So, why do we praise God?

Why Is God to Be Praised?

So why should God be praised? One might say that God is to be praised for His goodness. But God’s goodness seems to be rooted in His nature, not in His will. In that sense God’s goodness might seem to be “essentially deterministic,” not in the sense that it is causally determined but in the sense that God is essentially good independent of His will. So it would seem inappropriate to praise God, in the sense of commending Him, for being good.

God, however, might still be praised for His acts of supererogation. That is to say, He does things which are not determined by His nature but are the result of His free choice. The whole plan of salvation, including creation, incarnation, substitutionary atonement, election, calling, and regeneration are acts of God which He did not have to undertake. It is entirely consistent with His nature that He create nothing at all or a world in which I was not saved. It is therefore entirely appropriate to praise and thank Him for such things.

Even more fundamentally, however, God is to be worshiped and adored for His essential goodness. Even if we do not praise God for being good (as if to say, “Way to go, God!”), still adoration of God as the summum bonum (the highest good) and, indeed, the paradigm of goodness itself is entirely suitable and, in fact, obligatory for creatures. God alone is to be worshipped and adored for who He is; no creature can receive such attitudes.

This understanding can add a whole new dimension to your worship experience, Jim. The next time you are in church, focus not just on praising God for the things He has done but on adoring Him as the supremely worthy One. You will find that not only His goodness but also His other superlative attributes, like aseity, necessity, eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, and so forth, make Him worthy of awe and worship.

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