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The Creature Perspective

I haven’t posted in a while.  Life has twists and turns and they take their impact on what can be accomplished in a day’s time.  Tonight I am going to post some thoughts that I have had about the inability of humans to understand the concept of God’s holiness.  I am not in bad company with my struggles to comprehend what that looks like.  RC Sproul and AW Tozer are two men that I have turned to in  my attempts to get a better grip of that concept and they have wrestled with that concept as well.

As creatures created by the Creator, we are left with but one perspective – that of fallible flesh grasping after the infallible.

We are used to describing things.  I would say that it is a God-given call since He asked man (Adam) to name the animals.  We naturally label things – we name them.  The problem with our present abilities with describing things is that we contextualize our perceptions of the thing being described.  Let me give you an example.

Imagine that you are walking down the street and you see a little girl eating an ice cream cone.  A big, purple smile is painting her face as she eats the raspberry chip flavored delight that is in her hand.

It would be easy to describe the girl as being happy and that the happiness is a direct consequence of the ice cream.  In the back of our mind, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine what would happen if the girl were to drop her ice cream on the ground. For the sake of the rest of my explanation on contextualization, let’s assume that we know the girl’s name is Susie.

Based on my hypothetical situation, I can propose the following issues with the human ability to understand God’s holiness.

  • Qualify:  We look for reasons why situations exist.  With the Susie, we qualified her happiness by the presence of ice cream.
  • Quantify: We expect that there are varying degrees to the state of things.  Susie seemed to be extremely happy with the raspberry chip flavor, but would she have been as happy with vanilla?
  • Transitional: We don’t expect things to stay the way they are.  We understand that when the ice cream is gone, whether by accident or by consumption, that Susie’s happiness will dissipate.  In the chance that it is an accidental loss, her transitional state may be extreme.
  • Meaningless Labels: We accept and expect that some labels are non-descriptive.  The girl’s name is Susie – a label that does not describe her.  Its just a mechanism by which we can separate her from the girl next door.

No wonder it can be so hard to get our minds around the thought of God’s holiness… especially when it transcends our ability to contextualize.

God is holy. Period.  His holiness does not have to be qualified.  We don’t have to seek a reason behind His holiness.

His holiness doesn’t ramp up or down based on circumstances.  It is an eternal, absolute state.

He cannot transition from holiness to some other aspect.  In His love, He is holy.  In His anger, He is holy.  In His compassion, He is holy.  And in His judgment, He is holy.

Finally, his holiness is not a meaningless label.  We can’t limit Him by thinking of His holiness as a way to separate Him from the unholy gods.  The most accepted definition of holy is Set Apart.  And, He IS.

As I have studied this concept, I looked to the bible for insight and Exodus chapter 3 has lead me to believe that understanding the holiness of God is impossible without experiencing it.  Read about Moses’ encounter with God through the burning bush and really look into what happens in those first 6 verses.  Moses was 80 years old and well acquainted with the concepts of religion and God. but look for yourself at how he responded in verse 6 to the holiness of God.

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  1. August 5, 2009 at 5:41 am

    Tony – as an ‘outsider’ i see a major problem that a LOT of ‘religion’ seems to have concerning God’s ‘Holiness’.

    It is encapsulated in your words (belief?): “The most accepted definition of holy is Set Apart. And, He IS.”

    God is ‘set apart’?

    From What? or from Whom?

    Outside of some religious belief the most commonly accepted definition of Holy and holiness is: ‘Whole’, Complete; Totality.

    Or as the Online Etymology Dictionary puts it: ”
    Primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not impossible to determine, but it was probably “that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated,” and connected with O.E. hal (see health) and O.H.G. heil “health, happiness, good luck” (source of the Ger. salutation heil)”

    Some religions seem to want to think in merely human fashion and define a creation as something ‘separate’ to the Creator – the Creator exists independently of and from His Creation. Because we cannot create something out of ourselves – solely out of our own ‘body’ that remains in our body.

