I picked up a new book yesterday after getting off of work for the weekend. I'm still reading St. Augustine's The City of God but that is going to be a long-term project. The book I picked up yesterday was written by a man for whom I have gained ever-increasing respect over the past few years. The man is R.C. Sproul and the book is The Holiness of God.
Also over the past few years I've become more and more convinced that it is God's holiness which is His attribute most frequently distorted or forgotten in our modern context among Christians from many different churches and denominations. It is this forgetfulness about God's holiness which leads to people rejecting certain stories of the Old Testament which they find unsettling, such as the conquest of Canaan under Joshua or the death of Uzzah as he reached out to steady the Ark of the Covenant. In my opinion, the New Testament presents even greater problems for those who distort or forget God's holiness. This is because when God's holiness is down-played or distorted there is no way to understand the cross while being faithful to Scripture. There is no way that Isaiah 53 can be affirmed as a prophecy concerning the crucifixion of our Lord, much less the words of St. Paul who wrote that Christ saved us from God's wrath in Romans 5:9. Without a proper understanding of God's holiness one can make no sense of the wrath of God which is frequently mentioned in Scripture. It would make no sense that in the saving of sinners that Christ was "crushed for our iniquities," and that upon Him, "was the chastisement that brought us peace (Isaiah 53:5)," much less that, "it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Isaiah 53:10)."
I respect R.C. Sproul for a number of reasons, most importantly for his obvious love of the Lord, but also because he strikes me as a very intelligent man and because he seems to be well-read in Church History. I was very impressed that in the first chapter of The Holiness of God, Sproul interacts a lot with the writings of St. Augustine and even cites Augustine's writings as something which first caused him to be intrigued by the holiness of God. Sproul begins his third chapter with an amazing quote from St. Augustine touching on the holiness of God which I will conclude with:
What is that which gleams through me
and smites my heart without wounding it?
I am both a-shudder and aglow.
A-shudder, in so far as I am unlike it,
aglow in so far as I am like it.
- St. Augustine