Social Holiness and Social Justice (Methodist Post)

I’ve been seeing this lately in Methodist circles and wanted to point out the flaw in it. Social Holiness is not the same as Social Justice. They can be related, but are not the same, and you harm both by conflating them.

For Wesley, Social Holiness is the practicing of our faith as as community. That is, according to Wesley: “Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy Solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than Holy Adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.” What he is getting at is that faith must be practiced in community, this is not optional. You need a community of faith. Whether this is traditional church or another form of community, online or in-person.

Now, he continues, “Faith working by love, is the length and breadth and depth and height of Christian perfection.” To live out our faith is to Love God and Neighbor, and to work for our own salvation and the transformation of the world. Which is, in essence, the work of justice. The goal of Christianity, especially in the Methodist world, is the renewal of humanity in the image of God through salvation, and as a result, the renewal of creation (we can talk about the nuances of that elsewhere).

And, as Christians, we are to do this as a community. We need to work out what this means as a community. To be in community is to acknowledge the humanity of each person, and that they are made in the image of God. It is also to evaluate people less on what they can do for you, if they fit in your value system, or contribute to your sense of “rightness.”Instead to experience life with these people to find the beauty and complexity within them, and how they work within your story.

This leads to an understanding of salvation that allows for difference and complexity and community. This is social holiness, and this leads to justice.

I’ve got more thoughts on this, but I just got back from vacation and there is work to be done elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s