holiness and perfection

Something I have thought about a few times, though not in much depth, is what the difference is, if any, between holiness and perfection.  In these moments of reflection about this, I have wondered if we have become obsessed with perfectionism and have transferred those ideas to holiness in order to spiritualize our quest for perfectionism.  True God says, “He holy as I am holy,” but what does that mean exactly?  If it does mean to be perfect in all I say, do, and think, is that really atainable?  Sure we are new creations in Christ, but though redeemed, we are not yet fully separated from the consequences of the fall.  If that were the case, women believers would potentially have pleasant feeling child-birthing experiences as opposed to painful ones and so far as I know, that is not the case.  And thus I still battle with, and sometimes loose to, my flesh.  And sometimes I don’t even realize I have done something to offend God which is, in and of itself, a sin (i.e., not perfect).  So could holiness be better defined as living honestly in our relationship with God?  Or maybe having a heart after God’s own heart?  Or maybe walking humbly with God?

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2 Responses to “holiness and perfection”

  1. EJ Says:

    ah, the beauty of it. jesus was holy. but was he perfect? by who’s definition?

    it is kind of like talking about the bible. we consider it inspired, but imperfect. for there are grammatical errors in the bible. there are also enormous contradictions in the bible, sometimes even in the same books. which works for me. for my blog reads as such, though much less inspired. inspired, yes. perfect? not so much.

    but jesus. holy. of course. perfect? it means we’d have to redefine perfect or separate perfect from holy. did jesus first roll over perfectly? then crawl perfectly? breast feed perfectly? stand without falling? walk without tumbling? and what about that whole water into wine thing? i mean, i get that his mother pushed him, but didn’t he know there were probably alcoholics there who didn’t need to be around it? and what of the yelling and throwing tables? i mean, come on. well adjusted people just don’t do such thing.

    so something has to give. if we say and have to believe jesus is perfect, then we need to redefine what we mean by perfect. a perfect human being is one who questions, for he did. a perfect human being is doubtful and courageous. gives up of ones self and is selfish for spiritual alone time. a perfect human can be married or not, hangs with men and women, those who be became “saints” and certainly those who sinned. a perfect human being tells God no, and says yes.

    but that’s the rub, isn’t it? the whole wwjd thing? we certainly are called to ask that question, but we are never called to BE jesus. there was only one to do that.

    but if we insist on our own definition of perfection, then we must let go of the idea of God as perfect and merely call God holy. a word separate from what we would commonly call perfect. but we don’t, do we?

    we like to continuously make God in our own image.

  2. pantheophany Says:

    I would say that Christian perfection is conformance to God’s will in all things, in both thought and action. Jesus demonstrates perfection when he says “Not my will, but thine.” Perfection is required in order to be acceptable to God; thus the substitution of a perfect Christ for imperfect humans. I think that Christianity must allow for perfection in humans, though none but Jesus have achieved it. If perfection is in fact truly impossible for humans, then Grace is a sham. It is grace if I forgive my son for failing to clean his room. It is lunacy (or cruelty) if I “forgive” him for failing to fly.

    Holiness (at least as I read it) is the dedication or consecration of something to God or to a religious purpose. In this way, I wonder what the original text means when it says “God is holy” since it seems nonsense to say that the Father is consecrated to Himself (but perhaps this isn’t nonsense). Christ is certainly holy in this sense. Do you have a verse in mind and the original wording? Perhaps a better English word would be “sacrosanct” or “sacred” or “inviolate” or “set apart for worship?” But in any case, I think a non-perfect thing (including a person’s life) can be holy if it is dedicated to God. I believe in this context, “dedicated” means “to have gone through a dedication transformation” rather than simply “used for the purpose of.” So the word “consecration” (to make sacred) is perhaps more precise. What do you think?

    As I mention in another thread, I would say that having a heart after God’s own heart would be the opposite of holy or perfect. We are clearly *not* to act or think as God does; doing so is the greatest Christian sin of thinking ourselves God. It is only for God to judge or to be jealous or to demand praise and worship. But Christianity does teach us to have a heart after Jesus’ heart. We simply seldom see this in church doctrines or practice.

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