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Peter Althouse: Wesleyan and Reformed Impulses in the Keswick and Pentecostal Movements

7Donald W. Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1987), p. 38.

8John Wesley, Sermon 85, “On Working Out Our Own Salvation,” as quoted by Dayton, Roots, pp. 45-6.

9This tension could be re-expressed eschatologically as that which is “already” but “not yet.” Though articulated here in a highly individualistic way (in the sense that the social dimension of eschatology has been omitted), the believer has “already” been saved, justified and sanctified instantaneously at the moment of faith in Christ Jesus, but the believer has “not yet” been saved, justified and sanctified. This will not occur until the moment a person stands face-to-face with Christ.

10John Wesley, A Plain Man’s Guide to Holiness, reprint of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, ed. Halcyon C. Backhouse (Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton, 1988), p. 31.

11Wesley was unwilling to use the phrase “sinless perfection,” John Wesley, “Thoughts on Christian Perfection,” John Wesley, ed. Albert C. Outler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), 287. However, as Albert Outler correctly pointed out, Wesley was concerned that the residue of sin in the human being would mean it was unbeatable. Albert C. Outler, Editor’s Introduction to Christian Perfection, John Wesley, p. 253.

12Wesley, Plain Account, p. 32.

13Outler, Introduction, John Wesley, p. 32.

14Thomas A. Langford, Practical Divinity: Theology in the Wesleyan Tradition (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983), pp. 78-9.

15Langford, p. 92.

16Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform in Mid-Nineteenth Century America (New York: Abington Press, 1957), p. 116.

17George Brown Tindall, America: A Narrative History, 2nd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1988), p. 246. In an interesting aside, when the perfectionist ideal was infused into the political culture of America, it brought great hopes and great disappointments. The perfectionist ideal carried with it great expectations, which was realized in major social reforms and and advancements in human rights, but when those ideals went unrealized, cynicism and alienation followed. p. 486.

18Langford, p. 92.

19Phoebe Palmer, The Way of Holiness and Notes by the Way (New York: Lane & Scott, 1851), as quoted by Langford, p. 93.

20Henry H. Knight, “From Aldersgate to Azusa: The Wesleyan Roots of Pentecostal Spirituality,” Springfield, Missouri: Paper presented to the Society for Pentecostal Studies, November 12-14, 1992, pp. 9-10.

21Smith, p. 116.

22Including the breakdown of predestination theology, Mcloughlin suggested a number of reasons for the first great awakening: (1) there was rapid social change from the more stable communal life based in European patriarchy to an adaptation of social structures which facilitated rapid population growth; (2) a accounting for new environmental conditions of encouraging entrepenurial opportunities, the polarization between East and West and the supposed breakdown of law and order; (3) the growth of a “new aristocracy” consisting of well-to-do Americans who had abandoned the simple and pietistic lifestyle of earlier generations in America; and (4) the industrial revolution which replaced an older feudal, patriarchal order with bourgoisie capitalism. William G. McLoughlin, Revivalism, Awakenings, and Reform: An Essay on Religion and Social Change in America, 1607-1977 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), pp. 52-3. This argument was part of a thesis which claimed that revivalism was an  adjustment to “fundamental ideological transformation necessary to the dynamic growth of the nation in adapting for basic social, ecological, psychological, and economic changes.” p. 8.

23McLoughlin, pp. 69-70.

24McLoughlin, pp. 73-4.

25Langford, p. 83.

26McLoughlin, pp. 45-6.

27The difference between new-light Calvinist understanding of positional righteousness and the Wesleyan understanding of imparted righteousness was really a matter of degree.

28Dayton, pp. 66-7.

29Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform in Mid-Nineteenth Century America (New York: Abington Press, 1957), p. 116. Perfectionist ideals were, in many ways, implicit in the political culture of the United States. The religious piety of perfectionist holiness combined with the political culture of America to expect a great degree of responsibility in the actions of individuals in their religious expectations, but that holiness of God’s people would lead to an ideal Christian society. Thus the perfectionist theme gave rise to social reforms involving the need for civil rights, the rights of women, abolition of slavery and prohibition. Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States (William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1971), p. 28. Also see McLoughlin, pp. 128-31.

30Smith, pp. 32-3.

31McLoughlin, p. 113.

32Langford, pp. 83-4, based in Taylor’s publication, Man, A Free Agent Without the Aide of Divine Grace.

33McLoughlin, p. 124.

34McLoughlin, p. 125.

35Smith, p. 103.

36Smith, p. 104.

37Smith, p. 104.

38Smith opted for the argument that New School Calvinists relied less on liberal theology and more on Wesleyan perfectionism. I think it a tenable argument, however, that New School theology was not only influenced by the rational pragmatism of the nineteenth century, particularly in the new measure  procedures, but that the emphasis upon human responsibility in New School Calvinism (sometimes at the expense of Reformed notions of depravity) was the direct result of modernist thought. In a very real sense, therefore, George Thomas’ thesis that religious movements articulated new collective moral orders which dominate a moral-political culture, rather than the result of a cultural crisis was very compelling. See George M. Thomas, Revivalism and Cultural Change (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), p. 2.

39John L. Gresham, Charles G. Finney’s Doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), p. 18. Finney’s understanding of the baptism of the Holy Ghost was found in two letters published in 1840 in The Oberlin Evangelist.

40Dayton, Roots, p. 101.

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Category: Church History

About the Author: Peter F. Althouse, PhD (University of Toronto), is Assistant Professor of Religion at Southeastern University. He is the author of Spirit of the Last Days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann (T & T Clark, 2003), and has written many articles on eschatology, pneumatology and Pentecostal studies. Faculty page. Facebook.

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