Does God Love Everyone? – A Calvinist Struggle

Posted: March 6, 2013 in Theology

God Loves You

I have three young children, ages 4, 2, & 10 months, that I tuck into bed every night. Most nights we read together, talk, and conclude with prayer. One of the things that I attempt to do regularly, especially in prayer, is to speak the truth of Christianity, specifically the attributes of God, the work of Jesus, and the message of salvation. A point I repeatedly mention is God’s love for us. But recently, as I began to analyze my words with my theological convictions, I felt a problem arising – a contradiction.

In order to explain, I first need to preface by stating that I would consider myself a believer in sovereign grace. By this I mean that I believe, through Scripture and experience, that God is doing the saving. Man rejects God, but God, in spite of man’s rejection, draws men to himself and saves them (this may happen in many ways and through many different means). I would not place myself in the traditional Calvinist box, but my goal is not to fit into a nice and neat theological package, but to seek to know the truth. So how does God’s love pose a potential problem for the Calvinist (going forward, I will use the term Calvinist since it is the common term for those who believe in sovereign grace)?

The new Calvinist movement (often dubbed “The New Calvinists” or “Young, Restless, Reformed”) has produced much fruit. There has been a renewed emphasis on substantial learning and theology coupled with a big focus on missions. These are both great things. Contrary to the new movement, old school Calvinists and Reformed Baptists were often seen as harsh, and often extreme in their views. They typically had a heavy emphasis on election and the inability of man, God’s judgment, TULIP, etc.  The new Calvinist movement, however, seems a little softer in their approach. This has attracted many who hold a high view of God’s sovereignty, who don’t believe in the “repeat this prayer” gospel, but who are not staunch Calvinists. I myself have found this appealing. But there seems to be a fly in the ointment – a consistency problem.

As I talked with my children about God’s love for them, how he loved the world, etc., I found myself feeling conflicted. For if man is unable to come to God (in the Calvinist sense), God chooses whom he will save, and he does not save all, then it cannot be said that God loves everyone. If Calvinists are going to be consistent with their theology, they must agree with this point, as many traditional Calvinists have done (e.g. Calvin, A.W. Pink, etc.). But many in the new Calvinist movement, including notables like D.A. Carson and Mark Driscoll, would affirm that God loves everyone. Driscoll states: “And in reading the Bible, we see that it says everyone is loved by God.” Likewise, Carson affirms that we can tell anyone that God loves them. So let’s look at the problem a little closer.

Dr. Jerry Walls, in what he has called the Calvinist Conundrum, has framed the problem this way:

  1. God truly loves all persons.
  2. Truly to love someone is to desire their well being and to promote their true flourishing as much as you can.
  3. The well being and true flourishing of all persons is to be found in a right relationship with God, a saving relationship in which we love and obey him.
  4. God could determine all persons freely to accept a right relationship with himself and be saved.
  5. Therefore, all will be saved.

Now obviously Calvinists deny (5). But in order to deny (5), the logical conclusion, you must deny one of the other premises. So which one will it be? Since (3) and (4) are consistent with Calvinist teaching, it must be (1) or (2). Now to deny (1) would mean that God does not love everyone. And if that is the case, we must stop using that language in evangelism, preaching, talking with our kids, etc. If we are to be consistent, our speech must match our beliefs. But most of the new Calvinists are not willing to deny premise (1), for the Scriptures seem to endorse God’s love for everyone (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9) – not to mention how distasteful this is to many.

Whereas old school Calvinism would just outright deny premise (1), the new Calvinists are more prone to deny premise (2). Premise two is denied in favor of the view that God has different kinds of love. In order to overcome what may seem like word games, analogies have been used. Consider a husband. He loves his wife, his parents, his children, and his friends, but his love for each is different. His love for his wife is unique and different than his love for his children or friends. In the same way, it is argued, God loves everyone, but has a special kind of love for his elect. But this analogy has a couple of problems.

