Does God Hate Some and Save Others? : Musings on Predestination, Election, and God’s Love
For some time I have struggled with Reformed theology. Without question, New Calvinism is the theological comeback kid of the 21st century. And while countless friends and teachers claim this theological title, I have not. And this has left me wondering, “Do I have it all wrong? Am I the only one who doesn’t see how this makes sense? Will I be branded a heretic like Rob Bell for not assenting to the Reformed theological party line?” With the lineup of teachers, writers, and Christian leaders claiming to be part of this movement, one may no doubt see my worry. The influential list of reformed leaders include John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Al Molher, Joshua Harris, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and J.I. Packer to name a few. These leaders, without question, have my respect. And though I call some elements of their theology into question, I do not do so out of disrespect or a questioning of their intelligence. My questions and struggles are heartfelt ones.
Basic Reformed Theology Review
For those looking for a little background on the Reformed theology front, this school of thought teaches five key principles.
First, all of humanity is totally depraved. In short, because of the fall, all humanity is sinful and each human is incapable of choosing God. It is only God who can choose man.
Second, God has chosen for himself a select number of his creation to redeem while leaving the rest to their well-deserved judgement and wrath. Those chosen were done so by no virtue or merit of their own. God simply chose to show his grace and mercy on some.
Third, Christ’s sacrifice was only for those chosen. His sacrifice was limited to those whom God elected from the beginning. And this is key, Christ’s blood was not shed for those whom God left to languish in their sin.
Fourth, God’s grace is irresistible. When his favor is shown, the chosen and elect can not help but follow and receive God’s mercy.
Fifth, the sovereign God will cause his elected to persevere to the end. His will cannot be frustrated by the will of humans.
All of these theological principles are well backed by scripture and I am in no way questioning that this is the case, having been shown and having read most if not all related passages for each of these doctrines. My struggle is various scriptural passages which make it seem that God loves all and desires all.
Classic examples of his love can be found everywhere.
John 3:16-17, for example.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Here we see that God sent his son for the entire world! Does he really love everyone and want them saved through his son’s blood?
Again, we see this love and desire in 1 Tim. 2:1-4.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
God wants all people to be saved. But does he really?
R.C. Sproul, a famous reformed theologian, explained that if we were to attribute human emotions to God we must take a closer look at the term “will.” There are several types of “wills” which God exhibits. One of these wills is his “will of disposition”—that which pleases him. According to Sproul, God takes no pleasure or delight in the death of the wicked. He is “grieved” when he sends people to Hell. Nevertheless, God also has a “sovereign will” in which he elects some and leaves the rest despite His inevitable grief over the death of those that are lost. Watch this video to see the entire interview.
Does God Loves Some and Hates Others?
“Does God love everyone?” Dr. Robert Morey, internationally known apologists and Reformed theologian, takes up this question with great mockery toward those who ask such silly things. He calls such people humanist hippies and emotional sniveling types. God loves some and hates others. The scripture is quite clear in his mind. Just as God hated Esau but loved Jacob, so too does he love those whom he has chosen and hated those he has left to face wrath. And those who see things differently, according to Morey, ought to stop taking up room in the church and go join the Unitarians or some other “in-touch with their feelings” sort of religion. See his response for yourself.
God’s Predestination and Election
There is no question that God has the ability and authority to “elect” and save everyone. But why doesn’t He? According to Robert Morey, God simply hates some and loves others. But if he really hates some, why does he grieve as Sproul suggests?
Mark Driscoll is perhaps one of the most well-known reformed pastors and is, in many respects, leading and directing the church of America into the 21st century. When discussing the doctrine of predestination, he relates a passionate and moving story of a time when his young daughter nearly died. They lived near a high-traffic street, one on which dozens of cars drove forty miles an hour or more. His daughter began running toward the street, Driscoll all the while yelling at her to stop. She did not, eventually stepping out into the street. Her father snatched the back of her collar just as she was about to be hit my a rather large truck, saving her from certain doom. This, Driscoll says, is predestination and election. Our Father God snatches us from the doom of our own making.
And what father would not save his child? I, for one, would exert every power within me to save my daughter no matter how rotten she may be. My love is too great. And this love overshadows any wrong that she could possibly do. Is this not how God see the children he saves?
But there is a darker side to this analogy and doctrine. God is perfectly powerful and can save all. All of humanity, to be sure, is headed toward their doom and God can save all of them if he wishes. But if the doctrine of predestination and election is true, why does he not save all of his children? It would be as if all of Driscoll’s children ran toward that street and he has the ability to save them all but chose to only save one or maybe two. This, of course, is unthinkable.
Does God love everyone? According to the doctrine of election, the answer must be an emphatic no. He hates some of us. And despite his ability to save all and that each is no different from the other, God chooses to save some of his children from eternal torment and death.
This is, at the core, my struggle and wrestling with Calvinism. And perhaps this is juvenile, but the image that it paints of God and his character is somewhat disturbing to me.
Do I have this wrong? Or is my logic correct, but I just don’t like what I see?
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