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(related to Anglo-Saxon hal, “whole, well”). 1. “Holiness is the absolute purity of God, according to which His affections, thoughts, will, and acts are in perfect consistency and harmony with His own nature, and in energetic opposition to everything that is not in conformity therewith” (A. L. Graebner,* Outlines of Doctrinal Theology, par. 36). In OT God is holy and stands utterly above the created world; He is the wholly other, the transcendent God (Ex 3:5; 19:12–13, 20–24). The holy God imparts Himself; He wishes men to share in His divine life within the scope of His judgment and mercy (Dt 7:6; Lv 11:44). His holiness is dynamic, manifested when He executes judgment (Ezek 28:22). The Holy One of Israel is man's Redeemer (Is 43:14). The holiness of the Lord is assoc. with the glory of the Lord and with fire (e.g., Ex 3:2–5; 19:18–22).

2. NT understanding of holiness is built on the OT (1 Ptr 3:15; cf. Ps 99:9). Jesus is called “the Holy One of God” (Mk 1:24). The NT ch. is successor to the OT community of God's holy people (Ex 19:6; 1 Ptr 2:9–10); Christians are called to be saints, holy ones (Ro 1:7; 1 Co 1:2); the vocabulary of holiness appears, e.g., in NT statements regarding the work of the Holy* Spirit and the life and conduct of “the saints” and in references to “holy prophets” (Acts 3:21), “holy apostles” (Eph 3:5), “holy calling” (2 Ti 1:9), “holy scriptures” (Ro 1:2), “holy covenant” (Lk 1:72).

3. In the hist. of theol. the classical view associates God's holiness with His righteousness and law. The theol. of F. D. E. Schleiermacher* and A. Ritschl* reduced the content of the concept of holiness, the former saying that God's holiness in effect was His approval and disapproval of man by His law and man's conscience, the latter suggesting that holiness is of no concern to man. Current theol. is trying to grasp the Biblical idea of holiness. God's love is holy love. Holiness is more than an ethical quality; there is also an ontological aspect (see Ontology). For some this means God's opposition to sin (K. Barth*), for others, God's transcendence (H. E. Brunner*); for others, the Holy One is unapproachable (P. Tillich*).

4. Holiness is joined with love, yet is distinct from it. Holiness creates distance; love conquers distance. The holy God conquers distance. He reveals Himself as both exclusive and inclusive, unapproachable and approachable, transcendent and condescending.

R. K. Asting, Die Heiligkeit im Urchristum (Göttingen, 1930); R. Otto, The Idea of the Holy, tr. J. W. Harvey, 2d ed. (London, 1950); S. C. Neill, Christian Holiness (New York, 1960); O. R. Jones, The Concept of Holiness (New York, 1961). LDH

See also Stockmayer, Otto.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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