Whose Soteriology is really “Man-Centered” and “Humanistic?”

These are some recent comments sent to me via social media:

  • “Your theology is man-centered…”
  • “You are a humanistic Pelagian…”
  • “You start with man and build your view of God around humanistic reasoning.”
  • “Making God in your own image is not theology, Mr. Flowers!!!”

And those were the nice ones.  (Listen to the Podcast on this subject HERE. Also, the next podcast titled “Is Peter a Calvinist” also covers this topic.)

First, I would like us to try and objectively consider which soteriological perspective is actually more “humanistic.” To do so we need a good working definition. The American Heritage Dictionary defines humanistic as “one who is concerned with the interests and welfare of humans.”

I’ll objectively concede this point: When compared to the claims of Calvinism related to God’s ultimate desire for self-glorification it does appear that our soteriological perspective does put more emphasis on God’s concern with humanity over and above His concern for self-glorification. Notable Calvinists are known to argue that God’s primary concern is not the welfare of man, but for Himself and His own glory. 

In my journey to becoming a Calvinist I was very drawn to the teachings about God’s desire for His own glory. This was especially attractive to me coming out of the more “seeker sensitive” movement that seemed to put way too much focus on pleasing man rather than on glorifying God. And quite honestly, Calvinistic authors introduced me to many texts within scripture which so clearly supported the doctrine of God’s self-glorification that I could not begin to understand how any Bible believing Christian could deny such truth. They would have to be selfish and humanistic to do so, right?

Regardless of what some of my Calvinistic friends may think; in my journey out of Calvinism I did not abandon the truth that God seeks His own Glory. Instead, I realized that God’s Glory is best revealed in His self-sacrificial love for all.  I came to understand that God does not sacrifice creation for the sake of His own glory, but instead He sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all.

By putting the welfare of man above His own self-glorification, God reveals Himself to be so much more abundantly glorious than anything we could imagine.  The Calvinist seems to think that God’s glory is best manifest by putting His own exaltation first, whereas the example of Christ reveals just the opposite.  It is through giving up His glory, by putting the needs of lowly undeserving humans first, that He is most abundantly glorified.jesusselfsacrifice

In the flesh I always care more about my own glory than the needs or wants of others.  Don’t you?  Yet, would Calvinists have us believe that God has this same “humanistic” characteristic?  Does God care more about His own glory than the welfare of humanity? Or, does God’s care for all humanity reveal just how glorious He really is?  How can the Calvinist rightly accuse our view of God as being “humanistic” when their view of God looks and sounds just like self-seeking humans who desire all the glory for themselves even if it means the sacrifice and suffering of others?

John Piper is quoted as saying, “God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimate loving act. For him self-exaltation is the highest virtue.”  And I would re-word that by saying, “God is the one Being in all the universe who actually deserves to seek His own glory, praise and self-exaltation, but instead chooses to empty Himself for the sake of worthless humanity in the ultimate act of love on Calvary. This act, once accepted by faith, leads us to freely praise, exalt and glorify Him for the self-sacrificial God He is.”

Is God’s genuine care and loving provision for all humanity the true reflection of His glory? Or, is God seeking His own glory at the expense of most humanity?  And which of those views is really more “humanistic?”

It’s only fair to consider the argument directly from a Calvinist. In John Piper’s sermon titled “Is God for us or for Himself?” he lays out the dilemma quite well:

“God’s aim and effort to glorify himself is wholly good and without fault of any kind and is very different from human self-exaltation because it is an expression of love… This observation leads us to the biblical reason why it seems offensive for God to seek his own glory. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love seeks not its own.” Now this, indeed, seems to create a crisis, for if, as I think the Scriptures plainly teach, God makes it his ultimate goal to be glorified and praised, how then can he be loving? For “love seeks not its own.” For three weeks we have seen Scriptures that teach that God is for himself. “For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, my glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11). But if God is a God of love, he must be for us. Is, then, God for himself or is he for us?” 

If you go on to read or listen to the rest of this message you will learn that Piper teaches God is for Himself because that is what is best for us. As Piper explains, “To be supremely loving, God must give us what will be best for us and delight us most; he must give us himself.”

Of course I agree with that statement, but you must keep in mind that in the Calvinistic worldview God only “gives himself” to a select few while leaving the rest to perish in their innate depraved corpse-like condition (an unchangeable condition from birth as decreed by God).  Many of those “passed over” are people we dearly love and would sacrifice ourselves for if we were able.

Did Christ not teach us to stop and help our enemies rather than “pass them by on the other side?” (Luke 10:25-37)  Yet, are we to believe God passes over most of his own enemies from the time they are born until the time they die?  How can one reconcile this with the God revealed in Christ?

Dr. James White called my soteriology “man-centered,” and I have to agree. I have centered my soteriology on the man Jesus Christ. In Christ we find someone who emptied Himself of glory so as to serve the needs of His enemies and then He called us to do the same. God, as revealed in Christ, is not a hypocrite. He practices what He preaches.

Philippians 2:1-9 states:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature Goddid not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.

Jesus, being the very nature God, is said to have “emptied Himself,” which is not His way of ceasing to be divine, but rather His way of revealing what it really means to be divine.  To be like God we mustn’t seek our own glory, but we must humble ourselves and seek to love even our greatest enemies. In doing so, we will find true glory because we find what it really means to be in the image of our Maker.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Several years ago I was riding in the car with a friend when the Michael W. Smith song, “Above All,” came on the radio.  Smitty sang, with his typical rasp, the well known lyrics, “Like a rose, trampled on the ground, You thought of me, Above All.”

My friend let out an annoyed grunt, prompting me to ask, “What’s wrong?”

“That song is just so theologically inept,” my John Piper loving friend exclaimed in disgust.

“How so?” I naively inquired.

“He thought of me, above all?  Really, Leighton? You think Jesus thought of us above all?  He thought of Himself!  He thought of HIS OWN GLORY,” he passionately proclaimed like only a fellow preacher could.  “God does what he does for his own glory, not for us. It is all about Him and His glory. That song was probably written by Joel Osteen or something!”

“What do you really think about it,” I quipped?  About that time we arrived at our destination (a very good mexican restaurant) and the topic quickly changed to chips and salsa…also created for God’s glory, no doubt!

Since then I have thought about that conversation every time I hear those emotionally charged lyrics of the Smitster on the radio.  And I get the point my friend was making.  I’ve read the book Desiring God by John Piper and I know the reasoning behind such comments, but is that the right approach?  Did God really think of Himself above all?  Was it really about God getting all the glory and man getting none of it?

Sometimes I wonder if in our desire to express a truth about God we tend toward overstating a point to the neglect of another valid point.  In other words, does this have to be an ‘either/or’ premise?  Could it be that God’s glory is best made known through his sharing of glory with those He chose to create in His own image?  Is His Glory diminished in any way by giving us some of it?  After all, Jesus himself said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22)

This appears to be a ‘both/and’ principle.  God is BOTH loving us above all AND being glorified above all.  In fact, one might say he humbled himself so as to be most glorified. And then he tells us to go and do likewise (Matt. 5:43-48).

We are being crowned with glory (Ps. 8:5), but we in turn lay our crowns at His feet.  There is not a contradiction here, not when we accept the upside down reality of God’s Kingdom, where the last really are the first and those putting others above themselves are the ones ultimately exalted above the rest…an eternal truth best reflected in the nature of our God Himself.

Listen, I get just as disgusted with the doctrinal illiteracy of our modern society as the next self-righteous blogger, but we must be careful not the ride the pendulum to the other extreme by downplaying the biblical teachings of God’s incarnational humility and genuine love lavished on the world.  Those expressions do not in any way diminish His glory, in fact they demonstrate it.  Moreover, these expressions of divine humility and love teach us the narrow path that leads to our own exaltation (1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10; Matt. 23:12).

What do you think? Is God really all about Himself? Do some people go overboard on this subject?  What is the right balance?

