Friday, June 19, 2009

Holy Means Whole: According to Andrew Murray, Part II

Here is the other part from Murray that I could not wait to get out on the internet. It reads in part:

Note C (p. 208)
The Holiness of God

There is not a word so exclusively scriptural, so distinctly divine, as the word holy in its revelation and its meaning. As a consequence of this divine origin, it is a word of inexhaustible significance. There is not one of the attributes of God which theologians have found so hard to define, or concerning which they differ so much. A short survey of the various views that have been taken may teach us how little the idea of the divine Holiness can be comprehended or exhausted by human definition, and how it is only in the life of fellowship and adoration that the holiness which passes all understanding can, as a truth and a reality, be apprehended.
1. The most external view, in which the ethical was very much lost sight of, is that in which holiness is identified with God’s separateness from creation, and elevation above it. Holiness was defined as the incomparable glory of God, his exclusive adorableness, his infinite majesty. Sufficient attention was not paid to the fact that though all these thoughts are closely connected with God’s Holiness, they are but a formal definition of the results and surroundings of the Holiness, but do not lead jus to the apprehension of that wherein its real essence consists.

2. Another view [from #1], which also commences from the external, and makes that the basis of its interpretation, regards holiness as simply an expression of a relation. Because what was set apart for God’s service was called holy, the idea of separation, of consecration, of ownership, is taken as the starting-point. And so, because we are said to be holy, as belonging to God, God is holy as claiming us and belonging to us too. Instead of regarding holiness as a positive reality in the divine nature, from which our holiness is to be derived, our holiness is made the starting-point for expounding the Holiness of God. `God is holy as being, within the covenant, not only the Proprietor, but the Property of his people, their highest good and their only rule’ (Diestel). Of this view mention has already been made in the note to Sixth Day on Holiness as Proprietorship.

3. Passing over [from #2] to the views of those who regard holiness as being a moral attribute, the most common one is that of purity, freedom from sin. `Holiness is a general term for the moral excellence of God. There is none holy as the Lord: no other being absolutely pure and free from all limitations in his moral perfection. Holiness, on the one hand, implies entire freedom from moral evil, upon the other, absolute moral perfection’ (Hodge, Systematic Theology). The idea of holiness as the infinite purity which is free from all sin, which hates and punishes hit, is what in conception is the most prominent idea. The negative stands more in the foreground than the positive. The view has its truth and its value from the fact that in our sinful state the first impression the Holiness of God must make is that of fear and dread in the consciousness of our sinfulness and unholiness. But it does not tell us wherein his moral excellence or perfection of God really consists.

4. It is an advance on this view [#3] when the attempt is made to define what this perfection of God is. A thing is perfect when it is in everything as it ought to be. It is easy thus to define perfection, but not so easy to define what the perfection f any special object is: this needs the knowledge of what is nature is. And we have to rest content with very general terms defining God’s Holiness as the essential and absolute good. `Holiness is the free, deliberate, calm, and immutable affirmation of himself, who is goodness, or of goodness, which is himself’ (Godet on John 17:11). `Holiness is that attribute in virtue of which Jehovah makes himself the absolute standard of himself, of his being and revelation.’ [likely Godet again]

5. Closely allied to this [“#4] is the view that holiness is not so much an attribute, but the `whole complex of that which we are wont to look at and represent singly in the individual attributes of God.’ So [Johann] Bengel looked upon holiness as the divine nature, in which all the attributes are contained. In the same spirit Howe says of holiness as the divine beauty, the result of the perfect harmony of all the attributes., `Holiness is intellectual beauty. Divine holiness is the most perfect beauty, and the measure of all other. The divine Holiness is the most perfect pulchritude [def. physical beauty], the ineffable and immortal pulchritude, that cannot be declared by words, or seen by eyes. This may therefore be called a transcendental attribute that, as it were, runs through the rest, and casts a glory upon every one. It is an attribute of attributes. These are fit predications, holy power, holy love. And so it is the very luster and glory of his other perfections. He is glorious in holiness’ (Howe in Whyte’s Shorter Catechism). This was the aspect of divine Holiness on which Jonathan Edwards delighted to dwell. `The mutual love of the Father and the Son make the third, the personal Holy Spirit, or the Holiness of God, which is his infinite beauty.’ `By the communication of God’s Holiness the creature partakes of God’s moral excellence, which is perfection, the beauty of the divine nature.’ `Holiness comprehends all the true moral excellence of intelligent beings. So the Holiness of God is the same with the moral excellency of the divine nature, comprehending all his perfections, his righteousness, faithfulness and goodness. There are two kinds of attributes of God, according to our way of conceiving him: his moral attributes, which are summed up in his Holiness, and his natural, as strength, knowledge, etc., which constitute his greatness. Holy persons, in the exercise of holy affection, love God in the first place for the beauty of his Holiness.’ The holiness of n intelligent creature is that which gives beauty to all his natural perfections. And so it is in God: holiness is in a peculiar manner the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2; 96:9; 110:3). This renders all the other attributes glorious and lovely.’ `Therefore, if the true loveliness of God’s perfections arise from the loveliness of his Holiness, the true love of his perfections will arise from the love of his Holiness. And as the beauty of the divine nature primarily consists in God’s Holiness, so does the beauty of all divine things.’ [This is implied elsewhere to be Andrew Murray’s view also.]

