Does God Hate Sinners?
NEW: PLEASE READ THE ADDENDUM AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE: A Comparison between Calvinism and Islam on this topic.
In their zeal to defend God’s sovereignty many blogists have joined renowned Calvinists in their campaign against the so-called non-elect by emphatically declaring that Christians should hate non-believers (non-elect sinners). Before you read this article I suggest that you first read an open letter John Pedersen wrote to one of these more renowned Calvinists questioning his view on 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ was not made sin in the sense of becoming a sinner or taking on Himself the character of a sinner. It simply means that He, being without sin and perfectly spotless, was treated like a sinner by his Father. Their explanation of this passage reminds one of the Word of Faith preachers’ blasphemous remark that Jesus took on Himself the character of Satan. Mr Pedersen eventually received an answer from the Calvinist who teaches that Christians (Calvinists) should hate the non-elect.
I received an answer from . . . . . . . . . :
Dear Mr Pedersen,
Enjoy yourself. I hope your delusions give you great satisfaction.
. . .
In another reply, the Calvinist who teaches his congregation to hate the non-elect, wrote the following.
A few friends have told me that you are posting your “open letters” to me on one of those internet theological clogs where a few brilliant useless men display themselves for each other to admire. I am very thankful to have supplied you with something you can use to play with yourselves. Knock yourself out.
Straw men are built with brilliant ease
With ugly, twisted, painted straw;
And with the mighty pigmy’s sneeze,
The pigmy sees his straw man fall.
“The ugly monster I have slain
By my own humble, brilliant brain,”
The bloated little pigmy screams,
“Now all the praise I crave, I’ll gain.”
And other spiteful, little men
Applaud and praise their pigmy friend;
And thus the band of little men
Proudly strut and swell with wind.
Such little imps, I have to tell,
Like flies swarming elephants’ tails,
Shall get no more than what they smell
From elephants’ swishing tails.
If you want more material with which to pleasure yourself, everything I write and preach is posted on our websites listed below. Now, having taken far too much time ignoring you, you can write all you wish in the future to me. Nothing will be read and no replies will be given. But do have fun with yourself.
. . .
Please note that the sound in the above video is of a poor quality and the volume needs to be turned up quite a bit.
Before I continue to examine Paul Washer’s sermon in the light of Scripture, I need to remind you what the Calvinists believe in regard to sin and how it originated. Here then, from their own lips, follow the things they have said to vindicate their own interpretation of God’s absolute sovereignty. Please bear in mind the following serious warnings in Scripture before you read these grossly God dishonouring statements.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
First off, let us begin with the Westminster Confession of Faith which says in Chapter 3 “Of God’s Eternal Decree:”
God from all eternity, did, from the most wise and holy counsel of his will, freely, and unchangeably ordain everything whatsoever comes to pass. (Emphasis added).
In his classic book “The Five Points of Calvinism,” Edwin H Palmer writes (page 100)
To emphasize the sovereignty of God even more, it is necessary to point out that everything is foreordained by God. Not only is God omnipotent, so that to him the nations are a drop in the bucket or as a fine coating of dust on weighing scales (Isaiah 40), but he also “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
It is even biblical to say that God has foreordained sin. If sin was outside the plan of God, then not a single important affair of life would be ruled by God. For what action of man is perfectly good? All of history would then be outside of God’s foreordination: the fall of Adam, the crucifixion of Christ, the conquests of the Roman Empire, the battle of Hastings, the Reformation, the French Revolution, Waterloo, the American Revolution, the Civil War, two World Wars, presidential assassinations, racial violence, and the rise and fall of nations.
In two instances the Bible is especially clear in teaching that everything, including sin, is ordained by God: the selling of Joseph and the crucifixion of Christ.
