Friday, June 9, 2017

Usage of the term Glorious

God is glorious, we know that. But the word 'glorious' is often used for such things as a beautiful sunset or other thing that causes us to be amazed. I wondered, linguistically, what the connection is. Because if 'glorious' means 'possessing glory,' it would definitely apply to God, but I'm uncertain that it would be a wise thing to say of material things or human events. On the other hand, if 'glorious' means 'revealing the glory of God,' then it can both apply to God and things. And more than in the former case, the word must necessarily refer to everything, because everything in creation reveals the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:18-20).

I like that. An unbeliever may certainly use the word 'glorious' with different intention, but for me, since everywhere I look I can see God's glory revealed, I can happily declare that the sunrise, the stars, and even "mundane" things like a cold shower or a political victory, are glorious, because they all point back to God, for the one paying attention.

Recently, I heard a theologian describe the word this way: that there is God's shekina glory, the physical manifestation of His holy presence in the material world -- that kind of glory strikes us sinners dead unless it is veiled (such as in a cloud, or behind the temple's curtain, or in Jesus' human flesh)
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see
Hail incarnate deity
(Hark the Herald Angels Sing, by Charles Wesley)
And the kind of glory I'm talking about was described by this person as the ascribed glory of God. (Psalm 29:2). In fact, it was probably Steven Lawson, since he's the author of this article which was the top hit in Google. Upon reading the short article, I'm not persuaded the terms are exactly parallel, but he does support my distinction. Humans can 'glorify God,' but that is not to add to His intrinsic glory, it is merely to acknowledge the intrinsic glory that God has revealed.

I'm a categorical thinker, so I (simplistically) connect the terms glory and worship in this way:
  • God is glorified when anything in creation demonstrates some aspect of His greatness, by reflecting, or else contrasting, His attributes. Beautiful things imply that God is beautiful. Evil in the world suggests that God is better than the world and causes us to long for Him rather than what He's created, desiring the Giver more than the Gift.
  • God is worshiped when those who are in a right relationship with Him accurately recognize that which glorifies God and in turn voluntarily attribute this to Him, and in turn, exalt His Name by thanking Him for revealing to us the truth about who He is.

Every blasphemous sinner on earth glorifies God, just in more roundabout ways, and usually as a 'hostile witness.' But those whom God has predestined for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5) have the privilege of not just glorifying God, but doing so willingly, out of love, and thus worshiping Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

-W

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