Some Questions on Wisdom

13 08 2013

“…but wisdom is knowing what to do in the 90% of all life situations where the moral rules don’t really apply….”
- Tim Keller in his May 22, 2011 Sunday sermon

wisdomDietrich Bonhoeffer states in his tome on Ethics that the Christian life is not about being overly concerned about the right and wrongs of life but rather living in the commandment of God expressed in the permission He gives. This somewhat seems to align with the above quote by Tim Keller. Many conservative Christians paralyze their lives by over stressing the moral laws. Of course, morality is important, but if Keller and Bonhoeffer are correct in their interpretation, it seems natural to ask the question: What is holiness then?

If 90 percent of all life situations isn’t directly about figuring out the strict right and wrongness of our actions, what does it mean to do righteousness in that 90 percent? What does it mean to be holy in that 90 percent? What is wisdom’s relationship to holiness?

Hmmm….

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6 responses

13 08 2013
charles

tomb=tome? unless he had a tomb on ethics…

13 08 2013
Paul P

Thanks. Effects of two months abroad on my language skills…

15 08 2013
Joe F Kim

For years, Modern psychology defined their field by listing out all the things that could go wrong with the human psyche. One only needs to pick up a DSM I-IV to see the truth of this. And it’s only recently that modern psychology tries to ask…’what does human psyche look like when it goes right?’

I think this is not that dissimilar to what happens with Christians, who for too long have defined ‘Holiness’ in terms of what behaviors to avoid, instead of asking ‘what does Holiness look like when it goes right’? And I don’t think we can adequately answer that question by merely saying, ‘It looks like the total absence of sin’.

I think Wisdom, at least in the contemporary protestant church, is largely a casualty of that kind of thinking. In our zeal to highlight Justification by grace through faith, we might have neglected Wisdom and Maturity.

16 08 2013
Paul P

So then, are you saying wisdom is holiness? Or am I asking the wrong question? What does it mean for holiness to go right?

16 08 2013
Joe F Kim

I think the best ppl to read on this is Jacob Milgram and Mary Douglas. If I can extrapolate from them, there is Mark 5 when Jesus heals a bleeding woman. This is astounding because in Jewish thought, uncleanliness is contagious and destroys Holiness. Thus the unclean must never come into contact with the Holy. But in Jesus, the whole system is reversed. In Mark 5, the Holy One touches the unclean woman…and the unclean woman becomes clean.

Again in Revelation, the Holy city comes down from Heaven. Its on a mountain with the tree of life and a river that flows. The tree’s leaves are for the healing of the nations.

The Christian contribution to the religious landscape is that Holiness is now the contagious state. And this Holiness heals.

Wisdom is knowing how to make this real in our lives and in our world. Wisdom, is knowing how to spread Holiness so as to maximize healing. (*not an exhaustive definition)

16 08 2013
Paul P

This is great. Contagious healing as holiness…. You need to tell me more the next time we hang out.

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