It is thus that we wait for entire sanctification; for a full salvation from all our sins, from pride, self-will, anger, unbelief; or, as the Apostle expresses it, “go on unto perfection.” But what is perfection? The word has various senses: Here it means perfect love. It is love excluding sin; love filling the heart, taking up the whole capacity of the soul. It is love “rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, in every thing giving thanks.” [Sermon 43--The Scripture Way of Salvation]
“Well, but what more than this can be implied in entire sanctification?” It does not imply any new kind of holiness: Let no man imagine this. From the moment we are justified, till we give up our spirits to God, love is the fulfilling of the law; of the whole evangelical law, which took place of the Adamic law, when the first promise of “the seed of the woman” was made. Love is the sum of Christian sanctification; it is the one kind of holiness, which is found, only in various degrees, in the believers who are distinguished by St. John into “little children, young men, and fathers.” The difference between one and the other properly lies in the degree of love. And herein there is as great a difference in the spiritual, as in the natural sense, between fathers, young men, and babes. [Sermon 83--On Patience]
Entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God. The Refiner’s fire purges out all that is contrary to love, and that many times by a pleasing smart. Leave all this to Him that does all things well, and that loves you better than you do yourself. [Letters to Mr. Walter Churchey, of Brecon]
Unsettled ChristianityOne blog to rule them all, One blog to find them, One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Archive for the ‘Holiness’ Category
Modesty taught me that I was always on display. There was no occasion in which it was acceptable to be immodest. Not the beach, not at the pool with friends, not in my own backyard (sunbathing was out because a neighbor might glance over and see me). This took my normal self-consciousness as a teenage girl and amped it up to an impossible degree. I once had a bee fly down my (acceptably loose) shirt and, in flailing around to get it out, had a family member comment that I’d just “flashed” my own grandfather. I was horrified for the rest of the week. That’s not normal. The normal order of priorities is getting dangerous animals out of your clothing first, and then worrying about making your own relatives perv on you second. Not so with the modesty doctrine. I should have let it sting me, apparently. Getting stung was the lesser risk.
Read. Listen. Read. Look. Pray. Read.
The Christian rhetoric of modesty, rather than offering believers an alternative to the sexual objectification of women, often continues the objectification, just in a different form.
Thanks to AW for this via Twitter.
I remember when I posted this post a few years ago and the heat I took in my former place, er cult, er whatever…
This is an assignment due today. Thought I’d post it. Rip it to shreds, my friends:
Deontological ethics are those ethics based upon rules which have various sources such as Divine Command, Natural Law, Covenant and Rules, and Covenants and Contracts. The name of these ethics is derived from the Greek word deon which simply means something necessary. Thus, we should understand that deontological ethics are those rules which are seen as necessary for one reason or another, such as identity forming or because they are the will of God. They are seen as an obligation for the rule followers because it binds them to the rule-maker, which in some cases may be God or one another in a society. These ethics have a weakness in that they often produce rules which prevent good or better actions. Lovin gives the example of a Church steward who in following the letter of the law, is unable to make the local congregation more money on its investment. Or, following the Trolley Problem as introduced by Philippa Foot, actions are declared wrong regardless if by committing one ‘sin’ (or breaking one rule) better actions result. The results matter little in this genre of ethics, only the morality of the action. In the end, it simply doesn’t allow the individual or society to seek results, only to follow the rules.
In teleological ethics regards the “good” as an object of the goal. (Lovin, 22) As Lovin points out, the development of these ethics comes to fruition in the developments of the late 18th and early 18th century democracies. Simply put, it was the ethics of what causes the most happiness to those interested. It allowed societies to question antiquated rules and establish new norms to reflect the new sense of human destiny. These ethics involve achieving a goal, but as Lovin points out, the goals are often difficult to find. Others have noted that this idea of communal happiness has its drawbacks in that often times, rights or long standing rules which are meant to preserve order can be dispensed with because the communal happiness is in question. Bentham is incorrect when he notes that our interests outpace our fears. Both drive one another, and in a teleological society, they can be driven against the minority. Further, as Lovin seems to note, teleological ethics seems to multiply our consumerism in that the objects are multiplied. However, I also note that Lovin notes the positive aspect of teleological ethics, “(T)he principle of community suggest that we should choose those goals that enrich the lives of other people and enable them to live good lives of their own (31).” Perhaps in a teleological ethics of that principle, one can focus on the more positive interests and put their fears at bay.
Virtue ethics are based on the individual and their agency. Unlike the previous two, it is more individualistic and seems to be more situational. On these virtues, Lovin writes, “Virtues are the admirable qualities of persons that emerge from an examination of their narratives and that shape their moral lives (63).” Further, Lovin notes Aristotle who believes that virtue can be learned (64) and then writes that the rules which the individuals have learned have become inseparable from their personas (65). The focus then is not on rules or goals, but on the person themselves, so that once the person is a well-defined virtuous being, they would be expected to take part fully in either a deontological or teleological society. These particular set of ethics deal with individuality morality, which Lovin is able to connect several times to the Christian narrative (for example, 67, in which Lovin connects the Sermon on the Mount as a set of virtues) and to theological virtues. As Augustine, Aquinas and Lovin have noted, the essential moral virtues can be categorized as: temperance, courage, prudence, and justice (68). Of course, the weakness here is that virtues differ from culture to culture, and from time to time, something Lovin notes as well (67). A strength, however, is that these set of ethics seem to be able to be cultivated.
The weakness of the various categories of ethics are easily seen. Deontological ethics doesn’t allow to the result to be factors into the decision making process. It begins with the morality of the action, taken in the abstract, and forces one to align their actions in the concrete with the rule. In teleological ethics, while a good result is the desired goal, it refuses to allow the goal to be easily defined. Happiness for the community may be seen differently by the individuals. Further, with no concrete goal, the need to constantly expand the concept of happiness appears, giving a consumerism view to the community. In virtue ethics, the individual is in view, with the determined goal to make him or her a moral creature; however, the weakness here is that virtue is defined by the time and place of the individual. The strengths then, reverse the trend of moving further away and rejoin the three categories.
In virtue ethics, the morality of the individual is cultivated to produce a rational and reasonable creature who fits into the teleos of the society at large. If gives individuality to the society, in that the individual is the building block of a society. The teleos can now be said to rest on group-morality rather than individualistic pursuits. The moral creature is, in society, given a collective goal and purpose beyond commodity production. It is, then, the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness which the society is centered on. Once the individual is cultivated to be moral, and the teleos is declared to be right, then the deontological rules developed will serve as a social contract which protects the individual while maintaining the pursuit of the society. A society cannot start with rules and build ethics, neither give itself a purpose which is then supposed to bring about ethics, and neither can an individual exist as moral without purpose and rules.
I close with Lovin’s final words, “So the moral life, instead of being a way to defend ourselves, becomes a way to love our neighbors and a way to love God as well.” The moral life, then, is made up of rules and purpose, but the individual’s response to morality, and for the Christian, the individual’s response to God’s morality.
 Philippa Foot, The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect in Virtues and Vices (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978)
 I note in the Divine Command aspect, the example in 1st Samuel 16 should be ignored. In this passage God allows Samuel to break several rules to address the dangerous situation, which secured a better result over against the result which would have happened if Samuel had obeyed the rules.
 Scheffler, Samuel (Ed.) (1988). Consequentialism and Its Critics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 I note the Patriot Act and Lovin’s words on 25, “We would not think we had achieved the good life if the price we had to pay for material security was the surrender of control over our future or the denial of beliefs and values we hold most dear.” Further, there is the value of individualism which is surrendered in our consumeristic society.
