Thursday, December 3, 2015

Biblical Spirituality: Wholeness or Holiness?

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16….Leviticus 11:44)

What is your vision of spirituality? What is true spirituality? For 2,000 years, Christians have heeded Jesus’ call to holiness BY keeping His commandments-a call to personal holiness, and the Lordship of Christ over the totality of life. It is a God-centered approach.

Today, more and more Christians are asking, “How can being a Christian make me feel whole?”
But for Christians, our calling from God must conform to the ethical boundaries He has laid out for His children, for our protection and His glory.

There are several components to a biblical worldview, but the biblical view of God is primary and central to all else. It HAS to be primary, for “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” As important as the supernatural is to biblical Christianity, that is not the chief attribute of a biblical worldview. Indeed, other false worldviews are supernatural to the core but deficient in their understanding of God.

Secularism (naturalism, secular humanism) is no longer the primary threat to Christianity; the occultic worldview is. Most Christian leaders are decades behind in discovering this.

One cannot exaggerate how important our world views are: they are like chauffeur's that drive us through life, affecting how we think, act, and behave. They actually act like a grid through which we sift all the data that comes to us. With a biblical worldview we can see all of reality through God’s eyes. Our worldviews affect our view of spirituality.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Unlike pagan mythologies, biblical visions of the Living God like Isaiah experienced, took place in space and time—it really happened. The death of the great king Uzziah occurred about 740 B.C., marking the end of a long period of national prosperity….. until the king contracted leprosy for flouting God’s holiness.

DO WE LIVE IN A WHOLE OR A HOLY COSMOS? Should we strive to be whole or holy? Those are not trick questions, as we’ll see. The biblical worldview affects how we live life, and holiness is at the heart of living a life pleasing to God. For many, holiness is a prudish, life-negating word, but that is due to a mis-understanding of the word, as well as Christians often living with self-righteous attitudes.

In the Greek and Hebrew, some form of the word “holy” occurs 1,097 times! Holiness is one of the most important concepts in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. The exhortation to holy living is especially prevalent in Paul’s writings. (Romans 6:19, 22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification (holiness)..”etc.

The biblical understanding of right living in relation to God and others—holiness—is the polar opposite of what today’s occultic spirituality proposes—wholeness. I need to define our terms.
Yes, the gospel should bring substantial psychological healing/wholeness, but that is not the connotation of ‘wholeness’ as used in the occult worldview.

Because ‘wholeness’ and ‘holiness’ sound and seem similar, they are often mistaken for the same idea. Even the renowned Huston Smith errs when he states that “wholeness’ and ‘holiness’ have the same etymology. They do not! The two Greek words “hagios’ and ‘holos’ are NOT related. ‘Qadosh’ is the Old Testament word for holy, as seen from Isaiah’s text.

In classical Greek, hagios does refer to the moral perfection of God. However, its primary meaning is uniqueness, separateness, set apart, otherness. (I’ll come back to this)To sanctify something is to set it apart as dedicated to God. In Genesis 2:3 the seventh day is hallowed. We are entering the holiday season—“holy days”, which are set apart)

In classical Greek, the adjective “hagios’ (holy) stems from the noun “hagos’, meaning “an object of awe.” The Hebrew ‘qodesh’ from the verb ‘qod’ means “to divide”. Things that are holy are set apart, separate, and divided from things that are common. God is holy in that He is separate from His creation.

On the other hand, the Greek ‘holos’ means whole or universal…from which we get the word ‘holistic’… in holistic healing. In a sense, hagios and holos are opposite in meaning. The term ‘holos’ means that nothing is distinctively other, or specially set apart, as with ‘holiness’.

EVERYTHING is included. In fact, these two words are so antithetical that they represent two different worldviews…..two antithetical views of spirituality—holos represents the occult worldview spirituality, and hagios represents the biblical worldview spirituality.

By describing something as holistic, modern spirituality means the same thing that Jung taught about the joining of the opposites on the path toward self-realization.

Jeffrey Satinover, an ex-Jungian stated: for Jung good and evil evolved into two equal, balanced, cosmic principles that belong together in one over-arching synthesis. This relativization of good and evil by their reconciliation is the heart of the ancient doctrines of Gnosticism, which also located spirituality, hence morality, within man himself. Hence, “the union of opposites.”

