November 12, 2008

Glorifying God

One of the areas of tension that I see in envangelical theology today has to do with the place and role of God's glory in our understanding of God and creation. There are streams of thought, mostly reformed in orientation, that assert God's glory is God's chief purpose in end in all that he does, while there are other streams of thought that speak more freely of God's love and God's orientation toward the other. I admit that even trying to divide the camps like this is an inadequate characture, but hopefully it gives us a place to start.

I'm currently reading Alan Coppedge, The God Who Is Triune, and he has a great perspective on this, which I will quote here:

But is gloryfing God a creation purpose or a result of creation? If gloryfing God is God's own purpose, it would seem to be a self-centered purpose rather than a self-giving purpose. Does God have some innate need to be glorified and constantly have others' attention? Alternatively, if glorifying God is a natural result of God's purpose in creation, its role changes. If glory is a result of what God has done, it leads others to God's purpose for them, and it is therefore an other-oriented factor rather than a self-centered one. From the nature of the triune, self-giving God, it seems that God's glory as a result of creation is preferable. If this is the case, then God does need to be glorified, but as a result of what he has done, not as a chief end in itself. Our shift in perspective comes with a move from seeing God primarily as sovereign King to understanding him as the tripersonal God. (272–73)

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