- Human Rights and Deontological Ethics (filipspagnoli.wordpress.com)
- Why Save Lives? They’ll just go hungry – Teleological Ethics [mission.hack] (hackingchristianity.net)
- Confessions of an Ex-Moralist (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)
Among the many heinous sins for which this nation is grown infamous, perhaps there is no one more crying, but withal more common, than the abominable custom of profane swearing and cursing. Our streets abound with persons of all degrees and qualities, who are continually provoking the holy one of Israel to anger, by their detestable oaths and blasphemies: and our very children, “out of whose mouths,” the psalmist observes in his days, “was perfected praise,” are now grown remarkable for the quite opposite ill quality of cursing and swearing. This cannot but be a melancholy prospect, for every sincere and honest minister of Jesus Christ, to view his fellow-creatures in; and such as will put him on contriving some means to prevent the spreading at least of so growing an evil; knowing that the Lord (without repentance) will assuredly visit for these things. But alas! what can he do? Public animadversions are so neglected amongst us, that we seldom find a common swearer punished as the laws direct. And as for private admonition, men are now so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, that to give them sober and pious advice, and to show them the evil of their doings, is but like “casting pearls before swine; they only turn again and rend you.” Since matters then are come to this pass, all that we can do is, that as we are appointed watchmen and ambassadors of the Lord, it our duty from time to time to show the people their transgression, and warn them of their sin; so that whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, we however may deliver our own souls. That I therefore may discharge my duty in this particular, give me leave, in the name of God, humbly to offer to your most serious consideration, some few observations on the words of the text, in order to show the heinousness of profane cursing and swearing.
From one of his sermons:
Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered? Jeremiah 8:22
1. This question, as here proposed by the Prophet, relates only to a particular people, — the children of Israel. But I would here consider it in a general sense, with relation to all mankind. I would seriously inquire, Why has Christianity done so little good in the world? Is it not the balm, the outward means, which the great Physician has given to men, to restore their spiritual health? Why then is it not restored? You say, Because of the deep and universal corruption of human nature. Most true; but here is the very difficulty. Was it not intended, by our all-wise and almighty Creator, to be the remedy for that corruption? A universal remedy, for a universal evil? But it has not answered this intention it never did; it does not answer it at this day. The disease still remains in its full strength: Wickedness of every kind; vice, inward and outward, in all its forms, still overspreads the face of the earth.
But why is it that so little advantage is derived from it to the Christian world? Are Christians any better than other men? Are they better than Mahometans or Heathens? To say the truth, it is well if they are not worse; worse than either Mahometans or Heathens. In many respects they are abundantly worse; but then they are not properly Christians. The generality of these, though they hear the Christian name, do not know what Christianity is.
Now, whatever doctrine is preached, where there is not discipline, it cannot have its full effect upon the hearers.
To bring the matter closer still. Is not scriptural Christianity preached and generally known among the people commonly called Methodists? Impartial persons allow it is. And have they not Christian discipline too, in all the essential branches of it, regularly and constantly exercised? Let those who think any essential part of it is wanting, point it out, and it shall not be wanting long. Why then are not these altogether Christians, who have both Christian doctrine and Christian discipline? Why is not the spiritual health of the people called Methodists recovered?
Read the entire sermon. For Wesley, it is about Christian discipline and doctrine, which seemed to be found only in the Methodists… Surely he is not saying what I think he is saying…
Anyway, but what he is really saying is that many Christians, the world over, do not allow Christianity to work because while they bear the name, they are ignorant of anything actually Christian. I don’t know if he was correct then, but I contend that he is assuredly correct today. Medicine is only useful if you use it properly. Having it on the shelf will allow the sore to fester. To use it incorrectly may lead to something much worse.
Preach it Brother John!
- Do Christians sin? (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- Diary of John Wesley – Introduction and Chapter 1 (rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com)
- Young Johnny in youth group (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- Must you repent? (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- True Methodist vitality (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- Being good is not the point (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
I can name 2.
The Sunday before Memorial day.
The Sunday before or on the 4th of July.
