Friday, November 18, 2016

Is God love?

I'd like to make a brief observation about the claim, much belabored by Jerry Walls, that Calvinism really has no room for a loving God. Even when Calvinists affirm God's love, that's despite the logic of Calvinism. 

Part of Jerry's argument is that it's inconsistent, indeed, double-talk, for Calvinists to simultaneously affirm reprobation and God's universal love. Suppose we grant that allegation for the sake of argument.

However, Jerry acts as though, unless the Calvinist God loves everyone, Calvinism has no room for a loving God. But that's a non sequitur. 

The difference is that in Arminianism, God's love is general whereas in Calvinism, God's love is particular. In Arminianism, God's love is indiscriminate and ineffectual whereas in Calvinism, God's love is discriminate and effectual. Divine love is central and integral to Calvinism. But it's God's love for the elect. 

(Of course, there's also the intra-Trinitarian love, which Calvinism affirms.)

Now, that may not be Jerry concept of divine love, he may think that's a deficient concept of divine love, but it's devious for him to act as though Calvinists can't say "God is love" without crossing their fingers. 

One of Jerry's chronic problems is a failure to distinguish between an external critique and an internal critique. Although the Calvinist concept of divine love is inconsistent with the Arminian concept of divine love, it's not internally inconsistent. Jerry can't bring himself to honestly represent the opposing position. Not only is that unethical–it's philosophically inept. 


  1. Absolutely, Steve. You have constantly tied Walls in knots in your exchanges. And you have consistently pulled him up on his seeming inability (is he simply unwilling?) to differentiate an external critique from an internal critique.

    The whole quasi-pious Arminian spiel has become tiresome. Utterly boring. Their 'God is love' mantra never seems to be turned on itself internally in critical fashion, and the logical - and immediately relevant - question of how, in fact, a God of indistinguishable universal love could allow for anything other than a universal salvation completely eludes them. They are so busy in their pretentious attacks on Calvinism that they fail to see the raging fire in their own front room. Call the fire brigade!

    You hit the nail on the head when you draw attention to the particular, redemptive love of the Calvinistic God versus the general, non-specific, fill-in-the--space love of the Arminian God. There is simply no comparison.

    Yet these pretentious Arminian types would have us believe that it is *we* who are on the back foot.

  2. I think I read here on Triablogue years ago that the concept of "omnibenevolence" is a relatively new concept and/or term. I wonder how far back the concept and term goes, whether hundreds of years or more.

    Also, I think that the term omnibenevolence is too often interpreted by Arminians to mean or include God's "all-lovingness". When the word itself seems to only address God's "good will", and doesn't necessarily include "love".

    Also, it seems to me that Arminians are too quick to apply the "omni" in omnibenevolence to refer to God's love toward all creatures (or all species that reach a certain level of sentience and above), rather than primarily (i.e. firstly and with emphasis) on God's unlimited/infinite/unbounded intra-Trinitarian good will (or love if we're going to include love).

    It also seems to me that God can be loving toward creatures to the degree they mirror His image coupled with God's sovereignty over His creatures. That's why I think God can have a kind of Common Grace toward all His sentient creatures (e.g. angels, humans) even though God is also sovereign over whether He'll provide redemption/salvation for a species and/or individual.