Note that he says God foreordained (predetermined) sin and not foreknew/foresaw the sin, which according to James 1:13-15 He did not tempt any man to do. There is a vast difference between foreordain en foreknew. The latter clearly speaks of his awesome omniscience. In Isaiah 48: 3 God says:
I have declared (Note: God “declared” or “made known” and not “foreordained” or “predestined”) the former things from of old; yea, they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them: suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; therefore I have declared it to thee from of old; before it came to pass I showed it thee; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. (Isaiah 48:3-5)
It simply means that God in his awesome omniscience foreknew/foresaw from eternities past what every single person would and would not do in his/her lifetime. Furthermore, it was in his sovereign will to use the self-enacted obstinacy, rebellion and sin of some people throughout history to accomplish his own divine purposes. He did not cause or foreordain the sin of those whom he used in this way (e.g. Pharaoh and Judas) but foreknew/foresaw their obstinate actions against Him even long before they had done it and used it, as I have said earlier, for his own divine purposes. Not so, says the Calvinist. God, foreknew because He has foreordained things to happen, even the sin of every single human being. They believe that every typing error of a secretary was foreknown by God because He has foreordained her to make those errors. Therefore, she has no jurisdiction, authority or control over her own errors. She not only makes them but she must make them. If she does not make those errors, she has overruled God’s foreordination and that would seriously jeopardize God’s sovereignty. But let us continue with a few more quotes by Calvinists on the divinely foreordained sin of man.
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Section 7 John Calvin wrote:
The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination. Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it.” (Emphasis added)
Arthur Pink says in his book The Sovereignty of God, Chapter 8 “Sovereignty and Human Responsibility.”
We turn now to ponder,
3. How is it possible for God to DECREE that men SHOULD commit certain sins, hold them RESPONSIBLE in the committal of them, and adjudge them GUILTY because they committed them?
Let us now consider the extreme case of Judas. We hold that it is clear from Scripture that God decreed from all eternity that Judas should betray the Lord Jesus. If anyone should challenge this statement we refer him to the prophecy of Zechariah through whom God declared that His Son should be sold for “thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12). As we have said in earlier pages, in prophecy God makes known what will be, and in making known what will be He is but revealing to us what He has ordained shall be. That Judas was the one through whom the prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled needs not to be argued. But now the question we have to face is, Was Judas a responsible agent in fulfilling this decree of God? We reply that he was. Responsibility attaches mainly to the motive and intention of the one committing the act. (Emphasis added)
The Westminster Confessions state in chapter 3 entitled Of God’s Eternal Decree:
I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
It follows that every single sin committed by every single human being who lived in the past, every single sin being committed by those who are now alive, and every single sin that will be committed by those who shall be living in the future were foreordained (decreed) by God and yet He is not the author of sin? Sin did not originate with Him and neither does his decree violate the will of men. The very character of a decree is that it must come to pass. If that which was decreed does not come to pass, the sovereignty of Him who decreed it is flawed and his godhood becomes questionable. Therefore Adam and Eve had no other option but to sin in spite of God’s stern warning that they would die if they took and ate of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. In fact, his decree that their sin had to come to pass, was borne out of his hatred for sinners and his wish that they should die. Does this shock you? Well, that’s the only conclusion one can come to when you believe that God ordained (decreed) whatsoever comes to pass. Muslims also believe in the absolute sovereignty of Allah. Listen to RC Sproul’s argument in this regard and see whether you can catch his subtle suggestion that Allah and the Christian God are one and the same.
Well, at least RC Sproul knows how to entertain his audience and make them laugh but what he says about the God of the Bible is no laughing matter, especially when he places Him on par with Allah. Listen again carefully to what he says.
Of whom is he speaking? – the God of the Bible or Allah? It can’t be Allah because Islam’s sovereign God has no son. To them it is sheer blasphemy to even suggest in the very slightest that Allah has a son. Sproul says in effect that the veracity of the sovereignty of God is determined neither by Calvinism, nor is it corroborated by orthodox Christianity or even the Bible. It is the general agreement on God’s absolute sovereignty between the major religions of the world – Judaism, Islam and classical Christianity – that attest to the sovereignty of God because if He is not sovereign He cannot be God to any of these religions. He then comes to the conclusion that the Arminians whom his students invited to listen to their illustrious professor are atheists because they worship a God who is not sovereign and therefore impotent. What does that tell you? Well, he’s saying that the Arminians do not fall in the same divine category of either one of these religions – Judaism, Islam or classical Christianity because they are atheists.
If God’s absolute authority and sovereignty is constituted by his divine foreordination of whatsoever comes to pass, then it follows that the 50 students who did not agree with RC Sproul are Arminians by divine design and predestination. Therefore RC Sproul who is supposed to honor and respect God’s sovereign decrees has no right whatsoever to call them atheists. What God has decreed cannot be rescinded, overturned or changed. Any disregard for God’s sovereignty is blasphemy and yet RC Sproul glibly calls the 50 students atheists whom God Himself has ordained to be Arminians. Shame on you RC. You are not practicing what you’re preaching.
Let us now focus our attention on Paul Washers’ sermon “God hates sinners” against the backdrop of what I have already said about the Calvinists’ view of sin and its origin. The question we need to ask is: why does Paul Washer elaborate on God’s demonstration of his divine love for the lost and immediately after that switches to a discussion about God’s hatred of the sinner? You will recall that he said:
God Himself is just and God is perfect and consistent in all his attributes. In order to pardon the wicked, the justice of God must first be satisfied and the wrath of God appeased. Something must – and this is a very important word, you can look it up in the dictionary – someone must interpose; someone must intervene; someone must do something. And being there’s only two parties, one being God and the other man, we put no hope in man. God Himself must intervene. To satisfy his justice, to appease his wrath and make it possible to express his love in salvation for wicked men.
It is very important to take note of a key phrase in the above quote which is: “to express his love in salvation for wicked men. Of whom is Paul Washer speaking when he specifically refers to “his love in salvation?” To answer the question we need to look at another video. Here again the sound is poor but fortunately the author supplied some text to it.
To make it easier I have transliterated what is said in the above video here:
Young man: I got a question, I don’t understand, I’ve been raised Southern Baptist my whole life and I’m searching for the Truth really hard in my life right now. I’m in seminary and I want to understand the doctrine of election and things like that. And my roommate’s a Calvinist and he’s been kind of trying to teach me a little bit but I want to know the Truth and they tell me that you’re the guy. You know. Is there any way that you can, you know . . . anything that you can [say to help me understand this more clearly?]
Paul Washer: I can say something but let me . . . if you will go to my pastor’s website “Anchored in Truth” [http://www.anchoredintruth.ord/resources/audio/ephesians]. He has a series of sermons called “Election Plain and Simple” – some of the best you will ever hear. What it all comes down to is this. You have to answer one question: is man radically depraved? That’s the only question you have to ask because if he is, if he is truly dead in his sin, if he truly hates God, if all men are equally evil and they are, then the question is, how are you standing here right now believing God while some of your friends who are more moral than you still hate Him? (Thomas comments: Paul Washer’s exegesis of man’s fallen nature is so utterly depraved that he constantly rips God’s Word to pieces. We learn from Acts 10:22 that the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, was an upright and God-fearing man and that he regularly attended the synagogue in Jerusalem. And yet, Cornelius was not a saved man [Acts 11:14] when he sent some of his men to summon Peter to his home. Now that, my dear friends, is the epitome of hatred. Not even Paul Washer’s description of man’s hatred of God equals Cornelius’ hatred of God.) What happened? If you say you opened up your heart I’ll say, no you didn’t because the Bible said God opened Lydia’s heart. If you say, well I repented, well repentance is an evangelical grace in all the confessions, that means it comes from God as a gift. If you say: “Well I believe Ephesians 2,” it also is a gift.
