Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The Heart of the Holiness Movement (Joanne Lyon)

Joanne Lyon is stepping down from being General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church. There is much news to share here. Wayne Schmidt, my old boss at Wesley Seminary, is replacing her. Dr. Lyon is going to switch places and give oversight to the Seminary this year.

But what I wanted to post was the testimony she gave when the General Conference made her a General Superintendent Emerita. There were many excesses to the holiness movement in the 1900s. There were nonsense arguments over trivial matters like wedding rings and television in the age of Leave it to Beaver. The holiness movement was embarrassingly silent at best during the civil rights movement or on the wrong side at worst (not unlike some of the nonsense I hear today on other issues).

But if you want to know what the holiness movement at its heart was about, then listen to Dr. Lyon's testimony in this clip. If you are a pastor in the Wesleyan Church and this type of testimony is completely foreign to you, then you aren't yet a heart Wesleyan.


Patrick Bowers said...

It is testimonies like this that make me wonder if the Wesleyan Church needs a bit more "holiness movement" injected back into its life and little less of the mainstream "evangelical movement". I remember hearing words like a Dr. Lyon's when I was young in the Wesleyan Church, but as I got older and at IWU (late 90s) it seemed that the "holiness movement" portion was downplayed or was seen as only a thing which the Pentecostal's could lay any claim to own. I have different family members which are still part of the Wesleyan Church and it really depends on the local church what you get as way of teaching. I have been thinking that maybe a book should be written about how the "holiness movement" is in some ways very distinct from the "evangelical movement". Any thoughts?

Ken Schenck said...

My hunch is that we are currently working through a layer of Boomer Wesleyan leadership whose formation was in the church growth era, a layer that has little time for the holiness culture of the mid-1900s, that is heavily corporate in mindset, and that is wired more to "become like the big dogs" than to try to perpetuate what might have been distinctive in the past.

Patrick Bowers said...

I would agree on that, since I found that those churches which have leaders who are younger are more likely to be more holiness in teaching than those of the Boomer generation. I also think that district leaders who are Boomers are still at times pressuring those small churches with younger leaders (under 40) to focus on growth over teaching. I am sure in the next 20 years there will be a shift back to a more holiness trajectory over growth.

Ken Schenck said...

The next shift may be highly distressing to my generation. The rising generation is known by a social concern that at times even shocks me. They will equate holiness with the kinds of values expressed by the Sanders campaign, I predict. Then of course their children will shock them as well when they retire. :-)

Patrick Bowers said...

It is the human reaction issue again. You have a whole generation which is told it is only You and Jesus and going to heaven, and they find that it has left a hole in their reality to explain the state of the earth and its population.

A balanced holiness view must always include social concerns, which I think the Boomer generation forgot in its comfort of American consumerism. Unfortunately, the younger generation still has its parents weak eschatology, ecclesiology, and salvation. In the end, you get a generation concerned with rights instead of radical love for neighbor and a continuing individualism which has no personal concern being a witness as a local church community embodying Christ in a place.

Yes, it is distressing but I am not sure if I am distressed about what my parents are as much as what they are not.