Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Does God Hate Sinners?

A friend of mine pointed me to this video of a sermon by David Platt, author of Radical. In this sermon, Platt argues that God both loves and hates sinners. You can watch the video for yourself, and then read my response below.



The first point I would make is this: Platt commits an exegetical fallacy by relying on the Psalms to make his theological point. The Psalms are Israel's Prayer-Song Book. They were, as Fee & Stuart point out in their classic book on exegesis, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, "addressed to the mind through the heart". (207) The Psalms use emotional language in order to draw out an emotional response from the worshipper. More from Fee & Stuart:
The psalms themselves are musical poems. A musical poem...is intended to appeal to the emotions, to evoke feelings rather than propositional thinking, and to stimulate a response on the part of the individual that goes beyond a mere cognitive understanding of certain facts. ...While psalms contain and reflect doctrine, they are not intended to be repositories for doctrinal exposition. Thus it is dangerous to read a psalm as though it taught a system of doctrine. (207-8)
I'm not sure who taught Platt how to do exegesis, but the fact that he doesn't understand this basic exegetical concept, and relies exclusively on the Psalms to make a rather bold and daring theological claim, troubles me deeply. This is a man with a wide reach within the Church, but he doesn't seem to know how to handle the Scriptures. This, by the way, is a major reason why I didn't like Radical, and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. In my judgment, Platt simply, and consistently, fails the exegesis test.

The second point I would make is this: The Hebrew word we translate "hate" means rejection, and particularly rejection according to the covenant. While it can also mean "despise" or "abhor", we must be careful with this word, particularly when we apply it as God's heart toward human beings.

The third point I would make is this: The truest thing about you is not that you are a sinner, as the neo-Reformists would have us believe, but that you are created in the image of God. The work of Satan cannot completely undo the work of God. He is not that strong. The first thing that was ever true about humanity was not that they were sinners, but that they were created by God in his very own image, and no amount of sin or temptation unleashed by the forces of hell can rewrite that history.

The doctrine of total depravity spits on the work and power of God because it makes the tacit point that Satan's de-creative acts are stronger than God's creative acts. False. God's creation is stronger than Satan's attempts at de-creation. Has the devil perverted God's work? Yes. Has he distorted it? Yes. Has he broken it? Yes. Has he undone it? Has he completely destroyed it? No. We are created in the image of God, and that is a fact of redemptive history.

The fourth point I would make is this: God is agape love. At least according to John the apostle. If God is love--the love that lays down its life, surrenders its rights, and forgives all offenses--can there be any room for hatred? If love is something that God fundamentally is, at the core of his being, how can he hate?

The fifth point I would make is this: Platt makes another exegetical fallacy by not working out his theology within the larger biblical context. In other words, Read the New Testament! Here are just a few samplings:

  • But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. -John 3:16-17
  • This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. -1 John 4:10
  • We love because he first loved us. -1 John 4:19

I don't know how to make this point any clearer: God loved us with the strongest force in the universe, with the agape love that resides at the core of his being, with that unbreakable bond which binds the Trinity together, before we believed in him. God loved us before we loved him, and his love is not so flimsy or wishy-washy as to leave any room for hatred. God loves sinners, and his love is too big, too full, too rich, and too deep to leave any room for hatred.

So I make this conclusion: No, David Platt; No, Mark Driscoll, God does not hate sinners. He loves them. He loves them enough to send his Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for their sins. What is lacking in the cross that makes you think that God hates anybody? What is lacking in all that God has done for us that would leave room in your heart and mind for a hatred of sinners coming from the heart of God? What else does he need to do to convince you that he doesn't hate you, or anybody else for that matter?

And, for the love of God, who taught you how to read and teach the Scriptures?! Your misunderstanding of basic exegetical principles and misapplication of Scriptures is astounding. It would be comic if your reach weren't so vast. But it's tragic. Please pick up Fee & Stuart's book and read it. Your churches, and evangelicalism in general, needs you to get the Scriptures right.

38 comments:

Kelly Heasley said...

Andy! This rocked my world: "The truest thing about you is not that you are a sinner... but that you are created in the image of God." Thanks for caring not only about the content of Scripture, but also about the careful consideration its interpretation should be given. I dig it.

jms said...

Andy, bravo!

Evan Staggs said...

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Very well written and so, so true! Thanks for posting this!

Breena, the wifers. said...

