The Hunt/White Debate
Denied Chapter 9: THE CENTRAL ISSUE: GOD'S LOVE AND CHARACTER
by Dave Hunt
In this chapter Hunt examines the inherent injustice of predestination. If, as scripture states clearly, God is "love", and if His love cannot be less than ours, then it follows that He could not predestine anyone to hell, or command His followers to love others as we love ourselves. If Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan means anything, it is that we cannot call only an "elect" our "neighbor". But as Hunt explains, Calvinism reduces this love to mere favoritism and raw power, resulting in a hollow "love" from creatures whose will He had to change in order to produce it.
With a list of questions Hunt leads to the conclusion that this God of love is not the God portrayed by Calvinism. The Calvinistic God produces followers who can only rejoice in their own salvation, having no more concern for the reprobated than their God does. Is this the God who said He is not "a respecter of persons" and does not "look on appearance"? Why would the NT writer James tell us not to be biased if it is the very nature of God to be exactly that? Everything the NT teaches flies in the face of the Calvinistic God’s reprobation and distorted sovereignty.
And what of justice? Again, if we know it is unjust to condemn people for their inabilities, then how can God be less just than we are? Can Calvinism escape this problem by writing it off as "mystery"? And again, what of God’s mercy and compassion? These are not merely academic exercises but vital questions about the roots of our beliefs. Our view of the nature of God will color every other issue, theological or behavioral.
Then Hunt enumerates the ways in which Calvinism attempts to qualify the very love of God and dissect it into this bit for the elect and that bit for the lost, in spite of the fact that scripture does no such thing. The various Greek words for ’love’ do not help, for no matter how they define it, it isn’t any kind of love to show a lesser degree of kindness to the doomed in this life and then throw them into hell for eternity. Over all, it is apparent that Calvinism’s God is far below His creatures in all the most important ways.
Response, by James White
White seems predestined to keep repeating "tradition" against Hunt and all non-Calvinists.
Ignoring Hunt’s many scriptural references concerning the love of God and the God that is love, White simply asserts that there must be divisions or levels of God’s love for people; it simply must be so. To justify this White actually states, "Our capacity to love... comes from the fact that ... we have the freedom and ability to express" the image of God we are made in. Has he completely forgotten that man has no free will, or at least only enough to "choose" evil? No one denies that love is more than an emotion but an act of will, so how does this help his case?
Likewise, his appeal to the analogy of how parents love their own children more than other people’s children ignores the scriptural fact that God loves the world. Would White actually argue that we would not try to save the life of someone else’s child, just because they aren’t ours? And does love mean we can never administer justice? A good parent will discipline wayward children, their own more than others’. Does this mean parents have less love for their own children? Yet White would have us believe that God cannot love those he reluctantly sends off to the hell they chose, because His justice demands it. So again, White creates a false dilemma to justify the unloving, unjust God of Calvinism.
Even if White brushes all that off, he still must face the fact that even we would never stand idly by while a friend or neighbor or even a stranger needed rescue from death and it was within our power to do so. Yet only by assigning willful evil to those that have no free will can White put all the un-elect into the same boat as the thief or mugger or murderer. And in his analogy of families, he ignores God’s willingness to adopt as sons any who come to Him in faith. God has no natural-born children except Jesus, so according to White God could only love Jesus enough to "save" Him. White would have us believe that human parents would, given the ability, pick only some orphans to adopt while consigning the rest to die of starvation.
And reader, please tell me you don’t believe White is predestined to keep saying "tradition"! I shudder to blame God for that.
Defense, by Dave Hunt
Hunt begins his response by explaining that regardless of how many types of love there may be, none of them could be so evil or unjust or cold as to simply decide not to save someone that could have been saved. And it is a strange "love" indeed which can grant people life and comfort temporarily, then take it away permanently. In other words, Calvinism must so twist the meanings of words that they become their opposites. This is exactly like the modern claim that rule is a different kind of service. He also points out that love never forces itself on anyone— not even the love of God. That many spurn that love is no proof that God did not have it in the first place.
Then Hunt looks at Gal. 6:10 and explains that to do good even to unbelievers does not mean doing so temporarily, then hating and torturing them. So it follows that if God is "good to all", then He can do no less, such as giving unbelievers blessings in this life and then decreeing that they should suffer for all eternity. Instead, the love of God for the lost is not "failed" but simply rejected, which God in His sovereignty is "free" to allow.
Final Remarks, by James White
White obviously does not like the taste of his own medicine, complaining about Hunt’s charges of ignoring or forgetting scriptures, since he has leveled this very charge repeatedly against Hunt. And he seems to imply that his space to respond is somehow more "limited" than Hunt’s, apparently in an effort to excuse the things he has failed to respond to. Then after all that White admits having "passed over" much of Hunt’s material, since in his estimation it was all "based upon a misunderstanding on Hunt’s part and hence are irrelevant". Would White tolerate such a lame excuse from Hunt? Can Hunt use this excuse the next time White accuses him of ignoring his arguments? I think the "careful reader" White keeps appealing to will see through such a double standard.
Instead of showing any comprehension of Hunt’s description of the "extreme sovereignty" of Calvinism, White uses the tu coque ("you too") fallacy in reversing the charge: that Hunt promotes "extreme love", which he defines as "unbalanced". With large Latin words White mocks Hunt’s claim, from scripture, that God "is love", and this being the case, it is indeed "the central, all-defining attribute of God". He labels this scriptural view "error" and "fatal" to the non-Calvinist view, again accusing Hunt of misrepresentation. At the end he adds that without the Calvinist definition of love, "there can be no redeeming love". Why this must be so, he does not explain.
Final Remarks, by Dave Hunt
Hunt denies White’s allegation of having shown him to be in error, even widening the scope to White’s book. Then he points out the fallacy in White’s argument against God’s love, explaining that "God is not ’free’ to act contrary to His character or to His Word"; both sovereignty and love hinge on this principle. And he makes an excellent point in saying that since the elect are no less guilty than the reprobate, then if God is not unjust to save one, He is not unjust to save all. Then Hunt denies White’s claim that he had forced Hunt to "admit the weight of [his] argument".