Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is God narcissistic?

Calvinist, John Piper, explains:The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy displaying and magnifying His glory forever.”

Piper adds:God’s eternal, radical, ultimate commitment to His own self-exaltation permeates Scripture. His aim is to be exalted, glorified, admired, magnified, praised and reverenced is seen to be the ultimate goal of all creation, all providence, and all saving acts.

According to the video, non-Calvinist Christians are “megalomaniacs” if we think that God has done anything for us, or given us the gift of Christ, when in reality, everything that God has done, He has done for Himself, and for His own glory, and we just happen to be the beneficiaries of what God has done for Himself. As an illustration, Calvary is summed up this way: “Even Jesus’ death on the cross was for Him, for His glory, for His name sake. We just happened to be the beneficiaries of it.” Of course, the Calvinist forgot to add: “...if you are one of the secret elect.” That’s raw Calvinism, and the question is whether Calvinistic values align with God’s values.

To investigate, consider 1st Corinthians chapters 1 & 2, which are the values chapters, in which God’s values are contrasted with the world’s values. The Jews valued strength, and any Messiah who would not take on the Romans and rebuild a Jewish empire, was not a Messiah worth having. The Greeks valued the things of the world, and to just live it up, because this is the only world that is, and for anyone to deny himself in this life in favor of an imaginary world to come is just foolish (not knowing that the world was made by hands that are not seen). So the world despises what God values, and the book of Corinthians illustrates Gods usage of what *He* values in order to shame what the world values, that is, by using the weak, poor and humble in order to shame the strong, rich and noble.

Now ask yourself this question: What is the underlying value system of Calvinism and what is the underlying value system of Arminianism?

The Calvinist value-system values sovereignty, power, omnipotence, control, glory, and Calvinists say of the Arminian God that He is “weak,” that He “fails,” that He is “feeble” and “waits in quiet impotence at the door of man’s heart.” In contrast, the Arminian value-system values God’s love, God’s character, God’s mercy and God’s patience. Perhaps Calvinism values those things as well, but only to the extent to effectuate divine self-glorification, in order to flaunt attributes. So it stands to reason that if God despises what the world values, and if Calvinism values some of the very same things (power, control and glory), then it stands to reason that God despises Calvinism. That’s just simple deduction, and the numbers add up to Calvinism being an affront to God.

Footnote: Despite my differences of opinion with Todd Friel's Calvinistic beliefs, I'm thrilled that he is a Christian, and there are many issues in which Calvinists and Arminians enjoy fellowship and agreement. The Calvinist/Arminian controversy does not represent the totality of Christian theology, as there are many things that we can agree on, and stand together in.


drwayman said...

Richard - This concept needs to be expanded. I think you're on to something here.

The God that Arminianism represents seems to be more in line with the characteristics found in I Cor 13 as God is love. Among many of those characteristics, it is obvious that God is not self-serving but looks out for our interests.

Richard Coords said...

Hey Dale,

Thanks for checking out the video. It really threw me, because it seemed like a parody on Christianity. I realize that God loves Himself, but I wouldn't want to use that as a basis to suggest that God doesn't also have a generous and sacrificial love towards desperate, helpless, lost sinners in need. Here is what I took from it:

"For God so loved Himself, that He gave His only begotten Son, that He might be most glorified.

That's how it comes across to me.

Richard Coords said...

To illustrate, in his point #6, that shouldn't have been an either "or" type question, but that both are equally important, and the clip seems to emphasize worship of "The Supreme One," without making any reference to "The Supreme One's" awesome character of sacrificial, generous and long suffering love. It's like God giving only for the purpose of getting something in return. What kind of love is that? Or as Dave Hunt might say, "What Love Is This?"

Richard Coords said...

Sometimes's Calvinists like to say that "Arminians worship free-will," or that Arminians make an "idol" out of free-will, and although free-will is very important (because it is key to a meaningful relationship, and God desires a relationship, and I assume C's agree), it might also be argued that Calvinists make an idol out of omnipotence and "sovereignty." Not all do, of course, as I would never dare to say that of someone like the late D. James Kennedy, who was an outspoken Calvinist. But my point is that sovereignty is no more of a "virtue" than free-will is a virtue. There is nothing "holy" about sovereignty. Tehre is nothing holy about free-will. In fact, the devil could be "sovereign" but that wouldn't make him holy or in any way, worthy and deserving of affection and worship. It is, rather, God's character that makes Him worthy of worship, because His character is filled with virtues that we praise Him for. Calvinists don't agree, and insist like I am missing something.

drwayman said...

Richard - I think the Calvinist might have a better case by using Paul's idea of a man loving himself when he loves his wife. It is clear that Paul is using that analogy in terms of elevating the church so that He can be worshiped.

I know that we husbands are certainly narcissistic so Paul appeals to a mans selfishness to encourage a loving relationship. Nevertheless, I have trouble with a God who is narcissistic and that His love for us is simply a byproduct of His love for Himself.

Richard Coords said...

