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The Holiness Tradition - Richard Foster

Updated: Oct 21, 2023




The Holiness Tradition - Richard Foster

"Holiness means the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. It means being ​“response-able,” able to respond appropriately to the demands of life. The word virtue (arete) comes into our New Testament from a long history in Greek philosophical tradition, and it means simply to function well. Virtue is good habits we can rely upon to make our life work. Conversely, vice is bad habits we can rely upon to make our life not work, to make it dysfunctional, as we say. So a holy life simply is a life that works.

How contrary this is to our popular notions of holiness. Frankly, it is rarely considered a compliment to be seen as ​“holy” these days. And certainly no one wants to be thought of as ​“holier-than-thou.” To most minds the concept of holiness carries with it an air of arrogance and judgment. Furthermore, it is often associated with trivialities of behavior that we all know have little or nothing to do with a virtuous life. Because these misconceptions are so pervasive in our culture, it is crucial that we learn what holiness is not as well as what it is.

Holiness is not rules and regulations. Elaborate lists of dos and don’ts miss the point of a life hidden with God in Christ. No single standard of behavior is dictated by the word holy. All external legalisms fail to capture the heart of holy living and holy dying.." from the article: Defining the Holiness Tradition: The Virtuous Life


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