We must realize the such ‘holistic’ thinking lies at the heart of the occult worldview, which is a rebirth of ancient Gnosticism, which almost destroyed the church many centuries ago.

A beautifully holy God. When we think of holiness, divine or human, we tend to think of moral purity. While that is certainly an aspect of God’s holiness, it is not the primary meaning of qodesh or hagios. There is a sense in which the holiness of God is the “God-ness of God”. His holiness differentiates Him from all His creation….He is separate from or distinct from all else. He is the self-existent, wholly Other Supreme Being. He is primary, and all creation is derivative, deriving its existence and sustaining from Him,, as well as redemption.

When we say that God is holy, we are primarily speaking cosmologically. He is utterly unique and different. The Triune God is separate, and distinct from His creation, and this distinction will remain throughout all eternity. One song writer put it well: God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are holy, holy! The universe declares Your Majesty!

In the model prayer, the first prayer request or petition is, “…Hallowed be Thy Name..” Our first and primary prayer concern is that the Name of God (God) would be seen as holy. As the seraphim cry ‘Holy, holy, holy..’ so should God’s children long that God’s holy Name would be recognized as holy….that we would mirror to a dark and unholy world the holiness of God, as His image-bearers.

If we understand holiness in primarily moral terms, as much of the West has, it tends to cause a holier than thou attitude, and holy huddle. God is morally pure, and we are to be morally pure too.
However, we must put the horse before the cart. God’s GODNESS…His utter Otherness must overwhelm us with awe, as it did Isaiah. Without this humbling fear of God, Christianity can degenerate into a superficial moralism.

When Isaiah had his vision, the seraphim cried out three times, “Holy, holy, holy..” (see Revelation 4:8) The Hebrew way of accenting something of supreme importance was to repeat it. No other attribute of God is raised to the third power, because holiness is everything about God that makes Him God. “It (qadosh) can be used almost as a synonym of deity.” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) The place where God dwelled in the Old Covenant community was called THE HOLY OF HOLIES.

Isaiah was a righteous man, and yet his close encounter with the holiness of God was extremely frightening. The Holy One of Israel became Isaiah’s distinctive name for God…and no wonder after this hair raising episode in which all of his senses were being assaulted with the holiness of God.
A depth view of God’s holiness, reveals a depth view of sin…and a depth view of sin brings a depth appreciation for the gospel….again, as it did with Isaiah. I am convinced that if folks grasped God’s holiness, then there would be revival in the church and folks would be beating down the doors to the church seeking for salvation. It would also pulverize the heart of the occult worldview which is taking America by storm.

The God of the bible will not be confused with any part of His creation; He is holy in Himself.
“Though the words ‘Holy Trinity’ are not found in the bible, the concept is. God’s divine being consists of three distinct Persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are never confused, and so always retain their individual distinctiveness or holiness from one another. Thus God comprehends both distinction and complementarity within His Trinitarian Being, and as an independent Creator, without a beginning, is necessarily separate or holy relative to the dependent creation He makes, sustains, and redeems.” (The Other Worldview, Peter Jones, pg. 149)

By contrast, the occult worldview (or progressive/evolutionary spirituality, mature New Age, Neo-Gnosticism) conflates creator and creation. This is seen as wholeness, instead of holiness. God’s holiness is tossed out….the essence of God’s God-ness is stripped from Him. In the worldview that is taking America by storm, god (if there is one) is not separate from creation….he/it/her imbues all of the cosmos with a spirit of wholeness. You are god!

By an ever-expanding means—raising your vibrations, tapping into the collective unconsciousness, getting in tune with the universe, quantum jumping, energy healing, yoga, etc. Etc—one allegedly finds wholeness, which has a wide variety of meanings, but none that include biblical holiness.

Our culture’s view of God or ultimate reality is a return to the Gnosticism of the early centuries, which the early church fathers fought against so valiantly. Then, as now, though there is a mind-boggling variety of occult/gnostic variants, they all reject holiness and embrace wholeness as the model for understanding ultimate reality and personal development or spirituality.

The Beautifully Holy God has called us to be His beautifully holy people, leading beautifully holy lives, in a beautifully holy cosmos with a beautifully holy future.(each of these could be expounded, but I’ll leave it for later) Before a watching world, may we live in such a way that the beauty of holiness is ‘written all over our faces.”

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.