Question for Evangelicals/protestants

You know, dcana, I’m kind of getting the feeling that you’re not terribly interested in really trying to hear what people are saying, but more into thumping people and going off into a lengthy post that wouldn’t be necessary if you actually heard what was being said.

Who besides you here has said anything about piles of dung?

Dcana, I didn’t say poem, I said poema. IIRC, etymology geek that I am, “perfect” does mean “thoroughly made” in English through Romance languages, and the Greek word for perfect in “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” has to do with teleosis—maturing into/growing into/meeting one’s end.

I’m not familiar with it. I certainly hope not. Well, it might be a nice song and all and express good sentiments. Songs are not theological treatises. But, in looking at what is actually says, I’d say it doesn’t get a good grade for its theology. Does God not share His divine Life with us? Is He not holy? Then so are we made holy. Pray tell, what else would sharing in the divine life mean? Nothing really?

Why does Paul often refer to his audiences as “saints” if “only God is holy”? A saint is, by definition, someone who is holy.

Where does it say we share in the divine Life? See below. Peter actually says we are “partakers of the divine nature”! Wow! That’s actually quite amazing if you think about it. What a generous giver is our God!

[2] Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
[3] According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
[4] Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

  • 2 Peter 1

God bless

Which is a more appropriate “partaker of the divine nature”

A “pile of dung”


“God’s holy temple, which [we] are”


The Bible says we are “God’s holy temple”. It does not say we are a “pile of dung”.

Yes, we are made partakers of the divine nature, and that is incredible! But we are not “beside” Him–at His level–so in comparison we are dust; and we are also partakers of the divine nature by His great mercy. We are both. We are not “Perfect in power, in love and purity”–next to Him, we are weak, frequently selfish creatures full of mixed and tangled motives. And we are also capable of reflecting His love and purity–both again. Sometimes, in talking about ourselves and our human race, we emphasize one quality over the other at a given time, but both are there in the background conversation among Evangelicals, if you’re listening to the whole conversation, Dcana, not just seizing upon a single sound bite and repeating it over and over, as if that’s all we’re saying.

Here’s the whole hymn:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity

Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee
Which wert and art and evermore shall be

Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love and purity

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity

Again, who is thumping on about piles of dung here but you, dcana?

That’s right, just me.

The original questions was:

"Why do evangelicals describe people as “godly” instead of saying that they are ‘holy’ or ‘saintly’?

It seems to me that people are averse to saying ‘holy,’ and I really don’t get it."

dronald’s answer was:

"That’s an interesting question, thanks for asking it.

I think Holy is left out because we believe that God is holy and don’t want that as an attribute to a living human being, as we’re not holy by definition. Although, some of our works could be considered holy I suppose?

I think Saintly is left out because it’s just not a common phrase in English. I don’t know if there’s any Religious reason that Evangelicals don’t call people ‘saintly’. I think it’s just not a common term, so it’s not commonly used; that’s probably about it.

I think that godly is used because Christians want to emulate Christ as closely as possible. I think when someone says someone is godly they are speaking of the works of the person, and not the person themselves. Evangelicals are usually pretty afraid at offending God by making anything or anyone else out to be a ‘god’ in any way. It makes us all uncomfortable. So I think saying a person is ‘godly’ is saying that their works emulate that of Christ. Christ is God, therefore feeding the poor is a ‘godly’ thing to do.

This is sort of speculation on my part though based on my experience. Again I insist that Evangelicals are really careful not to make any person/thing out to be God or a god. We even worry that we may make a concept our god, like lust, power or pride.

Hope that helps a bit"

He explicitly denied that people can be holy.

So I wanted to investigate if people actually become holy, and if, therefore, we can call them “holy”. It seems like an important question. Then I asked him specifically:

“Do you believe that people actually become holy, and therefore it’s perfectly appropriate and logical to call them holy, since they are holy, or not?”

He replied:

"Well no, I don’t consider myself Holy. I don’t know if I can make a judgement call in who else is Holy. I know that God is, and all who have been sanctified are; but it’s hard to say for sure if someone else ‘is’ Holy.

Do you consider yourself by definition ‘Holy’? I strive to be, but again I cannot say I am. I am a sinner and I am in desperate need of my God."

He seems to have changed his mind, or rethought the question, which is good. To quote:

first he said:
“I think Holy is left out because we believe that God is holy and don’t want that as an attribute to a living human being, as we’re not holy by definition

then he said:
“I know that God is, and all who have been sanctified are

Wonderful! So we agree.

May I ask you the same question?

If so,

Do you believe that people actually become holy, and therefore it’s perfectly appropriate and logical to call them holy, since they are holy, or not?

Thank you

I really don’t see how you can say that Martin Luther has nothing to do with the question. It’s a fundamental difference in Protestant and Catholic theology on justification. His ideas are why we are having this conversation in the first place.

As I said:

“[In the Protestant idea of justification] we are not actually justified, but remain a “pile of dung” with Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. Catholics believe that when we are justified, we become justified, not ‘declared to be so’, by the action of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”

Am I misrepresenting his theology? If so, how? How is that not germane to the question? That is the question. Do we remain a “pile of dung” (to quote Martin Luther) or do we not?

No one said that we’re “beside” Him, as in “equal”. That’s not the question. He’s God; we’re not. But immediately before the song says “there is none beside Thee” it says, “Only Thou art holy”, which I contend is false, basing myself on Scripture, about which the Lutheran Formula of Concord has this to say:

“The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine” (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). “We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged” (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 3). This is the spirit in which our great Lutheran Confessions speak. Everything we need to believe and do as Christians is told us in the Scriptures. Just as our Lord Jesus was a man of one Book and drew all His teaching from that one divine source and submitted Himself to it utterly in all He said and did, so we too who are His disciples today place ourselves joyfully under that prophetic and apostolic Word. And with our Lutheran Confessions we say: "No human being’s writings dare be put on a par with it, but … everything must be subjected to it" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9).

So I quoted some Scripture regarding the question.

God bless (and good night, apparently!) :slight_smile:

I should head that way myself.

It is part of the question, that “there is none beside Him”. "Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. --Rev. 15:4; that’s the sense in which the hymn says that there is none holy beside Him. It’s a matter of taking something said in its context, rather than just hearing part of a conversation and butting in as if you understood the whole of the conversation. Yes, only God is holy (lofty, mysterious, exalted, inspiring of wonder and awe, beyond human comprehension). And yes, people, places, objects, art, music, etc can all be holy by being set apart for use by the only One who essentially possesses the original kind of holiness. Both are true.

Holiness, which may be a state of even utensils, is not in itself a case of being “partakers of the divine nature”. That’s godliness.

No dcana, I haven’t changed my position.

So you yourself are Holy by definition? And I can make that judgement about you. I can say “The poster ‘dcana’ is holy.”

I could also say that about Abidewithme, or any other poster or anyone in my Church or anyone in your Church? I can know, and say that they/we are all holy. Correct?

And you can definitely do the same for others and yourself?

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