onsdag 12. oktober 2016

It is about Christlikeness

For some days, I have shared what I consider to be the focus of some holiness-teachers in The Salvation Army. General Frederick Coutts is one the remarkable contributors to the understanding of holiness in our movement. While Brengle was very focused on the experience, Coutts had his focus on the ongoing process towards Christlikeness. This ‘difference’ in focus becomes very clear in this passage: 

“Christlikeness is holiness. Where Christ is enthroned, there is holiness. Yet holiness is never an ‘imitation’ of Christ, if by that is meant a self-conscious external patterning. Christian holiness will spring from the inward possession of that same Holy Spirit who was in Jesus. . . The blessing of holiness is never an “it”. No one should say: ‘I’ve got it!’, for the experience is personal and the
source of the experience is personal. . . The work of the Spirit was perfectly exemplified in Jesus and he can make us like him, not through any outward conformity but by the workings of inward grace.”

I do not see this as an attack on the personal experience, and I share his concern that a strong experience can make people self-content. The life of holiness is an ongoing process, possessed by a hope beautifully expressed in John Gowans’ simple chorus: “To be like Jesus, this hope possesses  me” with Christlikeness as a goal.

I am sure Brengle would agree and join the chorus in full unity. He likened the experience of holiness to the birth of a baby. The baby is perfect, but if it does not grow and mature, there is something wrong. Brengle similarly used the picture of the experience as the diving into a pool – once you are in the pool you are supposed to learn how to swim.

So, with the difference in focus, there can be full harmony in the understanding of the content and purpose of holiness. Paul saw himself as perfect in Christ, but not in relation to what Jesus could help him to take hold of:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Phil 3:12
‘Manna’ for today
Holiness is about Christlikeness
(1) Frederick Coutts: ”Essentials of Christian Experience” SP&S 1980

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