Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
Holy Is His Name
The Transforming Power of God's Holiness in Scripture
by Scott Hahn
Emmaus Road Publishing
This is a much needed book for our times. As orthodox Catholics, we ought to be concerned about the current crises in the Church. But that is not the point of why we are Catholic. Being Catholic is all about becoming holy.
And that is the resounding message of this book, the latest work by the great Catholic apologist Scott Hahn.
We pilgrims can get distracted, says the author, by various things: money, power, pleasure and honour, for example. They are surely the reasons that have led to the current crisis in the Church. They apply to our leaders. But they also apply to us.
In the Old Testament, says Hahn, we are constantly reminded that God is holy. So are the things set apart for worshipping God. But no human being is described as holy, not even Moses. But when it comes to the New Testament, countless people are referred to as holy. Each and everyone of us is told to become holy. So what changed? The short answer is: God became man so that we can participate in the very life of God. But this is only achieved by an act of divine favour, by grace. Both Catholics and Protestants agree that we can never make the first step. God alone can do this. The Protestant error is to believe that the justified are only cloaked by grace, they can never be transformed by grace. In contrast, both Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe that we are really transformed by grace.
We do not deserve this. We are completely dependant on God for our holiness.
The sacraments are an essential means for us to become holy. They are God's gifts freely given to us. We for our part are utterly unworthy of these gifts. The more holy we become, the more we realise how unworthy we are of the gift of salvation.
The Old Testament, says Hahn, is a story in search of an ending. It is fulfilled in the person of Christ. Hahn makes a good case for Christ being the only means of salvation. That is why we need to evangelise the world, beginning with ourselves.
What Scott Han gives us in this book is a solid biblical understanding of what it means to be holy.