Christian perfection


Christian perfection

Christian perfection, also known as perfect love; heart purity; the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the fullness of the blessing; Christian holiness; the second blessing; and entire sanctification, is a Christian doctrine which holds that the heart of the regenerant (born-again) Christian may attain a state of holiness where there is a total love for God and others and empowers them to reject the sinful nature of ones humanity by the means of a deep cleansing of that nature through the divine grace of God.

Contents

Wesley's teaching

Part of a series on
Methodism
John Wesley clipped.png
John Wesley
  Methodism portal v · d · e

The doctrine is chiefly associated with the followers of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, from Wesley's understanding of sanctifying grace. The doctrine is defined in Wesley's book, "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection". [1] Perfection can either define the journey to perfection or the state of perfection. Christian perfection is commonly referred to as "going on to perfection".

Perfection is the process of sanctification which is both an instantaneous and a progressive work of grace. It may also be called entire sanctification, in which the heart of the believer is cleansed from inbred sin by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Christian perfection, according to Wesley, is “purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God” and “the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked.” It is "loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves".[2] It is “a restoration not only to the favor, but likewise to the image of God,” our “being filled with the fullness of God.”[3]

Wesley was clear that Christian perfection did not imply perfection of bodily health or an infallibility of judgment. It also does not mean one no longer violates the will of God, for involuntary transgressions remain. Perfected Christians remain subject to temptation, and have continued need to pray for forgiveness and holiness. It is not an absolute perfection but a perfection in love. Furthermore, Wesley did not teach a salvation by perfection, but rather says that, “Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ.”[4]

Wesley did not use perfection to describe sinlessness. Similarly, perfection is not the state of being unable to sin, but rather the state of choosing not to sin. Wesley's perfection represents a change of life, a freedom from willful rebellion against God, impure intentions, and pride. Wesley also did not view perfection as permanent.

As regarding the concept of sinless perfection, John Wesley himself did not use this term and noted in his book A Plain Account of Christian Perfection that "...sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself."[5] However John William Fletcher,Wesley's chosen successor,[6] used the term "evangelically sinless perfection" or "evangelically sinless" but notes in his book The Last Check to Antinomianism that "With respect to the FIRST, that is, the Adamic, Christless law of innocence and paradisiacal perfection, we utterly renounce the doctrine of sinless perfection."[7]

Historical Orthodox and Catholic teaching

The concept of entire sanctification may initially have come from the Orthodox and Catholic Church's doctrine of theosis. Medieval Christian philosophy held that the concept of perfection might describe creation, but was not appropriate to describe God. The Scholastic, Thomas Aquinas, indicating that he was following Aristotle, defined a perfect thing as one that "possesses that of which, by its nature, it is capable." Also (Summa Theologiae): "That is perfect, which lacks nothing of the perfection proper to it." Thus there were, in the world, things perfect and imperfect, more perfect and less perfect. God permitted imperfections in creation when they were necessary for the good of the whole. And for man it was natural to go by degrees from imperfection to perfection.[8]

Duns Scotus understood perfection still more simply and mundanely: "Perfection is that which it is better to have than not to have." It was not an attribute of God but a property of creation: all things partook of it to a greater or lesser degree. A thing's perfection depended on what sort of perfection it was eligible for. In general, that was perfect which had attained the fullness of the qualities possible for it. Hence "whole" and "perfect" meant more or less the same ("totum et perfectum sunt quasi idem").[9]

This was a teleological concept, for it implied an end (goal or purpose). God created things that served certain purposes, created even those purposes, but He himself did not serve any purpose. Since God was not finite, He could not be called perfect: for the concept of perfection served to describe finite things. Perfection was not a theological concept, but an ontological one, because it was a feature, in some degree, of every being. The 9th century thinker Paschasius Radbertus wrote: "Everything is the more perfect, the more it resembles God." Still, this did not imply that God himself was perfect.[10]

El Camino de Perfección is a method for making progress in the contemplative life written by St. Teresa of Ávila for the sisters of her reformed convent of the Carmelite Order (Discalced). St. Teresa was a major figure of the Catholic Reformation in 16th century Spain. Christian perfection is also the title of a book written by theologian Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange.

Perfectae Caritatis, the Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life , is one of the shorter documents issued by the Second Vatican Council. Approved by vote of 2,321 to 4 of the bishops assembled at the Council, the decree was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965. As is customary for Church documents, the title is taken from the first words of the decree: "Perfect Charity" in Latin.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.dewildmissions.nl/OudeSite/mediapool/49/494031/data/A_Plain_Account_of_Christian_Perfection.pdf
  2. ^ Wesley 2009, p. 176
  3. ^ The End of Christ’s Coming, 482
  4. ^ Wesley 2009, p. 115
  5. ^ Wesley 2009, p. 68
  6. ^ Ryan N. Danker. "Chapter XVIII - Setting His House in Order". Wesley.nnu.edu. http://wesley.nnu.edu/john_wesley/methodist/ch18.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-17. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Fletcher's Last Check, Section I". Truthinheart.com. http://truthinheart.com/EarlyOberlinCD/CD/Fletcher/LtCkSecI.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  8. ^ Tatarkiewicz, "Ontological and Theological Perfection," Dialetics and Humanism, vol. VIII, no. 1 (winter 1981), p. 189.
  9. ^ Tatarkiewicz, "Ontological and Theological Perfection," Dialetics and Humanism, vol. VIII, no. 1 (winter 1981), pp. 189-90.
  10. ^ Tatarkiewicz, "Ontological and Theological Perfection," Dialetics and Humanism, vol. VIII, no. 1 (winter 1981), p. 190.

Bibliography

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Christian — • First Bishop of Prussia, d. 1245 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Christian     Christian and Religious Perfection …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Christian and Religious Perfection —     Christian and Religious Perfection     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Christian and Religious Perfection     A thing is perfect in which nothing is wanting of its nature, purpose, or end. It may be perfect in nature, yet imperfect inasmuch as it… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Perfection (disambiguation) — Perfection or perfectionism may refer to any of the following:*Perfection, a philosophical concept related to idealism * Perfection (song), the second single from Australian singer Dannii Minogue s greatest hits album, The Hits and Beyond… …   Wikipedia

  • Christian Doctrine —     Christian Doctrine     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Christian Doctrine     Taken in the sense of the act of teaching and the knowledge imparted by teaching , this term is synonymous with CATECHESIS and CATECHISM. Didaskalia, didache, in the… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Perfection — For other uses, see Perfection (disambiguation). Perfect redirects here. For other uses, see Perfect (disambiguation). Perfection is, broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness. The term perfection is actually used to designate a range of… …   Wikipedia

  • Christian theology — The Prophetess Anna, Rembrandt, 1631 See also: History of Christian theology and Outline of Christian theology Christian doctrine redirects here. For the United States Court case known by that name, see G.L. Christian and associates v. US.… …   Wikipedia

  • Christian philosophy — Part of a series on Christianity   …   Wikipedia

  • Christian eschatology — Part of a series on Christianity   …   Wikipedia

  • Christian apologetics — Part of a series on Christianity   …   Wikipedia

  • Christian revival — For Architectural style revivals, see Revivalism (architecture). Part of a series on the History of Christian Theology …   Wikipedia


We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.