The Halfhearted are Dangerous

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One of the rich experiences of my spiritual pilgrimage was a careful reading of a three-volume edition of the Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury.

Asbury united a personal quest for holiness with the responsibility of guiding American Methodism in its early years. His intense concern to be holy, and to have a holy church, led to rigorous enforcement of the men chafed under his efforts to maintain this discipline. Asbury's commitment and courage are evidenced in a Journal entry that reads, "I cannot suffer myself to be guided by half-hearted Methodists."

We have reached a time when superintendents and pastors will need great courage if they are not to be guided by [the] halfhearted.... Some preachers and laymen are lukewarm, if not ice cold, where our doctrines and standards of holiness are concerned. They betray a heritage that was purchased and established at the cost of blood, sweat, and tears.

We have churches where the doctrine of entire sanctification is seldom or never proclaimed, churches where self-help psychology with a religious tincture has been substituted for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have churches where "leading" members, elected to governing boards, blatently violate our standards of hehavior. Enough of these troubled places have emerged to cause legitimate concern about an epidemic.

The halfhearted could never have founded our church, and the half hearted cannot preserve it. They may preserve something that bears our name, but it will be shorn of the creed, spirit, vision, ethics, and passion that have been our very reason for existence.

No one who reads me frequently can accuse me honestly of ancestor worship or status-quo mentality. But I am frankly concerned that we not lose what permits us to be accurately defined as a holiness church.

Carnality should be present in the church, for we should have people there in all stages of spiritual development. But carnality should not be in the driver's seat.


By William E. McCumber - Herald of Holiness, September 15, 1983, p. 18.

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