Is God a Megalomaniac? Right Answer. Wrong Reason.

I have spent 40 years seeking to understand and explain why God’s relentless self-exaltation in all that he does (for example, Isaiah 48:9–11) is the most loving way for him to be, and is not megalomania.

Some have tried to argue that the problem of God’s self-exaltation is solved by his intra-Trinitarian other-orientedness. That is, God the Father and God the Son do not seek their own individual glory, but the glory of the other, and in that sense God seeks his own glory.

It is true that the Father and the Son do seek the glory of the other (John 14:13; 17:1). But this is not a solution to the problem of divine self-exaltation. The reason it’s not is that in the Bible the Father does exalt his own glory.

For example, Paul prays to the Father in Philippians 1:9–11,

It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more . . . so that you might be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Consider: Paul is praying to the Father. He is asking the Father to do something, namely, to fill the Philippians with the fruit of righteousness “that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

So it is clear that Paul expects God the Father to be motivated to bring about his own praise. The Son makes it possible by working righteousness in the saints. But the one Paul is asking to work for his own glory is the Father.

This is no surprise, if we remember the first petition of the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). Jesus tells us to ask the Father to make much of his own name.

There are other examples that could be given (like Philippians 2:9–11), but let this suffice. It is true that the persons of the Trinity love to make much of each other. But this is not the solution to the problem of God’s self-exaltation.

That solution, as far as I have been able to see through my dark glass, is this: God must uphold his own glory as the supreme value of the universe because 1) he is true, and it would be false to hold up any other glory as supreme; and 2) he is loving, and it would be unloving to offer us as supremely satisfying anything less than what is infinitely and eternally satisfying—namely, himself.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.