The Forgotten Blessing: Rediscovering the Transforming Power of Sanctification

By Henry Holloman
Nashville : Word (1999). 266 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
10.2 (Fall 1999) : 302-303

Here is the ripened fruit of the author’s more than 30 years in teaching, most of these at Talbot School of Theology. Dr. Holloman is Professor of Systematic Theology. This volume is part of the Swindoll Leadership Library series, under the general editorship of Charles Swindoll, President of Dallas Theological Seminary.

Much in the book gives the impression of long reflection, seasoned sifting, and adept analogies to help users apply points in practical holiness. Holloman shows ability to summarize biblical truths and stress God’s sufficiency for daily holiness. He favors the view that every Christian experiences spirituality in some degree, “but Scripture designates only some Christians as ‘spiritual’” (8). He equates the spiritual Christian with the spiritually mature Christian (8, 223-24), one who has a thorough pattern of life which “imitates Jesus’ character, choices, communication, and conduct” (8).

Several charts offer comparisons. For instance Table I (6-7) compares in ten points three types of sanctification, which the author calls positional (from initial salvation forward eternally), progressive in the daily, practical life, and perfective in the next life in total holiness, without sin.

Both the Spirit and the Word are indispensable to proper growth (76). God’s Word is the map for Christians (Ps 119:105), and God’s Spirit is the guide (Rom 8:14). Whatever does not match up with the Scripture needs to be refused. Chapter 10 offers beneficial lists of steps to have a vital relationship with God’s Word. The appeal for continual nourishment and obedience is well-taken, so are the practical helps on how to do things according to Scripture. Chapters 6–7 give much helpful thought on the Spirit’s vital role in sanctification.

The distinction between the saved who are “general disciples” and those who are “special,” i.e. more vital (mature) disciples (134), will puzzle some readers. The discussion suggests that only those in the second category do eleven things associated with the area of “effective discipleship”—deny self, take up one’s cross daily, keep following Christ (Luke 9:23), relinquish all possessions to Christ, continue in Christ’s Word, practice prayer according to God’s teaching, abide in Christ, love God supremely, love one another, serve others, and make disciples of others (134-38). Some say that all the genuinely saved do these in some degree, even though they have aspects of inconsistency since they are not yet sinless, the saved being at various stages of growth. Holloman agrees with the latter, but could clarify better here.

Good summary chapters in The Forgotten Blessing show how other facets of Christian experience relate to sanctification, such as prayer, handling adversity, and winning in spiritual warfare.

This book is crafted to bring many vital things to the reader’s attention and give help in seizing the blessing daily, not forgetting or slighting a holy life. For the many benefits it offers, this reviewer recommends the book because it can be a spiritual tonic to others as it has been for him.