Honey, Why Do You Love Me?

 

Q: Honey, why do you love me?

Stoic Knucklehead: “Because I promised; it’s the right thing to do.”

Q: Honey, why do you love me?

Carnal Knucklehead #1: “You make pretty good money and help with the housework.”

Carnal Knucklehead #2: “You still look good and your Swiss steak and mashed potatoes are awesome, Baby.”

Q: Honey, why do you love me?

Soon Single Knucklehead: “That’s a really good question. I’ve been wondering the same thing, myself.”

Q: Honey, why do you love me?

Secular Science Intellectual: “Its chemistry, my Dear. No, not the romantic or poetic kind; it’s all about glandular secretions that give us sensations of affection and faithfulness. So… here we are.”

Q: Honey, why do you love me?

Calvinist Intellectual: “It must be the inevitable will of God. My choices are a function of my dominant inclinations, which are irresistibly determined by my constituent nature.  Thus, God, who works all things after the counsel of His own will, has pre-determined me to love you. If left to myself I couldn’t stand being near you.”

Here we have an illustration of one of the more subtle, yet troublesome, flaws in the typical Calvinistic understanding of how love must work among sinners. In their well-intended attempts to protect against low views of God and high views of mankind, they have fallen into a trap wherein love itself is destroyed as a truly voluntary choice. In the Jonathan Edwards brand of Calvinism, God must take sinners who can’t love and appreciate anything about Him and re-make them in such a way that they must love Him; and some would say they must love Him above all else. This may not sound so terribly bad until you realize that only some people are re-made and this “regeneration” would be utterly irresistible. God would have to literally make sinners born again who don’t want to be born again – in order to get them to love Him. It’s really kind of pathetic. It quenches the spirit of the loving relationship that God desires to have with us.

The Holy Spirit takes the hard science out of the Christian faith while Calvinism tries to shove it back in, under the guise of spiritual language. It is another un-intended consequence of the Reformed over-correction of Pelagian (or works based) systems of salvation. Instead of being content with the mysterious merging of God’s gracious influences and our (God given) liberty in choosing to love Him (or hate Him), Calvinist thinkers have conjured up an explanation wherein the truly volitional spirit of genuine love is lost. It is obliterated.

We should acknowledge that the issue of repentance (changing of the mind) is somewhat mysterious. God does conquer our stubborn and selfish hearts. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and compels us to believe the Gospel but He doesn’t do so by irresistible compulsion. He refuses to force us to love and trust Him (even if He could, which is unlikely). God requires and equips us to decide if we want to worship Him – or not. This would be one reason that God made mankind in His image, put us on the earth, and permits us to sin.

If, as claimed by Calvinists, the elect cannot resist being born again, and the born again cannot resist choosing to trust Jesus, then how can this be a faith that works by love? Gal 5:6 It would be a faith that works by irresistible compulsion.

The combination of their hyper definition of the biblical term “dead in trespasses and sins” and their paltry view of God’s common grace leaves them with no other option but to insist that saving faith must be irresistible for the chosen – and impossible for the reprobate. Try as they might to avoid the terms, and affirm otherwise, real Calvinists always end up describing a faith and love that would be irresistibly coerced. It would be a forced faith; but faith and love lose their meaning when they can’t be resisted. They would become mere functions – not actual choices between contrary loves. By carefully using some more malleable and palatable terms (like effectual grace, sovereign grace, overpowering grace, and resurrecting grace) Calvinists can slightly obscure their bottom line convictions; but they can’t change the inherent fatalism of the Reformed teaching. (Remember, the term “irresistible grace” (the “I” in the infamous TULIP) is their own term.

If our trust in, and love for God, in this life, is utterly irresistible then God would be robbed of the high and unique worship that He can receive from winning the hearts of natural born sinners by demonstrating His love for them, especially in Christ. Eph 3:14-19

Jesus has many wonderful titles in the Bible but He is never called our Repenter or our Believer. This is because He wants us to humble ourselves and enjoy a faith that works through love. (Mt 18:2-4; James 4:10; 1 Pet 5:6; 2 Sam 22: 28; Hab 2:4; Isa 57:15) If He trusted for us, or made doubt impossible, then He would be defeating the purpose of letting us fall into sin in the first place. One of the reasons that believers still (obviously) struggle with temptation and doubt is because God refuses to make us overcome them by irresistible compulsion.

As it is, God has set up a world where He is most honored by showcasing His amazing grace and His just wrath for those who refuse to trust Him… but could.

 

Why do I love you? Let me count the ways….But be patient with me, Darlin’. As you know, I am a work in progress.