Which of these approaches is really more like humanity? The one where God, like sinful humanity, seeks His own glory at the expense of others?  Or, the approach where God sacrifices Himself for the sake of others and reveals Himself as truly glorious?

Listen to the Podcast on this subject HERE.

39 thoughts on “Whose Soteriology is really “Man-Centered” and “Humanistic?”

  1. It’s Leighton that you have tracked one of the main motivations behind this divisive debate among Christians! It is so little appreciated that both sides, for the most part, do feel they are defending the glory of God more than the other side!

    But God’s glory doesn’t need defending, it just needs proclaiming using clear Scriptural statements, not using philosophical definitions of His nature that twist those statements away from the meaning which a reader normally gets from the context!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”

    Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here.

    I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

    I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

    Charles Spurgeon


    1. “You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. “All men,” say they, —”that is, some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if he had meant some men. “All men,” say they; “that is, some of all sorts of men”: as if the Lord could not have said “all sorts of men” if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written “all men,” and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the “alls” according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth…My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression.” – Charles Spurgeon in “Salvation By Knowing the Truth”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Leighton,

        The doctrines of grace which Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards, etc., commonly referred to by the nickname of Calvinism, are not hampered by the Arminian abuses of the “alls” in scripture. It is common sense to know that the “alls” in scripture did not and could not refer to every single human being that ever lived, or else you would need to explain why God did not provide “equal opportunity” of making free will decisions available to the Amorites, the Hittites, and the countless millions of other Gentiles throughout the world that never heard the gospel message.

        Is libertarian free-will something that is so obsessively attractive to you that you would be willing to dismiss what is so plainly taught in scripture?

        Please read Toplady’s “The Golden Idol of Free Will”.


      2. Not “equal opportunity” David… sufficient opportunity, through enlightenment and conviction using creation and conscience and other things so that all will be without excuse (cf. Acts 17:26-27).


    2. And what is the heresy of Calvinism but that God is the author of evil? I love Spurgeon to death but he was mistaken in this. I think men who experience a lot of grace in their life gravitate towards sovereign determinism, but not for the right reasons. I can argue that free will doesn’t add to the work of the Redeemer; but to argue that God is not the author of evil? No Calvinist truly can.

      nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

      Then Spurgeon abhorred the very Word of God, which I love, revere and embrace—Hebrews chapter 6. I won’t cut him slack for his reputation for God is no respecter of men. Of this, I can be sure, he has repented of in heaven now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Suggesting that Spurgeon abhorred the Word of God is a stretch.

        Faulty interpretations of Hebrews chapter 6 are common. Have you read extensively on this subject?

        Please read Toplady’s “The Golden Idol of Free Will” (easily accessible and freely available by search on the Internet). It is not lengthy, and gets to the heart of this issue.


      2. you say:
        Faulty interpretations of Hebrews chapter 6 are common.

        But ones you agree with are never faulty, right? I think the words are so clear, as to take great pains and much writing to make them say something else.


      3. Hi Dizerner, If you hold to enlightenment being a pre-salvation resistible work, then perhaps that is all that Heb 6 is warning about!


      4. I understand the argument but I think it’s an impossible interpretation. There is only one way to be a partaker of the Holy Spirit and taste of the heavenly gift. You can’t “nibble on” Jesus, he doesn’t work that way. To taste in this Greek is not to just put in your mouth and spit out, but to swallow. And in this very book being a partaker of Christ is only salvation, you don’t “partake” of a Spirit by just being around it. However I believe most people can fall away and come back to God (just as God called back Israel or the prodigal son) because they have not “experienced the powers of the age to come.” I was a Christian many years without ever experiencing that.

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      5. Thank you Dizerner for declaring your understanding of my understanding of Heb. 6. Since you concede that enlightenment can be fallen away from before salvation, will you concede that the semantic range of “taste” may include “not swallowing,” or not receiving, based on Matt. 27:34?


