A while back, I read this fantastic little book called Perspectives on Election: Five Views. It is a helpful book–who could imagine that humans could even invent consistent supralapsarian perspective on election, let alone teach it to people in the pew–and yet that is one of the five perspectives discussed in the book.

The view range from that just mentioned to infralapsarian election (a variation on the Calvinist doctrine) to Classic Arminianism to Universal Reconciliation and the Inclusive nature of Election to Divine Election as Corporate, Open, and Vocational.

The authors are varied and include: Bruce Ware, Robert Reymond, Jack Cottrell, Thomas Talbott, and Clark Pinnock. Each author wrote from his own perspective and then the other authors respond with criticisms of that position based on their own position. So, for example, if Robert Reymond wrote about the supralapsarian position all the other writers wrote a criticism of his position each from the point of view they adhere to.

It is a fascinating book and if  you are interested at all in such discussion, you should get it and read it. Today’s thought for the day comes from this book and in particular it comes from Thomas Talbott who wrote from, espoused, and defended the position of Universal Reconciliation and Inclusive Nature of Election (a point of view that I do not necessarily endorse myself). Still, his thoughts are worthy of consideration.

Consider first a mere awkwardness in the doctrine of limited election. If God has commanded us to love our families, our neighbors, and even our enemies, as the New Testament consistently affirms, then a doctrine of limited election carries the awkward implication that God hates (or simply fails to love) some of the ones whom he has commanded us to love. Jesus declared  that we are to love our enemies as well as our friends, so that (a) we might be children of our Father in heaven and (b) we might be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (see Matthew 5:43-48); that is, we are to love our enemies because God loves them, and we should be like God in just this respect. So why should God command us to love some of the ones whom he himself fails to love? The reply that we can never know in this life who are not the objects of God’s love may seem to provide a practical reason for loving all, lest we fail to love a true object of God’s love. But such an answer hardly accords well with the words of 1 John 4:8, ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.’” (Thomas Talbott, Perspectives on Election: Five Views, 215)

So just exactly who are we to love? And please, for the love of all that is right and good, do not dismiss Talbott’s quote simply because he is a universalist. Consider carefully what he has said, and have at it.

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags: , ,

This entry was posted on Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 1:52 am and is filed under Theology, quote. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

15 Comments(+Add)

1   John Hughes    
August 10th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

supra-lap-sarian-ism ex p ali docious.
supra-lap-sarian-ism ex p ali docious.
If you say it loud enough
you’ll always sound precocious
supra-lap-sarian-ism ex p ali docious!

2   Joe C    
August 10th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Jerry,

I completely feel for his sentiment, and it’s even logical, I have to admit. At first.

But then I remember there are like 50,000 ways to look at this situation (as this book no doubt proves) and all of them looking pretty logical up front.

Specifically the way I’d take a shot in the dark at this is pretty simple to me…

God commands us to love everyone as ourselves. And, God is love. Also, if we don’t love then we don’t know God because He is love. Right?

Well it would be true that God loves everyone, and so He is not a hypocrite here in sending some away from Himself (ultimately) due to separation, sin, and not knowing His Son. Love also has a element of choice to it, remember. Though you also have to remember that “[He set our lives up] so that we would seek Him and maybe find Him, though He is not far from us”. Which leads me to this:

What I believe this Mr. Talbott discounts is the freedom of choice man has. While God loves all, He still leaves it up to man to decide for Him or against Him. If a man chooses against God, there are consequences for a life lived in defiance of God-Almighty.

Hey I mean there seems to be a million ways to go at this but I’ll stick with this for now.

And the UR debate continues!

-_-;;

Peace, Joe C

3   Joe C    
August 10th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Oh I also think Talbott is setting up a false dichotomy that if God punishes/sends away (whatever) someone that therefore He is not loving that person, didn’t love, or doesn’t love that person.

This is obviously faulty logic in my mind. And I think it misrepresents God and well…it makes God too much like man in this way. Okie, I’m done. Have at me.

4   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
August 10th, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Great quote, Jerry :)

Talbott has a book called The Inescapable Love of God which I have read snippets of but have heard great things about. He deals with all the Scriptures that would appear at first blush to deny UR.

It is rather a fallacy to preach about a God who commands us to love even our enemies and yet affirm that this same God will cast away his enemies – and not just for a period of time but for all eternity.

While Joe C is right to say we have a choice to follow God and God has given us the freedom to choose this does not mean our choices trump God’s ultimate plans for his children (of which EVERY one of us are). We taste the consequences of a life apart from God all the time. The good news, I think, is that Jesus has gathered up all things in him and one day all the barriers to our choosing God will be laid to waste. Evil will not exist. And God’s judgment will refine and purify even the coldest, most cynical of hearts.

UR is a belief in a God who is in the business of saving. This is what God does. And God does it better than anyone. And as Christ has shown, God stops at nothing to get ever last sheep. Death itself could not keep God from resurrecting to himself his own.

To Talbott: The UR position is far more coherent when we insist we love our enemies. We love them because we are convinced God does and that we will one day (whether or enemy realizes it at the moment or not) we will be worshipping the same God in eternity. I am not at liberty to dismiss someone because they reject Christ and justify my behavior because I believe that one day God will dismiss them as well.

5   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
August 10th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Oh I also think Talbott is setting up a false dichotomy that if God punishes/sends away (whatever) someone that therefore He is not loving that person, didn’t love, or doesn’t love that person.
This is obviously faulty logic in my mind. And I think it misrepresents God and well…it makes God too much like man in this way. Okie, I’m done. Have at me.

