God’s Holiness….the idea of separateness

The writers of the Old Testament used the word holy over eight hundred times.[1] In the Old Testament, the word group most often referenced to the word holy or holiness is the verb קָדַשׁ, (qadash) to be holy, removed from common use.[2] The standard interpretation of this verb is the idea of separation. This concept has developed over a period of many hundreds, if not, thousands of years. A thorough understanding of this concept is paramount in determining the original intent of the Old Testament authors.

A use frequency in excess of eight hundred provides a broad range of usage and entails numerous nuances. The most common similarities are the idea of separation. The full spectrum includes separation of evil from good, common to a holy use, and the foundational nature of holiness.[3] Because of the importance of this term a survey of its many uses and forms will follow.

The verb qādaš, found eleven times in the Old Testament, in the Qal connotes the state of that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred.[4] When the verb occurs in the Piel and Hiphil stems, it represents the activity used to set apart a person or object from common to sacred use. One use of the Piel stem is when God set apart the Sabbath for his purposes (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 31:13).[5] The Hiphil stem occurs when God commands the Israelites to set apart the firstborn of the men and the animals (Numbers 8:17). These two uses of the verb קָדַשׁ, illustrate the action that separates a person or object from common use to sacred use.

This Qadash word group also have several other forms that will further assist in understanding the idea of holy as proposed by the Old Testament writers. One cognate word is מִקְדָּשׁ (sanctuary), found 74 times in the Old Testament and is used to refer to the tabernacle and the temple, both being places set apart for worship.

Second, the term קָדוֹשׁ (holy) occurs 116 times in the Old Testament and designates that which is intrinsically sacred or is part of the sacred by a divine act.[6] This form of the verb exists in connection with people, things, and even water (Deuteronomy 14:2; Exodus 29:31; Numbers 5:17). When this form appears in connection with God, it projects the significance of a divine scale. Isaiah used this form in his title, The Holy One of Israel. Isaiah used this term twenty-five times and contrasted the evil of Israel to the moral perfection of God and God’s separation from sin (Isaiah 17:7; 30:11). Isaiah also used this in his vision of the throne of God to speak of God’s transcendence and moral holiness.[7] Louis Berkhof refers to God’s transcendent holiness as his majesty-holiness and describes this as God’s absolute distinction from all His creatures.[8]

A second aspect when קָדוֹשׁ exists in the Hebrew text with reference to God, refers to his transcendence, and moral purity. Isaiah’s reaction to his vision properly reflects both the transcendence and purity of God. Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

The final form is the noun קֹדֶשׁ, (holiness) found over four hundred times in the Old Testament. Once again, the idea of separation appears. This separation occurs in reference to the Sabbath and the separation of this holy day from the other days of the week (Exodus 16:23-26; Isaiah 58:13-14). McCabe states, “Whatever the holy God set apart as קֹדֶשׁ is separated from everyday use and consecrated for his holy purpose.”[9]

[1] Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, eds., Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, vol. 2, trans. Mark D. Biddle (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), p. 1107.

[2] Robert V. McCabe, “The Old Testament Foundation for Separation” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 7 (2002): p. 5.

[3] John Randolph Jaeggli, “A Historical-Theological Analysis of the Holy One of Israel in Isaiah Forty through Sixty-Six” (Ph.D. dissertation, Bob Jones University, 1987), pp. 40–41.

[4] Thomas E. McComiskey, “1990 קָדַשׁ,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), p. 786.

[5] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is from the English Standard Version Bible (Crossway Bibles, Copyright © 2001, 2007, 2008).

[6] McComiskey, p. 786.

[7] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2002), p. 28.

[8] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), p. 73; see also Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), p. 311.

[9] McCabe, p. 9.

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God’s Holiness Reviewed

The twenty-first century church speaks of God’s attribute of love with a high degree of frequency. A person can hardly go a single day without someone, either within the church or outside the church, speaking of or relating to God’s love. Some theologians consider love to be an essential attribute of God.[1] Reminders exist in both print and from the pulpits of this time in history how Christians are to remember the biblical commands to love God, love each other, and love their enemies. Unbelievers and liberal leaning Christians use the reality of God’s command to love as part of their methodology in an attempt to advance their agendas.

