An Ordinary Pastor’s Brief Review of The Glory of God:
Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson have blessed the church with a helpful volume in Crossway”™s “Theology in Community” series, entitled, The Glory of God. The aim of the book is to ask and answer the question, “what does the Bible teach” about God”™s glory (20). The editors seek a two pronged attack in achieving their aim. Chapters 1-6 seek to “help us glorify God in our minds by focusing on biblical and theological truths related to his glory. Chapters 7 and 8 help us rejoice in our hearts as they illuminate how these truths about God”™s glory shape our view and approach to the church, pastoral ministry, and missions” (21). Nine different authors, all instructors at theological institutions, contribute to the volume. The audience is intended to be college and seminary students and those pastors with such training (14).
The book is arranged by addressing the subject of God”™s glory historically, then from the perspective of the Old Testament, New Testament, the Synoptic Gospels/Acts/General Epistles, John”™s Gospel/Revelation, and Paul”™s Epistles. The book then contains a chapter on the overall theology of God”™s glory, and concludes with chapters on pastoral and missional implications of God”™s glory.
I found the structure and arrangement of the book helpful. Moving from an historical sweep to looking at how God”™s glory is described in detail from the Old Testament through the emphases in various New Testament genre, then to a more global evaluation of the biblical material, ending with more practical implications was a logical way to study the subject. Most chapters were carefully arranged, giving an excellent synopsis of the content in the final paragraph.
The most striking chapters for me included Nichols”™ opening chapter discussing God”™s glory both “past and present.” He analyzed how the glory of God was central within the theological emphasis of Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Roman Catholic, the more Reformed perspective of John Piper and Jonathan Edwards, and then a Dispensationalist, Charles Ryrie. Nichols comments regarding John Piper were more a rehearsal of Jonathan Edwards”™ material than Piper”™s. The chapter was a track of historical perspective I did not readily expect. With Rome”™s divergent gospel, I wondered how von Balthasar”™s understanding of God”™s glory was differentiated from that of Edwards and Ryrie. The section on Ryrie was brief and left me wanting more detail on how Dispensationalism uniquely stressed the glory of God.
The strongest chapters were those by Mellick and Morgan. Mellick covered the glory of God in the Synoptic Gospels, Acts, and the General Epistles. His chapter was a thorough overview of these biblical sections. Morgan”™s overview of an overall theology of God”™s glory was an excellent example of how one can derive theological conclusions from exegetical study.
The weaker portions of the book for me included the less than systematically arranged chapter by Gaffin on the glory of God in Paul. While thorough, it appeared more scattered in its arrangement and proved more difficult to follow his train of thought and how, from Pauline material, he inductively arrived at his conclusions.
The final chapter, on the missional implications of God”™s glory, was also not as strong as the majority of the book. While most chapters made their case from a biblical starting point, Jennings seems preoccupied with pointing to supposed secular foundations behind biblical texts. He seemed to suggest that being missional begins by understanding other religious traditions and how those traditions provided a foundation for what the biblical authors said concerning the glory of God. I found him less convincing than other contributors to the book.
The book is written by a group of theological scholars which brought a high degree of biblical stability and clarity to each chapter. I found my heart yearning for more detail on the implications of what these author”™s unveiled. The book definitely nails it”™s first objective in answering the question as to what the Bible says about God”™s glory, but could be much stronger in fulfilling its second aim in inspiring the heart to greater affection for the glory of God. Perhaps having an active pastor contribute a chapter would have helped. In fact, the heart was hit best when the authors quoted a pastoral theologian like Jonathan Edwards and John Piper.
Overall, this is an excellent resource to make your way through in setting a thoroughly biblical framework for understanding the glory of God.