God glorifies mankind

I once had a discussion with a conservative Calvinist pastor, at Starbucks where great ideas proliferate, and I made the point that God glorifies man. He was taken aback. We were discussing the “young, restless, and reformed” movement, and I was claiming that there was a serious deficiency in its one-sided exaltation of God, a God who exits for himself, whereas the gospel is about a God who has chosen to exist for man. That didn’t compute with this pastor. He was tutored in John Piper’s view of God as, in the words of Halden Doerge, “a self-directed center of power whose ‘glory’ consisted of simply asserting and imposing his own supremacy and domination.”

So, I was pleased to come across this bit from Karl Barth, in his commentary on Calvin’s catechism:

We must stress — even if it seems “dangerous” — that the glory of God and the glory of man, although different, actually coincide. There is no other glory of God (this is a free decision of His will) than that which comes about in man’s existence. And there is no other glory of man than that which he may and can have in glorying God. Likewise, God’s beatitude coincides with man’s happiness. Man’s happiness is to make God’s beatitude appear in his life, and God’s beatitude consists in giving Himself to man in the form of human happiness.

The Faith of the Church, p. 26

Re-read that last line: “God’s beatitude consists in giving Himself to man in the form of human happiness.” This is an ontological claim — that’s who God is! Amen.


    • And thereby all mankind.

      Immediately after these sentences, Barth makes the point that this blessedness of man is entirely the work and will of God — and no theologian did more to mediate our knowledge of God through the Mediator, Jesus Christ.

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