In this blog I wrote about the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC) and its participant denominations.
In 2006, the WHC published its “Holiness Manifesto”. In writing the Holiness Manifesto, it seems they simply took a hybrid of Emergent teachings and Dominionist teachings, then built a manifesto around them. Interesting – all the time and effort put into meetings, document preparation, etc. Why did they not meet to study and pray about a return to biblically sound Holiness teachings of the past (of the “fundamentalist” Wesleyan Holiness movement of 1900-1920 and earlier)? Because the WCA members themselves are blind, in bondage to postmodern (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence) teachings. And postmodern teachings tie in very closely with the heretical Dominion Theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.
Consider one liberal Wesleyan’s discussion of so-called “holiness”, found here. (I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in brackets):
During the late 19th century Wesleyan celebrations the English congregationalist preacher and theologian, R. W. Dale, reflecting on the Wesleyan heritage, claimed that Methodists had left the doctrine of holiness with Wesley and had not developed its potential as a great social ethic.
The modern tendency towards individualism has too often resulted in Methodists understanding piety from an individualist perspective and reading the Wesleyan emphasis on sanctification or holiness as an individual experience. The evangelistic practice flowing from this has emphasised [sic] the conversion of people one by one which then leads to changing society or the world. But does this gospel produce any real transformation at all apart from nominal change or conversion from a few personal bad habits? The conversion or even sanctification of the individual leading to societal change may well be a subverting of the gospel leaving untouched personal and structural realities of power relations, domination, greed and violence.
Note how the above quote downplays – and almost condemns – personal holiness (which is biblical holiness).
But I digress – let’s get back to the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium’s 2006, “Holiness Manifesto”. Click here for the original text of the following document. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].
Wesleyan Holiness Study Project, Azusa, California, February 2006
The Crisis We Face
There has never been a time in greater need of a compelling articulation of the message of holiness.
Pastors and church leaders at every level of the church have come to new heights of frustration in seeking ways to revitalize their congregations and denominations. What we are doing is not working. Membership in churches of all traditions has flat-lined. In many cases, churches are declining. We are not even keeping pace with the biological growth rate in North America. The power and health of churches has also been drained by the incessant search for a better method, a more effective fad, a newer and bigger program to yield growth. In the process of trying to lead growing, vibrant churches, our people have become largely ineffective and fallen prey to a generic Christianity that results in congregations that are indistinguishable from the culture around them. Churches need a clear, compelling message that will replace the ‘holy grail’ of methods as the focus of our mission!
Many church leaders have become hostages to the success mentality of numeric and programmatic influence. They have become so concerned about ‘how’ they do church that they have neglected the weightier matter of ‘what’ the church declares. We have inundated the ‘market’ with methodological efforts to grow the church. In the process, many of our leaders have lost the ability to lead. They cannot lead because they have no compelling message to give, no compelling vision of God, no transformational understanding of God’s otherness. [Excuse me? I would think born again Christian pastors would know what the compelling, transformational message is – the gospel of salvation through the blood atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross of Calvary. So why aren’t pastors preaching this?] They know it and long to find the centering power of a message that makes a difference. Now more than ever, they long to soak up a deep understanding of God’s call to holiness—transformed living. They want a mission. They want a message!
People all around are looking for a future without possessing a spiritual memory. They beg for a generous and integrative word from Christians that makes sense and makes a difference. [Does the gospel make sense to unbelievers? Of course not – what they need is a convicting message, conviction from the Holy Spirit, drawing them to repent and accept Christ.] If God is going to be relevant to people, we have a responsibility to make it clear to them. [God is relevant to people, but people need to come to Him in repentance. We should have a confrontational message, not the attractional message of New Evangelicals.] We have to shed our obsession with cumbersome language, awkward expectations, and intransigent patterns. [So are the authors of this document saying that biblical terms such as “repentance”, “salvation”, “atonement”, “justification”, etc. are “cumbersome” and “awkward”? Heaven forbid. Again, one of the major faults of New Evangelicals is that they have tried to preach an attractional message.] What is the core, the center, the essence of God’s call? That is our message, and that is our mission!
People in churches are tired of our petty lines of demarcation that artificially create compartments, denominations, and divisions. [Apparently the authors of this document are saying denominational divisions are bad; this is obvious in the efforts of the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC) to bring unity between numerous denominations. This, in spite of widely diverging doctrines, some of which are extremely heretical – such as the UPCI’s “Jesus Only” teachings.] They are tired of building institutions. They long for a clear, articulate message that transcends institutionalism and in-fighting among followers of Jesus Christ. They are embarrassed by the corporate mentality of churches that defend parts of the gospel as if it were their own. They want to know the unifying power of God that transforms. They want to see the awesomeness of God’s holiness that compels us to oneness in which there is a testimony of power. They accept the fact that not all of us will look alike; there will be diversity. But they want to know that churches and leaders believe that we are one—bound by the holy character of God who gives us all life and love. They want a message that is unifying. The only message that can do that comes from the nature of God, who is unity in diversity. [Are the unchurched really attracted to churches involved in unity? Or is this simply the agenda of the authors of this document?]
