Friday, September 04, 2009

Living as God's Holy People: Pauline Perspectives on Christian Holiness

New Testament theologian, Dr. Kent Brower of Nazarene Theological College, Manchester (pictured above), treated his audience to a preview of his forthcoming book on Paul’s theology of holiness at the Inaugural Conference of the Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Studies held at Booth College 14-15 August. Representatives of the Church of the Nazarene, the Salvation Army, and the Wesleyan Methodist Church were part of the organising committee for this stimulating series of lectures.

In Paul’s theology, holiness is an essential aspect of God’s purposes for his people. Through faith in Christ we have peace with God, a peace marked by the end of our old pattern of living, because sin’s reign has been broken. There can be no genuine conversion apart from the sanctifying work of the Spirit who produces within believers the cruciform character of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit flourishes in love-based, grace-restored relationships and holiness is profoundly communal. While the Spirit lives in individuals, Paul understands the people of God in community as the dwelling place of the Spirit. God’s holy people are to exhibit a contagious holiness as they engage in holy mission and holy love in the world.

Each day began with worship and each of the four lectures was followed by a time of stimulating discussion. A number of scholars presented capsule summaries of their current research in an information session on Saturday afternoon which also saw the official launch of the Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research. Current research topics included John Wesley as a pastoral theologian, holiness and the Incarnation, Gregory of Nyssa on holiness, and Edward Sugden on entire sanctification. Dr. Brower was interviewed on Jon Cleary’s Sunday Night ABC Radio programme on 30 August. The podcast of the interview can be heard by visiting the programme's website by clicking this link.

The Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research promotes and supports research on the life, work and times of John and Charles Wesley, their historical and theological antecedents, their successors in the Wesleyan tradition, and contemporary scholarship in the Wesleyan tradition. This includes areas such as theology, history, biblical studies, education, ethics, literature, mission, philosophy, pastoral studies, practical theology, and social theology.

Some of the organisers of the Conference: Graeme Durston, David McEwan, Glen O'Brien (at rear); Bec Cundasamy, Adam Couchman, Bruce Allder (front row)

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