Jacob I loved and Esau I hated:
To listen to a PODCAST on Romans 9: CLICK HERE
For a full Exegetical Commentary on Romans 9: CLICK HERE
The term “hate” is sometimes an expression of choosing one over another, and does not literally mean “hatred.” For instance, Jesus told Peter, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
No commentator worth his salt would suggest the term “hate” in Luke 14 is literal, otherwise he would be hard pressed to explain scripture’s other teachings about loving and honor our parents. Instead, this passage is understood to mean that man must choose following God’s will over the will of even the most beloved in one’s life. Could the same hermeneutical principle be applied toward understanding God choice of Jacob over Esau? Certainly, it could. God clearly chose one over the other for a noble purpose (Jacob became the lineage through whom the Christ would come).
Secondly, even if we were to accept that God literally hated Esau wouldn’t it be nice to know why? God has a purpose for everything He does and though He certainly is not obligated to explain Himself to any of us, He does typically reveal His motives through Scripture. He wants His friends to be aware of His work and the purposes behind His decisions (John 15:15). So, what do we know about God’s motive for “hating” Esau? Is there a cause or a purpose behind this decision that is revealed in Scripture? Does God arbitrarily decide to hate some people and love others? Is that Paul’s meaning in this text?
The answer to these questions can be found by unpacking the scriptures Paul refers to in Romans 9. Let’s take a look at each one:
A hasty reading of Romans 9 could lead some to think God always hated Esau leaving the impression God’s hatred has no evident cause. This is simply untrue. In verses 10-12 Paul quotes from the first book of the bible in reflecting on Jacob’s choice to carry the lineage of the Messiah and then in verse 13, Paul quotes from the last book of the Old Testament to reflect on the Edomite’s (Esau’s lineage) opposition to Israel. Verse 11 clearly states that God had a purpose for Israel before the twins were born, but not hatred for an unborn child.
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” – Rom 9:11
Nowhere does it state that God hated Esau before he was born. God chose to keep his promise to Abraham through Jacob, not Esau, before they were born, but hatred is never spoken of as being present before their birth. That is presumed, or read into the text, by some, but the Scripture simply never states this.
Also, God’s choice of Jacob over Esau was not kept as a part of “God’s secret counsel,” as many Calvinists teach regarding individual election. Calvinists argue that one of the reasons we must evangelize all men is because we do not know who God has individually selected, yet are we to believe God told the twin’s mother that He hated her son before he was even born? God told Rebecca of His elective purpose in an audible voice (Gen. 25:22-23), but nothing is mentioned regarding God’s hating her son.
How horrible would that be? Imagine God telling you that he hated your son before he was even born! It is unthinkable. Upon reading the text carefully it is easily discerned that God only told her that the older will serve the younger:
“When Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” – Rom 9:10-12
Clearly, the prophecy was not about hatred or a curse, it was about God’s elective purpose for Israel. Like anyone else, if Esau had chosen to bless Jacob then he too would have been blessed. God promises to bless those who bless the nation selected to bring the promised One (Gen. 12:3). [For example, we know that Lot was declared righteous, though not chosen to carry the lineage. Lot, like Esau after him, produced a linage that ended up attacking Israel and invoking God’s wrath (hatred), yet Lot (the individual) was saved through faith. The choice (election) being addressed is God’s choice of the nation and individuals from that nation through which the promise would be fulfilled. It is not about God effectually choosing to save some and damn others. ]
When and Why Did God Express Hatred for Esau?
Not only did God not express his hatred for Esau prior to his birth, He did not reveal this until after Esau was dead. Both of the twins were long gone before the house of Esau invoked God’s declaration of hate. The prophecy against Edom, known to be the house of Esau (Gen 36:1, 43), is found in the book of Obadiah. Here we find the true cause of God’s hatred toward these people:
“For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” – Obadiah 1:10
Malachi 1:2-3 is the passage Paul references in the hotly contested ninth chapter of Romans. The original passage states:
“I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” – Mal 1:2-3
Malachi wrote his prophecy hundreds of years after Jacob and Esau lived on earth. Both prophets, Malachi and Obadiah, reflect on Edom’s attacks against Israel throughout their writings giving a very clear cause for God’s declared hatred for Esau, which was really reflective of his posterity the Edomites.
