On the heels of my recent post, I am still vying for the universality of the love of God for all people. Again, Fritz Guy writes, “If the preeminent characteristic of God is love, and if God is the source of all reality, there can be little doubt about the universal scope of God’s love. It is unthinkable that the divine love is restricted to a fortunate part of creation and that another (perhaps even larger) part is excluded.”1
We believe this because (1) God is love (1 John 4:8). The Bible teaches that God’s nature is love, not that He merely possesses love. And (2) God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34). The Calvinists’ view of election is partial, particular, and based not on union with Christ, but on a decree founded in the vault of eternity. And while this portrait of election expresses God’s love for some, it excludes God’s love for others, since electing a person to hell falls short of any viable definition of “love.”
Again, Fritz Guy comments, “In regard to human reality, the divine love includes absolutely all, intending the ultimate good ~ that is, the eternal salvation ~ of every person [emphasis mine]. Not only is this an inescapable implication of the character of God, but also the biblical revelation emphatically attests the universality of the divine intention in redemption as well as in creation.”2
The character of God is what the Arminian believes he or she is trying to protect. If someone claims that God does not love the supposed “non-elect,” the Arminian protests that that notion is contrary to what the Bible teaches concerning the character of God. Let us take a look at the words of Jesus about the rich and the kingdom of God.
Mark wrote, “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher, ‘ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” (Mark 10:17 TNIV) Jesus told him what he should do: keep the Law. The man told Jesus that he had kept the Law all his life.
And then Mark wrote, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Loved him? Interesting. He continued, “‘One thing you lack . . . Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!'” (Mark 10:21-23)
That man “went away” from Jesus sad. He could not follow Jesus. Now, according to Calvinism, this man proved that he was not elect because he did not heed the command of the Savior. Yet, Mark said that Jesus “loved him” (10:21). Jesus loved this “non-elect” individual. This may be pure speculation on my part. That man could have changed his mind later and followed Jesus. But that is highly unlikely according to Jesus’ conclusion.
Jesus stated how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. What an interesting statement. Why would it be hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God if Calvinism is true? Surely, God’s elect have no trouble whatsoever entering the kingdom of God, because when God so wills it, He regenerates His elect, and they exercise faith in Christ Jesus and are saved. What’s so “hard” about that?
The grace of God, says Fritz Guy, is “never, strictly speaking, ‘irresistible.’ Indeed, the term ‘irresistible grace’ looks suspiciously like an oxymoron, like ‘married bachelor’ or ‘square circle’ or ‘causally determined free action.’ For grace is the offer of a gift, not the imposition of another’s will; and it is in the nature of a gift that it can be rejected. It is the nature of love that it can be ignored or spurned.”3
To demonstrate the universality of God’s love, I ask, What kind of love chooses a person for eternal torment based not on a rejection of an offer of grace bestowed upon them, but merely on a decree? The Calvinist, in essence, is admitting that God absolutely must reprobate much of humanity in order to bring Himself glory.
And thus God is more concerned about receiving glory than about the creatures He created in His own image. He must reprobate the greater part of humanity to an eternal torment in order to glorify Himself. It is quite a wonder how Calvinism has any takers whatsoever! Never mind that people will experience a fiery torment for eternity, God’s glory is at stake!
Not only does that last notion betray logic, it also harms the character of God as demonstrated in the life and sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ. While this short post has not attempted to tackle such issues as why bad things happen to people or what happens to those who have never heard the gospel, an attempt has been made to defend God’s universal love with integrity. And this love of God is genuine. It does not claim one thing and do another. It does not play duck-duck-goose with the eternity of souls.
1 Fritz Guy, “The Universality of God’s Love,” in The Grace of God and the Will of Man, ed. Clark Pinnock (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1989), 36.
2 Ibid., 36-37.
3 Ibid., 40.