Thursday, October 22, 2009

God’s Conditional Love

From the American Vision blog:

What is the question? Simply this: "If God loves me unconditionally, why does it matter how I live my life?" Or it could also be phrased this way: "If God truly loves me unconditionally, why should it matter whether or not I 'become a Christian?'" Be careful to not miss how powerful and deadly this question really is. It is not just a clever twist of wording, meant to sidetrack the evangelistic efforts of well-meaning proselytizers. Far from it. This question is the stake in the heart of the modern evangelical notion of God's "unconditional love." In fact, I challenge you to search for the phrase "unconditional love" in the Bible or find the concept that God unconditionally loves every person on earth being taught anywhere in Scripture. In fact, R.J. Rushdoony makes the bold claim that "unconditional love is contrary to the Bible."

Again: the Calvinist is noetically incapable of seeing God’s love as being truly unconditional.  For him, when God says He “so loved the world,” the Calvinist is presuppositionally forced to inject “…of the elect” into the verse.  When the Bible says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, he is again forced to inject “…any of the elect…all of the elect” where the clause does not in fact exist either contextually or necessarily.

The fact is, the Bible does teach God’s unconditional love – quite emphatically so.  It is, however, inaccurate to assert that unconditional love means that there are no necessary consequences for sin and rebellion.  I can love my son unconditionally – but if he misbehaves, because and as a direct consequence of my love, I will not shield him from the consequences of his actions, and will instead discipline him.  There is no real conflict between my unconditional love for my son and my then administering to him the consequences for his behavior when he misbehaves.

So, too, God.  God loves the world – every single person on it.  He even spoke to Judas in love, calling him at the very moment of his betrayal of Him, “friend,” giving Judas a last opportunity to repent.  That love is not inconsistent with His permitting men to receive the consequences of their choices, since that is likewise a consequence of two other of His attributes – justice and holiness.

But the consistent Calvinist cannot see this; he is committed to a theology which has God arbitrarily deciding from eternity past who will be saved and who will burn, with the individuals in question having absolutely no choice in the matter, instead being foreordinately and infallibly vouchsafed to whichever destiny He arbitrarily chose for them – who in effect created the vast bulk of humanity to suffer in unimaginable agony throughout eternity for His glory alone.

…and insist on calling these the “Doctrines of Grace.”

…and Calvinists wonder why us non-Calvinists run as hard and fast as we can away from Calvinism, screaming in horror the whole way.

God’s unconditional love for mankind is in no way inconsistent with His holiness and justice.  It is HIs holiness and justice which requires that sin be dealt with, and which in fact demands that there be such as place as hell for those who die in their sin; it was likewise His unconditional love which impelled Him to take upon Himself human flesh to die so as to provide the only way men might be saved through His free grace, providing an escape from the just consequences of their sins which would otherwise require their eternal damnation.  God’s unwillingness that any should perish but that instead all should come to repentance is in no way inconsistent with His will that those who do not repent will perish.  Nobody (who isn’t a Hypercalvinist) has any problem with the distinctions between God’s perfect, permissive, and declarative will.

I may not have things as tightly bound up and figured out as the Calvinist has; but I can identify crazy when I see it – and the assertion that God’s love is conditional emphatically falls under that category.