More Questions from the Book of Discipline (2000)
(5) How do you understand the following traditional evangelical doctrines: (a) repentance; (b) justification; (c) regeneration; (d) sanctification? What are the marks of the Christian life?
This question takes me back to my seminary days, more specifically, to my days in Dr. Allan Coppedge's class on Basic Christian Theology. (Basic, of course, if you are Wesleyan in your theology, which most of us attending Asbury were). I'll have to get back with you on this one, once I really think about all of it. This isn't a fluffy softball pitch; it's the real meat and potatoes of the faith.
But basically, here goes: Repentance is key; if I am aware of my sins, I must repent. The book of James includes confessing to fellow believers, too. But anyway, repentance means turning 180 degrees from the sin and going in the opposite direction. If I allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me, I will become more and more aware of my sins (those I wasn't aware of before) including corporate sins and sins of omission.
Justification is the state that only God can bestow upon us; it's a bit trite to say it's just as if I'd never sinned, but that's close. (The Book of Discipline talks about justification in the terms of a right relationship -- that it can only be made right by Jesus.)
Regeneration is being born anew... (kind of funny; the Book of Discipline takes a lot more words and a lot of Christianese to say the same thing -- basically it is the restoration of a right relationship with God, a restoration that can only come about through the blood of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit).
Sanctification is being set apart by God for His purposes (though some in the group would not like my use of masculine pronouns to refer to God). It's not perfection, though I am going on to perfection. Entire sanctification is another ballgame and is a confusing concept; Coppedge asserted that he was entirely sanctified, but I saw him hocking a loogie on the wall in the seminary gym. Doesn't that send him back to the start? ;) (OK, so my definition was a bit different from that of the Book of Discipline. The BOD says sanctification is the renewal of our fallen nature, "whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless." Yowza --> is that entire sanctification or initial sanctification?)
What are the marks of the Christian life? Uh, how's about the fruit of the Spirit for an answer here? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control would be a good place to start. John Wesley would also include "no fear of death"