1. The news column will not appear in this issue, due to the serious and extended illness of our news editor, brother John M. Faber. Please continue to send all news items to his address, so that the regular news column may appear in the next issue, D.V.
2. The special article on “The Atonement of Christ according to Dordrecht” was originally a lecture for the League of Men’s Societies. At their request it is published here, and through the cooperation of the. League and the RFPA is will appear in pamphlet form in the near future.
Rank Arminianism in Calvin Seminary
In my last editorial on the above mentioned subject, I promised that I would consider the interpretation ofRom. 9:13 as it is presented by Prof. Dekker in agreement with Prof. Henry Stob, one of the Editors of the Reformed Journal.
As the reader will, no doubt, remember, the latter wrote an article on the subject: “Does God Hate Some Men?” I promised that I would offer my criticism of that article, but I first would like Prof. Stob to give us a clear and Scriptural definition of the terms “hate” and “hatred.” Now, however, seeing that Prof. Dekker offers an explanation ofRom. 9:13 and also refers to Prof. Stab’s article on the above mentioned subject, I, must needs begin to criticize, not only Prof. Dekker’s view in regard toRom. 9:13, but also that of Prof. Stob, in the hope that the latter will still give me his definition of the terms “hatred” and “hate.”
Now, let us first of all, consult the lexicons to find out what, according to them, is the meaning of the word “hate.” As I already mentioned, the Hebrew word for hate is “sanxee.” This verb, according to the lexicon, means “to hate” and it adds that it signifies “to hate persons” or “men.” It refers to Ps. 5:6: “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” Remember that Prof. Stob and also Prof. Dekker take the position that God hates no man: He hates sin but not the sinner. In the above quoted text, however, the Word of God plainly teaches that God hates wicked persons. The same is true of Ps. 31:7: “I have hated them that regard lying vanities.” This verse, it is true, does not mention the name of God but refers to the poet as the subject of hatred. But this makes no essential difference, for, according to Stob, “The sin we must always hate, the sinner never. Remembering this we will be imitators of our heavenly Father who hates the transgression but never the transgressor.” This implies, of course, that Prof. Stob does not agree with the poet of Ps. 31. In fact, he condemns him. And so does Prof. Dekker.
The same truth concerning the hatred of God against persons is expressed in Ps. 11:5 “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” The contrast in this verse between the righteous and the wicked stands in bold relief. It means that God loves the righteous only and in Him there is no love for the wicked whatsoever. Besides, the manifestation of this hatred of God against the wicked is expressed in the verse that immediately follows: “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”
There is much more in Scripture expressing that the Lord hates not only the evil and wickedness, but also the evil-doer and the wicked. Take, for instance, Prov. 3:32-34: “For the froward is abomination to the Lord: But his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace to the lowly.”
As to the term hate in the New Testament, it occurs several times, not only in regard to things but also in respect to persons. We are, of course, especially interested in the text of Rom. 9:13: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated.” And this is also the case with the article by Prof. Stob with which Prof. Dekker agrees. Writes the former:
“But what then of Esau? Did God hate him? Not, surely, in any sense in which hatred is distinguished from non-election and just judgment. In the passage in Malachi the primary reference is two nations—Israel and Edom. The prophet shows how in the course of history the people of Israel have prospered under the blessing of God, and how, on the other hand, the evil fortunes of Edom have been in consonance with its national perverseness and misconduct. Back of these historical actualities of national prosperity and adversity lies the divine determination to convey his grace and revelation to the world through the agency of one people only, a people elected, not because it was any better suited to this purpose than any other or more deserving of this honor, but simply because God freely choose (chose?—H.H.) it to be the initial arena of His self-revelation and the eventual vehicle of His disclosure to all the world. In order to grasp this grand divine design and even to see back of these historical arrangements the involvement of individuals in the same sort of elective and reprobative structure, it is not necessary to ascribe to God a misanthropic disposition. Which is to say that in order to account for reprobation of individuals it is not necessary, or even proper, to take recourse to the concept of hate of persons in God. Cannot the God of love, in His sovereign freedom, however mysterious this sovereignty and freedom may be to us, elect some to eternal life and not elect others while nevertheless remaining the God of love? His procedures we may not be able to understand, but why pretend to understand them by referring to a dispositional hate in God, the hate of persons which the love commandment of our Lord proscribed? If we so refer it, are we not then teetering on the brink of blasphemy? Are we not then planting at the center of the universe an arbitrary and essentially destructive negativity towards personal creatures which grossly contradicts the central affirmations of the Gospel?
“As for me, I think that to ascribe hate of persons to God is to pervert the very thought of God. I believe that we are emphatically not permitted by the total witness of the Scriptures to say that God hates men in any distinct and significant meaning of that term. And I contend that every responsible theology is called to purge itself of that idea.”
I quoted Prof. Stob extensively and completely inorder to do him justice and also to give our readers as clear as possible an idea of what the professor teaches and how he would exegete Rom. 9:13.
As to the latter, namely his exegesis of the text, I have the following remarks:
1. First of all, it is evident that, instead of explaining the text, he begins by contradicting it. For he writes: “Did God hate him? Not, surely, in any sense in which hatred is distinguished from non-election and just judgment.” Whatever this last may mean, it is evident that he contradicts the text: “God loved Jacob, and he hated Esau.”
2. He does not take into account the sharp contrast in the text between love and hatred. Some exegetes would like to explain the term ‘hate” in this as well as other texts as meaning “love less.” Cf. Thayer’s Lexicon in loco. But this is an arbitrary interpretation, especially in view of the fact that the text points to the sharp contrast between love and hatred. Surely, “love” in the text refers to redemptive love which results in the perfect fellowship between God and His people. And hatred, therefore, refers to the very opposite and cannot mean “love less.” This sharp contrast Prof. Stob as well as Prof. Dekker simply ignores.
3. Prof. Stob refers to Malachi from which Rom. 9:13 is a quotation. He tries to explain that the text in Malachi, and, therefore, also in Romans, does not refer to the persons of Jacob and Esau, but to the nations: Israel and Edom. But there is not even an inkling of truth in this interpretation. Just read the text in Malachi 1:2, 3: “I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.” It is quite clear that the names Jacob and Esau do not refer to the nations Israel and Edom, but very definitely to the two brothers. And this is also the meaning of the text in Rom. 9:13.
4. This is also the correct interpretation of Meyer in his Commentary on the epistle to the Romans. Writes he:
“‘This utterance took place in conformity with the expressly testified (in Malachi 1:23, freely cited from the LXX.) love of God toward Jacob and abhorrence of Esau.’ Thus, that utterance agrees with this. But just like Paul, so the prophet himself intends by Jacob and Esau, not the two nations of Israel and Edom, but the persons of the two brothers; God loved the former and hated the latter (and therefore has exalted Israel and destroyed Edom). . . . Hated, moreover, is not to have a merely privative sense ascribed to it: not to lose or to loose less . . . which is not admissible even in Matt. 6:24, Luke 14:26, 16:13, John 12:25(see against this and similar attempts to weaken its force, Lamping); but it expresses the opposite of the positive ‘love,’ viz. positive hatred. And as that love toward Jacob must be conceived of completely independent of foreseen virtues, so also this hatred towards Esau as completely independent of foreseen sins. . . . Both were founded solely on the free elective determination of God; with whom, in the necessary connection of that plan which He had freely adopted for the process of theocratic development, the hatred and rejection of Esau were presupposed through their opposite, namely, the free love and election of Jacob to be the vehicle of the theocracy and its privileges, as the reverse side of this love and choice, which the history of Edom brought into actual relief.”
5. Moreover, we must not forget the context in which vs. 13 occurs, both the preceding and following context.
In the immediately preceding verses the apostle has shown that not even all the children of Abraham were real, elect children of God, but only the children of the promise were counted for the seed. This was true of the child of the promise which was born of Sarah, and this was again true of Rebeccah, for the revelation of God unto her was that “the elder shall serve the younger.” And this meant, according to vs. 11, that “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth.” And it is in this connection that the apostle quotes the text from Malachi: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” This, therefore, shows very plainly that God did not love Jacob because of any goodness or virtue that might be in him, nor did God hate Esau because of any sins he might have committed, but with an absolutely sovereign love and an equally sovereign hatred. It also means that God’s love of Jacob as well as His hatred of Esau were unchangeable. For eternally He loved Jacob and eternally He hated Esau. It also implies that Prof. Dekker is utterly mistaken when he maintains that God loves all men. He loves the elect and them only! But also the following context is significant.
I am referring now especially to verses 14 to 18.
In vs. 14 the apostle asks a question and, at the same time emphatically answers it, The question is: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?” And the answer is: “God forbid.”
But it is at once evident that this “God forbid” cannot be the final answer. How then does the apostle further explain this answer? He does this, not by his own reasoning, but by two quotations from the Word of God. In other words, instead of he himself trying to defend the righteousness of God in loving Jacob and hating Esau, He lets God Himself speak.
The first quotation is from Ex. 33:19 where the Lord says to Moses, according to the translation here: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Remember that this is God’s explanation of the fact that He loved Jacob. But in this explanation, mark you well, God merely emphasizes His absolute sovereignty. It is His absolute sovereign right to love whom He wills. For that reason the apostle explains further in vs. 16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
But this passage merely emphasizes that God is sovereign in loving Jacob. May the same sovereignty of God be applied to His hatred of Esau? To prove this the apostle makes another quotation from Scripture, this time from Ex. 9:16: “For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up; that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Now, we know from Scripture that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart from the very first, so that he would not listen to Moses until, finally, he and all his host were destroyed in the Red Sea. This, then, the apostle applies to Esau. Sovereignly he loved Jacob, and sovereignly He hated Esau, just as sovereignly he hardened Pharaoh’s heart and led him to destruction.
And, hence, the apostle concludes in vs. 18: “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
And now I ask Prof. Stab and also Prof. Dekker: is it, in the light of Scripture, to be maintained that God hates no person, but He loves all men and only hates his sin?
If you still do, I maintain that you are militating against and openly denying the Word of God.