God does not have just one attribute. Even though one does not hear of them with the frequency of God’s love, God has many different characteristics. God’s attributes include omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, immutability, goodness, simplicity, and holiness to mention only a few. Jonathan Edwards considered God’s holiness one of his most dear attributes:

The holiness of God has always appeared to me the most lovely of all His attributes. The doctrines of God’s absolute sovereignty, and free grace, in showing mercy to whom he would show mercy; and man’s absolute dependence on the operation of God’s Holy Spirit, have very much appeared to me as sweet and glorious doctrines.[2]

The Old Testament often spoke of God’s attribute of holiness. Rarely does an article appear concerning God’s holiness, and even less does one hear a sermon coming from the pulpits of the twenty-first century church on God’s holiness. Augustus Hopkins Strong insisted, “Not all God’s acts are acts of love, but all are acts of holiness.”[3] This author proposes the question, “What does one mean when they speak of God’s holiness and is God holy since people rarely talk about it?”

[1] Millard Erikson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), p. 305.

[2] Jonathan Edwards, “Personal Narrative,” in Letters and Personal Writings, ed. George S. Glaghorn, vol. 16 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998), p. 793.

[3] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), p. 275.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 250 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Putting God on trial…

The twenty-first century church speaks of God’s attribute of love with a high degree of frequency. In fact, a person can hardly go a single day without someone, either within the church or outside the church, speaking of or relating to God’s love. Some theologians consider love to be the most important attribute of God. Reminders exist in both print and from the pulpits of this time in history how Christians are to remember the biblical commands to love God, love each other, and love their enemies. Unbelievers and liberal leaning Christians use the reality of God’s command to love as part of their methodology in an attempt to advance their agendas.

God does not have just one attribute. Even though one does not hear of them with the frequency of God’s love, God has many different attributes. God’s attributes include omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, immutability, goodness, simplicity, and holiness to mention only a few.

The Old Testament spoke often of God’s attribute of holiness. Rarely does an article appear concerning God’s holiness, and even less does one hear of a sermon coming from the pulpits of the twenty-first century church on God’s holiness. This author proposes the question, “What does one mean when they speak of God’s holiness and is God holy since people rarely speak of it?”

This author proposes to put God on trial. The evidence presented methodically and succinctly will seek to determine what is meant by the phrase, “God is holy.” Secondly, the evidence will seek to determine if God is holy. The methodology will look at three aspects, God’s character, God’s actions, and God’s requirements.

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Is there a place for holiness in the 21st Century church?

I read in a post on Huffingtonpost.com, which stated, “God is a loving God and therefore would not object to two people, who truly love each other, regardless of their sex, getting married.” Another author stated, “Because God is a loving God there can be no place of eternal punishment.” Both these statements point overwhelmingly to the attribute of love. It would be untenable to state the Bible does not illuminate humans to the idea that God loves us. God loves us first because he created us. He could just as easily not created us. Secondly, God loves us because he sent his Son to be our savior. The incarnation speaks volumes to the idea that God loves us. Anyone who has ever contemplated the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, must admit only someone who loves would ever have committed themselves to such a future. Finally, God loves us because he is so patient with us.

It would be unnatural to think that we as humans have many different aspects but God has only one…love. In thirteen locations in the Bible God states, “Be holy because I am holy.” The apostle John stated in his  first epistle, “God is love.” This is stated only one chapter in the entire Scriptures. If we are willing to accept this, being stated only once in the Scriptures, should we not be willing to accept “God is holy” also (stated thirteen times in the Scriptures)?

Someone once stated, “God’s attributes is like a bundle of sticks with the string holding them together being God’s holiness.” Albert Mohler believes God’s holiness is comprised of everything that God is. Rudolf Otto believes God’s holiness is so far above our ability to reason it is inconceivable. What is God’s holiness? I think we must consider God’s sinlessness as an intricate part of his holiness. The simple definition of holiness is separateness. God is totally separated from sin. But if God is truly sinless does that not also require him to be just? If someone is unjust we as humans would consider him to be imperfect. If God is sinless then isn’t he also perfect and if he is perfect then must he also be just?

