Is Glory God’s Only Goal?
Thank you, Christopher Morgan on your delightful posting… My favorite part, “Certainly, as he acts, he displays himself; and as he displays himself, he glorifies himself. But we must not say that God acts for his glory without simultaneously stressing that God acts out of his love, goodness, faithfulness—out of who he is.”
… Has the glory of God become a cliché among the young, restless, Reformed crowd? The vocabulary of glory is on the rise, but certain misunderstandings and imbalances linger. Will “the glory of God” become a cliché, much like “the love of God” to the previous generation, which too often reduced love to sentimentality?
While there is a healthy resurgence in teaching that glory is God’s ultimate end, many inadvertently equate God’s ultimate end with God’s comprehensive motivation (Edwards and Piper do not make this mistake, but many who read them do). As a result, we rarely hear that God often acts with multiple ends in mind.
Take the exodus, for instance. Why did God redeem his people from slavery in Egypt? One might quickly reply, “For his glory.” Certainly God redeems his people from slavery to glorify himself. But the book of Exodus presents God’s reasons for deliverance in a multifaceted way:
- Concern for his oppressed people (3-4)
- Faithfulness to the covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (3:15; 4:5; 6:8; 32:13; 34:6; cf. Deut. 7:6-10)
- That Israel would serve the Lord (4:23; 6:5; etc.)
- That you should know I am the LORD (6:7; 10:2; 13:1f)
- To give the promised land (6:8)
- That the Egyptians will know I am the LORD (7:5; 14:3-4; 14:15-18)
- That Pharaoh will know the LORD as incomparable (7:17; 8:10-18)
- To display his power (9:16)
- That his name might be proclaimed in all the earth (9:16)
- To pass down a heritage to the children (10:1-2)
- That his wonders might be multiplied (11:9)
- To get glory over Pharaoh and his army (14:3-18)
- For Israel’s sake (18:8)
So God delivered his people for a variety of reasons, not merely one. The incomparable God acts out of love, holiness, goodness, faithfulness, and jealousy. This is critical to notice because if we equate God’s ultimate end with God’s comprehensive motivation, we end up subsuming his attributes under his glory. But God acts according to who he is. He loves because he is loving. He acts rightly because he is righteousness. Certainly, as he acts, he displays himself; and as he displays himself, he glorifies himself. But we must not say that God acts for his glory without simultaneously stressing that God acts out of his love, goodness, faithfulness—out of who he is.
Note also that God delivers his people for his glory, for their good, for judgment on Egypt, and for the continuance of his covenant people. Recognizing and stressing these multiple ends does not detract from an emphasis on God’s glory but actually underlines it. Indeed, in the exodus, God displays his love, covenant faithfulness, jealously, providence, and power through his wonders, salvation, and judgment, in which he manifests himself and thus glorifies himself.