Why? The church has become so enculturated that it is encouraging its members to worship the American flag. That was my experience today. We can celebrate those who “died for” our country, but not in Christ as saints (All Saints Day)?
Are there any others I am leaving out?
In a recent class, I heard someone say that the bible doesn’t speak to sexual ethics. I was, well, stunned. How utterly stupid. But, I digress. One of the many helpful insights which I found in the NOAB NRSV are snippets of information such as this:
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mar 9:42-50 NRS)
According to rabbinical language, Christ is speaking to sexual discipline. You can find more of the explanation here. (Actually, at that link, there are a lot of good thoughts about sexual discipline, but I don’t feel like exploring them at the moment)
Of particular note is v42 which speaks to children. The NOAB notes that rabbinical literature has the same language and it is speaking of sexual abuse of children.
I notice something here. Of the other sexual sins (read the link), there is a remedy, but of child molesters, Christ condemns them to the justice of the waters of chaos which ceases to exist in the New Creation:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. (Rev 21:1 NLT)
(Although I admit that I may in fact be confusing authors and their cosmology, regardless…)
Christ doesn’t give them a remedy, unlike he does other sexual sins.
So does love actually win? For everyone?
- What are Some Signs of Child Molestation? (cshennecy.wordpress.com)
- Why Child Molestation Should Not Always Be Illegal
- How child molesters justify their actions (physorg.com)
Now the question arises what is sanctification, since it has so lofty a rank. Thou shouldest know that real sanctification consists in this that the spirit remain as immovable and unaffected by all impact of love or hate, joy or sorrow, honour or shame, as a huge mountain is unstirred by a gentle breeze. This immovable sanctification causes man to attain the nearest likeness to God that he is capable of. God’s very essence consists of His immovable sanctity; thence springs His glory and unity and impassibility. If a man is to become as like God as a creature may, that must be by sanctification. It is this which draws men upward to glory, and from glory to unity, and from unity to impassibility, and effects a resemblance between God and men. The chief agent in this is grace, because grace draws men from the transitory and purifies them from the earthly. And thou shouldest know that to be empty of all creature’s love is to be full of God, and to be full of creature-love is to be empty of God. – From his sixth sermon
I am not a Wesley scholar, nor will I pretend to be. Instead, I will say that from what I’ve read and the little work that I’ve done on Wesley and the East, I see in Eckhart a synergism of the two. (Or maybe Wesley pulled a lot from Eckhart who mirrored the East in several ways.) At the very least, both see sanctification as something not attained to immediately but a process.
I am studying some of the medieval mystics in the West, and one which keeps coming to me is Meister Eckhart. There is a society devoted to studying him. You can read some of this sermons, an analysis of this doctrines, and even a modern Roman view.
- Whoever possesses God in their being, has him in a divine manner, and he shines out to them in all things; for them all things taste of God and in all things it is God’s image that they see.
- People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are. If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous. We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works.
- It is a fair trade and an equal exchange: to the extent that you depart from things, thus far, no more and no less, God enters into you with all that is his, as far as you have stripped yourself of yourself in all things. It is here that you should begin, whatever the cost, for it is here that you will find true peace, and nowhere else. Talks of Instruction
- In 1985 the Pope, John Paul II, said: “Did not Eckhart teach his disciples: ‘All that God asks you most pressingly is to go out of yourself – and let God be God in you’? One could think that, in separating himself from creatures, the mystic leaves his brothers, humanity, behind. The same Eckhart affirms that, on the contrary, the mystic is marvelously present to them on the only level where he can truly reach them, that is in God.
