The holiness tradition

The holiness tradition – the virtuous life

This tradition emphasizes the fact that Jesus emerged from the forty days in the desert having overcome the temptation of the easy way. Jesus was tempted to solve the problems of his day by resorting either to economic, religious or political means. He rejected all these, in favour of a radical alternative: bringing about God’s Kingdom of justice and compassion. Jesus points to an inner life with God that transforms the heart and builds deeply ingrained habits of virtue. These holy habits stand at the heart of the Sermon on the Mount, the real starting-point for this tradition.

There are many names associated with this tradition throughout the history of Christianity. Here are some you might want to look up:

Hermas (2nd cent) bio; biblio

Tertullian (c 160-c 225) bio; biblio or here

John Cassian (c 360-c 435) bio; biblio

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) bio; biblio

Thomas a Kempis (1379-1471) bio; biblio

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) bio; biblio

Menno Simons (1496-1561) bio; biblio

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) bio; biblio

William Law (1689-1761) bio; biblio

John Wesley (1703-1791) bio; biblio

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) bio; biblio

Explorations of this tradition could include, for instance, a serious study of the Sermon on the Mount (The Beatitudes), and finding ways to translate each beatitude and each exhortation into some personal commitment.

Another approach would be to model one’s life on the Christian practices (see here in this website). The website “Practicing our Faith” – the Valparaiso Project conducted by Dorothy Bass – is another approach.

The whole contemporary movement around “discipleship,” i.e., a return to seeing our Christian faith as a way of life, is an example of this tradition. At Harcourt, this is captured in the recent document “A Call to Discipleship.”