First, the love used in each sense is still a love that is consistent with premise (2). It desires their true well being and it seeks to bring it about as much as possible within the context of the relationship. So the differences in love are not due to the nature of love itself, but rather the boundaries of the relationships instituted by God shape the nature of the love. In other words, it is the position one finds himself in with another that determines the appropriate kind of true love. This leads to the second point.

Apart from Christ, every person is positionally or relationally in the same situation with God. So the restrictions of relationship that are given in the analogy do not apply and therefore render the analogy useless. In the context of his relationship with man, God either loves or he does not love. He either desires mankind’s full flourishing in relationship with him or he does not. There seems to be no middle ground. In order to avoid this difficult choice, some other alternatives have been suggested – the most prominent being that of common grace.

In an effort to still use phrases like “God loves the world” and “God loves you” while understanding that God does not love everyone like he loves his elect, people have suggested that God loves the non-elect in the same way he loves all of the created order. He gives them life, food to eat, air to breathe, family, etc. He can be said to love them because he gives them all these things before final judgment. “It is love”, they say, but love in the same sense that God loves ants, grass, and my Golden Retriever, Jersey. To tell an unbeliever that God loves them, and to mean it in this kind of ant-loving way, seems deceptive and disingenuous. It may feel good to say, but what you mean and what the other person understands you to mean are two totally different things. So how do we move forward? What is the appropriate way for Calvinists to speak and interact with others?

Many of the New Calvinists equivocate on the word love, using the same word, often in the same context, and having different meanings – often meanings that are not disclosed to the hearer. For me, this should not be done. For as I have shown, this universal love talk is inconsistent at best and deceptive at worse. As I can see it, there seems to be two alternatives: deny that God loves everyone or move to a more Arminian position. I stand conflicted.

Jordan Tong

Comments
  1. Joshua Patterson says:

    Very thought provoking blog Jordan, thanks. I have battled this idea as well finding my self wanting to agree with many of the views you brought forth but not 100% sure exactly where it is I land. It is evident that God’s attribute of love is displayed by kindly showing mercy upon those who are not “the elect” by not punishing them immediately for their sin, Psalm 145:9, Matthew 5:45 show that he has a compassion or mercy for the entire world. In Luke 6:35, He tells us to love our enemies, but says that He is kind to the ungrateful and evil, doesn’t say that He loves them. Both scriptures I mentioned before Luke 6:35 lead to the same thought; that God has a level of goodness or mercy/grace that He shows to the entire world and not just His elect. In Malachi 1:2-3, it is obvious when He states He loved Jacob but hated Esau that he doesn’t have love for everyone, and that His true Saving love is only for the elect.

    I always try to use a idea that you mentioned about parents and children. If I was overseeing a nursery I would have a desire for the well being of all the children in there, which some may consider love and I want to make myself think that it is, considering we are called to even love our enemies.. But if my children was in the nursery as well, and a fire broke out, I am saving my children because they are MY children. I’d also like to think I wouldn’t leave all the others behind because I didn’t love them but because they weren’t my children and my children are my top priority.So if that was considered some form of love towards the other children, would that make God’s love conditional? Because God’s love isn’t conditional or we would have some part in it right?

    We know that He only saves His children from the fire because they were born His children and loves them unconditionally and eternally. So I know want to take back my opening statement were I gave you thanks Jordan, as I am even more confused and chasing rabbits twice as much than I was previously to responding with thought to your blog. In my finite thinking I want to think of two different loves but only see a true love for the elect and a common grace or mercy that is a display of His love to the entire world.

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Josh,
      Thanks for your thoughts. This is a tough one for me as well. So often we claim certain beliefs without thinking through all of the implications. In order to be good stewards of the truth, we must understand it well (rightly divide the Word) and then live consistently with it. In this particular case, it is hard to do.

