Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For God so loved the kosmos

Marc Lüttingen recently interviewed Jerry Walls. Lüttingen lobs a series of leading, softball questions. Let's evaluate a few of the answers:

Calvinists are skillful at employing the rhetoric of love and most people do not really understand what Calvinists are saying. So Calvinism maintains credibility by way of misleading rhetoric about the love of God that their theology does not really support.
Really? Is the Westminster Confession a classified document? Can't you find that on the Internet, along with Calvin's Institutes, Jonathan Edwards, and so forth? It's not like you have to be a 33º Freemason before they show you the fine print. 

I believe whatever God wills is right, but I DO NOT think it follows that God can will just anything and make it right. 
Neither did John Calvin. What a coincidence!
Or worse. For the Calvinist, God’s ways that are “higher” than ours are actually lower than the standards we expect for a decent human being.
Actually, the Arminian God refuses to intervene in many situations where we'd expect a decent human being to intervene. 

That is only because it is rather embarrassing to admit you don’t really believe “God so loved the (whole) world” and gave his Son for all. But that is only a feeble attempt to mask the hard reality that the Calvinist God does not truly love all persons.

i) So Jerry evidently thinks the Johannine kosmos is synonymous with "all persons." He doesn't offer any exegetical or lexical evidence for that equivalence. 

ii) John doesn't say God loved the "world." Rather, John said God loved the kosmos. John wrote in Greek, not English. 

Now, when translators render Greek into English, they try to find English words whose semantic domain overlaps with the Greek words. Even so, the English words won't have all the same meanings or connotations as the Greek words. To take an example:

Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev 22:15).
Does that mean your pet dog is damned? Clearly the Greek word has different connotations for a 1C reader than "dog" has for 21C pet owners. 
In addition, we must also ask what John is contrasting kosmos to. For an example of both distinctions:

ii) Finally, would it be "embarrassing" to say God doesn't love Joseph Mengele, Kermit Gosnell, John Evander Couey, or Lawrence Bernard Singleton (to name a few)? Would their victims find that "embarrassing"? 

So long as you have unconditional election and irresistible grace only for the elect, it does not help to play down limited atonement. 

I, for one, don't downplay limited atonement.

You still have limited salvation. It is limited strictly to the elect God unconditionally chooses to save, but no one else.

Everyone except the universalist limits salvation–Walls included.

Such claims make shambles of the claim that God is love.

In Calvinism, God does more for fewer people; in Arminianism, God does less for more people. Which is more loving? It's a tradeoff. 

Jerry Walls: I’m not sure, but this may be good candidate for the infamous distinction between the revealed and the decretive will of God. He reveals one thing to be his will, and commands it, but decrees something altogther different! Talk about internal conflict!

You mean, like this "infamous" distinction:

2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt (Exod 7:2-3).


  1. Jesus Christ: potential Savior or actual Savior?

  2. "So Jerry evidently thinks the Johannine kosmos is synonymous with "all persons." He doesn't offer any exegetical or lexical evidence for that equivalence."

    In John 3:16, whoever believes is a subgroup within the world and in verses 19-21, some love darkness rather than the Light that comes into the world. Clearly "world" is not limited to the elect.

    God be with you,

    1. i) You're burning a straw man. I didn't suggest that kosmos means the elect.

      ii) Moreover, you're disregarding the supporting material I offered from Karen Jobes.

      iii) Furthermore, if you think kosmos means "all persons," that erases the contrast in 1 Jn 5:19.