in a datable moment, but an increasing number claim a series of experiences in their “faith journey” and more than half  believe that “there never was a day in my life when I would have gone to hell.”  This faith journey model has major influence on approaches to evangelism of course, but suffice it to say here that I was not aware at the time of how important this claim was, and that the discussions of a decade later would not be about instantaneous versus progressive sanctification at all, but about instantaneous versus progressive conversion.  I am serious however about the “battle line.”  How can those convinced that God can in an instant purify the heart of a believer get that message across to someone who has experienced no crisis of conversion or even is able to testify to any deliverance in their life to date that occurred in a moment. Yes, they people have been delivered—but not in a moment, but only after a long period of gradual growth and increasing victory and diminishing defeat.  Could it be that while the remnants of the holiness movement is fighting a rear guard action trying to defend instantaneous sanctification, the progressive-conversion generals are taking the field.  Can a crisis sanctification survive when a crisis conversion  disappears?


[16] I continue to believe that confessing our movement’s death was the right thing to do.  Though a host of in-house denominational theologians rushed to claim how healthy the movement really was, the subsequent ten years have shown that the movement was indeed dead as we have known it. Was it wise to pronounce it dead?  I still believe so, though if it was not in fact dead, the address may have hastened to make it so.  One of my own regrets is how the address was “used” by people with their own agendas.  On one end folk used the address to show that holiness was indeed dead in the so-called “mainline holiness churches” and the holiness people still in those churches should come out and join the true holiness people in the independent or separated churches.  On the other end were some denominational officials (and many pastors of larger churches) who gleefully used the address to usher in a new post-holiness era in the denomination.  However I have come to accept the fact that when you write or speak people will use your remarks for their own purposes.  In these matters I trust God as the final arbiter and judge as to weather the address helped or hindered His will for the church.

[17] At the time I did not see how the dying church growth movement would be temporarily replaced by PromiseKeepers but only for a short time.  The next real movement would be the worship movement  and the church’s attention would  largely abandon any interest in discipleship, spiritual transformation, the spiritual disciplines, Christian Education or life change as we became absorbed in praise as if praise itself would sanctify the church causing the chains of sin to fall away.  As I write this retrospective almost five years after the turn of the millennium I see the worship movement losing steam like these other movements did.  What will sweep in next?  Could it be a new holiness movement in some sort of disguise?  We hope so, but cannot say.  Do our churches need more than ever holy people?  By all means!  While we may be more inclusive and less legalistic than we were ten years ago,, but is there anyone who claims the church today has a more holy people?  We await God’s next move, and hope it raises the level of holy living of His people.


[18] My call for “a new holiness movement” turned out to be nothing more than an empty call.  The movement’s remains spent the next decade quibbling over their life or death, CHA gradually sunk into oblivion, the holiness denominations drifted into becoming mainline evangelicals, and nobody rose to lead the re-invention of the holiness movement.  The so-called “holiness splinter groups” took temporary delight in feeling like they were a loyal remnant, but most failed to do much beyond the walls of their own churches.  Certainly few are effective at convincing the larger evangelical church of the message John Wesley held so dear. So we wait.  Unless movements are largely created by men and women and not God, then we must turn to God to see how he will raise up the next holiness movement.  How long will He wait?

[19] In a basically pessimistic analysis of how the movement died I offered two glimpses of hope. First, that God might raise up a new movement outside the holiness movement. Second, that God might resurrect the holiness movement itself and bring a new movement though it.  I still hope for both but have more hope for the first than the second.

[20] Though I knew I was “bearding the Lion” in this original address I was not prepared for the earthquake of a response to it.  The proclamation that the “emperor had no clothes” was not taken lightly by many.  Most denominational officials condemned the address as excessive and missing the point that “we still have a holiness doctrine even though we’ve escaped the legalism of the movement.”  Others silent while rejoicing in private thinking that this might be a means of shutting down CHA, something they had south for years. Scholars responded seriously expanding the points to include theological matters beyond my sociological analysis of “why the patient died.”  Successful large church pastors simply grinned that the address finally stated the obvious—the movement was gone and these pastors often had no regrets.  Though I closed with some sense of hope the address was indeed mostly pessimistic.  In a later address at Indiana Wesleyan University titled “Hope for the Holiness movement” I expanded what I saw as signs that could turn into a new movement I am mostly disappointed with the later history.  PromiseKeepers popularized the best holiness chorus of the recent decades (Purify my heart) the movement staggered and drifted into becoming just another para-church organization.  Young people continue to have a heart for holiness, but are hard to convince there is a “shorter way.”   Yet I am hopeful today.  It isn’t our problem, but God’s.  Only God can raise a movement like this again, and thus praying that He will is the best strategy of hope.  I care little for the “remnant mindset” of some remaining holiness people.  Why?  Because I believe God’s great concern is for the shallowness and sinfulness of his entire church—more than a billion of them around the world.  I suspect of God is right now raising up another holiness movement it will not be one that “preserves the message” in a remnant mindset, but will be an aggressive, militant movement intent on spreading the message across every land.  The next holiness movement will not try to build their own church or denomination so much as infect every church so that the all of God’s people will become a holy people.  To this day I look forward.