Friday, January 09, 2015

Reason and 'Holiness' (by John Webster)

It has only been eleven years since John Webster's Holiness hit the shelves, but on second-read this week I am compelled to suggest that it deserves to be considered a classic. I have even heard it called a 'magesterial' work on the topic, which is not bad for 116 pages.

Here's an excerpt from chapter one, explaining how 'theology is an aspect of the sanctification of reason':

'Once reason is thought of as "natural" rather than as "created" ... then reason's contingency is set aside, and its sufficiency is exalted in detachment from the divine gift of truth. Or again, when reason is expounded as a natural competency, then it is no longer understood as fallen and in need of reconciliation to God....

A holy theology is responsible to revelation. That is to say, Christian theology is possible only because of the self-communicative character of the holy God of the Christian confession....

Revelation is not to be thought of as the communication of hidden truths, as if in revelation God were lifting the veil on something other than his own self and indicating it to us. Revelation is divine self-presentation; its content is identical with God....

As the holy God's self-presentation in free mercy, revelation is the establishment of saving fellowship. Revelation is purposive. Its end is not simply divine self-display, but the overcoming of human opposition, alienation and pride, and their replacement by knowledge, love and fear of God. In short: revelation is reconciliation.'

- John Webster, Holiness, pages 10-13
(italics are original, bold has been added)

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