Man's Chief End.  

Posted by Daniel in ,


 "What is man's chief end? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Enjoy Him forever. (From the Westminster confession of faith shorter catechism) It honestly sounds wonderful, but something I think all believers struggle with in one form or another.  It is certainly something we should strive for as He is our end all, and without Him we cannot even exist. However, is that really part of our chief end? Is it our end all, our reason for existing? If this is man's main purpose in life, then in the end (after we die, and we are judged to either Heaven or Hell) we will accomplish this task no matter what. There are two sides of this though, from a believer’s perspective, and from a non-believers perspective.
For Believers: It could be easy to say that this is part of our main purpose. We should be enjoying Him, if for no other reason (and there are many more reasons than this alone) than He chooses to save us from death and damnation. We will also be doing this once we reach glory.
For Non-believers: We know they are glorifying God, at least indirectly in how we figure things. They are certainly not singing Him praises, or attributing good things to Him. However, at the very least when they reach Hell they will be glorifying Him by receiving the punishment that is their due and just reward. I think we can all agree though that there is very little of their enjoying God in Hell.
So then, how can part of man's chief end be to enjoy Him forever if it applies to everyone? I could accept this a bit more if it was only a Christian’s chief end, but as far as I know this was not the intention of the writers of the Westminster confession. Even still it would not sit well. Not to mention the passage the catechism uses to support this does not really speak to it in my opinion.
The verse they use to support it is Ps73:25, 26 
25Whom have I in heaven but You?
         And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. 
26My flesh and my heart may fail,
         But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

I have two problems with this. 1. This is basically a hymn written to the Lord, not a command, not even a wise saying, like proverbs. Now I certainly understand that it is inspired, and most certainly should be what we desire but still, a bit weak for a command. 2. This is the psalmist saying what is his heart's desire, not necessarily a direct command, and certainly far from our ultimate purpose.

I just feel that while enjoying God is something we should do, it is not part of man's chief end. Though giving God the glory certainly is. :)

Any thoughts?

soli deo gloria

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at Wednesday, November 17, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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