God, the wholly other

Reverend Martin Adhikary

27 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

God, the wholly other

The theme of God’s holiness runs throughout the Holy Bible. Holiness of God means that God is transcendent above and entirely separate from all that is there in the entire universe or the created order. He is entirely distinct, marked off or separated from all his creations. He is “the wholly Other,” completely different from every other beings and things or matter. Distinction between God, the Supreme Being is qualitative. The word ‘holiness’ (Hebrew ‘Qodesh’, used at least 262 times in the Old Testament; and the New Testament Greek word is ‘Hagios’, used at least 235 times). He and only he is the sovereign Creator while everything and every other being are his creations. God is Spirit and as such he is holy. God’s aseity, eternality, infinity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immortality, immutability—all express his holiness. These attributes belong to God only. But there are his moral attributes that he shared with man, the image-bearer of God. But sin has marred all these in man. God has his holiness perfectly.  Swiss Theologian Godet observes, “Holiness is that attribute by virtue of which God makes himself the absolute standard of himself.” All of God’s moral attributes are too related to his holiness: his truthfulness, righteousness, his holy wrath, goodness, mercy and justice and grace. His holiness is reflected in and thorugh all his moral perfections.

God is wholly the Other to man and all other creation. But this point of his holiness speaks to us about his being the Other especially in view of human sinfulness that has rendered everything imperfect in our world. God is viewed all over the Bible as surprisingly awesome whose moral purity and goodness is beyond any human comprehension in any age and place. Holiness is intrinsic and essentially primary attribute of God with which God cannot be God. People, place or object or matter, which is separated for the use of or by God, is holy. Noah Webster Dictionary defines holiness as, “The state of being holy; purity or integrity of moral character; freedom from sin; sanctity. Applied to the Supreme Being, holiness denotes perfect purity or integrity of moral character, one of his essential attributes.”

Holiness of God implies the absolute absence of any evil in God. Metaphorically darkness is meant by evil or imperfection or immorality. So we find John saying, metaphorically, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God is always consistent in all his holiness to all what he does. God transcends above all or any moral or ethical imperfections of his creations The Bible declare that . . . the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9: 10).

In the wilderness God appeared to Moses and he said to him, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” This was to emphasis God’s separateness. God reminded people of his holiness in the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Leviticus 11: 44-45 records: “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy . . . ; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” God is spatially as well as qualitatively separate from man, separate in his nature and character and is exclusively perfect. There are two major meanings of God’s holiness: he is entirely distinct and transcendent in essence. His is a case of theological apartheid. As a person God is utterly unique, magnificent and righteous. After God had miraculously led the ancient Hebrews with the leadership of Moses to cross the Red Sea they all sang praises to God (Exodus 15). They said, “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Verse 11). In Hosea’s prophecy God declared, “I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst (Hosea 11:9). God’s name is a holy name (Leviticus 20:3, 22:2, 32 1 Chronicle 16:10, 35; Isaiah 57:15). Psalm says of God: ‘Holy is he’ (99:5).


The writer is a Christian Theology teacher.


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