Young man: I know the Bible says that no man can come to God unless he is drawn by God. I know that well but my question is: Is the offer of salvation for all men or did God sit back in eternity and say: “Its for you, you, you and you. And you, you, you, you are going to go to hell.”
Paul Washer: See, first of all, you’re problem is this. Let’s say there’s no election. None. Ok, let’s just start fresh and say there’s no election. Alright. Now . . . . let’s say men are radically depraved and no man can come to God unless God draws him. So, God comes down to every man and says: Anyone who will bow their knee to me, anyone who will accept my Son as their Savior, will be saved. Since every man is radically depraved, they all hate God. they all blaspheme Him, walk away and go to hell. The whole world goes to hell. Is that God’s fault? Alright, let’s say that really is the reality. Let’s say the Bible is true and that men hate God that much. So who is going to get saved? Absolutely no one! And if God saved no one because everyone is evil and rejects Him, is God wrong in doing that? No, so that is what you’ve got without election – you’ve got the whole world hating God and going to hell. That’s it! And the other option is this. Among these evil people, for his own glory and to demonstrate his own kindness before the foundation of the earth He chooses a group of men out of them to demonstrate his glory in them. Is that wrong? Did he rip the other men off? What did He do? You’ve got two choices. God saves a group of people by his own sovereignty or everybody goes to hell. Everybody because men are that evil. See, your problem . . . see what you need to realize is this. if God, right now, were to throw open the gates of hell and say: Everyone who wants out of hell, the only thing you have to do is bow your knee to me and recognize my lordship, they’ll slam the door and stay in hell. See, what you don’t realize about the humanistic Christianity in America. You don’t realize that men are really evil. They really are evil.
If the rich man in hell (Luke 16:19-31), as evil and depraved as he may have been, would have wanted to slam the gates of hell shut in the face of an invitation to bow the knee before Jesus, he would never have begged Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his five brothers lest they too should end up in hell. In any case, we learn from Philippians 2:9 and 11 that every knee shall bow at the Name of Jesus Christ and every tongue confess that He is Lord. It does not mean that everyone is going to be saved but that everyone shall bow the knee and confess whether they like it or not. No one is going to be given the option to bow or not to bow or to confess or not to confess.
Paul Washer tells us loud and clear who the wicked are to whom God expresses his love in salvation. Yep! you’ve guessed it – THE ELECT ONLY! The obvious conclusion to make is that the sinners whom God hates are the non-elect for they have no hope whatsoever for God to express his love in salvation toward them. Yes! He loves them but not unto salvation because Jesus did not die for them on the cross. Do you remember these blasphemous remarks? They are hopelessly irredeemable because if they’d been objects of his love in salvation and therefore redeemable it would have jeopardized God’s absolute sovereignty who decreed before the foundation of the world that they would glorify Him through their eternal destruction in hell. There is only one problem: If God hates sinners, He would have hated even the elect (amongst whom are Paul Washer, John MacArthur, John Piper, Marc Driscoll etc.). Surely the Bible declares that he who says that he has no sin is a liar and a self-deceiver and the word and the truth is not in him (1 John 1:8 and 9). If the elect are sinners, which they cannot and do not deny, then God must hate them as well. Nevertheless, Paul Washer declares quite frankly that God expresses his love in salvation only to the elect because they are the only ones being saved.
Undoubtedly scripture after scripture after scripture in the Bible tells us that God’s hatred is manifest against wickedness. I don’t think anyone would be able to argue against that. In fact we don’t have to look any further than the cross of Jesus Christ to realize how much God hates sin and wickedness. Would it be wrong to quote John 3:16 as follows? “For God so hated sin and wickedness, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). I don’t think Paul Washer would object to my slight alteration of the most famous verse in the Bible. He already said it in so many words in the introduction to his sermon. However, can we in accordance with Washer’s claim that God hates sinners change the same verse to the following? “For God so hated sinners and the wicked that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now that’s a complete misnomer and yet Paul Washer says with boldness that God hates sinners. In order to substantiate his claim that the well-known maxim “God hates sin but loves the sinner” is wrong, he takes his audience to Psalm 5, but before I get into that I must first draw your attention to the following observation I made.
