Does Every Life Matter?
Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.
Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.
Do you believe every single person is created in the image of God?
Do you believe every single person’s life is valuable and worthy of being protected in the womb from the time they are conceived?
Why do you believe this?
If indeed God has created two classes of people, some for salvation and the rest for reprobation, then how can you consistently affirm the two statements above?
John Calvin taught:
By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death. – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, iii, xxi, sec. 5, 1030–1031.
If you agree with John Calvin then how can you consistently argue that every life matters equally? How can you denounce the views of an abortionist for not equally valuing all human life while promoting a doctrine that teaches God does not equally value all human life?
As we have noted many times before, not every Calvinist goes so far as to deny God’s genuine love and desire for every person to be saved. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Prince of Baptist Preachers, certainly leaned toward Calvinistic soteriology but still argued:
” You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text (1 Tim. 2:4). “All men,” say they, —”that is, some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if he had meant some men. “All men,” say they; “that is, some of all sorts of men”: as if the Lord could not have said “all sorts of men” if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written “all men,” and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the “alls” according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth…
My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent?
But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. – Charles Spurgeon “Salvation By Knowing the Truth” (emphasis added)
Spurgeon seems to recognize the inconsistency of the Calvinistic system and the clear teaching of scripture with regard to God’s genuine love and desire for every person. He was willing to live within that apparent contradiction and maintain the clear biblical teaching of God’s universal love for all people. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer Calvinistic Baptists seem willing to live with that inconsistency and have instead adopted a woefully unbiblical dogma which fundamentally undercuts the value of human life.
By arguing that God only loves or values “all kinds of people,” the high Calvinist undermines the value of the Imago Dei (Image of God) inherently created within every person.* If God is able and willing to love some and reject others before their birth, then on what moral ground can we stand against the abortionist who is virtually doing the exact same thing?
One may argue, “But He is God and we are not, who are you to compare his choices with mans? Just because God decided to reject many before they were even born does not mean an abortionist should do so.” But does not Christ clearly call us to be like God in regard to how we treat others?
Consider this warning from a more moderate Calvinistic pastor, John MacArthur:
Scripture clearly says that God is love. “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9). Christ even commands us to love our enemies, and the reason He gives is this: “In order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). The clear implication is that in some sense God loves His enemies. He loves both “the evil and the good,” both “the righteous and the unrighteous” in precisely the same sense we are commanded to love our enemies.
In fact, the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31; cf. Lev. 19:18), is a commandment for us to love everyone. We can be certain the scope of this commandment is universal, because Luke 10 records that a lawyer, “wishing to justify himself … said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Lk. 10:29)—and Jesus answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The point? Even Samaritans, a semi-pagan race who had utterly corrupted Jewish worship and whom the Jews generally detested as enemies of God, were neighbors whom they were commanded to love. In other words, the command to love one’s “neighbor” applies to everyone. This love commanded here is clearly a universal, indiscriminate love.
Consider this: Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law in every respect (Matt. 5:17–18), including this command for universal love. His love for others was surely as far-reaching as His own application of the commandment in Luke 10. Therefore, we can be certain that He loved everyone. He must have loved everyone in order to fulfill the Law. After all, the apostle Paul wrote, “The whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). He reiterates this theme in Romans 13:8: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Therefore, Jesus must have loved His “neighbor.” And since He Himself defined “neighbor” in universal terms, we know that His love while on earth was universal.
Do we imagine that Jesus as perfect man loves those whom Jesus as God does not love? Would God command us to love in a way that He does not? Would God demand that our love be more far-reaching than His own? And did Christ, having loved all humanity during His earthly sojourn, then revert after His ascension to pure hatred for the non-elect? Such would be unthinkable; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb 13:8) (John MacArthur, The God Who Loves, 102-03).
I beg my Calvinistic brethren to tread carefully as the appeal of logical consistency within your system’s framework forever compels you to move away from the clear biblical teaching of God’s love. Please, do not sacrifice the foundational teachings which give weight to the value of human life in order to appease the need you have for logical consistency within a man-made systematic.
If you must be a Calvinist, for the sake of biblical truth, please be an inconsistent one!