God’s Love Both Saves and Damns

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This is the most well-known, awe-inspiring, humbling, and most beautiful verse regarding God’s loving plan and offer of salvation to any and all. Calvinists must ultimately reduce it to meaning God salvifically loves the elect only!

In reference to this verse, the Calvinist John Owen says, “It cannot be maintained that by the world here is meant all and every one of mankind, but only men in common scattered throughout the world, which are the elect.”[1]

Now, since Calvinists adamantly argue that God loves the non-elect (albeit differently), and the very nature of this love involves God intentionally withholding the very provision that would not only afford a genuine opportunity to be saved (Extensivism), but, according to Calvinism, would have inviolably guaranteed their salvation (compatibilism, unconditional election, selective regeneration), it is indeed precisely accurate to say that (according to Calvinism) God determined from all eternity that the love He has for the predestined (passive or active) for hell non-elect would do everything necessary to preclude the possibility of even one of these loved ones escaping hell.

Thus, that God loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most is an absolutely accurate portrayal of this love of God for the non-elect, which is a disquieting reality of Calvinism. Either God does not love the non-elect, or the love He has for them withholds what they eternally need (Calvinists never tire of speaking of God’s love for the non-elect). We know of no love in Scripture or experience like the love assigned to God through Calvinism. I do not think this portrait of God and His salvific love is reflective of God, the sum of perfect love, as portrayed in the Scripture. Further, the reliance upon the order of decrees, two-wills, distinctions in the kinds of love, and common Calvinistic phraseology (“God loves to save sinners” “God is loving and gracious to save even one sinner” etc.,) does nothing to expunge or mitigate this unbiblical reality, but rather merely beclouds.[2]

“The Calvinist R.C. Sproul states the quandary of reconciling God as love with the Calvinist view of unconditional predestination and election when he says, ‘It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the “elect or chosen ones.” It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case.’”[3] (italics added)

 


 

 

 

 

 

[1] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 196-197, accessed 8/4/14.

[2] While it is absolutely true that God is just if He chose not to offer salvation to anyone, it is painfully difficult to see how being just elucidates how He can be perfect mercy, compassion, love, and grace and not act accordingly. If God were unjust once, He would be forever unjust and in like manner, if unloving for one instance He would simply be unloving.

[3] Sproul, Chosen by God, 51, as quoted George L. Bryson, The Five Points of Calvinism: Weighed And Found Wanting, (Costa Mesa, CA.: The Word for Today, 2002), 44.