To Enjoy God Forever: Puritan Hedonism?

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Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Here's another of my favorite passages:

CSB Deuteronomy 28:46 These curses will be a sign and a wonder against you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you didn't serve the LORD your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything.

Comments Jeremy Taylor, “God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy."

Your servant,
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
One Chief End

Just a few quick thoughts:

There is only one chief end: to glorify and enjoy.

If, therefore, we make this two things, we have missed the point of the Catechism (by the way, I believe Westminster got this from Calvin's Catechism: Historic Church Documents at Reformed.org ). Keep in mind that, historically speaking, the Westminster Assembly was largely a response to Calvin's letters to Duke Somerset, and to Calvin's teaching in general.

Second, if this is one chief end, there are two ways we could look at it:

1. That the enjoyment of God is defined in the context of glorifying Him

2. That the glorification of God is defined in the context of enjoying Him

This is very anecdotal, but I have a brother who is very deeply committed to Piperian principals. Over the time he has come under the influence, he has become less and less concerned with truth, and more and more with "enjoying". Perhaps he is misunderstanding the message, but if (as I believe is the case) the idea of enjoyment is given primacy, then whenever I enjoy God, I'm glorifying Him. This seems to tend toward idolatry; not that Piper or any of his followers are, but I think the principal can be misunderstood as such, very easily. Here are some examples: "I enjoy contemporary worship", or "I enjoy the happy side of God", or "I enjoy the positive, encouraging stuff about God", and therefore I glorify Him with my enjoyment, and if I begin to encounter things I don't "enjoy" about God, then I have to recast them in an "enjoyable" frame of reference.

On the other hand, we may say that man can never truly enjoy God (or anything, for that matter) unless he glorifies God. In other words, conformity to the divine Law is primary to enjoying God. This is the message, for instance, of Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, John 15, Isaiah 1, and too many other passages to name.

The problem with the second-hand Piperian things I've heard from my brother (so please correct me if I'm wrong), is that it does not seem to be framed in the biblical, covenantal structure of blessings and curses. Of Law and Authority. In other words, it is not pro-nomian, it is pro-hedonism. This is why the emphasis of Watson and Brown is on the "spiritual graces of God" and our conformity to the divine will as basic to what it means to "enjoy" God. They were pro-nomian, and framed their thoughts in terms of covenant blessings and curses.

Just a few (very anecdotal) thoughts.

Cheers,
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Sometimes joy must be reckoned or anticipated. But the Bible also COMMANDS us to rejoice in the Lord NOW:

This is undisputed; but it does not contribute anything in terms of determining how God is to be enjoyed now.

When God commands you to believe, does that command contribute anything in terms of determining how God is to be believed now? When God commands you to obey, does that command contribute anything in terms of determining how God is to be obeyed now? When God commands you to rejoice always in the Lord, does that command contribute anything in terms of determining how God is to be the object of our greatest delight? God is to be enjoyed now in obedience to his many commands to prefer Him as our highest treasure in this life above all other earthly treasures.

Does that help?
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Just a few quick thoughts:

There is only one chief end: to glorify and enjoy.

If, therefore, we make this two things, we have missed the point of the Catechism (by the way, I believe Westminster got this from Calvin's Catechism: Historic Church Documents at Reformed.org ). Keep in mind that, historically speaking, the Westminster Assembly was largely a response to Calvin's letters to Duke Somerset, and to Calvin's teaching in general.

Second, if this is one chief end, there are two ways we could look at it:

1. That the enjoyment of God is defined in the context of glorifying Him

2. That the glorification of God is defined in the context of enjoying Him

This is very anecdotal, but I have a brother who is very deeply committed to Piperian principals. Over the time he has come under the influence, he has become less and less concerned with truth, and more and more with "enjoying". Perhaps he is misunderstanding the message, but if (as I believe is the case) the idea of enjoyment is given primacy, then whenever I enjoy God, I'm glorifying Him. This seems to tend toward idolatry; not that Piper or any of his followers are, but I think the principal can be misunderstood as such, very easily. Here are some examples: "I enjoy contemporary worship", or "I enjoy the happy side of God", or "I enjoy the positive, encouraging stuff about God", and therefore I glorify Him with my enjoyment, and if I begin to encounter things I don't "enjoy" about God, then I have to recast them in an "enjoyable" frame of reference.

On the other hand, we may say that man can never truly enjoy God (or anything, for that matter) unless he glorifies God. In other words, conformity to the divine Law is primary to enjoying God. This is the message, for instance, of Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, John 15, Isaiah 1, and too many other passages to name.

The problem with the second-hand Piperian things I've heard from my brother (so please correct me if I'm wrong), is that it does not seem to be framed in the biblical, covenantal structure of blessings and curses. Of Law and Authority. In other words, it is not pro-nomian, it is pro-hedonism. This is why the emphasis of Watson and Brown is on the "spiritual graces of God" and our conformity to the divine will as basic to what it means to "enjoy" God. They were pro-nomian, and framed their thoughts in terms of covenant blessings and curses.

