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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," October 2009

How Dispensationalism Changed The Old Holiness Message

The original emphasis of the gospel is that all Christians are both called and required to live holy lives. There are no second class believers who can get by and somehow squeak into heaven by doing anything other than following peace with all men and "the sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).

This ironclad, blanket appeal to UNIVERSALISM in the requirement for impartational holiness, as incumbent upon all people now, has always proven be a dynamic motivator of human behavior.

Human nature being what it is, folks will generally take the easier, more comfortable, and less demanding route in spiritual matters. The majority will live on the lowest level of spiritual and moral experience that is deemed acceptable within the confines of the belief systems that they have espoused.

The concept of "universal holiness," then, is necessary to motivate folks to press on to that which is above and beyond any human "comfort zone" that would enshrine any attitudes permitting of any response to God that is less than full commitment--i.e., all for Jesus.

The biblical concept of "universal holiness" has changed within the modern Holiness movement as a consequence of her involvement in late nineteenth century dispensational ideology. That change came with the advent of the "bridehood saints" paradigm of W. B. Godbey, G. D. Watson, and other influential figures of our movement who bought into the novel Darbyite concept of split-off pre-tribulational rapture teaching.

According to this new paradigm, the "bidehood saints" were the entirely sanctified--entire sanctification being the primary qualification for removed in Darbyism's pre-tribulational rapture. Those saved, but not yet wholly sanctified, in this view, would "miss the rapture," and thus have to go through the so-called "tribulation" period.

The above novel teaching of the wholly sanctified as the soon-to-be pre-tribulationally raptured-out bridehood saints was a major departure, doctrinally speaking, from historic Methodism. Old Methodism believed the Bible doctrines of a general resurrection of the dead, and a universal judgment day. This was the primary ideological context from within which she had long urged all mankind to pursue holiness in heart and life.

Accommodation to Watson's dualistic "bridehood saints" analogy, based on the speculative dispensational theory of pre-tribulational rapturism, led, ultimately, to the demise of the once-powerful old Wesleyan concept of "universal holiness" among us. With dispensationalism came Gnosticism into our religious philosophy and Antinomianism into our religious practice. The "shift" these changes represent were subtle, gradual, and deep structure. Few of us are even aware of them.

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