Dekker: God loves all men.
Kuiper: God loves all men, but with a qualitative distinction: special love and common love, special grace and common grace.
H.H.: God loves the righteous and hates the wicked; He loves the elect and hates the reprobate.
Professor Dekker’s position we have been discussing both in The Standard Bearer and in a speech which Professor Dekker very graciously invited me to deliver before his class in Calvin Seminary. Besides, I am not finished with this discussion, as will appear in a following article.
We will, therefore, now call attention to Kuiper’s position as he expressed it in a recent article in Torch and Trumpet, May-June, 1964.
Kuiper’s position amounts to a defense of the notorious “Three Points” of 1924, i.e., as far as God’s common love or grace is concerned. He quotes or refers for his doctrine to texts of Scripture such as Matt. 5:43-45, Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11, II Peter 3:9, and also to the Canons of Dordt III, IV, 8. This is supposed to prove that Dekker is right when he speaks of the universal love of God or the fact that God loves all men.
“Dekker has contended right along that God loves all men. A few of his critics to the contrary, Dekker is here on solid Scriptural ground. This is not to say that all the Scriptural passages adduced by him as proof of God’s universal love are pertinent. Yet the universal love of God is unmistakably taught in such a passage, among others, as Matthew 5:43-45, ‘Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sendeth ram on the just and the unjust.'”
Here we better stop a moment.
For, although I have repeatedly explained this text, and although the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, Kalamazoo 1924, offers no explanation of the text, and although also.
Kuiper gives no interpretation, but merely quotes, I cannot follow this evil and un-Reformed example. Here, then, follows my interpretation. Kuiper intends to prove by this text that Dekker is right when the latter repeatedly emphasizes that God loves all men. Now, as I stated before, Dekker can readily maintain his position by referring to the “Three Points.” That this is true Kuiper also proves by quoting the text from Matthew 5, for the Synod of 1924 also quotes the same text in proof of the “First Point.” And although the Synod offers no interpretation and Kuiper does not either, the implied explanation must run somewhat as follows:
1. We are exhorted by the Lord to love our enemies, i.e., those that hate us, persecute us, and commit all manner of evil against us.
2. If we do, we will be children of God; for He, too, loves all men, even all His enemies.
3. This love of God to all men is manifested in the fact that God causes the sun to shine and the ram to fall upon all without distinction, the just and the unjust.
But on this I would make the following remarks:
1. This is contrary to all the teaching of Scripture. The Bible teaches everywhere that God does not love but hates His enemies. Is it possible that God loves all men, including the wicked reprobate, in order; after their death, to cast them into eternal hell-fire? Perhaps, Kuiper would characterize this as a paradox, which is only a nicer term for “contradiction.” But I do not believe in paradoxes or flat contradictions in Scripture; but believe that the Word of God is in perfect harmony with itself and that passages which appear to be contradictions to the rest of Scripture ought to be interpreted in the light of the whole. At any rate, it is the current teaching of the whole of Scripture that God hates His enemies.
2. Secondly, if rain and sunshine is a manifestation of the love of God to all men, the just and the unjust, what about all the evil forces in nature? They, indeed, are very many: floods, drought, storms that destroy crops and homes, earthquakes, and all the rest. If rain and sunshine are manifestations of the love of God to all men, the righteous and the wicked, must these evil forces be regarded as the hatred of God to all men, the just and the unjust? This is quite contrary to the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism in Lords Days 9 and 10 which read as follows:
“What believest thou when thou sayest, ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?’
“That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them, who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ, his Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body: and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage; for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.”
And in Lord’s Day 10:
“What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
“The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as with his hand, he upholds and governs heaven and earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things, come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.” Such is the teaching of the Catechism and of all Scripture, and not that rain and sunshine are manifestations of the love of God to all men, the just and the unjust alike.
That Kuiper makes this concession to Dekker is only because he wants to maintain the “Three Points.” And as long as the “Three Points” stand, the Christian Reformed Church cannot oppose Dekker.