How so, Joe?

Aa a human, my sinful response to people who reject me is to reject them as well. Every fiber in my being wants to cast them out and punish those who hurt me. Yet God’s ways are not our ways.

Think about what your saying. It sounds like you are saying that God is loving someone if he sends his enemies, the very people he commanded us to love and pray for, to an eternal, damning hell. This means that LOVE has a stopping point. This means that LOVE, by definition, ceases to care about the redemption of a person, ceases to care about forgiving 70×7, but at some point says, “That’s it! Eternal damnation for you!” Or, “No soup for you!” :)

That’s love?

How does that jibe with the father who with open arms takes in the prodigal son and throws a party?

Would you say the parent who disowns their child for eternity is “loving” them? How does that look?

6   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
August 10th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

How does that jibe with the father who with open arms takes in the prodigal son and throws a party?

What you’re missing is that the prodigal son actually returned to the father, and didn’t die in “a far country”…

You’re rewritten the parable in such a way that the son was just suffering from discomfort in his rebellion, but was never in any real danger of separation in the first place. He was just taking a vacation from Dad…

As Joe C accurately points out, it completely misses the point of free will.

Or, as Rick has pointed out in the past, UR is just Calvinism’s evil twin – fatalism with a dose of lipstick.

7   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
August 10th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Would you say the parent who disowns their child for eternity is “loving” them? How does that look?

What would you say to a parent who forces a child to “love” them, when they’d rather go their own way?

In reality, you’re stretching an anthromorphization of God beyond its capacity.

8   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
August 10th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Chris,
I could just as easily talk about the God who goes out and finds the lost sheep, picks it up and returns it to the fold. Or the God who loses a coin and turns the house upside down in order to find it.

Our time in a pig sty is not a time that God desires to be eternal but a time to reprove and instruct and correct.

Calvinism is not the behemoth evil you and Rick seem to enjoy making it out to be. And I’m a Wesleyan who is saying that. Calvin was right about election – he was wrong about individual election and reprobation. Try telling Israel that they had a choice or not whether to be God’s people.

God desires a family and if we will not be it he will make one out of rocks.

Right now there are plenty of barriers keeping us from fully receiving God’s grace and love. Only a mad person would refuse God once those barriers are erased. The church OUGHT to be in the business of removing those barriers. More often than not we erect more by our loveless attitude towards the world.

What would you say to a parent who forces a child to “love” them, when they’d rather go their own way?

No one, certainly not me or Talbott, is saying God “forces” anyone to love them. Not sure why you would even go there.

I notice you don’t answer the question though. Not that it was directed to you, but still.

9   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
August 10th, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Chris L-

Nevermind. You can feel free to answer but that will be the last time I address you on this topic (and perhaps any other). You seem incapable of talking about this without questioning my allegiance, judging me or those in my care or without actually hearing what I say and argue the merits of that rather than your own false presuppositions about UR. I know I haven’t responded as well as I would like to you when you do that, so it’s best I just ignore you. If not for your sanity, than mine.

10   Aaron    
August 10th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Think about what your saying. It sounds like you are saying that God is loving someone if he sends his enemies, the very people he commanded us to love and pray for, to an eternal, damning hell. This means that LOVE has a stopping point. This means that LOVE, by definition, ceases to care about the redemption of a person, ceases to care about forgiving 70×7, but at some point says, “That’s it! Eternal damnation for you!” Or, “No soup for you!” :)

Here’s my attempt at explaining, bear with me:
The way God’s Love works is that He has truly loved everyone (I do mean everyone) by sending Jesus to die for them, giving them the opportunity to come to Him and be redeemed, call it common grace or what will you. Regardless of one’s viewpoints on election and such, His Love is still offered to all (”rain falls on the just and unjust like”…so does the warmth of the sun.)

In the end, at Judgment, people’s actions will be held accountable and some will be sent away. Here, God’s Love is not ending or being cut short, but being withdrawn. The people sent to Hell have made their choice and they chose to reject God’s Love and seek after His Wrath. However, God’s Love continues in full infinitness toward those who chose Him and are welcomed into Heaven.

11   Joe C    
August 10th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I’m with you Aaron, I’m tracking with what you’re saying.

To Chad: Like Aaron said, I’m not saying God is loving people by sending them to hell. Sorry I gave that impression. What I was getting at was that, to me, the plain narrative of Scripture seems to indicate that at some point God loves men enough to accept their choice to reject Him, and gives them just that. He removes Himself from them.

Joe C

12   Joe C    
August 10th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

He still loves them even though they’re sent away (by their own choice, mind you). This is illustrated by not forcing them to be with Him since they obviously didn’t want to.

Kind of an Adam and Eve thing…no choice no love…?

13   Joe C    
August 10th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I’m so Arminian right now…I hate labels too…

14   Neil    
August 10th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Jerry,

I’m not sure I understand how your question fits with the quote – or is a thought for the day.

To answer your question – we are to love everyone. Yet I agree with Joe C., that God’s love for everyone does not necessitate UR.

No, from a Calvinist pov it is an easier argument to make, but I do not see how he can apply the same to an Arminian pov 0 where the choice to separate lives with the person, not God.

15   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
August 10th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Neil,

Since I originated the idea of ‘thought for the day’ I figure I can structure it any way I like. It is a thought for the day because it is a quote which is the normal pattern I follow for these posts. :)

As to the question, the quote is about love, and that is the question I asked. I’m not sure what you don’t understand. Thanks for asking, I’m glad I could clarify for you.

jerry