You can read Piper’s seven theses about God’s glory here.
In response Payne wonders…
Is Piper’s message so centred on God and his glory (and our enjoyment of God in his self-glorification) that Jesus has become a mechanism by which this takes place, rather than the central focus of the message? Where does the centrality of the Lordship of Christ fit into Piper’s proclamation?
I share these reservations.
Here’s a couple of paragraphs I’ve adapted from a post I wrote last year…
If someone says (as Piper does) “The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy displaying and magnifying his glory forever.” we ought to ask, ‘What does ‘God’ refer to in this sentence?’
It surely cannot refer to the trinitarian life of Father, Son and Spirit – that communion is the essence of self-giving. The trinitarian glory has nothing to do with self-centredness. And it cannot be referring to the Father for He has committed all things into His Son’s hands (John 3:35). It mustn’t be speaking of the Son, He only ever glorifies the Father. (John 4:34). And it can’t be speaking of the Spirit, He simply takes from what is the Father’s and the Son’s and makes it known (John 16:15). So what does “God” refer to in the sentence “God’s chief end is to glorify Himself”? Clearly this understanding of God is one abstracted from considerations of the trinitarian life. Yet as my post here argues – the living God cannot for a second be abstracted from considerations of trinitarian self-giving. The only God there is is the Trinity! The One God is precisely and without remainder the Father, Son and Spirit united in sacrificial love.
When, for instance, the LORD says in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” it is only because He has been glorifying His Servant for the last seven verses – “Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One in Whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations…” (Isaiah 42:1ff) The Father glorifies His Son and anoints Him with His Spirit. Therefore He will not give that glory to another. This is the very opposite of self-love. Instead His other-centred glory requires that He be exclusively committed to His Son in holy love.
God is not a narcisist. A proper doctrine of the trinity guarantees it. And wherever God is portrayed as a narcisist you can guarantee that a defective trinity is lurking in the background. And where trinity is deficient it’s because our doctrine of God is not centred on Christ.
My main problem with Piper’s theses is that Christ’s Person and work are not foundational to the argument. The theses appear more to be logical deductions derived from a notion of ‘glory’ at odds with the cruciform glory He reveals.
Now to defend Piper’s position the following two points are usually made.
1) “Of course Christ is central to this discussion. He’s not been left out of the argument, He is fully this Glorious God.”
2) It is Christ’s work and His work alone that brings us into an enjoyment of this glory.
Well good. But the cross isn’t the bridge to glory. The cross is the divine glory. There’s quite a difference.
Anyway. I love John Piper. LOVE him. I once spotted him unexpectedly at the back of church and got so star-struck I found the words “I’m your biggest fan” flying out of my mouth! Can you believe it?? And the silence afterwards was hands down the most forehead-slapping embarassing moment of my life. But few people have affected me as deeply in my Christian life as John Piper. I’m a fan ok. It’s just that little old Glen with his two-bit blog sees problems that’s all. But what do I know.