Christianity · doctrine · Holiness · Scholars · theologians · theology

RC Sproul’s “The Holiness of God” pt. 1

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I recently started reading RC Sproul’s momentous work, “The Holiness of God”. I’ve heard much about it in the past, but had a rousing recommendation from one of the brothers at my local church and since it was on my ‘to-read shelf’ it’t in the queue. I figured to keep it fresh and to retain some of his wondrous insights, I’d blog about it and answer his questions at the end of each chapter.

Chapter one, The Holy Grail.

A small preface… I’ve never read anything extensive from Dr. Sproul so I don’t know what to expect on the literary front. I’ve listened to many of his lectures on YouTube and also in our adult Sunday school class at church. So, I’m aware of his deep introspective look at the Scriptures and Theology in general. I have one small blemish(in my judgement) towards Dr. Sproul, he is in love with philosophy. I am rather turned off towards the subject, so it will be a daunting task to set that off to the side for this, a book on the topic of the utmost importance.

The story he starts off with is mesmerizing. I read most of it while riding my bicycle on the bike trainer. It flowed effortlessly, as did the pedals while I was enthralled. I was reminded of some instances in my old life in Sonoma County, CA. When things were downhill, and know one knew, I’d retreat to a location for some alone time with God. It was a secluded spot where I really felt God was near, and no one else was around so I could pray audibly and for as long as was necessary. My views of feeling the presence of God has changed since then, but the emotive response Dr. Sproul gives in the opening of the book brought back memories of the last time I ventured out to do the same. It was also the beginning for me into the most in-depth study of Theology I’ve ever done, and continue till today. His contrasting of, “fairy-tales”, and a brief look at the opening verses of Genesis with some philosophical insights were, to say the least, lying under the surface of the text that I’d never quite come to see. The fairy tale comparisons was something akin to a C.S. Lewis diatribe and the Genesis reflections were classic Sproul. Much the same as what I’ve heard him say regarding sanctification and growing roses in his garden… what a green thumb he has. With this opening, I’m excited to move forward with the next chapter.

Onto the questions…

  1. When you think of God as holy, what comes to your mind? The most difficult part would be to separate what I have learned, been taught, and read regarding the Holiness of the most transcendent being in the universe. The word holy, most scholars say, means something akin to separateness. But, in Scripture you wouldn’t substitute  “Holy, Holy, Holy” for “Separate, Separate, Separate.” There’s more nuance to it than that. Though it most certainly has that meaning, it’s primarily more concerned with description of essence. Where a man, woman, or object can be considered holy, they can, at a different moment, be unholy. Or in other words,  common. God, on the other hand, can never not be Holy. It is what makes him who/what he is. His utter transcendence, his unique status as being the only one of his kind, having ultimate purpose. It is why, perhaps, we call someone reflecting a status similar to it, a holy man.
  2. Describe a time when you were overcome by God’s Holiness? In 2013, when I reread the Bible under a renewed love of Jesus and the gospel. I had to know who the God I claimed to follow and know, really was. It was this endeavor that ended up lasting for about 1 year and 3 months that, amidst the studying, I had countless moments weeping over how unimaginable a God so removed from his creation was, he would stoop so low as to enjoin himself to it. Passages in Hebrews that speak of Christ becoming human and identifying with our temptations so as to come to our aid in those very temptations. Or the parallels of Nadab and Abihu and Ananias and Sapphira. Here is the God who is so Holy, his reputation will not be trampled upon, even when you think he doesn’t see your true motives.
  3. Are you attracted to God’s holiness? Words escape me, yes.
  4. What does it mean for you to be holy in the coming week? It means to remind myself of my identity. As Peter says, in citing the Torah, “you will be holy for I am holy.” Since Yahweh has purchased my life with the Son’s life, and brought me to new life with him being raised from the dead, I must show it. I must delight in seeking to show his never ending, joyfully pleasant, unashamed glory. He is indeed holy, and I delight to even attempt to be a nano-partical as holy as my wonderful Holy Triune  God.

Now, to get back on the bike… the Dividing Line with James white calls to me.

Maranatha!

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