Last month a Facebook acquaintance, who posts on the web as the Not So Hostile Pentecostal, had some nice things to say about this blog and web site in a post entitled Top Ten Blogs that You (Probably) Haven’t Checked Out Yet. The words of appreciation were a great encouragement to me. But it also caused me to reflect again on how silent I have become on this blog.
Here is what he said:
Commonplace Holiness is the blog of Craig L. Adams. Adams was a longtime United Methodist minister and now is a lay minister and servant at his current church, Mars Hill Bible Church. Adams is regularly a guest speaker at different United Methodist Churches and his blog still reflects the richness of the Methodistic-Wesleyan tradition. Although Adams blogs on a number of topics, I have been most interested in his thoughts on Entire Sanctification and holiness. Adams’ understanding of entire sanctification is refreshing to anyone who has only been exposed to the prideful and legalistic side of Wesleyanism. In fact, Adams is anything but legalistic or prideful. It was both Adams’ demeanor and his theological insights during our Facebook conversations that were influential in my conversion to a Wesleyan approach to sanctification. Additionally, Adams also takes old Methodist/Holiness books by authors such as Thomas C. Upham and Daniel Steele, and that are no longer in print (and are now in public domain), and types them out into an electronic format so that they are available for free to anyone. If you want to check out some great posts from a progressive Wesleyan and the people who have fed his soul, check out Commonplace Holiness here: https://craigladams.com/blog/
Lately I’ve mostly gone silent on this blog. It’s nice to know that those old posts have been helpful to him — and I suppose they may also have been to others. However, for a long time now I have been overcome by a sense that I just don’t have anything to say right now. I especially to do not have any strong desire to convince anyone of anything. And, that (I’m afraid) really does drive a lot of blogging — at least in the Christian world.
There are reasons that I feel I have nothing to say: some unresolved issues in my own mind. And, some of them are things I can identify and talk about a bit. So, here goes. (more…)
I don’t apologize for taking blog breaks — and I’m not now — but, I must admit, this has been a rather extended one. My last post here was in May. So, I’ve been away a lot longer than usual. I am often too busy in the summer to spend much time on the Internet — though I find it intellectually stimulating at other times. I like to work outside at various gardening projects when the weather permits. I spend more time outside, just generally. I often fill pulpits in the summer. I just don’t have time for Internet activities.
But, this time, there was something more. I just got to feeling like I didn’t have anything to say. (more…)
An urban church rejects the idea of charity and finds renewal: ““If we believe that God’s spirit is flowing down on all people, old and young, women and men — and on the poor… why don’t we treat people like that’s true?”Here: Death and resurrection of an urban church.
Greg Boyd: “Some scholars today argue that the stories recorded in the Gospels are actually intentional fabrication. In essence, they argue that Mark took Paul’s theology and robed the story of Jesus in a fictitious historical narrative. The other Gospels followed suit. The argument is clever and removes the difficulty of explaining how a legend of a God-man could arise so quickly among first-century Jews. But there are 7 major problems with this contention….” Here: Are the Gospels Historical Fiction?
Kimberly Winston quotes Lawrence Wright, one of the producers of a new documentary on Scientology: “When people see for themselves the testimony of people who have been through the Scientology experience, they’ll have a better idea of what they might be in for if they decide to join the church….” Here: HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ Questions the Future of Scientology, (more…)
If we are to follow God, if we are to trust God, we must have some assurance about God’s character. It is only natural that Bible often spends time with this issue. If we are to trust in God we need some assurance also of God’s power. Is God able to uphold us through the difficulties of life? To me, these are the issues addressed in Psalm 135:7,8.
Which brings me back to the circumstances that made Psalm 135 so vivid to me in the first place. I started reading and meditating on this psalm on a stormy morning. There was a thunderstorm raging outside. And, it is clear that the Psalmist saw the power of God in the thunderstorm. It was not an unruly, threatening natural event — somehow the thunderstorm was also under the sovereign power of God.
So there is no need to ultimately fear what would otherwise seem powerful, unruly or chaotic — all the powers of this world are under God’s overruling power. They reflect the power of God — for God is the Creator of all that is. (more…)
Boze Herrington gives us a heart-rending account of his involvement in a prayer group (associated with the International House of Prayer) that evolved into a dangerous cult. The account centers around the death of the cult leader’s wife (Boze’s friend) Bethany. He writes: “But it is clear that when Bethany died, she was part of a community shrouded in fear and hatred, a community where those who spoke out were treated as though they didn’t exist. Their loves, desires, opinions, feelings, and whole personalities were invalidated, all in the name of God.” At The Atlantic here: The Seven Signs You’re in a Cult.
