In the Spring of 1994 Dr. Keith Drury preached a courageous and widely reported sermon to the Christian Holiness Association called "The Holiness Movement is Dead." Briefly summarized, his reasons for the decline of the holiness influence were eight fold:
I think several other considerations could be given to explain why the holiness movement does seem to be in wide disarray at this present time. Here are eight additional observations I have made:
We need to relearn that the Reformation was a return to Scripture. Holiness can only have life and power when it is Scriptural Holiness.
The holiness movement took a nosedive in influence when, especially in the 1930s, the style and content of holiness preaching changed radically. It shifted from the earlier biblical, doctrinal, and theocentric emphasis to a more experiential, illustrative, and anthropocentric emphasis mingled with shallow emotionalism. This position still dominates and has proven to be a jugular slash to true holiness.
Almost all the great founders of the holiness movement, especially those following the 1859 revival, were expositors. Today there is rarely an expositor among us. J. A. Wood's Perfect Love is a great work, however its monumental weakness is the almost complete lack of any Scripture. Too many meetings are on this plan - testimonies but no Scripture. Too many sermons follow the same plan - too many stories, not enough scripture.
When the position moved from doctrine to experience it easily moved to a state where what one felt was far more satisfying than the complete trust in the reliability of the promises of God as found in His Word. Consequently the "altar" became almost a spiritual counterpart to the psychiatrist's couch. A time of crying at the altar made the "confessor" feel much better. Repeated visits to the "altar" kept the heart in a good state of feelings. So very rarely now are testimonies full of complete trust in the Word of God, apart from feelings. The older sequence was facts, faith, then feelings - when and as God gave them. Now Christian experience is almost only a matter of feelings.
Now every service, has to have its "special," that is, a solo or other musical performance, often followed by a round of applause, on the part of the "audience." It would surprise many to realize Wesley and Whitfield never used a soloist. All music was an act of worship and adoration addressed to God.
Whole meetings are now handed over as concerts, "sacred" concerts, but concerts none the less. It is common for professional musicians to charge a thousand dollars or more for a performance. This is nothing less than a form of prostitution, a sale of the gifts God has given, which surely must result in a grieving of the Spirit.
We have lost the scriptural position of the primacy of preaching. This present situation makes it difficult for those of us who hold the conviction that only a service where the Word of God is read and expounded, is a truly Christian service.
-To Be Continued-