Christian perfectionism


#1

are christians perfect, without sin, fully god like?

within the methodist tradition is a teaching known as christian perfectionism. What is the catholic viewpoint related to sanfication?


#2

[quote=Daniel Marsh]are christians perfect, without sin, fully god like?

within the methodist tradition is a teaching known as christian perfectionism. What is the catholic viewpoint related to sanfication?
[/quote]

Can you expound on this? It sounds interesting.


#3

No matter what anyone believes, sanctification is an ongoing process not a one time experience.

What a Catholic means by being perfected isn’t merely being without sin but rather being perfected in God’s love. What does Paul telll us? If we have all gifts but have not love we are nothing.

So, the Catholic’s prayer is for God to perfect us in his love because he is love as John told us in his epistles.


#4

Could the OP expound on what the Methodist mean by perfection? When I was a Protestant I learned that one was supposed to continue maturing as a Christian. Don’t Methodists believe this?


#5

The Methodist doctrine of sanctification is not that different from Catholicism. Wesley taught that a Christian could reach a state of “perfect love” in which one was free from conscious, deliberate sin and was motivated wholly by love of God and neighbor (though such a person would not be free from “faults,” which were basically equivalent to venial sins). Rather like the state of soul in which one could obtain a plenary indulgence in Catholicism (“free from all attachment to sin”). It’s not clear that Wesley himself thought he had ever reached such a state, though he thought he know others who had.

The 19th-century holiness movement within Methodism claimed that this state of “sanctification” could be reached through a “crisis experience” like conversion. This experience was linked to the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” (though later Pentecostals within the Holiness tradition distinguished Spirit Baptism as a third experience). Some scholars say that this linkage between baptism with the Spirit and sanctification owes more to Wesley’s friend John Fletcher than to Wesley himself. Certainly the holiness movement was a lot more dogmatic about the matter than Wesley.

Full-fledged “eradicationist” holiness teaching is incompatible with Catholicism, especially in its stress on an instantaneous experience. But the more moderate version of “perfectionism” taught by Wesley and by the Methodist tradition generally is not.

I come from the holiness tradition myself. I honor it and I think that holiness teaching has much that is good and true. But I’m uneasy about the focus on a “crisis experience” and the often naive view of human nature found in the holiness tradition. I think that when the ,more radical “holiness people” split from Methodism they lost balance. (My own family suffered from that loss of balance in some fairly radical ways.) But at the same time Methodism lost a lot too–it dwindled into a nice mainline denomination focused on respectability and benevolence. In the later 20th century there’s been a “return to Wesley” within Methodist theology, with an emphasis on the Catholic roots of Wesley’s teaching. I think that this helps pave the way for reconciliation both between mainline Methodism and the holiness movement and between Methodism and Catholicism.

In Christ,

Edwin


#6

the topic of santification and justification is amply covered on the CA homepage and in other threads on these topics. all I will add is that I have been a Catholic for nearly 60 years and never met a perfect Catholic. I have known several devout Catholics, virtuous Catholics, pious Catholics, loving Catholics, holy Catholics, but nope, nobody perfect. this is definitely the Church for sinners, which makes it a lucky thing for us that Christ came to call sinners.


#7

[quote=Contarini]The Methodist doctrine of sanctification is not that different from Catholicism. Wesley taught that a Christian could reach a state of “perfect love” in which one was free from conscious, deliberate sin and was motivated wholly by love of God and neighbor (though such a person would not be free from “faults,” which were basically equivalent to venial sins). Rather like the state of soul in which one could obtain a plenary indulgence in Catholicism (“free from all attachment to sin”). It’s not clear that Wesley himself thought he had ever reached such a state, though he thought he know others who had.

The 19th-century holiness movement within Methodism claimed that this state of “sanctification” could be reached through a “crisis experience” like conversion. This experience was linked to the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” (though later Pentecostals within the Holiness tradition distinguished Spirit Baptism as a third experience). Some scholars say that this linkage between baptism with the Spirit and sanctification owes more to Wesley’s friend John Fletcher than to Wesley himself. Certainly the holiness movement was a lot more dogmatic about the matter than Wesley.

