This article by Harold E. Schmul, titled “Crucible for Conservatives,” reflects the core values of Holy Joys. Schmul urges catholicity, calling us to strengthen our understanding of primary doctrines, break out of isolation and fellowship with the whole family of God, and ground our Christian love and unity in a shared commitment to the faith once for all delivered. He calls us to charity, lamenting the labeling, pettiness, and divisive rhetoric which has marked a movement “reaping twenty years of a preaching emphasis that has polarized around men and issues.” And he admonishes us to piety, true religion that is characterized by a sincere love for God and neighbor, especially those who are of the household of God. May God help us to reflect these values in our churches and ministries.
The religious world is drifting from the fundamentals of the faith. America has more religion, but is making less moral impact than any time in the past 40 years.
Today there are fewer revivals, yet more professed conversions; more church activity, less spiritual emphasis. Instead of standing firm on holy principle, we are making judicious compromise with evil. Ministers are seen as success symbols rather than servants of Christ and each other.
The religious scene has changed dramatically since the Convention in Salem, Ohio, thirty-four years ago. Then, we faced serious issues, but they were a babbling brook compared with the flood of issues and problems facing us today.
According to a report on religion in America in Time magazine, February 17, 1986, televangelists have altered the very nature of American Christianity.
Sociologist Jeffrey Hayden of the University of Virginia gives this evaluation: “Powered by TV evangelism, the Christian right is destined to become the major social movement in America during the late 20th Century.“
“What accounts for the surprising impact of the televangelist? They have imparted a show biz flair to TV and present outsize personalities and sermons carefully shaped around themes that pull audience response along with dramatic personal stories of life changing events and toe tapping music.”
He closed his observation saying, “The real key is that grassroots people are dying for personal religion and traditional values.”
Televangelists Robertson, Baker, Swaggart, Roberts, and Schuler are speaking to 182 million people weekly testifying to this hunger. These evangelists and their methods are making a dramatic social and political impact upon our Nation, but the moral and spiritual nature of the country seems untouched. True revival is the only hope for our churches and nation.
A. W. Tozer said it this way, “It is my considered opinion that under present circumstances we do not want a revival at all. A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years.”
Do we want more emphasis on politics, success, health, wealth, and glamor?
Do we want more division, more tensions, and less compassion?
Do we want a revival of what we have? I doubt it!
We must address the issues without consideration to our reputation, place, or office in the church. If we do not want the televangelist revival, we must pay the price for a God-sent revival.
Jesus, our Fileleader, set the pattern in His High Priestly prayer.
JESUS IS PRAYING—LISTEN!
John 17:20-23. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made ‘perfect in one’; that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” Oh, Holy Father, I will declare thy name and I pray the love where with thou hast loved me may be in them. “For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
Could anything be more clear? He prayed thrice for “perfect oneness.” The unity for which He prayed would produce a oneness like the oneness of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one; this is oneness in diversity of personalities and oneness in authority, yet each work in perfect harmony with the other.
The prayer of Jesus calls attention to the agape love [that] members of the Trinity have for each other. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would be one through the same agape love. “The Great Commission” would be fulfilled only if His “called ones” “love each other with a pure heart fervently.”
Soon Christ would leave this world; unless they worked His work and preached His Gospel from the context of a loving, united fellowship, His work of redemption would stagnate and die. Pentecost would seal the unity of the disciples and fulfill the desire of His heart, the salvation of the lost.
Paul expresses the same burden in Ephesians 4 urging the followers of Christ to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonding power of a peace-loving spirit.
Paul exhorts for “spiritual unity.” Ephesians 4:3. “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Paul also contends for doctrinal unity. “Unity of the faith.” Ephesians 4:13. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
THE UNITY FOR WHICH CHRIST PRAYS AND FOR WHICH PAUL EXHORTS IS NOT AT THE SACRIFICE OF TRUTH.
