One of the key terms used in DNA circles, a word that sometimes evokes reaction, has two spellings. In the following discussion, Bob Moffitt, DNA co-founder and chairman, and executive director of Harvest Foundation, explains why DNA chooses to use one spelling in particular.
In the context of Christian ministry, the word “wholistic/holistic” refers to ministry that applies the whole Gospel to the whole person. We use the former to be consistent with the idea of wholeness (the whole Gospel, the whole world, the whole person).
Christian writers in the West use both spellings. Writers in the developing world who have not been exposed to the use of “holistic” typically use “wholistic.” Why? Again, because it is consistent with the spelling of other words related to wholism.
Although “holistic” is used by many Christian writers, it is also the spelling of choice by writers with unbiblical or even anti-Christian worldviews. (Sadly, even those Christian NGO and development agencies which operate on a philosophy from secular paradigms and literature often use this spelling.) This makes the “holistic” spelling suspect by some Christians; a Christian writer using that spelling sometimes has to expressly distance himself from unbiblical associations of the word.
Several years ago I was talking to the president of one of the largest evangelical mission agencies in North America, ABWE. Before we got very far in our conversation, he asked me which spelling we use. When I explained that we use the “w” he was ready to let me continue. For him, the “holistic” spelling was a red flag.
For these two reasons—that the “wholistic” spelling is more consistent with the concept of “the whole,” and to avoid unnecessary suspicion among Christians—we include the “w.”
– Bob Moffitt