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Buzz From the Westminster Larger Catechism

06 December 2010 by Frank Turk

Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.
This is a pretty amazing piece of theological reasoning here which many people – especially “Calvinists” and all manner of “reformed” people -- just plain miss. Because of it, we wind up spending all our time defending ourselves from people who judge us by what our theology – which lacks a key formative point – makes us into. We’re going to spend this week thinking about this fundamental Protestant doctrine because let’s face it: we need to.

My first thought here is a question before the question: Why would the guys who wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith start a catechism off with a statement about man which does not immediately jump to Total Depravity and man’s inability to do anything pleasing to God? Did they have a bad day? Maybe this is an anti-reformation emendation stuck into the text which we can’t correct until we finally have the autographs?

Maybe the answer is much simpler – especially given the proof texts the divines gave the answer to this question. They list a bunch of Psalms about glorifying God – which, who would deny those? – but then they add this bit from Isaiah:
”Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength, and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
And then they quote the Angels to the Shepherds in Luke 2:
Fear Not! For behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
And they are right, of course: it’s good news, right? I mean, that’s a White Horse Inn idiom there so you Reformed people ought to be people who are full of good news – ready to fully enjoy God forever, starting right now.

As I’m typing this, I’m listening to the new tracks from Indelible Grace and sort of getting lost in the last track – On Jordon’s Stormy Banks. I am bound! I am bound! I am bound for the promised land! It’s a hymn we won’t sing in heaven because what we were bound to – where we were heading – will be here.

Personally, I think it’s a little strange that we Reformed people can get more excited about a new book than we do about the fact that we have a savior who saves, and by him, we are bound for the promised land. Our Chief End ought to be that we Glorify this savior, and fully enjoy him forever by enjoying who he is and what he has done right now when it will call those who will believe into that joy.

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Comments

Rachael Starke

But, Frank, we are full of joy. It's just deeply spiritual joy. It's the kind of joy that's too mature for such things as delight, happiness, smiling, and especially hand raising during singing. It's moved beyond spontaneous expressions of thankfulness to God in such worldly places as the grocery store or the car with your kids. As such, it can only be discerned by the equally spiritual. Only the unregenerate, in their spiritual blindness, sees us as appearing to be full of something needing an ingestion of mineral oil.

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