Home > Apologetics, Questions and Answers > Objections to Christianity: Isn’t God an egomaniac?

Objections to Christianity: Isn’t God an egomaniac?

Before I begin, I’d like to point to the more theologically-minded to this article by John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/is-jesus-an-egomaniac. What I’m about to write comes more from my own ideas and what helps me as I’ve thought about this issue. I’m sure others have come to similar conclusions.

Atheists and even Christians alike have sometimes wondered why God seems to into himself, or why he’s so concerned about his glory. When a person seeks fame and honor, we might stick up our noses and refer to that person as “full of himself,” arrogant, or even needy for attention. But when God demands our worship and wants us to love him even more than FAMILY, we need to get a good grasp on what’s going on.

First of all, let’s consider why it bothers us when people are like this.

Why does cockiness bother us so much?

Imagine an athlete who has just had a game of career highs, and during the interview, he boasts: “I’m not surprised at my excellence. I am on a different level from all the other players in the league, and everyone knows it.”

Don’t you think he would immediately become every other player’s new favorite target? Public enemy #1 in a sense? If it were basketball, you can bet defensive players guarding him would use every ounce of energy to keep him in check. They might bang bodies with him, knocking him to the floor (even if they pick up technical fouls). Anytime this arrogant athlete had a subpar game, you can bet he’d be hearing an earful from the opposing players all night. The others would rejoice in his failures.

The worldly explanation of why arrogance or self-promotion angers us might go like this: if a human being exalts herself, it goes against our belief that men and women are created equal. That boasting person is now claiming to be a cut above us. We are lowered in status, and equality goes out the window. Our uniqueness and special-ness are undermined. In the words of some wise person, which I’ve adopted on numerous occasions, we think: “Doesn’t that person wipe their butts just like we do?” Didn’t they cry and poop as babies just as we did?

This all points to the issue of pride, which we all intuitively know deep within us is sinful and an abomination. Just think how you feel when someone belittles your intelligence, your beauty, your worth. It feels wrong because God has instilled in us a sense that all human life is valuable. Anyone devaluing others sets off our moral alarms that something is terribly amiss.

Now imagine if that boastful athlete above was Michael Jordan. Would it seem quite as ridiculous or offensive? Public opinion might be torn. Some would defend him saying, “He’s just saying the truth. It’s not cocky if you can back it up.” Others would begrudgingly mutter, “Yea he’s the best, I just don’t like that attitude.”

As Bruce Lee once said, “If I tell you I’m good, you would probably think I’m boasting. If I tell you I’m no good, you know I’m lying.”

I’m sure you see where this is going.

God “isn’t cocky, just confident”

Let’s take it up a few…an infinite number of notches. If God Almighty proclaims his greatness, is it being cocky? Is it being an egomaniac? No, not at all. What he would be stating is pure objective fact. It’s a factual teaching for us to learn, that the creator of the entire universe is out there and worthy of praise.

When humans are boastful to each other, it offends us because we operate with the proper assumption that we are all valuable. We are supposed to be equals. An objectively equal person is claiming subjectively to be superior. But imagine how much God is offended when we boast to him or in spite of him. We aren’t even close to being equal with God. We are his creation, immeasurably inferior objectively, and yet we are still claiming to be equal or even superior.

Instead of feeling grateful for life and his sacrificial love, we elevate ourselves above him with our defiance, lifestyles, or idolatry—which can include love of money, the exaltation of science and human intelligence, or even loving another person more than God. We have guys like Sam Harris stating that any random book in Barnes and Noble would be superior to the very Word of God. Ouch.

Is it so surprising that God needs to teach us and remind us in clear terms what’s REALLY important? He is the one who is actually deserving of being elevated in our thoughts, words, and actions.

It’s easy to see why God needs to demand it so much. Even though he makes it crystal clear what we should be doing, we fail to do it anyway. If even “religious” people fail to honor him properly or sufficiently, how much more would we all fall short if God had never mentioned it? The Bible spells things out clearly sometimes, and we still fail to see it.

So what’s in it for us?

Theoretically, I could say “nothing” here and we would still be compelled to worship and exalt God. Even an earthly dictator could demand adulation from his people, and there’s not much they could do about it. That dictator probably couldn’t care less whether his subjects derive any benefit from it. The all-powerful God of the universe would be all the more entitled to endless praise, and the threat of his power would be enough to make us think twice.

But God happens to be a much bigger person than that, and there are actually positive benefits to praising him. Not only does he promise us rewards in the afterlife, but here on earth, worshiping God can become life’s greatest joy and privilege. This is a fact that is lost on those who scoff at God and his followers, but those on the inside know that there is nothing better. We were designed this way, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s the only thing that truly fulfills us in this world (cue the old “God-shaped hole in our hearts” cliche).

Even nonbelievers can get a glimpse of this. I’ve seen people joyously collect posters and other Michael Jordan memorabilia. They “worship” him and get a taste of what it’s like to praise another and be lifted in spirit themselves. Spouses can honor each other (perhaps after demands for more love) and derive satisfaction from that, despite the hard work and sacrifice it may entail.

But Jordan can disappoint (and retire). Spouses will hurt us and let us down. So will friends and family, even when times are relatively good. These are all fleeting and pale imitations. They are candy, filling us up with a false sense of satisfaction, but our bodies and spirits long for the real thing.

Like a child is entitled to love and nurturing because of his or her inherent value, God is objectively worthy of worship. It’s to the point where we are morally compelled to do it. He doesn’t need an ego boost; he already knows the truth that it is right and good to worship him. There simply is no earthly comparison. Not only that, but when we exalt him, we ourselves are satisfied when we do it. He wants us to experience the joy of knowing him.

So no, He is not an egomaniac. That is a gross anthropomorphic oversimplification.

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