Just a few (very anecdotal) thoughts.

Cheers,

Thanks, Adam. Read Pipers works, as I have, and you'll find he has plenty to say about obedience to God's commands. He would point out with the Scripture writers that conformity to the divine will in both heart and actions is the pathway to fulfilling one's chief end.
CSB Deuteronomy 10:13 Keep the LORD's commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Thanks, Adam. Read Pipers works, as I have, and you'll find he has plenty to say about obedience to God's commands. He would point out with the Scripture writers that conformity to the divine will in both heart and actions is the pathway to fulfilling one's chief end.
CSB Deuteronomy 10:13 Keep the LORD's commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

I will definitely pick up some of his books; any in particular that you suggest on this topic?

Also, do you know if he frames his discussion in terms of the covenantal blessings and curses found throughout scripture, but especially in the passages mentioned? Just wondering what to expect...

Cheers,
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Bob, your quotation from John Brown proves nothing so far as this issue is concerned. It proves there is an enjoyment of God in this life. That is undisputed. It is the plain statement of the Catechism. What you fail to prove is that the enjoying of God is an end in the same way that glorifying of God is an end. The reformed heritage teaches that glorifying God is the means to obtain the end of enjoying Him for ever. Please consider Thomas Boston's careful statement:

Glorifying of God is put before the enjoying of him, because the way of duty is the way to the enjoyment of God. Holiness on earth must necessarily go before felicity in heaven, Heb.12:14. There is an inseparable connection betwixt the two, as between the end and the means; so that no person who does not glorify God here, shall ever enjoy him hereafter. The connection is instituted by God himself, so that the one can never be attained without the other. Let no person, then, who has no regard for the glory and honour of God in this world, dream that he shall be crowned with glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in heavenly mansions. No; the pure in heart, and they who glorify God now, shall alone see God, to their infinite joy in heaven.

With all due apreciation and respect for Thomas Boston, I am constrained by a plain reading of the catechism to conclude that he is wrong. He is ignoring the syntax of the Catechism itself and reading his own theology into the text. The other Puritan and Reformed commentators on the catechism that I cited above disagree with Boston and they are to be preferred for the following reason:

The structure of Catechism’s language renders human enjoyment inseparably linked to God’s glorification as man’s chief end. Note carefully that the language of the Catechism inseparably binds together the glorification and enjoyment of God.
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
a. There’s only one chief end

This is evident in the fact that the framers speak of man’s chief “end” (singular) not “ends” (plural) and use the verb “is” not “are.” Apparently, the Puritans did not view the concepts of glorifying God and enjoying God as mutually independent in relation to man's chief end. But why, then, did the Puritans use two separate verbs separated by the coordinate conjunction “and” if they only intended one unified idea?

b. The flexibility of “and”

English speakers are most accustomed to read that word as a coordinate conjunction joining two words or phrases that may or may not be interdependent. When I speak of "work and play," I usually have in mind two distinct ideas that are syntactically independent. In other words, I don't mean "playfully work" or "play by working" but two separate activities that may or may not be related. But sometimes the conjunction "and" is used to connect two ideas that are mutually dependent. I’m thinking here of the literary device known as hendiadys (from three Greek words meaning, ‘one-through-two’). There are examples of nominal as well as verbal hendiadys.

Webster’s Dictionary, for instance, offers the example “grace and favor,” meaning something like “gracious favor.” Biblical examples include the expression in Luke 21:15, which literally reads, “a mouth and wisdom,” probably signifying “a wise mouth” or “words of wisdom.” The reference to “ministry and apostleship” in Acts 1:25 is best understood as “apostolic ministry.” A good exegetical argument can be made for understanding the phrase “grace and truth” (John 1:17) as conveying one basic theological idea, namely, “grace in the fullest or truest sense of the word” (cf. John 4:23-“in spirit and truth”).

There are also examples of verbal hendiadys in the Bible. Genesis 25:1 literally reads, “And Abraham added and he took a wife,” which is appropriately rendered as one basic idea: “Now Abraham took another wife” (NAS). In Exodus 34:8, we read that Moses, in response to a theophanic revelation, "made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped (NKJV).

Some modern versions drop the “and” and accurately capture the single idea expressed by the first two verbs, rendering it "Moses quickly bowed" (NET, ESV) or “Moses bowed to the ground at once” (NIV) or “Moses immediately bowed down” (CSB). Another example is the oft repeated phrase in Deuteronomy that literally reads, “be careful and do,” and which is appropriately translated “carefully do” or “observe carefully” or “be careful to do” (Deut. 4:6; 5:1, 32; 6:3; 7:11, 12). I think the prayer in Psalm 27:7, “Be gracious to me and answer me,” may also be understood as a plea that God would “graciously reply” or “mercifully answer” his prayer.

