Last semester when we were talking about the doctrine of the Trinity, our prof. encouraged us to use the Trinitarian nature of God as a starting point for all the theological concepts we deal with. He demonstrated by talking about omnipotence and gracious use of power, and after class I decided to tackle a toughy: hell! "Ok," I thought, "we have a God who is eternally love within God's self...perfect self-giving and other-recieving love. How does God pre-ordaining the damned fit into this picture? Uhh...."
One common argument given to defend double-predestination is, "If it glorifies God, it must be ok!" So, what is God's nature and how is he glorified? As I was pondering and googling, I came across a couple quotes from John Piper and Karl Barth over at Der Evangelische Theologe that illustrate how two theologians explain the relationship between God's love and God's glory:
“God’s ultimate goal therefore is to preserve and display his inifinte and awesome greatness and worth, that is, his glory. God has many other goals in what he does. But none of them is more ultimate than this. They are all subordinate. God’s overwhelming passion is to exalt the value of his glory. To that end, he seeks to display it, to oppose those who belittle it, and to vindicate it from all contempt. It is clearly the uppermost reality in his affections. He loves his glory infinitely. This is the same as saying: he loves himself infinitely.”Barth:
“God’s loving is an end in itself. All the purposes that are willed and achieved in Him are contained and explained in this end, and therefore in this loving in itself and as such. For this loving is itself the blessing that it communicates to the loved…Certainly in loving us God wills His own glory and our salvation. But He does not love us because He wills this. He wills it for the sake of His love. God loves in realising these purposes. But God loves because He loves; because this act is His being, His essence and His nature. He loves without and before realising these purposes. He loves to eternity. Even in realising them, He loves because He loves.”
At the risk of oversimplification, it seems like what it comes down to is:
Piper: God loves his glory!
Barth: God's love is his glory!
I guess for Piper if God has some hidden purpose for damning people from the beginning of time, it's ok if it contributes to his glory. Barth, on the other hand, sees God's glory in his perfect love and forgiveness of all people. You can probably guess that I'm more partial to the second reading. I don't know...I feel like Piper's God has to somehow protect his reputation by only electing a select few. Why wouldn't God be just as glorified if he elected everybody? Piper doesn't really define God's glory; it's sort of this terrifying, hidden thing. I think Barth's view of God's glory is rooted in where God's glory is most fully revealed: the cross of Christ. His glory is not his ability to exercise power as he pleases, but humility and perfect, self-giving love.
But what do I know...I'm not a theologian. Thoughts?