The Purpose of Holiness: The Triumph of God’s Will -- By: Luke L. Keefer Jr.

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 30:0 (NA 1998)
Article: The Purpose of Holiness: The Triumph of God’s Will
Author: Luke L. Keefer Jr.


The Purpose of Holiness:
The Triumph of God’s Will

Luke L. Keefer Jr.

Dr. Keefer (Ph.D. Temple University) is Professor of Church History and Theology at ATS. This sermon is a revision of the address he gave at the Christian Holiness Association in its 1997 convention at Lexington, Kentucky.

In 1978 Eta Linnemann acclaimed student of Rudolf Bultmann, honorary professor of New Testament of Philipps University, Marburg, Germany, and internationally recognized author, shocked the academic world with her testimony of personal conversion to Jesus Christ. Her colleagues were puzzled on several accounts: was she not already a Christian and needed no such thing as a conversion? Did such things as conversions have any meaning in the modern, intellectual world? Or was she psychologically sick, driven to wild religious notions because her nerves had cracked under prolonged academic strain?

If anyone asked Eta Linnemann herself, she joyfully told them that she had met the living Christ, whose atoning death had brought her into fellowship with the God of the Bible. Not the god of the universities of Christendom, overshadowed by science, disdained by philosophy, abstracted by theology, and domesticated by culture to be the lapdog of those inclined to keep religious pets. But the awesome God of the ages, Creator of the universe, Redeemer of humanity, and miraculous Savior to those who put their trust in Christ.

She did not come to this faith easily. For what faith she carried into her academic career was snuffed out by scholastic approaches to Scripture, which sought not the living God but theologies about God which brought nods of approval from the academic world. Sharp distinctions between truth and error were lost in the indiscriminate greys of academic inquiry, more bent upon unique findings and creative constructs than the saving truth. Jaded by life without luster, Miss Linnemann had sunk into addictions to television and alcohol. With her life in a downward spiral, she encountered vibrant Christians who pointed her to Jesus as Savior and Lord. She found pardon and restoration and the beginning of a walk with God, who became more personal with each new discovery of truth in Scripture and in each answer to her prayers. She had experienced a real spiritual conversion.

Within a few weeks she was led by the Spirit to what I would call her intellectual conversion. She puts it this way: “I found myself faced with a momentous decision. Would I continue to control the Bible by my intellect, or would I allow my thinking to be transformed by the Holy Spirit”?1 She could

no longer endorse an approach to Scripture whi...

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