God’s Glory Or the Gospel?

November 13, 2015

by Dr. Adam Harwood

** This article was originally posted by Dr. Adam Harwood on his website www.adamharwood.com and is used by permission.

Dr. Adam Harwood is: Associate Professor of Theology (occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology), Director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry, and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

Learn more about Dr. Harwood HERE
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Recently, I attended a missionary-appointment service. I was encouraged to see young people sent out by churches with the goal of getting the gospel to unreached people. These new missionaries are leaving jobs, churches, and family to invest their lives in another culture so that people can hear about Jesus. I rejoice for these workers God has raised up for the harvest (Matt 9:38).

However, I am concerned about the language used during the event about being sent “to declare God’s glory.” This was the theme of the event, and it was repeated in the printed literature, testimonies, and the sermon. The phrase was lifted from Psalm 96:3, which states: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (ESV).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary summarizes the message of Psalm 96 in this sentence: “In this psalm about the reign of the Lord, the psalmist called on people everywhere and all the elements of nature to praise God because He is greater than all pagan gods and because He will reign in righteousness and truth.”

To declare God’s glory is to talk about His greatness. God is great, and He is more than worthy of all praise and glory. The Scriptures mention God’s glory (here and elsewhere) as well as the command for believers to glorify God in their body (1 Corinthians 6:20). I affirm the call for people to declare God’s glory. However, the aim of Christian missions should be clear. Christian missionaries should declare the gospel; to only declare God’s glory would be an inadequate message because only the message of the cross is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Which message has the power to save, the message of the cross or the message that God is glorious? Consider some of Paul’s comments on the matter:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

People are saved when they respond in repentance and faith to the message of the cross, or the gospel–not when they hear that God is glorious.

An objection might be raised that I am creating a false dilemma. Scripture mentions declaring both God’s glory (Psalm 96:3) and the message of the cross (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

In reply to that objection: True. But only believers can call to God and glorify Him, as described in Psalm 96. Also, no biblical text states that people are saved because God’s glory is declared. In contrast, the Bible identifies clearly the message which sinners must hear in order to be saved: the message of the gospel.

It is understandable, though not excusable, that some believers might confuse the concept of God’s glory with the gospel. But it is mystifying that a Christian mission organization would send out its missionaries with instructions to declare something other than the gospel.

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Rick Patrick

Adam,

Thank you for your insight into this subtle but important distinction. You have described a form of “mission creep,” which is simply defined as “a gradual shift in objectives.”

What might be the source for these two slightly different goals for the nations? Why are we so confused about whether our chief goal is to “preach the gospel” or “declare God’s glory?” One possible answer is that the Westminster Catechism used to indoctrinate young Calvinists emphasizes God’s glory as our greatest purpose.

“What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to GLORIFY GOD and to enjoy Him forever.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, CAPS mine)

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and PREACH THE GOSPEL to every creature.” (Mark 16:15, CAPS mine)

Whether or not we emphasize GLORIFYING GOD or PREACHING THE GOSPEL depends on our understanding of our chief end, aim or purpose. It seems to me that Presbyterians have one answer to this question while Baptists have another.

Lydia

I really really hate to say this but Islam declares God’s (Allahs) Greatness.That is the focus. Our message concerning Jesus Christ is so different.

Les Prouty

Adam and Rick,

Do you see that what was being emphasized at the missions conference was an either or message? i.e. do you think that this theme to “to declare God’s glory” was/is being put forth instead of declaring the gospel? or could it be that the message was/is inclusive of declaring the gospel?

Thanks,

SDG!

    Rick Patrick

    Les,
    I cannot speak for Dr. Harwood, obviously, but for my own part, I do not think that the intention of the missions conference planners was to put forth anything other than the sharing of the gospel as the purpose for sending missionaries. However, I do think that, by inadvertently choosing a theme that promotes “declare God’s glory” rather than “declare God’s gospel,” we have taken our eyes off the ball and are failing to keep the missionary imperative paramount. I believe Dr. Harwood’s heart in this matter is to offer a helpful word of correction—one that I feel is definitely needed.