So, it is clear that in Romans 9 Paul was simply summarizing this historical account by first speaking of God’s prophecy for the twins and the nations they represent and then revealing the final outcome of Edom’s rebellion and God’s subsequent declaration of hatred. Never once is God’s hatred expressed toward an unborn individual or even against someone who was still living.
Please think about this objectively. Is the concept of God hating people before they are born even reflective of the God revealed in scripture? Does it sound like something Jesus would do or teach? Are we to believe that the God who calls us to love our enemies hates the unborn?
I John 4:8 teaches, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Does not your heart stir with righteous anger toward people like those from the Westboro Baptist Church who declare God’s hatred for everyone? Yet, how is that much different from making the claim that God hates an unborn baby–and then deriving a theological system from such teachings which suggests He also hates most of humanity prior to their even being born? Does the spirit inside you resonate at all with such abhorrent claims?
What is Paul attempting to demonstrate by quoting from these ancient texts? He is proving that God’s purpose in electing Israel has not failed (Rom. 9:6) by showing that even twin brothers are not both selected to fulfill the promise of bringing the blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3). Paul is illustrating how there have always been people within the natural lineage (such as the Edomites) who have opposed God’s purposes. Therefore, it should be no surprise that their would be natural born Israelites who oppose Paul, just as the Edomites opposed Israel throughout history.
To listen to a PODCAST on Romans 9: CLICK HERE
14 thoughts on “Does God Hate the Unborn?”
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Another great blog! I thank the Lord for your continued ministry in these things! Once again you show from the context that corporate election is in view in Malachi 3 and Romans 9, even in the names – Jacob and Esau. I also am thankful that you pointed out that the word hate has different nuances in different contexts, though I think “absence of love” would fit in most, if not all. I personally think that since Jesus had reminded his disciples that all their heart, soul, mind and strength was to love God, then there could be no love left for anyone except it would come as an expression of love for God. Disciples therefore must have an absence of any purely human love (which could literally be called hate for rhetorical effect) if they are to obey the greatest commandment.
And as you have pointed out, God was reminding Israel (in Malachi) that He has loved them as a people throughout the centuries since Jacob, and hatred for Edom (or had no love that was purely ordained just for them) throughout the centuries since Esau. I personally believe God had offered and will offer Esau and Edom benefits of His love because of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And though Edom as a nation will always reject Israel and be judged for it, individuals from Edom will be saved (cf. Deut 23:7). I even lean towards believing that Esau will be in heaven because he appears to have received God’s grace as seen in how he displayed forgiveness towards Jacob (Gen 33:8-12) and even though his former life is used as a negative example (Heb 12:16-17).
Keep the good meditations on truth coming! They are helping to sharpen my understanding a lot!
I am glad you posted this Brian. When I was writing the article I knew there was a text about not hating Edomites and I could not find it for some reason: “Deut. 23:7 Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother!” Yet, some would still believe God abhorred Esau (Edomites) before they were born! That amazes me. His judgement against the Edomites (often spoken of as “hatred” in those days) was clearly in response to their rebellion against God’s people, and thus God Himself. If they had Blessed Israel (in faith) I know they would have been blessed (Gen. 12:3) because that was part of God’s promise. And who are any of us to presume that others could not or did not bless Israel (like Rahab did) and therefore were saved by faith too?
And you may be right. Esau may have been saved for blessing (in faith) his brother in that Genesis account…we can’t know for sure.
