Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RCT: Holiness of God (chapter 1)

Tim Challies has a program he calls Reading the Classics Together (RCT). Here is how it works - every week read a chapter and post a comment on the blog on Thursday and join the discussion. This go round the classic is the Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. This will be my initial foray into joining the program. I will be reading along with the Kindle edition.

Here is how Tim Challies described the book:

I am convinced that this is destined to be a classic in its own right—one that will be read 50 and 100 years from now. James Montgomery Boice agreed saying, “It may be a bit early to call R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God one of the classic theological works of our time. But if it does not have that status yet, it is well on the way to achieving it.”

Since I am a week behind I will be posting today on chapter 1, and tomorrow (hopefully) on chapter 2.

Sproul lays out his case that the key to a proper understanding of God is the concept of "Holiness". This is foundational (says Sproul) to understanding the God who creates out of nothing, issues decrees we find shocking, and allows a world filled with evil to continue.

The one concept, the central idea I kept meeting in Scripture, was the idea that God is holy. The word was foreign to me. I wasn't sure what it meant. I made the question a matter of diligent and persistent search.  ... It is basic to our whole understanding of God and of Christianity.

An interesting insight from this chapter was made regarding the Lord's Prayer. In Matthew 6:9 (KJV) it reads "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name". Sproul points out that we often take "hallowed be thy name" as a statement of fact. As in Holy is your name. This is true (Luke 1:49) but it is not how the verb "hallow" should be read. It is in the imperative mood (a command) and passive voice therefore God's name is acted upon and is to be set apart and honored.

But that is not how Jesus said it. He uttered it as a petition, as the first petition. We should be praying that God's name be hallowed, that God be regarded as holy.
The NIV, NASB, and ESV all translate the verse similar to the KJV, but the NET Bible translation actually makes this more clear with the following:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored
Do I set apart God' name and honor it? Do I pray that I and others will do this? What does that even mean? Thought provoking questions that leave me convicted that I do not pray for, meditate on or grapple with God's Holiness nearly enough.

1 comment:

Lisa notes... said...

Glad you’ve joined us. And I’m reading the Kindle edition, too. So we will understand each other if we make “location” references instead of page references. Ha.

I also found it interesting how Sproul pulled out “hallowed” from the Lord’s prayer. I hadn’t thought of it in that way before, but now I see what he’s saying. The NET translation does make it clearer; nice find. Your questions bring it all home: how am I responding to God’s holiness? This is going to be a convicting read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.