This book has three purposes: 1 to identify and examine the major portraits or roles of God in order to understand how they illuminate our knowledge of and relationship to him; 2 to show how these roles connect biblical studies with systematic theology; and 3 to show the centrality of holiness for understanding God's nature. Coppedge also hopes to create fresh dialogue across Christian traditions and show the practical implications of theology.
Coppedge argues that "in using the language of this world to talk about a transcendent God, the best way to describe God in relation to reality is by the use of analogical language using terms that are alike in some ways, but not in all ways " p. Metaphor is the analogical language used to describe God. The personal metaphors used are portraits or roles; they are helpful for understanding God's being, actions, and relationships to humans.
Portraits of God: A Biblical Theology of Holiness | Allan Coppedge | First edition
Eight divine roles are primary: creator, king, personal revealer, priest, judge, Father, redeemer, and shepherd. Each role is described by explicating the theological themes of the triune God Father, Son, and Spirit respectively , man and woman, sin, salvation, atonement, growth, Church, full sanctification, and glorification.
The divine attributes that relate to each role are also introduced. Coppedge argues that holiness is the central and most pervasive concept of God in Scripture. While sovereignty is significant, holiness better unifies the attributes and roles of God. Holiness is ceremonial and moral, with six components of meaning: separation, brilliance, righteousness, love, power, and goodness.
These components correspond to the eight roles separation and brilliance each apply to two, while the other four apply to one role each. Following two introductory chapters, chapters three through ten unpack the roles. The fourth chapter, "Holy God as Sovereign King," provides a good example.
The role of God as sovereign king relates to the concept of holiness as separation and the language figure for the role relates to royalty. God the Father is understood as king over Israel and one who institutes the monarchy in Israel. Terms such as "Lord" and "warrior king" illuminate this metaphor.
Men and women are servants or subjects of the king with Jesus as a model. Sin as act is rebellion and rebelliousness is the state of sin. Salvation is pardon through repentance and faith, and the satisfaction and governmental atonement theories fit here. Growth results from increasing obedience, but salvation can be lost. The Church is the people of God under divine kingship, sometimes referred to as a kingdom or nation. Full sanctification is total submission and entire consecration to Christ's Lordship, and glorification is seen as the eternal heavenly kingdom.
Omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience are the attributes related to the kingly role. Each chapter on the divine roles takes a similar course. The final chapter shows the theological and practical implications of the roles and admirably succeeds in showing how there can be a bridge between biblical studies and systematic theology. Does Coppedge accomplish his three purposes?
Yes, in a very thorough fashion. Written with a distinctive Wesleyan flavor, this book is useful across the Christian tra-. There is clear and nearly exhaustive biblical material here for studying about God, and it is a good starting point for systematic theology.
Though there are some technical terms, this book is accessible to informed laity as well as ministers and scholars. By James Patrick Callahan. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, , pp. Those in position of authority e. The mystical Jesus of Mark. The human response of awe and fear to Jesus assumes and points to the holy character of his enigmatic presence.
What this entails is illustrated when Mark reports what Jesus himself said about his identity. This happens at an important moment in his ministry when he, for the first time, speaks in public about his teaching in parables Mk. Afterwards, 'when he was alone' with his disciples Mk. This spatial remark has a symbolic impact. It suggests that the disciples are privileged insiders.
Portraits of God: A Biblical Theology of Holiness
Jesus confirms their insider status further when he reveals that 'the mystery of the kingdom' is given only to them Mk. With this description the Markan Jesus explicitly speaks about the nature of his ministry: it has to do with divine rule as God's communication with humanity. God reveals in him what has been hidden as the divine passive in Mark indicates. On the surface of things, people may encounter 'Jesus of Nazareth' as the demoniac identifies him in Mark , a carpenter from a local family Mk.
And yet, beneath the surface God is at work in him. This is confirmed in another way when Mark relates that Jesus is revealed in teaching and miraculous works as the Son of God Mk. The hiddenness is revealed to insiders, to those who are alone with him as those who respond to him in faith: They are, as Jesus suggests in the preceding parable, the seeds that fall in good soil and bear a large crop. They hear the word, accept it and bear fruit M. On the deepest level they are made aware through Jesus' revelation that in the person of Jesus, God is present for and among them.
