Have you ever heard a Calvinist say, “It’s all about the glory of God?” That seems to be a common expression, but it begs the question:
What brings God the most glory? Non-Calvinists believe that God is most glorified by His love and provision for all people. Would Calvinists ever affirm that God is most glorified by stepping on poor helpless creatures who can only think and do what is exhaustively decreed for them?
What do Calvinists believe?
Vincent Cheung: “One who thinks that God’s glory is not worth the death and suffering of billions of people has too high an opinion of himself and humanity.”159
James White: “The punishment of deserving sinners glorifies Him in the demonstration of His holiness and righteousness.”160
James White: “God is all-sufficient, and all life, glory, goodness and blessedness are found in Him and in Him alone. He does not stand in need of any of the creatures that He has made, nor does He derive any part of His glory from them. On the contrary, He manifests His own glory in and by them.”161
James White: “The truth is that the Bible speaks much of free willGod’s free will, that is, not man’s. The utter freedom of God to do with His creation as He sees fit, not as His creatures see fit, is a constant theme. God’s purpose rules over all, not just in the ‘big things’ but in all things. This is the basis of the Christian doctrine of God’s eternal decree: that in creating all that exists, God does so for a purpose, that being His own glorification.”162
In Calvinism, the purpose of humanity, elect and non-elect, is to display God’s various attributes of love and hate, peace and wrath, grace and judgment. However, wouldn’t that just be vanity? Why would God feel any need to do this? How would that be an honorable pursuit?
Moreover, if God is the source and origin of all good and evil on display, then would that make God morally ambiguous? Calvinism ultimately seems to portray God like the flawed gods of the Greeks and Romans.
Conversely, non-Calvinists believe that God created humanity with the purpose and intention of having a relationship, in which freewill makes relationships truly possible, insomuch that free-will is necessary for there to be genuine worship and reciprocated love. In other words, God is most glorified by His love and provision for all people, with real relationships among real people who are not puppets who are irresistibly forced to do anything.
God’s greatest glory is manifested in His own selflessness. God does not selfishly sacrifice creation for the sake of His own glory, but instead He selflessly sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all. It is the selfless motive of Christ’s sacrifice that brings Him so much glory. To in anyway undermine the selflessness of the Divine motive actually undermines the very thing that makes His grace so glorious.
Jesus described the greatest commandment at Matthew 22:37-40:
“And He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”
So, the purpose of the world is to glorify God by reciprocating His love, and to effect the same in others, by showing them God’s love so that they would love God in return.
Dave Hunt: “…God sovereignly endued man with a free will so that he could love God and his fellows from his heart. Man’s will is no threat to God’s sovereignty. Instead, it brings greater glory to God, who wins the love and praise of those who are free to choose otherwise.”163
Dave Hunt: “We have quoted leading Calvinists to the effect that God is the cause of the evil in each heart. If so, in preventing evil, wouldn’t God be restraining Himself? What is the point, and how would that bring Him glory? The sovereignty White elevates above all else turns out to rule over a theatre of meaningless marionettes.”164
Dave Hunt: “Surely love is the most important and most thrilling subject of all–and nothing is so beautiful as God’s love manifest in Jesus Christ. Tragically, Calvinism robs us of what ought to be ‘the greatest story ever told.’ It reduces God’s love to a form of favoritism without passion, and it denies man the capacity of responding from his heart, thereby robbing God of the joy of a genuine response from man and the glory it alone can bring.”165
Roger Olson: “True glory, the best glory, the right glory, worthy of worship and honor and devotion, necessarily includes goodness. Power without goodness is not truly glorious, even if it is called that. What makes someone or something worthy of veneration is not sheer might, but goodness. Who is more worthy of imitation and even veneration: Mother Teresa or Adolph Hitler? The latter conquered most of Europe. The former had little power outside of her example, and yet most people would say that Mother Teresa was more glorious than Adolph Hitler. God is glorious because He is both great and good, and His goodness, like His greatness, must have some resonance with our best and highest notions of goodness, or else it is meaningless. All that is to say that Arminianism’s critics are the proverbial people casting stones while living in glass houses. They talk endlessly about God’s glory, and about God-centeredness, while sucking the goodness out of God, and thus divesting Him of real glory. Their theology may be God-centered, but the God at its center is unworthy of being at the center. Better a man-centered theology, than one that revolves around a Being hardly distinguishable from the devil. In spite of objections to the contrary, I will argue that classical Arminian theology is just as God-centered as Calvinism, if not more so, that God at its center, whose glory, to the contrary of critic’s claims, is the chief end or purpose of everything, is not morally ambiguous, which is the main point of Arminianism.”166
159 The Problem of Evil, 2004, 10, www.vincentcheung.com.
160 Debating Calvinism (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2004), 269.
161 Ibid., 35.
162 Ibid., 36.
163 Debating Calvinism (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2004), 49.
164 Ibid., 51.
165 Ibid., 255.
166 Roger Olson: What is God Centered Theology?, 8:06-10:05,