Holiness means the state of being holy, that is, set apart for the worship or service of a god or gods. It is most usually ascribed to people, but can be and often is ascribed to objects, times, or places.
The concept is found in almost all religions, especially those with a degree of formal organization, so that there is scope for special people, places etc to be devoted to worship.
In Christianity, especially in American branches of Protestantism of the more Pentecostal variety, holiness has acquired the secondary meaning of the reshaping of a person through spiritual rebirth. This process is described in the Bible, in Paul's Epistle to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 19-22. The term owes its origin to John Wesley's concept of "scriptural holiness" or "Christian perfection". The term "holy" may refer to someone or something that is associated with a divine power , such as water used for Baptism.
The Holiness movement began within Methodism in the United States, among those who thought the church had lost the zeal and emphasis on personal holiness of Wesley's day. In the latter part of the 19th century revival meetings were held, attended by thousands. In Vineland, N.J in 1867 a camp meeting was begun and the National Holiness Camp Meeting Association, which went on to establish many holiness camp meetings across the nation. Some adherents to the movement remained within their denominations; others founded new denominations, such as the Church of the Nazarene and the Church of God (Anderson). Within a generation another movement, the Pentecostal movement was born, drawing heavily from the Holiness Movement.
The general notion of a holy person or object as one set apart for religious purposes is close to that of a taboo object, which must not be touched or used by ordinary people or for ordinary purposes. In Christian thought, however, mere setting apart would be seen as a form of legalism; true holiness, in the Wesleyan sense, is a matter of inner motivation. Since it is impossible to know another person's inner motivation with certainty, however, it would be rash for anyone to describe someone else's religious practice as merely legalistic.
Romans 6:19-22 http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&passage=romans+6%3A19
-22&version=NIV in the New International Version
- John Wesley's Plain account of Christian perfection http://www.ccel.org/w/wesley/perfection/perfection.html
- Phoebe Palmer, Holiness preacher, writer, hymn writer http://are.as.wvu.edu/phebe.htm known to some as the mother of the Holiness movement
Last updated: 02-07-2005 09:26:37