jtrhart

Is the Ultimate End of God's Creation Selfish?

In theology on January 18, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Edwards with a spiderContinuing on with Edwards week here.

There is a section in the “Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1” titled The End for Which God Made the Word. In it, Edwards attempts to answer the question of why God made the world (not a simple question to ponder by the way). A very brief summary of his answer would be; He made it for Himself. Of course Edwards unpacks his answer much more than this so have a read if you’re interested in learning more.

But then at the end of his dissertation, and a lot of authors used to do this, he answers objections to his answer. This is similar to what Paul does in Romans when he says, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? (Romans 6:15)” or “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?” For who resists His will? (Romans 9:19)” and then he goes on to answer these questions. I’m not sure if these objections that Edwards answered were his own objections initially or if they were objections that came up from others in conversation or if they were just what he though people might say, please comment if you have any details on this.

One objection was as follows:

Some may object, that to suppose God makes himself his highest and last end, is dishonorable to him; as it in effect supposes, that God does every thing from a selfish spirit. Selfishness is looked upon as mean and sordid in the creature; unbecoming and even hateful in such a worm of the dust as man. We should look upon a man as of a base and contemptible character, who should in every thing he did, be governed by selfish principles; should make his private interest his governing aim in all his conduct in life. How far then should we be from attributing any such thing to the Supreme Being, the blessed and only Potentate! Does it not become us to ascribe to him the most noble and generous dispositions, and qualities the most remote from every thing private, narrow, and sordid?

And in his response is this amazing statement about God:

But if God be indeed so great, and so excellent, that all other beings are as nothing to him, and all other excellency be as nothing, and less than nothing and vanity, in comparison of his, and God be omniscient and infallible, and perfectly knows that he is infinitely the most valuable being, then it is fit that his heart should be agreeable to this—which is indeed the true nature and proportion of things, and agreeable to this infallible and all-comprehending understanding which he has of them, and that perfectly clear light in which he views them—and that he should value himself infinitely more than his creatures.

Wow. I wish I had a view of God in this way. Edwards’ writings have an aroma of humility and God-centrality that few match. He knew His place in comparison to a holy God and sought to make others aware of how glorious the Lord truly is in his writings and sermons.

On a side note, why is it that writers don’t answer objections in their material any more? Is it just too formal a thing to do? Or is it looked upon as being arrogant? I wonder if it’s just because so much of today’s writing seems to be answering an objection in the first place. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

The picture above is a rendering of Edwards as a boy looking at a spider. He was fascinated with all of the sciences, especially spiders. He actually wrote a lot of material on spiders and their habits.

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