6. In speaking of God’s Holiness as denoting the essential good, the absolute excellence of His nature, some press very strongly the ethical aspect. The good in God must not be from mere natural impulse only, flowing from the necessity of his nature, without being freely willed by himself. `What is naturally good is not the true realization of the good. The actual and living, will, to be the good he is m must also have its place in God, otherwise God would only be naturally ethical. Only in the will which consciously determines itself, is there the possibility given of the ethical. The ethical has such a power in God that his is the holy Power, who cannot and will not renounce himself, which must be, and would be thought to be, the holy necessity f the goodness which is himself – to be the Holy. The love of God is essentially holy; it desires and preserves the ethically necessary or holy, which God is’ (Dorner, System, Vol. I).

7. It was felt that in such views [#3-6] that there was not a sufficient acknowledgment of the truth that it is especially as the Holy One that God is called Redeemer., that that he does the work of love to make holy. This lead to the view that holiness and love are, if not identical, at least correlated expressions. `God is holy, exalted above all the praise of the creature in his incomparable praiseworthiness, on account of his free and loving condescension to the creature, to manifest in it the glory of his love.’ `God is holy, inasmuch as love in him has restrained and conquered the righteous wrath (as Hosea says, 11:9) and the judgment is exercised only after every way of mercy has been tried. This holiness is disclosed in the New Testament name, as exalted as it is condescending, of Father’ (Stier on John 17).

8. The large measure of truth in this view {#7] is met by an expression in which the true aspect os the Holiness of God are combined. It is defined as being the harmony of self-preservation and self-communication. As the Holy One, God hates sin, and seeks to destroy it. As the Holy One, he makes the sinner holy, and then takes him up into his love. In maintaining his love he never for a moment loses his divine purity and perfection in maintaining his righteousness. He still communicates himself to the fallen creature. Holiness is the divine glory, of which love and righteousness are the two sides, and which in their work on earth they reveal.
`Holiness is the self-preservation of God, whereby he keeps himself free from the world without him, and remains consistent with himself and faithful to his Being, and whereby he, with this view, creates a divine world that lives for himself alone in the organization of his Church’ (Lange).
`The Holiness of God is God’s self-preservation, or keeping to himself, in virtue of which he remains the same in all relationships which exist within his Deity, or into which he enters, never sacrifices what is divine, or admits what is not divine. But this is only one aspect. God’s Holiness would not be holiness, but exclusiveness, if it did not provide for God’s entering into manifold relations, and so revealing and communicating himself. Holiness is therefore the union and interpretation of God’s keeping to himself and communicating himself; of his nearness and his distance; of his exclusiveness and his self-revelation; of separateness and fellowship. ‘
`The divine Holiness is mainly seclusion from the impurity and sinfulness of the creature, or expressed positively, the cleanness and purity of the divine nature, which excludes all connection with the wicked. In harmony with this, the divine Holiness, as an attribute of revelation, is not merely an abstract power, but is the divine self-representation and self-testimony for the purpose of giving to the world the participation in the divine life’ (Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament 1:160).
`Opposition to sin is the first impression which man receives of God’s Holiness. Exclusion, election, cleansing, redemption – these are the four forms in which God’s Holiness appears in the sphere of humanity; and we may say that God’s Holiness signifies his opposition to sin manifesting itself in atonement and redemption, or in judgment. Or as holiness, so far as it is embodied in law, must be the highest moral perfection, we may say, “holiness is the purity of God manifesting itself in atonement and redemption, and correspondingly in judgment.” By this view all the above elements are done justice to; holiness asserts itself in judging righteousness, an in electing, purifying, and redeeming love, and thus it appears as the impelling and formative principle of the revelation of redemption, without a knowledge of which an understanding of the revelation is impossible, and by the perception of which it is seen in its full, clear light. God is light: this is a full and exhaustive New Testament phrase for God’s Holiness (1 John 1:5) (Cremer).
This view is brought out with special distinctness in the writings of J T Beck. `It is God’s Holiness which, taking the good which was given in creation in strict faithfulness to that good and perfect will of God, as the eternal life-purpose of love, in righteousness and mercy carried out to its completion in God himself to a life of perfection. God does this as the Alone Holy. In the world of sin divine love can only bring deliverance by a mediation in which it is reconciled to the divine wrath within their common centre, the Holiness of God, in such a way that while wrath manifests its destroying reality, love shall prove its restoring power in the life it gives’ (Beck, Lehrwissenschaft, 168, 547

…. [ a lot is left out here that will be added later, p,214a – p. 217a]

Careful reflection will show us that in each of the above views [#1-8] there is a measure of truth. It will convince us how the very difficulty of formulating to human thought the conception of divine Holiness proves that it is the highest expression for that ineffable and inconceivable glory of the divine Being which constitutes him the Infinite and Glorious God.

