“God does whatever He wants. His purposes are a sure thing. There’s no stopping Him. No containing Him. No refuting Him. No cutting Him off at the pass. No short-circuiting His agenda. God is in control. He sends forth lightning from His storehouse, He breathes out the wind, waters the earth, raises up rulers, directs the course of nations, births life, ordains death, and, in the midst of it all, still has time to be intimately acquainted with the everyday affairs of everyone on the planet.” (p. 49)
“Everything God does, He does for His own glory. He approaches every decision with the question: “What will bring the most attention and honor to My name in this situation-what will most glorify Me and make Me look the very best?” And then He does whatever that is.” (p. 162).
Of the 27 Amazon reviews of this book, 22 awarded 5 stars, and 5 awarded 4 stars. The two excerpts of the book above are also the grist – in content and wording – of Giglio’s four-part video series on “How great is our God.” Giglio’s zeal often does not square with biblical doctrines such as Original Sin and the radically different relationship that the saved and the unsaved have with God/Christ. Giglio’s audience is a mixture of professing and non-professing Christians.
I’d like to examine the first video of “How great is our God.” I shall argue that Giglio paints (painting literal canvases figures large in his presentation) a distorted picture of MAN as the “image” of God and of the FALL of man in the “Garden.”
I have transcribed key parts of Giglio’s video (Part 1 of “God is so great”). Giglio begins by stating that everything God does is “to demonstrate how awesome he is.”
He then quotes Romans 11:33-36:
 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?”  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
The above passage, though, is not about God as Creator but about God as Redeemer. The passage describes how awesome God is in His great plan of redemption through the election of those (Jews and Gentiles) whom he “foreknew,” that is,those He foreloved, from eternity (Romans 8:26-28-30). The term “election” becomes very relevant to what Giglio says later (see final part of my argument) about man’s ability to choose God.
“We need to “get our focus off of ourselves and focus on him…The glory of God is God, is God Himself. The glory of God is the sum of His magnificent attributes, the eternal fame of his mysterious works.” (My emphasis).
This reminds me of “Shout your fame”
I will shout Your fame to all the earth
I will lift Your name on high
And the world will know Your greatness
You are my God
I will shout Your fame
“Our created purpose is to be a reflection of his glory…the Spirit of God is vastly superior to the spirit of man…we ignore Him and challenge Him about who is going to sit on the the throne…We need a paradigm shift; we need to look through the right end of the telescope…God is not having an identity crisis…He’s not a schizophrenic…He’s altogether…Part of the job of being God is being all-knowing…“In everything God does, He is motivated by His glory…Every time God gets involved, His first question is: ‘How can this make me look good?’”
For Giglio, God’s glory is all about “How can this make me look good?” Look good for whom? For human beings? That seems to be what Giglio means. Perhaps, but not likely, he means the Trinity of Persons looking good for one another. Whoever Giglio is talking about, I think it strange to equate God’s glory with His desire of “looking good” (to humans (?), the bulk of whom are at present under God’s wrath.
Giglio continues (My bold type):
“When He put you in it (the world), He was thinking of His glory. How so, you may ask…Here’s how: He stamped into you, the Genesis account says, the very image of God. You were made in the likeness of God, in the image of God. God-stamped, God-breathed, God-pressed into the very DNA fabric of your being so that you and I could be the very best reflecting God’s glory in the world…[reflecting] the sum of God’s magnificent attributes and the eternal flame of His mysterious works.”
Recall Giglio (above), who said: We need to “get our focus off of ourselves and focus on him…The glory of God is God, is God Himself. The glory of God is the sum of His magnificent attributes, the eternal fame of his mysterious works.” (My emphasis).
“Very image,” “very DNA.” The adjective “very” used here means “exact.” DNA is the blueprint (of a living being). So, Giglio is saying that man (“you” – the little “i am”) and God (the “I AM”) have the same blueprint, the same nature. Man, says, Giglio, is the very (that is, exact reflection) of the “sum of God’s magnificent attributes” and also of God’s “eternal flame.” Giglio says: “He stamped into you, the Genesis account says, the very image of God.”