The point I’m trying to make is that “and” need not always function to distinguish two mutually independent ideas. Sometimes it functions to fuse two ideas into one inseparable concept. Accordingly, when Piper suggests that the statement “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” may mean something like “glorify God by enjoying Him forever,” it will not do simply to point out that he’s omitted the word “and” and replaced it with the preposition “by.” One must first demonstrate that the preposition “by” distorts the proper meaning of the phrase. His basic point, I think, is that the glorifying of God and the enjoyment of God are inseparably joined together.

A fellow laborer for your joy,
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Does that help?

No; because the Scripture specifically teaches that joy flows from believing. They do not simply say "rejoice." The unqualified prominence you are giving to "joy" has disastrous consequences in terms of confusing the order of the religious affections.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks, Adam. Read Pipers works, as I have, and you'll find he has plenty to say about obedience to God's commands. He would point out with the Scripture writers that conformity to the divine will in both heart and actions is the pathway to fulfilling one's chief end.
CSB Deuteronomy 10:13 Keep the LORD's commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

I will definitely pick up some of his books; any in particular that you suggest on this topic?

Also, do you know if he frames his discussion in terms of the covenantal blessings and curses found throughout scripture, but especially in the passages mentioned? Just wondering what to expect...

Cheers,

I would read When I Don't Desire God, God is the Gospel, Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life, and Let the Nations be glad. I think you'll find Piper to be, in many respects, a modern Jonathan Edwards. His theology very much resembles that found in Edwards' treatise on Religious Affections.

One of Piper's favor passages in the one I cited above, Deuteronomy 28:46-47, which definitely falls within the context of covenantal blessings and curses:
NKJ Deuteronomy 28:46 "And they [i.e., the curses] shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. 47 " Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything,
Your servant,
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Does that help?
No; because the Scripture specifically teaches that joy flows from believing. They do not simply say "rejoice." The unqualified prominence you are giving to "joy" has disastrous consequences in terms of confusing the order of the religious affections.

Mathew, neither I nor Piper nor the Puritans exclude faith when we speak of man's chief end as enjoying God forever. That's assumed. Without faith it's not only impossible to please God but it's impossible to be pleased with God. So when Paul gives the simple command, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice," he doesn't pause and say, "Oops, I forgot to insert the verb "believe" in there. Rather, he assumes that he's speaking to a Christian audience who understand that genuine joy in God must spring from a believing heart. I think you are afraid of a phantom. Some call it "Piper-phobia.":)
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
One last citation before I lay my head on the pillow. This actually comes from a pre-Westminster Assembly catechism. William Whittaker’s “Short Sum of Christianity delivered by way of Catechism” (London, 1630): “What is the only thing whereunto all our endeavors ought to be directed? To seek everlasting felicity or salvation in this life, that we may fully enjoy it in the life to come.” Note, felicity in this life and fuller enjoyment in the life to come are both described as "the only thing whereunto all our endeavors ought to be directed." Man, I sure do love these Puritans!

Grace to you,
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
With all due apreciation and respect for Thomas Boston, I am constrained by a plain reading of the catechism to conclude that he is wrong. He is ignoring the syntax of the Catechism itself and reading his own theology into the text. The other Puritan and Reformed commentators on the catechism that I cited above disagree with Boston and they are to be preferred for the following reason:

The catechism places glorifying God before enjoying Him, so the syntax supports his view. The quotations you provided did not speak to the point in dispute, so their comments are irrelevant. John Brown, whom you quoted, follows Thomas Boston, and says the glorifying of God is placed before the enjoyment of Him because the glory of God is of more value than our happiness. Dr. Warfield, whom you quoted, agrees with Thomas Boston: "We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That certainly: and certainly that first. But according to the Reformed conception man exists not merely that God may be glorified in him, but that he may delight in this glorious God. It does justice to the subjective as well as to the objective side of the case." Dr. Warfield clearly makes glorfying of God first, as an objective end, and enjoying of Him secondly, as a subjective end. To this testimonmy may be added Fisher's Catechism, Willison's Explication, and nearly every reformed commentator who has taken the time to recognise the order of the words.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
With all due apreciation and respect for Thomas Boston, I am constrained by a plain reading of the catechism to conclude that he is wrong. He is ignoring the syntax of the Catechism itself and reading his own theology into the text. The other Puritan and Reformed commentators on the catechism that I cited above disagree with Boston and they are to be preferred for the following reason:

The catechism places glorifying God before enjoying Him, so the syntax supports his view. The quotations you provided did not speak to the point in dispute, so their comments are irrelevant. John Brown, whom you quoted, follows Thomas Boston, and says the glorifying of God is placed before the enjoyment of Him because the glory of God is of more value than our happiness. Dr. Warfield, whom you quoted, agrees with Thomas Boston: "We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That certainly: and certainly that first. But according to the Reformed conception man exists not merely that God may be glorified in him, but that he may delight in this glorious God. It does justice to the subjective as well as to the objective side of the case." Dr. Warfield clearly makes glorfying of God first, as an objective end, and enjoying of Him secondly, as a subjective end. To this testimonmy may be added Fisher's Catechism, Willison's Explication, and nearly every reformed commentator who has taken the time to recognise the order of the words.