I have only listened to the video of Platt and nothing else thus far. Here are my thoughts/questions. *P.S. I am willing to be corrected in my understanding of what he says but just know, this is how I took it.
1. Platt talks about God's "holy-hating" the sinner and the sin and then he says that the cross is the answer. So, we are living AFTER the cross and God still half hates us but loves us? I feel as though that takes away from the cross. To me, that says the cross wasn't enough.
2. Platt says, "So how can God show wrath to sinners and love them @ the same time? The answer is the cross."
My reply : Does God's wrath=hatred? I never thought so...I know God's wrath is a hard pill to swallow at times, but I don't see it as His hate for us.
3. Platt says, "Look at the cross. Absolutely God hates sin and sinners." My reply : Again, I don't see how the cross shows his hate for more than the sin. It again , to me, shows God's hate of SIN and LOVE of us...to send His son, Jesus to die...it's like he's trying to mess with my mind. The cross is NOT a beautiful way to show How God can love us and hate us at the same time. The cross shows how I am born into sin, but more importantly, before I was born, I was meant and created in GOD'S IMAGE! And it was messed up in Eden, but that DOESN'T mean the Eden/sin is powerful enough to take away God's initial creation of me, and you, and everyone. In.His.Image. Okay, I am done...until I read Andy's response ;)
Breena

Breena, the wifers. said...

Okay, After reading Andy's statement.
1. Andy's a very good teacher! I've always said God has used Him to open my eyes to more of who God really is than anyone has...ever. I love your gift/calling, babe!
2. I feel like you should write more on the other ways "hate" is used in the bible that proves it doesn't necessarily mean what we think of "hate" now a days...I think that's important to educate us on. Or maybe it's exposing us more to the other meanings it has from the translation and time zone. Make sense?
3. Be nice, ya hear? You don't have to be so mean, er I mean, "passionate" about how wrong Mark and Platt are ;) Geeeze. ;)
Love you! So proud of you and proud to be your wife!

artsoccerdude said...

I'm with you all the way Andy. I would not disagree with Platt that God abhors sin and cannot stand to be in its presence but that is why he sent us Jesus and allowed him to be crucified on the cross.

When he mentions John 3:16 and says the next verse is one of the most neglected verses, John 3:17 re-enforces God's love for us.

God's wrath does not imply hatred, the Scriptures say over and over again that God disciplines those he loves.

andy said...

Breena, I love that you commented almost exactly what I wrote before you read it. Clearly, I'm getting to you. ;)

Art, Excellent point! I just read Hebrews 12 today!

Kelly, "your" welcome. ;)

Corey said...

Ever since I heard abour Marc D's "God hates you" message I've been pondering whether hatred and love are actually opposites. It seems to me that selfishness is the direct opposite of agape love. I'm not sure I have a clear understanding of biblical hatred yet (only that I hate you in the most biblical way possible). I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Nate said...

What about Esau? Romans 9:13

andy said...

Nate,

As you know, Paul is quoting Malachi 1:2-3, where Israel is doubting YHWH's love for them because, though they have come back from Babylon, they are barely clinging to life as a people. But their neighbors, Edom (descended from Esau), are thriving. Has God rejected Israel and accepted Edom? No, because God made a covenant with Jacob, not Esau. He loved/chose Jacob, but hated/rejected Esau. I think the hatred here is not in the terms that we think of hatred, but as covenant rejection.

Teri said...

Andy, I am thinking that it would be more correct to say that God hates the UNREPENTANT sinner. Also, God does not love us because we are made in His image. God only loves us BECAUSE of Christ and His propitiation for our sins. Total depravity means that sin has affected every part of our nature and has greatly marred that image of God that we were made in, but we are not UTTERLY depraved. It seems as though you are mixing the two. Because of this, I would disagree with you about what is the truest thing about us. The whole purpose of scripture is to point out that we are indeed sinners in need of a savior. The entire Old Testament law is a picture of how inadequate we are at truly reflecting God's image and how we cannot add one ounce of righteousness to our deeply debted "spiritual accounts". Check off each of the ten commandments and your conclusion after each one is what? I am a lawbreaker! Also, we sin because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. The heart is desperately wicked who can know it? I also do not see how God hating an unrepentant sinner, lessens the efficacy of the cross. Actually, how does Christ's sacrificial death on the cross NOT become ineffectual if he were to pay the price for EVERYONE'S sin and not EVERYONE becomes redeemed? Andy, in my opinion, the cross would be found lacking, in your premise. Also, you ask, if God is agape love, how can He hate? The following verses show that God does indeed hate. I have included other verses that are not in Psalms. Although, does God not use ALL of scripture to reveal His nature?

