Søren & John

Chapter 6 from “The Holiness Manifesto” is entitled: “Holiness: Sin’s Anticipated Cure”. It’s written by Diane Leclerc, professor of Historical Theology and Homiletics for Northwest Nazarene University. I gotta say….neat stuff.

First she lays out the need for such discussion. Her students aren’t miscommunicating holiness, because they’re not attempting to communicate it at all. This is because no one is communicating it to them, for fear of getting it wrong. But I agree with her stance: WE MUST SPEAK.

Her approach goes through the existentialist views of Kierkegaard, not as perfect but as helpful for setting a frame to lay the theology of John Wesley as a response to. Kierkegaard’s writings on “Sickness Unto Death”, and the fallen nature he believed we are all born into, build a great need for something “other” to enter the picture. Through Wesley, we see prevenient grace as the potentiality in the structure of our being given to us by the Spirit that keeps us in balance…that keeps our despairing at bay.

Kierkegaard believed that on our own, we are unable to relate to God, others, ourselves, or anything our “self” relates to, because of how fractured/distorted our “self” is due to sin. Wesley believed in a deep and pervasive definition of sin, BUT also believed in the pervasiveness of grace in the world and in our hearts, even BEFORE we exercise faith.

Kierkegaard’s “Knight of Infinite Resignation” (comparing to Abraham’s infinite resignation of Isaac), in her writings, becomes Wesley and the New Testaments’ calling towards becoming “new creations”, and the activity of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. She draws in a story of Phoebe Palmer, and others who have dramatically had to let go of aspects of their own “selves” in order to move towards sanctification. Through the Spirit, we are enabled/transformed towards something altogether new. This newness opens a door towards “true humanity”, allowing us to become even more than Adam or Eve ever could.

“While prevenient grace gives us the “acorn”, our potential begins to process of actualization most acutely at the moment of our second birth. It is here that the process that we have called (new creation) truly begins.”

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