Friday, September 19, 2008

Holiness: in the New Testament Perspective...

Written by Kenneth Waters, Sr., a professor of Biblical Studies from Azusa Pacific University. He talks about several interesting balances of the theme throughout the New Testament.

It's spoken of as being both applicable to the mind AND heart. Not only our intellect, but also how we "feel", or emotions and what-not. I like that he emphasizes not only the absence of certain things, but reminds us that scriptures also talk about the PRESENCE of others. It's not simply about "purifying ourselves of certain (bad) things", but is also about love, generosity, kindness, humility, mercy, justice, service, etc. being present in our mind and heart.

Along the same lines, holiness is described as being both inward AND outward. It's not just about feeling/thinking these things...but also a life that displays the fruits of them. Seems obvious, but it's so easy to live without actualizing this understanding.

He also describes holiness as talked about both holistically and singularly. Meaning, it's this "overarching" thing that encompasses all other virtues (listed above). But at the same time, it is "complimentary to the others".

Holiness is discussed in the NT as both corporate AND individual. The corporate level, which we sometimes glaze over or use as a "feel good bonding time" so that everyone will hold hands or whatever....is actually quite a radical concept. The fact that scriptures extend this "holiness" to being descriptive of all of Israel because of their relationship with the believers in Christ among them.

He talks a bit about Holiness as being a process (Phil 1:6), a goal (1 John 3:3), and a possession (though I might say "gift", see previous aspects of this post) at the same time.

Then he goes on a 6 page discussion of Holiness in the Old Testament that makes me wonder if he knew the entire chapter before his would be "Holiness in the Old Testament". But to his credit, he points out the connections between the OT and NT, although he could've spent less time on it.

I really enjoyed his section on Christ being the "herald and hallmark of all holiness". He connects Christ with being the "in-breaking of the Kingdom of God" (Matt 1:23, Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34), and then moves on to what it means for all of humanity. Finally, he closes with a tribute section to John Wesley. Seems a bit forced, like he wanted to make sure anyone who loved Wesley would applaud his whole chapter. But still, as the book is mostly written/read by Wesley supporters, it makes sense.

He drops a bunch of phrases Wesley used to describe holiness. The one listed here that caught my life at this point is "salvation continued". Although I would've liked to hear more about holiness as being a pursuit/living out of Christ, who is the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. But I'm sure that's coming later in the book. Altogether a really good chapter on biblical holiness, both OT and NT.

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