Dear Church Family,
Historically, the doctrines of the Reformed Faith have been summarized in five sola (“alone” or “only”) statements:
(1) Scripture Alone: the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God, given by His inspiration, and are the only rule of faith and life.
(2) Christ Alone: the Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and the only Mediator between God and Man, and through whom His people are redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
(3) Faith Alone: receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness is the alone instrument of justification, Christ’s righteousness being imputed to those who believe.
(4) Grace Alone: God effectually calls and regenerates those whom He has chosen, not by anything foreseen in them, but by His free and special grace alone.
(5) God’s Glory Alone: As Creator of all things and Redeemer of the elect, God works all things to the praise and glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
Zondervan has recently finished published a series of books on each of these doctrines called What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series). The first four solas seem to receive much more attention in contemporary theology and conversation; so, I was keen to read the last book in this series: God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life by David VanDrunen. It did not disappoint.
Basic Structure of the Book
God’s Glory Alone is comprised of eight chapters and is 171 pages long. The book is broken down into three sections:
The Glory of God in Reformed Theology
In the first section of the book, there are two chapters which describe the history of the doctrine of God’s glory, beginning in the Reformation and then in its further development in history. In chapter 2, VanDrunen gives a helpful summary definition of God’s glory that sets the trajectory for the rest of the book: “…the glory of God is first and foremost about God himself and how he reveals his glory in this world.” Secondarily, “…God glorifies his people and enables them to reflect his glory through their worship and holistic obedience.” (p 28)
The Glory of God in Scripture
The second section of this book is an expositional survey of the theme of God’s glory in Scripture. Three chapters cover the visible manifestation of God’s glory in the Old Testament, the incarnation of God’s glory in the Son of God in the New Testament, and how Christ is glorified in the glorification of His people. If you’ve read the Bible, then you have recognized that God speaks of His glory quite often, but reading this section of the book will illuminate how it is a major theme of God’s Word. A theme that ties the overarching story of redemption together by tracing God’s glory in creation through God’s revelation of His glory to Israel and then fulfilled in Christ, with our present expectant hope of the glorification of the Church in the new heavens and new earth.
Living for God’s Glory Today
The last three chapters of the book are modern applications upon the theme of God’s glory and why it still matters. Here, through interaction with contemporary research, the author shows how distraction and shallow thinking brought on by the proliferation of modern technology can be a detriment to the believer’s ability to glorify God. There is also a very interesting exploration of the necessity of ‘the fear of the Lord’ for bringing glory to God, and how our contemporary culture of narcissism (manifested specifically in social media) encourages vainglory (the opposite of seeking God’s glory). The last chapter of the book encourages and exhorts believers to glorify God through corporate worship and then through all of life’s activities by pursuing self-denial, patient endurance, hope in the age to come, joy, and courage in a fallen world.
Some things that commend this book
Here are some general things about the book for which I would commend it to you (in no particular order):
- Interaction with Reformed writers: the book begins with a brief examination of the theme of God’s glory in Reformed theology.
- Biblical exposition: a large portion of the book (about a third) is devoted to tracing the theme of God’s glory in Scripture. This alone is enough to commend the book to any believer who wishes to learn more about the overarching themes and unified message of Scripture.
- God-centered: some speak of God’s glory as that which man produces; the emphasis of this book is upon how God seeks His own glory in creation and redemption.
- Practical and contemporary: at the same time, the last three chapters in particular are pertinent for Christians who find themselves distracted and inordinately influenced by technology and social media, and conditioned by our contemporary self-centered culture. There is much written here that will cause the believer to examine his or her own life and priorities.
- Clear organization and writing style: the author summarizes everything that he says before and after he says it. While this may seem a little redundant, it makes it very easy to follow his flow of thought. And, the style of writing is simple and readable, as well.
On the one hand, God’s glory can sometimes be a nebulous term that is hard to define; the result is that the topic leaves God’s people ambivalent. On the other hand, God’s glory can sometimes be used to refer only to the activities and behavior of God’s people; the result is that God’s people can become morbidly introspective. God’s Glory Alone stays true to Scripture in its examination of this topic, providing a thoroughly sound theological and exegetical definition that leads to a God-glorifying application.
The last paragraph of the book is a benediction of sorts, that ought to be the prayer of all God’s people with respect to God’s glory:
May God glorify himself in all of his works. May our thoughts and worship revel in the glory of the living God even in the midst of an age of distraction and narcissism. And may we, the underserving but ever-blessed beneficiaries of such a great salvation, live for his glory now as we wait for the dawning of that day when he glorifies us together with his Son.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch