Richard Coords, “Love”

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Omni-benevolence is the basis for a universal atonement, which is also the basis for asserting a universal salvific will, which is then the basis for giving a universal offer of the gospel. However, before Calvinists connect the dots to Universalism, realize that universal salvation is not being suggested, and thus there is a perfectly logical distinction from Universalism, especially if we hold that only those who meet the condition of the well-meant offer of the gospel will experience the saving benefits of Christ’s universal atonement. (The underlying problem with the Calvinist accusation of Universalism upon its non-Calvinist opponents is that Calvinists believe that if Jesus died for you, then you are saved, end of story—faith comes later, upon receiving Irresistible Grace. Non-Calvinists obviously reject the notion that Christ’s atonement saves without faith.)

Adrian Rogers: “Does God love everyone? Did Jesus die for a certain few?—for the chosen ones? Friend, can I walk up to any man on the face of this earth and tell him without stutter-stammer, apology or equivocation that God loves you? I can do that, without qualification.”225

Does God love everyone the same? No. God does not love everyone equally, but rather, God loves everyone uniquely. In the former case, if God loved all of us the same, then it would render any single person superfluous, while in the latter case, each person is special to God, for Him to love uniquely from others. In Calvinism, however, God simply doesn’t love most of humanity at all.

Ask Calvinists: “Do you believe that God intended for the ‘non-elect’ to spend eternity with Him in Heaven?” Calvinists will answer “no.” Then ask: “Where, then, do you believe God intended for the ‘non-elect’ to spend eternity?” To pivot from this painfully obvious point, Calvinists will raise some rather odd arguments until finally conceding the matter.

What do Calvinists believe?

George Whitefield: “God is loving to every man: He sends His rain upon the evil and upon the good.”226

George Whitefield: “For the Word may be useful even to the non-elect, in restraining them from much wickedness and sin.” 227

James White: “There is no basis in the Bible for asserting that God’s love knows no levels, kinds, or types.” 228

James White: “And the love God has for His own people, the elect, is different than the love He shows to the creation in general or to rebel sinners outside of His grace in particular.”229

James White: “The biblical teaching is that God brings His elect to Himself in love while showing much patience toward those who deserve to be cut off immediately under His wrath (Romans 9:22-23).” 230

Our reply:

No one disagrees that God has a special love for Christians. (John 16:27) The issue at hand is whether there is any level, kind or type of love that accompanies predestining someone to Hell. Such a concept cannot meet any rational basis for love. Moreover, it is not an act of kindness to preach to those who are excluded from the hope of gospel through a Limited Atonement. It is not an act of kindness to provide temporal blessings for those who have been predestined for eternal torment. It is not an act of kindness to delay judgment for those who have been created for the purpose of perishing. (In a fully deterministic framework, how is anything “delayed,” anyway? That doesn’t make any sense, but Calvinists use such a concept anyway, in order to fabricate a sense of compassion.)

From the Calvinistic perspective, the non-elect do not love God, and therefore God owes them nothing, but once again, if Calvinists are honest with regard to their eternal decree, they must ask themselves who it ultimately is that decreed the wants and desires of the non-elect, from cradle to grave, in terms of who and what they love? Calvinists cannot revel in a type of sovereignty which determines whatsoever comes to pass, and then retreat from its uglier implications. They can spin and pivot all they wish, but these questions are not going to go away.

What do Calvinists believe?

James White: “The punishment of deserving sinners glorifies Him in the demonstration of His holiness and righteousness.” 231

Our reply:

How are the “non-elect” deserving of God’s wrath if all of their wants and desires are unchangeably decreed for them, without the slightest deviation? Calvinists will insist that the Bible says so at Romans 9:19-20, but the counter-argument is that Calvinists have misread that chapter, which actually addresses the judicially hardened Jews, whom Paul is trying to win for Christ, rather than being a fixed class of non-elect. Nonetheless, once Calvinists honestly face the logical implications of their determinism, you’ll see more of the following types of candid answers instead.

What do Calvinists believe?

R.C. Sproul: “If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born.”232

James White: “No matter how one understands ‘JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED’ (Romans 9:13), this verse alone should be enough to refute such an errant view of God’s love.”233

Our reply:

So in Calvinism, the “levels, kinds, or types” of love is actually unveiled as what it more honestly would be—hate.

Jerry Walls: “In a nutshell, our case against Calvinism is that it doesn’t do justice to the character of God revealed in Scripture. It does not accurately portray the Holy One who is ‘compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love’ (Ps. 103:8), the God for whom love is not merely an option or sovereign choice, but who is such that His eternal nature is love (1 Jn 4:8).”234

Dr. Walls goes on to make a case that God’s very nature is love, and therefore it is not even an option for Him to “not love His creation.” For example, we would be repulsed by someone who breeds puppies for the purpose of torturing any of them. Likewise, we would consider it evil for a father or mother to hate any of their own children who they chose to conceive. And, in the same way, it would appear to be evil for God to hate those who He chose to create. Walls argues:

“God cannot fail to be perfectly loving any more so than He can lie. You don’t have to have children, but if you do you take on an obligation to love them. God’s freedom was in the freedom to create, or not. He didn’t have to create. But once having created, as a necessarily good and loving Being, He cannot but love what He has created. Love is not an option with God…It’s not a question of whether or not God chooses to love, it is WHO HE IS…HE IS LOVE.”235

This is not a weakness of God, Walls insists, but His greatest and most self-glorifying strength. Would you consider it a strength or a weakness that my character will not allow me to be cruel to my pets?

Is it a weakness that I am unable to willingly strangle one of my own children to death, as Walls argues? No! That is a strength!

God’s inability to be unloving is not a short coming of God’s strength and power, but the greatest most glorifying characteristic of His eternal nature. To declare God’s universal self-sacrificial love to the entire world reveals God for what makes Him so abundantly glorious!

Therefore, the question Calvinists are asking is backwards. Instead of asking, as John Piper does, “How does a sovereign God express His love?” We should be asking, “How does a loving God express His sovereignty?”236


224 R.C. Sproul, Predestination: Lecture 4, The Divine Choice.

225 Adrian Rogers, Let The Earth Hear His Voice, 2 Corinthians 5:13-20, 2004.

226 Whitefield’s Letter To Wesley On Election, Dec. 24, 1740,

227 Ibid.

228 Debating Calvinism (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers Inc., 2004), 267.

229 Ibid., 268.

230 Ibid., 269.

231 Ibid., 269.

232 Chosen By God (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1986), 32.

233 Debating Calvinism (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2004), 268.

234 Why I Am Not A Calvinist (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 220.

235 Jerry Walls: What’s Wrong With Calvinism, Part 1, 1:00:55-1:01:43.

236 Why I Am Not A Calvinist (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 219.

[This post has been excerpted with permission from Richard Coords, Calvinism Answered Verse by Verse and Subject by Subject, © 2020.]