Psalm 5:5, "The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes;Thou dost hate all who do iniquity,"
Psalm 11:5, "The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates."
Lev. 20:23, "Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I shall drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them."
Prov. 6:16-19, "There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:17Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil,19A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers."
Hosea 9:15, "All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed,I came to hate them there!Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels."
Romans 9:13-15 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.

Can you tell me when, in your opinion does our English translations say hate or abhor and that is the actual meaning instead of "rejection"? I will do my own word study while waiting for your response. Thanks :)

Nate said...

I have a feeling we would interpret Romans 9 very differently :).

However, I think we've established that God does hate (reject) sinners who have rejected his Son. Not "hate" in an ugly, nasty way like we do it, but in a holy, righteous way that we can't possibly understand that operates in perfect harmony with his agape love.

Another question this just brought to mind: do we sin because we're sinners, or are we sinners because we sin?

andy said...

Teri, I think the ultimate source of our disagreement--because I disagree with just about everything you've written--is the way in which we approach and read the Scriptures. We seem to have vastly different theological frameworks. For example, I don't think the Old Testament is what you think it is, but that's another topic entirely. For my response to your question, please see my post from yesterday on biblical hatred.

Nate, I'm also convinced we would interpret Romans 9 differently! Perhaps Romans 1 would help here, where Paul writes that God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts. When I think of ultimate judgment and the wrath of God, it's not so much an active pouring out of wrath from heaven as a passive rejection by surrendering that person to their own sinful desires. As C.S. Lewis says, there are those to whom God says, in the end, "Fine then, have it your way." And to your answer your last question: Adam and Eve were not sinners until they sinned...

Anonymous said...

Greetings. I do not have a log in because I rarely read or comment on blogs. But I was directed here by a couple of friends. My name is Dave from Toledo.

Andy, thank you for hosting this conversation. You are a good communicator.

You stated that your fundamental disagreemnt with Teri is your theological interpretation of the Old Testament. I agree wholeheartedly. You also said that is a different topic for a different day. There I disagree. Our understanding of the Nature of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant and their relationship one to another is fundamental to biblical hermenuetics.

As Teri stated, the Old Covenant is a picture given to us by God to show our need of a Savior (Gal 3.15-29 specifically verse 24). The Old Covenant is a Type (1 Cor 10.11) a Copy and Shadow (Heb 8.5) and a Guardian (Gal 3.24). The fulfillment of all these is New Covenant (Gal 3.25-26). The Old Covenant is a Minsitry of Death (2 Cor 3.7) and Condemnation (2 Cor 3.9). In the New Covenant we are given a new heart - a heart of flesh. We are indewelt with the Spirit of God. We are made New Creations.

You correctly note that Adam and Eve were not sinners until they sinned. Adam and Eve were created perfectly to bear the image of God. However, in God's sovereign plan of Redemptive History, he did allow Adam and Eve to act on their own will and to choose rebellion against the clearly revealed will of God. The result for the rest of humanity since is that are imputed with the sin of Adam and we inherit his sin nature. (Rom 3-6) Our hearts go astray from the womb, we are concieved in iniquity. We are by nature children of wrath. In the very fabric of who are are is the propensity to sin. We sin because it is our nature to do so. Even if it were possible to never actually commit sin, we would deserve eternal condemnation and the hatred of God because we are sinners by nature. Of course that nature does work itself out in reality and all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. We are not sinners because of our actions any more than we are holy because of our actions. But thanks be to God who in His great mercy has chosen in eternity past to give the gift of faith for His own glory. The cross is the ultimate expression of God's love and mercy. Sanctification is the process of restoring the marred image of God in his people (Rom 8.29)

All of that is not a different issue, instead it is fundamental to understanding that Love and Hatred are not diametrically opposed. God's hatred and pouring out of his wrath on those who reject him (and of course we would ALL reject him if left to our own will - for that is out nature)is a direct function of his Love for the Children of Promise and love Holiness. In order to not contradict His character of Holiness and Righteousness he must condemn, eternally separate and even hate those whose nature are against Him.

