Kevin Watson wants to know

Kevin Watson has a post about the history of entire sanctification as a Methodist doctrine. He includes a story about having asked his students about it:

Yesterday, I asked the students in my United Methodist History class if any of them had ever heard a sermon preached on entire sanctification or christian perfection. Not one of the nineteen students present had.

Had I been in his class, I’d have to say I have not either – at least none that I remember. But I’ve not heard many doctrine sermons, for which I am grateful.

Just curious though. Has anyone out there every heard or preached a sermon on entire sanctification?

Watson thinks you should.

United Methodists should not become familiar with this teaching only if they go to seminary. It should be preached in every Methodist pulpit, as the result of every UM pastor’s wrestling with what Wesley did and did not mean by “perfection,” and their efforts to present this to their parishioners in a way that they can understand.

6 thoughts on “Kevin Watson wants to know

  1. John – Thanks for the link. And thanks for the laugh at the end of a long week, as I laughed out loud when I read, “I’ve not heard many doctrine sermons, for which I am grateful.” Good point.

  2. When I joined my first United Methodist congregation I insisted on reading something authoritative on Methodist doctrine, which turned out to be the first ~100 pages of the discipline, so I knew about that doctrine.

    About two years later I was invited by my pastor to give a Sunday night series on the doctrine of Christian perfection. On the first night I was charging forward on the assumption that Methodists at least knew what I was talking about, even if they might be hazy. After about 20 minutes I asked whether anyone was aware that there were actually two statements of the doctrine in the discipline, one from the Methodist Episcopal Church and one from the Brethren.

    Somebody slowly and timidly raised his hand and said, “I wasn’t aware there was even one!” There was much head nodding from the rest of the congregation.

    OK, lesson learned. Don’t assume Methodists have read their doctrinal statement. Should be subsumed, of course, under the more general rule of “Don’t assume!”

  3. Ooh – call me the nerdy Methodist, but Christian Perfection is one of my favorite Wesley topics, and I mentioned it in my sermons not frequently perhaps, but with regularity. After all, to be ordained, we answer that we are going on to perfection and expect to be made perfect in God’s love in this lifetime, paraphrased a bit perhaps. So we better know what we’re talking about 😉

  4. I preached a sermon series entitled “You might be United Methodist If . . .” in which I preached one message on sanctification / Christian perfection specifically. I understand that it might not come up in the Sunday morning context very frequently, but I think the Walk to Emmaus experience at least touches on the topic fairly well (without the language of “perfection” but rather sanctification).

  5. oops – I mean to also include a second paragraph in my last comment and forgot.

    I find it disappointing that the only place that I am aware of the language of perfection being found in which a layperson might see it with some regularity is in the baptismal service. (in the commendation and welcome section, the pastor addresses the congregation with these words: “Members of the household of God, I commend these people to your love and care. Do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and PERFECT THEM IN LOVE.”)

    Sadly, there is no mention of it whatsoever in our membership vows. I have often wondered why the elder/pastor must express an expectation to be made perfect in love in this life while laity are apparently off the hook in that regard, at least so far as their vows go. . .

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