Therefore, in this critical time, we set forth for the church’s well being a fresh focus on holiness. [A fresh focus? Actually they mean a different focus, a redefinition of traditional, bibical holiness.] In our view, this focus is the heart of scripture concerning Christian existence for all times—and clearly for our time. [In other words, in these “postmodern” times, when the route to go is Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings.]
The Message We Have
God is holy and calls us to be a holy people.
God, who is holy, has abundant and steadfast love for us. God’s holy love is revealed to us in the life and teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. [True, but love is only one side of God; His justice demands that sinners who reject Him and His offer of salvation are punished for eternity in a Lake of Fire. Again, here is a major fault of New Evangelicals – refusing to present a “negative” message. Heaven forbid that unbelievers get turned off by what the Bible commands us to preach to them.] God continues to work, giving life, hope and salvation through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, drawing us into God’s own holy, loving life. God transforms us, delivering us from sin, idolatry, bondage, and self-centeredness to love and serve God, others, and to be stewards of creation [“Stewards of creation”? This sounds Emergent – see more on this below]. Thus, we are renewed in the image of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. [Excuse me? Nowhere in this paragraph do I see mention of a crisis conversion experience, in which sinners come to repentance and accept Christ as their Saviour.]
Apart from God, no one is holy. Holy people are set apart for God’s purpose in the world. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, holy people live and love like Jesus Christ. Holiness is both gift and response, renewing and transforming, personal and communal, ethical and missional. [Ah, “missional” – there is a key term used by postmoderns.] The holy people of God follow Jesus Christ in engaging all the cultures of the world and drawing all peoples to God. [“Holy people of God”? Is this the new phrase for “born again Christians”? “Drawing all peoples to God”? Is this the new term for “preaching the gospel of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ”? It irks me when postmodern Christians water down biblically sound terminology. It’s as if they want to be politically correct and not turn off anyone – not even other Christians.]
Holy people are not legalistic or judgmental. They do not pursue an exclusive, private state of being better than others. [These first two sentences seem like a putdown of fundamentalists – such as Independent Fundamentalist Baptists and Conservative Holiness denominations. To me, these two groups are truly holy – I would rather fellowship with one holy fundamentalist, than 1,000 “holy” postmoderns.] Holiness is not flawlessness but the fulfillment of God’s intention for us. The pursuit of holiness can never cease because love can never be exhausted. [It seems the authors here are equating holiness with love; they are emphasizing social holiness, not personal holiness. The concept of holiness as loving and relational has been around for years; in the Nazarene denomination it was popularized by Mildred Wynkoop and others.]
God wants us to be, think, speak, and act in the world in a Christ-like manner. We invite all to embrace God’s call to:
- be filled with all the fullness of God in Jesus Christ—Holy Spirit-endowed co-workers for the reign of God; [“Reign of God” is a Dominionism term. Consider a quote from this site: “Dominion or Kingdom theology… is largely based upon a post-millennial view which is that Christ will return to earth after the thousand year reign of God’s kingdom. The church progressively brings righteousness and peace to the world which will eventually be Christianized. Following a brief time of tribulation, Christ will return to earth and establish a new heaven and a new earth for eternity.” This fits in very well with the theology of many of the participating denominations in the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium. Many are Pentecostal denominations, actively involved in Dominionist, New Apostolic Reformation teachings. Instead of going from a pre-Trib view to a post-Trib view, it seems the Holiness authors and the Pentecostal authors of the Holiness Manifesto have succumbed to a post-millenial eschatology. Scary.]
- live lives that are devout, pure, and reconciled, thereby being Jesus Christ’s agents of transformation in the world; [“Agents of transformation” – another Dominionist term. The Bible does not command us to be “agents of transformation”, but witnesses for Christ, preaching the gospel of salvation to every creature.]
- live as a faithful covenant people, building accountable community, growing up into Jesus Christ, embodying the spirit of God’s law in holy love; [Embodying the spirit of God’s law in holy love? What about “obeying the commands of God’s Word, living morally pure and holy lives”? Why don’t postmoderns mention this?]
- exercise for the common good [“For the common good”? Why not use the Bible’s phrase “the body of Christ”?] an effective array of ministries and callings, according to the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- practice compassionate ministries, solidarity with the poor, advocacy for equality, justice, reconciliation, and peace; [In other words, “social holiness”, the social gospel repackaged. What does this have to do with the message of salvation which saves us from an eternal burning Lake of Fire? Are we to “save” people from misery in this world, or from eternal damnation?]
