God's Hatred

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Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Richard,

This issue can very easily be solved in a systematic-theological manner without appealing to the nuanced meanings of "grace" in various passages. Even though I believe that God intends well-being for the elect only (i.e., even though I believe that all grace is grace towards the elect), it is still proper for me to speak of "grace" or "graces" that God imparts to reprobates -- so long as these "graces" are referring to gifts irrespective of God's intentions. It's when the term "grace" is used equivocally that problems arise in the dispute, for example when someone says that God could not sustain the existence of a sinner who deserves hell immediately except by grace, and then that person says therefore that God intends good for the creature using a second definition of "grace." I believe in "common grace" if by that you mean God imparts gifts to the reprobates; I deny it vehemently if by that you mean God desires their well-being as a result of this gift. The former is shown by many Scriptures you have provided; the latter is not.

If I am not mistaken the structure of this debate is exactly the same as a section of the Clark/Van Til debate: Clark's point was that the well-meant offer logically contradicts other parts of the Reformed faith (and therefore it's foolish to presume that we can find such prooftexts in Scripture), whereas Van Til's point was that he thought it was taught in various texts (and therefore it's foolish to presume that we can deny it by our "human logic"; it's just an "apparent contradiction").

Therefore, Richard, if you can combat the logical difficulties that have been shown in your position, and if you can show that the Bible speaks of God's gracious intentions towards reprobates (since that is what the Kuyperian doctrine of common grace is) rather than His gifts towards them, then you will have succeeded in establishing that common grace is Biblical.
 

Nomad

Puritan Board Freshman
I believe in "common grace" if by that you mean God imparts gifts to the reprobates; I deny it vehemently if by that you mean God desires their well-being as a result of this gift.

That's a great observation, and a distinction that should help us avoid talking past each other. :up:
 

Spinningplates2

Puritan Board Freshman
Brothers, before we all look too hard for what God hates, (too late?)

We need to remember that God, our God has described himself as LOVE. Some of these posts including the origanal post seem to forget that if not for Grace, God would hate us too.

I think Calvin said somewhere Election is to great a thing to think about all the time because it could drive a mortal mad. Instead Calvin wrote verse by verse about what was clear and what is clear is that He loves the unworthy. Probably because that is His nature.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, I doubt I can do any better than Van Til!

But there is the point that they are called graces in Scripture, whether we're talking about the elect or not. They're not called operations of God's despite, hatred, loathing and contempt in the case of the reprobate.

There is also the case that if God can be nuanced in His attitude to the elect before they're converted and even afterwards, why may He not be nuanced in His attitude to the reprobate before the Spirit stops striving with them or they end up in Hell.

You may plead "logic" but I don't feel I am forced to choose between God both having hatred for the reprobate and God being gracious to the reprobate in this life, by Scripture, any more than I'm forced to choose between God's sovereignty and Man's genuine responsibility.

There are sometimes mysteries and paradoxes in theology. Why does the Spirit strive with men who He knows He is not going to save? An ultimate reason will be that their condemnation will be greater because of the grace they have received. Is that the only reason, or are there other proximate gracious reasons, which is why common grace is called grace

Both Hodge and Dabney held to common grace as well as Kuyper.

The Gospel offer is well meant to all who hear it. If any who hears believes they will be saved. Because the chill is in their will rather than in something like their arms and legs, the "can't" is as much a "won't" as a "can't". It is a moral and not a metaphysical can't/won't, so they are completely responsible for what they do with the message.

If the Spirit is sometimes striving graciously with those who don't become believers this increases their guilt. Of course if the Spirit wanted to regenerate them He could. How these things are fully resolved I don't pretend to know but I am content to believe that God has compassion on sinners, even ones that are not going to Heaven. The full hatred of God will be felt by the reprobate in Hell. Those who have spurned more of God's (common) grace in this life - all other things considered -will have a sorer punishment.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Richard,

First, after I made a distinction between the two meanings of grace used in arguments for common grace -- i.e., between (1) gifts irrespective of divine intentions and (2) divine intentions of well-being -- you repeated to me that the Bible verses speak of grace as if it is helpful to your argument. Please realize that I am not averse to the actual use of the words "common grace"; I am averse rather to the concept that is usually contained under the label of "common grace." Therefore pointing to verses that mention the word "grace" in some sort for reprobates does not assist your position very well, unless you can show that these verses are showing a divine intention for the well-being of reprobates -- a divine intention for something that will not actually occur. In other words, if you can show only that the "graces" spoken of in Scripture towards reprobate are in the category of (1) above and not (2), then you are not proving your doctrine of common grace.

Second, identifying an unqualified nuance that exists in God's treatment towards the elect does not assist your proof of common grace. What is necessary is that you show specifically how the nuance involved in God's relationship with the elect allows the concept of common grace. This involves defining and qualifying God's relationship with the elect, not just stating that a nuance exists with the elect; therefore your specific nuance of common grace exists with the reprobate. You have to define and qualify the nuances of God's relationships with the elect and reprobate and show how the relationships are logically connected.

Third, if I may not plead for logical consistency, then the analogy of faith that undergirds the entirety of the Reformed faith is gone. There may be some things that are weird to understand, but there are never contradictions in God. Therefore unless you can counter the charge that the concept of common grace is an absolute contradiction, you cannot plead paradox.

Fourth, it is certainly true that the Gospel offer is "well-meant" by the preacher (if that is what you are saying), but that is not what the doctrine of the "well-meant offer" is dealing with. That doctrine teaches specifically that God Himself desires for reprobates to repent, which I repudiate. This offer and the view of common grace you are espousing are intertwined if not identical.

Fifth, certainly it is the case that reprobates are the ones who turn God's gift unto their own destruction, but you must also realize that God ordains all the reprobates' reactions. It seems that to be consistent with your view that God really desires reprobates' good, but then they twist it to another purpose, is to allow a free-willist view of God. On the contrary, I believe that the correct view is that God's intentions are carried out not only in His actions, but in everything that occurs by His decree, including reprobate reactions. Therefore the fact that reprobates are the ones who turn God's gifts unto their destruction does not imply that the view of common grace you are espousing is true.

Ben
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Dear Ben,

First, after I made a distinction between the two meanings of grace used in arguments for common grace -- i.e., between (1) gifts irrespective of divine intentions and (2) divine intentions of well-being -- you repeated to me that the Bible verses speak of grace as if it is helpful to your argument. Please realize that I am not averse to the actual use of the words "common grace"; I am averse rather to the concept that is usually contained under the label of "common grace." Therefore pointing to verses that mention the word "grace" in some sort for reprobates does not assist your position very well, unless you can show that these verses are showing a divine intention for the well-being of reprobates -- a divine intention for something that will not actually occur. In other words, if you can show only that the "graces" spoken of in Scripture towards reprobate are in the category of (1) above and not (2), then you are not proving your doctrine of common grace.

You haven't yet explained why the Bible uses the term grace about these gifts to the reprobate if they're not gracious in any sense. God doesn't ultimately desire the well-being of the reprobate, but He does proximately for his own good reasons desire their temporal well-being. To flatten things out by saying because of the decree that in time God has nothing but hatred for the reprobate, would make God seem to be less gracious than He is. It would also be misleading to say that in time God has nothing but love for the elect.

Second, identifying an unqualified nuance that exists in God's treatment towards the elect does not assist your proof of common grace. What is necessary is that you show specifically how the nuance involved in God's relationship with the elect allows the concept of common grace. This involves defining and qualifying God's relationship with the elect, not just stating that a nuance exists with the elect; therefore your specific nuance of common grace exists with the reprobate. You have to define and qualify the nuances of God's relationships with the elect and reprobate and show how the relationships are logically connected.

I would have to do further study on this and Common Grace generally. But I don't see that in Scripture, God's relationship with the elect and with the reprobate is purely defined by the decrees to reprobate or elect. God has ultimate purposes for these groups, but he also has multiple proximate purposes in what He does.

Third, if I may not plead for logical consistency, then the analogy of faith that undergirds the entirety of the Reformed faith is gone. There may be some things that are weird to understand, but there are never contradictions in God. Therefore unless you can counter the charge that the concept of common grace is an absolute contradiction, you cannot plead paradox.