Blake Deel posted a blog article rebutting this post HERE : https://dealoftheology.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/flowers-objection-to-calvinism-and-romans-9-answered/
This is my response:
Thank you Blake for your thorough and detailed explanation. While it is clear you do not agree with my perspective it is also clear you are very passionate about the Word of God and His Salvation. We share that passion. I respect you for taking the time to dive into this discussion. And even if you may not fully understand the perspective I hold to I pray this dialogue will be fruitful for all who read it and engage. Sometimes the written word can appear to have a negative or condescending tone but rest assured there is no such tone intended my response:
DEEL: “Flowers indicates a single text where we can rightly assert the word ‘hate’ does not mean abhorrence, and therefore we can take this as a hermeneutical principle that applies to Romans 9.”
Actually, to be clear, I never asserted that this single text proved my case, otherwise my article would have ended after the first two paragraphs. I merely gave an example of where the term “hate” was certainly not taken to mean abhorrence and left the reader with the question, “Could the same hermeneutical principle be applied toward understanding God choice of Jacob over Esau?” I then went on to support my case using contextual arguments.
DEEL: “The only reason Flowers tries to insert a different definition onto Romans 9:13 from some other random text is because Flowers begins with a preconceived notion that God does not hate certain individuals, and then he takes this false presupposition and superimposes it onto the text.”
Again, if it were the ONLY reason then my article would have been two paragraphs long. Additionally, the “NOTION” that God doesn’t hate unborn babies is not so much “PRECONCEIVED” as it is common knowledge based on biblical revelation:
There are literally dozens of verses I could quote which speak of God’s love for all, but this one sums it up nicely, “Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Many misunderstood God in the Old Testament because they would take that which He permitted as His active agency. The New Testament, especially through Christ’s teaching corrects many of these misunderstandings. Jesus acknowledges the misapplication by saying, “You have heard that it was said…hate your enemy,” which is very similar to what we find in James’ letter when he corrects the misnomer that God is the one doing the tempting (James 1:13). (Deel likewise quotes from OT texts to support the concept of God’s hatred for his enemies instead of interpreting those texts through the revelation we have in Christ.)
Jesus is the lense through which we must interpret ALL SCRIPTURE! And He tells us to love our enemies, just as HE HIMSELF DEMONSTRATES AS THE INCARNATE GOD. Jesus is God and one would be wise to second guess an interpretation that makes Him out to be a hypocrite who tells us to love our enemies while He hates His from the womb and into eternity. God is LOVE and he consistently demonstrates his love for all people. (1 John 4:7-8, John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, Ezek. 18:30-31, 1 Peter 5:6-7, Ps. 86:15, 1 John 3:1, Prov. 8:17, John 13:34-35, etc)
Plus, this so called “notion” of God’s universal love for all people is not a “preconception” unique to me or those holding to my soteriological perspective. John MacArthur, notable Calvinistic pastor writes:
“I am troubled by the tendency of some — often young people newly infatuated with Reformed doctrine — who insist that God cannot possibly love those who never repent and believe. I encounter that view, it seems, with increasing frequency. The argument inevitably goes like this: Psalm 7:11 tells us ‘God is angry with the wicked every day.’ It seems reasonable to assume that if God loved everyone, He would have chosen everyone unto salvation. Therefore, God does not love the non-elect. Those who hold this view often go to great lengths to argue that John 3:16 cannot really mean God loves the whole world.”
Though MacArthur goes on to qualify these admissions of God’s universal love as being lessor than his “salvific love” for the elect, he at least acknowledges the clear biblical revelation of God’s love for everyone. (I believe MacArthur’s argument to be untenable from within the Calvinistic framework given that one would be hard pressed to call it “loving” to unchangeably determine someone to be born incapable of willingly responding to God’s appeals followed by torturing them eternally for not responding…but that is beside the point.) The point here is to show that even a Calvinist, if being objective, can acknowledge the “NOTION” that God loves all people is NOT “PRECONCEIVED,” but indeed is overwhelmingly and undeniably biblical. (BTW, even Calvin himself taught God has a love for all humanity)
Next, I argue that even if we take God’s hatred to be literal (which I do admit is a possible interpretation as a reflection of divine justice or wrath against sin) then does scripture indicate that His “hatred” is set “prior to Esau’s birth” and thus without evident cause? Deel responds:
DEEL: “First of all, there is nothing external to God that causes him to do anything. God works all things according to the counsel of his own will alone, God clearly knows everything (Colossians 2:3), and God has purposed everything that happens to happen. Since God is the one who creates the very objects that supposedly influence his own decisions, Flowers would have to assume that God causes his own causes to occur. This is absurd. It is God who sustains, creates, and controls everything, and not creation. God is undeniably the ultimate cause of all things and there is no cause external to God that influences him.”
This is tantamount to saying, “You are wrong because I am right.” Instead of reflecting on the apparent biblical reasons for God’s expressed hatred for the Edomites in the context of the historical passages being referenced by Paul himself, Deel appeals to his own systematic. Deel is virtually saying, “God could not be responding to mankind because my systematic will not allow such a thing,” which presumes true the very point up for debate. Calvinists can assert that God causes the very sin that He uses to condemn the sinner all they want, but we can disagree with that assertion by simply appealing the text itself.
Scripture has no qualm about presenting God as responding or reacting within time and space to mankind’s decisions, therefore I have no qualm with reporting God in the manner He has chosen to reveal Himself. God expresses his “hatred” or “judgment” over Esau and his posterity (the Edomites) in reflection of their rebellion against Israel, his chosen nation. That is just the fact of the matter. If Deel wishes to read into those facts some philosophical conclusion about what God causes temporally as the eternally omnipotent One I cannot stop Him, but I can disagree and simply appeal to the text itself. After all, if Deel’s argument is true, then God has purposed for me to disagree and debate with Deel all the while purposing Deel to disagree and debate with me… as if God is purposing to debate himself through determined vessels. Talk about your absurdities!
DEEL: “…the reason Flowers asks this question is because he assumes that Calvinists place no rhyme or reason to why God chose to hate Esau. This is not true. The reason God chose to hate Esau was according to his will in order to fulfill his intentions that Paul tells us in verses 22-23: to reveal his wrath and be glorified in the saints.”
Ironically, if Deel is correct, the real reason I asked the question is because God so decreed it, but I’ll play along. I never denied that according the Calvinism God’s end goal in hating the reprobate (Esau) was to reveal his wrath to the saints. That is beside the point. The point we are debating is whether or not God’s expressed hatred for Esau had an evident cause (i.e. the Edomites’ rebellion against God’s people).
I wrote, ““Nowhere does it state that God hated Esau before he was born,” and Deel responded stating:
DEEL: “That’s literally exactly what it says. Merely stating the opposite is neither compelling nor intellectually honest. Flowers must describe exactly how he has come to this conclusion before this can be accepted, especially before it ought to be accepted by the Calvinists he is appealing to.”
But Deel ignores the fact (not opinion) that verses 10-12 are quoted from Genesis, before the twins were born, and verse 13 is a quote from Malachi, written long after the twins were dead. He has to presume to know Paul’s intentions were to suggest God hates unborn babies, which itself is as absurd as it sounds. Say it out loud right now. “God hates unborn babies.” Does that not sound absurd?!
Could it be that Paul was making the case that God’s promise has not failed by revealing this promise has been opposed by natural born descendants since ancient times (the Edomites for example), so it should not be a shock that Paul is still being opposed in his day by more natural born descendants? Does not that sound much more reasonable than concluding our loving, merciful God hates the unborn to show how powerful He is? Deel continues:
DEEL: “Rhetorical questions are not arguments. Emotional appeal is irrelevant. Plus, no one is arguing that Genesis says God specifically told Rebekah that he hated Esau, so that is a non sequitur. Imagine that God told you that your loved ones will not be saved. Unthinkable? Whether or not it is unthinkable, it does not make it any less a possibility. These comments may be ignored; there is no substance to them.”