      Also, as I was reading back through what I wrote, I realized that I could have come across as thinking that God owed us his love or that we somehow deserve it. But as most Christians (regardless of whether they are Calvinists) would agree, none of us deserve God’s love. It is just a hard pill to swallow to realize, if you are a Calvinist, that God does not love everyone. I think often times we like to sugar coat it, but in my mind, if our doctrine teaches that, then we are obligated to share that as well. Why would we hide it? Are we afraid it would turn others away? Does it not sound friendly?

      But this is where it gets hard for me. At this point, I’m not willing to boldly proclaim that God doesn’t love everyone. I’m not sure why, but I’m just not settled with that fact. I can’t put my finger on why at this point. I’m not sure if it is because I just don’t like it or if it seems to contradict what I believe is true about the character of God.

      I’d love to hear more about where you stand on this issue.

      Jordan

      • will says:

        A third option would be that God saves everyone. Consider Colossians , Romans 5 mars hill etc. Forever can mean “ages”, and indeterminate amount of time.

    • don squires says:

      Do followers of calvins doctrine love everyone?
      Does God require you to love everyone?
      Not wanting a debate here, honestly just asking some questions that I have.
      Thanks
      God bless

  2. Daniel Cecil says:

    DA wrote a book on this difficult subject. It is quite difficult and I too have struggled through the conundrum.

    So, now that you have resolved that God does not love everyone what will you tell your children of God’s love? Will you tell them that God loves them?

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Well, I must say that I have only reluctantly resolved that God doesn’t love everyone and that is only because of a prior belief in sovereign grace. I plan to do some more study on the matter. Another system of thought that I have investigated somewhat is Molinism. Kenneth Keathley from SEBTS has done some work on this issue. I think the system has some merit, but I don’t know enough about it to make a decision. Here are some resources from him:

      http://www.amazon.com/Salvation-Sovereignty-Molinist-Kenneth-Keathley/dp/0805431985

      http://reasontostand.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Molinism-How-to-be-a-consistent-infralapsarian.pdf

      Regarding your question of what will I tell my kids, I’m not sure. The more I think about it, the more it frustrates me. Consider all the things that you cannot say to a lost person:
      “Jesus died for you”
      “God loves you”
      “Christ died to take away your sins”
      “God’s love for us is so great that he sent his son to take our punishment”

      I feel like I have to add the phrase “to those who trust in Christ” to every one of these phrases to make them actually true. It is very frustrating.

      It reminds me of this funny video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ckoCBtXvU

      • Daniel Cecil says:

        I met Dr. Keathley a few years ago here in Curitiba. He and some other profs came here to teach for a week at the seminary, but I have not read his book. He was a really nice guy.

        Thanks for your thought provoking blog post. I read through some of the thoughts and rejoinders on Facebook too. Allow me to give you my thoughts after thinking about this issue further. I would say this is not my final conclusion on the topic, but just where my thoughts took me as I processed it off the top of my head…

        It is true that God hates sinners (ps. 5:5, and others) which is everyone (rom 3:23), but he so loved the world that he sent his Son to die that whosoever believes will not experience his hatred and wrath – but his love eternally (John 3, 1 John 4). Not whosoever, but whosoever believes. God’s love is available to everyone; however, men (who are not robots) freely choose to reject this love because their hearts are enslaved to sin and naturally don’t want God or his love (Rm 3, eph 2, gen 6).

        But even though we freely choose to reject Jesus, he demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he died for us (Rm 5). His love, then, is not based on our belief, but is realized in our belief. Therefore, we may tell our children that God loves them. Our children may reject this love, but nevertheless, he does love them, even while they are still sinners. Jesus loves and dies for unbelieving sinners, but believers (who were once unbelievers) receive the love and the benefits of being loved eternally. So why should we not tell unbelievers God loves them?

        Perhaps God’s love awaits belief in Christ. In rejecting Christ, men are in the position of being under the wrath and hatred of God, but love-mercy-grace-forgiveness is there awaiting belief. The love is just waiting to be realized in belief.

