Sunday, June 7, 2009


No one has described the context of, case for, and content of personal holiness better than William Stringfellow

KEEPER OF THE WORD. I've not come a across a more poignant description of personal holiness than this expression by William Stringfellow. I place this description above every description I've heard in Wesleyan/holiness preaching, teaching and writing in my 50 years of experience. I consider this description more reflective of the intent of the Word of God than what my tradition typically teaches. I found it in Bill Wylie Kellerman's collection of Stringfellow quotes titled A Keeper of the Word. The volume has been a source of insight, comfort, and agitation to me over the past ten years.

"Being holy, becoming and being a saint, does not mean being perfect but being whole; it does not mean being exceptionally religious, or being religious at all. It means being liberated from religiosity and religious pietism of any sort. It does not mean being godly, but rather being truly human. It does not mean being otherworldly, but it means being deeply implicated in the practical existence of this world without succumbing to this world or any aspect of this world, no matter how beguiling."

"Being holy means a radical self-knowledge; a sense of who one is, a consciousness of one's own identity so thorough that it is no longer confused with the identities of others, of persons or of any creatures or of God or of any idols. For human beings, relief and remedy from such profound confusion concerning a person's own identity and the identity and character of the Word of God becomes the indispensable and authenticating ingredient of being holy, and it is the most crucial aspect of becoming mature, or being fulfilled, as a human in this world, in fallen creation."

"Sanity and conscience, rather than some sentimental or pietistic or self-serving notion of moral perfection, constitute the usual marks of sanctification.
That which distinguishes the saint is not eccentricity, not perfection, but sanity and conscience. The irony in being holy is that one is plunged more fully into the practical existence of this world, as it is, than in any other way."

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