What Calvinists say God loves the reprobate?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Trinity Apologetics, Sep 18, 2015.

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  1. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    The problem with John 3:16 is that the subjunctive "whosoever" is not there. Rather, it is the indicative participle "every believing one" in the Greek text. The old KJV translation is inadequate and misleading in my opinion.
  2. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    Regardless, we know why some are not willing and some are made so..... Actually we don't know why but we know that some are only by the grace of God
  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

    πιστεύων is actually a present active, nominative particple and functions as the subject of the subjunctive verbs "should not perish" but "have".

    In this case the πᾶς functions to make the idea of "all the believing ones". Participles are funny things and it is not inappropriate to translate this as "whosoever believes" but I also agree that one should not isolate "whosoever" as if it stands apart from believing.
  4. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Nor should verse 16 be separated from its larger context which includes verses 14 and 15.
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    A short comment on the use of kosmos in John 3:16:

    The word "world" in John 3:16 is very unnatural if we try to restrict it to mean "the world of the elect" instead of "mankind" or "the human race." For Calvin says, commenting on John 3:16, "the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish." The lexicons (Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich, Thayer, Bullinger, Vine) all are unanimous to assert that "kosmos" used in John 3:16 refers to "mankind, the human race." And J.C. Ryle concludes, "It seems to be a violent straining of language to confine the word world to the elect...The world means the whole race of mankind...without any exception...I have long come to the conclusion that men may be more systematic in their statements than the Bible, and may be led into grave error by idolatrous veneration of a [theological] system."
  6. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Perg, who is this post directed toward? I think I missed something. Who said kosmos refers to "the world of the elect"?
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Who would tell an individual that he or she is a reprobate and that God has a love for him or her as a reprobate? A tender-hearted Christian is not going to say such a thing. A gracious Christian would be hopeful the person will come to believe in the Saviour, come to know and believe the saving love of God in Christ, and thereby show that he or she is among the elect of God. So where does this leave the teaching that "God loves the reprobate?" It leaves it in the category of irrelevance, at the very least. There is no place for a doctrine of "love to the reprobate" when nobody thinks of specific individuals we encounter in life in terms of reprobation. It is a doctrine which has arisen from groundless speculation on the part of men. It forms no part of the revelation of grace.
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    How does this prove that God loves reprobates? Do you believe John 3:16 means "reprobates" when it uses the term "world?" Of course you don't. The text could never be construed to say, "God so loved the [reprobate] world that He gave His only begotten Son." The purpose of giving the Son was to save men from condemnation, not to condemn men. However one understands the term "world" in John 3:16, it does not give the slightest support to the speculation that "God loves the reprobate."
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Matthew (and all),

    You've helped me to understand the nuance in Calvin's use of the whole world (or human race) and elect/reprobate. Since elect/reprobate speaks clearly to God's decree, it does not as much concern His revealed will as it does His decretive will. Since this conversation concerns His love especially in relation to the free offer, it's probably better to keep the word reprobate out of the conversation.

    However, Calvin makes abundantly clear that God has a revealed desire for the salvation of every member of the human race as he expounds on in many of the quotes. It seems that while acknowledging that reprobate is not the best term for this conversation, there might be less confusion if we stick to Calvin's own words:

    "that he would have them all to be saved..." and "But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish?"

    It would seem that Calvin promoted that God has a revealed desire for the salvation of every member of the human race. This is not an indefinite, but a definite category of people. But to say that God has a revealed desire to save the reprobate would blur the distinction between what is revealed and what is decreed.

    Understandably, this does not solve the problem that we have with definite and indefinite categories, but hopefully it helps to clear up the vocabulary.
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Tim, Doesn't the same revealed will make it clear that God desires to punish those who remain impenitent and unbelieving? This is stated in the same conditional terms as the desire to save sinners. If you say one is definite you have to conclude that the other is definite also. At that point there could be no revelation of grace. An absolute God who desires the punishment of each and every sinner would leave us without any good news.

    The conditionality of the revealed will requires us to speak conditionally, and to refrain from conceiving of it in absolute terms. The old theologians used indefinite language for this very reason, Calvin included.
  12. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Preemptive strike. I've heard 2 or 3 sermons now that, when preaching on John 3:16, the Calvinistic preacher spends more time explaining that God does not really love all of mankind (world don't mean world) than explaining the depth and breadth and manner of expression of God's love.
  13. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    No doubt this was toward people who have heard thousands of times the opposite.
  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    This sums up the "problem" perfectly. I'm not precisely sure what motivates the desire to make God's revealed will to "mercy" more plan than God's revealed will to "judge" sinners. It is precisely because of the clarity of God's wrath toward sin that the Gospel comes as good news.

    Let's grant for a moment that God, like we're commanded to, loves His enemies. Actually we don't have to assume that because the Scriptures tell us that His rain falls on both the just and the unjust and a sinner who plants a seed in the ground yields the same harvest (generally) as the righteous. OK, so God loves His enemies but enmity with God is not a good thing.

    Look at what's revealed to us in the Gospel that we were, by nature, children of wrath (Eph 2). What's the point in trying to ascertain how much love God has for those outside the Kingdom of God? Do we really believe that grace is as remarkable as it is if, in reality, wrath never abided upon us in our sinful flesh? What have we been rescued from? A God conflicted about the wrath that abides upon us?

    I think we need to see the love of God in the sending of the Son to sinners and that's sufficient. When we get into individual cases it begs the question as to how much we really think we've been rescued from wrath when we start to imagine a God who is conflicted about whether He really wants to punish sin because He loves a particular individual.
  15. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    I think the problem is when we couple God's elective decree with His just condemnation of the unrepentant sinner.... I don't have a problem with it, but I don't place it front and center with babes, but I also don't say GOD loves indiscriminately or minimize the punishment of the perpetually lukewarm..... But again, Im not hanging out with the presumption obsessed internally focused hyper pious outwardly stuck high Calvinists either (that won't even cover half of the loving gospel based instruction or send an invite outside their minuscule circles .....) But I don't get that vibe from any of the participants on this thread, Godspeed!
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