We are created by God as emotional beings with feelings, and the very reason Calvinists assert God does all these “difficult” things is to reveal to us, the “objects of his mercy,” how wonderfully powerful and good He is to have saved us. But is that the emotion evoked by Calvinism’s claims? Maybe some are able to emotional separate themselves systematically by objectifying those who are supposedly hated from birth. But, I guess God did not determine my heart to be so calloused toward the unborn masses because such teaching doesn’t draw my heart to worship Him but to be repulsed. Now, no doubt that will evoke the questioning of my salvation and I’m fine with that. I wish not to be saved by a god who would do this. I’d rather burn. That may sound like I’m being emotive or using hyperbole, but its not. I’ve thought about this very rationally. And I do not believe it is at all irrational to conclude that I would rather burn in hell than believe in or teach about a god who hates most unborn babies, seals them in their disabled condition their entire lives and then burns them for eternity for doing what He unchangeably determined for them to do….all the while pretending he wants them to come to repentance and be saved (the last part for those who aren’t hyper). I’m sorry, but either I’m right or God has determined for me to be wrong…either way I’m saying this ultimately for God’s glory and in my heart I’m okay with that. (please don’t read any tone into this…)
Deel acknowledges God did not directly tell Rebekah He hated Esau, yet he will not acknowledge that God’s hatred wasn’t declared until hundreds of years after Esau’s death in reflection of the Edomites rebellion. I guess that fact do not serve his purposes? Deel continues:
DEEL: “This comment by Flowers is quite interesting. He rejects Calvinism, yet here he admits that God hated the Edomites. How is this reconciled to his theology? It cannot be reconciled. God always wanted to save a nation which he specifically tells us he hates? His comments about Malachi and Obadiah are correct, but he is going to strip Romans 9 out of its context to argue that Paul is only talking about nations which is fallacious and illogical.”
When one accepts that God’s wrath (hate) for a people group is in response to their FREE CHOICE to rebel against His merciful provisions, the dilemma assumed by Deel simply does not exist. And I have never once argued that Paul is only talking about nations. I challenge Deel (or anyone else) to produce any support for that claim. Anyone who listens to the podcast or reads my blogs on this subject knows full well how much I emphasize the inclusion of individuals within the corporate interpretation of Romans 9. I am careful to make that point abundantly clear because I know how misunderstood that specific point is in a world where many are completely misinformed…as reflected in Deel’s own commentary when he wrote, “What a glorious self-contradiction. Beforehand, Flowers claimed that Paul is referring to nations. Now, Paul is referring to individuals. Which is it?”
If Deel, or any other reader, would like to understand how both nations and individuals are being addressed within the context of Romans 9-11 according to our interpretation of this text I invite them to read: The article in response to James White, HERE: http://wp.me/p5gZ5t-4M
And/or listen to the podcasts involving unconditional election and Romans 9.
That was a good response to Deel’s critique! I think Deel may have a difficult time proving that the Hebrew word for “abhor” ( תָּעַב ) is a synonym for the Hebrew word for “hate” ( שָׂנֵא ) or even a nuance of that word. I just did a cursory word study of both and it appears that, as I had supposed, hatred in the OT is basically a rejection demonstrated in various actions but not necessary associated with any emotion. In fact, total apathy would be a more natural characteristic associated with OT hatred and the word “reject” could easily be substituted in each reference where the word “hate” is found.
I must confess that I believe dogmatism about biblical word meanings, if any can dogmatism can created, must only be from the OT use and contexts of that word and must not be created from lexical assumptions that sometimes come from extra-biblical material or from theological or social assumptions. And your hermeneutic that the NT authoritatively helps define the meaning of OT words is spot on!