Matthew, the point of dispute between us is whether the glorifying of GOd is temporally prior to the enjoyment of God. You said above, ""Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment." I've already shown that statement to false, which you later conceded: "Bob, your quotation from John Brown proves nothing so far as this issue is concerned. It proves there is an enjoyment of God in this life. That is undisputed." Oh, but I thought you were disputing this point. :think:

Then you said, "What you fail to prove is that the enjoying of God is an end in the same way that glorifying of God is an end." Please take the time to read my exegesis of the Catechism's language (post #66), then reply. Until you deal with the actual syntax, which clearly presents glorifying and enjoying God as ONE interrelated and inseparable end, you're not engaging in debate. You're simply dodging the issue.

I'm quite aware that Warfield made the simple assertion, "We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That certainly: and certainly that first." I think he, like others, are afraid to place the subjective human response to God's glory [enjoyment] on the same level as the objective human act of glorifying God. But I think such prioritizing is unnecessary. As I've already demonstrated above, word order does not always connote priority of importance. Moreover, the Catechism is addressing man's chief end and it quite impossible to speak of man's chief end, as specified in the Catechism, without addressing the subjective element. As I said above, Judas presently is glorifying God in hell, but he is more certainly NOT fulfilling his chief end. To truly glorify God as the Catechism has in view CANNOT be fully done by man unless man is also truly enjoying God. In the words of John Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Matthew, the point of dispute between us is whether the glorifying of GOd is temporally prior to the enjoyment of God. You said above, ""Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment." I've already shown that statement to false, which you later conceded: "Bob, your quotation from John Brown proves nothing so far as this issue is concerned. It proves there is an enjoyment of God in this life. That is undisputed." Oh, but I thought you were disputing this point. :think:

I'm confused. You say what the point of dispute is -- "whether the glorifying of God is temporally prior" -- but then proceed as if I have denied an enjoyment of God in this life. It is the former, not the latter. "Joy" cannot be a present attainment in the context of trials, where it is something to be "counted." I did not say joy in and of itself was something which could not be experienced.

I'm quite aware that Warfield made the simple assertion, "We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That certainly: and certainly that first." I think he, like others, are afraid

I simply acknowledge your concession. Hence your reformed quotations do not prove what you seek to draw from them. You will need to find other reformed quotations which speak to the point in dispute and not simply to a present enjoyment of God.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Matthew, the point of dispute between us is whether the glorifying of GOd is temporally prior to the enjoyment of God. You said above, ""Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment." I've already shown that statement to false, which you later conceded: "Bob, your quotation from John Brown proves nothing so far as this issue is concerned. It proves there is an enjoyment of God in this life. That is undisputed." Oh, but I thought you were disputing this point. :think:

I'm confused. You say what the point of dispute is -- "whether the glorifying of God is temporally prior" -- but then proceed as if I have denied an enjoyment of God in this life. It is the former, not the latter. "Joy" cannot be a present attainment in the context of trials, where it is something to be "counted." I did not say joy in and of itself was something which could not be experienced.
Matthew, you're a riot :lol:. You accept my "concession" below but appear resistant to make any concessions yourself. You apparently think I've misunderstood you. So I'll squeeze a little harder this time.

First, you said, "Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment." You may be alluding to James statement, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2). The word translated "count" means "to regard or consider." So, one might infer from James' statement that suffering saints are only permitted to "think about" something which in no way can be, to use your words, "a present attainment." I've already cited 1 Peter 1:6-8, which describes believers "loving" Jesus and experiencing "joy inexpressible and full of glory" while they were in the midst of various trials. But that passage apparently didn't get your conscience. Perhaps you see the joy they experienced as taking place during the intervals of reprieve in between the suffering. So I'll try another passage. How about this one:
NKJ Hebrews 10:34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
Note the following: first, these brothers were enduring trials. They were suffering the plundering of their goods, perhaps because of their commitment to help the writer (who, according to some, may have been Paul) while he was imprisoned. Second, they willingly allowed their property to be confiscated (not a happy prospect) because they were thinking about a better prospect. So, like their Master, they were enduring suffering, being motivated by "the joy set before" them (Heb. 12:2). Third, concurrent with their trial and their contemplation of future blessing was an immediate experience of joy--they "joyfully accepted the plundering of their goods." In other words, joy in God in the midst of trials IS A PRESENT ATTAINMENT. So, touche. :D

I'm quite aware that Warfield made the simple assertion, "We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That certainly: and certainly that first." I think he, like others, are afraid

