Chapter 2 – Searching for the Core

From the book Relational Holiness – Responding to the Call of Love by Thomas J. Oord and Michael Lodahl

  • What does it mean to be holy?

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Inigo Montoya – Princess Bride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wujVMIYzYXg

  • The Apostle Paul wrote:

“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash – along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant – dog dung.[1] I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules[2] when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ – God’s righteousness.

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally,[3] experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

Focused on the Goal

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this,[4] but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment,[5] God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” (Philippians 3:7-16 – MSG)

  • Our concept of holiness must come from the scriptures.

Scripture uses the terms holy and sanctify in various ways and with different meanings. How do we determine which of these applies to us individually and as a people? Actually, we can take these and see that many have relevance, but only one is the core of holiness.

Let us investigate the different elements as contributing factors to holiness so that we can identify the core and see how these elements emanate from and support the core of holiness.

Even though our understanding of holiness must be based on scripture, we must keep in mind the “Wesley Quadrilateral.”  This is modeled by a four-sided figure of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. It is from these that we come to understand the reality of holiness and its practice more fully.

An alternate way that this often is presented is as a Venn diagram. This is better, in that the other three elements are encompassed by scripture. However, it is still a bit lacking.

I, personally, prefer a tetrahedron model. A tetrahedron is a four-sided solid figure: a pyramid with three sides rising from a triangular base. This allows the base to be scripture, supporting the other three sides representing tradition, reason, and experience. Unlike the quadrilateral, in the tetrahedron, each of the other three sides intersects with Scripture and one another. This also helps avoid the confusion of the quadrilateral having equal sides. It makes for a solid Christian life.

  • Question:

How does the quadrilateral address the five (5) contributing elements of holiness?


From Relational Holiness by Thomas Jay Oord and Michael Lodahl

“When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. . . . When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.” (Romans 13:8-10, The Message)

[1]Purity and Cleanliness

[2]Rules and Regulations

[3]Set Apart & Separation

[4]Being Perfect

[5]Total Commitment

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