I have to admit that I really did not know who RC Sproul was when I picked up this book. Honestly, I still have not looked into him more than just a brief wikipedia entry. I thought he was one of those classic Christian writers that was no longer with us. I obviously have not listened to his daily radio program and while he is 71, he is still a pastor in Florida. He is a bit younger than my grandparents.
I picked up the Holiness of God while it was on sale (for less than $2) because it is part of a book discussion over at Tim Challies’ blog. Challies is one of the young Calvinists that is causing me to spend some time looking into Reformed theology a bit closer.
This book is very readable. Sproul is not at all stuffy in his presentation of the Holiness of God. He compares the Holiness of God to the terror we feel at horror movies at one point. And while he clearly skirts around a while (it is not until the fourth chapter that he first attempts a definition of what he means by holiness), he is not meandering, instead he is trying to carefully build on his argument.
It is writing and presentations like this that make me want to pay more attention to Reformed Theology. I find myself agreeing when I am listening but disagreeing when I think about it later. Not everything by any means. The vast majority of this book I think is very good. But the section on mercy and justice is unsatisfying for me. He turns it into a discussion about why we are all deserving of justice, but some are given mercy, so we should rejoice. I get that, but does not help on why some receive mercy and some do not. We all complain when we see some (usually rich, famous or powerful) getting mercy in the justice system while others (usually poor, minority and not powerful) receive justice. We know that for justice to mean anything it has to be just. If only he had said, “some seem to receive mercy and some do not, and I do not know why.” I would be satisfied. I am OK with admitting we do not know something about God. My problem is when we claim to know something and that something is so unsatisfying that I get frustrated. I do agree with his end point there, that if it comes from God it cannot be injustice, it can only be mercy or justice.
In general I appreciate the book and I am learning from it. But there is just a slight offness to it that seems like it is almost right, but not quite. I know that will label me as not Reformed. I am not. But I do appreciate many of the contributions that Reformed theology has brought, especially lately to the church.
I am linking below to some of the discussion from Tim Challies’ blog:
- Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God (challies.com)
- Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God (II) (challies.com)
- Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God (III) (challies.com)