Tuesday, September 20, 2016

John Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John



  1. Gibson quotes Walls:

    The deepest issue that divides Arminians and Calvinists is not the sovereignty of God, predestination, or the authority of the Bible. The deepest difference pertains to how we understand the character of God. Is God good in the sense that he deeply and sincerely loves all persons?

    Aren't the demons and Satan himself persons? I can imagine Universalists complaining that despite Arminian talk and writing regarding the Love of God they never apply that conception of love to the "poor fallen angels". Were Walls consistent with his approach regarding Calvin's Institutes, he should also complain that the Bible itself doesn't teach God's love for ALL angels including the fallen ones.

    Also, as someone who doesn't take a dogmatic stand on the extent of the atonement, I think I can (without bias) claim that Calvin probably held to a universal atonement (of some sort). When reading the Institutes book II chapter 16 section 4, Calvin seems to base universal atonement on God's universal love for all mankind. That would seem to show that Calvin himself believed that there was a sense in which God loves everyone. It's not the case that Calvin never talked about the love of God in his works. He did so repeatedly.

    1. Calvin's Institutes book II, chap. 16, sect. 4

      4. For this reason Paul says, that God “has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” (Eph. 1:3, 4). These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” (John 3:16); and yet that it was “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” (Rom. 5:10). But to give additional assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: “Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’ (Rom. 5:8). Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made.” Such are the words of Augustine (Tract in Jo. 110). [bold added by me]