Tripp's basic ideas were:
- We were made for glory.
- There are two kinds of glory in this world:
- Ultimate glory that is found only in God.
- "Sign" glory, which means that all created things have a form of glory that points to ultimate glory.
- Every one of us is searching for glory, for treasure. Our problem is that we substitute sign glory for ultimate glory which alone satisfies.
The implication of this teaching as it was presented by Dr. Tripp is that as Christians we are all on some form of common ground in our sanctification. We are all equally able to simply turn from idols and toward God. The only thing that seems to hinder us is our own preference for idols, our attachment to lesser things.
This is certainly helpful in reminding us of the battle that rages in our hearts, and the divine resources that are available to us in Christ. Each day presents us with a series of decisions that will either take us toward God or away from Him, and God's Spirit provides dramatic power to make godly choices.
Our hearts are, as Calvin suggested, idol factories. But I don't think this is the only thing that is going on in our choices. Our "Quest for More" is not a simple black and white matter of choice in which we are all equally capable of choosing God over idols. In reality, our choices for or against God and his glory are laden with a greater complexity than this vision can contain. When "signs of glory" have deeply wounded us (like parents or siblings for example) then our battle to choose ultimate glory over sign glory can become much more difficult. Trusting that God's ultimate glory is a good thing can be much more difficult when engraved within our wounded hearts is the imprint of sign glory gone wrong.
My common complaint against Biblical counseling is that while what it proclaims is indeed true, it is truth that is incomplete. It presents a narrow view of how God works, what the gospel is, and our complex design as God's image bearers. It can cause people to try and force reality in categories that are too small. If there is suffering that doesn't fit in one of these categories (if, for example, an abuse survivor has a great deal of difficulty turning from sign glory to ultimate glory - perhaps more difficulty than someone who never faced such abuse) then people can be made to feel edited out of God's story as they try to make sense of their experience and follow God in the midst of it.