I told someone recently that I was reading The Holiness of God by Sproul and they looked at me like I was an alien. They responded with surprise that I had not read it and went on to rave about the book. Sometimes books get a bit too much pub and then don’t live up to the hype; however, this book is not one of them. The Holiness of God is classic Sproul and it is a much needed message for the church of any age, but in particular, the message of a transcendently glorious God is desperately needed today.
Sproul starts off the book in a chapter entitled The Holy Grail. It is in this chapter where he recounts a story of how God forever changed his life by revealing the majestic holiness of the God to him. From this point on, Sproul says he was captivated by the holiness of God.
The chapter on Isaiah 6 entitled Holy, Holy, Holy is just plain awesome. Sproul combines transcendent theology with passion and delivers it in a clear, lucid manner that is engaging to the soul.
“To be undone means to come apart at the seams, to be unraveled…. [It is] personal disintegration…. [Isaiah] was considered by his contemporaries as the most righteous man in the nation. He was respected as a paragon of virtue. Then he caught one sudden glimpse of the holy God. In that single moment, all of his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath a gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to maintain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed—morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart. His sense of integrity collapsed.”
“There is a special kind of phobia from which we all suffer. It is called xenophobia. Xenophobia is a fear (and sometimes hatred) of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. God is the ultimate object of our xenophobia. He is the ultimate stranger. He is the ultimate foreigner. He is holy, and we are not.”
This is just great stuff. And it serves as a timely tonic for our current age that seems to have chiseled a God who looks and acts more like our little buddy than the transcendently enthroned King of kings.
Sproul also writes about Christ’s holiness. In the chapter, The Trauma of Holiness, Sproul shows how Christ demonstrates his utter differentness and superiority over everything by calming the ferocious storms. Peter’s response should be the model, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5.8).
My only criticism is Sproul’s insertion of a chapter on Martin Luther. I was jamming along, just drinking up the radiant holiness that this book was warming me with and then…bam….a chapter on Luther. Now, I have nothing against Luther, but, it just seemed a bit unnecessary and out of place. Perhaps others disagree.
Overall, I think the book is a must read. I am catapulting it to the ‘top-ten’ status.