Struggling to be Holy

Tony SigThis aims to be the last post by me on homosexuality for a while, although I have been fermenting on celibacy and Protestantism, it will have to wait; I don’t want to prattle on only about one topic.

But my proposals do seem to go against the grain of Western Evangelicalism, not least since it has been so influenced by Methodism and the “Holiness” movement. Is holiness then thrown out the window if we allow struggling sinners into the fold? I would point out that even in the holiness churches the definition of what is holy and what is not has changed with time. My father recalls how when he was a kid he couldn’t play with face cards or go bowling, let alone go to a movie theater! But just this last year, the church gave him a gift card to the movie theater for Pastor Appreciation Day and my family just played poker at our Thanksgiving gathering. How things change. So did holiness change? Have we all just gone down the slippery slope? I don’t think so, and I do not think that we are at risk of going soft on sin by recognizing the sloppy process of “sanctification.”

More important than individual holiness is recognizing holiness on the larger scale. The Holiness of the church is not determined by the individual members, but rather by it’s relationship to Christ and from the salvation that it enjoys through him. Just check out Ephesians 1:3-14 and 5:25-27. Hans Kung expresses it thus:

“It is God who distinguishes the church, sets it apart, marks it out for his own and makes it holy, by winning power over the hearts of men through his Holy Spirit, by establishing his reign, by justifying and sanctifying the sinner and thereby founding the communion of saints”

The Church p.273

So, while we are certainly called to personal holiness as a witness to the working of the Holy Spirit to re-shape us, we should not fear the reality of sin in our midst provided in prayer and discernment the congregation plots a way “onward and upward.”

*and check out this bit by none other than Father John Zizioulas on holiness, quite appropriate I think



  1. This another great post, Tony. Overall this thread has been exceptional. I’m hoping Jeremy or Dan will weigh in on on this topic soon so we can present that “lively debate” our About Us page promises.


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