On Joseph Prince & New Creation Church – Does God’s God-centeredness mean He’s an egomaniac?

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This article by The Christian Post is kinda interesting. It’s about what John Piper preached at the recent Passion 2010 conference. He said at the conference:

God demands that we all get on our face and worship Him, admire Him, treasure Him … and count Him as the supreme value in the universe and He’s angry when we don’t.

Do we love for God to love His glory … or is our vaunted God-centeredness a cloak for self-centredness by loving a God who is man-centered?

Basically, what he’s saying above is the same things he’s been saying in some of his books. I discussed a similar quote in a previous post of mine:

[M]any people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered. It is a subtle danger. We may think we are centering our lives on God, when we are really making Him a means to self-esteem. Over against this danger I urge you to ponder the implications, brothers, that God loves His glory more than He loves us and that this is the foundation of His love for us. (John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals)

Here are some more interesting quotes along the same lines from the written version of his sermon:

…many Christians think it is good for us to be God-centered, but don’t feel at all comfortable with God being God-centered.

What I have found in my own life, and in the life of many others, is that God’s God-centeredness is the test of whether our own God-centeredness is real: Do I rejoice in God’s unwavering commitment to uphold and display his glory—do I rejoice in God’s God-centeredness? Or am I God-centered only because deep down I believe God is man-centered, so that my supposed God-centeredness is really man-centeredness, even me-centeredness?

Does my opposition to God’s God-centeredness reveal that my supposed God-centeredness is just a cover for wanting myself at the center?

If you say in response: I thought Christ crucified for sinners and risen triumphantly was the heart of Christianity, you would be right. Paul said, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). That’s true. But the amazing thing is that it’s the intersection of God’s apparent egomania with the human condition of sin that makes the cross of Christ necessary and makes it intelligible and reveals the deepest things about God in the death of Christ.

John Piper is someone I really respect. I think I’ll have some important disagreements with him, theology-wise. However, that may just be because he’s the much better theologian and thinker :-) He’s someone I’ll definitely give a hearing to when it comes to any issue and I think more often than not, I’ll agree with him.

Regarding what he says above, I haven’t read any of Piper’s books so I won’t be as familiar as others about what he says above, which I believe is very central to most or all of his writings. What he says is definitely thought provoking. I’ll suspend my conclusions for the time being – I’ll mull over what he says – and will be keen to hear what you guys think.

Thoughts anyone?

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  1. I disagree that “God loves His glory more than He loves us and that this is the foundation of His love for us”.

    Is there any scripture passage that says God loves His glory more than He loves us? 1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.” Take note that the verse says God FIRST loved us, which shows us that God knows that we are God-centered because He is man-centered.

    Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    If God really loves His glory more than He loves us, then He could have destroyed us all with the flood instead of keeping Noah and his family alive. He could then start another creation project instead of sending His Son, Jesus to die for us and redeem us.

    I haven’t read any of John Piper’s books and don’t feel inclined to anytime soon because I feel that John Piper is basically preaching self-righteousness; harping on the need for us to satisfy God, to keep Him happy.

    I have read an article by John Piper entitled “Justified But Not Forgiven?” and it also reeks of self-righteousness. I posted a critique of that article on my blog:

  2. In response to Stanley – I don’t know the original Greek, but 1 John 4:19 merely states that God loved us before we love, it does not solve whether God or Man comes first in his eyes.

    Similarly for Romans 5:8 – all it demonstrates is that God indeed loves us (phew!). As an analogy, we can have a primarily self-centred man who also loves his family – he mainly looks out for himself, but he still makes sacrifices for them.

    Admittedly it was a very large sacrifice that God made for us, so I would actually be rather swayed by that argument, but on the other hand we have much of the Old Testament where God relentlessly punishes his chosen people (as well as many other nations) because he is a ‘jealous God’. One might argue that these were ultimately for the benefit of Man, but I guess it’s possible to argue both ways for just about anything.

    Not a simply-answered question, but I do think the idea of a God-centred God should not be simply dismissed.

  3. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Father-centered. Our Heavenly Father is Christ-centered. The Holy Spirit in us is Christ-centered.

    Each One of Three Persons of the God-head is other-centered. So, in that sense, God is not self-centered.

    On the other hand, since each Person of the God-head is centered on another Person in the God-head, and each Person in the God-head is God, God is God-centered.

  4. I suggest that we do not have to regard “God-centredness” and “Man-centredness” as two mutually exclusive subjects. Instead of going along with John Piper’s one versus the other argument, I propose that God’s priority is His glory and He is without doubt God-centered but that God-centredness itself is reflected and displayed in His love for Man. This is to say that God while putting Himself in the centre also chose to put the subject of Man in the centre for His glory.

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be an either-or option, what I’m saying is that God being God-centred includes God being Man-centred because we are the target of His overflowing love.

    Perhaps there are too many negative connotations associated with the world “self-centred” that we naturally assume the worst when we think of one being “self-centred”, but can I suggest that there is a whole new perspective of being self-centred when we include God in the picture. When we think of the huge sacrifice at the cross meant for us, it must be impossible for God to not have been Man-centred at Calvary. If only we can be self-centred with the perspective of the cross in mind, then that form of “self-centredness” also takes on “God-centredness” in considering God’s focus and God’s priority in His love for Man.

  5. hi brothers & sisters,

    this is my 1st time commenting, even though i’ve been following this blog for quite some time. I still see myself as a relatively young Christian, having only going to church for about 1.5 years. Like some of you here, I go to NCC and am greatly blessed by the preachings of Pastor Prince!! All glory to God for raising a pastor like him!!

    With regards to this topic, I was thinking about Jesus telling His disciples, “those who seen me, have seen the Father.” Hence, to know if our Abba is God-or Man-centered, one way is maybe to look at Jesus’s ministry on Earth. You will realized that even though Jesus deeply respect His Father and gives glory to God all the time, Jesus heals all that came to Him. In fact, many that came to Him weren’t even believers, and does not worship Him until they were healed!

    Let me know if my statements are sound. Haha… happy to learn from you guys.

  6. @KYC: From my understanding, those who came to Jesus and were healed, were healed as a result of their faith – ie they were believers. They might not have been followers, but they certainly believed that Jesus had the power to heal.

    @Stanley: I have to agree with Louis on this.
    I read your post on John Piper’s article but I disagree with some points you made. I think whether or not 1 John 1:9 is addressing believers or gnostics, it is directed at sinners! I also think the idea of continual repentance agrees with the fact that we have to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)

  7. Coming from soaking in the soaking of Abba Father/Lord Jesus goodness and experiencing His move in my life, I have this what I have to share:

    God is a God of Love. Loving is about giving. He sent His Son to earth so that we could have life and life abundantly.

    When we look to Jesus, He deilvers us. He always claimed that it’s our faith and our goodness. But actually, it is the Glory of Lord Jesus and His Grace and Mercy.

    God is not a self-centered being. If He is, He won’t send Jesus to be our Saviour.

    He wants us to look to Jesus as Jesus look to Father God.

    Matthew 10:32 “Whoever acknowledge me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

    To see the nature of God in the bible, you need to see if Jesus had died for our sin and blessed us His Righteousness of God in Christ.

    Before Jesus died, the judgment is Law, the 10 commandments. The default is death.

    After Jesus death, did you see a nasty God?

  8. The only time that God would never need to love Himself more than us is if He ever had to choose between His love for Himself and His love for us… does He ever have to?

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