Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pannenberg on the Purpose of Creation (Contra Piper)

In his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, John Piper writes:

What I am claiming is that the answer to the first question of the Westminster Catechism is the same when asked concerning God as it is when asked concerning man. Question: 'What is the chief end of man?' Answer: 'The chief end of man is to glorify god and enjoy him for ever.' Question: 'What is the chief end of god?' Answer: 'The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever.' (16)
In his book, Don't Waste Your Life, he writes:
Contained in these sentences were the seeds of my future. The driving passion of my life was rooted here. One of the seeds was in the word 'glory'--God's aim in history was to 'fully display his glory.' Another seed was in the word 'delight'--God's aim was that his people 'delight in him with all their heart.' The passion of my life has been to understand and live and teach and preach how these two aims of God relate to each other--indeed, how they are not two but one. (28)
I don't think I am misrepresenting Piper in saying that to him, the chief end of God's work in creation and redemption is his own glory. Perhaps that is the case. But I ran across this in volume 2 of Wolfhart Pannenberg's Systematic Theology:
It is our human destiny and the goal of our existence to glorify God by our lives. Or sin is withholding from God the honor that is due him as Creator (Rom 1:21). Nevertheless, it is rather a difficult thing to maintain that the basis of God's resolve to create the world was that thereby he might glorify himself. Certainly that work that God created redounds to his glory. We may say this at any rate in the light of the eschatological consummation of the world and in believing anticipation of this future of God, which will resolve all doubts concerning theodicy. Every creature should confess, then, that the world was made for God's glory.

Nevertheless, the creature was not created in order that God should receive glory from it. God does not need this, for he is already God in himself from all eternity. He does not need to become God through his action much less become sure of his deity in the mirror of creaturely praise. A God who first and last sought his own glory in his action would be a model for the attitude that in us constitutes the perversion of sin in the for of self-seeking (amor-sui). As the activation and expression of his free love, God's creative action is oriented wholly to creatures. They are both the object and goal of creation. Herein is his glory as Creator, the glory of the Father, who is glorified by the Son and by the Spirit in creatures. (56–57)
Later, Pannenberg talks about the purpose of God's world government (his phrase for the kingdom of God):
World government relates to integrating into God's purposes for the world the actual results of the independent conduct of creature, namely, their failures and the evil that these failures cause. The central theme of the divine world government is God's supremacy over the misuse of creaturely independence. It is here that the idea of world government most clearly goes beyond what we find in the concepts of creation and preservation. World government contradicts the claim made by wickedness and evil that they can oppose God's will as Creator. (58)
The difference in the two views shows itself in theodicy. Why did an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God allow evil to infiltrate his creation? According to the older Reformed view, "Because God is glorified in the redemption process." According to Pannenberg, "Because God is showing that free creatures can exist without opposing his will."

What do you think about that? Is Pannenberg's view different than the Reformed view? Does the Reformed view make God out to be a model of narcissism? Does Pannenberg offer a better solution?

1 comment:

solrev said...

The purpose of creation

A man and a woman shall live as one flush. That can not be true in this space time continuum, the universe, the creation, the dimension of the flush, because two forms of matter can not occupy the same space at the same time. Or can it? In that instance when the sperm of a man enters the egg of a woman they are still separate but our one flush. An instant later the two combine and new flush is created. God is the creator and you are created in that image. What is it that you create? If you say flush that would be true in the dimension of the flush. However, in the dimension of God the soul comes before the flush. Woman should choose wisely the souls that will be created. It is a commandment from God. So let your desire be unto your husband.