Wednesday, September 27, 2017

God's glory

Here's some additional observations I made in the comment thread to this post:

i) "Doing things for his own glory" sounds as if God has something to gain. However, God is the benefactor, not the beneficiary. In a way, God's actions are sacrificial. Not that he has anything intrinsic to lose, but he acts for the good of the elect.

ii) And, yes, from what I've read, Piper seems to treat all human relationships as temporary disposable bridges. If so, that fails to appreciate human nature, and how God generally blesses us through created media.

Those passages are typically in contrast to pagan idolatry. And of course, "glory", "my name", &c. is synonym for God's unique deeds in creation, redemption, and judgment. There's no comparison in the creaturely realm, much less the nonentities of pagan pantheons.

Consider these two propositions:

i) The good Samaritan gets credit for rescuing a child from drowning

ii) The good Samaritan rescued the child from drowning in order to take credit for his action

There's a difference between doing something admirable and doing something to be admired. In the case of (i), that's one consequence of the action whereas in the case of (ii), that's the primary purpose and motivation.

There's an anthropomorphic element to some of these texts. Take the famous negotiations between Moses and Yahweh (e.g. Exod 32:11-14; Num 14:13-16; Deut 9) where Yahweh is depicted as very jealous for his honor and reputation, so Moses manipulates Yahweh's imagine-conscious vainglory to dissuade him from destroying the ungrateful Israelites. What would the Gentiles say?

So this involves a hermeneutical and theological issue. On the one hand, an open theist like Boyd would take that at face-value while a classical theist will say that's anthropomorphic. An example of divine accommodation where God casts himself in a very human role, to make himself relatable to his people, but if we think about it more deeply, from what we know about God's revealed attributes, does God's self-esteem depend on human opinion? Is God really like a member of a street gang who flies into a rage when he's disrespected?

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