Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wolfhart Pannenberg on Whether God's Glory is the Reason God Created the World

"In the older Protestant dogmatics the idea of a direct self-reference of the divine action whereby God is its final goal was adopted in the form of the statement that the glory of God and its recognition and praising by creatures is the goal of creation. In the discussions it is not always clear whether this is the goal of the act of creation or of the resultant creaturely reality. Undoubtedly the biblical testimonies tell us that it is the destiny of creatures to praise and honor God and to extol his glory. Herein the existence of creatures, and especially of human creatures, reaches its fulfillment (Rev. 19:1ff), for thus they participate in the Son's glorifying of the Father (John 17:4). Thus it is our human destiny and the goal of our existence to glorify God by our lives. Our sin is our withholding from God the honor that is due him as Creator (Rom. 1:21). Nevertheless, it is rather a different thing to maintain that the basis of God's resolve to create the world was that thereby he might glorify himself. Certainly the work that God created redounds to his glory. We may say this at any rate in the light of the eschatological consummation of the world and in believing anticipation of this future of God, which will resolve all doubts concerning theodicy. Every creature should confess, then, that the world was made for God's glory.

"Nevertheless, the creature was not created in order that God should receive glory from it. God does not need this, for he is already God in himself from all eternity. He does not need to become God through his action or much less become sure of his deity in the mirror of creaturely praise. A God who first and last sought his own glory in his action would be a model for the attitude that in us constitutes the perversion of sin in the form of self-seeking (amor sui). As the activation and expression of his free love, God's creative action is oriented wholly to creatures. They are both the object and the goal of creation. Herein is his glory as Creator, the glory of the Father, who is glorified by the Son and by the Spirit in creatures."

--Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology: Volume 2, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994 [1991]), 56-57


  1. "A God who first and last sought his own glory in his action would be a model for the attitude that in us constitutes the perversion of sin in the form of self-seeking (amor sui)." <----THIS!

    Brad, thank you for sharing.

  2. I enjoy reading Pannenberg.

    The answer to the question of God's purpose in creation varies from religion to religion. Islam teaches in the Quran that Mankind was created to live in submission to Allah and for the purpose of worshipping Allah. Qur'an 51:56 states, "I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship."

    Genesis 1 and 2 tell us that Mankind was created by a divine act and fashioned in the image of the Creator. Christians believe that Mankind was created to enjoy perfect fellowship with the Trinity, in whose image and likeness we were made. When we seek God, are renewed in our nature through Jesus Christ, and progress in sanctity by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we carry the created world with us to its renewal. When we fail in this, the created world suffers with us as well (Rom. 8:19-22). The loss of communion is restored in Jesus Christ and the creation is waiting for the great revealing. Amazing to contemplate and incomprehensible to my small mind.