Paul Washer’s examples are inconsistent with what he says in regard to the maxim “God hates sin but loves the sinner.” He uses three examples – he loves babies but hates abortion; he loves the Jews but hates the holocaust; he loves African Americans but hates slavery. This is exactly what the maxim says: “God hates sin but LOVES the sinner.” Washer’s examples actually substantiate the maxim. If Paul Washer wished to be consistent in his claim that God hates sinners and not only their sins, he should have said “He hates babies as much as He hates abortion (for babies are born in sin),”He hates the Jews as much as He hated Hitler (for the Jews consistently fell into idolatry and rejected God’s Son)” and “He hates African Americans as much as He hates slavery (for the African Americans are also sinners).”
Of course God hates wickedness and iniquity.
Nevertheless Paul Washer’s refutation of the maxim “God hates the sin but loves the sinner” cannot be substantiated by “God loves the Jew but hates the holocaust,” “God loves babies but hates abortion,” or “God loves African Americans but hates slavery.” In fact, Paul Washer’s arguments do not refute the maxim “God hates sin but loves the sinner” but confirms it. Yes! again, scripture after scripture after scripture tells us that God hates wickedness (the deed). If it were true that He did not only hate the deed (sin) but also the doer (sinner) Paul Washer should have said: “Scripture after scripture, after scripture in the Bible tells us that God hates the wicked.” Ah, but he does say it and verifies it from one place in scripture (not with scripture after scripture after scripture in the Bible). And this brings us to his exegesis of Psalm 5 and verse 5: “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” So you see God does not only hate the sin but also the sinner. That’s what it says, doesn’t it? Well, if you look at the entire Psalm in its proper context, you would understand this verse a little better.
As in many of his other Psalms David laments the unrelenting pursuit of those who sought to kill him. Some of them used deceit and trickery to draw him into their net with an intent to kill him. It was these boastful and presumptuous evildoers whose deeds God found detestable because they would not shrink from murder and deceit. They were in fact habitual murderers and deceivers whose aim it was to shed the blood of an innocent man. I continue to marvel at many prominent Calvinists who idolize a murderer who never shrunk from the shedding of blood.
In response to the question who his favorite theologian outside of the Bible is, John MacArthur says without any hesitation in this video that John Calvin is one of his primary models in theology. In fact, I don’t think any of the other major proponents of Calvinism would deny that John Calvin is their main man. However, John MacArthur’s real and total hero is Paul of Tarsus. But wasn’t he also a murderer, just like John Calvin? Well yes, whilst he was a non-believer he persecuted many Christians and approved the murder of Stephen but he never shed any blood after his salvation, which can not be said of John Calvin. Paul of Tarsus called himself the chief of sinners because he persecuted the Christians. He showed real remorse for his former life. John Calvin, on the other hand, believed he was doing God a favor when he had many “heretics” burnt at the stake. For those of you who would want to research John Calvin’s murderous activities, I give the following links.
Paul Washer is correct in saying that God hates sinners but what kind of sinners does He find detestable? Those who do not and did not shrink from shedding the blood of their fellow men, like John Calvin.
William Lane Craig sent me an email in which he superbly answers a Christian’s question on “unconditional love.” Please note his concluding words.
|God’s Unconditional Love|
|Question:Dear Dr. Craig,As a Christian concerned with providing sound reasons for my own faith, I appreciate your blog, podcast, and contributions to philosophy of religion. With that being said, in your Q&A #123, you argued that the Islamic conception of God is morally inadequate. Near the end of your post, you stated that:”God’s love is impartial, universal, and unconditional … [and] that a morally perfect being would love people impartially, all people, and without strings attached. But Allah has no love at all for unbelievers. This is not just a difference of degree, but of night and day!”I agree that love, as you assert, is a “greater-making property.” However, while the Bible does say that God is all-loving (cf. the passages you noted concerning the prodigal son and the lost sheep), it does not say that God necessarily loves unbelievers, or sinners. On the contrary, several Old Testament passages state unambiguously that God hates sinners. Consider the following:
How do you account for these verses, given your statement that “Jesus taught God’s unconditional love for sinners?” What effect do these verses have for your argument regarding the moral superiority of the Christian conception of God?
