The Glory of God (Alone) and the Reformation

 Here’s an outstanding (forthcoming) discussion of one of the five solas: “God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of the Christian Faith and Life” by David VanDrunen.  It’s a 186 page exploration of Soli Deo Gloria that has three parts: 1) The Glory of God in Reformed Theology, 2) The Glory of God in Scripture, and 3) Living for God’s Glory Today.  Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

“Does the principle of soli Deo gloria… really have much to do with the Reformation itself?  Indeed it does, even if Rome never directly denounced the idea of glory to God alone as it denounced the ideas of Scripture alone and faith alone.  Soli Deo gloria can be understood as the glue that holds the other solas in place, or the center that draws the other solas into a grand, unified whole….”

“What justifies such strong claims?  Simply put, the fact that salvation is by faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone, without any meritorious contribution on our part, ensures that all glory is God’s and not our own.  Likewise, the fact that Scripture alone is our final authority, without any ecclesiastical tradition, magisterium, or Pope supplementing or overruling it, protects the glory of God against every human conceit.  Rome, of course, would never admit to usurping God’s glory.  Even meritorious human works, it says, are accomplished by divine grace infused through the sacraments.  The church’s traditions grow organically from the practice of the apostles, Rome adds, and the Pope is the servant of servants.

But the Reformers came to understand how such claims, though perennially attractive, ultimately reveal the deceit of the human heart.  How we like to think that there’s something for us to add to the satisfaction and obedience of Christ or to the inspired word of the prophets and apostles, and even that God is wonderfully honored by our contribution.  But the Reformers perceived that the perfect word and work of Christ – precisely because they are perfect – need nothing to supplement them.  Anything that tries to supplement them, in fact, challenges their perfection and thus dishonors God’s word and work in Christ.  If the Roman Catholic doctrine of authority and doctrine of salvation are true, all glory thus does not belong to God alone.  And God, Scripture tells us, will share his glory with no other (Isa 42:8).

David VanDrunen, Soli Deo Gloria (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 15.

shane lems
hammond, wi