Holiness is the attribute most emphatically ascribed to God in Scripture, but there has been little attention devoted to characterizing and considering the entailments of divine holiness. In Divine Holiness and Divine Action, Mark C. Murphy defends an account of holiness indebted to Rudolf Otto's description of the experience of the holy as that of a mysterium tremendum et fascinans. God's being holy consists in God's being someone with whom intimate union is both extremely desirable for us and yet something for which we--and indeed any limited beings--are unfit. This notion of divine holiness is useful for addressing disputed theological questions regarding divine action. In contrast to standard accounts of divine action that begin with assumptions regarding God's moral perfection or God's maximal love, the appeal to divine holiness supports a rival framework for explaining and predicting divine action--the holiness framework--according to which God is motivated to act in ways that are a response to God's own value by keeping distance from that which is deficient, defective, or in any way limited in goodness. This study exhibits the fruitfulness of a reorientation from the morality and love frameworks to the holiness framework by showing how such a reorientation suggests distinct approaches to perennial problems of divine action regarding creation, incarnation, atonement, and salvation. From the treatment of these perennial problems, a general theme regarding divine action emerges: that God's interaction with the world exhibits a radical sort of humility.
Murphy's book is packed with rich and deep argumentation of both the philosophical and theological variety * Jordan Wessling, Scottish Journal of Theology * Murphy often gracefully extricates the reader from abstraction, usually in thoughtful or humorous ways, while never losing his erudite edge, by asking them to consider relatable, concrete examples of the human experience, from lost friendships to a particularly unfunny joke. The serious reader will be challenged, but rewarded, with a thought - provoking and well - researched foray into what it means to define holiness and observe the actions of said holiness. * Larissa Rosendale, Reading Religion * With analytical clarity, rigor, charitable engagement and commitment to stress-testing his philosophical proposals, Murphy has made a signal contribution in reasserting the centrality of divine holiness on the philosophical agenda and shifting the grounds in various theological debates. * Derek Rishmawy, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, International Journal of Systematic Theology * Mark Murphy's latest book is at once a challenge and a gift to theologians who want to think well about the holiness of God ... The result is a formidable and important book, one that deserves both a wide readership and careful theological engagement. * Thomas H. McCall, Trinity Journal * Divine Holiness and Divine Action is rich in insight, closely-reasoned, well-informed, and well-argued. * Thomas H. McCall, Asbury Theological Seminary, Trinity Journal *