“Many deny that God created human beings for his glory.” ~ Preamble to Nashville Statement.
I have a bunch of thoughts about the Nashville Statement released last week and how it positions itself within the American sexuality and identity. But for now I just want to focus on a typical statement from the preamble.
The focus on God creating humans “for his glory” is very typical among this crowd. And “for his glory” has a very specific meaning which, I think, leads to some of the other disastrous positions and postures evident in the document.
For this crowd, that humanity is made for God’s glory is mean to highlight and emphasize God’s sovereignty, power, and majesty in comparison with all creation. It is mean to be an affirmation that God is Creator and all else should be put in it’s proper place.
But—and this is a “but” this crowd would deny—but we see it plainly in the Nashville Statement, this view all too easily also includes a debasing of humanity to a merely instrumental status.
What does that mean?
It means the worth and dignity of humans are only instruments—or tools—for God to receive glory. And often pastoral cares is equivalent to reminding people that everything in their lives—their hopes, struggles, fears, and dream—is either increasing or decreasing God’s glory.
But when our theological systems implicitly instrumentalize humans, then our theological statements will also instrumentalize humans.
Too often the desire to put everything in it’s place before God (theologically) tips toward “putting them in their place” (practically…think of subordinationism in marriage and the Trinity).
I often say that stating your theological conviction IS NOT the same things as offering pastoral care. But when you have a instrumental view of human beings (coupled with an overly cognitive view of faith as affirmation) then shooting out a document like the Nashville Statement seems perfectly reasonable.
If we are going to base theological statements as “for God’s glory” then we need a different way of understanding this. And thankfully there is a different way that does not tend (even if inadvertently, even if they best of that tradition doesn’t do it) toward instrumentalizing us.
I’m turn to that tomorrow.
(This post is part of my “20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days in order. So these are quick thoughts and I push out my ideas and practice writing. See my explanation here).