Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Theses to Holiness Denominations

Many years ago Martin Luther posted Thesis to the Roman Catholic Church. He did not wish to cause a split, he was truly attempting to get people to see the issues, address them, and change them. My heart is the same. These are very serious problems, I am writing this seriously. My heritage is found in these denominations but they must address if they are to not just survive but enter into the Kingdom & regain their purpose. 

1. When Jesus said "repent" he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting
2. Sin will always remain until we enter Heaven... "Simul justus et pecator."
3. Many holiness movements claim to be egalitarian, however, few women are seen as heads of local church bodies.
4. The church through church penalties and stances is producing a ‘human crop of weeds’ that can correctly answer doctrinal questions or social stances but are wrecked inwardly. 
5. Someone might have bad/incorrect thoughts against the church and they will be scared. This fear is enough penalty without maligning these people or simply labeling them as "bitter".
6. Many people have been hurt by politics, liars, and hypocrisy within the church.
7. Until these hurts have been made known, acknowledged and apologies made the church and denomination may never move forward- like an alcoholic who will not admit they have a problem. 
8. There is no proof that a person is free from sin.
9. Adhering to The Discipline will not save a person.
10. Many who believe (and say) they are "entirely sanctified" do so at their own peril by falling into the sin of pride.
11. If Jesus readily broke Mishna Law how can our leaders say that if Jesus was here he would submit to the "spiritual authority" of the denomination/s? He didn't for the Jews, he would not in this case either. 
12. If the saying, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" then why aren't these denomination's relationships with the gay and lesbian community better? why aren't there more on-going prison ministries? how have they reached out to the pornography industry?
13. People who believe that abiding by the denomination will let them live in salvation will always be damned - along with those who teach it.
14. A man can be free if he sincerely repents - a "membership covenant" is not needed.
15. A true repenter will be sorry for his sins and happily give back to others of their resources and talents. Preaching mandatory "tithes and offerings" trivialize this issue.
16. A Christian who gives to the poor or lends to those in need is doing better in God’s eyes than one who gives "tithes" to a church building campaign.
17. This is because of loving others, love grows and you become more of who God created you to be. A person/church tithing and/or paying USF does not become a better person by these actions.
18. A person who passes by a beggar but pays their "tithe" will gain the anger and disappointment of God.
19. Christians should be taught that they do not NEED to tithe but are allowed to freely give.
20. Headquarters should have more desire for devout prayer than for ready money.
21. It is blasphemy that the words of Jesus are preached less than than those of Paul. Paul is to be interpreted in the light of Jesus, not Jesus in light of Paul. 
22. The wealth of some of the "holiness denominations" is not wildly known among believers and attenders who are struggling financially in a time of recession. People are losing homes & our headquarters and colleges are building bigger and better buildings. 
23. Salvation can be sought for through the church as it has been granted this by Christ... but people can be saved outside of the church walls. 
24. District Superintendents (DS) and bishops have to enforce United Stewardship Fund to keep their jobs and perks (as they currently stand). 
25. Why is there a sliding scale of membership requirements depending on a person's position, title, wealth, and last name? If they are requirements they are for everyone, equally.
26. Don't membership requirements- by their very nature- create a tiered form of Christianity?
27. If DS and General Superintendents had worked as they should have and led by example (with a FEW notable exceptions) the above problems would not exist. 
28. The voting process needs to allow far more accountability for our DS and GS positions.
29. All those who say there is no problem must go. Problems must be tackled.
30. Christians must follow Christ at all cost- even if in disobeying the denomination. 
31. Let Christians experience problems if they must - and overcome them - rather than live a false life based on present holiness teaching.


Sweenus said...

and many, many more!

Anonymous said...

So on #2, you want holiness denominations to adopt "at the same time sinner and saint"? Uhh, so they should just adopt Lutheran theology in your view? Do you want them to adopt a view that says sin is inevitable, but grace overcomes?

Devin The PoetWarrior said...

1. I desire honesty in anyone's relationship & think that the current understanding or living-out of the "holiness" teaching seems to imply sinless-ness.
2. Even IF someone gets to a point that they no longer sin "willfully" they still sin on accident (this is Wesleyan teaching) we still must say they are "sinner & saint" at the same time.

Natedogg said...

Deep thinking, long overdue. I'd like to add a few, if I may:

#32. Make the proclaiming of the Kingdom of Heaven a priority.

#33 Preach discipleship based on the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, not John Maxwell.

Truth in love is what matters. There's great people in the holiness movement, and great things can continue to be done there.

Devin The PoetWarrior said...

Exactly! Great points... especially about the possibility that great good CAN be done through these groups... but only if they can, as a whole, deal with these issues. Otherwise a slow, sad, decline into death is inevitable (see the Church of God churches if anyone doubts me).

Anonymous said...

