Holy Roller vs. Holiness Theology

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General William BoothThe Salvation Army, founded in 1865 by William Booth, a Methodist minister who began his ministry in the East End of London in 1865, placed heavy emphasis on active social work and was operated in a military fashion. Philosophically it was part of the Holiness movement which also included the Nazarene Church, the Free Methodists and the Wesleyan Church. The religious services of most Holiness congregations of that time were lively, spirit-filled events where many of the formalities of traditional church services were dispensed with.

Members of Holiness congregations believed "Ye must be born again"--John 3:7. They believed that instantaneous conversion was possible and often after such a conversion "grown men bowed in earnestness and sobbed like children," and "drunkards and blasphemers were awed into solemnity." Those born again believed that with their new faith in God and following their repentance, their sins had been remitted and they stood before God as though they had never sinned.

After being born again, they had to seek and receive a second work of grace, "Sanctification." They believed this eradicated their inbred sinful natures and made them holy. Many churches that had once strongly embraced this teaching had since discarded it. But members of Holiness congregations considered "Sanctification" to be at the center of leading a Christian life. Without it, one could not become holy, and without becoming holy, one could not see the Lord.

"Holiness is the abolition of sin," said W. Bramwell Booth, Chief of the Staff of the Salvation Army and son of its founder, "the doing of righteousness and the enthronement of God. It is harmony, it is health, is is union, it is victory, it is joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is the work of the Holy Ghost, begun in pardon and adoption, made complete through body and soul and spirit in full salvation and brought to perfection in the maturity and fruitfulness of an obedient heart and consecrated life."

"The power of holiness is the eternal God. The way of holiness is straight and leads to the Cross. The testimony of holiness convicts the sinner. The fruit of holiness is love. The test of holiness is hard work and real sacrifice for the salvation of the bodies and souls of men. Its watchword is "others."

"If holiness is possible anywhere to anyone at any time, it must be possible everywhere, to everyone, and all the time, therefore to you and just now. Desire it above everything else. Seek it above everything else. Pay the price marked on it, nothing less than the sum total of your all and begin now to believe God is true, and you shall have it. He is faithful. I have proved it."

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