Friday, May 29, 2009

Holy Means Whole: According to the Ten Views of Sanctification

How could your title be true you might ask? If there are ten views, how could you propose one view? It is because the ten views show the failure of the meaning of separation to unite Christians around one common view. I think that a viewpoint’s failure may point to the other’s success, though not by itself. It at least adds credibility to the idea of holy means whole.

Also I might mention that it might be more accurate to say somewhere between five and ten views, but I wanted a simple title. There are two key books showing the diversity of opinion.

One is Donald L. Alexander’s Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification. The other is Five Views on Sanctification. This is where I get the idea of ten views, but there is overlap.
In Christian Spirituality, there are the Reformed, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Pentecostal and Contemplative views that are represented. The authors for each in order are Sinclair Ferguson, Gerhard Forde, Laurence Wood, Russell Spittler and E. Glen Hinson. In Five Views on Sanctification, there are in somewhat parallel order, the Reformed, Augustinian-Dispensational, Wesleyan, Pentecostal and Keswick views that are represented. The authors for each in order are Anthony Hoekema, John Walvoort, Melvin Dieter, Stanley Horton and J. Robert McQuilkin. So you could say seven views and ten authors to be the most accurate.

Before I go further I want to clarify a very important point. My gift mix does not make me the scholar that these gentlemen are. I respect all ten of them as scholars and some of them have educated me in the things that I know. Yet my gift mix does include that of teacher.

Let me explain the difference. Jesus was a teacher, but while He may have also been an expert in the law, He never refers to Himself that way. On the other hand in Luke 10, we find him discussing things with an expert in the law. In that passage in Luke 10:25-37, Jesus defines the expert in the law as one who knows what is written in the law and he defines the teacher as one who knows how to read it. He asks: “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” I think the first question is what experts ought to know, even if they are not great teachers. I think the second question is what teachers ought to know, even if they are not great experts. I think Jesus worded his two questions the way he did, because of the expert’s role and because of his role in this story.

My role is not that of expert. I am not the most knowledgeable in “what” questions. In college, I turned down a pretty good job offer thinking it involved too much detail for me. What I did not understand is that it would not require me so much to be an expert, as to teach how I read what is written. That I could have been good at, but unfortunately I missed that opportunity.

Now I know that I am a person equipped with the gift of teaching, but not necessarily that of knowledge or expertise. These ten men can beat me in that area. But when I read their material, I think I see something others may miss in reading. I see the same basic idea for the definition of holy as being that of separation. I do not read the same thing there that I read in Luther, Calvin, Hooker, Wesley(?) and Spurgeon. A new definition is being proposed by all ten men, when you read them.

Their failures to solve so many problems between themselves means maybe there is something wrong from the beginning. Maybe holy or sanctification are being defined wrongly. I know this may add only probability to the idea that holy means whole. But it adds more than that. It adds a great reason to read the previous experts of previous generations and see “what is written” in their pages that is not written now.

Happy reading to all of you. If you want to save some time, then feel free to read my other entries of quotes in my previous blog entries. I have many more quotes I wish I had time to already make available, but it will already give you a generous start. God’s riches blessings to you for reading.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon