Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Holy Means Whole: According to Proof, Proof, Proof

If you read through my blog you will notice in the titles "according to." The reason is because the purpose of this blog is to offer evidence for the meaning of holy. It offers all different kinds of proof. It essentially offers four separate kinds that combined form a very strong proof for why I think holy means being morally whole. They are: scriptural, traditional, experiential and reasonable.

Scriptural means that I have a high regard for the rule or measure of Scripture. I regard that measure as the standard in all things. It is a standard that stands alone.

Traditional means that I have a high regard for connections with other Christians over time. In other words, I would consider it very strange if I could not find Christians since the time of Christ/Messiah, who held the same viewpoint I am expressing. I would find it especially troublesome, if I could not find my views being held by fellow believers in Christ/Messiah during times of renewal as opposed to periods of degeneration.

Experiential means that character produces outcomes. It says in Scripture: "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, then I will heal their land, etc." The condition of certain actions produces certain outcomes. I am troubled by our lack of good outcomes at present and it causes me to ask the question whether our understanding of God's character, and therefore what we imitate, is correct. Could it be that our definition of holy that is instrumental to character could be flawed?

Reasonable means that reason has a role. We are not to throw out our minds, but use them. We are to be as diligent for proof as the myriad of popular shows like CSI Miami. We are to desire proof from the evidence of our senses. We are to avoid nonsense. At present we are in trouble because the standards of proof are being lowered, not raised. I want to keep the standard up and look for proof that is valid to our minds. That is why I use tools related to language and not tools that fail to take language into account.

The troubling issue right now is that proof has fallen into disrepair when you look at the evidence for the ideas that holy means set apart or holy means separation (to). First, it does not have a myriad of evidence from many witnesses, but primarily from one witness. Second, it is not persuasive in the sense of conclusive, but instead is in a state of controversial when it comes to the evidence.

On the first point, I would like to quote Richard Hooker, the great Anglican writer, who once said: "Though ten persons be brought to give testimony in any cause, yet if the knowledge they have of the thing where they come as witnesses, appear to have grown from some one among them, and, to have spread itself from hand to hand, they are all in force but the one testimony" (Richard Chapman, Law and Revelation: Richard Hooker and His Writings, Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, p. 28).

The great number of lexicons, who give witness to separation or set apart, fall under this problem. They are but one witness in most cases, because they have fed off of one source. The other witnesses that have tried primary investigation, also admit that their position is "controversial." This includes people like Rudolph Otto (author of The Idea of the Holy) and Norman Snaith (author of The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament). It is also admitted by the writer on qadosh (holy) in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. (The latter does attempt a further proof, the other two did not).

On the second issue, I would like to quote Richard Hooker again: "... inasmuch as if it [that God's spirit did reveal] did come of God and should for that cause prevail with others, the same God which revealed it to them would also give them power of confirming it to others, either with miraculous operation, or with strong and invincible remonstrance of sound Reason, such as whereby it might appear that God would indeed have all men's judgments give place to it; whereas now the error and unsufficiency of their arguments do make it on the contrary side against them a strong presumption, that God has not moved their hearts to think such things as he has not enabled them to prove" (Chapman, p. 102-3). The last part is the most powerful in this quote: "to think such things as he has not enabled them to prove."

This really spoke to me when I read it, because it challenged me to consider what God has enabled me to prove. It also challenged me to think through what all writers on the subject of holy have been able to prove. It is a real challenge for parties on both sides. The right response is to meet this challenge rather than shrink from it. It does not solve the problem to avoid the problem. That is my issue with too much of what is written in the last 100 years. With little more than a controversial proof, big assumptions have been carried forward.

I think the better posture is to hit our knees, humble ourselves before God and ask him for the proof of what holy means. I myself desire greater proof for the point of view I have argued for. I realize I need further revelation from God that might convince a greater number of people that the proof is there in Scripture and that it is consistent with the other kinds of proof. Pray to God with me that he would bring the consequences of "proof, proof and proof" to our land.

In Christ,