Memorial 62

CONSTITUTION: Gifts of the Spirit

Whereas, The Wesleyan Church is and shall remain committed to heart holiness as a holiness denomination;

Whereas, In times of theological controversies it is normative for both sides to overstate their positions to establish a distance between each other (This was not merely true during the interchange between Phineas Bresee's 1895 outpouring of holiness in Los Angeles and William Seymour's Azusa Street Revival of 1906-9, the original outbreak of Pentecostal movement, but occurred again in the Charismatic revival of the 1970's and 1980's); the 1970's and 1980's were times of intense theological disputation regarding speaking in tongues; we fully understand the historical settings and realities that caused our forefathers to use the specific phrasing they did at that time regarding the practice of tongues; yet we recognize that after theological battles have substantively ended, there can be additional reflection and modifying of polemic language to more irenic phrasing, especially making certain that we are fully appreciative of all of scripture;

Whereas, The Holiness Movement and the Pentecostal Movement share a common rootage in that almost all Pentecost denominations came out of the Holiness tradition – known as "the Synan Thesis" (Vincent Synan) - as all of us together point back to the strong post conversionistic, secondary work of grace, "deeper life" emphasis of John Wesley;

Whereas, The Holiness Movement focuses on purity, the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements tend to highlight power; in the past, a "grand divorce" occurred between purity and power; a "grand remarriage" is now needed; we cannot minister effectively in this increasing secularist and hostile world without BOTH purity AND power. In today's world, we all desire to see diseased bodies healed, to see people become free from demonic manifestations, for miracles, signs and wonders to follow us; Without this power and without clear empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will not see - we cannot see – the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the outbreak of righteousness our hearts long for. In our distancing ourselves from some abuses, we tragically and unintentionally distanced ourselves from the evidenced power of the Holy Spirit;

Whereas, The Holiness Movement has enjoyed modest gains for which we praise God, the Pentecostal Movement has mushroomed to hundreds of millions globally – perhaps as many as 600 million – in part because of the empowerment that all of us long for;

Whereas, Altering the statement of the Wesleyan Church on the issue of a private prayer language in no way diminishes her strong call for sanctification and heart holiness, our central focus and calling;

Whereas, We as Wesleyans desperately long for and need the full empowerment of the Holy Spirit and must be open to all the gifts of the Spirit; while we seek the Giver, without obsessing with the gift, we are not afraid of or fearful of any gift of the Spirit;

Whereas, We will attempt to walk carefully a biblical "road" while avoiding two theological "ditches:" (1) unintentionally being closed to what the Holy Spirit might be doing, or (2) the tendency to allow for disruption, excesses, abuses and unsubstantiated claims to occur in worship or church settings, that is, humans acting in "the flesh" while trying to call it "spiritual"; and

Whereas we want to affirm all gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Scriptures, while maintaining a strong heart holiness identity, we recognize we need to reexamine and restate our position on these matters;

Resolved, That the following paragraph 265:9 be replaced:

"To preserve the fellowship and witness of the Church with reference to the use of languages. The Wesleyan Church believes in the miraculous use of languages and the interpretation of languages in its biblical and historical setting. But it is contrary to the Word of God to teach that speaking in an unknown tongue or the gifts of tongues is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or of that entire sanctification which the baptism accomplishes; therefore, only a language readily understood by the congregation is to be used in public worship. The Wesleyan Church believes that use of an ecstatic prayer language has no clear scriptural sanction, or any pattern of established historical usage in the Church; therefore, the use of such a prayer language shall not be promoted among us."

Resolved, That the new paragraph 265:9 would be:

"The Wesleyan Church believes in the miraculous use of known languages and the interpretation of known languages in its biblical and historical setting as seen in Acts chapter 2. We do not teach that speaking in an unknown tongue or the gifts of tongues is the singular evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or of entire sanctification, as we continue to believe that purity of heart is the manifestation of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We do however recognize all the gifts of the Spirit. We recognize that a private prayer language is between God and the one praying. Given its tendency for abuse, we urge that only a language readily understood by the congregation be used in public worship. In those moments in which tongues might be evidenced in a public setting, it is the task of the ordained or commissioned minister(s) to determine if it is "of God" or not – and rule accordingly. We desire to be highly sensitive to never grieve the Holy Spirit."


Tim Kirkes, Secretary

Committee on Memorials

Not Recommended

General Conference

____ Adopted ____ Not Adopted

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