3. How, then, must the text from Matthew be explained? In vs. 44 the Lord teaches His disciples that they must love their enemies. What does this mean? How is this possible? What is love? According to Scripture, love is the bond of perfectness. It is the bond of fellowship between two parties that are ethically perfect. Now it is evident that, in the case of loving our enemies, this love must needs be one-sided. Our enemies are those that hate us. They are those that despitefully use us, persecute, and curse us. Hence, we must love those that hate us for Christ’s sake, that hate God and Christ. What, then, does it mean to love them? It cannot mean that we simply speak to him in flattering word, or play ball with him. But it means rather that we admonish him to depart from his wicked way and thus to bless him. O, to be sure, it may also mean that we bestow good things upon him in the earthly sense of the word, that we help him when he is in need, that we visit him when he is sick, but always with the chief purpose in mind that he depart from his wicked way and live. If he heed our admonitions, which he will if he be one of God’s elect and if God gives him grace, our love will become mutual and we can have true fellowship with each other. If not, our love will be to his greater damnation.
However, the cursing and persecution by the enemy may never induce the child of God to reward evil for evil. They must love their enemies.
4. But how about rain and sunshine? Does this not prove that God loves all men? If rain and sunshine, which God bestows upon the evil as well as upon the good, must induce the children of God to love their enemies, does this not imply that God also loves His enemies? My answer is: undoubtedly it does. Only, this does not mean that God loves all men. We all are by nature enemies of God, but He loves only the elect, not all men. Now, God bestows rain and sunshine and many good things upon all men, and He demands that they shall employ them to His glory and as a means to walk in the way of righteousness of life. If now, with these means they also receive grace, they will serve and glorify Him as the God of their salvation. This grace only the elect receive, and no one else. But if, together with rain and sunshine and all other earthly means, they receive no grace, they will employ all these means in the service of sin and receive greater damnation.
It is with rain and sunshine the same as with the preaching of the gospel. God bestows the preaching of the gospel upon all that hear. And if God bestows, with and through the preaching of the Word His grace, the hearers will be saved; if not, they will be damned.
However, Kuiper agrees with Dekker also in regard to the universal love of God as it is manifested the preaching of the gospel. Writes he:
“Likewise Dekker has right along taught that the universal love of God comes to expression in the universal and sincere offer of the gospel, that is to say, in God’s command to his church to preach the gospel to all men and his earnest overture of salvation to all to whom the gospel comes. There are those—the Reverend Herman Hoeksema, for instance—who have taken Dekker severely to task for that position, branding it as ‘sheer Arminianism.’ But again Dekker is right. To quote but a few of several portions of Scripture which prove him to be right, in Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 33:11 God affirms emphatically that he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but therein that the sinner turn from his evil way and live, and II Peter 3:9assures us tha the Lord is ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ In harmony with those Scriptural passages the Canons of Dordt assert: ‘As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has most earnestly declared in his word what is acceptable to him; namely, that those who are called should come unto him'” (III, IV, 8).
There you have it again, the “Three Points.”
To be sure, Dekker can appeal for his doctrine that God loves all men to the declaration of the Synod of 1924.
Kuiper writes that I call the view of Dekker “sheer Arminianism.” Perhaps I did; I will not check up on what I wrote. I will take his word for it. Besides, it is the truth. But so are the “Three Points” sheer Arminianism.
You see, the fact is that the Synod of 1924 could not find Scriptural or Confessional proof for the Kuyperian idea of “common grace.” However, in order to cast me out of the Christian Reformed Church, as was their chief purpose, they lapsed into the Arminian error. This is evident from the very language of the “First Point,” as well as from the texts quoted. As for the language that is used, it speaks of “the general offer of the gospel” as proof that the grace of God is to all the hearers without distinction. This has nothing to do with the Kuyperian theory of “common grace.” It is, indeed, “sheer Arminianism.” And the same is true of the texts quoted, the texts which are also quoted by Kuiper in the above quoted paragraph.
But about this next time, D.V.