Jonathan Merritt on the public’s response to Christian leaders: “The point is that people don’t like mean people and judgmental people and power-hungry people, regardless of their religion. Most people dislike Christian jerks because they are jerks, not because they are Christian. (According to a 2013 Barna poll, about 51% of self-identified Christians are characterized by having the attitudes and actions that are “Pharisaical” as opposed to “Christlike.”)” Here: What the Pope’s popularity says about American culture. (more…)
Molly Worthen: “There’s a problem with the hyper-individualization of Millennial religion. The advantage of an institution is that it forces you into conversation with people you might not agree with. It forces you to grapple with a tradition that includes hard ideas. It forces you to have, for at least part of your life, a respect for authority that inculcates the sense that you have something to learn, that you’re not reinventing the wheel, but that millennia have come before you. The structure of institutions, for all their evils, facilitates that. And we may be losing that.” Quoted by Conor Friedersdorf here: The Case Against Mix-and-Match Spirituality. (more…)
Carl Trueman on Christian liberalism: “That liberalism, political or theological, is not enjoying good health is obvious to even the most causal observer. The rise of religious extremism, particularly that of Islam, has present the Left with a series of choices which have pushed it towards incoherence. Theologically, the picture is little different: liberal Christianity is in decline as it does little more than offer a vaguely religious vocabulary for expressing ideas that are, to be frank, more compelling when stated in secular terms.” Here: Liberalism Reinvented.
Lauren Porter on prayer: “In essence, what I hear [Richard] Foster saying is this: We will never be holy enough to start praying. So, don’t wait till you feel holy to pray. Pray because you need the God who can make you holy. We don’t pray because we feel holy or spiritual. It’s as we pray that we become holy and spiritual.” Here: Just Pray. (more…)
I begin this post by calling attention again to a quote I posted on this blog from last week. It is from the second volume of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology.
But, I need to give it a little context. Pannenberg is pointing out that the idea that humans have a special place in the world because of their rationality has pre-Christian origin. He mentions Cicero’s statement of this idea. He goes on to say:
Yet, Cicero did not link this dignity, as modern usage does, to the idea of the inviolability of human life in each individual. This thought arose only with the idea that we are under a supreme authority that releases us from obligation to other powers, and especially from being controlled by other people or by society. Rightly, then, the Christian tradition sought the basis of personal dignity in our creation in the image of God. Our destiny of fellowship with God forms the indispensable premise of the function of human dignity as the content of a supreme legal principle and a basis for individual human rights, e.g., in modern declarations of such rights.
— Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Chapter 8, page 176, 177.
Let’s stop and look at some of the details of this quote for a minute. The wording is important. (more…)
Sometime last week at the Hidden Life blog I posted this:
It seems to have been the doctrine of some advocates of Christian perfection, especially some pious Catholics of former times, that the various propensities and affections, and particularly the bodily appetites, ought to be entirely eradicated. But this doctrine, when carried to its full extent, is one of the artifices of Satan, by which the cause of holiness has been greatly injured. It is more difficult to regulate the natural principles, than to destroy them; and there is no doubt that the more difficult duty in this case, is the scriptural one. We are not required to eradicate our natural propensities and affections, but to purify them. We are not required to cease to be men, but merely to become holy men.
This is the kind of thing I was surprised to discover when I began reading the old holiness writings. Why do I say “surprised”? (more…)
The other day I posted this on the Hidden Life blog:
In proportion as the heart becomes sanctified, there is a diminished tendency to enthusiasm and fanaticism. And this is undoubtedly one of the leading tests of sanctification. One of the marks of an enthusiastic and fanatical state of mind, is a fiery and unrestrained impetuosity of feeling; a rushing on, sometimes very blindly, as if the world were in danger, or as if the great Creator were not at the helm. It is not only feeling without a due degree of judgment, but, what is the corrupting and fatal trait, it is feeling without a due degree of confidence in God. True holiness reflects the image of God in this respect as well as in others, that it is calm, thoughtful, deliberate, immutable. And how can it be otherwise, since, rejecting its own wisdom and strength, it incorporates into itself the wisdom and strength of the Almighty.— Religious Maxims (1846) XII.
And I still like this quote, in part, because it seems at first so counter-intuitive. Isn’t fanaticism too much religion? Here Upham says just the opposite: it is the result of having not enough religion: or, more properly, not having enough sanctification. (more…)