Friday, March 14, 2014

“A Plain Account”

In the 1960s and 70s the General Superintendents listed off evidences that indicated the downward spiral of the world. Some of these evidences were in the wars that were present at the time, as well as the instability of governments and economies. They also listed “the growth and exploitation of sex and lust…education stressing unbelief in God and the Bible…the disregard of God’s commandments and violation of the Sabbath…the deluge of degrading literature; the vagrancy of society in breaking the Ten Commandments; the wasteland of much television and other so-called entertainments…God-and-morals-forgetting theories of relativism…” Around this time William Deal wrote that one could not discern for themselves whether or not another individual had received the grace of entire sanctification. He believed that “one should not presume to judge another person’s experience. Deal made a distinction between occasionally over-eating and gluttony. He wrote, “While it most certainly is wrong to constantly overeat to the detriment of the body, it is just as certainly not sinful to overeat sometimes more or less by accident. One often does not feel he has overeaten until well afterward. This is not gluttony but poor judgment.” Quanstrom notes that distinguishing “between carnal anger and righteous indignation was a more difficult matter.” Deal wrote that righteous indignation “is a form of holy hatred against sin but it can never for an instant possess the smallest amount of hatred for the offending person or persons. It is the evil against which this righteous zeal must be manifested and not the person manifesting it.” According to Richard Taylor, there is a difference between carnality and humanity. He wrote, “We must learn to distinguish between our earthiness and sin, and then learn to let the indwelling Spirit work through our earthiness – maybe even mend some of the cracks a little….When we were still in an unsanctified state, it was important that we came to understand our carnality. Now that we have been cleansed, we need to come to an understanding of our humanity, particularly in its relation to the sanctified life.” Purkiser believed that there were psychological drives that should not be classified as sin. These were “(1) A natural gravitation to ‘ease, idleness, luxury, comfort, self-liberty, and making ample provision for bodily comforts and enjoyments.’ (2) A tendency to be warm and enthusiastic toward certain virtues and graces, particularly those with which we are naturally well-endowed, while utterly sluggish and indifferent to other virtues and graces. (3) ‘The human spirit is instinctively and universally in love with itself, and without being educated to it, will intuitively look out for itself, and mix up the principle of self-love in everything it does.’ (4) Excessive levity and foolishness: ‘A soul filled with God…is cheerful but not volatile.’ (5) Unevenness, fluctuation of mood and a corresponding tendency to act spasmodically.” Quanstrom’s assessment of these careful distinctions is that they led to the belief that “any ‘failure’ subsequent to the experience of entire sanctification could by definition be attributed to the fact of a person’s humanity, since all sin had been eradicated by the second work of grace. Consequently, what was sin for the unsanctified became simply personality faults in the entirely sanctified.” Going back to John Wesley himself was potentially problematic for the Nazarenes “because John Wesley’s writings were not entirely consistent with the holiness writings that the Church of the Nazarene had previously recommended as authoritative and with which they had long been familiar. There were significant points of divergence between Wesley’s explication of entire sanctification and the denomination’s understanding.” According to Wesley, the evidence for entire sanctification was in the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer. Quanstrom’s assessment at the end of chapter is that Nazarenes had begun to move away from the idea of an instantaneous moment of entire sanctification in order to give more attention to the idea of “gradual growth in Christlikeness that was to accompany the grace of entire sanctification.”

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