    Steven

    I tend to agree with Les’ point. I don’t think that you can fully glorify God the father without proclaiming the gospel. I think that this is essentially what Jesus said when he prayed in his High Priestly Prayer in John 17. There, Jesus says that the greatest display of the glory of God is in the cross and punishment of the Son for the sake of sinners. If I, as a Christian, hope to and intend on glorifying God, the ultimate way in which I do so is through the proclamation of Jesus crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended.

    I believe (and I hope that the belief is not naive) that both our missionaries and those commissioning them know all of this. Given their knowledge of how to glorify God supremely – that is through the proclamation of the gospel – I think that a theme of declaring God’s glory is an appropriate message for a missionary commissioning service.

    I don’t perceive this as being two different aims but rather a single aim with a single means. The aim is to glorify God. We do that by proclaiming the “gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” 1 Timothy 1:11.

    Les Prouty

    Rick,

    Thanks for your response. I hope with all of you that there is no shift happening where the proclamation of the gospel is diminished at all. I seriously doubt it is happening. In fact, I’m listening to that Sunday commissioning right now to see (hear) for myself. In the very first few sentences of acknowledgements and thanks, he says that FBCNO is one church that is making it possible for the missionaries sitting there that morning to make the gospel (he didn’t say “glory”)known around the world.

    i.e. seems to me there isn’t really anything to worry about.

    God bless,

    SDG!

      Scott Shaver

      Maybe nothing “to worry about”.

      Certainly something to watch and be aware of as a harbinger to the current template of missions redefinition.

      Les Prouty

      Yep. Nothing to worry about and given the clarity of the mission outlined in Platt’s sermon, there’s no redefinition of missions and so no harbinger. Nothing to see here as the quotes of the sermon demonstrate.

      SDG!

        Scott Shaver

        Good to know Les that you’ve declared there’s nothing to worrry about with the IMB.

        Your assurance ought to loosen the purse strings back up immediately and the gifts should come pouring back in at three-fold their former level. Thank you for graciously setting the natural order back into balance. LOL.

        Lydia

        “Yep. Nothing to worry about and given the clarity of the mission outlined in Platt’s sermon, there’s no redefinition of missions and so no harbinger. Nothing to see here as the quotes of the sermon demonstrate.”

        Unless you are a career missionary over 50. Let us all pretend it never happened. Nothing to see here. Move on. So what if good people were thrown to the curb. The young inexperienced in foreign missions YRR celeb knows best and has a “vision”. Your declarations must work in your bubble.

          CAman

          NO, not one worker has been thrown to the curb.

        Les Prouty

        “Good to know Les that you’ve declared there’s nothing to worrry about with the IMB.” Happy to help.

        “Your assurance ought to loosen the purse strings back up immediately and the gifts should come pouring back in at three-fold their former level. Thank you for graciously setting the natural order back into balance.” Again, happy to help.

        Les Prouty

        “Unless you are a career missionary over 50. Let us all pretend it never happened. Nothing to see here. Move on. So what if good people were thrown to the curb.”

        Except they weren’t kicked to the curb. You should read up and get the facts.

        “The young inexperienced in foreign missions YRR celeb knows best and has a “vision”. Your declarations must work in your bubble.”

        First, I don’t live in a bubble. And he along with the board are quite capable and they do have a vision. That sermon (see the quotes above) expresses the vision quite well. Or tell us where the sermon is off base.

        SDG!

    Les Prouty

    Well I’ve never heard a sermon by Platt before today. I went to NOFBC site and listened in entirety to the sermon. Wow! Southern Baptists, everyone of you, should be thankful to God that He has blessed you with a missions leader like Platt. His sermon was fantastic and God exalting and challenging and convicting. I made a few notes, pretty verbatim.