      6. Brian I absolutely would grant the Greek can mean taste and not swallow, and your verse proves the word can be used that way by the NT letters. However, more often it is used for eating something altogether, in fact of the 15 verses I could find using that Greek word, that is the only time it could mean not eating (aside from the verse in question). I’m sure you would not say, for example, that after Peter was hungry he only wanted to taste some food without eating it.

        Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour;
        10 But he became hungry, and wished to eat (taste)

        So I’d make three counter-arguments.

        1. The word taste is overwhelmingly used more to mean eat than merely taste, by statistics.

        2. The word taste is often used of death and life, and in that sense those are complete experiences you cannot partially partake of.

        3. The word taste is also used in the same book of Hebrews in chapter 2 verse 9.

        that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Heb 2:9 NAS)

        It would seem quite odd for the other to drastically change his use of taste in the same letter on the same themes of spiritual life and death in Christ. Jesus would not, I imagine, be able to merely “taste” death without a complete experience of it.

        As for the partakers of the Spirit, it is also a strong point. The Greek word is used elsewhere in Hebrews to clearly mean salvation:

        Whence, holy brethren, partakers, in a heavenly calling,

        For, partakers of the Christ, have we become,–if, at least, the beginning of the confidence, throughout, firm, we hold fast

        in the Hebrews 6 passage, Paul uses 5 direct Biblical metaphors in a row for becoming born again, to the point that, it seems too hard to deny it, and I don’t know of any other place in the NT more metaphors for the new birth are used in such close proximity.


      7. Hi Dizerner! Thank you for your reply and for recognizing the legitimate use in the Bible for the meaning “taste” as not indicating fully eating. In fact there is a common word for eating in Greek as I am sure you are aware. I would counter that though some contexts do indeed indicate this word infers actual eating, not just tasting, I would say that half, at least, do not have to be mean that and, of course, the generic use of the word does not mean that. Even the earlier uses of tasting death can indicate not even entering into the first experiences of it. Also, how we understand what Christ’s taste of death means, must be reckoned somehow with what it means for Him to be separated from the Father spiritually and yet not eternally, that is, not fully partaking of the second death.

        I agree that the word “partaker” is used in a salvation context in Hebrews 3:1 and 14. But I am sure you are aware that the word is also used in a more generic sense of common experience in 1:9 and 12:8, so that in this case it could still be defined as a gracious experience common to both the saved and the professing, but not yet saved, in a local congregation.

        Besides the tenor of Scriptural meaning for everlasting life, and new birth, which you and I have discussed before, I think this context in Hebrews 6 agrees with the other four warning passages in the book, and especially with the one just prior where the word “fall” is used in 4:11 and defined as “come short” in 4:1. In other words, these in 6:4 have come to the door but have not entered into the rest. They have been with believers, professed themselves to be believers, experienced the common blessings shared in a congregation that has true believers, and have been enlightened to know their own personal need of salvation. But they are in danger of falling away for the door, never entering the rest of salvation, drifting past the safe harbor (2:1), and never finding in Christ a sure anchor of salvation (6:19), because if they take a stand with the Jews against Christ and His salvation, they will never again be enlightened unto the repentance the leads to salvation.


      8. That would be a lot of things to experience without being actually saved. But you do defend your position well. Not enough to convince me—I am aware, usually, as in this case, of the opposing argumentation. Like Romans 9, I interpret Hebrews 6 in the light of the overwhelming evidence, when taken in the combination of the entire Scriptural evidence, that it is possible for someone to lose salvation. It’s not a truth i particularly like, but I think in some hardened sinners cases it can bring the fear of God to their lives to no longer commit heinous sin. I don’t think we are saved by works nor do i think we should trust in ourselves. I have seen and heard of many real life cases, as you do seem to understand the value of actual experience, of people who definitely knew God and fell away severely. I also understand that our own weakness can make us fearful of trusting in ourselves, that we can have the strength to maintain whatever is necessary for salvation. In the light of these two things, I like to preach a lot of grace, but still not deny this possibility that some have misused God’s grace in a more extraordinary way than failing or being fearful. I would never trust in myself—but I still would, as the Word of God instructs me, do everything in my power to obey God.


      9. Good morning Dizerner! I appreciate your will thought out approach and motivation for holy living. I just believe the warning to the sinner who is professing salvation – “You may never have been truly saved, and are in danger of never again having an opportunity to repent!” is stronger than – “You are truly saved, but in danger of losing it!”

        But more important, I believe the interpretation of professing Christians, never truly saved, for verses that seem to hint at losing salvation, fits better and preserves the normal meaning of the multitude of verses that say “everlasting life” that accompany regeneration – becoming a loved member of God’s family.

        On a side note, I keep asking myself, am I humble enough to change a long held view that I have taught in the light of further and convincing biblical evidence? I hope so! Recently I did change my view on the concept of “forgiving oneself” which I had previously rejected. In college, many years ago, I did argue for losing one’s salvation, because of certain verses, like Hebrews 6:4f. I do believe the warnings of those passages are very strong, and as I said above, confront the conscience of the sinner who professes salvation more strongly by taking away any confidence that they are presentlysecure.


      10. I do make it a particular point not to be stubborn and biased about something I might believe for the wrong reasons, yet I always appreciate that warning. It’s a blessing that you’ve come to see the value of forgiving even yourself, I remember a time when that became very real to me, that I at times was that fellow servant choking my own self saying “Pay me what you owe me!” Christ sets us free from all kinds of chains, even self-made ones.


    3. David,
      I have seen this post by Spurgeon before. What is particularly troubling is Spurgeon equating Calvinism with the gospel. If this is true, and this is both highly doubted and disputed. Then by Spurgeon’s definition: only Calvinists have the genuine gospel.

      Do you really believe this David?

      And I am also wondering what your motivation is for dropping this Spurgeon bomb like this?

      This quote is highly inflammatory: is that really your intent to start a fire?


      1. Do only Calvinists have the genuine gospel? No, the sheep who hear His voice have the genuine gospel. But this does not mean that the sheep immediately understand the doctrines of grace. There are plenty of Arminians who, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, eventually come to the knowledge and truth of the gospel long after they had first believed in the Son of God. I count myself as one those former Arminians.

        Spurgeon also said the following…

        “Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God.”

        Spurgeon’s testimony is similar to mine.

        My motivation is to share the truth to you in love. The truth can be painful at times… but truth prevails.

        The very day and hour when I first received those truths in my soul occurred about 15 years ago. I had been a Christian since early childhood, but had never truly understood the doctrines of grace until that pivotal night. For Spurgeon, it happened on a weeknight when he was sitting in a church. For me, it happened when reading a letter I found online that George Whitefield wrote to John Wesley, entitled “No, dear Sir, you mistake.”

        If my quoting Spurgeon is inflammatory, then I hope and pray that the resulting fire burns the truth of God’s love into the hearts of those who hear His voice.


      2. The words of Jesus have burned the truth of God’s love into my heart! “For God so loved the world…”


    4. David,
      I have seen this post by Spurgeon before. What is particularly troubling is Spurgeon equating Calvinism with the gospel. If this is true, and this is both highly doubted and disputed. Then by Spurgeon’s definition: only Calvinists have the genuine gospel.

      Do you really believe this David?

      And I am also wondering what your motivation is for dropping this Spurgeon bomb like this?

      This quote is highly inflammatory: is that really your intent to start a fire


  3. article writes:
    Did God really think of Himself above all? Was it really about God getting all the glory and man getting none of it? In fact, one might say he humbled himself so as to be most glorified. And then he tells us to go and do likewise (Matt. 5:43-48). How can one reconcile this with the God revealed in Christ? Jesus, being the very nature God, is said to have “emptied Himself,” which is not His way of ceasing to be divine, but rather His way of revealing what it really means to be divine.

