This Pentecostal Christian denomination was founded in 1911 in the United States as a renewal movement within American Methodism. It soon became trans-denominational. By the third quarter of the century it was international.
The movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley's Christian perfection or perfection of love teaching which is the belief that it’s possible to live free of voluntary sin, and particularly by the belief that this may be accomplished instantaneously through a second work of grace.
The Holiness movement has spawned many denominations all around the world, many of which are small, due, in part, to its strong emphasis on the disciplined life. According to the Christian Holiness Partnership (CHP), the movement is now spread in some 160 nations. Some four million adherents are in North America, three million in Africa, and four million in Asia. One of the largest Holiness churches in the world is the Korea Evangelical Holiness Church with a million members. The combined membership of all Holiness denominations in Korea is three million. The Japanese Holiness Church founded in 1917 was a persecuted, confessing church during World War II. Some 130 believers were imprisoned for refusal to submit to the radical nationalism of the period.
Scholarly works about the movement include Melvin E. Dieter's The Holiness Revival of the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition (Lanham, MD and London: Scarecrow, 1996), and Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement edited by William C. Kostlevy, in the Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements series, No. 36 (Scarecrow, 2001).
The total number of adherents to the Holiness movement is about 12 million. Believers for the most part are committed participants in church life. Twenty-one denominations cooperate in the Christian Holiness Partnership, and hundreds of independent congregations and local churches belong to denominations which are not officially identified as members.