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 20-25

Anytime that we do not keep Christ first things become distorted. There is a purity in Christ; He can keep us from stumbling, but it is He who does it and not our own efforts. I want to live fully surrendered to Christ. If there are others who are not living a holy life, I still want to be faithful. I find interesting some of your examples. I am quite a bit older than you, and when some movements made their way into the church (movements that you have mentioned) I felt at the time that they weren't completely in line with God's Word. However, I was thought to be "old school" and not relevant, even though my vocation kept me in constant contact with people who needed Christ and even though I was constantly looking for open doors to share my faith and to love others as Christ would. It is interesting that someone younger is criticizing the movements that were supposed to do such wonderful things for the church. Movements come and go, but God's Word never changes. Many founders of Christian movements had to get to the place where they were alone with God, where they stopped looking at all the distractions and just focused on Christ, on God's Word, on their relationship with God and what God wanted them to be. Several years ago I spent about three months reading over twenty chapters of the Bible a day, and I mean praying-reading. I marked every passage where God had expectations for man and also man's response to God. God began to move in my heart mightily. I saw my lack of love for those around me, and, consequently, my very unholy state. I asked forgiveness and consecrated my whole being to Him. It has been a wonderful journey of spiritual growth since then, and I can't begin to describe what it is like to allow God to take all the bitterness away and to replace it with His love. There are those who do not agree with me, but I don't worry much about that. I just know that I have to be faithful to God. I belong to an organized denomination, I agree with its statement of faith, but I do not worship the denomination. Rather, I worship God.

Praying that God will continue to work mightily in your heart.

Devin The PoetWarrior said...

Wow. It is shocking to me how many see these extra-biblical requirements and stances as "helpful"... yet I am reminded of Jesus telling the Pharisees that they "heaped rules upon the peoples' backs & did not lift a finger to help".

I appreciate all of the feedback on this post.

Anonymous said...

I was the person the left the first anonymous comment :)

And I understand your point, by basically saying that it's being understood wrong and strived for in a wrong way, as sinless perfection. But I don't think Luther had sins of infirmity in mind when he said at the same time sinner and saint, and I really don't think Scripture did, for instance in 1 John. So while I see your point, I think people would also get the wrong idea of always being sinner and saint. I think Methodist theology would be severely watered down. I'm UM by the way, and not Wesleyan. But anyway, good discussion!

Clark H Smith said...

Dev, I was going to write you an email in response to this post, but I’m going to share my thoughts here by way of publicly affirming your angst over Weslyan denominationalism. In 1995, I was on my way to a Promise Sleepers conference in Atlanta. A man, Paul James, sat beside me. He plane claimed to be the DS of the Kansas Wesleyan district. He asked me about my affiliation. I spent 30 minutes explaining the theology and structure of the non-denominational independent Christian churches (not the red-cuppers, not the acapella group – the ones in the middle). At the end of my description, this DS said, “It doesn’t sound like there is much difference between my church and yours.” He was dead wrong and I came to painfully realize how much he knew he was lying when he said it.

By bizarre stroke of fate (from which we get the word “fatality”), I wound up serving on staff at a Wesleyan church in Kansas. More bizarrely, that DS was now the pastor of this local church. There, in that church, I discovered and personally experienced what you described in your point: “6. Many people have been hurt by politics, liars, and hypocrisy within the church.” Two examples: When I preach, I introduce myself as “a sinner saved by grace”. I always thought it was a humbling and endearing thing to say. It turned out that one of the founders of the church seethed with theological indignation when I made such statements. He’s one of your Wesleyan “perfect people” who shun all unrighteousness. Well, he shunned pastors who mentioned sin. He, his wife, and his daughter-in-law (the subject of my thoughts at made a practice of unabated destructive gossip. To this day, I can’t get my head around the arrogance and plank-eyed self-justification of these hate-mongers – who ultimately destroyed my ministry at the church.

In your 31 THESES you define a set of problems that are inherently organizational. You could change the necessary words and describe virtually any organization in the world. In your presented case, the organization is built upon what the old-timers called shaking sand. John Wesleyan had unresolved personal failures (hardly as “perfect” as the people who now stand guard over the churches which bear his name) and his peculiar theology doesn’t hold water – as plainly demonstrated by the fact that the denomination has been trying for two centuries to rearticulate Wesley’s claims in some way that they don’t fail under their own weight or the scrutiny of reality. Wesley spent much effort in his waning years trying to explain, defend, and restate many of the inconsistent planks of his platform – most of which stand to this day in direct contradiction of scripture.

Now, here’s the ultimate irony – greater even than me working for a man who lied to me about the similarity of denominational views: Devin Rose is a Wesleyan. In truth, you are Wesleyan born and bred. Let me put it this way, if a man was born to tilt at windmills, I’d think that he wouldn’t get much sleep in Holland. Ya feelin’ me? Iconoclasts never destroy the icons against which they battle. They just wear themselves out. Like Martin Luther, you have rightly identified ungodly, unchristian, unbiblical problems in an institution. Like Luther, you’re stirring up a ton of dust that, when it settles, will not have changed the institution one bit – but it will have changed you. And on that note, I urge you with the words of Paul, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

My name is Clark H Smith, I am a sinner saved by grace. If anyone wants to contend with me over these remarks, I give Devin permission to give you my contact information. But Devin will also warn you, tread lightly. Like Jesus and the money-changers (abusers of religion), I don’t start something and then walk away.