I simply acknowledge your concession. Hence your reformed quotations do not prove what you seek to draw from them. You will need to find other reformed quotations which speak to the point in dispute and not simply to a present enjoyment of God.
The point of dispute is whether the Puritans intended a temporal priority or even a value priority by the word order of the Catechism. I concede that there are mixed voices. (Indeed, if you'll read my initial post on this thread I cited a number of Reformed authors who seem to emphasize the glorifying God part while minimizing the enjoying God part.) But a good many treat them as inseparably joined and argue that one must do the one in order to achieve the other. Warfield's one little statement, "That [to glorify God] certainly: and certainly that first," is infelicitous. I don't believe Warfield was suggesting by this phraseology a kind of temporal priority, viz, the Christian must glorify God first, in distinction from enjoying God, making the enjoyment of God only a "byproduct" of glorifying God. If that was his intention, then he's just uttered self-contradictory statement. For he has asserted (full quote this time):
The peculiarity of this first question and the answer of the Westminster Catechisms, it will be seen, is the felicity with which it brings to concise expression the whole Reformed conception of the significance of human life. We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. [note: can't abstract the two; can't speak of glorifying God apart from enjoying him] That certainly: and certainly that first.[? temporal priority? priority of importance? What do you mean Warfield?] But according to the Reformed conception man exists not merely that God may be glorified in him, but that he may delight in this glorious God. It does justice to the subjective as well as to the objective side of the case. [BTW, one cannot speak of man fulfilling his chief end only in objective terms--impossible! He cannot fulfill his chief end unless his heart is subjectively engaged] The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured. [so, to speak of glorifying God first and then to speak of the enjoyment of God as a temporal consequence that comes later is not possible, says Warfield. The two must go hand in hand.] It conceives man also as the subject in which the gloriousness of God is perceived and delighted in. No man is truly Reformed in his thought, then, unless he conceives of man not merely as destined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, but also as destined to reflect the glory of God in his own consciousness, to exult in God: nay, unless he himself delights in God as the all-glorious One. [Right, Benjamin! Now you're talking. Keep them together. One cannot fully glorify God as God intends unless he's doing it consciously (with mind and heart engaged), which is, according to Warfield, the whole point of adding the phrase, "and to enjoy him forever." Thanks, brother Ben, for clearing the matter up for us.]
But, you ask, why then does Warfield and some (not all, since I've cited others above who treat them as coordinate and coequal) of the other commentators on the confession feel the need to accord some kind of priority to "glorifying God" over "enjoying God"? I believe Christians, like Warfield and many of us, have a natural tendency to give "glorifying God" some kind of value priority over "enjoying God" because we're zealous to maintain that God himself is more important than man. That desire is noble and biblical. But such a concern misses the point of the Catechism. The issue at hand is not who's more important, God or Man? The issue at hand is, What is man's chief end? For what purpose has man been created and what is the heart motive that should drive all this actions? Hence, to provide an answer that does not include and address the subjective involvement of the human heart would be incomplete and possibly misunderstood.

Allow me to expand on this thought a bit. One mistake sometimes made by interpreters of the Shorter Catechism is to confuse or conflate God’s decretive design for the entire universe with his moral design for humanity. God’s decretive design or his will of purpose refers to God’s eternal plan and his sovereign providence which embrace all of reality. It embraces everything that comes to pass, whether moral or non-moral, whether good or evil. In this sense, we may say that everything that ever has happened or that ever will happen shall bring glory to God. From the star that shines in the sky to the sparrow that falls to the ground; from the missionary who preaches the gospel to the young college student who rejects the gospel—one way or another, all things, events, and persons shall, in respect to God’s design of decree, fulfill His purpose and bring glory to his name.
ESV Exodus 9:16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

ESV Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
ESV Romans 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--
In this sense, even Judas Iscariot’s act of betrayal, his suicide, and his present sufferings in hell are fulfilling God’s design of decree. However, the Scriptures also speak of God’s will of precept or his moral design for humanity. God’s will of decree refers to what is. But God’s will of precept refers to what should be—what God expects from his moral beings.
Now which of these two designs did the framers of our Catechism have in view when speaking of man’s chief end? Does “man’s chief end” refer God’s ultimate decree for men—whether good or evil, whether heaven or hell? Or does “man’s chief end refer to God’s ultimate moral design for humanity—what God really desires man to be and to do?

The Catechism clarifies which of God’s designs for humanity is in view in the second question/answer. After identifying “man’s chief end,” the Catechism asks, “What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?” The answer: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. Obviously, the authors of the Confession are placing man’s chief end within the narrower sphere of God’s revealed will of precept.
ESV Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
In one sense, it might be said that Judas Iscariot is bringing God glory in hell, since God ordains all things, even the damnation of the wicked for his own glory. Yet, it would not be appropriate to conclude that Judas is fulfilling his chief end in the way Scripture commanded him to do. To the contrary, Judas has “fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

How then do the framers of the Catechism summarize man’s doing “all the words of this law”? The Catechism clarifies the phrase “to glorify God” with the phrase “to enjoy him” placing man’s chief end clearly within God’s moral purpose for humanity rather than his decretive purpose. By adding the phrase “to enjoy him” the framers of the confession are limiting “man’s chief end” to those human beings who are saints on earth or in heaven. It might be said that Judas Iscariot is bringing God glory in hell. But it cannot be said that Judas Iscariot is enjoying God in hell. And to the extent that Judas is not enjoying God he is not glorifying God as his chief end in the sense intended by the authors of our Catechism. According to the Catechism, God’s desires that men glorify AND enjoy Him as their chief end. Therefore, the concept of God’s chief end for humanity applies to the realm of God’s revealed will not his decretive will.

