Wednesday, November 7, 2007

When Paul Says Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God He Means Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God

My best friend Bird opines on eternal security.

He uses the Baptisty language of "once saved, always saved." I like the Calvinisty "perseverance of the saints" better. Tomato, to-mah-to.

Either way, this is one theological issue that carries a real weight -- frequently by lifting a millstone.

For those who question whether doctrine can be meaningful, I'd propose eternal security as a crucial issue in pastoral theology.

4 comments:

Randy McRoberts said...

If I turn my back on God and walk away from him, he still loves me.

Four Pointer said...

Randy,

At the rick of sounding cruel, I'm not quite sure that's true. I always bought into the old "God hates the sin, but loves the sinner."

However, listen to Psalm 5:4-5--"For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity."

That word "hates" in v.5 means, literally, "hates". So, in truth, God hates sinners, and all those who turn their backs on Him and walk away from Him.

Jared said...

I've posted on God hating sinners before. No fun.
I tend to take those passages at face value, although I don't think God's love and hate are like our love and hate, and I don't think God's qualities can be hermetically sealed off from each other.

In so far as Randy is referring to a saved person disobeying, I agree with him that turning our backs on God doesn't get God turn his back on us.
But I also agree that certainly there are people who will experience God's hatred of sin in an eternal place of punishment.

If I wanted to go all Calvinisty in qualifying my post, I would say that "For those whom God loves, nothing can separate you from that love, including yourself."

And the logical, fear-fraught question there is "How do I know God loves me?" My answer is "Do you want him to and do you want to love him?" And if the answers are yes, then you know he does. Unsaved people generally don't care whether God loves them or whether they love God or not.

Jeremy Pierce said...

Augustine has a way of reconciling the "love the sinner; hate the sin" idea with actually hating the person. He recognizes that the sin is actually a significant part of what the person has chosen for themselves. It's identity-forming. Someone who murders is a murderer. Someone who consistently practices a promiscuous lifestle is a fornicator. Someone who steals is a thief. Someone who inordinately seeks material gain is greedy. Someone who regularly passes on rumors without evidence and delights in others sin is a gossip.

God doesn't just hate gossip, greed, murder, and fornication. He hates gossips, greedy people, murderers, and fornicators. He hates the person insofar as the person is corrupted. It's impossible to be righteous and not despise the unrighteousness in someone, and sin becomes so connected to our identity as human beings that insofar as we are sinful God hates us (apart from Christ, because in Christ God can love us fully because he sees Christ and not us).

This is fully compatible with God loving sinners who are not in Christ. Love and hate are not opposites. Righteous hate is despising someone insofar as the person is sinful, and love for the sinner is the desire to transform that person so those sinful elements would be removed. It is recognition not just of any good that might be said to be in the person but of what the person could be like given God's transformative work, what a redeemed person can come to be.