God is just. If God is just should he not punish those who bring acts of sin into his presence? I believe the church of the 21st Century does not want to talk about God’s justice because then they would have to consider the punishment aspect of God. The 21st Century church has embraced the PC methodology to the point where they don’t want to say anything that might make someone feel uncomfortable. Should it not be better to make someone feel uncomfortable for a short while in this life than they be uncomfortable for all eternity?

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Inerrancy Part 6-Bibliography

For those who would like to do research on their own.

Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance eds. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010.

Beale, G. K. “A Surrejoinder to Peter Enns’s Response To G. K. Beale’s JETS Review Article Of His Book, Inspiration And Incarnation.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 11 (2007).

Bird, Michael F. and James Crossley. How Did Christianity Begin? A Believer and Non-believer Examine the Evidence. London: SPCK; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008.

Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

_______. Can We Still Believe the Bible: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2014.

Bokedal, Tomas. The Formation and Significance of the Christian Biblical Canon: A Study in Text, Ritual and Interpretation. London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2014.

Borg, M. Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus. New York: Edwin Mellen, 1984.

Cowan, Stephen B. and Terry L. Wilder. In Defense of the Bible. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2013.

Dockery, David S. “The Life and Legacy of Herschel H. Hobbs (1907-1995).” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7 (2003).

Frendo, Anthony J. Pre-Exilic Israel, the Hebrew Bible, and Archaeology: Integrating Text and Artefact. London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011.

Geisler, Norman L., ed. Inerrancy. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1980.

________. Biblical Errancy: An Analysis of Its Philosophical Roots. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1981.

________. Dr. Geisler’s Writings on the Licona Controversy. <http://www. normangeisler.net/articles/Bible/Inspiration-Inerrancy/Licona/default.htm>

________. “Evangelism in a Post Modern World.” Faith and Mission 21 (2003).

________. “Orthodoxy and Divine Simplicity.” Christian Apologetics Journal 3 (2004).

________. “Religious Pluralism: A Christian Response.” Christian Apologetics Journal 4 (2005).

________. “A Critical Review of the Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.” Christian Apologetics Journal 5 (2006).

________. “An Evaluation of McGowan’s View on the Inspiration of Scripture.” Bibliotheca Sacra 167 (2010).

Geisler, Norman L. and Thomas A. Howe. “A Post Modern View of Scripture.” Christian Apologetics Journal 7 (2008).

Geisler, Norman L. and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy: Affirming Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Grisanti, Michael A. “Inspiration, Inerrancy, and the OT Canon: The Place of Textual Updating in an Inerrant View of Scripture.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44 (2001).

Grudem, Wayne. “Do We Act as if We Really Believe that, ‘The Bible Alone, and the Bible in its Entirety, is the Word of God Written?’” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43 (2000).

Grudem, Wayne, C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner eds. Understand Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishing, 2012.

Helm, Paul. “B. B. Warfield’s Path to Inerrancy: An Attempt to Correct Some Serious Misunderstandings.” Westminster Theological Journal 72 (2010).

Holding, J. P. and Nick Peters. Defining Inerrancy: Affirming a Defensible Faith for a New Generation. Orlando, FL: Tekton Apologetics Ministries, 2014.

Korets, Russell. “Is the Bible Trustworthy,” <http://russellkorets.com/2013 /04/12/is-the-bible-trustworthy-on-the-validity-of-the-holy-scriptures/>

Krentz, Edgar. The Historical-Critical Method. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1975.

Lamb, William. Scripture: A Guide for the Perplexed. Guides for the Perplexed. New Delhi; London; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003.

Linneman, Eta. Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? Robert Yarbrough trans. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1990.

Maier, Gerhard. The End of the Historical-Critical Method. Edwin W. Leverenz and Rudolph F. Norden trans. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001.

McDonald, Lee Martin. The Origin of the Bible: A Guide for the Perplexed. London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011.

McDowell, Josh and Dave Sterrett. Is the Bible True … Really? Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2011.

