Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Holy: Understanding it Better Through What Definition People are Accustomed to in their Lifetime

It is very important to understand that the mind and the conscience do not work separate from the emotional aspect of who we are as human beings.  In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul points out that some are afraid of eating meat sacrificed to idols because of what they are accustomed to rather than to what knowledge he possesses.  What people are accustomed to can function as a block to what others know.  Part of the difficulty in considering the meaning of holy as being whole is that people are today are largely acquainted only with the definition of set apart.  As a result, in their conscience they may feel that they are doing something wrong, if they were to surrender the definition of set apart and instead believe that the definition of whole is correct. 

I understand this emotional hesitancy.  I grew up with being taught just the definition of set apart and I never heard of the possibility of whole as holy's meaning until approximately the year 2000.  It is only through reading a great deal of writing that I have come to realize that my conscience could be misinformed and I can have the courage to test two possible plausible meanings for holy and not just hold onto one.   The other issue here is to realize that defining holy as whole does not mean that the idea of set apart goes away.  It only shifts in its priority and in its location in the biblical text.  It wiil always be in the text through other words in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. 

I am writing this to say that we must not overlook the emotional and conscience issues in dealing with the meaning of holy.  Our weak conscience can tell us that any other meaning than set apart is impossible and yet it can mislead us like those who could not eat idol meat.  So my first recommendation to people before they plunge into this topic, is to take measured steps in looking at the plausibility that holy in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek could mean whole. 

Don't plunge in and violate your conscience as a guide.  Take measured steps from where you've always been before this time and have been accustomed to being.  Remember the lessons of 1 Corinthians 8.  Don't let another's authority and knowledge lead you to quickly to change your position. 

Follow your conscience as well as the evidence.  The truth is that the conscience and our emotional side cannot be ignored, even in the pursuit of finding out what we all should know.  I pray your desire to know the meaning of holy is one that acknowledges not just he evidence, but also the emotional side of the process of learning to know the truth.  Read through the evidence I've uncovered carefully and thoughtfully.   I don't want anyone to push to hard against their conscience, but rather to find a place where conscience and evidence meet. 

In Christ (the King-appointed),

Pastor Jon.