Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Understanding Holy Better: Concrete Things and Abstract Words

I firmly stand on the principle of Scripture alone in the sense of what is in Scripture has a unique quality of truth compared to the writings outside of it. I think this is terrifically relevant to the discussion on the meaning of holy. The danger though is that we limit not just truth to being found only there, but also we limit ourselves to only one biblical principle.

A valuable principle in addition to Scripture alone and the broader principle of truth is the principle of concrete things and the broader principle of good. Recently, in watching a DVD about the Aztecs and one of their monuments, the narrator said that at one time the majority of their evidence for the chief monument buried under Mexico City was documentary evidence, but now that had changed through archaeological evidence in finding the ancient monument itself.

I don't think that the shift from documentary evidence to the actual thing itself as evidence is harmful. In fact, it is a concrete good. When I defend the principle of truth in Scripture, I hope I do not turn a blind eye to the principle of good in the evidence of real things.

This is why finding a picture of holiness in some text next to the word for holiness would go a long way toward solving our problems with its definition. Likewise, better yet would be to find the concrete objects themselves as described in both a text and the picture. This would nail the definition of holy to the wall for good.

On the flipside, in the last few days I was searching commentaries on Romans for the authors' definitions for holy. It was a sad state of affairs. They all took a slightly different angle on the word. Their meanings were not the same, though in some cases they did overlap or agree.

We can find the concrete evidence we need and still uphold the principle of Scripture alone. Abstract documentary evidence is not passe. It is not a thing of the past. It still contributes truth. What is also a present concern is the matter of a targeted quest toward concrete evidence that should be available somewhere. I pray God will help us all find it. He's already helped me find a concrete biblical picture in a verbal description of righteousness and justice. The same can happen again for all of us on the meaning of holy.

In Christ,