If the cross was an expression of God's love for all humanity than either (1) it was failed process - clearly not all are redeemed or (2) it is a picture of weak God at the mercy of the his own creation, just hoping that some will be wooed to him by his act of love. Of course neither of those are the God of the Bible. The corss is both act of Love (toward those who's nature has or will be changed by the New Covenant) and and act of Condemnation / Hatred (towards those who's nature is and always will be agaisnt Him).

Well, so much more to say, but, as usual, I rambled longer than I intended and now I am late for an appointment. But thanks for the opportunity to think through this with you.

Grace and Peace to you!

Teri said...

Andy, thank you for your response. I am confused. Did you post something on biblical hatred beside your response to Platt's video? My comment was in regard to that post. I just want to make sure that I am not missing something. I did, to the best of my ability, complete a word study on the words hate,hated, and hatest in the KJV and found the following: Together, those 3 words occur 153 times in the Bible. The Hebrew word sane (i don't know how to type the accents on my computer) is used 66 times and means to hate or be hateful. The Greek word miseo is used 36 times and means to hate, pursue with hatred, detest. The other word, which is the closest thing to rejection I could find was the Hebrew word satam. It's definiton states "to hate, oppose oneself to, bear a grudge, retain animosity against, cherish animosity against". The 3 times satam is used it is not referring to the Lord hating but is speaking of men hating each other. In the 7 verses that I found referring to God hating a person or people, the words sane and miseo were used 3 times each and the Greek word quwts (meaning to be grieved, loathe, abhor, feel a loathing or abhorrence or sickening dread) was once used once. Regarding your comment to Nate on your view of the wrath of God being passive, I have a question. It is my understanding that God does indeed have an active wrath and it was poured out on Christ on the cross and will be poured out on those who have rejected Him for all of eternity in Hell. If His wrath is passive and merely God delivering them up to their iniquities, what then would hell be besides men being able to sin freely and follow after anything their hearts lust? On the matter of Adam and Eve, yes, they were created without a sin nature. However, when they sinned, not only did they IMMEDIATELY become cursed,but so did all of creation and their posterity. Therefore, we inherited a cursed sin nature before we even had a chance to sin. As you suggested I will look into Romans 1:18. I am thankful for this opportunity to converse and challenge each other. I am looking forward to the day we will all stand corrected and will be able to rejoice in spirit and truth together forever. God Bless you and your family :)

Anonymous said...

How does blog post and the way its written advance Ember Church's core value of humility?

I don't think your cheap shots at Platt and Driscoll and subsequent arrogance and assumption in thinking that you know how to property prepare an exegetical text better than a guy with his Ph.D. in expository preaching is fulfilling the core value of "humility" being ... an attitude of humility towards God, one another, other churches and the unbelieving world.

guess the core value only applies to the church at a whole, not the pastor?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that I'm the third of three (so far, at least; the previous two are obvioulsy not the same person) "anonymous" (I'm Jim) to comment. Please read, re-read, and read again the first "anonynmous" (Dave's) comment (Teri's comments also).

Arguably at least as important: Don't "throw out the baby with the bath water" vis a' vis David Platt's RADICAL (and his follow-up thereto: RADICAL TOGETHER)! Read it ( /them) -- post haste -- and, then, read John MacArthur's SLAVE, John Piper's DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE, and PIERCED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS (Foreword by Piper; four British authors).

I plan to watch the Platt video shortly, then search for the Driscoll video (or article), btw. Please heed James' admonition to those who deign to teach the Word!

andy said...

Well, I may have to take these one at a time.

Dave, I agree with much that you say, though I would probably get at those points from a different perspective. I think your last paragraph, however, misses the mark. The cross is a demonstration of God's love for all humanity, and that is confirmed not least of all by the four verses I quoted in the original post, and many others besides. Where we would probably disagree is that the strength and power of his love does not in any way depend on the response of the beloved. God's love is an entity in and of itself, a pre-existent force that binds the Trinity together. Love exists within God. This love was directed outward to humanity in many ways, the most poignant of which is the cross of Christ. Because that love is eternal and infinite, it does not depend one iota on our response. If we reject him, it is only because our hearts are hard--it says nothing about his love or his power being too weak to woo us. In fact, I would argue that God loves us enough to leave the final decision up to us. He is seeking to set us free, to restore us to what it means to be fully human, and that demands that we first have the freedom to choose to respond to him in faithfulness or reject him in pride.

