What Shows God’s Glory?

Calvin sought to proclaim the glory of God. He felt if God was not in total control, then God was somehow being robbed of glory. But what demonstrates God’s glory? Sometimes these kinds of questions are best answered through word pictures that put the thoughts in better relief. I have found nothing quite like the following quote by Kenneth J. Foreman, quoted in Divine Sovereignty And Human, to illustrate this point.

Let us imagine two horsemen. One sits on a horse every movement of which he controls absolutely. The horse does not move a fraction of an inch in any part unless the rider decides it shall so move and sees to it that the movement is made. Here we see absolute control. Another man sits on another horse. This horse makes various movements which the rider does not commend, does not initiate, cannot even predict in detail. But the rider is in control. The first horse is a hobbyhorse; the second is a spirited five-gaited showhorse. But which is the better horseman? Little Willie, operating his mechanical horse in the corner drugstore, or the prize-winning rider at the horse show? Is it actually more to the credit of God that He shall ride this universe like a hobbyhorse, or like a real, living creature of intelligence and spirit?We Christians will not give up believing in the sovereignty of God.We need not have to suppose that God cannot be sovereign without robbing His creatures of all their freedom. [1]

It seems that God need not maintain complete control to maintain his sovereignty and his glory. One might be tempted to ask, “Who couldn’t be sovereign in a universe entirely under one’s control?” The true glory of God is that he is sovereign, and in control, even though not dictating everything that happens.

Besides Calvin’s view of God’s sovereignty reducing God’s glory by insisting God must ride the universe like a hobby horse, it also throws the character of God in question, thus reducing his glory again. Bertrand Russell, in a collection of essays entitled Why I Am Not A Christian has this to say.

it is clear the fundamental doctrines of Christianity demand a great deal of ethical perversion before they can be accepted. The world, we are told, was created by a God who is both good and omnipotent. Before He created the world he foresaw all the pain and misery that it would contain; he is therefore responsible for all of it. It is useless to argue that the pain in the world is due to sin. In the first place this is not true; it is not sin that causes rivers to overflow their banks or volcanoes to erupt. But even if it were true, it would make no difference. If I were going to beget a child knowing that the child was going to be a homicidal maniac, I should be responsible for his crimes. If God knew in advance the sins of which man would be guilt, He was clearly responsible for all the consequences of those sins when He decided to create man. [2] (Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian, pg. 30-31)

Russell’s criticism is persuasive. Responsibility for wrongdoing must fall on the shoulders of the person ultimately deciding what will be. If we claim that only God decides what happens, we must conclude God is responsible for the evildoing of his creatures.

These thoughts summarize in very vivid form some cogent reasons why the system of Calvinism would seem unable to adequately express the doctrines of God.


1. Fisk, Samuel, Divine Sovereignty And Human Freedom, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey, 1981, pg. 55.
2. Russell, Bertrand, Why I Am Not A Christian, Unwin Paperbacks, London, 1983, pg. 30-31.

Copyright 2019 Kel Good. This publication may be copied freely as long as no alteration is made to the text. For more information write: Kel Good via What I Believe This Week (www.whatibelievethisweek.com)

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