Here an aside remark is needed: Mystical movements like Merkavah mysticism were characterised by the conviction that initiates received divine revelations that were hidden from ordinary people. In terms of the existing worldview in those times, the visionaries travelled through heavenly spheres to ultimately experience the divine, holy presence on the throne Rowland The notion of Jesus as the mystery of the kingdom who is revealed to insiders has a mystical touch to it, even though it differs in significant ways from Merkavah mysticism.
Johnson therefore with good reason related this Markan portrait of Jesus as the awesome, fearful 'mystery' to the dictum about the mysterium tremendum et fascinosum , a major theme in Otto's work on the holy. This resonates in Johnson's remark, 'Jesus himself is the singular "mystery of the kingdom," and he is so as the Holy One' Johnson This is also the context for Johnson's remark that, '[t]he mystery of the holy, even when revealed, remains beyond reach' Mk.
Mark depicts Jesus as a divine figure and mystery of the kingdom, as being beyond human initiative, control and even conceptualisation. One stands before him like Moses before the burning bush. Jesus distinguishes himself as the divine from everything that is outside him and emits an atmosphere of unapproachability Waaijman He can be known to some extent, but never in an exhaustive manner.
The enigmatic Holy One has to be followed in discipleship wherever he leads. Jesus as the 'mystery' is not about secret or unknown matters that can be 'explained' to the disciples like in Mt. Where the mystery inhabits the inner being, one's perspective is transformed.
This is spelled out in Mark , where Jesus discusses purity and 'declares all food pure' Such impure people have an external relationship with the divine determined by outward rules and regulations - as with the religious leaders of the faith community. Mark's thoughts on this are further illustrated in Mark , which also illuminates holiness as a numinous motif. The passage describes how Herod refused to kill John because he 'feared' him as 'a righteous and holy man'. This is then followed by the remark, 'when Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him'.
Mark reveals with this remark how John mirrored the divine presence in his own person and thus offers an example of the holiness that Jesus embodied: he is the one who lives in the presence of God, who is holy and righteous, fearless and powerful, but also different and awesome. In addition, the remark reflects the ethical nature of holiness: To live holy is to be 'righteous', to reject a lifestyle that is impure and to live in absolute devotion to the divine will Mk. Like Herod, one 'listens' to such a holy one but is also repelled, standing back in awe, in fear before his holiness.
And, once again, on a deeper level, the reader of Mark also knows that the holy ones are not spared the fate of Jesus as the Holy One. Holiness is dangerous: it elicits awe, but it can also bring one's death and destruction, as John's ultimate faith reveals. This Jesus of Mark's Gospel as the mystery of the kingdom sheds more light on the nature of the divine-human relationship.
It reveals that this relationship finds its source, origins and initiative in God, who purifies, includes and inhabits despite ignorance, lack of faith and impurity. And yet, though powerful, the divine initiative is not coercive. It comes to humanity in a hidden form to invite. The mystery of the kingdom is to be found in him who teaches the integrity of the other even if the other is unfaithful Mk. Jesus lives in complete respect of the other, allowing them to be. The holy essence of his hidden, mystical nature is that it is frail and vulnerable, open to resistance and vulnerable to a hostility that seeks to eliminate and kill.
However, where there is openness to him, his empowering presence never fails those who follow him. Then the divine grants purity, consecration, intimacy, closeness and reverence. Jesus' unfathomable and terrifying power is about God, who cannot be controlled but who also seeks to establish an inclusive and non-coercive relationship with humanity.
Jesus as the Holy One in Mark. The intricate, yet implicit link of holiness with Jesus is made explicit in Mark's portrayal of Jesus as Son of God. From the very beginning of Mark's Gospel, Jesus is presented as a divine figure. The notion implies a close relationship between Jesus and God that is likened to what exists in a family. It is a notion that confirms the authority of Jesus as the powerful messenger of God, who brings a divine message because of his intimate relationship with God the Father Mk.
This is the framework within which Mark understands holiness, as some examples will illustrate. The notion of holiness is introduced at an early phase in a seminal location 17 in the Gospel 'of the Son of God' Mk. Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God? It is striking that the spirits recognise and name him as the Holy One of God, especially since Mark notes elsewhere that the demons normally responded to him by calling him the Son of God Mk.