Teri, I followed up Tuesday's post with one I wrote yesterday called Biblical Hatred. If you click the picture at the top of my blog it will take you to the home page, and you can scroll down and see the post there. Regarding the wrath of God, yes it was poured out on The Son (just think about that for a moment--The Father poured out his wrath on The Son...for us!). Then Jesus died, and then God vindicated him by raising him from the dead! God's wrath was fully expended on Christ, and Jesus, so to speak, survived it. Or, more accurately, exhausted its punishment in 3 days, and then was vindicated by God through his resurrection. Therefore we have hope in being saved from God's wrath only when we find ourselves in Christ, under his umbrella, so to speak. He bore it on our account, and we find ourselves in him through faith. Those who reject him are obviously standing outside of the umbrella, and will no doubt be soaked. What exactly that looks like I don't know. I would recommend reading C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce for an interesting take on it.

Jim, I read Radical and did not like it at all. His perspective on Christianity is deeply flawed. He makes it seem as though the only faithful way to be a Christian is to exercise the apostolic gift. If you don't have a global faith, then you have no faith at all. I think this is a major overreach, and will do far more harm than good for the Church. His perspective is, at best, unbalanced.

andy said...

To the anonymous poster who criticized my tone, I would say what Paul said to Titus: "For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception. ...They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households and teaching things they ought not to teach. ...Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith."

Teri said...

Andy, thanks for the clarification regarding your post on "Biblical Hatred". I read it and it really helped me to understand you better. Could you tell me how you came to conclude that the word "hate" would be better understood as "rejection"? Regarding the second anonymous post, I am sorry that you were on the receiving end of such hostility. I think it is great that we as Christians can encourage each other to be able to give a defense for what we believe. Thanks again for hosting :)

Anonymous said...

“Repent or Perish” forces people to ponder seriously the popular slogan, “God hates the sin and loves the sinner.” Is a necessary repentance consistent with “God loves the sinner?” If God loves the sinner while he is alive, it is strange that God sends him to hell as soon as he dies. God loves the sinner to death? Loves him to everlasting torment?

There is something wrong here. Either God loves the sinner and will not send him into the furnace of His eternal wrath; or He sends him into His eternal wrath and does not love him. Either “you are going to hell unless” because God hates you, as you are. Or, God loves you and “you are going to hell unless” is false.

What leads almost everyone to believe that God loves the sinner is that God does the sinner so much good. He bestows so many favors including letting him continue to live. How can God let the sinner live and give him so many blessings, unless He loves him? There is a kind of love between God and sinners. We call it the “love of benevolence.” That means the love of good will. Benevolens — willing well. Doing well. God can do well to the sinner without loving him with the other kind of love. “Complacent love,” a pleasure in, affection for, admiration of. It exists in perfection between the Father and the Son, “in whom I am well pleased” (Matt.3:17; Mk.1:11).

God is perfectly displeased with the sinner. The sinner hates God, disobeys God, is ungrateful to God for all His favors, would kill God if he could. He is dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph.2:1) “The thoughts and intents of his heart are only evil continually.” (Gen.6:5) He is the slave of sin (John 8:34), the servant of the devil, (Eph.2:2).

God has no complacent love for the sinner at all. He has a perfect hatred of him, “I hate them with a perfect hatred.” (Ps. 139:22)

Why does God do so much good for those He perfectly hates and as soon as they die impenitent send them immediately to hell and never in all eternity does them one solitary favor more? It is to show His willingness to forgive the sinner if only he will repent. It shows the sincerity of God’s willingness to pardon the greatest sinner that, even while He hates him with a perfect hatred, He showers him with constant daily blessings.

Anonymous said...

Hey Andy this is Sam Weisgarber (Travis's friend from Otterbein)... So I'll read your blog from time and time and I saw the other day this post and I've been resisting from posting - but alas, I have succumbed.

Just for full disclosure, I am pretty reformed in my theology and (here's the kicker) I now live in Birmingham, Alabama where I'm in law school and go to David Platt's church. Which, I enjoy immensely by the way.

So here is my question to you (and this will also include some stuff from your "How I read the Bible" post too).

(1) I spoke to my Bible Study Leader and one of the teacher elders at Brook Hills about the use of Psalms in this video. I agree - albeit to a certain and limited extent - with Gordon and Fee on their view of the Psalms. But here is what my B.S. leader said ... the book of Psalms is not the foundation of doctrine nor should be a well spring of doctrine, HOWEVER that does not negate the importance of Psalms in how we understand the character and attributes of God.

