Friday, 29 July 2011

Reeves on glorifying God

As part of this talk, the second of a three-part series on the love of God, Mike Reeves explains what it means to talk about God’s glory.

Christians use this sort of language a lot, I find.  People talk about ‘glorifying God’ and wanting to ‘bring glory to him’ in what they do.  That sort of language is used a lot, and quite often I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that.  I know we all sort of nod along and say ‘Yes, yes, we want to glorify God’, but what do we mean by that, exactly?  Is it pious blather?  Well, it is if you don’t understand it, anyway.  And so I’m not sure what people do mean, quite often.  Usually, and especially when we’re in thinking of God as a law-giver mode, we tend to associate glory with ‘power’ words, words like ‘fame’ and ‘honour’, as if that’s what God is really interested in.  Now, when that happens, when you think that’s what glory is, then God’s concern for his glory – which is a biblical theme – does start sounding rather selfish.  What is God concerned with?  ‘His own power and status’.

Well, what is glory, biblically?  That’s what I want us to see now.  Well, the word ‘glory’ literally means ‘heaviness’ or ‘weight’ – which is something I love because it means I’m more glorious than you.  The glory of something is its mass, its substance, its bulk, its essence, it’s what makes it up, it’s its main thing.  So God’s glory, then, is his essence, what he’s most essentially like, what he is.  Which means that glorifying God is not about bigging him up, because you can’t!  Glorifying God: when you give God the glory, you simply ascribe to God what is already his.  In other words, you proclaim and make known and declare him to be as he truly is, in all his beauty.  That is to glorify him.

He then cites the following passages that talk about God’s glory in terms of brilliant light:
Ezekiel 1:28
Ezekiel 10:4
Ezekiel 43:2
Isaiah 60:1-2
Luke 2:8
Revelation 21:23

So, the glory of God is like light shining out, and that is what God in his innermost being is like.  He is a sun of light, warmth, life, always shining out.  In other words, in his innermost being God is, beautifully, love.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Grudem on the role of maturity in understanding the Bible

In a recent, helpful and accessible article on the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture, Wayne Grudem writes the following under the heading ‘Scripture affirms that it is able to be understood but not all at once’:

A useful analogy, then, might be to picture the clarity of Scripture as a journey to a distant mountain that we see clearly from afar but see in more detail—and understand more of what we see—as we journey toward the mountain over many months and years. We can see it from the beginning of our Christian lives, and we truly see and understand something about it, but a lifetime of seeking deeper understanding will be repaid with a lifetime of growth in knowledge and wisdom.

We might even imagine various signs on the mountain. Some, like “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31), are written in huge font that can be seen from a great distance. Other signs become visible shortly after the journey has begun, and teach us to trust God and obey him daily. Yet other signs appear in small font, not visible at first, and when we come close enough to read them, they announce topics such as “predestination” and “millennium” and “the future of Israel” and “preaching to the spirits in prison” and “the relationship between God and evil.”

And even when we can read those topics on the signs, we find that a partial explanation is in yet smaller print, and a fuller explanation is in tiny print. And then at the end of that tiny print we find statements that say, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Rom 9:20). “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29). “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:2–4). And then we say with Job, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4–5).

HT: Robert Slowley, a.k.a. RobHu, whose blog I’m sad to see has been deleted.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The upcoming WLC tour

William Lane Craig will be coming to the UK this October for a speaking and debating tour.  The last time he was here I went to one of the debates.  The programme for the upcoming tour can be seen here.  Looking at it, the Bethinking conference looks particularly interesting.  I don’t think I’ll be going to any of the debates, mainly because I’m all debated out.  I can think of at least one person who will definitely want to, though, if only to have something to write about!.

Two people whom Craig apparently won’t be debating are A.C. Grayling and Richard Dawkins, both of whom have written aggressive anti-God books in the last five yeas and both of whom come off the worse for refusing to debate Craig and defend their arguments.  Reading their feeble excuses for not taking part, I am reminded of what Quentin Smith has written about what justification there is for ‘the typical attitude of the contemporary naturalist’:

If each naturalist who does not specialize in the philosophy of religion (i.e., over ninety-nine percent of naturalists) were locked in a room with theists who do specialize in the philosophy of religion, and if the ensuing debates were refereed by a naturalist who had a specialization in the philosophy of religion, the naturalist referee could at most hope the outcome would be that “no definite conclusion can be drawn regarding the rationality of faith,” although I expect the most probable outcome is that the naturalist, wanting to be a fair and objective referee, would have to conclude that the theists definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate.

That was certainly my experience of the Craig/Wolpert debate.  For what Craig himself thinks about the whole thing, go here.