Holiness is the essential character of God. The word conveys the notion of God’s sheer uniqueness, or, to adopt the famous phrase of Karl Barth, His “wholly otherness”. Traditionally, theologians have stressed two key aspects of God’s holiness. One is the ubiquitous feeling of awe, even dread, that may consume human beings when we try to conceive of the Something which “explains” the Universe. A.W. Tozer once wrote that “this feeling for the uncreated mystery in the world is behind all religion”. The second key aspect of holiness is more specific to Christianity. Its focus is God’s purity. This is the moral or ethical aspect of holiness (or “righteousness”). In Tozer’s words, God “is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity”. The focus of this study will be holiness in this second sense. Its singular demonstration was, and is, the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Some of the very greatest Christians in history drew their inspiration, and arrived at their keenest insights, by dwelling upon what it means to be holy – both the way that God is holy, and the more limited way that believing Christians, during this life, should grow in personal holiness (the process of “sanctification”). A central teaching of the Reformation is that true holiness in human beings is an inevitable byproduct of God’s grace through faith.
Author: Roy Williams
Roy Williams’ first and best-known book, God, Actually (2008), is a defence of Christianity for the educated layperson. A best-seller in Australia on release, it has been published in Britain and North America. Roy’s next two books – In God They Trust? The religious beliefs of Australia’s prime ministers (2013) and Post-God Nation? (2015) – focus on Australian history and society. His most recent book is Mr Eternity: The story of Arthur Stace (2017).