Monday, October 09, 2006

Holiness is Wholeness: Did You Know that Before?

Did you know that holiness is wholeness? Neither did I until late 2004. Neither did I realize until 2005 that holiness was the most important character trait to God and for ourselves. And finally, neither did I realize that this is also the thing that matters the most to turning the tide for the Christian Church and its struggles at present. Since 2004, I have discovered that from at least the 1300s through the late 1800s, the great majority of Christians, from whom I would trace my Christian faith, knew that holiness is wholeness. The bottom line is this: Our heritage was that holiness is wholeness. For reasons unknown to most, our heritage was not passed on to us in the 20th century.

However, don't take my word alone on what our heritage was supposed to be. The most important denominations within Protestant circles have been the Lutherans, the Reformed (Presbyterians), the Anglicans (Episcopalians), the Methodists and the Baptists. Evangelical groups in general just added an evangelical emphasis or Methodist emphasis without really changing Protestant views significantly. So our heritage can be traced back to the head of Scripture through the hands of Luther, Calvin, Hooker,Wesley and Spurgeon.

Luther defined holiness as wholeness or entirety, as shown in his catechism in speaking about the Holy Spirit, and in at least one other place that I have found. For Calvin, he seems to have spoken about it in the sense of Scripture addressing the whole man. And later in his line of heritage both Jonathan Edwards and Andrew Murray certainly believed that holiness is wholeness. For Richard Hooker, the definitive Anglican, holiness is wholeness in the sense of comprehensiveness, perhaps the major issue for Episcopalians and Anglicans today. For Wesley, we see it in his formula combining entire and sanctification. And before him, his favorite commentator, John Bengel, definitely saw that holiness meant wholeness. For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the greatest direct proof is in his Treasury of David commentary where he makes holiness and wholeness synonymous. So our heritage should have been loaded with this advantage and knowledge. I can only say that this advantage did not reach me until my 43rd year.

Let me add to this summary a few details you can easily access through the internet. I have found many great resources that are available via the internet. I will try to add some periodically. Here are some of them:

First is Charles Finney, Evangelist (mid 1800s):

Second is Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Preacher (late 1800s): (see Ps. 87:1(Andrew Gray), 89:9 (Spurgeon), 96:9 (Le Coute), 99 (Entire chapter), 99:5 (Spurgeon), 103:1(Spurgeon)

Third is Alexander Whyte, Preacher, in his Commentary on Westminster Shorter Catechism (late 1800s):

Fourth is Andrew Murray, Pastor, in his Holy in Christ (1887): (a great book to buy under 2 different titles- also Path to Holiness)

Fifth is Rev. James Petigru Boyce, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1887): (see chapter 10)

Sixth is Charles Henry Brent, The Mount of Vision (1918):

Seventh is Aaron Merritt (A.M.) Hills, Pastor & Professor, Pastoral Theology (1928): (see beginning of "The Minister's Health" )

Eighth is Professor F. A. Finlayson, Free Church of Scotland (1955): (a little too complex)

Ninth is Pastor Ray Stedman, a mentor of Chuck Swindol, author of The Way to Wholeness:Lessons from Leviticus (2005, publ. posthumously by his wife, Elaine Stedman):

Overall, I think you can now see some of the proof of what I am saying. As to how it happened that I and maybe yourself never heard this before, some texts in a church that my wife and I attended were very relevant. The way our legitimate heritage can be lost is too much trust in human nature by itself. As it says among the verses of Isaiah 55: 6-11, with God speaking, "My ways are not your ways." As for the future, I think things can be bright, even if right now holiness does not seem to loom large. Be careful of how you judge the size of holiness is wholeness. Among the parables in Mark 4:26-34 is the parable of the mustard seed which is very small, but grows into something very big. Keep your eyes open the for future. May God bless you as you watch the power of His words, not ours, grow to a very large influence in our day.

In Christ,

Jon Westlund