    God is the Most High. Never has that changed. God is on his throne. Never has that changed. God has received all honor and glory from all but sinners—never has that changed. God tells us not to enact judgment, yet he says he will enact it to the full, for vengeance is God’s even though it is not ours. There are ways we can be like our Father, and ways we can never, ever be like our Father. There *are* some things reserved for God alone, and one of those is worship and another is judgment. We can assume that Christ displayed the heart of God. And we can assume thereby that God’s intention towards his creation is not only one of love (God would be loving without redemption, for he afforded Adam every opportunity *not* to fall) but that God’s attitude is also mercy. This does not remove God’s self-glorification or judgments for they exist coinciding. We have a movement now to over-emphasis the “God is just only like Jesus” idea. If we overemphasize this we might lose God’s judgments and holiness altogether, and think of him as a peace-loving hippie. The Father and the Spirit did not humble themselves and empty themselves to become a man and die for the sins of mankind. They are distinctively differentiated in many aspects. God is a Trinity, and *one* of God laid his life down. The Father was still on the throne when Christ was crucified. If we blaspheme the Spirit we are never forgiven, not in this age nor the one to come. Christ taught as to fear his Father, yet you will find very few references to Christ teaching to fear himself; but if you look, it’s there, and one day the world will know the wrath of the Lamb; the wrath of the one who took its sins. Since Calvinism insists that God can only be God *in one way* and not any way God wants, I call Calvinism man-centered. It’s defining God by human logic, instead of allowing God to break outside of every mental box we have. For some weird reason everyone loves that old Piper quote “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” I have trouble even following the logic of that statement let alone not seeing it as completely man-centered (and that from a Calvinist). God is most glorified in us, when *GOD* is most GLORIFIED in US, and not how we FEEL or what we THINK or how HAPPY we are. If God leaves us happy that’s a pleasant by-product of his goodness, not a sign that he is glorified. We may not always be left happy, and that doesn’t mean God isn’t glorified in us. Not all truths are pleasant or make us happy.

    article writes:
    Which of these approaches is really more like humanity? The one where God, like sinful humanity, seeks His own glory at the expense of others? Or, the approach where God sacrifices Himself for the sake of others and reveals Himself as truly glorious?

    It is true that two of the holiest saints who seemed the nearest to God’s glory, became more selfless than any other to a point we can hardly conceive. Paul and Moses offered to give their own souls for another, which thing we could hardly imagine a person could do who actually saw and believed the eternal terrors in hell. And it must have been some influence and reflection of God himself that so caused these two men to actually forget themselves for a moment—to feel like, at that instance, they could express the very love of Christ, himself, whom only Christ can truly express, yet express through us by grace. However we must never compare God’s self-centeredness to a human sinful self-centeredness—we’ve made a grave category error if we do. There are things God can do that would be a SIN for a human to do. We must never, ever, forget that. God is fundamentally and wholly different and other in his essential nature. This is why both Old and New Testaments are full of references to fearing him as a good and godly thing. God has every right to be and do anything he wants, and no man can say otherwise. Being made in a corrupted image of God, we are all too ready and eager to judge the ways of God that might offend or displease us, in our confusion about who is God and who is not God. This truth the Calvinists are absolutely right about. Everything always was and always will be about God. We get to go along for the ride, and become wrapped up in him, and his love. The person questioning the line “and you thought of me above all,” had a valid point; Christ thought of the Father above all, and he taught us to do the same. He definitely thought of us—each individual one of us—and loved us to the highest degree. But he worshiped the Lord his God, and him alone he did serve. Now we know the Father, the Spirit, and the Son all loved us—and each in their unique way. But if God is all about God first and foremost, the question then becomes, does God choose to be merciful and gracious, or are we without any hope at all. And the Bible gives us an awesome and clear promise: All who call on the name of the Lord, will be saved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Thank you Thank you Leighton for getting that out of my system…we are so thankful for you guys who are out there writing articles and preaching and teaching the Truth about these things and giving so many of us a voice….I’m so thankful that they are being explained in such a simple and understanding way so that we can take them and share them on social media with our family and friends…keep praying for our Calvinist brothers and sisters in the Lord that the Holy Spirit will soften their hearts and open their minds to His Truth as we also pray for others that they will not be caught up in this error of doctrine…
    In Christ
    Pam Knight

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  5. Leighton, I’m going to play dumb here for a minute or two. Shouldn’t be difficult 🙂 Would somebody please give me chapter and verse(s) where it says God ‘seeks’ His own glory. I’ve highlighted the word ‘seeks’ because this is not the same as ‘will not share with’ or ‘will not give His glory to another’. Nor am I looking for verses which promote or extoll God’s glory. Specifically looking for ‘seeking’. Thanks.