Blake Deal (sorry for the misspelling), replied to my last comments on his blog HERE: https://dealoftheology.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/flowers-objection-to-calvinism-and-romans-9-answered-part-2/
… and this is my response to the most relevant points:
1. DEAL: “If it is indeed the case that I do not understand his perspective on Romans 9, it is because I have not seen him lay out the entirety of his position.”
Based on the response in the former reply and this one, I am quite certain Blake does not rightly understand the corporate interpretation of Romans 9. This is not meant to belittle him in any way, but just my honest observation. If one listens to theses three podcasts, the corporate interpretation should be abundantly clear:
(1) “Romans 9”
(2) “Pharaoh Pharaoh”
(3) “What if God…”
2. DEAL: “…to arbitrarily make the definition of “hate” found in Luke 14:26 a general hermeneutic principle, and that we can apply the hyperbolic usage that we find in this verse to any other verse we choose, is invalid.”
I do feel much of our disagreement centers around the definition of the word “hate,” as it is intended by Paul in this context. Deal interprets “hate” to mean “salvific rejection” or “reprobation” […the decision of God to seal this unborn baby in a condition of total disability from birth until death in order to torment them for eternity thus showing off God’s power and glory to the believers.] ← a view most rational thinking believers who are not attempting to defend a long held theological perspective would find repulsive by any standard.
I however agree with the Brian Wagner, another professor posting here on this blog, who wrote, “I think Deal may have a difficult time proving that the Hebrew word for “abhor” ( תָּעַב ) is a synonym for the Hebrew word for “hate” ( שָׂנֵא ) or even a nuance of that word. I just did a cursory word study of both and it appears that, as I had supposed, hatred in the OT is basically a rejection demonstrated in various actions but not necessary associated with any emotion. In fact, total apathy would be a more natural characteristic associated with OT hatred and the word “reject” could easily be substituted in each reference where the word “hate” is found.”
In other words, Paul is explaining that Jacob (and his lineage) was chosen for the noble cause of bringing the Messiah to the world while Esau (and his lineage) was rejected for that purpose, but any nation or individual who chose to bless the chosen nation would be blessed (Gen. 12:3), just as any nation or individual who stands in opposition to the chosen nation would be ‘hated’ or ‘rejected’ (as was the case with the Edomites). This interpretation would certainly fit the context of Paul’s explanation as to why a significant number of natural born descendants were standing in opposition to Paul’s teaching. Like the Edomites (natural descendants) were rejected or judged for their opposing God’s plan, so too those in Paul’s day who were natural descendants were being rejected or ‘cut off’ for their opposition to God’s plan. Interestingly enough, however, even those natural descendants who have been ‘cut off’ for their continual rebellion may be ‘grafted back in’ because they have ‘not stumbled beyond recovery,’ but may ‘be provoked by envy and saved,’ according to Paul’s teaching in Romans 11:11-23….proving even the ‘hated’ or ‘cut off’ rebellious people cannot represent the reprobates of the Calvinistic system.
3. DEAL: “Furthermore, if all Flowers means by “love” is that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust, then I would of course agree with him that God “loves” everyone, but I would object to this definition of ‘love.’”
Again, the disagreement seems to hinge on our definitions. Deal seems to interpret “love” in this passage to mean “elected to be irresistibly saved before the foundation of the earth.” Where as we interpret it to mean “blessed” or “chosen” for the noble purpose of bringing the Messiah and His Message to the rest of the world. We don’t believe God’s choice of Israel was in order to irresistibly save preselected individuals from within the nation, though salvation of individuals may result. Instead, his choice of Israel and individual Israelites (like Jacob) was to ensure redemption is provided for the entire world…so that all may believe (Jn 17:21). Individuals had to be selected to carry the linage of the Messiah. Individuals had to be selected to carry the message of redemption to the rest of the world. These are the noble purposes that Israelites were chosen to accomplish and whosoever believed in and supported that purpose would have been credited as righteous (saved), whether they were natural descendants or not (i.e. Rahab). Likewise, whosoever did not believe or support that divine purpose would have been rejected or “hated,” even if they were natural descendants (i.e. Edomites). The Edomites served as perfect examples of natural descendants who opposed God’s divine purpose in the past thus proving Paul’s point that in spite of the natural descendants current opposition, God’s purpose in electing this nation has not failed. There are still Israelites being set apart to accomplish the purpose for which they were elected. Paul is a living example of that fact.
