Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This work traces the holiness movement from the Biblical Day of Pentecost, when the disciples of Christ first received the Holy Spirit, to the founding of independent holiness denominations in the first two decades of the twentieth century. In the eighteenth century the main emphasis of this perfectionists movement centered around the teachings of an Anglican priest, John Wesley. Wesleyan doctrine stressed two distinct religious experiences--justification (God forgiving individuals their sins) and sanctification. The latter cleansed the believer's heart from original sin and made him ready for heaven.

American holiness proponents founded the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784 and in the early nineteenth century developed the camp meeting system to keep pace with westward expansion. Perfectionist thinking also played an active role during the 1830s in the agitation of the slavery issue. When the Civil War ended in 1865, the advocates of Wesleyan theology used camp meetings to lead literally thousands of people into a second religious experience of "perfect love …" In the 1880s and 1890s the leaders of this movement initiated independent holiness associations whose members became progressively critical of many of the social and intellectual developments of their day. Separate holiness denominations dedicated to the continuation of moral as well as spiritual holiness developed as a result of the work of these activists.

Primary nineteenth-century religious periodicals composed the bulk of sources used. State historical societies, universities, and theological school libraries supplied this material, much of it on microfilm.


Copy of typewritten thesis, viii, 231 leaves; 28 cm.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.