        And I believe that men need a miraculous heart transformation in order to even care about God’s love for them (Jn 6, Rm 3, Gn 6). But when their blind eyes are opened and they do see God’s love for them in Jesus, the love that was there all along, they choose to go after Jesus and accept this love and his response is, “all who come to me, I will certainly not cast out.” Finally, whosoever does not believe will not experience the love God has for them, but will experience the wrath and hatred of our holy God (John 3:36). Perhaps, then, the atonement is not limited, but rather it is by nature freely rejected. So, technically, I don’t think it is wrong to tell people God loves them even though their rejection of his love incurs wrath and hatred.

        Wow this is complicated. I will think about it further. I would like to read DA’s book.

  3. Daniel Cecil says:

    I just read through Acts and nowhere do the Apostles say “God loves you.” Even to the Greeks. Mainly – judgment is coming, believe, repent and the reality of the resurrection. Perhaps God’s love is implied, but it is not directly stated that “God loves you” or that “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” 🙂

    • Nel says:

      Bro, Daniel I would like you to reconsider the logical sequence of John 3:16 passage. I want to ask you which comes first God’s love or those who believes? I cant think of any other way of doing justice to the text unless we view the “whosoever believes” clause as logically followed from the first clauses. The word “that” indicates causality. The Greek word, ἵνα, some argued (http://members.toast.net/puritan/Articles/John3_16_f.htm) is different from ὥστε which also means “that” (I subscribed). But I just wondering whether the writer (or Jesus) had in mind such a hair splitting distinction or simply fabricated in the mind of knowledgeable Calvinists expositor. But granting that the writer has this in mind, there is still no reason to suppose that the beneficiary of God’s love are only those who believes and that the giving of his only begotten son (atonement so to speak) are only for those who believe. This interpretation is nothing but a naive, insipid, and hermeneutically abuse of the text, even Calvin did not succumbed to such a loose interpretation of John 3:16 (http://calvin.biblecommenter.com/john/3.htm). I hate to say this but I think that Calvinists are no different from Kabbalists in this respect. What the Kabbalists had done with Bible “numbers” the Calvinists is doing to the Bible “words” not in a sense that they introduce strange meaning to the words but that they make a strange logical and syntactical connection between these words. I think you are in the right tract when you said that “God’s love is available to everyone” but I would like you to go farther by understanding the nature of this love linguistically or semantically. Some people thinks of love as a kind of “object” or a “thing” that needs a certain container to place upon. But love is an abstract quality and as such it doesn’t requires reciprocation to be realized. God loves the “great totality of fallen, sinful human beings” (as John Piper puts it = http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/god-so-loved-the-world-part-2) with or without a response. God’s love need not be effectual. Thanks. I hope this is a beginning of a more fruitful dialogues. God bless.

    • Nel says:

      So Daniel are you saying that since preachment in the Book of Acts did not mention the phrase “God loves you” we Christians has no warrant to tell the world about God’s love since as so said, “Perhaps God’s love is implied, but it is not directly stated that “God loves you” or that “God has a wonderful plan for your life.'” What would be our resolve here. Are we going to suspend our judgment or simply choose whether we will tell the world God loves them or stop telling them the phrase “God loves you”? I’m beginning to understand why Philosophers rarely associate themselves to Christianity, we are full of absurdities and our propositions that we are suppose to offer to the world sometime stand in juxtaposition with the very basic rule of just reasoning. And is there any more absurd than to say that if there is God, this God did not choose to love the entire humanity equally even before they created them. Moderate Calvinism such as infralapsarianism and sublapsarianism are much to be prepared as against supra. Subla has the least difficulty both philosophically and biblically. Millard Erickson is an example of subla Calvinist.