    His text was Genesis 1:26. “He alone is glorious. He wants all the nations to know that the greatest news in all the world is how God has chosen to exalt Himself. How has God chosen to exalt Himself? God’s chosen to exalt Himself by saving sinners like you and me. God’s chosen to exalt Himself by sending His son to pay the price for our sins. And rise from the dead in victory over sin that we might know Him and in knowing Him to enjoy Him and in enjoying Him to exalt Him. That’s the beauty of the gospel.”

    He then gives an invitation for people in his hearing that morning to come to Christ. An invitation everyone of you would be pleased with I think.

    More. On Prayer. “You have an opportunity from your knees to be part of spreading the glory of God among the nations by pleading for people’s hearts to come to Christ. For people to be reached with the gospel.”

    On Giving. “Why has God put us in one of the wealthiest nations on the earth? …Why have we been given so much?…We’ve been given wealth…for the spread of God’s worship in the world. So we might give (I think he said) so that people can go and take the gospel…so that people around the world can hear the gospel for the first time.”

    On Going. “…to other cultures to spread the gospel.”

    Bottom line, with this kind of leadership at the helm, I can see no reason to be concerned in a shift away from a “proclamation of the gospel” emphasis. And for edification, give that sermon a listen.

    SDG!

      Lydia

      It is always wise to watch what people do not just what they say. The handling of the Godfather retirement deal and his “dangerous” undisclosed location on the mission field from the Marriott in Dubai is any indicator, I am not hopeful for the SBC. All hat, no cattle. I am still waiting to hear about his own radical “blank check”. But I do understand that many in the Neo Cal movement have a giant man crush on him.

        Jon Estes

        “The handling of the Godfather retirement deal and his “dangerous” undisclosed location on the mission field from the Marriott in Dubai is any indicator.”

        As a pastor in Dubai, I am glad there is an openness to live as a Christian without the fear of death. Yet, I have found that it is not wise to use any type of cronfrontational evangelism strategy or even hand out tracts or bibles.

        http://www.christianpost.com/news/baptist-missionary-under-house-arrest-in-dubai-15503/

        Though we do not have to be silent, we do need to be creative and wise.

        There are many Christians who live here who aer fearful of speaking anything Christian outside the home or church. So there is a concern, at the minimum and a true fear of retribution against them at the maximum.

        The church compound in Jebel Ali was a great gift and I praise God for the work being done there but not all churches moved to the location south of Dubai. On a daily basis, the churches located at DECC are not in a location to be a presence in the local community of people in Dubai. Not a criticism but a reality.

        There are still many churches are in the communities and who minister in different neighborhoods and walk the streets with the people of Dubai (mostly expats). This is, for us, where real ministry takes place.

        Back to the subject at hand. Iam not sure if there are those here who think that serving in Dubai is a life threatening ministry but there are those who do believe and fear jail or being kicked out of the country if they make to much of a Christian witness known. Is it warrented? I don’t think so. Is it a real fear for some? Absolutely.

          Lydia

          Then it would be wise not to use it as a bonafide in daring pastor work, wouldn’t it? It was disingenuous of Platt to use it that way especially since he does not live there and was only visiting. Todd Wilhelm, who also lives in Dubai, had a daughter at the event and wrote about it at his blog, Thou Art Man. Maybe you will run into him over there..

            Jon Estes

            “Then it would be wise not to use it as a bonafide in daring pastor work, wouldn’t it?”

            I am not sure what the “it” is to which you refer.

            “It was disingenuous of Platt to use it that way especially since he does not live there and was only visiting.”

            Do we even know if Platt was aware of the advertising used by LifeWay? That is a huge conjecture but the sound bite to hit Platt with the slinging mud feels good, I guess.

            “Todd Wilhelm, who also lives in Dubai, had a daughter at the event and wrote about it at his blog, Thou Art Man. Maybe you will run into him over there..”