True unity is founded upon His Word. The conservative holiness people are agreed on fundamentals, “One faith, one Lord.” “One baptism,” ” one body,” “one hope,” “one God and Father of all.” The fundamentals to which I call attention are the inerrancy of Holy Scripture, deity of Christ, the atonement, bodily resurrection, and second coming. These are primary truths and we are 100% agreed in proclaiming them. We constantly affirm these basic tenets and proclaim all other doctrines as a matter of course. We are not children tossed to and fro, but are mature disciples growing to full stature in Christ.
The error is defining what is spiritual and deciding who is spiritual based on the interpretation of secondary truths instead of emphasizing our agreement on fundamentals.
The error is defining what is spiritual and deciding who is spiritual based on the interpretation of secondary truths instead of emphasizing our agreement on fundamentals. Wesleyan scholars, Wesley, Clarke, Fletcher, Ralston, Pope, Godbey, Bressee, Roberts, Wiley, and others do not share a common understanding of secondary truths, yet they are in full agreement on primary or fundamental truths.
We face grave danger in elevating secondary truths to the level of primary truths and judging one another’s spirituality based on our understanding of these truths.
We face grave danger in elevating secondary truths to the level of primary truths and judging one another’s spirituality based on our understanding of these truths.
A misunderstanding of the sacraments, water baptism, the second coming, the millennium, the conscientious objector, or divorce and remarriage is not fatal. But a misunderstanding concerning the inerrancy of God’s Word, the deity of Jesus Christ, the vicarious atonement, the bodily resurrection, His second coming and triumph over all evil, is fatal. One can not be truly Christian and deny these fundamental truths. Since we are 100% agreed on the fundamentals, speak the truth in love on secondary issues.
The solution to our tension is not labels, “radical” or “liberal,” but to pray and love one another “maintaining the unity of the Spirit” that the world may believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
The solution to our tension is not labels, “radical” or “liberal,” but to pray and love one another.
Paul pleads that we walk side by side in meekness and longsuffering, with lowliness of mind, bearing and forbearing one another in love.
Resist the temptation to gain adherents at the expense of your brother. Whenever we foster division and strife on secondary issues, are we not behaving as carnal men?
Our conferences, conventions, and camp meetings need a higher quality of doctrinal and expository preaching.
We need more sound theological preaching that emphasizes ” one body,” “one Spirit,” “one hope,” “one Lord,” “one faith,” “one baptism,” “one God and Father of all” (verses 5-6). Those churches that have a carefully articulated theology and an emphasis on sound doctrine have less schism. Our conferences, conventions, and camp meetings need a higher quality of doctrinal and expository preaching. We have pandered too much to popular taste for political advantage rather than preach what was needed. We are more concerned about creating immediate emotional effect than generating thought which tends to result in effective evangelism.
We did not get where we are, in our movement, by accident. We are reaping twenty years of a preaching emphasis that has polarized around men and issues.
We did not get where we are, in our movement, by accident. We are reaping twenty years of a preaching emphasis that has polarized around men and issues; men die and issues change, but Christ and His Word abide for ever. Some of our younger men feel strongly that our leadership bears a large share of responsibility for where we are, because we have permitted the emphasis that has produced this effect. They hear the call for humbling and confession for revival and fail to see leaders setting a genuine example. They feel if anyone needs to admit failure, it’s the leadership. I fear they will continue to turn away from us unless we repent and change our ways.
Some of our younger men feel strongly that our leadership bears a large share of responsibility for where we are, because we have permitted the emphasis that has produced this effect.
UNITY OF FAITH IS CLOSELY LINKED TO “KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD.”
