Thursday, January 31, 2008

Holy is Whole: According to Dr. Randy Jaeggli

In renewing our minds from Romans 12:2, as I described earlier, there is the past, the present and the future. At present, there are others besides myself that agree that holiness is wholeness or that it describles all His attributes as a whole. One of these is Dr. Randy Jaeggli. You can find out about him on the internet, if you like. I want to include his comments because the method he uses to conclude that holiness is wholeness is like the method that both C. H. Spurgeon and Johann Bengel apparently both used. The argument is primarily from parallel passages in Scripture.

Let me quote Jaeggli at length:

Many of the words the Bible uses to describe God's attributes sound quite religious. Yet many Christians have only a vague idea of the what these important words actually mean. Perhaps no other term is more misunderstood than holiness. To most people, God's holiness is a vague concept of His moral superiority to man. Holiness is the awe a person senses when he stands in St. Paul's cathedral in London and looks up at the dome towering high above him. The experience makes him seem small and insignificant. He concludes that God must be very far above him, and he is correct in this feeling. There certainly is an aspect of God awesomeness in holiness. God truly is far geater than man in the incomparable perfection of His infinite character. In his own ability man definitely cannot reach Him. As we will discover, however, God's holiness includes much more than the great distance that separates Him from mankind. We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of emphasizing God's exalation above man to the exlusion of His closeness to man. The theologian must always maintain his balance, something like a tightrope walker in a circus. If the performer leans a little to the right or the left, he is going to fall off the wire. The one who studes the biblical relevation of God's character must likewise hold all the truths he learns in proper balance, lest he lean too far in any direction and fall into error.

Holiness is not merely one of God's attibutes. It rather describes all His attributes as a whole. There are two parallel verses in the book of Amos that prove this point clearly. As Amos was declaring the judgment that would surely fall on his disobedient people, he asserted that "the Lord God hath sworn by His holiness" (4:2). God cannot take an oath on anything less than Himself, and there surely is nothing greater than He. The reader is not surprised, therefore, when Amos states in 6:8, "The Lord God hath sworn by Himself." Taken together these two verses show that"His holiness" is equal to "Himself." The Hebrew word in 6:8 translated as "Himself" refers to a person's entire being. The word holiness, therefore, describes the totality of God's attributes. Undoubtedly, there are many of God's attributes that God has not revealed to us. As finite creatures, we could not even begin to understand those attributes. They are all included in His holiness.

The biblical concept of holiness is foundationally positive. God is not holy because He is separate from sin. Rather, He is separate from sin because He is holy. No person wants to be known primarly for what he does not do or what he is against. .... I would rather be appreeciated for my positive qualities, and the same is true of God. His holiness is positively splendid. The Psalmist declared, "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him , all the earth" (Ps. 96:9). The Hebrew word for "beauty" describes God's regal splendor. (p. 20-21)

Then Jaeggli continues later:

... and God' s' name is called "glorious" eleven times. When Scripture uses a modifer for the word name, we do not find that God's character is described by more specific attributes like love, righteousness, justice or patience. These attribues are not inclusvie enough to describe the totality of God 's being. Instead, Scripture most often uses the term holy with the concept of God's name. The only conclusion we can draw is that the essensce of God's character is holiness.

Our Savior summarizes the Old Testament's teaching when He taught His disciples to pray. The second phrase of His model prayer was, "Hallowed by Thy name" (Matt. 6:9). The term "hallowed" is equivalent to the word "holy." Christ commanded us to pray that men everywhere will recognize that God's character is incomparably great. When we pray this way, we are asking the Father to use the Scripture in causing men to recognize His perfect character. Our words and actions most communicate who God is to those with whom we come in contact. (p. 28).

So this summarizes Jaeggli's argument for holiness is wholeness as coming from parallel passages in Scripture. In the past I presented Spurgeon's comments to the same and in the future I will present more of Johann Bengel that says the same. Also in the future I will begin to use Genesis 1:1-2:3 as the primary object lesson for why holiness is wholeness using our everyday understanding of what a day means. Until then, God's richest blessings on Jaeggli's comments.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon