Tuesday 14 May 2013

Who was the holiest man who ever lived?


(Specifically man - not woman: that seems too obvious. And man only, excluding Jesus.)

Is there a traditional consensus answer to this question among those in a position to know? If so, I haven't heard it.

There would seem to be three fairly clear candidates: St John the Baptist, who Jesus described as the holiest man to have lived up to that point; St John the Apostle (and - I assume - author of the Gospel, Epistles and Revelation), and St Paul.

Of these, I do not know, but I would guess that perhaps St John the Apostle was the holiest man who ever lived, the man who achieved the highest degree of theosis: most fully, deeply and constantly communed with God.



Wm Jas said...

How about Enoch and Elijah, who reportedly ascended to heaven without tasting death?

JP said...

Gandhi? Martin Luther King Jr? Nelson Mandela? Obama? Che Guevara?

So many possibilities just among the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners alone!

(just kidding)

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - Yes, it's a valid suggestion.

AJP - heh.

Bruce Charlton said...

Of course, the underlying purpose of this post is not really to identify the number one, but to refelct on the nature and meanings of holiness.

Jacqueline said...

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

J. B. said...

Dante placed John the Baptist in the highest throne of the mystic rose, after Mary.

That is good preliminary evidence for what the medievals thought.

The Crow said...

I wonder what 'holiest' means.
If it means dispensing with any notion of what things are, and of what a person is, and even of what 'God' is, to the point of simple acceptance of life as the unlikely and miraculous gift that it is, then Lao Tzu was the holiest man of which I am aware.
Although he, himself, would probably have been greatly amused at the very notion.

The Crow said...

On the other hand, since this is a Christian blog:
Although you have relegated Jesus to the N/A category, I would beg to differ about this.
Jesus was a man, see? Just a man, like you, like me. He discovered what he was, beyond simply being a man. And set about trying to convey that to everyone else, who, unable to grasp what he was talking about, because he insisted on speaking in parables, (because parables are the only possible way of speaking of such things), decided - at best - that He was the one-and-only-Son-of-God, thus wrecking the message, and the religion that was to follow.

We are all sons-of-God, potentially, but in reality, since so few of us know what that means, remain simply men, circling around in confusion, believing this, and having faith in that.
So, although Lao Tzu doesn't really count here, any more than Jesus does, my vote goes for Jesus, who was a mighty fine character, in my eyes. And the holiest of holy men, as far as most Westerners can see.

Bruce B. said...

Zecharias and Elizabeth were a very Holy couple:

“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all of the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

josh said...

I should think that the holiest person who ever lived would have had to have been baptized with the holy spirit (or else immaculately conceived).

Bruce Charlton said...

@josh - Sorry, I don't get it - who do you have in mind?

josh said...

I would think that the HPWEL would have been baptized, thus receiving the gifts of the holy spirit and being cleansed of original sin. This would narrow it down to after Christ.

If this did not matter, I think we would be talking about the most just man who ever lived, or the most philosophical/least hypocritical, or some other worldly concept.