In When the Jew cleans up the Holy One of Israel’s Mess, Messiah will he come?, I discussed mainstream Judaism’s claim that while a Jew is truly a “piece of God,” a non-Jew is truly not. In the second chapter of the Tanya (written by Rabbi Zalman), we read: “The uniquely Jewish, soul is truly “a part of G-d above.” Judaism regards Rabbi Zalman (the Alter Rebbe “Old Rabbi”) as one of the great sages of Judaism, and, therefore, the Tanya is regarded as revelation originating at Sinai. The guardians of this revelation are the successive Lubavitcher Rebbes, who took over the baton from Rabbi Zalman. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the last Lubavitcher Rebbe (called simply “The “Rebbe”), Menachem Mendel Schneerson, reiterates the Tanya: “A Jew is a Jew, period. A ‘piece’ of G-d, placed in a body and planted in this world.”
So, while Giglio thinks that (“you”) Gentiles are also a piece of God (as Eastern philosophy/religion also teasches), Judaism (mainstream Judaism, represented by Chabad) says that glory (of being a piece of God) is reserved for the Jew. If, however, a Gentile converts to Judaism, that’s a different story, because then God changes the Gentile DNA to Jewish DNA. How does God do this. Michael Wyshogrod, in his book “The Body of Faith,” says that when a gentile converts to Judaism, he or she does not merely share the beliefs of the new religion – as would be the case of a Jew converting to Christianity – but that the convert miraculously, and therefore literally, becomes the seed of Abraham and Sarah. The miracle is not totally biological but “quasi-biological.” How does this quasi-biological miracle occur? By immersion in a mikve (ritual bath), which “symbolizes” (is that why the miracle is only quasi?) the mother’s womb through which a person is born. (See Raphy’s Bogology: The genetics of conversion – to Judaism).
What does Genesis 1:26 say? “God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Hebrew root dama, from which we get ADAM).
What does the Bible mean by man being created in the image, in the likeness of God? What is certain – if we accept that God is Spirit (when the Word was made flesh,the picture, of course, changes) – is that man is a composite of spirit and flesh, while God is pure Spirit. What is important is that Genesis 1:26 does not specify what it means by saying that man is the “image of God.” If, however, we examine the rest of scripture, the following human attributes emerge, which man shares with God: creativity, power to reason, power to make decisions, moral conscience and personal relationships. These are called the communicable attributes of God. The attributes that God does not share with man are God’s incommunicable attributes, for example, his omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful) and eternality (no beginning), immutability (unchanging).
1. God occupies the large grey section and the blue section. God is Spirit (John 4:24); the Bible doesn’t say more about the “composition” of God’s Being. Two important features of (God is a) “Spirit”:A. The spirit does no consist in material or bodily parts (flesh) (Jeremiah 10:1-16 and Luke 24:39). You can’t imagine Jesus before he took on flesh. B. Spirit is personal, rational (distinguishes between true and false) moral (distinguishess between right and wrong), and self-conscious. Man’s spirit shares A and B with God(‘s Spirit). (Listen to Francis Schaeffer – 50 minutes into the lecture).
2. Man’s spirit occupies the blue section.
3. Man’s flesh occupies the lilac section.
4. The blue shaded area contains the shared (spiritual) attributes.
The term“attribute” has at least two meanings:
- A noun: “characteristic,” “property,,” “quality.”
- A verb: “to ascribe.”
In an nutshell, God creates man. Man, as is true of all creatures, has attributes. God created man in His image, which means that God gave (“communicated”) certain of His attributes to man.
We distinguish between three kinds of human image of God:
- Before the Fall, in the Garden of Eden Only two human beings are involved: Adam and Eve.
- After the Fall, outside the Garden of Eden, which comprises all human beings.