- care for the earth, God’s gift in trust to us, working in faith, hope, and confidence for the healing and care of all creation. [In other words, Christian environmentalism, a postmodern stewardship of Planet Earth.]
By the grace of God, let us covenant together to be a holy people.
The Action We Take
May this call impel us to rise to this biblical vision of Christian mission:
- Preach the transforming message of holiness; [this is not biblical; the biblical message is the transforming message of salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ on the bloody cross of Calvary – not holiness aka “social holiness”]
- Teach the principles of Christ-like love and forgiveness; [the Bible commands us to make disciples – not teach “Christ-like love and forgiveness”]
- Embody lives that reflect Jesus Christ;
- Lead in engaging with the cultures of the world [What does “engaging with the cultures” really mean? Postmodern missions today are into “contextualization”; they are not presenting the biblical gospel message of Christ’s death on the cross for their sins.]
- Partner with others to multiply its effect for the reconciliation of all things. [“Reconciliation of all things” – yet another Dominionism Theology phrase.]
For this we live and labor to the glory of God.
SOME COMMENTS ON THE “HOLINESS MANIFESTO”
What is the connection between the Emergent movement and Dominion Theology? Consider this excellent quote from Don Koenig’s article, The Woman On The Beast In End Time Prophecy Has Dominion Theology, posted in 2006:
You might wonder how the seeker friendly movement and the emergent church movement fit in with Dominion Theology. In general, neither Rosemary [the seeker sensitive movement] nor her baby [the Emergent Church movement] teaches about the prophetic passages of the Bible with any rapture of the Church or any judgment coming on the earth prior to the return of Jesus Christ. They both teach a form of religious humanism. They want world religion to be the woman who socializes the world and establishes a humanistic utopia before the return of Jesus or even without and [sic] true biblical Jesus. They might even call their world social agenda the great commission but there is no salvation message within. They have a gospel of humanistic social good works where world religion will establish dominion in the world.
The Bible does not instruct us to take the world by social good works and compromise with world religions. It tells the Church to preach the Gospel of salvation to every creature. The Bible clearly teaches that the world will remain in opposition to God and it will not become a paradise until after the wrath of God is poured out and Jesus returns with His saints in glory. The Bible prophetically teaches that the “Christian” church will depart from the truth and depart from sound doctrine in the last days. This just happens to be what is taking place through these heretical movements. Thus, their worldview and the social actions that they are taking to put the world under religion indicate that the “Seeker Friendly” church growth movement and the “Emergent Church” movement embraces [sic] socialist humanistic Dominion Theology.
FOR FURTHER READING
The Holiness Manifesto
The Holiness Manifesto (click on the link to preview online) – a book with a number of essays defending the Holiness Manifesto. The manifesto itself is found in Chapter Three of the book.
The Holiness Manifesto!– a good blog critiquing the document
Holiness Manifesto – a blog with some liberal United Methodist comments
THE HOLINESS MANIFESTO: AN ECUMENICAL DOCUMENT, by Don Thorsen (Wesleyan Theological Journal, Fall 2007, pp. 209,224) – viewable online
” “H” is for Holiness” – Chapter 3, preview available online in book entitled “A” is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, by Leonard Sweet, Leonard Brian D. McLaren, and Jerry Haselmayer (2003)
“Social Holiness: Experiments in prayer and other subversive acts in the local church and community,” by Duane Clinker (2006)[click here to download this “doc” file] – quoted by Brian McLaren in his book Everything Must Change.
Dominion Theology/Kingdom Now Theology
Dominion Theology (Wikipedia article)
Dominionism (Wikipedia article)
NAR and Dominionism Have Been a Concern of Conservative Christian Groups for Many Years, by Rachel Tabachnick (Oct 18, 2011)
Who Invented Dominionism? (09/09/11)
Connections between Dominionism/Kingdom Now Theology, the New Apostolic Reformation and the Emergent Movement
The Kingdom of Emergent Theology – Part 1, by Gary Gilley
The Kingdom of Emergent Theology – Part 2, by Gary Gilley
The Kingdom of Emergent Theology – Part 3, by Gary Gilley
Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola, and the Third Way x
PARTICIPANT DENOMINATIONS IN THE WESLEYAN HOLINESS CONSORTIUM
(I will be adding links as I locate them, regarding the involvement of these denominations in Emergent teachings and Dominion/ Kingdom Now teachings.)
A WARNING To The Assemblies of God, by Travers van der Merwe (originally taped in 1989) – warns the AOG about involvement of various pastors, etc. in Dominionism Theology/Kingdom Now Theology.
– The EFCI is not a participating denomination in the WHC. However, the EFCI did participate in the writing of the Holiness Manifesto. For more info, check out the paragraph on the EFCI near the bottom of this blog.