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Why would God want us to praise him?

From Amy K. Hall, staff apologist at Stand to Reason. (H/T The Poached Egg)


I was recently asked why God would want us to praise and worship Him. This is a question I hear every so often since we immediately assume that a person who demands praise is a pompous big-head. I think there are many Christians out there who secretly wonder about this—afraid to ask the question (lest they be thought unspiritual), but bothered all the same.

God is completely self-sufficient and doesn’t need our praise and worship. However, He does deserve it. Would you agree that it is right and good to praise someone who is worthy of praise? We instinctively know this and praise people for all sorts of achievements. We praise the people we love and admire, and it’s not right or good for us to withhold praise from them.

We all understand the concept of praise being due certain people. Imagine that you crafted an incredibly beautiful sculpture and won a prestigious award for your creation; but when the time came for the award ceremony, they gave the prize for your sculpture to the wrong artist! That would not be just, right, or good. In the same way, God—as the only being perfect in goodness, justice, love, etc.—is worthy of our praise. We do, in fact, owe Him that praise. He wants us to praise Him because it is right and good for us to do so. Since God wants us to do right and good things, of course he wants us to praise and worship Him.

Beyond the praise being right and good (and because of its being right and good), worshiping God also brings us joy and enhances our relationship with Him. We see this in human relationships as well—think of a man with his wife. Doesn’t it bring him great joy to praise her?

I think it it’s interesting to note that very often, non-theists try to explain things like the creation of the universe and the fine-tuning of the universe and the origin of life as being the result of blind forces. That is the opposite of praise – that is speculating about nature to avoid giving credit to nature’s Creator and Designer. They are trying to escape the obligation to worship by attributing the great miracles of God to no one, so they can be accountable to no one. This is not the kind of thought life that God looks kindly on.

One important result of studying the world, including science, is to be able to understand what God has done in the world and to give him appropriate recognition for it. It is part of being in a relationship with him that we know him and respond appropriately to his real character. The refusal to acknowledge God is one of the symptoms of rebellion against him.

Matthew 10:32-33:

 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

And this also appears in Luke 12:8-10:

8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

This passage is an early passage from Q, because it’s shared by Matthew and Luke, and Q is a source for those two early gospels. To get on the right side of this verse, it’s important to study what God has done, so you can give him the praise that he has earned. He wants to be acknowledged, and we want to hold up our end of the relationship and give him that acknowledgement. He did the deeds, and that means he should get the recognition for it.

One more thing I want to say about this. I see a lot of people singing songs about God in church, expressing praise for things they have no reason to believe that God has done. I think a good way to have authentic praise for God is to tone down the singing in groups and the emotional highs and the pretty buildings for a while, and focus on apologetics. Focus on learning the real stuff that God has actually done that we can know about – by studying science and history. In fact, it really scares me when I see young people singing and raising their hands and closing their eyes at church when I know good and well they have no intellectual grounding for these activities – it makes me feel like I am in some cult or something, surrounded by self-serving, fun-seeking weirdos.

You know that brings up an interesting question. What do you suppose would happen if I gathered together all the pastors and singing church people into a room and told them that we were going to do a scientific study of what God has done in nature, and a historical study of what God has done in history? My guess is that they would attack me, drive me out of the church, and go back to singing songs in groups with big musical bands and colorful lights in the ceiling. I think we need to guard against making Christianity about feelings and experiences and group gatherings, and make it more about knowledge. What has God really done that we can know about?

Let’s lay down a base of knowledge about God from nature and history, and then once we know he is real and he is good, we can talk about theology, and praising him for all of that. We don’t want what we do in church to be in anyway comparable to what non-Christians do in night clubs and concerts – gathering in groups and dancing around ecstatically. Blech! Christianity is about truth, not feelings.

Announcing Reasonable Faith Chapters

Check out this new intiative that William Lane Craig has started.

Start a Reasonable Faith Chapter!

Now you can start a Reasonable Faith Chapter on your campus or at
your church!

The Director

Finding a qualified local Director is the key to establishing a Reasonable Faith chapter. The Director should be a regenerate Christian, evangelical in theology, who manifests the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5. 22-23) and who has successfully worked through Reasonable Faith (3rd edition) and the Study Guide.

The Group

We want local chapters of Reasonable Faith to have the freedom and flexibility to develop programs suited to local needs and interests. We encourage local chapters to experiment with book studies, discussions of DVDs of debates and lectures, listening to Defenders podcasts, inviting guest speakers, and so forth. Local chapters should meet at least once a month so as to maintain momentum.

The main page has all the steps for getting started. Looks pretty easy! Even I could do it, if I wasn’t always moving around between cities!

Should Obama pick judges who favor Democrat special interest groups?