Deep thoughts. In the reverse of C, the love of Christ for the Church would have the byproduct of also loving Himself, just as a husband loving his wife has the by-product of also loving himself. But notice how Friel seems, IMO, to have it the other way around:

Concerning whether Jesus died for us in particular, Friel says: "Uh uh, even Jesus' death on the cross was for Him. It was for His glory, for His name's sake."

While this seems noble, it actually seems to suck the goodness out of Calvary. In other words, it is noble to do something sacrificial towards another. But what if, in reality, the person who is making the sacrificial gift is actually doing so with an ulterior motive of first benefiting themselves, while only secondarily and tangentially benefiting the receiver, as a by-product only.

If Calvary is only tangentially and coincidentally for us, then compassion did not move God to save us, but rather, self-glorification. Again, Calvinism sucks all goodness out of God. Why? I cannot help but think that the answer to the question of "Why?" is the person who has the most angst against Christ, namely the devil, and hence, the only one with a real motive to want to disparage Christ is the devil, and it would make the most sense is if he was in the back-drop. Old Stinker is somehow involved. That's my guess.

Kyle said...

A first observation is that in the very first sentence you type, Mr. Friel never said anything about non-Calvinist Christians being anything. What he did say was, "...or are we [megalomaniacs]?". This seems to me, since he is including himself, that he is inquiring that we, as a fallen race, are megalomaniacs rather than God, whom the accusation is brought on by unbelievers (such as the neo-atheists).

With regards to being beneficiaries of the cross it is not that the "Calvinists forgot to add:" ...if you are one of the secret elect." which pushes forth the wrong idea that we are all equally deserving of salvation since the bible instead tells us that we are all equally UNdeserving of salvation. Even in the theology of synergism not all are beneficiaries of the cross, only those who possessed something that inclined them to receive it, whether intellect, emotional disposition, or the such. It is in this that we are saved by grace but that of ourselves, which determines why me and not another. The reason it is left out who is the beneficiaries of the salvation is because salvation is of the Lord and we are not to dwell on who is the recipient. The question is not whether calvinistic values align with God's values, or rather how someone interprets God's values, but do calvinistic values line up with how God has revealed himself. We must be wary less we be like those who have said about the scriptures, "there are many things it could, but it cannot say that." and we remain captive to our view of God and confirm the scriptures to that. Let us conform our view of God to the scripture, that which He has revealed of Himself.

I would not agree with your analysis of the "underlying values" of either system of belief, as I do not believe that either position is necessarily held because of trying to uphold value aspects/characteristics of God as much as believing what they believe the bible to be saying. In many aspects we would be wise to listen more so that we not only understand where each other are coming from but also so that we may enrich our view of God in truths that each other may have, rather than recoiling at differences.

It certainly is so that the calvinist emphasizes the sovereignty of God, but only because He is supremely and ultimately sovereign. It could also be said that some possibly emphasize it because they feel that others, namely non-calvinists, under emphasize God's sovereignty, or along the lines of something Edwards said is that there is a difference between believing God is sovereign and believing that God exercises His sovereignty.

It is to the contrary that many non-calvinists emphasize the love of God, aside from the very truth of it, possibly because they feel that it is under emphasized by those who hold the reformed position. Where the calvinists says that the non-calvinists only hold to a semi-sovereign view of God it is also true that the other side may try to say that the calvinist hold to a semi-loving God.

Kyle said...

(...continued from above)

It does seem to me that you have certainly come at this incredulously biased being that you have labeled the values of the calvinists as: sovereignty, power, omnipotence, control, glory while the arminians values are listed as: God’s love, God’s character, God’s mercy and God’s patience. The truth of this twisting of the words comes out when you purport that the calvinists values are the same as the world: power, control, and glory. Should you have sought to not spin things you should have listed the values as God's sovereignty, God's power, God's omnipotence, God's control, God's glory which would have stood in stark contrast of what the world values, but would not have supported your point. There is no truth that the vast majority of calvinistic christians today seek no more power, control, or glory of their own any more than any non-calvinist. Sure you admit that they may value God’s love, God’s character, God’s mercy and God’s patience but you over look the fact that in the reformed position man is recognized for what he is, dead, and is completely at the mercy of God. Should the Lord not be merciful, loving, and patient there would be none who are saved at all. God is loving, but should I stand outside a burning building while my wife burns alive crying to her "just come out honey, it is safe out here" when I have the power in my self that is not only partially loving (as I don't just leave her) but I do nothing which is in my power to save her. God, however, is loving and sovereign as He not only loves, but also saves, not just tries to save, and it is all the more to His glory that of all that the Father gives to the Son, He loses none.

What is truly an affront to God is that although He has clearly revealed Himself to man through the scriptures that some will ignore and reinterpret certain passages to fit how they feel God is. Let us not sit by and merely critique each other but let us go to the word of God and let Him who is above all tell us about Himself, His power, His control, His love, His mercy. May the Lamb which was slain receive the reward of His suffering.

I agree that there is wonderful fellowship among the reformed and the non (however they prefer to be recognized as) and may we join together on the primaries for His cause. Amen and Amen.

Saint Augustine was right said...

As a former Arminian, Amen Brother!!!