McGowan, A. T. B. The Divine Authenticity of the Bible: Retrieving an Evangelical Heritage. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

Merrick, J. and Stephen M. Garrett, eds. Five Views on Inerrancy. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2013.

Mohler, Albert. The Devil is in the Details: Biblical Inerrancy and the Licona Controversy. <www.albertmohler.com>.

Murray, John. “Systematic Theology-I.” Westminster Theological Journal 25 (1962).

Paddison, Angus, and Neil Messer, ed. The Bible: Culture, Community, Society. London; New York; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Porter, Stanley E. How We Got the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Rodríguez, Rafael. Oral Tradition and the New Testament: A Guide for the Perplexed. Guides for the Perplexed. London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2014.

Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.

Smith, Barry D. “The Historical-Critical Method, Jesus Research, and the Christian Scholar.” Trinity Journal 15 (1994).

Sproul, R. C. Can I Trust the Bible? Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2009.

Stewart, Robert B. The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Chicago, IL: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1978.

Webster, John. The Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason. London; New York: T&T Clark, 2012.

Wellum, Stephen J. “The Importance of the Nature of Divine Sovereignty for Our View of Scripture.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 4 (2000).

_______. “Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984): Lessons from his Thought and Life.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 6 (2002).

_______. “Editorial: Past, Present, and Future.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 9 (2005).

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Inerrancy 5-Conclusion

Inerrancy is a topic this new theological generation is open to debating. Do not ignore the tradition of inerrancy in the name of debate. There is a rich heritage forged by the lives of many in the name of defending the inerrancy of God’s Word. Geisler points to some of the problems of the debate within the new generation, “However, a new generation has arisen that knows not Lindsell, Henry, Archer, Schaeffer, Gerstner, Nicole, or Boice— all of whom have passed on to their reward— and once again inerrancy is being challenged.”[1]

As there is an orthodox heritage found in inerrancy, a parallel progressive movement attempts to subvert the doctrine of inerrancy. There were several scholars of the seventeenth century that were laying the groundwork for Historical Criticism. Historical Criticism is a methodology that seeks to discover the meaning of the Bible through studies in history, linguistics, and multiple scientific areas. It seems to be innocent enough, but a review of its presuppositions reveals a very different motive. Linneman documented many of these presuppositions: rejection of divine inspiration, rejection of the Bible as a divinely written book, the insistent belief the Bible is like any other book of antiquity, and the Bible not being a source of truth.[2] The goal of historical criticism is to show the Bible to be a document that should not be part of the twenty-first century.

There is another point of view by many. The Bible is a divinely inspired book that not only is trustworthy and reliable, but should be a part of mankind’s life. Geisler points to many reasons to support this, but his a priori logic is simple but succinct: (1) God is perfect, (2) God inspired the Bible, and (3) God’s word is error free.

In a point of summary, in 1978 the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) listed nineteen articles detailing the definition of inerrancy. Since that time CSBI has defined inerrancy. This author listed those nineteen articles along with some reflections on each. Second, a review considered those prominent individuals and their positions who reject the doctrine of inerrancy. Third, a summary of those who have determined to defend inerrancy and the trustworthiness of the Bible, completed.

The limits of the inerrancy debate, as seen in the USA, is not the opinion of the global church. Many scholars in the United Kingdom do not see inerrancy as an all-encompassing issue. Bird believes one can be a faithful Christian and not be an inerrantist. He prefers to think of the infallibility and authority of the Scriptures. He also pointed out all the many organizations that do not include inerrancy in their foundational statements and still can move forward and conduct ministry.

In conclusion, the Bible is the most attested book of all mankind from the sheer weight of all the manuscripts available and the work of textual-critics. With over 20,000 manuscripts, many in the field believe the Greek New Testament is as close to the original as is possible. Second, the questions that do still exist affect no major doctrine of the Bible. As stated in the CSBI, the inspiration of God applies only to the original autographs. Believing the current Bible is as close as possible to the original autographs it is logical, reasonable, and defendable to declare the Bible is inerrant.

[1] Geisler, Defending Inerrancy, p. 15.

[2] Linneman, pp. 83-103.

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