Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...

"True holiness will not keep us from the world, but drive us into it in faith"

Phoebe Palmer and Social Holiness...

A long gone conversation on Holiness which for me dovetailed with another long gone discussion on Mission sent me looking and reading about different characters largely thanks to Andrew.

Phoebe Palmer is cropping up in my reading a lot recently. Several issues intrigue and excite me particularly how Holiness was worked out through 'actions of love' particularly through the Five Points Mission in a inner city deprived area of New York City.

I read this
"Phoebe Palmer preached that holiness insures usefulness. These nineteenth- Century followers of Wesley believed it was their duty as Christians to be useful. Holiness doctrine, with its emphasis on love, provided the basis for social holiness which is the Wesleyan/Holiness equivalent of the social gospel. The phrase “social holiness” is borrowed from Wesley who wrote: “The Gospel of Christ knows . . . of no holiness but social holiness.”"
I'm also intrigued to Charles White's book title on Phoebe Palmer - Beauty of Holiness: Phoebe Palmer As Theologian, Revivalist, Feminist, and Humanitarian. White, C ( 1986). The price on Amazon at £81 is a little off putting!

I wonder whether Phoebe Palmer would align herself to Mike Riddell's view that:-
"True holiness will not keep us from the world, but drive us into it in faith" Riddell.M (1998)


Andrew Bale said...

Gordon - without Phoebe Palmer there would have been no Charles Finney.... without Finney no Catherine Booth... Without Catherine no William etc.

The following is a quot from a book I am writing on holiness (don't hold your breath it's a slow process!)

"When contemporary Christians consider the role of the Holy Spirit the emphasis is often based on what he can do for us rather than on what he can do through us. In today's climate, where all too often the Holy Spirit is seen as nothing more than a "blessing factory", the connection between the ministry of the Holy Spirit and personal purity and social action is often missed. Of course the Holy Spirit is about blessing - of that there is no doubt - but his main function is to educate and empower.

Whilst the most intensely passionate moments of the Christian life may well be spent relaxing in the embrace of the “comforter” the purpose of such intimacy goes much further than just our own happiness. Love remains the most powerful motive that God has at his disposal and it is not given to us so that we might indulge ourselves in isolation from the lost. Christ’s love is always given to us to encourage obedience, in fact if we fail to obey – or at least fail to sense within ourselves the desire to obey – then it never was his love we experienced in the first place.

What is the difference between empty, emotional, sentimental, happy-clappy, hand waving worship and passionate, intense, happy-clappy, hand waving worship? If our Christian faith and practice drives us to evangelical inactivity and makes us insular then it’s of the devil, if it drives us out into the darkness in search of the lost then it’s of God! If it does nothing to increase our righteousness and leaves us weak and helpless it’s of the devil. If it drives us away from weakness and failure into the arms of victory and strength it’s of God. What was it Jesus said when he sent out the disciples “As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:7"

Holiness must drive us towards delivering a social gospel, holiness is the fuel that drives our mission. Acts 2, Methodism, the early SA - all the most active times within the church, all holiness movements.


Thanks for starting this one up again.

Yours under Christ and irrepressibly over the devil


Gordon said...

Andrew - thanks for the sneak preview and helpful contribution.

The Holy Spirit as “comforter” took on a different nuance for me when someone told me that the word comes from the lation con fortis (with strenghth) and then showed me a picture from the Bayeaux Tapestry where a character is prodding some soldiers in the rear!! with a arrow with the caption - 'Bishop Odo comforts the soldiers.'

It kind of takes Holy Spirit as “comforter” beyond the "there there it'll be alright!!"

Thanks for reminding me of this picture - good luck with the book!

Anonymous said...

I'm catching up on my reading after being on holiday and picked up on this!

Two thoughts then:

Andrew: Fully agree with you here! All too often we seek the Spirit's blessing for ourselves but forget that its meant to give us power for the fight! God forgive me for the times I've been guilty of this!

Gordon: Excellent series and my thought on your comment is that maybe Christians can only find true comfort when they are fully commited to the fight!