            Maybe I will. I have read some of his stuff. His treatment at UCCD should never have happened. His article on the subject at hand is interesting and I respect his opinion. As I stated esrlier though that there are some here who live in fear. Unwarrented? Probably… but factual. I do not know where Todd goes to church presently but he ought to check us out. We are not UCCD and they are not us. We are a congregational led church who is being faithful to our task. Gosh, you ought to come to Dubai and check out the life for the believer here. We would welcome you with open arms and sweet fellowship (I would have said sweet tea but the tea here is hot).

              Lydia

              I like that sort of hot tea. I have ME friends who serve it in small glasses with what I think is cardamom. I forget. Is Platt really that bumbling that Lifeway can manage his image in that way without his permission or even a response to that effect? It is worse to present Platt as a sort of Manchurian Candidate who is “handled”. But that is my impression so far.

                Jon Estes

                “I like that sort of hot tea. I have ME friends who serve it in small glasses with what I think is cardamom. I forget.”

                I am getting used to it.

                “Is Platt really that bumbling that Lifeway can manage his image in that way without his permission or even a response to that effect?”

                I doubt it but he may be that trusting. There is a big difference.

                “It is worse to present Platt as a sort of Manchurian Candidate who is “handled”. But that is my impression so far.”

                There are a myriad of impressions of those who lead the SBC and the SBC itself. Nothing for me, or Platt (I would think) are going to lose sleep over. Most everyone has a gripe about something or someone. As I learned from Clebe McClary (sp?) — FIDO.

            Lydia

            Jon, did you see the video of Piper in Dubai before it was pulled from the Internet?

            While filming a promo in Dubai (UAE) for the new student missions conference, CROSS, John Piper (standing in front of the Burj Khalifa tower) makes this statement:

            “And that tower and this city are coming down!”

            All that money used to take a film crew there and film right out in the open a huge insult to the hosting country. Yet Platt communicated one could lose their life for promoting Christ there. Piper was not thrown in prison.

            Of course once the insulting Jihadistic vid made the rounds on the Internet, it got pulled. Piper, Platt and Lifeway are certainly not credible sources of representing the truth of Jesus Christ in such a place. They did manage to use their hosts to position their image to their followers. Dispicable.

              Jon Estes

              “Jon, did you see the video of Piper in Dubai before it was pulled from the Internet?”

              Nope.

              “While filming a promo in Dubai (UAE) for the new student missions conference, CROSS, John Piper (standing in front of the Burj Khalifa tower) makes this statement:

              “And that tower and this city are coming down!””

              I do not know the context but biblically, someday it will. Until then, it is joy to visit and see things from the near top. The speed of the elevators is anamazing thing.

              124 floors in a minute… https://youtu.be/9ID1FF-cvnI

              “All that money used to take a film crew there and film right out in the open a huge insult to the hosting country. Yet Platt communicated one could lose their life for promoting Christ there. Piper was not thrown in prison.”

              Platt and Piper inthe same statement. Are you referring to both or just Piper? I have not seen this nor heard either of them state such. Then again, some people believe it a possibility.

              “Of course once the insulting Jihadistic vid made the rounds on the Internet, it got pulled. Piper, Platt and Lifeway are certainly not credible sources of representing the truth of Jesus Christ in such a place. They did manage to use their hosts to position their image to their followers. Dispicable.”

              A lot of dispicable things are done in the name of Christ. I am sure your list would be different than mine. Opinions are that way.

              Piper has a great article (short read also) on Dubai. I think it is a good represenation.

              http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dubai-amazing-and-strategic-city

      Les Prouty

      Yeah Im like you on this idea of seeing what people do, not just what they say. In this case, the doing is exemplar. I haven’t seen the Godfather in a while so I’m not familiar with that part of the movie. I thought Vito Corleone actually died, not retired.

      Oh, and lots of cattle, keep waiting and I know no one in any so called neo cal movement, and especially any people who have a man crush on Platt. Seems like a godly man to me. Adam and maybe rick might know him personally and could affirm that. Excellent sermon for sure at FBC New Orleans.

