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To Glorify or Enjoy Forever?

A number of years ago while teaching a seminary class I was explaining the opening lines of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The opening question, in the language of the 17th century, asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The catechist is then to respond, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” On this particular day in class one of my students raised her hand and said, “My problem is that I can never decide which it is I’m really to be about—to glorify or to enjoy God forever.” She went on to describe her dilemma. To glorify God seems to imply that we should put controls on ourselves and our personal enjoyment in life. Glorifying God is to move beyond our own self interests to the interests of God. It focuses on commitment, discipleship, and a giving of self to our Lord and to the needs of others.

On the other hand, she noted, enjoying God focuses on all the good things that God brings in life. The enjoyment of God seems to end up inadvertently focusing on ourselves as we celebrate the blessings and gifts of God, and in turn this enjoyment appears contrary to the pursuits of God’s glory. . .

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Dennis Hollinger

Dennis Hollinger, Professor, is the Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is a speaker and author of four books, including The Meaning of Sex: Christian Ethics and the Moral LifeHead, Heart, Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought; Passion and Action; and Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World. Dennis is a Distinguished Fellow with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity in Bannockburn, IL, and for many years was a member of the Health Care Ethics Committee at Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill, PA. He received an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, an M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Drew University, and did post-doctoral studies at Oxford University.


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