Was the Concept of Progressive Sanctification brought into The Pentecostal Church by Pentecostal Calvinists ?

The idea that sanctification is not finished until the day you die, is often used as an excuse for sinning. Recently I was considering that the idea that one is sanctified progressively, might have been brought into the Pentecostal church by Pentecostal Calvinists. A well-respected Pentecostal historian, Vinson Synan, seems to confirm this thought in his book the Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (1997). Below are some excerpts from his book.

“Because of his new emphasis on entire sanctification, he [Presbyterian reverend N. J. Holmes] was tried by his presbytery and forced to withdraw from the church.”


‘Due to McClurkan’s Calvinistic background, the theology of the “Pentecostal Mission” was closer to the Oberlin theology of Charles G. Finney than the National Holiness Movement.’


Furthermore, Vinson Synan wrote that the “Pentecostal Mission” taught “a view of sanctification which emphasized the indwelling of the Holy Spirit rather than the cleansing aspect of the doctrine.”


‘The 1883 [baptist] Discipline stated that sanctification “commences at regeneration” and continues with one “constantly growing in grace,” a language that seemed influenced by Finney’s Oberlin views of holiness. The statement in the Discipline of 1889, however, was given a much more Wesleyan tone, showing the influence of the National Holiness Movement. Sanctification in this issue was described as “an instantaneous work of God’s grace in a believer’s heart whereby the heart is cleansed from all sin and made pure by the blood of Christ.”‘


‘In the end it was the more radical “Fire-Baptized Way” that prevailed among the holiness people of the South and Midwest, rather than the more conservative Nazarene concept of sanctification.’

source: Vinson Synan. The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Kindle Location 663-664, 674-675, 678-679, 707-710, 733). Kindle Edition.

So, in other words, in the Holiness-Pentecostal movement in the South and Midwest of the United States, the Wesleyan instantaneous sanctification won out over the Calvinist progressive sanctification.

Sadly, in most modern-day Pentecostal denominations, perhaps due to the influence of Calvinism, the concept of progressive sanctification is taught over the glorious concept of instantaneous sanctification. Pentecostals should be known for walking in the Spirit, being entirely sanctified and fully obeying God, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

I am still studying on the different views of sanctification within the Pentecostal tradition. If you want to get a general grasp of my personal view, click here (Is Sanctification A Process?), here (Sanctification is NOT A Process), here (On Christian Perfection), here (Phoebe Palmer on Christian Perfection) and here (An Explanation of 1 Peter 3:21 from Experience).

synan holiness


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