These remarks also indicate Jesus' irresistible power over the unholy and impure. As the Holy One he consecrates others to bring them in to the sphere of the holy Waaijman The bystanders are impressed that Jesus ' orders impure spirits and they obey him' Mk. He is, as the Holy One, because of his divine relationship, able to destroy them. The power of Jesus' holiness is also shown by his strict rebuke of the impure spirit to come out of the man Mk.
The violent convulsions of the man and the screaming of the departing spirits further reflect the mortal combat of the divine against the impure spirit. It is a battle through which God seeks the total elimination of evil as impurity. It reveals the all-consuming nature of divine holiness. God as the holy 'purifies and removes all dirt' Waaijman The passage also points towards the mystical nature of Jesus as the Holy One: Mark reveals hidden 'knowledge' about Jesus that differs fundamentally from what the religious leaders claim to know.
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This is also true of another feature in the text: Mark's characterisation of the demoniac indicates to his readers that unlike the bystanders, who are puzzled and ask 'Who is this man? They identify him as 'Jesus of Nazareth' Mk. They recognise in him the hidden, holy presence of God - he is the Holy One of God. The challenge of the impure spirits to Jesus furthermore shows the unbridgeable gap between them and Jesus.
Jesus represents what they are not: in their words, he has nothing to do with them. His holiness also stands out through Mark's reference to the man as being possessed with an impure spirit Mk. Mark thus creates a contrast between Jesus as the Holy One and the demoniac as the impure spirit.
Jesus is associated with the divine sphere of holiness. Holiness and impurity are two opposites, but at the same time he underlines the need for impurity to be eliminated. His Gospel focuses on a particular transformation that is needed: humanity, captive to and contaminated by the unholy, needs to be liberated from impurity and transformed to a holy lifestyle. It thus confirms the encompassing nature of the divine holiness. The Holy One challenges the destructive impact of the impure and restores the man physically and spiritually.
Jesus as the Holy One transforms, brings healing and restores to life. This description of Jesus as the Holy One of God is reminiscent of how holiness is inextricably linked with the divine in both Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Yet this holiness is shared with humanity. Divine holiness is, therefore, contagious - it spills over and affects the people of God: the priest Aaron is called the 'holy one of the Lord' in Psalm and the prophet Elisha a 'holy man of God' according to 2 Kings Neyrey For Mark, Jesus like John the Baptist shares the long history of God's holy people who were graced by the presence of God among them and who were holy because of the divine presence in their midst.
This is also suggested later on when, in Mark , a sick woman is healed after she touches his cloak and power leaves him. Redefining holiness. Pertinent for Mark's Gospel are the social implications of the notion of 'holiness', which have been noted briefly above.
Mark highlights how holiness transforms the human condition and lifestyle in its everyday form. Some remarks illustrate this in more depth. Humanity is, in Mark's conception, reaffirmed as having to live in complete commitment to God as the Holy One. Mark presents Jesus as reaffirming the holiness code of his day with all its outcomes and consequences.
The episode takes place at a time of holiness, that is, the Sabbath 26 as the holy day of rest, in the synagogue 27 in Capernaum as a holy space , which is regarded as holy by many because the law was kept in it. It happens also before a gathering of people who are observant Jews, ritually pure and holy. The activity of Jesus underlines the holiness of the episode: Jesus is busy teaching, taking an active part in worship.
In this way it shows how Jesus legitimises and participates in the religious institutions with their norms and values regarding holiness.
Jesus' actions against the impure man, further indicates his active protection of the holiness code from contamination by the impure. With such an affirmation, Jesus presents himself as totally committed to God and the divine sovereignty and, thus, to God's holiness. This confirmation of the holiness code is underlined in the rest of Mark. Jesus responds to the leper's request that Jesus help him to become clean by healing him from leprosy Mk.
This represents Jesus' call to his disciples to live a holy life and to do so by participating in a sphere characterised by the holiness of God. By doing so, the leper will also be a testimony to his religious leaders that he adheres to requirements for purity Mathew , but it will also indicate his desire to live according to the divine will. To share this article with your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below. Make the Church more beautiful. Sections Home. Prayer Abortion Fatherhood.
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