In a previous post, I recommended Ted A. Campbell’s Wesleyan Beliefs: Formal and Popular Expressions of the Core Beliefs of Wesleyan Communities. One of the highlights of the book is Campbell’s discussion of the continuing relevance of the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification or Christian perfection. Campbell makes the most persuasive and helpful case for the ongoing value and relevance of the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification that I have read in some time. Here is the key passage:
The doctrine of entire sanctification is a great gift at the heart of historic Wesleyan communities, a gift that, I am inclined to say, Wesleyan Christians could neglect only at the peril of losing what has been the heart of their distinctive beliefs. It is grounded in the consistent biblical mandate that the end (telos) or goal of human existence is complete love for God, and love for our neighbors as the natural concomitant and sign of love for God… I find John Wesley’s twofold rationale for the doctrine of entire sanctification unassailable:
1. God intends that we should love God completely.
2. God can accomplish what God intends.
Once these two points are understood, the doctrine of entire sanctification can be understood as the heart of biblical religion… It creates a space where ancient saintliness can meet modern life and thus it is a gift of grace for the contemporary world. (233)