Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Love of God or Glory of God: Which is Greater?

If it is true that God only does that which glorifies himself, and for no other reason than to glorify himself, then how can we say that God purposes love for humanity?

If it is true that the hypothetical necessity of the atonement is true (as opposed to the absolute necessity), then the atonement springs not from the love of God, but from his desire to glorify himself only.

If it is true that God only does that which glorifies himself, then we cannot say that his love motivates him, but only his desire to glorify himself.  If we couple this idea of self-glorification with a one-sided, low view of mankind as a worthless sinner, as opposed to being a sinner in deserved judgment of God as well as  one made in the image of God and therefore having value and worth--true worth born out of the dignity of being made in his image--then how do we suggest to people that God loves by virtue of the fact that they have worth?

The absolute necessity of the atonement arises out of the perfections of God's nature, and shows the value of mankind in that "without the shedding of blood, their is no remission of sins" (Hebrews 9:22).   Because of who God is, there must be the shedding of blood in order to forgive sins, the penalty of which is death.  But why blood?  Why not just...death?  Death by drowning, death by stoning, death by old age, death by disease, by falling headlong and fracturing the skull, by poisonous arrow or sting or bite.  Why the blood of Jesus shed in on the graphic Roman scourge and the piercing, blood-letting nails of the cross, and the crown of thorn, oozing out his life?

I'm not sure.  I suspect it has something to do with the serious, graphic insult of what sin is--a contradiction to the holiness of God.  It is an awful contradiction and virus that must be destroyed with the most vehement disgust.  Perhaps that is what God thinks of sin.  His wrath burns against it.  But his love is the fount and spring from which his desire to forgive flows....

When the Apostle John wrote, "God is love," (1 John 4:16) he predicated the love of God to an essential aspect of God's nature.  If it is true that "in him we live and move and have our being," as Paul quotes the Cretan poet Epidmenides (c. 600 BC), then we must argue that it is the love of God, not the glory of God which is greater, especially in the realm of human experience.  "God is love."  It does not say "God is glory."  It does say God is holy.  Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!  (Revelation 4:8; cf. Isaiah 6:3).  We know that God is glorified when his children worship and obey him and when they do his will in loving God, neighbor, animal and earth, but to do so only comes from the sovereign power of God which springs from his love toward mankind in order to create a new humanity rooted in the death, resurrection and coming of Jesus Christ.

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