Wholly Good, Holy God


  • Terence Cuneo
  • Jada Twedt Strabbing




Mark Murphy dedicates Divine Holiness and Divine Action to answering two questions: What is divine holiness? And why does it matter for understanding divine action? According to Murphy, divine holiness consists in God’s having those features that make it appropriate for creatures to be simultaneously attracted to and repelled by God. This account, in turn, affords a novel framework for understanding divine action, one intended to avoid the pitfalls of alternative approaches emphasizing God’s moral goodness or lovingkindness. In this essay, we express agreement with Murphy’s idea that divine holiness is crucial for understanding divine action. But we find ourselves balking at two significant junctures. First, we contend that Murphy’s characterization of divine holiness requires revision, as appeal to attraction and repulsion doesn’t adequately capture attitudes such as awe and reverence that are central to experiences of the holy. And, second, we argue that the ‘holiness framework’ for divine action fails to accomplish its aims, largely because it rejects the claim that God’s perfect moral goodness and lovingkindness ground God’s holiness. We conclude that theorists should instead embrace a framework for action that integrates God’s perfect moral goodness, lovingkindness, and holiness.