The Greatest of These Is LOVE
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.
I recently touched on this point in another blog and in a few podcasts, but I felt it deserved a post of its own. It’s one of those topics that cannot be overstated or addressed too often.
I became convinced of this after listening to Dr. Jerry Walls presentation titled, “What’s Wrong with Calvinism?” (Which can be found on YouTube)
In this presentation (at the 57:45 mark), Dr. Walls argues:
“In a nutshell, our case against Calvinism is that it doesn’t do justice to the character of God revealed in Scripture. It does not accurately portray the holy One who is ‘compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love’ (Ps. 103:8), the God for whom love is not merely an option or sovereign choice, but who is such that his eternal nature is love (1 Jn 4:8).”
Walls goes on to make a case that God’s very nature is love therefore it is not even an option for Him to “not love His creation.” For example, we would be repulsed by someone who breeds puppies for the purpose of torturing any of them. Likewise, we would consider it evil for a father or mother to hate any of their own children who they chose to conceive. And, in the same way, it would appear to be evil for God to hate those who He chose to create. Walls argues:
“God cannot fail to be perfectly loving any more so than He can lie. You don’t have to have children, but if you do you take on an obligation to love them. God’s freedom was in the freedom to create, or not. He didn’t have to create. But once having created, as a necessarily good and loving Being, He cannot but love what He has created. Love is not an option with God…It’s not a question of whether or not God chooses to love, it is WHO HE IS…HE IS LOVE.”
This is not a weakness of God, Walls insists, but His greatest and most self-glorifying strength. Would you consider it a strength or a weakness that my character will not allow me to be cruel to my pets?
Is it a weakness that I am unable to willingly strangle one of my own children to death, as Walls argues? No! That is a strength!
God’s inability to be unloving is not a short coming of God’s strength and power, but the greatest most glorifying characteristic of His eternal nature! To declare God’s universal self-sacrificial love to the entire world reveals God for what makes Him so abundantly glorious!
Therefore, the question Calvinists are asking is backwards. Instead of asking, as John Piper does, “How does a sovereign God express His love?” We should be asking, “How does a loving God express His sovereignty?”