Each stream of the Church has characteristics that distinguish it from other streams. Understanding these qualities allows us to apply the richness of our heritage in everyday situations.
The Wesleyan Holiness tradition anchors on three characteristics—centered, relational, and descriptive—which shape the faith heritage of Azusa Pacific University.
Centered More Than Bounded
We secure ourselves to the anchored center of our Christian orthodoxy and heritage. In doing so, we focus less on defining restrictions or boundaries, which can take the form of theological, political, or social positions. While more bounded streams might define a position precisely, our centered approach allows us to live in the messy middle, confident in our attachment to Christ. Passionate attraction to the centered holiness of God overpowers fear of violating the boundaries of the edge.
Relational More Than Propositional
We relate differently to a person than we do to a proposition or doctrine. In the Wesleyan Holiness tradition, we tend to see people more as image bearers than as representing a doctrinal, social, or political position. We find ways to relate to others even if they think differently about important matters. This does not threaten the solid anchor of our central relationship with Jesus Christ and God’s Word, but it may influence how we express the principles that describe us.
Descriptive More Than Prescriptive
The descriptive characteristic in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition can be traced back to John Wesley’s journal, where he captured how he experienced God in God’s time and way, and how it formed his understanding of God. Rather than focusing on prescribed courses of behavior or expectations to be achieved, when we anchor ourselves to a centered relationship with Christ and God’s Word, the experiences that confront us become possibilities to witness God at work. It allows us to see how God is working through us, and through others. This is a lifelong journey of discovery, transformation, and becoming whole. There may be uncertainty along the way, but we trust in the assurances that the principles of God and the purposes of God’s word will not fail.
These characteristics represent a tilt, not an extreme standpoint. Embracing the Kingdom in the heritage of the Wesleyan Holiness stream naturally includes elements of both ends of the spectrum, but the tilt is more to one than the other. The balance remains in flux as we respond to change and culture, and it contributes to life-giving conversations. We may not endorse or define specific positions, but we engage with peaceful confidence because we remain deeply anchored and rooted as Christ-centered individuals in love with God.