While, yes the Psalms are a book of Jewish worship-songs to stop there is only a 1/2 truth. The other 1/2 of that is that they are a collection of Jewish-worship songs about the character and attribute of Gods both the ones that man finds terrible (his wrath and judgement) and the ones we love (his goodness, mercy, and peace).

While it should not be used as a foundation for doctrine, the Psalms reveal the heart of God towards man and the it reveals in a book unparalleled in scripture that reveals his attributes and character.

(2) You critique Platt / Reformed/Neo-Reformed for the inherently flawed use of systematic theology. When you saw "flawed" do you mean that to extend as far as it is a wellspring of false doctrine?

But the critique that is paramount for the historical-jesus approach is that it can (NOT SAYING YOU DO) but can lead to the denial of cornerstone truths of scripture such as Christ's divinity and the sovereignty of God in that it puts man's recollection of history and understanding of history ABOVE the importance of interpreting scripture with scripture.

Although I would tend to agree with your summation that "the bible was Gods word to someone before it was Gods Word to me" wouldn't a better methodological approach to Gods Word be "not all of the bible was written to me, but the entire Bible was written for me"?

(3) When you argue that the truest thing about us is that God created us in his image, are you (I assume your not) saying that man has an ounce of good in him (from a birth/choice standpoint?) or that man could ever chose God?

(4) You quote Romans 5:8, which I think is not at contradiction to what Platt is arguing in that, BUT GOD (referring to his holiness, perfection, justice, and love) could only have made the way while we were yet sinners (thats the key word, sinners) Christ died for us. We were sinners in the eyes of God before the death of Christ. Hence Platt's three-four minute point on the beauty of the Cross. I would also suggest Ephesians 2:1-4 that we were dead in our trespasses, in the marathon controlled by the enemy, unable to chose good or God and yet BUT GOD ... just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Sam continued ...

(5) Could you clarify your statement about agape love "forgives all offenses" are you saying that God, because of the attribute of Agape, cannot hold mankind accountable for sin (sending them to hell)? I again, assume your not, but I think the question arises from that statement.

(5a) Do you think God can get glory from sending people to hell?

(6) Although, I tend to agree with you, about Platt's hypersensativity about global missions, after hearing Platt's heart week after week, the mission of God is to make disciples of all nations ... our faith is global because God deserves the worship of those people who are not worshipping him and thus, should motivate us towards mission. But that doesn't mean we don't do it here. Brookhills's first mission is here in Birmingham and Platt always reminds us of that.

His call to give radically (no pun intended) is something that is some what cultural down here (Platt's church is very suburban and wealthy) in that he, as Pastor, wants our heart and affection to be on the Savior and in mission with him not wrapped up in the materialism that is bible belt, southern baptist, suburban (drive my landrover to church) type Christianity but rather people who give so that the gospel can go forth both here in Birmingham and around the world.


just some thoughts ..... it gave Travis and I something to talk about. Love to hear your thoughts on some or all my questions .... I'm not on facebook, but you can e-mail me sometime if you don't want to blog and feel the need to answer.

p.s. my word verification to post this was eMbER just thought you should know...

Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Rick.

Who belongs to a “perfect” (or even “near-perfect”) group? Are there not always problems nearer to home to occupy the industrious brother, without the necessity of seeking to remove a “mote” from a brother's “eye” in another location?

‘The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son’ (John 5:22). Whosoever therefore usurps this function is guilty of ‘contempt of court’, ‘the court above’! Hence an apostle says to his brethren in the midst of their carnal jealousies and strifes: ‘With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you... but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes....’ (1 Cor. 4:3-5)... Do not behave as though you sought your brother’s damnation rather than his salvation. ‘He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends’ (Prov. 17:9). Do not do it; God hates it!”

Obviously, there are times when churches are called upon to “judge”. But in such cases it must be the CLEAR pronouncement of Holy Scripture which provides the basis, and not a whim, passing fancy, or even a tradition, well-intended though it be! Judgment must be approached very carefully and HUMBLY, according to the spirit as well as the letter of Matthew 18. Some good rules to observe in such cases, which reflect the Spirit teaching of the verses under consideration, are as follows:


We must only with extreme care and reluctance undertake to pass any judgment. We must do so only when absolutely necessary, and not just to satisfy some whim or to elevate ourselves by casting others down.

“It is certainly true that no man ought to speak of a brother’s faults behind his back until he have spoken to himself alone, and afterwards with others. But even then, you must be quite sure that the fault is of a kind that would warrant you in withdrawing if he does not submit. If there is any doubt, be silent, and leave the Lord to judge at his coming.

