>The Holiness of God – Chapter Three-


Can I tell you a little secret? I do not want to write my review on this chapter because I did not like the second half of it!

Yes, I feel terrible saying this, but I just can’t help it. I read it twice and the third time I skimmed over it, and still, my thoughts were the same.

I enjoyed the first part of this chapter in which Dr. Sproul deals with the definition of holy:

“The primary meaning of holy is “separate”. It comes from an ancient word that means “to cut” or “to separate…
“God’s holiness is more than just separateness. His holiness is also transcendent. The word transcendence means literally “to climb across’… God is above and beyond us. Transcendence describes His; supreme and absolute greatness…”

This definition is just great, to think that He is higher than me, than the rest of us, helps my ego fall down and remember that I am clay made alive.

The author continues explaining how in the Word of God we find the word holy; used to express “something other than a moral or ethical quality”; In order for something to be holy, it first needs to be consecrated or sanctified by God.

“Only God can sanctify something else. God alone is holy Himself”

I learned in this chapter that when we speak of God as holy, “it doesn’t signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense. The word is used a synonym for his deity. That is the word holy calls our attention to all that God is.”

If holy means transcendent, then worshiping idols made of wood, silver, gold, worshiping the moon, the sun, or anything else is nonsense because all these are not transcendent, “they; do not go above and beyond the creaturely. They are not holy”, says the author.

And now comes the part I did not like of this chapter. Dr. Sproul talks about a German scholar, Rudolf Otto, and how he tried to study the holy in a scientific way. This man “coined a special term for the holy. He called it mysterium tremendum…’awful mystery'”  (My first doubt, question, objection is this, can one really study the holy in a scientific way? how? I just could not follow along.)

The author goes on to explain that we have mixed feelings about the holy,

“There is a sense in which we are at the same time attracted to it and repulsed by it. Something draws us toward it, while at the same time we want to run away from it. We can’t seem to decide which way we want it. Part of us yearns for the holy, while part of us despises it. We can’t live without it, and we can’t live without it”

This is so true, this is why we need so desperately Jesus, a mediator.

But why does the author chooses to explain us such truth comparing it with his wife’s feeling when watching horror movies; why using the images of  scary radio programs? This I did not like. I just couldn’t understand it. How can we compare our relationship and feelings towards the Holy with our feeling towards scary radio  programs or horror movies. I felt lost.   

What are your thoughts about this?

Praising Augustus*

*”Augustus”; Sproul says that “only God could properly be called the augustus one. To be august is to be awe- inspiring, or awe-ful. In the ultimate sense only God is awe-ful” (p.44)

I am grateful to Tim Challies for inviting us to read along this book; it has proved a blessing for me to join a group of great people and thinkers.

The Holiness of God -Chapter One-
The Holiness of God- Chapter Two-
Holy, Holy, Holy 
The Holiness of God- Chapter Four- The Trauma of Holiness-

Living a Simple Life


6 thoughts on “>The Holiness of God – Chapter Three-

  1. >I didn't care for Dr. Sproul's comparison of God's Holiness to horror movies either. Many horror movies dabble in occultish activities and I really just couldn't make the connection at all. I also couldn't understand the German's study of Holiness. It just doesn't seem to make sense to study men and their reactions to define holiness instead of searching God and His word.


  2. >Becky,As I commented on Lisa's blog post, I think that those who are noting that there are different types of fear are "on the right track". I'm a little confused as to why Sproul chose to highlight the type of fear that he did in this chapter (3), as opposed to the Biblical type of fear that Isaiah had (which Sproul wrote about in Chapter 2). Perhaps it will be more clear in Chapter Four? Until then, may God grant you understanding!


  3. >I'm not too bothered by Otto's thinking; he was a German coming out of some very "messed up theology" at the time.I mentioned in my blog post () and in my comments on Tim's blog that the tie-in with horror movies makes sense to me. I personally don't like to go to horror movies. I don't like being scared. But there is something about the tragic and horrifying that draws us. Could it be this aspect of God's holiness that we're all missing when apart from Christ?Were it not for the work of Christ on my behalf, I would be so repulsed by the idea of God's holiness I would seek my "thrills through fear" elsewhere – like grotesque horror films, or death-defying acts (extreme sports), or even thrill rides at amusement parks… anything to make the dread of God seem less a threat to me than it really is.Fascinating how our lack of fear, as evangelicals, has made God seem so approachable that no one wants to approach Him. He's just too much like us for many people too care.Anyway, keep up the good thinking!


  4. >Becky,Although I appreciate the term mysterium tremendum, I, too, did not engage with Otto's elaborate "scientific" description of the holy. It seemed "over the top." And I didn't enjoy Sproul's comparing our reaction to God's holiness with his wife's watching horror movies or his listening to radio programs of yore. It was academic, and without trying to sound highbrow, God's holiness does not belong amongst such low ranks.For it cannot be compared, it is truly other other.Love your "whisper" technique. It worked!-E


  5. >It did seem to me that this chapter was really two different things. I definitely enjoyed the first half on the definition of holy. And the second half has made me think, think, think. Am I scared of God’s holiness? I had the same thought as you about Otto’s “scientific” study of holiness – how can one do that? Ha. It has made me want to hurry into chapter 4 and see what the “Trauma of Holiness” is going to be. Maybe it will clarify more of chapter 3. Thanks for sharing your honesty here, of course it's what I know to expect. Blessings!Lisa


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