      SDG!

W.L. Talbot

Any believer who has a sincere concern should have the opportunity to express that concern, placing it before others so that it might be addressed in a robust and serious manner. In this article Dr. Harwood relates a concern he has about the language which is used in missionary appointment services, for he fears that it is indicative of a shift in purpose in missions. He says, for example, “I am concerned about the language used during the event about being sent ‘to declare God’s glory.’ This was the theme of the event, and it was repeated in the printed literature, testimonies, and the sermon.” And again, “it is mystifying that a Christian mission organization would send out its missionaries with instructions to declare something other than the gospel.”

The question which presents itself to us, then, is this: is it in fact the case that our missionaries are, as Dr. Harwood suggests, sent out ‘with instructions to declare something other than the gospel’? It is somewhat difficult to tell from this article itself, as Dr. Harwood does not elaborate upon the proceedings, only briefing recounting his impression of them in such a way that we cannot tell if the conclusion to which he comes is fair and accurate.

Presumably the missionary appointment service which he refers to is the one which he made mention of in a post on his blog on November 2nd, when he said that “This week . . . a new group of missionaries will be commissioned at First Baptist New Orleans, where I am a member.” There was a missionary appointment service at First Baptist New Orleans on November 8th, as can be seen in an article at the Baptist Press (“35 new IMB missionaries appointed”) which was posted on November 10th. This article mentions a number of quotes from the sermon by IMB president David Platt, none of which are excessively preoccupied with glorifying God rather than sharing the gospel (e.g. “Not one person in this room will fail when preaching the Gospel.”). The sermon can be listened to at First Baptist New Orleans website.

For my part, I think it advisable that believers look into the matter thoroughly, and that they come to their own conclusions as to whether what Dr. Harwood fears is happening is actually coming to pass. If it is indeed the case that a firm determination to evangelize and witness to the salvation which is in Christ alone are being sacrificed because of a sort of mission creep, and that undue emphasis is being placed upon simply declaring God’s glory at the expense of declaring his salvation, then many thanks are due to Dr. Harwood for exposing this important fact.

At the moment I myself am not convinced that this is so, for it seems to me that we are creating an issue out of nothing, and that the actual practice of our missionaries is what it has always been – to glorify God by sharing the good news of the salvation with the lost. The language is somewhat different now, with more emphasis placed on our ultimate purpose (to glorify God) rather than upon our more immediate purpose (to evangelize) in missions; but the end result is the same, in that our missionaries still share the truth with those who do not know it. In any event, whatever the case, may truth and light win out, and may every pitfall be carefully avoided. Let each person decide for him or herself what the truth is in this matter.

Andrew Barker

The phrase “mission creep” has been used which I think is probably a bit of an understatement. This emphasis on God’s glory may sound very spiritual but it actually detracts from what God really wants. The whole universe declares the glory of God. That’s a fact, most of us would agree on. But we are included in that universe and yet few of us would say hand on heart that we constantly declare God’s glory! In fact our lives very often do anything but declare his glory. So while the sun, moon, stars, earth and all it’s wildlife are busy doing their bit to praise God, we can be left very much on the side-lines.

So what is the main difference between the physical world and us? God has determined how the physical universe behaves and it shows how great and wonderful he is. But God has given us the ability to choose to either praise or not to praise and therein hangs the difference. God does not need our praise as such, but he delights in it, because it is freely given. Something which no physical part of the universe can do. God DOES NOT SEEK HIS OWN PRAISE or GLORY as far as our salvation is concerned. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of God to think that God thinks in this way. God’s grace is given freely. It is not given to us under contract. God does not say I’ll extend my grace to you, so long as you respond. Neither does God make his grace so irresistible that well, we have no real choice do we! God’s grace extends to all, totally unconditionally and without thought of reward or glory, other than God knows that when we respond (as in salvation) it not only delights his heart and makes him feel good, but it’s good for us also. God does not need to seek his own glory, he’s well aware of it. When we share the Gospel, people get saved and God is glorified. If you concentrate on glorifying God and the Gospel is forgotten, what has been achieved?

Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade, but has it not struck anybody else as odd that the man who stands up front at one event and says …. “You look at the Moravians…they weren’t doing this because they had a nice, well-funded mission strategy. Some would sell themselves into slavery–they’d see a slave boat headed to a far country and say “We’ll work as slaves for the spread of the gospel in that country.” …. is the same person who is currently overseeing the early retirement of hundreds of missionaries because of a cost cutting exercise?

Les Prouty

“but has it not struck anybody else as odd that the man who stands up front at one event and says ….”

Nope. It was a missionary appointment service. The one who was saying what he said didn’t create the current crisis. He inherited it and is seeking to bring better stewardship going forward with a deep passion for souls and desires to pass that deep passion on to others. One finding a problem here is seeing a mirage and digging quite deep to find something to criticize.

SDG!

    Scott Shaver

    “Going forward with a deep passion for souls”

    You and your presbyterian buddies should therefore write huge checks to the IMB special offerings this Christmas. Put your money where your mouth is.Les. Words are cheap.

      Scott Shaver

      “finding a problem here is seeing a mirage and digging quite deep to find something to criticize.”

      I’ll accept that challenge. Given his argumentative counter-posture against everything “non-Cal”. One could conclude that the only reason he fraternizes with Baptists is MONEY.

      Got to pick up those donations for independent missions activity in Haite from somebody. Hows that for conjecture Les?

        Scott Shaver

        probably should be clarified that I was referring to Prouty…..not Platt.

      Andrew Barker

      Scott: You may have noted that Les uncharacteristically cut short his copy & paste of my comment. I suspect this is because he would prefer not to deal with the real issue. Platt’s use of the illustration of the Moravians is interesting because he uses it on a very superficial level. The Moravians according to Platt’s description, were prepared to sell themselves into slavery for the sake of the Gospel. Platt’s solution is to sell ‘older experienced missionaries’ down the Swanee, for the sake of the Gospel of course!

        Les Prouty

        “You may have noted that Les uncharacteristically cut short his copy & paste of my comment. I suspect this is because he would prefer not to deal with the real issue.”

        Your really seem obsessed with copy and paste. But in any case, the fact that I didn’t copy and paste that section means nothing. I dealt with your statement. I said, “nope” and followed with why there’s nothing to see here. It’s just “I don’t like that guy or his theology and even though nothing he peached in the sermon at the referenced event is cause for alarm I’m going to try to find something for which to criticize him because I don’t like him or his theology.” Very elementary and shallow.

        SDG!

        Lydia

        “The Moravians according to Platt’s description, were prepared to sell themselves into slavery for the sake of the Gospel.”

        Whatever happened to “leadership” by example? Platt tells everyone else what they should sacrifice from his plush office and six figure salary. Not very Radical.

    Les Prouty

    “You and your presbyterian buddies should therefore write huge checks to the IMB special offerings this Christmas. Put your money where your mouth is.Les. Words are cheap.”

    The IMB will be fine over the years. Plans are being implemented and people are praying and laboring. The IMB will be good. Words are cheap? How do you know that? Oh, never mind.

    My money is already working overseas. In many countries besides Haiti.

    “I’ll accept that challenge. Given his argumentative counter-posture against everything “non-Cal”. One could conclude that the only reason he fraternizes with Baptists is MONEY.” Ok, so bring out the facts. Show such to be so.

    “Got to pick up those donations for independent missions activity in Haite from somebody. Hows that for conjecture Les?” Conjecture? You are pretty experienced at that for sure. Wait, do you have a problem with my missions in Haiti? Do you see something wrong with what I do in Haiti? Pray tell.

    SDG!

