This Greek word gives us our ‘crisis’. Some of its related verb forms run negatively through today’s reading from Romans 14. Krisis originally meant ‘the power of discriminating or distinguishing between things so as to make the appropriate choice’. In order to do this one needs to apply a standard of reference, a criterion, (‘crisis’ and ‘criterion’ are related words). In the New Testament the relevant criterion is a moral one. So krisis in the New Testament means principally ‘judgement’ according to a moral standard, and especially an adverse judgement (or ‘condemnation’). One can imagine that an adverse judgement by a competent authority on a major issue pertaining to a person’s conduct would represent a turning point in that person’s life, a ‘parting of the ways’ before and after. In modern English, ‘crisis’ pertains less to ‘judgement’ itself than to a critical situation calling for decisive action to alter the course of events.
A Word in Season