…. [217b continued]

This section is packed full of wheat and chaff. I will comment on it more later. But suffice to say, Murray did his homework.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon

Holy Means Whole: According to Andrew Murray, Part I

I learned some of the most important things I know about holiness from Andrew Murray in his book titled Holy in Christ. To find anything about holy that is quoted from it on the internet seems to be mostly fruitless. To find even the same title for the same book makes it even worse. So I will quote a great deal from it here, so that you can read for yourself what he had to say.

In addition, I am going to edit this posting considerably over time. I just couldn't wait to get these two parts out there on the internet. Here it is in part:

Note B (p. 207)
On the Word for Holiness

The proper meaning of the Hebrew word for holy, kadosh, is a matter of uncertainty. It may come from a root signifying to shine. (So Gesenius, Oehler, Furst, and formerly Delitzsch, on Hebrews 2:11). Or from another denoting new and bright (Diestel), or an Arabic form meaning to cut, to separate (So Delitzsch now, on Psalm 22:4). Whatever the root be, the chief idea appears not to be only separate or set apart, for which the Hebrew has entirely different words, but that by which a thing is separated from others for its worth is distinguished above them. It indicates not only separation as an act or fact, but the superiority or excellence in virtue of which, either as already possessed or sought after, the separation takes place.

In his Lexicon of New Testament Greek, Cremer has an exhaustive article on the Greek hagios, pointing out how holiness is an entirely Biblical idea, and `how the scriptural conceptions of God’s Holiness, notwithstanding the original affinity, is diametrically opposite all Greek notions; and how, whereas these very views of the gods exclude from the gods all possibility of love the scriptural conception of holiness unfolds itself only in the closest connection with divine love.’ It is a most suggestive thought that we owe both the word and the thought distinctly to revelation. Every other attribute of God has some notion to correspond with it in the human mind: the thought of holiness is distinctly divine. Is it not this reason that, though God has so distinctly in the New Testament called his people holy ones, the word holy has so little entered into our daily language and life of the Christian church?

I hope you can see that he views holiness as clearly more than separation.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon

Friday, June 05, 2009

Holy Means Whole: According to Biblical, Renewal, Spiritual and Natural

It is important that people understand the values that underly what I am trying to do. For me the values that are important when discussing the word holy are the following. They are: biblical, renewal, spiritual and natural. I intend when I write to not violate any one of these four values.

The biblical value means in sum the 66 books of the Book that I grew up with are what I regard as God's Word and nothing more or nothing less than all 66 of them. Each of the 66 make up a portion of God's Word that stands out from other writings. All of them together are normnative and get special attention that none of the others gets.

The renewal value means that collectively all periods of time and people are connected together. Our values are not just made up of the past and being traditional. But neither is it just the future and being futuristic. Renewal means what it says. There is a past, because it happens again, there is a present because it is happening now and there is a future because it includes all. Renewal means that I am connected collectively with my Greatgrandmother, my Grandfather, my mother and others before them. But I also expect to see new believers now and in the future. Our faith should stretch to all periods of time. Not just the past or the present or the future is normnative.

The spiritual value means that the activity of life is produced not by the flesh but by the Spirit. We are otherwise spiritually dead, even though we walk around apparently alive. That is until we are truly born again of the Spirit. So while I think an unbeliever can read correctly a passage of Scripture and explain its meaning, it still does not mean that they are alive and that they have the Spirit. The significance of bringing life is not yet recognized by them.

The natural value that I oppose objects or things contrary to nature. We sing that this is my Father's world and we say that it is God's creation. I take both very seriously. I thoroughly believe that His handwriting is on His handiwork. He reveals Himself in nature. So to go contrary to what is natural is dangerous. A vase of clay is an object made of the material of clay. We need to learn from the materials that God has used and the objects He has made from those materials. We need this value as well as the others.

I went through a very difficult time as a Christian when I tried to live by just the principal of Scripture (Bible) Alone. It isolated me from others and so undervalued renewal the most. Commentaries from the past and present couldn't be used to uphold biblical purity. Yet Luther never avoided the collective connection with other believers. The values of spiritual and natural were diminished. The whole experience propelled me much later to the values above, yet without diminishing the value I placed on the Bible. I still am happily a "chapter and verse" child of my parents.

I just wanted to lay out these values for those who wondered what they are. Much of what I use for communication is based on what I have learned from nature when it comes to communication. It is based on the solid study of language. We live in a day when the changes in transportation have brought distant places close. We also live in a day when changes in the means of communication have brought distant times close. Space and time technologies have altered our understanding of communication for the better. I hope you can see that I value nature in this regard and also renewal.

I think we should use our advanced understandings and also the understandings of the past that we now have in our possession that we did not in the past. We now understand language much like they did in 5th/6th century B.C. This is something that would have been likely inaccessible to Luther. Will we use our renewed understanding to our advantage? That is my challenge to all of us.

In Christ,

Pastor Jon