Monday, January 14, 2008

ECCLESIOLOGY: A Very Peculiar People!

On the MSN Home Page there is a link called “The Word of the Day.” Each day a new word is supplied to the site by Microsoft's Encarta. One word offered was:
sui generis | soo-eye-JEH-nuh-russ or soo-ee-JEH-nuh-russ | adjective: constituting a class alone : unique, peculiar
Example sentence:
"No one before or since has had such a blend of wildness and vulnerability, such pretty-boy looks crossed with such rawness ... James Dean was sui generis." (Robert DiMatteo, Video Review, December 1990)
The selection went on to explain:
English contains many terms that ultimately trace to the Latin forms "gener-" or "genus," (which are variously translated as "birth," "race," "kind," "gender," and "class"). Offspring of those roots include "general," "generate," "generous," "generic," "degenerate," and "gender." But "sui generis" is truly a one-of-a-kind "gener-" descendant that English speakers have used for singular things since the late 1700s.

Its earliest uses were in scientific contexts, where it identified substances, principles, diseases, and even rocks that were unique or that seemed to be the only representative of their class or group. By the early 1900s, however, "sui generis" expanded beyond solely scientific contexts and is now used more generally for anything that stands alone.
Seems to me God used this concept long before the 1700s. In fact, I believe it was first used by a man called Simon, later known as Peter, in the first century AD. I believe he wrote something like:
"But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."
1 Peter 2:9-10
And if my memory serves me correctly, the folks who translated the KJV said we are a "peculiar" people.

God long ago decided that all of His children should be sui generis – in “a class alone,” unique and peculiar.

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