Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. This month we’re sharing book notes on Holier Than Thou. Enjoy!
I recently read Jackie Hill Perry’s new book, Holier Than Thou. If you do the same, I recommend keeping a pen or pencil handy. I underlined and dog-eared half the book, I think. (I know that’s causing some of you to cringe—embrace the marginalia. Embrace the well-loved book.)
Jackie is a beautiful writer, as you probably know. Her sentences are well-thought and a delight to read. So I knew I’d like to read this book. More than an enjoyable read, though, Holier Than Thou pointed me to the beauty, wonder, and, yes, holiness of God. As Dr. Charlie Dates says in the foreword: “I read this book and wanted more of God.”
As Jackie put it, “That’s why we’re here: to behold. To set our sights on a higher love.” Holier Than Thou helps to set your sights.
Jackie begins with Scripture, showing how God is holy. It is His very being. The seraphim call Him holy, holy, holy. Jackie writes, “From the beginning with creation, in our redemption and eventual glorification, God’s holiness is revealed.”
After establishing through Scripture that God is holy, Jackie moves onto what this holiness means for us. What does it mean for our Creator God to be holy? What does it look like for us to have a relationship with a holy, holy, holy God? She writes about moral perfection, transcendence, and unholy gods (idols).
Then she turns to the topic of holy justice. She says that gospel presentations—when we share with others how they can become children of God—should start with “Did you know that God is holy?” Only in His holiness can we see our own sin and our own need for a Savior from that sin. She writes, “God cannot be as holy as He claims if He allows the guilty to go free. . . . So then, what did the holy God do to make sure that He could offer us forgiveness while not compromising His own righteousness? . . . God gave His Son, the only One good enough to appease God’s wrath. The innocent One taking on the burdens of the guilty so that when forgiveness was dispensed, God’s righteousness would be upheld.”
I have heard the gospel story many, many times, but this book reminded me of how glorious it is that “The Son was forsaken so that all who are far off may be brought near.” It’s a beautiful thing indeed to behold such a God.
Jackie concludes the book by asking how we, too, can be holy. Spoiler alert: only through the Holy Spirit. We become what we behold. We behold God through His Word, through reading and believing what He says about Himself there.
As believers, we can’t hear this message too much or too often. It is good for us to be reminded of who our God is—He is holy, holy, holy. Reading this book will point you to God and help you to behold Him. In Jackie’s closing words, “Beholding, we become; holy.”
Elizabeth Hyndman reads, writes, and tweets. Officially, she’s a social media strategist at Lifeway. Elizabeth grew up in Nashville, sips chai lattes every chance she can get, and believes everyone should have a “funny picture” pose at the ready.