Why does God's revealed will demand the addition of "the enjoyment of God" to the prospect of "the glorifying of God"? Because, and please don't miss this, God’s revealed will demands nothing less than “heart-religion.” According to Scripture, all of creation was made to glorify God.
ESV Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

ESV Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
This includes the inanimate creation, such as rocks, trees, mountains, rivers, sun, moon, and stars (Psa. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:19-20). This also includes the animate creation, such as birds, fish, and all manner of wild and domesticated animals (Psa. 104:11-32). However, it is vital to note that the first question of the Catechism is not dealing with the question of the entire creation’s chief end. Rather, our Puritan forefathers are focused upon one aspect of God’s creation: “What is the chief end of man?” they ask. And it is vitally important for properly interpreting the Catechism that we note this limitation.

What makes man differ from all the rest of creation (excepting angels)? One of the primary differences between man and the rest of creation is the fact that man has been endowed with an inward spiritual faculty which the Bible often refers to as “the heart.” The worship of rocks, hills, trees, stars, and even animals is, in a real sense, “heartless” worship. They all glorify God, but they cannot enjoy him—at least in the sense man is able to do.

But God has endowed men and women with a heart. And this inward faculty of the heart includes the mind, the conscience, the will, and the emotions. These spiritual or psychological faculties are what distinguish men inanimate and animal creation. Therefore, man’s chief end, as opposed to the chief end of rocks, trees, clouds, starts, birds, fish, and cattle, must involve the heart. The mountains and rivers may fulfill their chief end “heartlessly.” Even the animals may fulfill their chief end “heartlessly.” However, when it comes to mankind—made in the image of God—man’s ultimate purpose for existence must embrace a heart that is rightly oriented towards the creator. It is not enough for man to “draw near to God with his lips and yet have his heart be far from God” (Matt. 15:8). God must have man’s heart!
ESV Deut 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Matthew, if our chief end demands the engagement of our heart God-ward, then it certainly includes the enjoyment of God, does it not? Is it possible to “love God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” and yet not enjoy Him? Remember, the enjoyment of God refers to the gratifying of our desires in who God is and in what he does for us. God has so designed the human heart so as to find its greatest pleasure and joy in God himself!

So this is why "to glorify God and to enjoy God must be viewed as ONE END (not two), and what the Puritans put together, let's not put asunder! Moreover, this is why Geerhardus Vos and John Piper can speak of a "spiritualized" or Christian form of hedonism.

A fellow worker for your joy (2 Cor. 1:24),
 
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shackleton

Puritan Board Junior
I have read "Desiring God" and have listened to a lot of Piper on mp3, the point I got out of what he was trying to say is that we seek to glorify God and have the mind of Christ and when we have this our desires are his, and when this happens we get joy from it. In other words, when our desires are his we get joy from this. The same way you get joy from doing what pleases your wife or kids, you do what makes them happy or gives them joy and you do this because you love them. Your joy is not the aim it is just something that happens. You make them happy and this makes you happy. It is an unintended end not the means.

We gain the mind of Christ and do what pleases him because we love him, without our own joy in mind, we do it because his desires are our desires, and we get joy from this not as our goal but as a result of doing what pleases one that we love.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
I have read "Desiring God" and have listened to a lot of Piper on mp3, the point I got out of what he was trying to say is that we seek to glorify God and have the mind of Christ and when we have this our desires are his, and when this happens we get joy from it. In other words, when our desires are his we get joy from this. The same way you get joy from doing what pleases your wife or kids, you do what makes them happy or gives them joy and you do this because you love them. Your joy is not the aim it is just something that happens. You make them happy and this makes you happy. It is an unintended end not the means.

We gain the mind of Christ and do what pleases him because we love him, without our own joy in mind, we do it because his desires are our desires, and we get joy from this not as our goal but as a result of doing what pleases one that we love.

Erick,

Thanks for jumping into the discussion and offering the helpful input. I think I understand what you saying and agree with most of it though I'd like a little clarification on a few things you've said. Above you said, "When we have this [i.e., the pursuit of God's glory and the mind of Christ] our desires are his, and when this happens we get joy from it." Since God does everything for his own glory and finds the greatest pleasure in himself, then when we imitate God--not in the sense seeking our own glory and gratification in ourselves but in the most beautiful and soul-satisfying Being in the universe, i.e., God--then, yes, we do get joy from this. I agree.