- Also after the Fall, which comprises those fallen human beings who have been saved by God’s grace.
Here’s the rub: Giglio lumps all three categories together under the rubric “you.” “You” are (were?) the “very image,” of God “the very DNA” of God, the “sum of the attributes of God.” “You” disobeyed God in the Garden. This is not so. First, “you” couldn’t have disobeyed God in the garden because “you” weren’t there. (En passant, nor do “you,” or any Darwinian, know how God created the world, because “you” simply weren’t there). Second, no human being, including Adam, is the “very image” of God. Only “the Son is the radiance (effulgence) of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” exactly because He is “sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). Man before the Fall sustained nothing (by the word of his power). And after the fall? What had man become after the fall. If Adam was not the very image, the “exact representation,” of God’s being, then man after the fall was so very very not the “very image” of God; indeed he was a broken image, worse, a corrupted image, worse, a corpse of an image – of the image of Adam.
Yet, a great miracle occurs, greater than the miracle of the creation of Adam: God takes that living death of an image and breathes His very life into it. Possibly there were present some of those “born again” images in Giglio’s audience who could have confidently said:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18), “and and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created [them]” (Colossians 3:10).
Does this mean that the born-again person (that is, the Christian) becomes the “very image,” the “very DNA” of God? Absolutely not. No human can ever become omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (ever present), no matter how glorified he or she becomes, because God does not communicate these eternal attributes to man; they remain incommunicado eternally. i am never was, and never ever will be (in heaven) the very DNA of I AM. Now here’s where Giglio’s ambivalence lies. On the one hand, “you” are the “very DNA” of God, while on the other hand, “you” are insignificant.
No, neither “you” (which can only be a “you” after the Fall) nor Adam (before the Fall) are insignificant. Why not? For the reason of what it means for man to be created in the “image” of God: Adam, you and God are personal beings. What are the three main fields of study in Personal Psychology? The mind, the will and the “heart” (feelings, emotions). Those are the three personal (psychological) attributes that man – before and after the Fall – shares with God. We are significant to God, which includes the deep truth that we are also significantly finite. (Listen to Francis Schaeffer on the creational relationship between God and man).
At the end of his presentation, Giglio explains what he was trying to get across.
“…my hope was to make God seem really huge and awesome; but [I think he means “and”] the truth of the matter is that you are very small and you’re really insignificant except that God likes you; in fact he loves you, and as teeny as you are, he has invited you to come and know Him and given you the invitation of spending and walking forever with the magnificent one.”
So, Giglio’s God “likes you,” “in fact He loves you.” Giglio gets that idea from, of course, John 3:16 “God so loved the world….” First, enough already with the “like.” As far as I understand the Bible, God does not distinguish between “like” and “love.” Second, which is the bigger problem, is that if God loves everybody in the world , what do we make of Jesus’ prayer to His Father “ I pray for them (those who will believe in Him). I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9)? The apparent contradiction is easily resolved when God opens our eyes to see that “world” in John 3:16 means “from every tribe and nation in the world,” while “world” in John 17:9 refers to those in the world who are not His sheep, and, therefore, on whom he does not bestow his mercy. As we read in Romans 9:15, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.”
Giglio ends with:
God “gave us a choice. We cast our vote and [our] glory got in the way…and God said, “even in all this I am going to glorify myself.”
God gave ADAM, not “us,” a choice between loving and hating (disobeying) God . Fallen man lost the ability to choose God (the God of the Bible). He is dead in sin, yet remains free to do whatever his dead heart desires. And what does he desire? To be I AM, the very DNA of God, naturally. In Giglio’s audience sat those whom God, by his mercy, by his gift of saving grace, raised from the dead (Ephesians 2). There also sat those on whom God will not bestow that saving grace. Why would God be so selective? It’s called election, which a much greater sign of His Glory than the astronomical wonders of the universe.
“So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:18-24 ESV).
To summarise Romans 9:18-24, in Giglio’s words:
“How great is our God.”