9/15/2008

Social Action & the Holiness Movement

Just in case the youngsters think they're inventing a new thing by calling for greater social action here's some of my heritage.

17 comments:

pk said...

Beautiful write-up! I grew up in the Wesleyan Church, but it took reading Dayton's "Discovering an Evangelical Heritage" to realize the depth of our social action roots.

Story: I sat next to a fellow at our seminary's orientation dinner the other night. He was a 2nd generation Korean-American who was also a 2nd generation Salvation Army officer. As soon as I told I was Wesleyan he beamed from ear to ear and we began talking about some of these very things - he was aware of the connection ;-) When we parted ways he said earnestly, "Don't lose touch with the Wesleyan spirit". I think he was referring to this very spirit that you have outlined.

A quote from William Booth:
"While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight...I'll fight to the very end!"

Nathan Crawford said...

This is great....but where is Luther Lee????? Last year, I was able to present a paper on Lee and his call to social action to the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies Society. People (mostly non-religious scholars) were amazed that within the evangelical movement there was a strong call and movement to see faith in action within society. It was also amazing to see so many "experts" of the Nineteenth Century not understand how important religious/faith people were to both abolitionism and women's suffrage.

Keith Drury said...

NATE I left a thousand people off this list... since virtually everyone in the early holiness movement was involved n social action... so paste your summary of LL (or anyone else) into a comment and I'll add it.

Outside-the-Beltway Drury said...

Although it isn't additional reading, I saw part of an interesting PBS documentary in July that made the connection between the abolition movement, women's rights and suffrage, and even mentioned the Wesleyan chapel in Seneca Falls.

It was very interesting to track how the abolition movement opened the doors to women to be politically active, which in turn fueled their desire to have the same rights as a freed slave--with the holiness movement at its heart...

If I can find the name, I will post it.

Kevin Wright said...

After reading your post I find it interesting that, in many ways, your heritage (or should I say, our heritage) has more in common with Catholics like Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero, than with prominent Evangelicals like Dr. Dobson, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels, even though the latter are looked to as exemplars for our denomination and the former seen as misfits at best, irrelevant at worst.

Of course, both Catholics would have made terrible contemporary Wesleyans because Day smoked cigarettes and both were pacifists.

All joking aside, it's always interested me how similar Wesleyan and Catholic theology are at some points and how similar some of our thirsts for justice are, and yet at the same time, how much we want nothing to do with them.

shawnbarr said...

Thanks for the great history Keith!

Dave Ward said...

This is the Wesleyan church my students are inspired by and want to be a part of which excites me. My class just looked at all the "bad" to reference a previous article of yours recently and wanted to become interdenominational and move beyond the Wesleyan church. Currently students really grasp the meaning and depth of being wesleyan in the broadest since and the Wesleyan Spirit and are inspired and motivated at a surprising level. Yea...it is exciting. I just pray we hold onto other aspects of personal holiness as well. Like the fact that God can set us free from willful sin...small things like that. ;)

I am glad to see people like Rick Warren leading the evangelical movement back in this direction....Glad to see people like Adam and Christy Lipscomb leading our churches back in this direction. Glad to see a boomer writing about it with excitement. ;) But I think you consistently transcend your generation anyway. After all... you don't play golf.

John Mark said...

Kevin, the average Nazarene I know has never even heard of Dorothy Day or Oscar Romero. Of course, I work out in the "sticks" so my experience may not be typical.
Younger evangelicals will probably put us boomers to shame on social action issues. I hope they will not throw the baby out with the bath water as many of my peers have tended to do.
I suppose that's my fundamentalist streak showing......:)

Jo Anne Lyon said...

Thanks Keith, This is why I accepted the job as GS of The Wesleyan Church. I believe we are going to see a great renewal of personal and social holiness that will not let evil proceed unchecked. Keep writing and teachng this is making it happen.
Jo Anne Lyon

Nathan Crawford said...

moCoach,

I was just giving you a hard time:) I have a severe fascination with Luther Lee and think all Wesleyans should be going back and looking at what he does and says. I think that may be where we may be able to find some great resources for bridging the gap between social and personal holiness that really ties into our tradition.

Pastor James said...

Keith,

I love the information in this weeks tuesday column. It goes along with what I've been thinking. I love our past heroes of the faith and their leadership in social action. I love to preach about the abolitionists and their ifluence in the world. I love to think of them as heroes of my heritage. However, in one part of your column you mentioned that there was a new holiness movement amoung young wesleyans. is this a new movement that was born since you wrote the "holiness movement is dead" Am I wrong to think that a lot of our "holiness" emergents are really non-denomination in mentality and there attempts at social holiness are from a inter-denominational church or community church mindset. I think a lot of church plants in the Wesleyan church today are only affiliated with the wesleyan church even though they are supported and funded by the denomination they don't promote the Holiness part of it very much. I think it's the part people look at negatively and with negative connotations such as dress, hair, and strictness. I'm still for social action, holiness and purity of heart, loving God more than sin, but as far as the traditional holiness garb from our past I think this is the part of our denomination that has died.

Just thinking out loud. Maybe I've been out of the loop for too long.

Keith Drury said...

PASTOR JAMES... you ask, "Am I wrong to think that a lot of our "holiness" emergents are really non-denomination in mentality and there attempts at social holiness are from a inter-denominational church or community church mindset."

I think they are more "outcomes" oriented then organization or denomination oriented BUT at the same time they are more corporate and team loyal than boomers so I don't know how that will turn out.

Pastor James said...

Thanks for the reply. I agree my age group is definately more team supportive. I'd love to work with a committed team of Wesleyan Evangelist Soical Holiness people just once. I echo the quote from a previous post, 'This might just work!'

The problem I've seen is that IWU is putting out pastors and leaders that will continue to clash with some of our local churches. IWU is putting our a lot of social holiness people who are on fire for the gospel and ready for change in our denomination. But, then they end up at a Wesleyan Church that's still stuck in the 50's and to try to bring about change is a long slow almost suicidal process for both the church and the pastor. Could this be true or is this just ramblings from a pastor whose been hurt from the change process.

Elizabeth Glass-Turner: named Bitty by quirky Canadian said...

I think it's true that this is an ecumenical crux - kingdom action never negates denominations, but it does transcend them. It goes beyond Catholics and Wesleyans.
C.S. Lewis' influence is strongly backed up by his personal practice, not just his writing. I did a fascinating interview with his stepson, Doug Gresham, last spring.
One time Lewis was walking with a colleague - likely Tolkein - when a man approached Lewis for money. He gave him what he had in his pocket.Tolkein lightly chided him, saying "he'd likely just spend it on drink." Lewis retorted - "so would I."

Ryan Schmitz said...

I may be wrong, but because these persons represent particular movements it seems to me that many of these people seemed to be dividers rather than uniters. Many of their stories seem to have them rebeling from their particular church, either through difference in opinion or method.

The question that I've had since every church history course I sat through, was how much impact would church leaders have had on their particular denominational affiliation had their perseverence been as strong as their passion?

Will this be a repeatative theme in the years to come?

Tim Miller said...

This is definitely a part of our heritage we need to reclaim! I was reading Oswald Chamber's biography, and noted that his reaction to God's Bible School was, "This is Christian socialism!" In other words, this is Christianity's answer to the world's overwhelming social problems. God's Bible School was just one of the holiness outlets doing major social work at that time. And the YMCA and other parachurch organizations also had a lot of holiness influence.

brownie said...

You just cost me $25!! I went to the Christian History website and couldn't stop buying until I picked up some other good reading.

Thanks again, Mentor Keith