Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: The Holiness of God

If there is one characteristic of God that is poorly understood in the church and the world today, it is probably God's holiness. We want to make God in our image and likeness, to mould him the way we think he should be. Surely we have no place for holiness in the God we want?

RC Sproul takes up his pen to explore, explain and expose the holiness of God and its necessity. Through the book he shows how holiness isn't an optional extra that we can reject, but rather that it is a fundamental part of who God is - indeed, the very heart of who God is. Indeed, it is inescapable throughout the Scriptures: 'The one concept, the central idea I kept meeting in Scripture, was the idea that God is holy... it is basic to our whole understanding of God and of Christianity.'

The opening chapter is a compelling story, a retelling of Sproul's encounter with God's holiness, which draws the reader in. Many writers could take note of the way he breathlessly brings the reader with him to that midnight chapel: 'I was alone with God. A holy God. An awesome God. A God who could fill me with terror in one second and with peace in the next.'

I must confess that some of the other chapters aren't just as thrilling, and at times I found it harder to read, whether through my dullness or what, I don't know. There were moments when I wouldn't agree with everything that was said (but then, what would I ever completely agree with?), but there were enough gems to make the reading of this book very profitable.

'There is a pattern here... God appears, people quake in terror, God forgives and heals, God sends. From brokenness to mission is the human pattern.'

'The delay of justice was not the denial of justice but the establishing of mercy and grace.'

'Even though God gave no answers, Job's questions were put to rest. He received a higher answer than any direct reply could have provided. God answered Job's questions not with words but with himself.'

I'm happy to recommend this book, coming as it does with Sproul's passion for God's word and his clarity at explaining that word. Prepare to meet your God, and to give thanks for his holiness and his grace.

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