The Glory of God

“…for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen!!”

As a Christian and pastor I am very familiar with the Doxology that serves as the capstone of the Lord’s Prayer in worship. Many of us are familiar with the meaning of both the concepts of Kingdom and Power, but what about Glory. What is the glory of God?

Biblically the glory of God literally means the weight of God’s dignity and worth. God has infinite gravitas.  This weight reflects the ontological complexity and moral depth of the person of God. Glory is the inherent worth, dignity, complexity, and deepness of God. Martin Luther referred to such complexity as the “hiddenness of God” (Deus Absconditus); Karl Barth called such depth the “wholly otherness” of God (Totalitar Alitar). No matter how theologians have attempted to describe God’s glory none have captured it in full.

One theologian I think who has come very close in capturing this is St. Anselm (though the finite can never contain the infinite). Let me share a quote from St. Anselm I memorized some years ago, but only until more recently have I become slightly more capable in breaking through the surface to fathom (only somewhat) the meaning of Anselm’s depth of thought. He says:

Again, if there is nothing greater or better than God, there is nothing more just than supreme justice, which maintains God’s honor in the arrangement of things, and [sic] which is nothing else but God himself…. Therefore [sic] God maintains nothing with more justice that the honor of his own dignity.[1]

In Chapter XIII, from which the broader context of this quote is taken, St. Anselm speaks in terms of justice. St. Anselm speaks in terms of justice as both “the order of things” and the “arrangement of things,” on the one hand, and, on the another, justice as honor due to God which Anselm explains as being simply “God himself.” We see that ultimate justice is concerned about the proper social order, but one defined in relationship to God. Proper order is defined as humanity honoring God. We can say that the social condition or (more precisely) the economy of a rightly ordered society is constitutive of ultimate justice, but the social economy, or condition of humanity of a rightly ordered society, is secondary to the divine economy of God. This divine economy of God takes moral precedent over-and-above the social conditions of a rightly ordered society. What is this divine economy? Anselm contends that it is “God himself,” i.e., the person of God. The person of God is the “honor of his own dignity.” Anselm notes that honor is something due to God. In other words (to put it in the parlance of the moral discourse of rights), God has a claim-right to honor. Honor is the respect due to God which is commensurable to God’s inherent worth or dignity. In short God’s divine rights are His claims to honor: the cardinal claim-rights of worship and obedience.

What St. Anselm is articulating is consistent with the glory of God. The glory of God is the inherent worth and dignity which serves as the ontological and moral ground of God’s inherent rights, that is, primarily the right to worship and to obedience. This is why the glory of God is inextricably connected to the worship of God.

The next time we pray the “Lord’s Prayer” may we be reminded of the glory of our Lord and His inherent claim-right to be worshiped. “…for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen!”

Sola Deo Gloria

Carl


[1] St. Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, trans. Sidney Norton Deane (Texas, Fort Worth: RDMc Publishing), 43.

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One response to “The Glory of God

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