Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Counterfeit love

According to Billy Birch:

From just a cursory reading of Jesus' words [Jn 15:12-13,17], it appears that loving one's brother or sister in the Lord is a non-negotiable. He even called it a command.

Hence when a professed believer cannot admit to loving other brothers and sisters in Christ, then he or she has failed the test of love. It is questionable as to whether this person has truly been born again...If anyone belongs to and genuinely loves God, then he or she also belongs to and will genuinely love God's children. If anyone fails this most basic test, then the likelihood of that individual being regenerate is certainly questionable.

Praying for another believer is certainly one of the most loving acts a Christian could perform. Paul prayed for local churches (2 Cor. 13:7; Ephesians 1:17; 3:13-18; Phil. 1:3-6; Col. 1:9-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12), and even for specific individuals. He writes to Timothy...

Of course, in the context of the thread which occasioned Birch’s post, this is deceptive and duplicitous.

To set the record straight, an Arminian detractor posted the following comments about Calvinists and Calvinism:

For the Nazis it was the Jewish race that needed to be eliminated by any means at their disposal. For the KKK it was the blacks. I find these groups and their actions to be morally reprehensible and showing the most ugly aspects of what humans are capable of.

And yet if the calvinists are correct about God and the “reprobates”, then God is the ultimate racist.

He decides beforehand that certain individuals will be part of the class of reprobates. He then hates everyone in this class regardless of what they do or what kind of person they are. He just hates them because they are reprobates (and he decided they would be in the reprobate class, the class of those “automatically damned”). And the calvinists just can’t understand why non-Calvinists find their system to be so morally objectionable. That is like the Grand Dragon or Imperial Wizard not understanding why non-racists find their beliefs and practices to be morally objectionable. The parallels between racists like the KKK and the Nazis and the God of calvinism who reprobates most of the human race for his pleasure are chilling.

And my intuition that racism is wrong does not conflict with scripture but is supported by scripture. And your system of theology which makes God into the worst racist in existence is contrary to both my intuition and the scripture. So both our intuitions and scripture are against the racist Calvinistic theology. The theology that makes God a racist against the reprobates. With the non-reprobates then wearing the white sheets and justifying and rationalizing their hatred. And like the KKK the calvinists have the gall to use scripture to justify and rationalize their hatred.

Does that strike you as loving rhetoric? When, however, I dared to criticize this scurrilous tirade, several Arminians predictably rushed to his defense–expressing solidarity with their scurrilous comrade.

There was then an effort to turn the tables by accusing the Calvinist of being unloving.

It’s very instructive to see all the layers of moral self-deception by which some Arminians insulate themselves from external scrutiny or self-examination.

Let’s make a few ethical and exegetical observations:

i) The Apostle John, when he wrote about loving or hating the brethren, was writing about people who knew each other. For a time they attended the same church.

So these are value judgments based on face-to-face and day-to day experience of the parties concerned.

ii) Likewise, John doesn’t define genuine love by whether or not you can intone the word “love.” It isn’t something you say, but something you do. There’s a fundamental difference between showing love and showing off.

iii) Paul spoke to Timothy in a private letter. Moreover, there’s no question how Paul felt about Timothy. This wasn’t a public reproof, cloaked under the guise of prayer.

iv) And at the risk of stating the obvious, praying for someone is one thing. Using prayer as a debate tactic is something different entirely. Bragging about how prayerful you are, bragging about how you pray for your misguided opponents, is a sacrilegious use of prayer. We’re right back to Mt 6:5-6 and Lk 18:11-12.

v) Likewise, love is one thing. But professions of love as a polemical stunt is something different entirely. That isn’t love–that’s leverage.

That’s a cynical use of prayer. That’s a cynical use of “love.”

And it’s striking that some Arminians, who decry the allegedly coercive character of Reformed theology, resort to rhetorical and emotional manipulation.

v) In addition, professions of love on the heels of unloving behavior are disingenuous. It’s just a way for the wrongdoer to make himself look good at the expense of his opponent.


  1. "Did you contrast my post with that of Hays? ;)" -- William Birch ( )

    I think that sums up the extent of Birch's "love" quite nicely.

  2. As I said in another place: moral equivalence, the bane of our secular culture, is just one more miserable disease invading the Body of Jesus Christ.