You can plead for logical consistency, but where there is a conflict we sometimes have to leave things hanging in our tiny minds. I do not believe that there is any contradiction in God, just that your solution to the apparent conflict is reductionist, simplistic and flattens the data of Scripture. You're basically saying that because you can't understand how references to grace in connection with the non-elect could be really gracious - in the sense that God desires their well-being in some sense (not savingly) - that therefore you will redefine them as hatred on God's part. Why is it important? It makes God seem less gracious than He might be for a start. If you ask me to resolve how God can intend the temporal good of the reprobate and therefore be gracious to them, I don't pretend to have a full answer to that. Who said we would understand God to perfection? Maybe we'll understand better in glory?
I'm not going to jump at a solution when I don't think its the full story.

Fourth, it is certainly true that the Gospel offer is "well-meant" by the preacher (if that is what you are saying), but that is not what the doctrine of the "well-meant offer" is dealing with. That doctrine teaches specifically that God Himself desires for reprobates to repent, which I repudiate. This offer and the view of common grace you are espousing are intertwined if not identical.

Certainly the work of God in the hearts of the reprobate can be mysterious - e.g. the passages in Hebrews - in that He wrestles with some and brings them to conviction and other spiritual experiences, but then leaves them.
But we must never say that He intended to convert them, otherwise they would have been converted.

Fifth, certainly it is the case that reprobates are the ones who turn God's gift unto their own destruction, but you must also realize that God ordains all the reprobates' reactions. It seems that to be consistent with your view that God really desires reprobates' good, but then they twist it to another purpose, is to allow a free-willist view of God. On the contrary, I believe that the correct view is that God's intentions are carried out not only in His actions, but in everything that occurs by His decree, including reprobate reactions. Therefore the fact that reprobates are the ones who turn God's gifts unto their destruction does not imply that the view of common grace you are espousing is true.

Yes. But God does no violence to the reprobate to force them to sin. Therefore their wicked use of grace is their own fault and responsibilty, not God's. Everything is ordained by God for the elect and reprobate. Does it follow that God has nothing but love for the elect and hatred for the reprobate? Nothing-buttery can flatten important points.

I'll bow out of this now. You've obviously read up a lot more on this subject and theology generally, than I have. I'll study it further. We don't see eye to eye, but greater men than us have disagreed about this topic.

Richard.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Richard,

One of the main points I was trying to deliver is that there is a significant distinction between (1) the fact that God gives gifts to both elect and reprobate, and (2) God's purposes or intentions in giving those gifts. In my estimation, you have assumed that the giving of gifts always implies well-meant intentions. I believe this is evident from this quotation of yours:

You haven't yet explained why the Bible uses the term grace about these gifts to the reprobate if they're not gracious in any sense.

If you assume that "grace" (a gift irrespective of intentions) implies "gracious" (which you take to mean good intentions), then you have assumed what you are trying to prove and therefore begged the question. On the contrary, we must remember that for God, who alone can sovereignly decree true reactions to His workings with humans, a gift does not imply a good intention of Him. You seemed to misunderstand the point I was making regarding reprobates' reactions when you said this:

Yes. But God does no violence to the reprobate to force them to sin. Therefore their wicked use of grace is their own fault and responsibilty, not God's. Everything is ordained by God for the elect and reprobate. Does it follow that God has nothing but love for the elect and hatred for the reprobate? Nothing-buttery can flatten important points.

I am not arguing that it is God's fault that reprobates twist their God-given gifts, but I will wholeheartedly argue that it is God's intention that they do so, since that is what He decreed. And therefore it is false to claim that He intends that they do otherwise. Seeing as common grace claims exactly that, it follows that common grace is false.

As I have pointed out above, I honestly think that this entire discussion comes down to the fact that for humans, gifts imply good intentions, whereas for God, this is not necessarily true. Humans cannot foreordain reactions to their gift-giving, but God can.

Otherwise, it is also important to remember that my view does not entail that God has no hardships for the elects and no blessings (gifts) for reprobates. But I will argue that everything works for the good of the elect (Romans 8:28) and for the destruction of the reprobate.

Ben
 
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