  4. Nel says:

    Hi Mr. J Tong. I came across this blog as I search for Calvinists’ view about God’s love. Whether they hold that God’s love all men or God only loves a chosen few the so called “elect”. I am an Arminian and as such, I cannot help but to shrug my head as I see how Calvinism struggled in reconciling God’s sovereignty and human freedom. I also noticed that you felt the same (correct me if Im wrong). Arminianism to dot suffer much because the feeling and the intuition that if there is God he must love all people. He loves me, he loves you, he loves everyone. Whether this is biblical or not is another story. Every theological debate between Calvinism and Arminianism hinges to two concern, philosophical and biblical. Both system acknowledge and actually employ both philosophical and biblical argument to make the system consistent as far as it goes. Calvinists claim that they are doing justice to the text while in fact even the John 3:16 requires them tremendous amount of energy to explain. This is, of course, not wrong only that it makes an impression to me that the bible message requires a graduate in theology to understand even the simple verse as John 3:16 (correct me in this matter pls). It would be very easy for your kids (excuse me to mention them) to understand if you say God loves all people. But if you tell them the truth of Calvinism (supralapsists or supralapsarianists) you’ll be needing a lot of energy to explain even the John 3:16 passage. I won’t argue about your resolution or your conclusion. At the end of the day I hope we are willing to give a hand of fellowship even to those who are not in the same system.

  5. Hi – stumbled across this shortly after stumbling through Romans yet again.

    I have yet to fully understand either the Arminian or Calvinist position because both of them (given my lack of full understanding) appear to run into problems that I have yet to reconcile with the whole counsel of God. I have noticed at the extreme edges that both sides commonly misunderstand (or worse, misrepresent) each other’s position even to the point of boldly stating that the other view is heretical and from the pits of hell. Some of the exchanges, at least online, must delight the one who hates us.

    The simplicity that was just knowing Jesus Christ – that glorious revealing of His majesty by the Spirit of God, the joy of being forgiven everything BECAUSE of God’s love as demonstrated on the cross, the peace of His presence, the God given unction to make Him known to everybody I met (for nothing else mattered more than knowing God) – began to get rather complicated the further I got through the Bible that God instructed me to read.

    In the beginning, God graciously gave me a humble attitude with respect to my first reading of the Scriptures. I knew that He would reveal what I did not understand when He chose to – whether in this life or the next when He will be fully known. Nothing could deter me from sharing what I knew of Jesus as revealed by God’s Spirit.

    However, as time went by, this pot began to think that unless it understood the whole of God’s counsel – having every doctrine of Scripture perfectly nailed – it could no longer share what it DID know about Jesus. The intellectual pride and arrogance that I was convicted of when first under the power of the Holy Spirit had risen up.

    Only, this time it had done so with an appearance of godliness – even quoting Scripture to support its lust. And that at the expense of being cautious to preach to the lost, lest I do disservice to the pure Gospel and be held to account. I found myself at times preaching like a Calvinarm or an Arminist as opposed to someone who had simply met God.

    I had lost my first love. Jesus Christ was no longer being shared with people, but an unconvincing flurry of contradictory theologies would be running through my mind as I omitted to speak of who Jesus is, why He came, what he did, and how I came to the wonderful knowledge of Him. It is of little wonder that not many of us should be teachers where the body of Christ is concerned.

    Incidentally, whilst I have been writing this I have come to realise that my words are a confession of sin. I asked God to deliver me last night, after a full day of wrestling with the things I understand not. This morning, I found myself here and not alone in my exasperation. However, I might well be alone in having the wrong motive (sheer pride) in wanting to be a know-it-all at the expense of knowing Him.

    Grace and peace to you, Jordan.

  6. stjustin says:

    Christ calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This requires Divine grace bc a man is not naturally capable of sacrificing his will, his life, for those who hate him. But if God does not love everyone, then His own grace is insufficient for us to accomplish this since He Himself did not give His life for all people. Thus the command to love our neighbor is impossible because God Himself has not poured out a grace from Himself to do this, for the fullness of grace is Christ (John 1).