    1. Why would God seek his own glory did he lose it? 😛 I think that wording is odd. God glorifies himself, God is glorious, God seeks to share his glory and to be glorified by creation. He seeks to be glorified is that what you mean? Or that God’s primary purpose or goal or desire is his glory? I think you need to clarify, your question is too ambiguous.


      1. Actually, I think my question was more plainly put than your answer. Where does scripture say that God’s primary aim is to seek His glory?


      2. I never attempted to answer. I asked for clarification and then pasted a few Scriptures in (not as an answer).

        I think it’s wrong to say God seeks his glory, because God has infinite glory forever and need not seek it.

        I think it’s right to phrase it as, God glorifies himself in creation, and seeks to be glorified by creation.

        What I think you might mean is, “is God’s glory the most important thing to him, in the light of Christ laying down the glory he had with the Father in order to share that glory with us?” Yet Christ wouldn’t come again and lay the glory he has in resurrection all over again, as Hebrews 6 instructs us. In one sense God’s love overcame his glory in the humiliation of Christ, in other sense the humiliation of Christ was only necessary because God is glorious and would not accept any other way. Christ is presented to us as our solution, but if we reject that, God doesn’t again lay aside his glory to give us yet another chance. I believe this is why the angel’s cry “Holy, holy, holy” and not “Love, love, love,” and why rejecting Christ can bring us a worse condemnation than Sodom, and why in both OT and NT the fear of God is preeminent. God offers us his love but not ever at the expense of his glory and holiness.


      3. “I think it’s wrong to say God seeks his glory, because God has infinite glory forever and need not seek it.”

        Thanks. Agreed, but the way some people speak of it, you would be forgiven for thinking that God was on one great big holy ego trip.


    2. Here’s some verses on the glorification of God.

      21 “Then all your people will be righteous; … The work of My hands, That I may be glorified. (Isa 60:21 NAS)

      So didst Thou lead Thy people, To make for Thyself a glorious name. (Isa 63:14 NAS)

      on the day that I glorify Myself,” declares the Lord God. (Eze 39:13 NAS)

      8 “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD. (Hag 1:8 NAS)

      28 “Father, glorify Thy name.” There came therefore a voice out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (Joh 12:28 NAS)

      The Spirit of truth, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak from himself, but, …. 14 He, shall glorify me

      4 “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. (Joh 17:4 NAS)

      10 and all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. (Joh 17:10 NAS)

      11 “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power (Rev 4:11 NAS)

      “Fear God, and give Him glory, (Rev 14:7 NAS)

      and they did not repent, so as to give Him glory. (Rev 16:9 NAS)

      Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God (Rev 19:1 NAS)


      1. Thanks, but very few if any of these verses actually demonstrate that God’s main priority is seeking his own glorification. I just don’t buy into the concept of God behaving in this fashion.


      2. I think we are approaching a dangerous doctrinal are when we emphasize God’s selflessness over his own glory. I think every one of those verses puts God’s glory first. I think people find the cold, calculating puppetry of the Calvinistic God emotionally repugnant, and I do too. But I don’t base doctrine on emotion, rather on Scripture, and Christ often called people to deny their own emotional desires. Just a word of warning for this path to make God become the ultimate feel-good machine, that seems so common these days.


