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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition 1999

When The Holiness Movement Died

There are, no doubt, many secondary factors that could be, and are, involved, but what really happened to the Wesleyan Holiness movement in this twentieth century, in the main, is that she has gone AWOL into antinomian apostasy.

    Now the word "antinomianism" means "lawlessness." We define the term as "election without obedience theology." Central to antinomianism is the idea that being a Christian frees one from God's moral law.

    Antinomianism is seen throughout the modern Holiness movement today in the article of her widespread forsaking of Bible standards of holy living. It has enshrined itself in that recent crowd of erstwhile teachers among us who decried old-fashioned Bible standards of holiness as "legalism." Driven by their own carnal mind, these teachers could not rest content until every vestige of Bible standards had been erased, and unadulterated "worldliness" in dress and secular fashion ruled the day.

    Why did so much of the modern Wesleyan Holiness movement cave into the great moral rebellion that began from the 1960's onward? Because she had already ideologically and theologically apostatized from the foundations of the Christian faith a number of years earlier. You see friends, the problem began in the early years of this century when many Wesleyan-Arminians accepted the Darbyite premillennial (hyper-Calvinistic) interpretation of salvation history.

    The "postponed kingdom" theory of popular dispensationalism was absolutely banal—totally destructive—of the ideological foundations of the Christian faith, because holiness is the kingdom, and to postpone the kingdom means to postpone holiness as well. The "any-moment secret rapture" theory, likewise, mesmerized millions into religious subjectivity (liberal "existentialism,"  or neo-orthodoxy), anti-reason-in-religion, anti-pragmatism in outreach methodologies, and social irresponsibility.

    Historic Wesleyan-Arminian theology went out the window under the auspices of the "late great" dispensational infatuation, and antinomianism worldliness came flooding in the front door.

    Friends, there was a time when a majority of Wesleyan ministers derived their theological training from Larkin's Dispensational Truths, and Blackstone's Jesus is Coming. And in that time-frame period of the 1930's thorough the the 1950's is exactly when, for all intents and purposes, the Holiness "movement," as a distinctive and dynamic entity, died. Her message and her Christ were different that what they had been a brief half-century earlier, when "revival stirring"" was happening among us, and denominations like the Church of the Nazarene were, in a great spiritual baptism of purity and power, being newly born.

Grandfather's generation apostatized from the Christian faith. They lost their children, many of them, to the world and Satan. Now the grand-children form part of a "lost generation" that is nearly total pagan in its apprehension of historic Christian truth. The so-called "conservative holiness" movement" or the "come-outers" of the recent past have made a valiant effort to stem the ever-leveling tide of worldliness sweeping all before it. Sadly, most of these, too, have failed to understand the mysteries of  what Daniel Steele saw in Darby's novel dispensational premillennial theory, as "a substitute for holiness, or antinomianism revived."

The shift is generational. That is why when we think too closely to our own time we fail to understand it. We have to see the broad sweep of history to detect the change. This paradigm Jesus taught us in the parables of "seed-time and harvest in the gospel of the kingdom." The good seed of "sound doctrine" produces a harvest of righteousness and true holiness on earth. The "tares" of false doctrine produce apostasy in Christian churches.

Now don't you think that it's about time that we begin to pay more attention to what we believe, and why? The Twentieth Century Wesleyan holiness movement died when when she lost her Wesleyan-Arminian doctrine. The road back is also through a process of ideological recovery.

    Let's make hast to take it, friends, time is running out.

Now we are not so much the "terminal," generation as we are, more realistically, the "lost" generation. The next generation, if it is not saved to God and holiness from sin and Satan, may well be that generation apocalyptically judged. God help us to take it to heart, and wake up.

Related Article Links

How Dispensationalism Has Led the Wesleyan Movement Into Liberal Theology
If The Foundations Be Destroyed What Can The Righteous Do?

How Premillennialism Destroys The Wesleyan Holiness Movement