You seem a little uncomfortable with viewing enjoyment in God as "our goal." You prefer to review it "as a result of doing what pleases one that we love." I'm wondering why it can't be both? The reason I say that is because the Bible seems to speak of heaven and seeing God not merely as a result or byproduct of serving the Lord but as a reward, as a goal, which in turn serves as a motivation for faith and godly living. I think Piper would agree, and the Shorter Catechism portrays glorifying God as well as enjoying God both as goals and motivations for Christian living. Consider the following texts:
NKJ Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Notice that persecuted believers are to count themselves as favored and fortunate not merely because they're doing God's will but because God is going to reward them in heaven. True, heavenly reward will be a result of faithful service. But more than that, the very prospect of heavenly reward becomes a motivation to faithfulness and a goal after which we should strive. Of course, that reward is God himself!
NKJ Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
If we delight in God, then the result will be that God will fulfill the desires of our heart. I think this goes along with what you're saying. But I think the Psalmist is saying more. He's commanding us to pursue pleasure in God as a lifelong, yea, eternal goal. And the motivation for such a God-intoxicated life? Reward--"He shall give you the desires of your heart."
NKJ Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Certainly, the result of Jesus' obedience unto death was exaltation and a name above every name (Phil. 2:8-11). Nevertheless, this text tells us that "the joy set before him" was not merely a result of his obedience but one of the primary goals of and motivations for his obedience. What is more, the author of Hebrews encourages believers to mortify sin and persevere through hardship "looking unto Jesus," that is, following his example. So believers are here encouraged to make "the joy" of heaven a goal and a motivation for self-denying, self-sacrificing devotion to God.

Hence, I think it's fair to say that while the enjoyment of God is a result of glorifying God, it is also, like glorifying God, a goal and motive for Christian living. Similarly, one might speak of glorifying God not merely as a goal and motive for Christian living but as the result of our finding our highest joy and satisfaction in God as he is revealed in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The issue at hand is not who's more important, God or Man? The issue at hand is, What is man's chief end? For what purpose has man been created and what is the heart motive that should drive all this actions?

The differences really come down to this point. I shudder to think where a theology would lead which does not emphasise the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The purpose for which man has been created is God's glory. The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Even those who do not enjoy God for ever passively serve to glorify God. God is blessed for ever! Nothing man does can add to or detract from His perfect blessedness.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
The issue at hand is not who's more important, God or Man? The issue at hand is, What is man's chief end? For what purpose has man been created and what is the heart motive that should drive all this actions?

The differences really come down to this point. I shudder to think where a theology would lead which does not emphasise the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The purpose for which man has been created is God's glory. The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Even those who do not enjoy God for ever passively serve to glorify God. God is blessed for ever! Nothing man does can add to or detract from His perfect blessedness.

Matthew,

Let's be careful that we're not misunderstanding or talking past each other.

First, I affirm with you that God is more important than man. In fact, both propositions--glorifying God and enjoying God--are designed to keep God at the center of man's existence.

Second, I affirm with you the fact that God has created all thing for his glory, even the wicked for the day of judgment. Hence, Judas Iscariot is glorifying God in hell by displaying God's almighty power and perfect justice.

Thirdly, I affirm that God doesn't ultimately need man. Indeed, He was never obliged to create man in the first place. But out of sheer grace, God created man as his image both to reflect and also to enjoy His glory.

It is this last point that the framers of our Confession are addressing. They are referring not merely to what the universe does but to what beings made in the image of God ought to do. This is supported by the fact that Q2 of the Catechism immediately focuses our attention not on God's decree but on God's revealed word, which serves as the rule to direct man how to glorify and enjoy God.

This is why the glorification of God and enjoyment of God are inseparable when we are talking about what God's created images ought to do. Since Judas Iscariot is not enjoying God in hell he is not fulfilling man's chief end as defined by the precepts of Scripture. We may speak of him passively glorifying God. But as B. B. Warfield makes abundantly clear (and I truly don't intend to nauseate you with another quote):
The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured. [The Reformed conception as reflected in the Shorter Catechism] conceives man also as the subject in which the gloriousness of God is perceived and delighted in. No man is truly Reformed in his thought, then, unless he conceives of man not merely as destined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, but also as destined to reflect the glory of God in his own consciousness, to exult in God: nay, unless he himself delights in God as the all-glorious One.
BTW, what did you think of the text in Hebrews 10:34? Didn't I score a point on that one? :cheers2:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Since Judas Iscariot is not enjoying God in hell he is not fulfilling man's chief end as defined by the precepts of Scripture.

Agreed. Judas' chief end was to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. He did not glorify God and now he suffers from God forever. Every way we state the idea it is undeniable that temporal priority falls on the glorifying of God, and the enjoying of God is dependent upon it.

But as B. B. Warfield makes abundantly clear (and I truly don't intend to nauseate you with another quote):
The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured.​

Also agreed. (Please remember the ad nauseam statement pertained to the formal argument which was being made, not to some personal feeling.) But this only goes to show that the enjoyment of God's blessedness is a part of man's chief end. The Catechism expressly states this and no person denies it.