4. God’s love for all mankind is biblically evident to scholars on both sides of this debate. John MacArthur (who quotes from John Calvin in that article) makes a strong case for this fact and Deals rebuttal (in part) is summarized in his comment, “I do not care. I disagree with him.” So, if one wants to go to the extreme of Deal’s “high Calvinism” by denying God’s love for all people, which is affirmed by mainstream Calvinists and even Calvin himself, that is their choice. Anyone can explain away texts to make their system fit and I believe it is clear Deal does this in regard to God’s love for humanity.
Deal accuses me of question begging on this point, but appealing to Calvinistic scholars’ own affirmation of God’s universal love to support my interpretation is not question begging. It is establishing that the mainstream orthodox view of the scriptures from scholars in both camps affirm God’s love for all people (something Deal accused me of assuming according my bias in reading scripture). Can he find scholars on both sides that support his interpretation? No. So you be the judge of who is allowing their bias sway their interpretation of the text.
5. DEAL: “All of these verses say that it is God who causes these things to happen. God “works all things…”
There is a huge distinction between God working out the autonomously evil choices of humanity for a greater good and God causing the evil choices of humanity. Deal’s view doesn’t seem to allow for any real distinction between those two (Eph. 1:11; Jer. 7:31). When one denies the concept of divine permission (God allowing man to freely choose moral evil), they inevitably create a system whereby God is the author of evil. They may refrain using the term “author” but their adjectives are typically a far greater indictment on God’s character (ordain, decree, cause, determine, etc). It strikes me as particularly strange that some determinists will attempt to refrain calling God the “author of evil” but will not shy away from saying He unchangeably determines whatsoever comes to pass.
6. You will also notice that almost all of Deal’s proof texts regarding God’s hatred of enemies come from the OT (the same OT where Calvinists quickly dismiss large potions of the text that don’t fit their systematic as being “anthropomorphic” and thus not applicable).
Christ is the lense through which we interpret all scripture and Jesus acknowledges the misapplication of hating ones enemies by saying, “You have heard that it was said…hate your enemy.” (Matt. 5) Let’s look further at the entire passage, because Deal’s only real rebuttal to this verse was to say that just because Jesus lived out this principle and commanded us to do so doesn’t mean God does it too:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Notice how Jesus concludes his instruction? He points to the FATHER as the PERFECT example that we must follow. Is Deal seriously arguing that Jesus is telling us to do something that His own Father is not willing to do…but still concludes instructing us to be LIKE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER!?” Come now… how does that make any sense? Just imagine Jesus stating out loud what Deal would have you to believe:
“My Father hates His enemies from birth and seals them in a condition where they are unable to respond to his appeals for reconciliation, then He tortures them for all eternity for not responding. But I want you to forgive your enemies and do good to them, just like me while I’m on earth, but that is not reflective of the Father, just me while I’m in human form. So, in conclusion, be like my father in heaven, except for His whole hatred and cruelty to enemies thing.”
Can any objective reader really walk away thinking that is what Christ had in mind when he said those words? So, surely Deal has a solid biblical exegesis of Matthew 5:44-48 in order to refute my claims and establish his. Let’s look at his rebuttal:
DEAL: “The fact that Jesus has corrected false teaching in the past does not mean that I am wrong, or that Flowers is right, or that I am right and he is wrong. It is irrelevant. Christ commanding his followers to love their enemies is not only logically irrelevant to proving that God loves everyone, but it is also irrelevant to the issue of whether or not God causes all things, or merely permits all things. Get it together man…Flowers has not established that God loves everyone, and the only text he has cited, Matthew 5, has been addressed and shown to be irrelevant on this issue.”
