Thursday, December 25, 2008

Brad Pitt: Is God egotastic?

"I didn't understand this idea of a God who says, 'You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness. If you won't, then you don't get it!' It seemed to be about ego. I can't see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me" - Brad Pitt

ht: Coffee Cup Apoloetics by iMonk

What would you say?


  1. Egotistic - You can see Mr Pitt's point of view, can't you?

    I'd affirm his expectation that God must be morally attractive. And as the Queen said in her speech, this is what Jesus looks like. Jesus therefore seems totally other centered, as we might expect God, along with Mr Pitt to be. Jesus fits the bill quite well.

    But, it does seem strange, on the face of it, that the God of the bible asks for egotistic narcissistic worship. Well, at least that's what we think the bible says. Doesn't it?

    But, here is the face value problem. It's all very well to take things at face value if you are just setting up smokescreens, or making objections because you want to hide/upset people.

    If you want to be honest, then you always have to dig a bit deeper and ask, 'Have I understood this correctly? Does face value reflect reality?' The hard fact is that quite often we get the wrong end of the stick, and humility and integrity are as important in the world of ideas, as they are in the world of people and children.

    And as it it happens, the God of the bible is a being who reveals himself to be innocent of the charge of narcissism/egoism. There are three people, within the Godhead. Father, Spirit and Son, who act for each others glory. They are the polar opposite of self-centred.

    A few quick examples of this. The Father lifts the Son up above all others, 'God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. (Philippians 2:9-10). While the Son lays his glory and honour aside in Gethsemane to accept the cross, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matt 26:39), and ' to the glory of God the Father' (Philippians 2:11). What was the Holy Spirit doing though? Sinclair B. Ferguson writes, 'the name "Holy Spirit" …or worse "Holy Ghost", tends to convey a cold, even remote image.' Far from it, the Holy Spirit is present enabling the relationship between Father and Son, from before creation's dawn. The Holy Spirit introduces people to Jesus (John 15:26); Brings restoration and sanctification in the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29). The Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son (John 15:26; 16:14-15). The Godhead is made up of three distinct persons who are equally divine and are utterly united in love and purpose. So God is a relational, personal God even within himself – not a solitary being who is alone in the universe and looking for friends.

    Mr Pitt therefore is right to expect God to be self-less. And indeed he is. Just look at God, not something else. Treating things at face value is okay, but those same virtues and values (honesty, integrity, humility, self-lessness) that we expect from God, are also expected of us. Am I good when I compare myself to the God who is there?

    It's funny how whenever we (mankind) raise an accusing finger at God. Then we often find that the finger also points back at ourselves. The moral questions often have a way of swinging back towards the accuser, when it is a good person that we are accusing.

  2. This article by John Piper really helped me in regard to this question about God's God-centeredness:

    In Christ
    Thorsten Wiediger

  3. I think the stuff Piper's said/wrote on this is helpful. Thinking about why it's wrong for us to want people to worship us. If God is the most wonderful being in the universe and the one source of true joy then it would be unloving, selfish and self-centered even, for Him to not call people to worship Him.

    I think it's C.S. Lewis who then talks about the climax of enjoyment residing in the expressing of that enjoyment. I.e. When God tells us to say that He's the best, He is actually commanding us to the do thing the thing that will bring us most joy - provided, of course, that we have first tasted and seen that He is the best. I think this is maybe where a lot of our kicking against this comes from? We understand that God is probably great but until we experience that the command to express such ideas seems egotastic.

    Oh, and by the way.... can I have your autograph?

  4. The Piper/Edwards answer works well.

    Underlying Pitt's question is that belief that God is not attractive. If that's true then Pitt is right to question the worship that God demands. But if God is ultimately attractive, wonderful and the essence of beauty than His demanding worship from us is only the correct response of His own righteousness. For God to be righteous He has to value beings according to their worth. And so He must value Himself above all others. He is not an idolater because He has no other God’s above Himself.
    God demanding the worship of Himself is Him valuing His own glory above anything else and this is correct.

    Another thing. Pitt seems to be making a distinction between worship and happiness: ‘You have to say that I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness. If you won't, then you don't get it!' What Pitt doesn’t understand is that our happiness in God is the worship of God. I worship what is lovely- it gives me happiness. Good old Christian hedonism!