  6. I enjoyed your last podcast “Was Peter a Calvinist,” Leighton. But I did take some issue with the argumentation. Peter’s objection to Christ was inherently selfish—I don’t want you to hurt, I don’t want our cause to look bad, I don’t want the hope of an earthly kingdom to go away, I don’t want my securities gone that I derive from you as my leader. Why did Christ respond with “get behind me, Satan”? Peter’s actions had to express the character of Satan: fleshly pride. Peter’s motivations were not to protect the glory of his God, which would be attributing something selfless to Peter’s desires and character, some depth of sanctification that clearly was not in Peter’s character yet. There was nothing selfless about Peter’s objections, and that’s why Satan tried to use Peter and could use him, since two can’t walk together unless they are in accord. If Peter’s intentions were truly caring and selfless, he would have considered what Christ himself desired and wanted, which was to die. No, Peter was being completely selfish, and trying to change Christ’s mission. Like religion, Peter may have “looked” selfless on the outside; religion always tries to “look” good. But underneath, it was all what Peter, himself, wanted, for all the wrong fleshly reasons. If he truly thought Christ was God, why would Peter question Christ’s judgment or decisions? Is it godly to correct your God, and tell him he made a mistake? Who was the first creation to ever say that God made a mistake? Oh, I hear the echo going all the way back to the garden. Just as Satan said “Did God say you surely cannot eat from this tree?” so did that naked and crafty serpent once again speak to Christ in his garden, “Did God say, you must eat of this one tree only?” Oh, and Christ did eat of that tree that God commanded him to eat—the tree of Calvary. And thank God Christ succeeded where Adam failed. Let’s not be deceived by those fig leaves Peter was wearing, when he told Christ this should never be; it looks like love for Peter to not want Christ to suffer! But oh, how deceitful and evil and rotten it was, such that Christ, in a unique moment among his own apostles, called Peter “Satan.” And when Satan failed through Peter, he went on to Judas, who at least made no pretense of caring for Christ. Perhaps we are so full of ourselves and this American consumer-centered society, we can’t fathom that it is actually good and proper for God to be the center, the real attention, the true self-worthy ego who is in truth, worthy of all pride and glory. God is not saying through Christ “Aw, shucks, guys, I may be God but I don’t want it to be all about me. Why, in heaven, I’ll put you all on the stage, and I’ll just get off in my humility.” Heaven is a place I think many of us will have to get used to, where God’s glory washes out all our own. With one glimpse at him, we’ll easily realize, things have gotten out of place—it really is, properly, rightly, justly, godly—to put God above all always and forever. To lose ourselves in his beauty and grace and power and sacrifice—our reward will not be, granting our selfishness—but knowing his glory just that much deeper. But I appreciate your work, and hope you understand my heart.


  7. Leighton, Thank you for the work and time you have put into your blog. I have been encouraged that there is someone presenting a non-Calvinistic response to all the Calvinistic teaching being presented. I have been in intense study and prep for almost 2 years to present a non-Calvinistic interpretation of John 6. I will be presenting it to the pastoral staff of the church I attend, who hold to Calvinistic teachings. If you think of it I would appreciate a prayer for this. I hoped to do some of the same things you are doing with a blog myself and/or may be putting together a video/seminar series beginning with John. I would appreciate a prayer for that also. Keep up the good work and the Lord’s best to you! Mel Rupp

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  8. I enjoyed reading all your comments. Such a good discussion. Leighton, you said: “It is through giving up His glory, by putting the needs of lowly undeserving humans first, that He is most abundantly glorified.” God did not give up His glory nor put the needs of humans first. Mankind benefits because of who God is. He cannot deny Himself. Scripture clearly states that God provided for Himself the lamb (Ex. 22:8). God provided the way, Jesus the only begotten Son of God, so that we can be reconciled to Himself. It is all of God’s doing to His glory. God provided the Holy Spirit to convict of sin and judgment, glorify the Son, empower believers, etc. whereby unbelievers can be persuaded by His word and His presence to repent, turn to Him and receive His provision, be reconciled. All of this is to His great glory. What hinders this is sin which can harden and deceive, the cares and riches etc. of the world, and the devil. This is the unbeliever: “She heeded no voice. She accepted no instruction. She did not trust in the Lord. She did not draw near to her God.” (Zeph 3:2)


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