      Scott Shaver

      Have no problem with any good Christian mission efforts ongoing anywhere Les. My issue is a denominational chameleon telling me there’s nothing to see within my denomination when that’s obviously not the case.

      Scott Shaver

      I have no problem with good Christian mission work anywhere Les. My issue is with a denominational chameleon shrugging off the landmark changes in my denomination as “nothing to see here”. A sure fire inidication there is something to see.

      Les Prouty

      “My issue is a denominational chameleon telling me there’s nothing to see within my denomination when that’s obviously not the case.”

      Well it’s not so obvious really. I know you say it is. But no, not really.

      So it would be better if I was still active in a SB church and had never left?

      SDG!

        Scott Shaver

        “So it would be better if I was still active in an SB church and had never left”?

        Only to the extent that you try to “correct” still intact Southern Baptists on what is or is not happening within their own denomination. In your case, the “departure” obviously occurred prior to “the departure”.

      Les Prouty

      By the way Scott,

      I would welcome you on one of our trips to Haiti. There are a number of ways we could serve together and I promise you won’t hear even an utterance about Reformed theology or detect it in any way in what we do. It has never shown itself in my 35+- trips there. You can see the 2016 dates here. http://haitiorphanproject.org/trip-faq/

        Scott Shaver

        Thanks for the invite Les: I’m sure the scenario you describe would be the case on the ground in a place like Haiti.

        However, I can involve myself in and with while supporting similar such projects being done by folks who don’t think I’m a theological heretic for not bowing at the altar of “DSG”.

        We have a mutual fellowship and rejoicing in our understanding of THE GOSPEL being extended to WHOSOEVER by virtue of the fact that GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD and that while we were yet sinners, CHRIST DIED FOR US.

        That would be better bang for the buck in my opinion.

Norm

Our Lord’s parting words instructed us to make disciples, which glorifies God. Dr. Harwood’s point brings to mind an analogy: An orchard owner instructs his workers to plant more trees to gain increased harvest. Do the workers accomplish this by standing on fallow ground and talking about how tasty the fruit of the unplanted trees is?
Do we think for one second that declaring to radicals the benefits of a democratic republic would have prevented the barbarism in Paris last night?
Having worked alongside Dr. Harwood, having read after his painstaking efforts to cut straight the word of God, having seen him interact thoughtfully among students and others, having observed his diligence in kingdom work, having heard his heart for that which matters to the heart of God, and having prayed with him, too, I rather think that, if he finds a matter troubling or problematic, then similarly turned Christians should as well.
Thank you, Adam, for your humble, valuable ministry. — Norm

Andy

1. While I can recognize that it is possible for someone to use “glory of God” talk in an over-emphasized way that detracts from the emphasis on Evangelizing and making disciples…I’m going to generally have to be in the camp that in general, these are not contradictory ideas at all. A public speaker should not be immediately suspect just because they use “glory of God” language in the context of missions. In fact they are are connecting 2 things that scripture connect.

2. As much as I hate to allude to John Piper on a site like this, He is the first one I heard say this, and I do believe it’s worth saying, just so we have a broad eternal perspective…so here goes (very loose paraphrase coming…NOT A QUOTE!!!): “Missions and evangelism are not ultimate. Worship is. BECAUSE missions is temporary, and has eternal worship as it’s goal. God created people to know and worship him. But due to sin, they don’t, so we have missions, for season. In eternity future, there will be no more missions, but worship of God and giving Glory to God will continue forever.” (If you have a problem with this idea, please interact with IT, rather than simply saying it can’t be right because John Piper said it.)

3. HOWEVER, If a Christian is asked what our primary MISSION is on this earth right now; I think there answer should get very quickly to Math. 28 and Make Disciples…IF their answer goes on and on about spreading God’s glory WITHOUT ever getting around to making disciples, then I think you have a problem.

