For His Glory

on the Purpose of Salvation According to Jesus & Paul

Johann Sebastian Bach, the great Lutheran church musician, is universally recognized as the greatest contrapuntist (and by some as simply the greatest composer) who ever lived. He wrote endless anthems, chorales, and cantatas for church worship (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”), a multitude of preludes and fugues (“In D Minor”), a number of “secular” concert pieces (The Brandenburg Concertos), and a popular keyboard primer (the Anna Magdalena notebooks). He treated all of them the same way. At the top of the first page of each manuscript he inscribed the Latin initials for Jesu juva, “Jesus, help me.” And at the bottom of the last page he wrote, Soli Deo Gloria, “Glory to God alone.”

What did Bach understand that we need to recapture if we want to celebrate God’s glory today? I summarize it in what may seem a radical claim: God’s purpose in the salvation of sinners is his own glory.


Donald T. Williams is Professor Emeritus of Toccoa Falls College. He stays permanently camped out on the borders between serious scholarship and pastoral ministry, between theology and literature, and between Narnia and Middle-Earth. He is the author of fourteen books, including Answers from Aslan: The Enduring Apologetics of C. S. Lewis (DeWard, 2023). He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.

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more on music from the online archives

33.3—May/June 2020

Consolation in Death

Bach's Cantata BWV 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbesteZeit (God's time is the very best time) by Ken Myers

more from the online archives

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32.4—July/August 2019

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27.2—March/April 2014

Poetry Above Compulsion

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