My life, at the minute, consists largely of sitting in the library reading books on my own trying to get my head around difficult, but exciting, subjects to do with the fundamental nature of God. I find it thoroughly exciting – I’m getting to understand God better and know him more. At the same time, it is also very frustrating that there aren’t many (heck, any) people who I can really share what I’m learning with.
Fortunately, there are real discoveries that I’m making. I’ve been increasingly making headway in understanding how God’s glory-seeking – his valuing of himself – connects to his love. A lot of this I’ve been learning from the eighteenth century theologian, Jonathan Edwards. I don’t think he’s right on everything (what theologian is?), but I’ve learnt some helpful things from him.
One of the annoying things about Edwards is that he never writes in a remotely heart-warming way – he’s too technical and, frankly, boring. Fortunately, in my spare time I’ve happened to read a book by Mike Reeves where come across the following quote which summarises some of the most helpful aspects of his theology, in a much better and more compelling way than Edwards ever manages:
The eighteenth-century New England theologian, Jonathan Edwards, put it strikingly. God’s aim in creating the world, he said, was himself. But because this God’s very self is so different from that of any others, that means something utterly different from what it would mean with other gods. This God’s very self is found in giving, not taking, This God is like a fountain of goodness, and so, he said, ‘seeking himself’ means seeking ‘himself diffused and expressed’ – in other words, seeking to have himself, his life and his goodness shared. His very nature is about going out and sharing of his own fullness, and so that is what he is all about. In contrast to all other gods, the exuberant nature of this God means that his pleasure ‘is rather a pleasure in diffusing and communicating to the creature, than in receiving from the creature’.
Michael Reeves, The Good God (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2012), pg. 29.
No doubt I’ll post more on Edwards’ approach to glory-seeking and love…