Means of Grace as Formative Holiness: The Role and Significance of John Wesley's Spiritual Formation Practices in The Pursuit of Christian Holiness for The Church of The Nazarene
Within the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition broadly, and the Church of the Nazarene specifically, occasional confusion, distrust and skepticism has arisen concerning “spiritual formation.” Some of the underlying issues may reflect a lack of understanding regarding what Christian spiritual formation is and is not, where the language comes from, what is meant by traditional Christian disciplines of formation, and how those practices relate to holiness theology and sanctification.
The purpose of this dissertation is to thoughtfully and practically engage this subject through the lens of John Wesley, for whom the means of grace are a practical marriage of God’s work and our participation, and are centered directly in the stream of orthodox Christianity. These practices are an invitation for all Christians, but especially for those who value holiness of heart and life. The aimed-for outcome is that Nazarenes will re-discover Wesley’s means of grace practices and wholeheartedly embrace them with the purpose of pursuing growth in grace toward holiness of heart and life.
Section 1 presents a storied representation of the problem, provides an overview of spiritual formation within the Church of the Nazarene, and flushes out the aforementioned problem. Section 2 engages an overview of solutions for Christian formation from a Wesleyan perspective, and within the Church of the Nazarene specifically. Section 3 outlines an overview of John Wesley’s means of grace and offers an application within the Church of the Nazarene; namely, that Wesley’s means of grace are essential practices for both personal and corporate entities wishing to grow in holiness. Sections 4 and 5 outline the specifics for a Small Groups curriculum engaging Wesley’s means of grace practices for an ongoing spiritual formation / discipleship experience. Section 6 offers suggestions for further research, additional reading, and the limits of this project. The Artifact is the abovementioned curriculum.