This article is continued from the previous issue. Reflecting on Dr. Keith Drury's sermon The Holiness Movement is Dead, Crossman offers eight additional observations based upon his experience as an international evangelist.
I live on a holiness camp ground founded by the great William McDonald of Boston. In its heyday, it is claimed that rarely less than 7000 would be found on the grounds during camp meeting. I have some 48 portraits of the past preachers who preached so effectively here. What variety of style, denominational background, and interpretations of various scriptures. There were Quakers, Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists of various types, and Salvationists. Some were millennialists, others were not. What held them together in such unity? Perfect love. They shared a uniting experience of the Spirit which filled them with love and created a general tolerance over the interpretation of secondary doctrines.
How different today! The aggressive and judgmental spirit that predominates today is nothing short of scandalous. Not even among us who are agreed on the need of the life of holiness can it be said, "See how these Christians love each other." Almost all separations and divisions in fellowship today is either over personalities or on the interpretation or application of a secondary truth. The famous John Newton said, "What a sad spectacle it is to see sheep biting sheep."
When I adopt a certain standard of lifestyle, dress, or behavior, because I believe God would have me to do so, that is grace. When I inflict this upon others and require it from them, that is legalism. The first attitude is to be respected, the other is to be deprecated and rejected.
The whole emphasis of Scripture is on Heart Purity. God has many holy people across the world, yet who differ radically on the matter of standards. To judge outwardly, from externals, can lead to very false conclusions, yet it is widespread among us.
I hope we are all opposed to the false ecumenical movement, but the alternative is not separation from other true Christians. We dare not rend the body of Christ. According to Romans 14-16 we can be one is spirit with all other true believers, despite differences of interpretation.
There has been a neglect of the doctrine of the oneness and unity of the Church in favor of an individualistic work of the Spirit. In too many cases members of one church almost seem to believe they are the only ones who will find heaven. Many have testified how shocked and surprised they were to discover that there were Christians in other fellowships besides theirs.
It seems we are afraid that if we show any love and unity for a sister church down the road that some of our people may go tho them. We are afraid of a loss in numbers, so we find things to criticize and condemn. We try to discourage any of our people from attending the revival of a sister church or our young people from meeting their young people.
There has to be something worrisome over the fact that our homes exude a materialistic philosophy. The number and quality of the cars that we have, our furnishings, and the things, things, things that seem to possess us. The subject of conversation too often when holiness preachers get together is either their latest car or the amount of money we are making on the side, in addition to preaching. Few will now accept the Pauline standard, "This one thing I do." Some even run almost a business empire. Their assets run into millions. The tragedy of all this is that these pastors and with their businesses are looked up to and admired as achievers. Materialism and spirituality can never be found together.
By this I mean keeping the Lord's Day, Sunday, as a very special day. It should not be a day of shopping and attending sports events; it should be an opportunity for public worship, spiritual reading and wholesome family time.
The consecrated believer will surely be at the prayer meeting and will be faithful in attendance and support of the services of the church. Through loyalty to the church the responsible member will see that some of the social obligations of the church towards the poor and the shut-ins are fulfilled. They will be engaged in the outreach of the church.
A consecrated church will not lack for stewards, Sunday School teachers, and participants in the praise and worship of the congregation. There is something wrong when a member attends a service, sits comfortably, and never opens his mouth in any praise in song or word. Such a congregation has the air of death about it.
These, as I see it, are some of the factors that have resulted in the general withdrawal of the life and power of the Spirit among the so-called holiness people. Can this be changed? Can we recapture the former glory when "days of heaven upon earth" were often experienced? Or, will God, on the principle that old wineskins cannot contain new wine, raise up a new people with a new spirit, with a new opportunity for spreading scriptural holiness throughout the world? Be sure of this, a holy God purposes a holy people for Himself. Jesus will have a Bride that will be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.