Verse 13. Our emphasis has made a whole lot of things more important than pursuing and knowing Christ. I, personally, believe preaching an exalted Christ is the only way we can pull together the diversity inherent in human personality. The exaltation of Christ is the catalyst that is needed to refocus the church. The body does not function well without a head and a central vision! Verse 15. It is vision resulting in a knowledge of Christ that inspires us to the pursuit of the “perfect man” and “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Verse 13. It is only an exalted Christ that can “fit the entire body together and unite the contributing ligaments with proportionate power for each single part to effect the development of the body.” Verse 26. It does not seem to me we can exalt institutions, denominations, or persons and not produce a limited body. There must be a spiritual death, a crucifixion to our institutions, and a resurrection to a new life in Christ. I am not sure what that will mean for our organizations. Unless leaders humble themselves and seek reconciliation, we will continue to stagnate and die. My personal aspirations are to know Christ better, to come more completely to the stature of Christ. I find little challenge or thrill in the church apart from the activity of Christ and His Spirit.
Our emphasis has made a whole lot of things more important than pursuing and knowing Christ.
“THE GREAT COMMISSION ” IS OUR WAY TO STAY ALIVE.
“The Great Commission” is the command of Christ to disciples in all ages, to invade and take the world captive to Christ. It is not an invitation to go, it is a command, “Go ye and teach—make disciples of all nations.” This was the burden of Christ’s last message to His disciples and it is His burdened message to us today.
We are members of one body, the body of Christ. Unity in diversity is the most pressing need of the Conservative Holiness movement.
Unity in diversity is the most pressing need of the Conservative Holiness movement.
There are many issues we could dissect, discuss and debate, but detailed answers on secondary issues will never satisfy our people. The “fall” affected our head, but grace can fix our hearts with patience, grace, and long-suffering. Our confrontations and divisions are intensifying and multiplying while the command of Christ to win the world is sidetracked.
Must tensions continue to rise? Many unwise, unnecessary and unkind things are said and done. Unless we can disagree agreeably, we shall devour one another. Rash, incendiary statements kindle destructive fires and please only the great pyromaniac, the devil.
Rash, incendiary statements kindle destructive fires and please only the great pyromaniac, the devil.
We become so busy defending our distinctive, we forget to magnify the Sovereign Lord who purposes to bring all things under the rule of Christ. We stereotype one another, rather than see each other as team members with different gifts for the enrichment of the whole body of Christ.
We stereotype one another, rather than see each other as team members with different gifts for the enrichment of the whole body of Christ.
Dr. Godbey said, “The whole picture we get of the early Church is one boldly emphasizing ’varieties of gifts … varieties of service… and varieties of operations.’ There was room within that primitive fellowship of believers for wide individual and group differences.”
DIFFERENCES NEED NOT MEAN SEPARATION.
“Today there’s a subconscious element of desired uniformity under human authority instead of a desire that various members and groups be permitted to function under the direct supernatural leading of the Holy Spirit, within Scriptural guidelines. Let’s allow differences in the members of the body, as long as the same blood of the crucified and risen Christ has discernibly cleansed us from our sins and made us ‘accepted in the beloved’ (Ephesians 1:6).
“Many years ago in Germany, so the story goes, there lived a shoemaker who had a habit of speaking harshly of all his neighbors who didn’t think quite as he did about religion. The pastor of the parish in which he lived heard of this and felt he must give him a lesson.
“So he went to the shoemaker one morning and said, ’Will you please take my measure for a pair of boots?’
“’Certainly,’ said the shoemaker. As he proceeded with his task, the pastor said, ’My son is needing a new pair of boots also.’
’I’ll be glad to make them, too. When can I take his measurements?’
“Oh, that’s not necessary,’ said the pastor. “The lad is only fourteen, but you can make my boots and his from the same last.’
The shoemaker looked at him with a puzzled smile and said, ’That would never do. They would never fit such a young boy.’
’I tell you,’ insisted the pastor, ’to make my son’s on the same last.’
’No, sir, I can’t do it,’ protested the shoemaker. He began to wonder if the pastor was losing his wits.
