"neither cold nor hot"
Posted by Anders on May 01, 2005
In Reply to: "Neither cold nor hot" posted by Smokey Stover on May 01, 2005
: : : : "...because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (The Bible)
: : : : Being a warm person is generally preferred to being a cold one. The quote above makes it clear that being lukewarm is worse than being cold. Since our moral standards are largely Biblical (Jew/Christian) in origin, I am curious if someone has any knowledge of how this quote has generally been interpreted. It seems to me that the quote, such as it stands, lends some legitimacy to being cold. And, our morals being ultimately a Biblical derivative, this is a surprise, as it conflicts with the general norm, which says that warm is good and cold is bad.
: : : : Cheers
: : : : Anders
: : : Revelation 3:15-16 (King James Version)
: : : 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
: : : 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
: : : Most people want a drink to be hot or cold. Lukewarm or tepid is nasty. Bibletools.org explains the verses this way:
: : : Why does Christ want Christians to be either hot or cold? "Because if they were either cold or hot, they would be useful to Him. Lukewarm Christians send confusing messages. In this state, being useless to Him, He spews them out of His mouth. Metaphorically, what does lukewarmness signify here? To define it to this point, a rough definition might be 'that which gives no refreshment, or that which has neither the cleansing properties of hot water nor the refreshing properties of cold.'" Bibletools.org
: : Thank you, ESC. The quote you give from Bibletools.org gives me something to consider. Namely, that the metaphor may be drawn from food and drink (or similar). This makes the meaning you outline quite logical. However, as the Bible has been analysed and explained from just about any angle, I still wonder if someone has seen here a defence for being cold (cold hearted). To repeat, I am interested in this because it is at odds with the general take on "good" (pleasant) and "bad" (unpleasant) individuals. We know also that, according to the Bible, goodness resides in God only, not in man. I think even Jesus at some point declines being a source of good and refers it to His Father. If we stress this, we can consistently say that cold people are no worse than those who are warm. Being a pleasant individual does not count one bit in the Bible, as I see it, or if it counts towards anything, it's the sleek and Satanic. And yet again: "Do unto others..." suggests the exact opposite, viz. that the Bible works towards a warm and loving environment. Indeed, this is and has been the common interpretation, even if, in practical terms, it hasn't always worked out like that. On a final note, I am interested in all this from an undogmatic and literary/socio-cultural point of view.
: : Best regards
: : Anders
: Excuse me for being undiplomatic, but bibletools.org has an interpretation that suits them, but not me. We're talking about a verse from Revelations. Are you familiar with Revelations? John the Revelator likes blunt language, and it's just like him to say something like this. He wants you either cold or hot because he wants to know what he's dealing with, not because hot is good and cold bad or vice versa. He's against mugwumps. Who isn't? He wants you to be one thing or the other. He has no use for Tepid Tom, always ambivalent, always somewhere in between. SS
Sure, I've read Revelations. But, you know, what I am after is not a loyal interpretation; it's rather the reception that interests me - surely someone has seen this as a defence for being cold. This either/or mentality is not something I would advocate. I can certainly appreciate the merit of it, though, and be put off by the indecisive third option, but it seems dangerously fanatical to me. If you have seen the Film "Fish Called Wanda," you'll recall Kevin Cline as Ot to, a manic mock Nietzschean, who always seems to miss "the middle thing." A Monty Pythonesque take on the either/or mentality?