Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thoughts on Jonathan Edwards

As part of the process of planting a church in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, our core group is working through the letter to the Ephesians. In the first fourteen verses Paul makes abundantly clear what is God's ultimate purpose in salvation: "...the praise of his glorious grace...the praise of his glory...the praise of his glory" (vv. 6,12,14). This presents a bit of a problem, because we are forced here to deal with a God who does all things ultimately for himself, and not ultimately for the objects of his grace. Or to put it another way, we are forced to deal with the God-centeredness of God.

So, to help me grapple with this problem, I turned to the master-theologian, Jonathan Edwards, specifically to his essay, “The End for which God Created the World." You can download a copy of that essay here. What follows in the next couple of posts is some of my rambling thoughts as I process what Edwards is helping me to see.

In Chapter 1, Section 1.4 Edwards writes the following: “The worthiness of others is as nothing to his [God's]; so that to him belongs all possible respect.” Reflecting on this truth, I articulated the matter to myself as follows:

1. Every thing and every being outside of God has a measure of worth.

2. The worth of every thing and being outside of God is derived from God and is thus finite.

3. The collective worth of every thing and being outside of God is as nothing before God because it is derived and finite, whereas God’s own worth is underived and infinite.

4. Therefore, it is absurd to think that God would have as his ultimate and highest end in creation the praise or exaltation of any thing other than himself. It is utter nonsense to think that God, who is of infinite worth, would spend of his worth to exalt that which is, by definition, infinitely less worthy and intrinsically worthless.

5. Since God is infinite in his perfections, he is not and cannot be improved by the praise of his worth among finite beings. Put another way, because God is infinite in his perfections, he is not and cannot be self-centered in the way we are self-centered.

This leads to another series of reflections which I will save for another post.

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