All Christians in a process of their spiritual development realize the need of living a holy or sanctified life. However, there is no one uniform view on how sanctification can be achieved. “Five Views on Sanctification” comprises a gathering of studies of five major Protestant views on sanctification. Each author presents his own understanding of sanctification, and responds to the opinions of others. Melvin Dieter summarizes the Wesleyan View, Anthony Hoekema explains the Reformed view, Stanley Horton presents the Pentecostal view, McQuilkin presents the Keswick view, and John Walvoord explores the Augustinian-Dispensational view.
In this book Protestant theologians address such topics as possibility of success in sanctification, the way to achieve it, crisis experience after a person’s conversion, as well as other issues connected with the concepts and processes of sanctification. The book is written in a counterpoints manner, which allows reader to examine strengths and weaknesses of each view and make reasonable conclusions.The Wesleyan View derives its name from John Wesley, an English theologian and evangelist.
Dieter summarizes that Wesley saw the final goal of sanctification as a renewal of “men’s and women’s hearts in (God’s) image” (Dieter 15). The achievement of this goal could be implemented on practice in a person’s physical existence. His understanding of connection to God was through love, which was the key factor in gaining Christian maturity and achieving sanctification. In his opinion, a person’s heart turns to God after acquiring “a faith that works by divine love in the crucible of everyday life” (Dieter 12).
Wesleyan view strongly supports the idea of the original sin, and as a key factor in purification process on the way closer to God it points out “prevenient grace”, which is the initial step in the process of sanctification and “the beginning of the process by which God begins to lighten the darkness of the Fall for all men and women; it will bring those who faithfully receive it to saving grace, sanctifying grace, and grace for the life of love” (Dieter 25). Wesley believed that the process of sanctification has no limits; there is no point where a Christian could stop his development. He also believed that regardless a person’s Christian maturity, there is always a possibility of committing a sin. As for the law, Wesley believed that it was enclosed in the Sermon on the Mount, saying that “the Ten Commandments are renewed in the Sermon on the Mount in their sanctifying purity and spirituality and…” (Dieter 26).Under the Reformed view sanctification can be achieved under three main conditions: experience of a growing union with Christ, sanctification by truth, sanctification by faith. The concept of sanctification according to the Reformed view is describe as “that gracious operation of the Holy Spirit, involving our responsible participation, by which He delivers us as justified sinners from the pollution of sin, renews our entire nature according to the image of God, and enables us to live lives that are pleasing to Him” (Hoekema 61). There are two outcomes of sanctification according to Hoekema: the proximate and final goals of sanctification. The final goal of sanctification is the glorification of God, and the proximate result is perfection, or likeness of Christ.Positional sanctification concept from the Pentecostal Perspective is similar to the Reformed view. This type of sanctification occurs at the moment of belief, involves the believer being set apart from the world to follow Christ, puts believer in perfect relationship with God, and sets Christians free to do God’s will. According to Horton, in order to achieve sanctification Christians demonstrate a complete obedience to the God’s will. Pentecostals reject the possibility for Christian to achieve a perfect sinless state, leaving space for an opportunity of a believer being weakened by sin. On of the most unique features of this view is baptism by Holy Spirit, which occurs after a Christian reached salvation and it “empowers through the filling of the Spirit” (Horton 130).According to the Keswick view, Christian life should be based on the forcing progress and victory, such as overcoming temptation, growth in obedience, improvement of self-control, resulting in the increased joy. The followers of the Keswick movement were represented by theologians with different persuasions and beliefs, and therefore the Keswick view does not have a well-defined concept of sanctification. However, McQuilkin summarizes sanctification as a setting apart for service to God. Those who achieve sanctification receive holiness and separate from sin. McQuilkin points out three main kinds of sanctification: positional, experiential, and permanent. The first is realized after a Christian’s conversion and results in justification in front of God. Experiential sanctification can be compared to the progressive sanctification of the Reformed view, and the author describes it as “the outworking of one’s official position in daily life” (McQuilkin 153). Transformation to the new life and the achievement of the likeness of Christ of the believer marks the occurrence of permanent sanctification, which results in a departure of a person from sin. McQuilkin summarizes Keswick view as a balanced opinion on different Biblical ideas of sanctification appeared through the development of the Christian culture.The dispensational view is researched by John Walvoord, who emphasizes one factor generating differences in concepts of sanctification. He believes this factor to be the rate of a person’s transformation after achieving sanctification. The other views argue whether a person completely changes or some aspects from the previous experience still remain. Walvoord concludes this difference in the presence of “sin nature.” He defines “sin nature” as “The concept of a sin nature can probably best be summarized as a complex of human attributes that demonstrate a desire and predisposition to sin” (Walvoord 206). Dispensational point of view states that choices made in people’s life shorten or extend the way to sanctification, which eventually be achieved and a sanctified Christian will reflect Christ’s glory and perfection. Complete God’s perfection cannot be achieved through the sanctification process though; rather it gives an increasing assurance of a believer’s salvation through Holy Spirit. The result of this process is that “a mighty work for God can be accomplished” (Walvoord 222).