“’Well, then, shoemaker,’ said the clergyman, ’you accept the fact that every pair of boots must be made on their own last, if they are to fit. And yet you think that God wants to form all Christians exactly according to your own last, of the same measure and growth in spiritual matters as yourself. That won’t do either, you know.’
“The shoemaker got the point and said, “Thank you for your sermon. I’ll try to remember it and to judge my neighbors less harshly in the future.’
“Of course, we must be on guard that our differences aren’t contributing to our separateness rather than to our belonging. We’re not individuals when we’re separated from the body of Christ, we’re monstrosities. Our differences are never useful from the body, but only as functionaries of the body.
We’re not individuals when we’re separated from the body of Christ, we’re monstrosities.
“How easy it is for those of us who are members of the body of Christ to fall into the self-righteous trap of branding other members as unbelievers simply because they hold to some minor and non-essential differences. Let’s remember John’s definition of a Christian. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (I John 5:1).
“How narrow-minded it would be to rebel against anyone and everyone who was different from us! This is especially applicable to Christians. We are meant to help other Christians if we are stronger, and to be helped if we are weaker.”
Why pigeonhole one another and set each other aside and not relate their ministry to “The Great Commission.” We defeat the power of New Testament evangelism and destroy fellowship by labeling one another.
We have developed a “crusader mentality”! We are fighters instead of peacemakers, soldiers instead of intercessors.
We have developed a “crusader mentality”! We are fighters instead of peacemakers, soldiers instead of intercessors. Our diverse decrees on secondary matters fragment the body of Christ. We pull away from each other, and isolate ourselves and our people, at the same time, we insulate ourselves from the world we should be seeking to save.
We are to obey the command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” To do this effectively we must maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is an ongoing task, calling for the power of a united witness.
Please give time in this Convention to fasting and prayer. Avoid further divisions, tension, and misunderstanding; primary truth is not at stake here.
HEBREWS 13:1, “LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE” OR BE A FIXED PRINCIPLE IN YOUR LIFE
1. Be careful of your language and attitude. Refuse to brand those who differ as “radicals,” “worldly,” the “adultery crowd,” or “the war party.”
Be careful of your language and attitude. Refuse to brand those who differ.
2. Remember, great scholars and leaders of the holiness movement may be found on both sides of secondary issues. Great leaders, S. I. Emery, Glenn Griffith, and Robb French, held divergent views on secondary truths, but they enjoyed each other’s ministry and fellowship. They were “big men.” May their tribe increase!
3. Division is the curse of our day and leads to heavy spiritual casualties, especially among our young people.
4. Resolve to “maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” for Satan would scatter the power of the “holy people.” Fight the devil, not one another!
5. Enlist in Christ’s army as a peacemaker. “Blessed are the peacemakers, they are the children of God.” “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which we will not see the Lord.”
Enlist in Christ’s army as a peacemaker.
6. Maintain your distinctive but not at the sacrifice of fellowship. There is nothing more disappointing than to meet a brother who has his dispensations right but his disposition wrong. Remember, you are agreed on the fundamentals and your brother in Christ has a right to a different interpretation on secondary issues. Because our interpretation of secondary truths differs, we tend to polarize and live isolated and fail to answer Christ’s prayer for oneness in the body of Christ and fail to obey His command, “Go into all the world with the Gospel.”
We should encourage our people to break out of isolation and fellowship the whole family of God.
7. Practice learning to disagree agreeably, and yet, stand shoulder to shoulder on the fundamentals. We should encourage our people to break out of isolation and fellowship the whole family of God.
Forgive our failure to love one another. Forgive our lovelessness. Forgive us as we forgive our brother. Forgive our smallness and criticism of one another. Oh, God, forgive our failure to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
Jesus, we pray for an outpouring of divine love to cleanse our hearts and minds of every thing that hinders our being one in the Spirit and one in the Lord. Turn our energies and resources to winning the world for Thee.
This article was very lightly edited (e.g., to correct a few minor typos). If you identify any mistakes, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.