Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of Holiness

Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of Holiness[Read] ➪ Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of Holiness By William M. Greathouse – Heartforum.co.uk Holiness theology didn't begin with John Wesley Holiness theology began with Christ In Wholeness in Christ, holiness theologian and former general superintendent William M Greathouse examines both the Holiness theology didn't begin Christ: Toward PDF/EPUB ë with John Wesley Holiness theology began with Christ In Wholeness in Christ, holiness theologian and former general superintendent William M Greathouse examines both the Old and New Testament roots of Wholeness in PDF/EPUB ² the holiness doctrineGreathouse takes an indepth look at the historic doctrine of entire sanctification, the mandate to holy living, and such oftenmisunderstood Holiness terms as 'perfect' This masterfully researched work is a valuable resource to in Christ: Toward MOBI ô those who wish to examine deeply the biblical foundations of the heartfelt experience of heart cleansing and holy living Kivar.

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Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of
  • Paperback
  • 216 pages
  • Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of Holiness
  • William M. Greathouse
  • English
  • 13 June 2019
  • 9780834117860

10 thoughts on “Wholeness in Christ: Toward a Biblical Theology of Holiness

  1. Tyler Collins says:

    This is a book review I wrote for my Doctrine of Holiness class taught by Dr. Charles Christian:

    Introduction

    The book which I read for this assignment was Wholeness in Christ: Towards a Biblical Theology of Holiness by William M. Greathouse. Greathouse is a well-known author and scholar in Wesleyan/Holiness circles. In addition to serving for twenty-three years as a pastor, he served as a professor at and as president of both Trevecca Nazarene College (1963-1968) and Nazarene Theological Seminary (1968-1976). From 1976 to 1989 he served as a general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. He has authored a number of books and articles for both magazines and scholarly journals and received several notable awards, including the Life Achievement Award from the Wesleyan Theological Society.

    Wholeness in Christ is a work in which Greathouse sets out to lay down a “credible scriptural foundation for an understanding of Christian holiness” (10). With this book, he does not seek to give an exhaustive treatment of biblical theology but a mere “overture” (10). Writing from a distinctly Wesleyan perspective, which he views as a middle ground between Reformed and Catholic theology, Greathouse sees holiness as “wholeness in Christ” and desires to draw the church back to its “pre-Constantinian understanding of itself as the people of God called to be holy as He is holy” and as “commanded to be perfect in love as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (9). He writes in order that the church may live out this holiness in love and purity (9).

    Book Summary

    Greathouse begins his work by examining the theme of holiness in the Old Testament. By beginning here, he makes clear his belief that Christian holiness is best understood “by examining its Old Testament roots” (13). He sees holiness as being the deepest reality about God by which we understand all of his other attributes. In chapter one, Greathouse discusses the three meanings of holiness found in the Old Testament: holiness as separation, holiness as glory, and holiness as purity. He goes on, in chapter two, to discuss the theme of “perfection” in the Old Testament, stating that we need to redeem this word from its common misunderstandings. He puts forward that “perfection is a life of dedication and constancy in fellowship with the Almighty” (31).

    In chapters three and four, he seeks to lay out a theology of holiness from the Old Testament. First, he notes the importance of our creation in the imago Dei to the discussion, pulling particularly on how we image God in our capacity for relationship, as articulated by the Eastern fathers, and in our freedom to be “faithful and gracious” towards God and creation (37). He then examines how sin has distorted us, not as an addition of some corruption but as the loss of something, particularly the loss of an element of God’s image (46). He then explores how God’s grace is present both in and alongside of his judgement, noting how God encourages “progress in ethical conduct consistent with a progressive awareness of [his] presence” with his people (52). Greathouse concludes that the Torah is a system by which God’s people could live in fellowship with him rather than a mere set of regulations to adhere to. It was a gift to them given out of his love for them, yet it remained “powerless to dislodge sin and sanctify their hearts” (59).

    Greathouse begins, in chapter five, to discuss the significance of the Spirit as it pertains to sanctification. It is he who gives Christians the “power to be Christlike” (63). The transforming experience that ensues from the Spirit’s work causes the ripening of the fruit of the Spirt, “none other than the virtues of Christ” (76), in the believer. Their salvation, as depicted by Paul, “begins with justification, issues in sanctification, and is consummated in glorification” (78). The acid test of this Spirit-filled life, Greathouse contends, is Christlike love, not the legalism which Paul confronts in the Galatian church (81-82).

    He goes on to dissect, in chapter seven, Paul’s theology of sanctification found in Romans, discovering that “what Torah had formerly been for Paul, Christ had now become” (88). He asserts that when we are justified, we are given the grace of God which is not just for the forgiveness of sins but also for the “infusion of holiness” (96). This holiness doesn’t mean that Christians are unable to sin but, rather, that “by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit” they are able to not sin if they so choose (101). The entire sanctification of a believer consists of “heart purity and entire conformity of the believer to the character of God” and occurs when they turn their “self-sovereignty” into total surrender of the self to God (104). While “weakness of the flesh remains,” our time on earth is still “pregnant with hope” for our ultimate glorification at the eschaton (123-124).

    Chapter eight highlights sanctification as a life-long process that is characterized by “progressively increasing glory” (145) but more or less restates conclusions already articulated previously in the book. Greathouse focusses his attention on Hebrews in chapter nine, pulling out several distinctive nuggets but having a similar effect as chapter eight. He closes the book, in chapter ten, with a close look at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, discussing what a holy life looks like as it pertains to living out Jesus’ proclamations, particularly his “blessed be . . .” and “you have heard it said . . .” statements.

    Personal Reflections

    In reading Wholeness in Christ, I was struck by Greathouse’s thorough treatment of the biblical theology of holiness. While he states at the beginning of this book that it is merely an overview of the topic, it felt more robust than he gave credit. This was evident by his careful attention to detail and section-by-section approach to scripture, particularly in the New Testament books of Romans and Hebrews and in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Although it probably should have been anticipated, he made few, if any, statements apart from scriptural backing and tradition’s insight, quoting from a wide variety of saints, theologians, and scholars—giving priority, however, to the words of Wesley as they pertained to holiness. In addition, he pulled out a number of textual nuances which both bolstered and enriched his treatment of the topic, often causing me to stop, reread, and turn them over in my mind as they pertained to my life and experiences with others.

    The greatest downside to his book is that, in his attention to detail, scholarly insight, and skillful use of English, he is likely to lose much of the audience to which he seeks to minister. I have been an avid reader my whole life, but even I had to read with focused intentionality, sometimes re-reading for clarity’s sake, many of his sentences and paragraphs. I fear that if a casual layperson were to pick up this book to read, they may give up part-way through due to its lack of lower-level reader accessibility. This is unfortunate given the book’s rich content and Greathouse’s noble intentions of calling the church back to holiness.

    I would offer two additional, although notably more minor, critiques. The first is the wide variance in chapter length. In the first half of the book, chapters one through six, the chapters maintain a length of less than fifteen pages each. This gives the reader the feeling of making encouraging progress through the content. However, chapters seven through ten are enormous in comparison and were more difficult to maintain positive motion through. The final critique I would give is that he closes the book quite abruptly at the end of chapter ten, neglecting any sort of concluding chapter or even a concluding section to help us tie everything we have read together into a coherent whole. This seems to me to a glaring missed opportunity. Overall, with the exception of these criticisms, Greathouse’s treatment of holiness in the book is both thorough and compelling as he uses exceptional scholarship and attention to detail to produce a master work that can be used to both edify and encourage the church in her pursuit of Christlikeness for generations to come.

  2. Todd Brown says:

    I enjoyed the book

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