A Jagged Contention: Holiness


“God’s holiness is communicated by his presence, and that presence is given in the divine service. This means that for Luther holiness is not a moral concept, but a liturgical reality, for true holiness comes from the true worship of the Triune God. Thus an object is holy if it is ‘separated from profane use and consecrated for sacred and divine service.’ Christians are holy, because they are separated from ordinary life and hallowed for a life of worship through their faith in Jesus. He is our Holy One, since he alone makes us holy. He therefore is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). We are holy only in him. Through faith in him we belong to God and share in his holiness.”

– John Kleinig, Luther on the Christian’s Participation in God’s Holiness


It is often said that going to church doesn’t make one a Christian.  However, according to Kleinig, it is in the Divine Service (ministry of Word and Sacrament) where God does His work of sanctification upon the Christian. Does Kleinig go too far in removing sanctification from the realm of “morality” and placing it in the Divine Service? How might this view of sanctification be useful in the seemingly endless “justification/sanctification” debates that plague (or at least irritate) the church?

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