Books

Holiness

I'm doing research for a chapter in Christ Formed in You called "Beautiful Holiness." Do you usually associate holiness with beauty?

Let's try a word association game.

What do you think when you hear the word "holiness"? What images come to mind? What emotions? What do you think the average church attender thinks? What about the outsider, the person on the street who is not used to Christian jargon? Ask an unbelieving friend what they think and post it.

Your answers will be helpful - who knows, you might even get quoted and published!

10 comments:

Amanda said...

For me, fear and trembling, but in a good way. Does that even make sense?

Ok, that's a terrible quote; don't use it! :D

John said...

I think of the Puritans, and of your dad. I think of Christ. I guess those are examples rather that what it is. Holiness is something I long for but seems completely unattainable.

melissa said...

I've never really thought about it until you asked it in a question, but I guess I do associate some degree of beauty with holiness. Not beauty in the physical sense, but beauty in the inner sense that makes a person who is holy very radiant.

mwh said...

Oh, what a fun game! :-)

What do you think when you hear the word "holiness"?

austere
demanding
standards


What images come to mind?

Leviticus
sprinkling
Holy of Holies


What emotions?

fear


What do you think the average church attender thinks?

Nothing. I think to most it's an amorphous, meaningless, theological goo. "Holiness, holiness, is what I long for...blah, blah, blah." It's almost trite.


What about the outsider, the person on the street who is not used to Christian jargon?

[A guess, I didn't ask.] Something approaching tourism: i.e., I'm going to tour some Christian holy sites...Buddhist holy shrines...etc... Something like sacrosanct, or an object/place respected/revered by followers of a particularly religion.


I know in the KJV the Psalms uses the expression "beauty of holiness" (Ps. 26:2, 96:9). I think newer translations say "the splendor of holiness." Do you have this in mind?

Brian G. Hedges said...

Thanks for all the comments. mwh - excellent, that's exactly what I'm looking for. Anyone else care to work through the categories that way? And yes, I do have in mind the references you mentioned.

lisatatj said...

What do you think when you hear the word "holiness"?
Whiteness
Brightness
Being Spiritual


What images come to mind?
Heaven and visions of that


What emotions?
Awe
Reverance


What do you think the average church attender thinks?
Something that is to be attained but is unattainable


What about the outsider, the person on the street who is not used to Christian jargon?
I can't really imagine what someone who isn't used to Chrisianese would think of the word holiness outside of it being a spiritual term.

kt said...

What do you think when you hear the word holiness?

Just like each person has attributes that are more prominent than others, holiness is one of God's most striking character qualities.


What images come to mind?

The concept of holiness is abstract and images are concrete, so that makes this question rather challenging. The Old Testament images which constitute the sacrificial system and the recollection of past failures both come to mind.


What emotions?

(1) Fear and a sense of urgency about change. (2) Hope because the verity of the resurrection assures us that God's holiness will be translated to us! (3) With that, a deep longing to be patient & persevere until that day and even to see the gospel accomplishing small measures of holiness in my daily life. (4) And cycling back to (1), more fear that sin will overwhelm the perseverance.


What do you think the average church attender thinks?

I think holiness is another buzz word that goes in one ear and out the other because it's heard so much. Although thinking about holiness should be impactful, it tends to fall dead on the average person. By unpacking "holiness" with fresh vocabulary, hearts will also be impacted afresh. Simple things like changing up the vocabulary--perfection, flawlessness, separateness, or, even better, groups of words to break it down a bit--never erring or making a mistake, etc.


What about the outsider?

I think that derivatives of "holy" (unfortunately) carry a strong negative connotation with outsiders. "Holiness" and similar vocabulary reinforce to outsiders that Christians are judgmental and think they are better than others. In keeping with your other blog post, one of the ways that we can be guest-friendly is to use terminology that people intuitively recognize and identify with rather than vocabulary that leaves them guessing and results in conclusions that were unintended by the communicator.

mwh said...

Do we get to hear what you think, or do we have to wait for the book to come out? :-)

Brian G. Hedges said...

Sorry, you have to wait for the book. :-) Thanks for everyone's comments. Very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Holiness begins with an exalted view of God. We have lost that vision of God. Holiness is the cornerstone of the Christian faith..... God's holiness is fundamental to WHO He is!

Some thoughts that come to mind when I think of holiness:

- Humility
- Reverence
- Awe
- God's radiance
- Realization of sin
- Being seperate
- Majestic