That is it. He thinks by calling it ‘irrelevant’ his case has been proven! He doesn’t believe Jesus’ instruction to be like the Father in loving our enemies and doing good to those who harm us is relevant in proving my view that God actually loves his enemies and does good to them. What can you say to that defense? I guess I just need to ‘get it together’ and adopt his view of this text?
The rest of his defense is similar so I’ll leave it at that and allow the reader to decide. (or allow God to decide for the reader, whatever the case may be. ☺ )
I grew up in a Calvinist family and town. I studied like crazy in my 20’s and was a solid Calvinist until around 3 years ago. I had all four of my baby girls while being a Calvinist. And whenever I thought about newborn babies, or any babies, I felt love . . . and I remember wondering, “Doesn’t God love babies too? If I feel this tender emotion toward every baby in the world, wouldn’t God feel the same?” I always put that into the back of my mind, because I “knew” that God had chosen some people and not others. I guess, like you said, I was able to make it objective, because all those babies were just “out there,” and I didn’t know them as God did. Now that I’m on the other side of Calvinism, I’m free to believe that yes, God loves every baby that is born and wants them to be saved. Jesus even said that adults should become like children if they wanted to enter His Kingdom. That’s because, like you have pointed out elsewhere, young children, and youths, accept the Gospel more readily — because they have not become hardened yet. My children exhibit the sinful nature, but the youngest ones are always the most willing to repent and to believe the good news about Jesus!
And let me add that Jesus warned us not to put stumbling blocks in the pathways of children. I can’t think of a worse stumbling block than educating children to the effect that God has chosen only to save some of them, etc., and that if He hasn’t chosen them, there is nothing they can do about it, that Jesus will only let SOME of the little children come to them. Jesus said that putting a stumbling block in the path of children is so bad that the offender should rather have been drowned or never born. It makes me sick. My little 4 year old believes that Jesus loves her, because the Bible tells her so, and I can sing that song to her knowing that it’s true.
Also, what child wouldn’t run towards Jesus? They all do. That’s why Jesus said we must humble ourselves and become like little children. It’s because they come so easily. They are absolutely NOT born hating God. I am so glad Dr. Flowers pointed this out . . . thank you so much.
I became a father late in age at 47.I had that same experience of really loving babies.I can never pass a baby without wanting to see the babies face.Thank you so much for saying yes to God loving all babies. and for reminding us that the Calvinist God does not love most babies who could be non elect To even have to think that God does not love but hates certain babies is something that gives us a very sick feeling but to Calvinists it is the foundation of their reformed theology and must be embraced because God is sovereign.
Keep in mind. Most Calvinists do believe God saves any baby who dies.
I’m grateful for this post God isn’t a God of confusion and calvinism is tricky and stealthy!! Because to not be tricky they’d have to present the Gospel and then say, but don’t worry if you don’t except it only the elect will… who’d stick around in their churches🤔 so they have to subtly introduce their doctrines of selected individuals & all others are reprobates. Jesus didn’t die for a limited number!! It makes sense to me when you said; (Many misunderstood God in the Old Testament because they would take that which He permitted as His active agency) This is one way they start twisting His clear revelations.
1 Corinthians 1:17 NASB — For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
I can’t imagine being brought up to believe God hates some before they were born or even at birth ugh terrible thought! But this systematic has tentacles everywhere and though i didn’t come to faith until I was 41 it has still caused grief in my life. So when I was able to hear an intelligible voice speak the things I knew to be true was beyond a blessing to me. Thank you it’s not in vain🐸
1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB — Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
I’m sorry I realized I should never have said twisted it seems they just seem to hang on to proof texts, so I recant that comment of twisting. Again sorry for that comment🌷