Friday, May 8, 2020

Misunderstandings of Perfection

I have been using The Wesley Study Bible during my devotional reading.  The Old Testament reading for Morning Prayer (according to the 2019 BCP) was Deuteronomy 9.  Turning the page to chapter 10, I noticed that the notes contained one of the "Wesleyan Core Term" articles.  (This, along with "Life Application Topic" articles, are features of The Wesley Study Bible.)  This particular article was on "Misunderstandings of Perfection."

The doctrines of Christian Perfection and Entire Sanctification are a distinctive emphasis within the Wesleyan tradition, and especially within the Wesleyan-holiness wing of Methodism where my own denomination, the Church of the Nazarene, is situated.

I thought that it was a good and helpful article for those who might not understand clearly what the doctrine teaches and what it doesn't teach.  And so, I thought I would reproduce it for the readers of this blog (as well as commend The Wesley Study Bible to anyone looking for a new study Bible):

     The terminology Christian perfection, or entire sanctification, is easily misunderstood in the
     following ways. First, purity of heart does not entail perfection in knowledge.  Even the entirely
     sanctified must continue to study and prosper.  Second, Christian perfection does not issue in
     freedom from infirmities, that is, from slowness of understanding, confusion in thought, or 
     mistakes in judgment.  Third, Christian perfection should not be described as "sinless perfection,"
     lest the pure in heart conclude that they can be free from any violation of the perfect law of God,
     voluntary or not.  Fourth, perfect love does not eliminate temptation.  Fifth, there is no state of
     grace so lofty that one cannot fall from it; that is, heart purity can be lost.  And finally, Wesley
     rejected the idea of static perfection that did not increase in love and grace; he cautioned that a
     pure heart increasingly grows in the love of God.

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