    Holy then becomes more relating to the Creator and less about the creation (or creature).

    I do not believe this is being true to GOD’S understanding of what being Holy is… i believe God created creation out of HIMSELF – all Creation comes from and IS Him! is IN Him.

    Then everything that is becomes both God and Holy – a Whole – a single combined entity and thing.

    It becomes impossible to be transgressed or violated since everything is of Him there is nothing ‘else’, Nothing that is not, and does not come from, Him.

    He is nothing and everything at one and the same time.

    All we are as humans is a small ‘localised’ perspective of finite abilities and content, made from His Infinite Being.

    God cannot ever ‘change’ (from being it ALL) but He can continue to create and expand His Creation into ‘new’ forms should he desire it.

    We may expand our limited understandings also – we do not have to remain ‘fixed’ in our understandings. The ‘larger’ we can expand our awareness the closer to Him we become.

    The Wholier we become.

    We do not become ‘Holy’ by being separate or set apart.

    Only in the sense that when we separate the sense of ‘self’ from something ‘separate’ to the rest of Creation and instead choose to see ourself as a part of God and God’s Creation – just like all the other ‘parts’ of the Body.

    When we can truly see ourself as a living part of Him – doing His Will over our own – can we become Holy and worthy of a place in ‘heaven’.

    Then we will not be Set Apart, but Set – a Part of God. 🙂

    <B

  2. August 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    B:

    2 quick things.

    Yes, the entomology of the English word holy can mean Whole or Well and I think those are applicable when speaking of God. The Greek and Hebrew words, though, are better translated as being set apart or a ‘cut above the rest’ as one writer tried to explain it.

    I may misunderstand you, but it reads as if you are making a case that creation is part of God. Correct me if I am wrong. I will withhold comments until I better understand the position you have on that regard.

  3. August 6, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Tony. there is a problem when a person from one culture, who speaks one language tries to ‘interpret’ a word from another culture/time/language structure.

    It becomes very hard for us to completely put ourselves into the mindset of the people who used the word we are attempting to translate so as to fully understand what was being said in the way THEY rather than we understand it.

    Since we share a common language ( to a reasonable degree) 😉 and a sort of similar culture we are able to come to large agreement with the words we frequently use today – such as ‘Holy’. the similarity to the word ‘whole’ is relatively easy for us to accept.

    As for what words were used in Greek or Hebrew and what the people who used them actually meant is up for considerably greater conjecture – a ‘looser’ interpretation, i think.

    As for ‘Creation’: i said what i said largely to counter an apparent (to me) bias amongst many practitioners of religion, and particularly of Christianity, that tries to suggest to it’s followers that human kind is somehow separated from God totally – with the singular exception of Jesus Christ.

    My own personal view, based upon all evidence and not just that in the Bible and considering logical implications from what the Bible states and implies, is that God exists to some degree within every living (and non-living) thing – and also throughout all that is not yet kown by us to exist.

    The things that are ‘not of God’ to me means the perspective we humans can take that falsely believes we are ‘separated’ from God by reason of our own limited finite intelligence, that is able to observe the ‘rest’ of the Universe as something ‘outside of it’ and not as something we are an integral part of.

    And can also ‘see’ God as being an entity that, just like us, is separate to any other entity.

    Everything that exists that we ‘know’ of exists because of Him – as i see it. Therefore in some ‘measure’ he is IN everything that exists – which to most people would be ‘Creation’.

    I don’t know how ‘deep’ you want to go but ALL ‘mass’ that we humans think we understand as being ‘solid’ making up all of Creation is actually nothing but very ‘desnely packed’ energy and energy is simply the movement of a waveform of particular wavelength and frequency. Something had to be the cause of that frequency and movement that initiated each wavelength and it’s respective velocity.

    … And the Spirit of God moved across the face of the Deep (Waters) … causing ‘waves’.

    <B

  4. August 10, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    His holiness doesn’t ramp up or down based on circumstances. It is an eternal, absolute state.

    i very much like this sentence. He does not shift or change.

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