Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Arthur Pink's Zero-Sum Approach to Creation

I have sometimes used the language of a ‘zero-sum’ game approach when interacting with the tendency reformed thinkers have of viewing the glory of God and the glory of creation as if they exist in an inverse relationship to each other, so that whatever is granted to the latter is that much less that is left over for the former.  

In the beginning of his chapter on prayer in his book The Sovereignty of God, Arthur Pink significantly noted that "Throughout this book it has been our chief aim to exalt the Creator and abase the creature." The subtext of Mr. Pink's arguments is that both these projects are related to each other inversely, so that the more the creature is debased the more the Creator is exalted, and visa versa. It is as if we approached an artist who had painted a wonderful landscape and proceded to exalt him through telling him how horrible his painting was. 

Now certainly by meditating on our depravity we become more conscious of our dependence on God and His grace. Only a person who knows how sick he is can fully recognize his need for a doctor. However, is it not also true that the Bible invites us to contemplate God's glory through a sustain meditation on the glory of creation, including man? Is there no sense in which God can be glorified by dwelling on the fact that even sin could not completely eradicate the divine image? (Calvin articulates this aspect well in his Commentary on Genesis when discussing the death penalty.) After all, God’s glory and creation do not exist in an inverse relationship; rather, the former helps to establish the latter, as Psalm 8 so clearly shows.

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