Dr. Craig responds:
In my debate with the Muslim apologist Shabir Ally, he brought up precisely the same scriptural passages in refutation of my claim that the God of the Bible, unlike the God of the Qur’an, has unconditional love for all people.
I think it’s not hard to explain these passages in light of Scripture’s teaching that God loves sinners. Notice that almost all of them come from poetic passages. They are religious hyperbole expressing God’s hatred of evil and the wicked acts people commit. It would be a hermeneutical mistake to press them literally as statements of Christian doctrine.
Drawing hyperbolic, black-and-white dichotomies was a common semitic idiom. For example, “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau” (Malachi 1.2-3; cf. Romans 9.13) is a way of saying that God has chosen Jacob and not Esau. When Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14.26), he means that if one prioritizes even one’s most cherished loved ones above Jesus, one’s discipleship is incomplete-a claim which is radical enough without taking it literally!
Over against these few hyperbolic passages stands the clear doctrinal teaching of Jesus and the apostles that God loves all persons, even sinners. Take the time to read and meditate on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew 5-7. Jesus said:
God is our model in loving others. We are to love even our enemies. That is how God loves. Paul later wrote, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. . . . while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son” (Romans 5. 8,10). Our love is to be impartial, just as God showers good upon the evil and righteous alike. Our love is to be universal, not reserved just for a few. Our heavenly Father is perfect, and so He loves perfectly.
How wonderful God is! As I reflected on Jesus’ words, it struck me forcefully that Allah’s love as described in the Qur’an rises no higher than the love exhibited by pagans and tax collectors! It is conditional, partial, and has to be earned. But the love of God our heavenly Father is unconditional, impartial, and universal.
Now it did occur to me that I was perhaps being unfair to the Muslim. Perhaps he, too, could say that the Qur’anic passages about God’s not loving unbelievers and sinners are poetic and hyperbolic. After all, doesn’t the Qur’an affirm that God is “the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful”? But the problem with that interpretation is that there just aren’t any comparable Qur’anic passages stating that God loves all people or that He loves unbelievers and sinners. Not one! Over and over again the Qur’an assures us of God’s love for those who submit to Him and say the confession and do His will, but He has no love for sinners and unbelievers. Whenever the Qur’an speaks of God’s attitude toward unbelievers, it tells us in no uncertain terms that He does not love them. So while I would welcome Muslims’ affirmation of God’s unconditional love for all people, I think that such an affirmation would represent a revision of the Qur’anic conception of God rather than a correct interpretation of Qur’anic teaching.
According to the Qur’an, then, God does not love the very people that the Bible says God loves so much that He gave his only Son to die for them (John 3.16). God loves the world and sent Jesus to die for the world, which is the unbelieving mass of mankind. Praise be to God!
Frankly, Bridger, I’m appalled at the fact that some Christians have an understanding of God’s love which is comparable to that of the Qur’an. They actually think that God does not love all people unconditionally. They have failed to understand something so fundamental and basic to Christian discipleship: God’s wonderful love.
Fancy that: Calvinists quote Scripture after Scripture after Scripture to prove that God hates sinners, especially those who love violence (Psalm 11:5) and shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-19). And yet they idolize John Calvin whom God hates for his sins of violence and the shedding of innocent blood. Indeed God warns:
Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. (Exodus 23:7).
Calvinism is replete with false matters and John Calvin slayed both the innocent and the righteous.