  7. So don’t be conflicted anymore. Calvinism is wrong it’s not biblical except the biblical explanation and you will no longer be conflicted. God’s grace is sovereign and God loves every person and whosoever will may be saved. There is no conflict with that. That’s God’s final word on the subject until someone comes up with a lot of tricky semantics and you get confused

  8. Carolyn says:

    Am I to think that possibly my husband who passed away 4 years ago may be one of those God predestined not to be saved? In his Bible I find hand written the wise words, “We do not know what we do not know.” Yet, too many spend too much time quoting complicated explanations by men rather then reading the simple invitation extended by God through His Son, Jesus — “Come unto me, ALL…..” When those of you who believe God predestines to hell or to heaven, and you look at your small children, which of them do you picture God has predestined not to be in His presence eternally? Jordan has it right as do several who commented immediately following him. When we take our eyes off Jesus, we end up arguing over things we do not and cannot know rather than using those precious moments to tell someone ABOUTJesus and the salvation He came to offer “whosoever will.” The words of the children’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I KNOW, for the Bible tells me so,” say it all.

  9. Remi says:

    Good morning, I am not a Calvinist, I used to be, but not anymore. Those are not salvation issues, but I would like to share what I belive. To do so, I will use a Calvinist to explain I took that quote form that website:

    http://athinkingchristian.com/2013/03/06/does-god-love-everyone-a-calvinist-struggle/

    But what single-predestination people have never successfully explained is how God’s passing the rest over is any less an active choice of God than God’s reprobating them.

    To illustrate my point, suppose I am the captain of a ship. The ship is sinking in icy waters in which no one can survive for more than an hour. The nearest rescue ship is three hours away. There are only enough lifeboats for the women and children. As captain, I determine that only the women and children will be allowed into the lifeboats. By making this decision, I have not only decided that the women and children will be saved, but I have also decided that all of the men will perish.

    Of course, God has much more control over the situation than a ship’s captain. To make the analogy more complete, we would have to say that the captain also made the ship and the ocean and the people, and he also decided before the ship even sailed that it would sink and whom he would save and whom he would not. The point is this: By deciding whom He will save, God has also decided whom He will not save.

    End of quote.

    You are right on your thinking, if one believes in predestination (in the Calvinist sense), G-d must not love everybody the same, or point 1 or 2 must be not true. Doesn’t that contradict scriptures?

    1 Timothy 2:4-6 says:

    Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    What does “all” means? As Spurgeon (a Calvinist) he said:

    What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. “All men,” say they,—”that is, some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if he had meant some men. “All men,” say they; “that is, some of all sorts of men”: as if the Lord could not have said “all sorts of men” if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written “all men,” and unquestionably he means all men.

    How many wills have G-d?
    But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Psalm 115:3

    What about Ezekeil 33:11
    declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.

    But you can’t, G-d is not lying, and does not have two wills, if he says so, He wants the unsaved to repent, He must mean it. He loves the non-elect with Agapee love, but wont do anything to save them? If you see somebody drowning and don’t rescue him, does that mean you really loved that person?

    For the scriptures says: For G-d so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son…

    I send you a link for a good middle ground theology, hope that help.

    http://buzzardhut.net/index/htm/prop.htm

    G-d Bless, Shalom

  10. Jordan,

    Your blogpost does an excellent job of teeing-up the dilemma of NeoCalvinism in systematically. I applaud your recognition of the issue and refusal to merely discard it as “antinomy” or “mystery” as many NeoCals do. I believe that most “sovereign grace” believers today are sort of “splashing around in the kiddie-pool” of God’s sovereignty in that they embrace some truths like election, while refusing to enter into the deeper waters of the logical ramifications of such truths. I have written about the NeoCal “Two Loves of God” theology at some length on my blog (http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2012/10/book-review-02-john-macarthur-love-of.html) and believe that it is an utterly unsubstantial and unbiblical ersatz solution to the dilemma. I would characterize their solution as positing that “God loves you, but he sends a lot of people he loves to hell.” Or better still – “God has two kinds of love: the saving kind and the burning kind.” Drawn out with that level of explicitness, I think their assertions prove to be little more than an irrational relabeling of the eternal wrath of God as a form of love. Simply stated, God does NOT love every man, neither is he under any obligation to love every man (Romans 9:18). He hated Esau (Romans 9:13). He hates the foolish, the workers of iniquity, the wicked, and him that loveth violence (Psalm 5:5, 11:5).

