I remember the days when we heard alot about the “holiness movement.” I’m not too young to remember when holiness was the major theme that was both promoted by the denomination of which I am a part as well as regularly preached from the pulpit. I remember when “Holiness unto the Lord” was more than just a catchy theme, it was a life lived. I remember seeing people spend time at the altar rail then rise to testify to being filled with the Holy Spirit.
I’m blessed to be in a local church where the pastor is true to Scripture and preaches regularly on Scriptural holiness, calling us to true transformation from our conversion and spirit-empowered living; but sadly, I think that this may be becoming more rare in what used to be called the holiness movement.
At “The Voice,” I came across an article which discusses the death of the holiness movement as well as the hope of a new holiness movement. I encourage you to read on and let is speak to you . . . inspire you.
You’ll notice that some of the cultural allusions date it a bit, but the truth it proclaims is even more pertinent to us today.
The Holiness Movement: Dead or Alive?
by Keith Drury
This article is an edited version of two articles by Keith Drury (“The Holiness Movement Is Dead,” and “Hope for the Holiness Movement”) -editor, Dennis Bratcher
The Holiness Movement is Dead
I owe a lot to the holiness movement. In 1905 I believe it was, or 1906, my grandfather, an immigrant coal miner, came from England to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania. His wife, Emmaline saw at the Five and Dime store, a woman who seemed different. The lady asked my grandmother, “Would you like to come to a cottage prayer meeting?” She had attended the Church of England all her life but since coming to America was not attending a church anywhere. She said, “Why, sure!”
And my grandmother, Emmaline Drury, got into a small cottage prayer meeting of the holiness movement. In it she found the Lord—she got “saved.” She didn’t even know what saved meant, but she got it.
She came home to my grandfather, Walter Drury and told him, “Walter, I got saved tonight.” My grandfather said, “Well, that’s fine Emmaline,” but inside he said, “We’ll see.” He always had come home from the mine and gone into the basement of that home in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and taken his coal-dust clothes off. The very next day when he came home from the mine he walked up the basement steps, right into her kitchen, upstairs to the bedroom and took all his filthy, coal-black mining clothes off and plopped them on the bed. Emmaline followed him upstairs and without a word, cleaned it all up, cleaned up the bed, took everything outside and shook it out.
He did this everyday for two weeks! She smiled and with a sweetness of spirit, never said a word, and cleaned up after him every day. This was salvation folks, not sanctification! He was so attracted to her life that he went with her to the cottage prayer meeting. He too was saved—in a holiness meeting in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.
So, I owe a lot to the holiness movement. My grandparents raised my father who became a holiness preacher, and now I follow in that path.
However, what I have to say today is not a collection of bright and cheery thoughts. It is this: We need to admit to each other that the holiness movement is dead. We have never had a funeral. And we still have the body upstairs in bed. In fact, we still keep it dressed up and still even talk about the movement as if it were alive. But the holiness movement—as a movement—is dead. Yes, I recognize that there are many wonderful holiness people around. And people are still getting entirely sanctified here and there. But as a movement, I think we need to admit we are dead. The sooner we admit it, the better off we’ll be.
We have a holiness heritage. We have holiness denominations. We have holiness organizations. We have holiness doctrines. We even have holiness colleges, but we no longer have a holiness movement. I, for one, lament the death of the holiness movement. But pretending we are alive as a movement will not make it so. In fact, it may be the greatest barrier to the emergence of a new holiness movement.
What happened to the holiness movement? How did the movement die? Who killed it? Was it a slow death, or did we die suddenly? Was it murder? Suicide? Why did the movement die? What caused its death? I wish to suggest eight factors, which contributed to the death of the holiness movement.
1. We wanted to be respectable.
Holiness people got tired of being different and looked on as “holy rollers.” . . .