- Here in time we are celebrating the eternal birth which God the Father bore and unceasingly bears in eternity, because this same birth is now born in time, in human nature. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- The soul in which this birth is to take place must keep absolutely pure and must live in noble fashion, quite collected, and turned entirely inward: not running out through the five senses into the multiplicity of creatures, but all inturned and collected and in the purest part: there is His place; He disdains anything else. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- Here God enters the soul with His all, not merely with a part: God enters here the ground of the soul. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- Though it may be called a nescience, and unknowing, yet there is in it more than all knowing and understanding without it; for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from yourself as well. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- The soul is scattered abroad among her powers, and dissipated in the action of each. Thus her ability to work inwardly is enfeebled, for a scattered power is imperfect. [German sermon 2, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- Do not imagine that your reason can grow to the knowledge of God. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- No. Be sure of this: absolute stillness for as long as possible is best of all for you. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- You should know that God must act and pour Himself into the moment He finds you ready. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- To be receptive to the highest truth, and to live therein, a man must needs be without before and after, untrammelled by all his acts or by any images he ever perceived, empty and free, receiving the divine gift in the eternal Now, and bearing it back unhindered in the light of the same with praise and thanksgiving in our Lord Jesus Christ. . [German sermon 6, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- Since it is God’s nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. . [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- So, when I am able to establish myself in nothing, and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the Spirit. [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- There is a power in the soul which touches neither time nor flesh, flowing from the spirit, remaining in the spirit, altogether spiritual. . [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- One means, without which I cannot get to God, is work or activity in time, which does not interfere with eternal salvation. ‘Works’ are performed from without, but ‘activity’ is when one practises with care and understanding from within. [German sermon 9, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- It is a certain and necessary truth that he who resigns his will wholly to God will catch God and bind God, so that God can do nothing but what that man wills [German sermon 10, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- If you seek God and seek Him for your own profit and bliss, then in truth you are not seeking God. [German sermon 11, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- We find people who like the taste of God in one way and not in another, and they want to have God only in one way of contemplation, not in another.I raise no objection, but they are quite wrong. [German sermon 13a, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- I declare truly that as long as anything is reflected in your mind which is not the eternal Word, or which looks away from the eternal Word, then, good as it may be, it is not the right thing. [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- For he alone is a good man who, having set at nought all created things, stands facing straight, with no side-glances, towards the eternal Word, and is imaged and reflected there in righteousness. [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- The human spirit must transcend number and break through multiplicity, and God will break through him; and just as He breaks through into me, so I break through into Him. [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
- Above thought is the intellect, which still seeks: it goes about looking, spies out here and there, picks up and drops. But above the intellect that seeks is another intellect which does not seek but stays in its pure, simple being, which is embraced in that light. . [German sermon 19b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
Something struck me as I was reading this quote by Ursula Flemming,
Meister Eckhart says that the man who finds no taste of God wearies of looking for him. One of the criticisms of Christianity, and one of the reasons why many young Christians turn to the East, to Buddhism or to Hinduism, is that in Christianity there is no apparent help with method. How do we find God? How do we even start? Eckhart is one of the Christians who faces this and accepts it as a problem. Good intentions are not always enough. We need instruction in how to make ourselves fit to receive the revelation of God, to receive the eternal birth. (Fleming, 1995)
What struck me was the similarity in thought to John Wesley,
“It may be needful to specify whom I mean by this ambiguous term; since it would be lost labor to speak to Methodists, so called, without first describing those to whom I speak.
“By Methodists I mean, a people who profess to pursue (in whatsoever measure they have attained) holiness of heart and life, inward and outward conformity in all things to the revealed will of God; who place religion in an uniform resemblance of the great object of it; in a steady imitation of Him they worship, in all his illimitable perfections; more particularly, in justice, mercy, and truth, or universal love filling the heart, and governing the life.” — John Wesley, Advice to the People Called Methodists (ht)
Both seemed to be searching for the holiness of the heart found only in God.
I was listening to the radio the other day and a song with these lyrics came on the radio. Guess I hadn’t thought about it much, but you know, I don’t like that phrase. For several reasons, but for one, because I cannot win ‘Heaven’. I cannot gain it, or conquer it, or earn it.
For my ESV readers -
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation….Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Rom 5:8-11,18 ESV)
So, what is it that I have to win exactly that has not already been given to me?