George Whitefield and Wesleyan Perfectionism

Timothy L. Smith


Most are aware of the fact that George Whitefield and John Wesley had differences. But what actually were those differences? Where did they come from? And how did they affect their relationship.

Beginning together in the Holiness Club at Oxford, they believed and preached essentially the same evangelical doctrines. Whitefield was Calvinistic and Wesley was Arminian and eventually these two positions put space between them. Then along came a major misunderstanding, mostly on Whitefield's part that caused a breach. Although they had heated correspondence between themselves, they remained friends and held each other in high esteem.

This paper by Timothy L. Smith explores these issues most capably and opens our eyes to what really happened.



Asa Mahan and the Development of American Holiness Theology

Donald W. Dayton

This paper by Donald Dayton was originally published in the Wesleyan Theological Journal. Dayton traces the development of American holiness theology through the writings of Asa Mahan. "By concentrating on Asa Mahan, who embodies within himself so much of this theological transition, we have also seen more clearly the close interrelationships between the major holiness currents in the nineteenth century: Oberlin perfectionism, the Methodistic holiness movement, and the Keswick movement."

Regardless of what doctrinal approach one takes to holiness, this paper provides a brief overview of the development of holiness teaching in the Nineteenth Century. Some readers will be quite surprised when their "truth" on the subject came into being.



We, The Holiness People; The Things We Beleive and Teach

Harry Edward Jessop

The Holiness Movement never set out to become a church and it has never been monolithic in the particulars of what the various holiness churches and groups believe and practice. Nevertheless, there is a consistency in the core believe of entire sanctification and Christian perfection which are essential to holiness.

Dr. Jessop presents a sensitive and satisfying apology, confronting many of the misconceptions perpetuated against holiness and the things We, the holiness people actually believe.


Holiness and Unity

John W. V. Smith

Holiness, as expressed in the term "perfect love", suggests that holiness people should have no problem practicing unity. However, unity among the holiness movement has been anything but a given fact. In fact, the holiness movement seemed to practice more division and disunion than Christian sects in general.

Smith presents a historical review of the holiness movement in its early days and its practice of having associations while trying to remain a movement within traditional Protestant denominations. That did not work, but lead only to the creation of smaller "holiness" oriented denominations.

One man, D. S. Warner, appears to have had a Biblical and practical outlook on holiness and unity. Smith highlights a few of Warner's critical points on the topic.



The Conservative Holiness Movement

Mark Sidwell

This file research report by Sidwell is an excellent overview of the Holiness Movement in the United States. In particular, he follows the Movement into recent times noting the division of the Movement into a more liberal side and a conservative side, the main focus of the paper.

The Conservative Holiness Movement has been a much ignored segment of the Christian church in America. Often it has been passed over as a mere forerunner of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, to which it bears no real resemblance.

Outward standards, the teaching of entire sanctification, and forms of government have been the main issues that separate this Movement from the more liberal holiness churches. This paper is a MUST READ for any serious student of church history and the history of the Holiness Movement.



Pioneer Days of the Holiness Movement in the Southwest

Charles Brougher Jernigan

Written in 1919, Jernigan recounts the introduction of the teachings of holiness in the Southwestern parts of the United States.

As holiness preaching started infiltrating established denominations, it was met with persecution and many good people were driven out of the churches they grew up in.

In time, holiness associations were developed for the encouragement of holiness people. These associations rejected the idea of forming new churches and insisted that all their members be members of churches.

In time, small holiness denominations and independent churches were formed. Over time, many of these small churches united and eventually the Church of the Nazarene was formed.

Please see our Church of God section for books relating the development and spread of the Church of God Movement.




Nineteen Reasons Why I Am Leaving The Church Of The Nazarene

Glenn Griffith

Griffith is mentioned in the above article on "The Conservative Holiness Movement." Griffith left the Church of the Nazarene and formed the Bible Missionary Union, which later became the Bible Missionary Church. Griffith gives his reasons why he left the Church of the Nazarene in this short book. His points are similar with other holiness leaders that left older holiness denominations at this time (about 1956).


From New Connexion Methodist to William Booth

Victor A. Shepherd


Long before his death, John Wesley perceived a future division among the people called Methodists. As he anticipated, this division happened shortly after his death in 1791. The Methodist movement migrated into three separate and antagonistic groups, one of which was the New Methodist Connexion.

Out of the NMC came a man who made a name for himself in the annals of the greater holiness movement--William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. As a successful evangelist with the NMC, he was ostracized because of his passion to take the gospel to those suffering in poverty and spiritual darkness.


Primitivism in the American Holiness Tradition

Melvin E. Dieter

Dieter contends that although the early American Holiness tradition began with a sense of primitivism, it actually has its roots in the historic church through John Wesley.

Primitivism is the concept that to be the church as taught in the Bible, we must act and believe as did the Early Church in the New Testament. Primitivism began in the early nineteenth century in this country. There were essentially two approaches to primitivism: (1) restitutionism, or restoring the original church that was lost in the Dark Ages and through the Protestant Reformation; and (2) reformationism, or reforming the present church so that it conforms to the Bible model.

This is a very interesting article for people who understand the concept.



Entire Sanctification in Early American Methodism: 1812 to 1835

Allan Coppedge


The Holiness Movement in the United States began in mid-Nineteenth Century. Up to this time, Methodism was the exponent of holiness, perfection, and entire sanctification. Coopedge gives a very interesting discussion of the influence of Methodism on holiness during the decades preceding the birth of the modern holiness movement. Enlightening!