BTW, what did you think of the text in Hebrews 10:34? Didn't I score a point on that one? :cheers2:

This is also what is exhorted in James. But please note vv. 35, 36, "after that ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Again, fruition of God is dependent on glorifying of God.

Blessings!
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
The issue at hand is not who's more important, God or Man? The issue at hand is, What is man's chief end? For what purpose has man been created and what is the heart motive that should drive all this actions?

The differences really come down to this point. I shudder to think where a theology would lead which does not emphasise the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Matthew,

One last think. I affirm with you the vital and central importance of fearing God. Of course, the Scriptures also present loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But I think Deuteronomy 10:12-13 is a helpful text that brings both heart dispositions together:
NKJ Deuteronomy 10:12 " And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 "and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
Note how Moses brings together the fear of God and the love of God as the supreme motivations for our service, i.e., walk in his ways, serve him, and keep his commandments. The fear of God reminds us that our adoration must contain the element of awe, which befits a relationship between the creature and his Creator/Sovereign/Redeemer.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Since Judas Iscariot is not enjoying God in hell he is not fulfilling man's chief end as defined by the precepts of Scripture.

Agreed. Judas' chief end was to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. He did not glorify God and now he suffers from God forever. Every way we state the idea it is undeniable that temporal priority falls on the glorifying of God, and the enjoying of God is dependent upon it.

But as B. B. Warfield makes abundantly clear (and I truly don't intend to nauseate you with another quote):
The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured.​

Also agreed. (Please remember the ad nauseam statement pertained to the formal argument which was being made, not to some personal feeling.) But this only goes to show that the enjoyment of God's blessedness is a part of man's chief end. The Catechism expressly states this and no person denies it.

BTW, what did you think of the text in Hebrews 10:34? Didn't I score a point on that one? :cheers2:

This is also what is exhorted in James. But please note vv. 35, 36, "after that ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Again, fruition of God is dependent on glorifying of God.

Blessings!

Thanks, Matthew. good observations on verses 35 and 36. By the way, do you have a favorite beer? Most Reformed guys I've met do. I noticed you're from Australia, and I have to say I've grown quite fond of Guinness Extra Stout. A good American brew is Samuel Adam's Cream Stout.

Your servant,
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
One last think. I affirm with you the vital and central importance of fearing God. Of course, the Scriptures also present loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But I think Deuteronomy 10:12-13 is a helpful text that brings both heart dispositions together:

Aren't fear and love in this context different actions of the objective requiring us to glorify God? Enjoyment or fruition of God properly relates to being blessed in Him. This enjoyment is announced in v. 13, "for thy good."
 

SolaGratia

Puritan Board Junior
"We say, that God made man neither to damn him nor to save him; neither salvation nor damnation were God's ultimate end in making him, but His own glory, which will be answered one way or another, either in his salvation or damnation." -John Gill
 

shackleton

Puritan Board Junior
I think we should treat a relationship with God as we would any relationship. If we have been saved and exist in a loving relationship with God, through Christ, are we supposed to live in fear of him? Or do we do what pleases him because of the type of relationship we have with him? I believe it is the later.

I don't think God created us to be miserable, the Fall has done that. The Fall has made it so that we do not want to do what is pleasing to God but only what pleases us. The fallen man's desires are to work to please the person he loves most, himself. The Christian man works to please the person he loves most, God.

The Fall has not changed our obligation to glorify God and do what pleases him but it has made it impossible for the unregenerate man to do what pleases him. He does not want to because he is at enmity with God. The unregenerate man works to please himself, his greatest love. The regenerate man works to please his greatest love, God. Each type of person gets joy out of pleasing the one they love whether it is God or self.

I would imagine God is not opposed to our seeking joy by pleasing him, maybe this is added motivation for us to please him. If we are adopted children bought with the blood of his Son are we still to live in fear of God or are we to have the relationship a child has with his father. A relationship where a child wants to please his father because he loves him and wants to please him and gets joy from doing so. That does not mean there is not respect but I think fear of punishment is no longer a motivation for the Christian.

It is probably a lot like the relationship between Christian liberty and abstinence, or grace versus works people are afraid if we are allowed to much freedom or believe too much in grace we will go too far and think anything goes.

*I apologize if this is rambling and incoherent I just read the book this month and I am formulating my thoughts about it as I write. :)
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
Since it was brought up I will have to say I'm a big fan of Young's Stouts. They make an oatmeal stout and a chocolate stout and I love them both. I gravitate towards stouts, ales and porters. Yuengling makes some good beer, especially their black n tan and their porter.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Since it was brought up I will have to say I'm a big fan of Young's Stouts. They make an oatmeal stout and a chocolate stout and I love them both. I gravitate towards stouts, ales and porters. Yuengling makes some good beer, especially their black n tan and their porter.

Manley, have you every tried a Rogue Chocolate Stout? Comes in pints. Good stuff. :cheers2:
 
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