I borrowed ‘Holiness’ by J. C. Ryle from my friend Dan recently, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. It includes this pearl of a quote on the first page of the Introduction:
Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless: it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt.
Obviously, I think he is right. But it goes deeper than the old ‘faith without works is dead’ chestnut. Everyone would agree that head knowledge that isn’t lived out is a terrible thing. Our Lord was scathingly critical of religious hypocrites. But I fear that my church (and perhaps other evangelical churches) may be in danger of falling into a similar trap, obviously without intending to. I think there is a tendency for holiness to be misrepresented as an energetic feeling that makes you want to be involved in more and more activities without ever growing weary or tired.( Collapse )