Samuel Brengle and the Development of the Pneumatology of the Salvation Army

R. David Rightmire

This paper is very well researched and documented giving some background on the development of holiness thinking and the influence of Phoebe Palmer on holiness teaching during the early days of the Holiness Movement.

The theology of the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Holiness Movement lay on a spectrum between the gradualism of Wesley to the instantaneous take it by faith of Palmer. Brengle drew a line more on the side of Wesley seeing entire sanctification as an instantaneous experience with a gradual development: a synergy of God's grace and man's obedience.



Methodist Pentecost: The Wesleyan Holiness Revival of 1758-1763

Charles H. Goodwin


Holiness people have a tendency to look at the history surrounding John Wesley and the Methodist Movement through rose colored glasses. We see the glory and excitement,  the persecution, but we tend to overlook the conflict within the Movement itself.

After the height of success most often comes the agony of consolidation of the gains. While the Movement was largely successful, it was not without its difficulties.

Goodwin gives us a brief historical overview of the time and some of the difficulties that accompanied the Revival. During the lifetime of Wesley, there was far more success than failure. When the Revival began to cool in England, it heated up in America.




Biblical Interpretation in the American Holiness Movement: 18751920

Stephen J. Lennox

Holiness people view the Bible as the source of all inspired truth, the foundation and epitome of all doctrine. One would think, then, that all holiness people would be consistent in their interpretation of the Bible, especially on the doctrine salvation and particularly sanctification. But this, painfully, is not so. In this paper, Lennox, contrasts Biblical interpretation practices among the American Holiness Movement with that of John Wesley.




A Century of Holiness Theology

Mark R. Quanstrom

While the Holiness Movement has always stressed the teaching and experience of entire sanctification, there has not been a total and consistent agreement as to what entire sanctification is or how it is achieved.

This article is a review of the book written by Mark Quanstrom in which he explores the history of this vital doctrine in the teachings of the Church of the Nazarene. The angst and controversy surrounding this doctrine in the largest American holiness denomination mirrors almost perfectly that of all other holiness denominations and fellowships.

The conclusion of this article lists 12 doctrines that should typify holiness reaching regardless of any group's view of entire sanctification.




The American Holiness Movement's Paradigm Shift Concerning Pentecost

Victor Paul Reasoner

This article is a must read to help understand the transition from original Wesleyan views on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and entire sanctification and the Wesleyan-Holiness views now common in most holiness churches. The evolution of the teaching is quite dramatic and it is the source of disagreement within the holiness community today. While there is no justification for this disagreement as both sides can be harmonized if they would be willing to listen to each other, it is good for the inquiring student of holiness to be aware of these differences.

An excellent bibliography is included with this article!




The Baptism of the Holy Spirit as Related to the Work of Entire Sanctification

Robert A. Mattke

A short study in which Mattke explores the association of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with entire sanctification.

Water baptism has been controversial in the history of the church, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been largely ignored except by the Holiness Movement in modern times. Even here, there is not agreement on the meaning of these crucial terms.

Mattke somewhat summarizes his study in these words: "Is it not within the realm of possibility that the Holy Spirit initiates a baptism in regeneration which is consummated in entire sanctification?"




The Holiness Churches: A Significant Ethical Tradition

Donald W. Dayton

Dayton presents a concise but short history of the holiness movement, including the origins of many of the prominent holiness churches and groups. He also contrasts holiness churches with modern fundamentalism and evangelicalism, stressing the the difference between the doctrinal focus of evangelicalism and the ethical focus of the holiness tradition. This article brings a much needed sense of credibility and relevance to the holiness tradition in modern times. The reader may be genuinely surprised at some of the accomplishments of the holiness movement in the arena of social justice; there are some things for which the  modern social progressives take the credit that were actually born into American society out of the preaching of holiness.




Christian Perfection: Toward a New Paradigm

H. Ray Dunning


This article might shock the sensibilities of many conservative holiness people. Dunning points out some characteristics of earlier holiness movements, such as valuing experience and testimony over sound theological work, which he feels is responsible for the demise of holiness in modern times--or at least an "identity crisis."

He gives an intellectual discussion on how that approach was of temporary value and driven by the culture of revivalism. He replaces cleansing and purity with maturity of character. In other words, he redefines "perfection" with something short of biblical perfection.

He closes with an admission that he has not regarded the work of the Holy Spirit--divine assistance--but doesn't say what that has to do with perfection.

After reading this, one will understand more about why the modern holiness movement has made itself ineffective.




The Pentecostal League of Prayer: A Transdenominational British Wesleyan-Holiness Movement

Ian M. Randall


Most Americans are aware the England was the "birthplace" of the holiness movement beginning with the Methodist revivals under John Wesley. The United States became a place for a great deal of advance in holiness and because of that we have very little knowledge of the development of holiness in England.

The Pentecostal League of Prayer came into being in the later nineteenth century as an attempt to revive and further the holiness movement in England. One goal of the League was to promote the teaching and experience of entire sanctification in all denominations of England. It was not met without opposition and division.

One name related to this movement familiar to Americans is Oswald Chambers.

The word "Pentecostal" in the name does not refer to Pentecostalism associated with "speaking in tongues," it refers to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost.




American Holiness Movement

R. V. Pierard

A short article that provides a brief and concise synopsis of the development of the holiness movement in the United States.