    The issue that most “sovereign grace” adherents have yet to consider is the NATURE of the gospel message. By asserting that the gospel is a well-meant-offer to all of humanity (WMO) they not only contradict the precept of particular redemption which makes such a logical impossibility, but they also distort the nature of the gospel message itself. The gospel is not a WMO but rather a proclamation of the finished work of Christ which saved his people from their sins (I Cor 15:3-4, Matt 1:21). It is accompanied by the assurance that those who believe this proclamation HAVE eternal life (John 6:47) and they shall never perish (John 10:28) along with the admonition to walk in obedient discipleship as a logical consequence of this truth (Acts 2:40). I does not hold out a promise of salvation conditioned upon the exercise of faith, but rather, an affirmation of salvation to those who HAVE faith. That is an enormous difference. Sadly there are very few who have a proper understanding of the gospel in this day and age. I have a short presentation of the gospel on my blog as well. (http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2012/10/what-is-gospel.html)

    Thank you for your clear and honest thinking on the matter and for your commitment to seek God through a biblical and rational understanding of his revelation to us in the Bible.

    May God bless our studies and understanding,
    teth

  11. Nathan Knell says:

    Hi Jordan,

    Thank you for posting this. In the same way that you have difficulty making sense of God’s love within the context of Calvinism, I have difficutly making sense of Calvinism within the context of the example that Jesus Christ set for us when He came to the earth. Jesus is the best display of God that we have to refer to in the Bible. It seems His last words on the Cross “Father frogive them for they know not what they do..” were an ultimate display of love that Jesus had for people, even the people who were killing Him. I personally don’t see how by definition God could be anything less than all loving. I mean doesn’t the Bible say that the most important thing is love? Without it everything is meaningless? So Wouldn’t God have love that was perfect and full for everyone? Calvinism in my mind makes God out to be more of a tyrant, which is not consistent with what the Bible teaches. If God could make everyone freely choose to believe in Him without violating their free will but choses not to, what love is that? What does it benefit a man if he gains the whole world but loes his soul? What good is it if God gives the whole world to someone, but damns his soul. The God I read about in scripture created “everyone in His image”. He loved everyone so much that even when we gave into sin and became destined for hell, out of respect for our free will, He sent His own Son to pay the price for our sin and to create a way for us to still live for eternity with Him someday. God doesn’t ‘need’ anyone to chose to love Him. He is no less complete with or without us. So there is no need for Him to chose for us. I do not in anyway believe I can do anything to deserve God’s love and salvation. I can never earn it. But I also believe, in the context of free will and true love, God gave me a choice to love him in return, or not to. I believe God gave everyone the ability to chose Him, which is why He gets angry when they don’t. If God knew people couldn’t chose to obey Him, He wouldn’t get frustrated when they didn’t. As far as what to say to your kids, my advice is to quote 1 Jn 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God ahs for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in Him.”(ESV). If God is Love, then He is love to everyone, not just some.

    • Jordan Tong says:

      Thanks for your comment! I’m sorry that I am just now responded. I somehow missed it and am just now seeing it.

      There is a tension here that is just going to be hard for us to understand this side of heaven. As many have said, “it is a both/and issue.” God is both loving and just. He is both sovereign over salvation and man is responsible.

      Sometimes its good to just set the tension aside and focus on the object of our salvation, Christ.

      Grace and peace to you!
      Jordan

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