God’s Zeal for His Own Glory

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the Christian blogosphere lately about “God’s essential moral character.” Dr. Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament Theology at Asbury Theological Seminary, is apparently dismayed that biblical scholars like Dr. Tom Schreiner and Dr. John Piper support and advance what he considers a narcissistic theory that God is zealous for His own glory.

In Dr. Piper’s response to Dr. Witherington he makes a most profound statement: “God’s exaltation of his own glory is not narcissistic but loving, because it directs our attention away from ourselves to the one glorious reality that can satisfy our souls forever.”

Dr. Piper closes by suggesing some additional resources, one of which is an excellent article he has written and posted at Desiring God in which he details the biblical texts that clearly demonstrate God’s zeal for His own glory. The following is a short excerpt from that document:

Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly as Isaiah 48:9-11 where God says,

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”

I have found that for many people these words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world:

For my name’s sake!
For the sake of my praise!
For my own sake!
For my own sake!
How should my name be profaned!
My glory I will not give to another!

What this text hammers home to us is the centrality of God in his own affections. The most passionate heart for the glorification of God is God’s heart. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name.

Awesome Quote Alert: “these words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world.” I love Dr. Piper’s passionate and biblical defense of the Gospel.

Update: Timmy Brister has posted an excellent review of this discussion at his site.