Fantastic but Subordinate

A Really Fantastic End, but Still Subordinate

Doug Wilson responded to Derek Thomas’ recent article in Tabletalk regarding where evangelism rates on the ladder of importance.

One of the glories of the Reformation was that it restored the glory of God as the foundation of all things. It is infinitely more important that God be glorified than that I be saved. Fortunately for us, He is glorified in the salvation of sinners, but for us to put evangelism front and center is one of the best and surest ways to dilute the gospel itself. We have seen this precise trajectory in the evangelical world over the last half century. To make the salvation of sinners “the most basic question of all” is a good way to lose the right answer to that very important question. This is the way to pragmatic evangelism. This is how we got all the technique-meisters. Very important question? Amen. The most basic question of all? Not at all. (Wilson, Eck Rises to Defend the Reformation)

Wilson is right. That said, there’s no way Thomas believes that the salvation of a sinner is more important than God’s glory. But the gospel-first rather than God’s-glory-first way of speaking has seeped into the church’s collective communication and some other really good subordinate ends have been smothered because of it. Glory-first:

  1. explains suffering and the Christian pilgrimage better.
  2. encourages vocations other than vocational ministry alone.
  3. emboldens evangelism more.

Salvation is a subordinate end. It’s a fantastic end, but still subordinate to the ultimate end of God’s glory.