“There is no holiness but social holiness.”—John Wesley
“…what commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “the foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One Lord; And you shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Jesus of Nazareth
Recently, I have had numerous conversations with some Wesleyan pastors and students who have voiced some concern over holiness issues and the negative impact popular evangelicalism has had on our denomination (The Wesleyan Church) and local congregations. What is being defined as popular evangelicalism is personal holiness. Reflected in our preaching, conversations, budgets and programs; the message seems to be that personal holiness is what really counts. All the things we hold dear - personal righteousness entire sanctification, tithing, worship, discipleship, and ministry programs tend to stem from the mindset of ‘personal holiness’.
The concern that some folks have for popular evangelicalism is the under emphasis of a more holistic idea of holiness. Holiness should not only bring about personal piety, but also cause the body to counter social injustices, influence political powers to effect change, conserve the resources of God’s creation, and so forth.
I would like to open up this conversation to you, so what do you think?
1. What does an overemphasis of personal holiness say about our theology?
2. What is your definition of personal holiness? What about social holiness?
3. Is the issue of personal holiness and social holiness a both/and OR either/or issue?
4. Is the Wesleyan Church doing a good job in educating and promoting social holiness?
5. What other thoughts do you have on Social Holiness (social justice, social action, etc.) and/or Personal Holiness?