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No, He didn't think about you above all: On the hubris of popular piety

No, He didn't think about you above all: On the hubris of popular piety

(Photo: Unsplash/Dustin Groh)

There is a curious narcissism that infects popular piety today which would have it that you (or I) are (or am) somehow the fulcrum of God’s universe. It’s really all about you (or me).

As the story goes, God created the universe just to be with you. Apparently, God is like Dusty Springfield singing “I only want to be with you.”

And when Jesus was dying on the cross, of all the thoughts crowding his agonized mind, it turns out that you topped them all.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the fact is that Jesus speaks seven final words from the cross, and none of them mention you or me. (Shocking, I know!)

Instead, in his final words, Jesus offers forgiveness for his tormentors, the promise of redemption for a thief, directions for his mother and a close disciple, two words to his Father, a declaration of thirst, and a final statement: “It is finished”.

You might reply: he could still be thinking about us even if he didn’t mention us!

True enough. But I’m guessing in the midst of the agony of dying that he didn’t have much headspace left to ponder my winsome smile or your dazzling eyes.

And what about the notion that God created the universe just to be with me and you? Look, I admit that we’re both fine specimens, but don’t you think that’s a bit much? After all, there are billions of human beings and trillions of other animals on our planet. And there could be countless advanced technological civilizations in this universe of 130 billion galaxies.

When you add into the mix this thing about God acting for his own inscrutable glory, that declaration about God’s singular creative intent seems like hubris run amok.

While I haven’t always found myself in agreement with Rick Warren, I’ve long appreciated the way he started The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you.”

Dr. Randal Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, where he has taught since 2003. He blogs at randalrauser.com and lectures widely on issues of theology, Christian worldview, and apologetics. Randal is the author of many books including his latest, What's So Confusing About Grace?

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