Wesley & God’s Concern for His Own Glory
In American Christianity you can pretty much bet that if a preacher is championing God’s concern for his own glory, that preacher is probably a Calvinist. The young, restless, and Reformed have done a good job of cornering the market on talking about God’s glory. This saddens me to some degree because I tend to think we Wesleyan types ought also to be talking about God’s glory, after all, the Bible sure does. All too often, though, we don’t give a lot of evidence to debunk the false charge that Wesleyan theology is man-centered.
You can imagine my delight to discover evidence that God’s love for God’s glory was basic to John Wesley’s own theological reflection. In Wesley’s sermon on “The General Deliverance,” as he is speculating as to whether God might, in the new creation, endow animals with the capacity to know, love, and enjoy “the Author of their being,” he concludes that, whatever happens, “[God] will certainly do what will be most for his own glory” (III.6). What? What’s that Mr. Wesley? Whatever God does he will certainly do what will be most for his own glory? How ’bout that?
This comment from Wesley comes almost as a passing note, a given. He doesn’t dwell on it. He doesn’t offer extended reflection on God’s love for God’s glory. He just takes it a basic theological principle that when we are conjecturing or interpreting or reflecting on God’s actions, we can expect God to act in accordance with what brings him the most glory. If you weren’t careful, you’d think you were reading the fellow who regularly remarks that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
I really wish more Wesleyans approached these things like Wesley. I’ve become persuaded that God’s greatest love is for his own glory. Not only is it all over the Bible, but if it is right to love what is true and beautiful, and God’s glory is most true and most beautiful, if God is to do what is right, then he must love his own glory supremely. I am deeply encouraged to know that Wesley would agree, and that he was happy to use this sort of language. Let’s take a lesson from him.
What about you? Ever hear a non-Calvinist preach on or get excited about God’s concern for his own glory?