Yes, I know he calls it “empathy”. And by empathy he means twisting the law to benefit the people who voted for him. What you don’t believe me? Well, check out the evidence here about who Obama’s bailouts really benefit. Nice Deb even links to a story that questions whether the recent Chrysler dealership closures were made because the owners donated to Republican candidates.

Now, what kind of judges does someone like Obama need to install in order to back his authoritarian regime? Well, it has to be someone who will help him to punish the people who disagree with him. Someone who believes that there are good Americans (Democrats) and bad Americans (Republicans), and that the laws should apply differently to those different groups.

Let’s take a look at what my favorite two economists, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have to say about this.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell has a four-part series on Obama’s judicial philosophy.

In part one, Sowell asks what it means that Obama will pick judges who come from certain groups, and who believe in twisting the law to favor those groups.

That President Obama has made “empathy” with certain groups one of his criteria for choosing a Supreme Court nominee is a dangerous sign of how much further the Supreme Court may be pushed away from the rule of law and toward even more arbitrary judicial edicts to advance the agenda of the left and set it in legal concrete, immune from the democratic process.

Would you want to go into court to appear before a judge with “empathy” for groups A, B and C, if you were a member of groups X, Y or Z? Nothing could be further from the rule of law. That would be bad news, even in a traffic court, much less in a court that has the last word on your rights under the Constitution of the United States.

Appoint enough Supreme Court justices with “empathy” for particular groups and you would have, for all practical purposes, repealed the 14th Amendment, which guarantees “equal protection of the laws” for all Americans.

In part two, Sowell talks about Olive Wendell Holmes’ strict constructionist jurisprudence, which allowed citizens to undertake economic enterprises because they could predict how the law would be enforced.

Justice Holmes saw his job to be “to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not.”

That was because the law existed for the citizens, not for lawyers or judges, and the citizen had to know what the rules were, in order to obey them.

He said: “Men should know the rules by which the game is played. Doubt as to the value of some of those rules is no sufficient reason why they should not be followed by the courts.”

Legislators existed to change the law.

In part three, Sowell talks about why the judiciary must remain impartial as a check on the power of the legislative and executive branches.

Barack Obama’s vision of America is one in which a President of the United States can fire the head of General Motors, tell banks how to bank, control the medical system and take charge of all sorts of other activities for which neither he nor other politicians have any expertise or experience.The Constitution of the United States gives no president, nor the entire federal government, the authority to do such things. But spending trillions of dollars to bail out all sorts of companies buys the power to tell them how to operate.

Appointing judges to the federal courts– including the Supreme Court– who believe in expanding the powers of the federal government to make arbitrary decisions, choosing who will be winners and losers in the economy and in the society, is perfectly consistent with a vision of the world where self-confident and self-righteous elites rule according to their own notions, instead of merely governing under the restraints of the Constitution.

In part four, Sowell explains how big government socialists like Obama view the Constitution as an obstacle to be overcome.

Judicial expansion of federal power is not really new, even if the audacity with which that goal is being pursued may be unique. For more than a century, believers in bigger government have also been believers in having judges “interpret” the restraints of the Constitution out of existence.

They called this “a living Constitution.” But it has in fact been a dying Constitution, as its restraining provisions have been interpreted to mean less and less, so that the federal government can do more and more.

For example, the Constitution allows private property to be taken for “public use”– perhaps building a reservoir or a highway — if “just compensation” was paid. But that power was expanded by the Supreme Court in 2005 when it “interpreted” this to mean that private property could be taken for a “public purpose,” which could include almost anything for which politicians could come up with the right rhetoric.

Walter Williams

And Walter Williams writes about the dangers of empathy using last year’s Super Bowl as an example.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles, seven AFC championships and hosted 10 conference games. No other AFC or NFC team can match this record. By contrast, the Arizona Cardinals’ last championship victory was in 1947 when they were based in Chicago. In anyone’s book, this is a gross disparity. Should the referees have the empathy to understand what it’s like to be a perennial loser and what would you think of a referee whose decisions were guided by his empathy? Suppose a referee, in the name of compensatory justice, stringently applied pass interference or roughing the passer violations against the Steelers and less stringently against the Cardinals. Or, would you support a referee who refused to make offensive pass interference calls because he thought it was a silly rule? You’d probably remind him that the league makes the rules, not referees.

I’m betting that most people would agree that football justice requires that referees apply the rules blindly and independent of the records or any other characteristic of the two teams. Moreover, I believe that most people would agree that referees should evenly apply the rules of the games even if they personally disagreed with some of the rules.

But what if the Steelers had lost due to referee partiality? Well, presumably they would stop playing the game. And when enough small businesses get tired of being sued by special interest group plaintiffs, we will all be working for the government and that will be the end of our liberty.

Further study

Probably one of the greatest books ever written is Thomas Sowell’s “A Conflict of Visions”. Go out right now and buy it if you don’t have it, but be warned, it was a tough read for a software engineer like me, and my Dad also found it difficult when I gave it to him.