    Andrew Barker

    Andy:
    1. You are correct in that over emphasizing the glory of God in mission is exactly that. The focus is incorrectly put onto God’s glory and not mission.
    2. You mentioned Piper who is well known for his style of delivery with the use of wild gestures of the arms and excessively flowery language to over emphasize the “glory of God”. He talks a good talk (if you like that sort of thing) but I think he ends up tying himself in knots. For example, he maintains that “God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him.” The rationale is therefore that the more we are satisfied in Him, the more glory God gets. What could be wrong with this? Piper is clear that it is not only the elect who bring glory to God. For him, God is able to bring glory to his name when those who are rightly punished suffer eternal loss. So either way, God is glorified! SDG and all that. This is the world Piper inhabits. One in which God is and has to be massively glorified in each and every situation.

    Still liking it? Now pose the question. Is God more glorified in saving people than in condemning them to hell? The reason I ask is because on the face of it, God is going to be glorified either way, so does it really matter? If you opt for the obvious answer that God is more glorified in saving people then I have to ask then “why doesn’t God simply choose to make more people elect”?! That action surely would maximise His glory?

    Of course if you wish to maintain that God is equally glorified in both saving and condemning sinners, then there is no specific need to glorify God in missionary work at all because by default, God is going to be glorified in any event. Piper’s line of theology may sound very holy and worthy, but it doesn’t stack up. I’m not sure if Platt’s theology is exactly the same as Piper’s but they appear to be singing from the same song-sheet? Giving glory to God first means that you can treat your missionaries any way you want as it’s all going to glorify God, isn’t it??

      Andy

      1. The question is what does it mean to over-emphasize the Glory of God in missions. My point is that simply talking about the glory of God in missions is not by de-facto, over-emphasizing it.

      2. Addressing your points: First, the idea that God is glorified when a person is justly punished in hell is not isolated to calvinism. One could easily reject all of calvinism, but still believe God to be a just judge when he punishes the wicked, and even give him glory and thanks for being a just judge. A non-calvinist would, however, in keeping with scriptural precedent, reserve highest praise of God for his redemptive acts in the Gospel.
      (b) For the very high calvinists (like Piper), I would say that you are correct that they would have a hard time explaining the congruity between “Missions for God’s glory” and “God is glorified in sending people to hell.” Since both are simply God’s choice from eternity past.
      (c) for more moderate, infralapsarian calvinists, They would say God created Adam and Eve with real choice, but once they sinned every person after them was so marred by sin nature that none would choose God on their own, so God had to elect some and draw them irresistably. In this case, obedience to God in spreading the Gospel is the means God is using to restore those elect to their original intended purpose: to know and worship God. The more people that know and worship God as he intended, the more “Glory” god is receiving as they fulfill their created purpose.

      3. NONE OF THE ABOVE, however addresses the actual point I was making in my original point #2. Which is: Is it not true that in the scope of eternity, Missions is not ultimate…because it will one day cease. Worship and fellowship with God will continue forever. Missions has as its goal: More people knowing and worshiping God for eternity. (SO, regardless of OTHER things Piper says that you may disagree with, or that may even conflict with this idea…Is the idea ITSELF wrong?)

        Andrew Barker

        Andy: NO, NO, NO, you are sadly mistaken in saying “missions is not ultimate …. because it will one day cease.” In fact I would say the opposite is true. The reason WHY mission is more important is because “in the scope of eternity” time is finite. So glad to disagree with you there :)

          Andy

          Perhaps putting it another way will be helpful. Let’s say I (being a finite creature who cannot create beings ex nihilo) buy 3 coon-hunting dogs…with which I intend to hunt coons. However, on my first hunt, the dogs run away and get lost. At this point, while my IMMEDIATE mission is to find and care for the dogs, and while I will have great joy when I find them…that is not my ulitmate aim. My ultimate aim is, as it was in the beginning, to hunt WITH the dogs…To enjoy their company as they do what I bought them to do.

          Andy

          Or put another way: Is working toward the correction of a problem our ultimate goal, or is it fulfilling our originally created purpose?

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