Full-fledged “eradicationist” holiness teaching is incompatible with Catholicism, especially in its stress on an instantaneous experience. But the more moderate version of “perfectionism” taught by Wesley and by the Methodist tradition generally is not.

I come from the holiness tradition myself. I honor it and I think that holiness teaching has much that is good and true. But I’m uneasy about the focus on a “crisis experience” and the often naive view of human nature found in the holiness tradition. I think that when the ,more radical “holiness people” split from Methodism they lost balance. (My own family suffered from that loss of balance in some fairly radical ways.) But at the same time Methodism lost a lot too–it dwindled into a nice mainline denomination focused on respectability and benevolence. In the later 20th century there’s been a “return to Wesley” within Methodist theology, with an emphasis on the Catholic roots of Wesley’s teaching. I think that this helps pave the way for reconciliation both between mainline Methodism and the holiness movement and between Methodism and Catholicism.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

Great explanation…I grew up in the holiness tradition as well. I moved over to the UMC as an adult, in part because of my own extreme discomfort with the notion of “instant sanctification”, something that I have yet to find any warrant for, not in Scripture, not in the ECFs, not in Wesley.
God bless.


#8

Zooey,

Which holiness group were you part of? My great-grandfather was one of the founders of a tiny holiness group usually known as the “Burning Bush.” They started as Methodists in Chicago but then moved to Wisconsin and bought a hotel building–they lived communally as they believed the early Christians had lived. By the time I came along my family were non-denominational–we basically had a house church and didn’t think much of the “visible church” in any form. We did consider joining the ECNA (a small denomination in the Midwest and the West Coast resulting from the fusion of two groups, one of them being the holiness wing of the EUB which was unhappy about the merger with the Methodists), but in the end decided against it. Most of my relatives on my mother’s side of the family (the holiness side) wound up as Nazarenes–some of them are now UMC, as are my parents (though this is a very recent development).

Edwin


#9

Free Methodist…We had some Wesleyan Methodist pastors, however.
The church I grew up in was one of the first 2 Free Methodist churches in the world…(There was hot debate over which one was 1st).
As a child, I remember things like the “Amen corner”, & (mostly older) folks getting “blessed”…One pastor leaped the pulpit in an excess of enthusiasm…
I found it discomforting, to say the least, but my biggest problem, even as a child, was the profession of some members to claim “entire sanctification”. They were, as I often tell friends when we talk about it, the most annoying Christians I ever met…Everything was a sin: dancing, rock & roll music, lipstick, earrings, movies, television, even playing in the yard on Sunday afternoons! (You should stay in, & think about God & church).
The last straw was when one pastor’s MIL told me I was going to go to hell for sure, for setting down my Sunday school quarterly on top of my Bible.
Things are a lot less strict now, than in the '50s when I was growing up. And there are good things to be said for a lot of good solid moral teachings, & taking the Bible seriously… Yet, I still remember too many:( unhappy moments to want to go back & live it over again…


#10

Were there any Holiness Movement writers who were Catholics?


#11

In Ephesians 5:1, St. Paul tells us to "be imitators of God, as beloved children" (cf. CCC-1694). The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible commentary on this verse is :“A challenge to love as God loves and to forgive as God has forgiven us.” It reminds me of Christ’s words in Mt 5:48, *“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” *I think this is going to take some time and effort.


#12

[quote=buzzcut]Were there any Holiness Movement writers who were Catholics?
[/quote]

St. Francis de Sales and the Universal Call to Holiness
by Margaret S. Margeton
catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/MARAPR99/universal.html

The Imitation of Christ
Thomas, à Kempis, 1380-1471
ccel.org/ccel/kempis/imitation.html

The Practice Of The Presence Of God
Conversations and Letters
of Brother Lawrence
practicegodspresence.com/brotherlawrence/index.html

The Ordinary Path to Holiness
albahouse.org/Path.htm

holyfamilycatalog.com/aspx/spiritualitybooks.aspx

Holiness: A Guide for Beginners
sophiainstitute.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=SIP&Product_Code=45X&Category_Code=SG

catholicauthors.com/index.html


#13

I have always understood Methodist teaching to be very similar to Catholic teaching on sanctification.

I always refer to this verse when the topic of sanctification comes up.

Hebrews 12:14
Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.


#14

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