Book Review: Renovating Holiness

Josh Broward & Thomas Jay Oord (editors)

 Renovating Holiness is a book with no less than 115 writers who have written a short essay on holiness. The focus is thereby diverse, except for the common interest in revitalizing and renovating the doctrine and practice of holiness. The writers and perspective is for the Church of Nazareene, one of the large sister-churches in the Methodist family, but it is well worth reading for United Methodists as well. It has a global perspective, and the writers are members of Generation X (born 1960-79) or the Millenium Generation (1980-99).

 In the introduction we are asked to imagine that we inherit our grandparents house – full of memories family treasures, but also full of dust and work to be done. To live there with your own family a lot has to be done. Furniture need to go and be replaced. Walls will be taken down and the house expanded a bit. Many rooms need crucial updating to meet the standards of our time. Leaky windows need to be fixed. But also, wooden floors under the carpets of the 70’s need some air and grease to shine again in their glory.

These changes are metaphors of changes that needs to be done in church as well. The editors point out three ways of coping with an old-fashioned church: You stay and get used to the frustrations and discomfort with ends that don’t meet. You leave and find your spiritual home somewhere else, or not at all. Or you stay and starts the hard work to renovate to keep what is best and carry on into the future. Too many young people and young adults choose the second alternative, and the United Methodist Church can really share in that experience. The book is an expression of the third way.

Throughout the book are essays with biblical, theological, practical and contextual concerns. And no, they do not speak with one voice. They have quite different perspectives on what need to change and what must be treasured. But debating how to change and in which direction is a debate that needs to go one, and where so many different voices give glimpses of a lot of fruitful insights.

Still, the book reflects some dominant themes. A call for change is so obvious, that all readers should engage in that message. Diversity is important, and the ability to live with difference in a bunch of ways might be necessary. The Bible and the Wesleyan tradition still matters to these writers. The perspective of love, of relations and communities matter as well – and holiness as social, open and hospitable.

 Renovating Holiness is a book that confirmed my engagement for always being a church in change. And I wanted to make a similar book with United Methodist writers… But for now, let’s just read the book.


Hilde Marie Movafagh

A part of the United Methodist Church, Northern European conference


Andreas Kjernald, pastor, Norway


One question, two theologians

In this section you will find two Wesleyan theologians doing theology around a certain topic but coming from different perspectives, trying to understand each other but also trying to show what Wesleyan theology actually claims to believe.

Coming soon!