11 June 2010

Edwards on Why Seeing God Would Kill Us

From a sermon on James 1:17--
God is arrayed with an infinite brightness, a brightness that doesn't create pain as the light of the sun pains the eyes to behold it, but rather fills with excess of joy and delight. Indeed, no man can see God and live, because the sight of such glory would overpower nature, . . . 'tis because the joy and pleasure in beholding would be too strong for a frail nature.
According to Edwards, it isn't God's holiness that would incinerate us. It's the joy that would erupt within us that we can't handle.


--Jonathan Edwards, 'That God is the Father of Lights,' in The Blessing of God: Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 346


Andrew said...


What do you make of the perceptibility of the divine glory in the Old Testament, the fact that the divine glory is visible (e.g. John 12:41)?

Dane Ortlund said...

Hi Drew. My brother Eric would be a much better guide here, esp. as his doctoral work related to OT theophany. But in brief I'd say there's seeing God and then there's seeing God. The way in which we will see him as glorified perfected beings is something we can't handle in our current condition, and this is what JE's reflecting on. (The kindness of God, though, in letting us see his glory in the face of Jesus in the meantime! 2 Cor 4:4f)