Is God Arrogant?

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Is God arrogant? This is one of the arguments that critics of Christianity will use against the faith is that God is selfish and arrogant. Richard Dawkins, perhaps the most famous atheist in the world, says that God is obsessed with “his own superiority over rival gods.”[1] God seeks praise and attention, and he even brings Israel out of Egypt “for the sake of his name” (Psalm 106:8). Isaiah 48:11 says, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

God made people in Old Testament times sacrifice animals to him and build a beautiful temple that was dedicated to him. Everything seems to be about him. Why is God’s primary concern in all about bringing glory to himself? If God is so great, then why is he so self-centered? Why is he so arrogant? Even in our prayers we are to honor his name and pray about his kingdom before we can even speak about our own needs (Matthew 6:9-13).

All of this contradicts the Christian teaching that God loves us and that he is a humble God who cares more about us than anything else. However, when God’s so-called “selfishness” is understood in its proper context, it is shown that it is proper and right for God to think highly about himself like this.

Solution

In order to understand whether or not God is full of pride or is humble, we must define our terms. The American Heritage Dictionary defines pride as “a sense of one’s proper dignity or value; self-respect,” “pleasure or satisfaction taken in achievement, possession, or association,” and “arrogance; conceit.”

It is important to notice that there is a good and a bad kind of pride. The first is a healthy view of oneself. The second is arrogance. Speaking of the second definition scholar Paul Copan says that pride is “an inflated view of ourselves.” It is “a false advertising campaign promoting ourselves because we suspect that others won’t accept who we really are. Pride is actually a lie about our own identity or achievements. To be proud is to live in a world propped up with falsehoods about ourselves, taking credit where credit isn’t due.”[2]

This is the definition that most of us think about when we use the word pride. However, as noted above, there is a proper kind of pride. We even see this is in the Bible. The Apostle Paul was proud as an apostle, said that the believer who is dependent on God can “boast in the Lord” (2 Cor. 10:17) and in the cross (Gal. 6:14), and he was proud of the faith of early Christians in their use of God’s gifts (2 Cor. 7:14; 9:3-4). “This is no ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ type of self-reliance; that would be a failure or refusal to acknowledge our proper place before God in light of his grace.”[3]

Let me now define the word humble. To be a humble person means to be “meek or modest,” “deferentially respectful,” and/or “low in rank or station.” Humility is having a realistic view of ourselves including our weaknesses and strengths (the good type of pride). True humility does not deny the abilities we have but instead acknowledges God as the ultimate source of our gifts.  We can’t take credit for these. “To be humble is to know our proper place before God-with all of our strengths and weaknesses.”[4]

Writer Kenneth Boa says:

“The modern notion of the ‘self-made’ man, pulling himself up by his own bootstraps and, by the sweat of his own brow, climbing to the pinnacle of success is so deeply imbedded in our consciousness that any other possibility seems foreign. It’s humbling to recognize that God is more responsible for the achievements of our lives than we are, that we are people who have been given our abilities, time and opportunities. These things are not our possession; they are gifts from God and we will ultimately give an account for what we do with what we have been given.”[5]

Is God proud?

The answer is no, at least to the second, negative definition of the word pride. God has a very realistic view of himself, and not a false or exaggerated one. God, in fact, is the greatest thing that humans can even imagine. This makes him worthy of worship. The word worship is a contraction of the old English word weorthscipe, which is “worth-ship.” If God was a horrible, evil monster then he would not be worthy of worship. God does not take more credit than what he deserves. The fact is that God thinks quite accurately of himself.[6]

Atheist Daniel Dennett believes that God is nothing more than a superman who loves praise since he created man in his image. However, to be made in God’s image is an act of God’s kindness and love, not some kind of divine arrogance. When God created us in his image, he created us for two roles: kingly and priestly. The kingly role means that God created us to rule over creation with him. The priestly role means that humanity is to walk with (have a relationship with) God and that we are to center our lives on him. Copan says, “Being made in in God’s image as priest-kings brings with it the ability to relate to God, to think rationally, to make moral decisions, to express creativity, and (with God) to care for and wisely harness creation. This is privilege, not bondage…Our being made in God’s image is simply God’s ‘spreading the wealth.’”[7]

Why does God insist that we worship him?

The answer is the same reason why parents teach their children to stay away from harmful things such as fire, speeding cars, and strangers. God doesn’t want the people that he created to detach themselves away from the ultimate reality – God. This would only end up harming us. To worship God is to be included in the life of God.[8] As I have noted in another article, to live in a relationship with God is the very meaning of life, the reason why he created us to begin with.

Is God Humble?

God is a very humble being. This includes not only the New Testament, but also the Old. Isaiah 57:15 says that the “high and exalted One” dwells “with the contrite and lowly of spirit.” Psalm 113:5-6 says that God stoops down to look at us. “In God’s interaction with Israel, we see an other-centered, patient endurance despite Israel’s rebellion, grumbling, and idolatry.”[9]

In fact, God becoming a man and dying on the cross for us to receive his blessing is very humble. One writer called the incarnation “the supreme biblical example of humility.”[10] “This is how low God is willing to go for our salvation.”[11] God came to earth and became a servant. He is willing, and finds pleasure, in serving us (Mark 10:45; Luke 22:27). Philippians 2:5-11 tells us that God emptied himself and became a slave and died in shame and humiliation.[12]

Conclusion

The idea that God is self-centered is way off base. God is the most perfect being there was, is, or ever will be. He has an accurate view of himself. We are to honor and worship him because he is the very reason why we even exist. There is no happiness and no meaning without God. He is so humble that he is willing to become a slave so others will have the chance to live forever with God in the new heavens and new earth.

What do you think about skeptics saying that God is arrogant? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.


[1] Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. Quoted in Paul Copan. Is God a Moral Monster (Grand Rapids: Maker Books, 2011). Pg. 27.

[2] Copan, 27-28.

[3] Copan, 28.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kenneth Boa. “Humility.” https://bible.org/seriespage/humility

[6] Copan, 28.

[7] Ibid., 28-29. Dennett quoted in Copan, 28-29.

[8] Ibid., 30.

[9] Ibid., 32.

[10] Boa.

[11] Copan, 32-33.

[12] Ibid., 32.

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