We generally find men unwilling to leave things to the Lord. They act as though they had no faith in the Lord’s coming, and as if Paul had never written:
‘Judge nothing before the time, till the Lord come who will make manifest the counsels of the heart’ (1 Cor. 4:5) —
that is, the secret motives which no man can know, and which require to be known before a correct estimate of his action is possible....

“The scriptural command is, over and over:
‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’

“With our puny little limited minds, it is impossible for us to judge fairly, even if we should have all the facts. And we never have ALL the facts... We must never judge motives, or seek occasions of fault-finding, or believe and peddle hurtful rumors, or talk behind peoples’ backs, or speak of sins — either real or supposed — TO ANYONE EXCEPT THE PERSON INVOLVED. In doing such, we condemn ourselves. The stern penalties of the law of Christ are very fearful against any of these fleshly abominations:
‘As ye judge, so shall ye be judged’ ”

“This is a very important first principle of the Truth. The warning is:
‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged’ (Matt. 7:2).

“Therefore it is always wisdom to judge with mercy and kindness and compassion and fellow-feeling, wherever we must judge at all. When we indulge in the flesh-satisfying practice of judging and criticizing others, we are not only directly disobedient to this command — we are also manifesting that we do not have the mind and spirit of Christ, and therefore are none of his”

andy said...

Sam, thanks for reading and responding. I will do my best to answer your questions, using your numbering system for reference.

1) I would counter your statement about the Psalms by saying that the Gospels give us the clearest revelation of God's attributes and character. In fact, Jesus is the perfect revelation of God, so everything we need to know about God we see in Jesus, and [just about] everything we need to know about Jesus we find in the Gospels. Practically speaking, whatever I learn about God in the Psalms ought to be run through the lens of what we learn about God through Jesus, as revealed in the Gospels.

2) I would argue that, in certain cases, neo-Reformed theology purports false doctrine. But the same is true of Arminian theology, and myself even. As always, of course, it's easier to spot "false doctrine" from systems other than your own.

You say that the historical-Jesus approach can lead to the denial of Christ's divinity and God's sovereignty, etc. I could say similar things about the Reformed approach, but you know as well as I do that the "slippery-slope" argument carries no water.

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture is a valid method, but if you fail to understand the controlling Scripture, then won't you miss widely on the Scripture in question? The historical approach is of great benefit here because it gets us, as best we can, into the world in which God sovereignly assembled and inspired the Scriptures.

3) Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying.

4) I would argue that the Reformed position has overplayed its hand on the word "dead". I read it as hyperbole--not a gross exaggeration, mind you, but a powerful metaphor to convey the dark reality of our state before Christ. Paul is using the dead/alive word play to make his point about the vast difference we experience because of faith in Jesus.

5) No, I'm not saying that, and I think this is the point where a lot of folks get tripped up. There is nothing soft or saccarine about agape love. Agape love both forgives all offenses and holds everyone accountable. It rescues us from death, but also disciplines us so that we might become more like Jesus.

5a) No, I don't. If I spend 20 years warning my son about the dangers of drugs, doing everything I can to persuade him from that dangerous lifestyle, and then he overdoses on heroin and dies, do I receive glory from that? Of course not. I find it ridiculous and offensive to even say such a thing.

6) Platt no doubt has the apostolic gifting and calling. My problem with Radical was that he normalized his own gifting and calling to the detriment of what others are called and gifted to do. The impression one has after reading his book is that the only way to be a true Christian is to live out the apostolic gift.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment!

andy said...

Rick,

I think you're confusing judgment with criticism. I have made no judgment (meaning, condemnation) of David Platt. I don't believe he's going to hell. I have criticized, fairly pointedly, his exegesis of the Scriptures and the conclusions he draws from it. I believe this is fair criticism.

What concerns me, however, is your closing statement, in which you insinuiate that I am not in Christ. That, sir, is judgment/condemnation.

Anonymous said...

This is Sam, again.

Okay, I think the numbering system is working about pretty well so let's continue that.

(1) I don't disagree. However, I don't think that means that we throw away what the book of Psalms says about God, his character, his attributes etc... but we can use Christ and the book of Psalms in harmony, which is what I believe, Platt does - he often preaches out of Psalms (46, 67, 77 tend to be his fav's)

(2) I agree. However, this is a just a matter of personal preference I would say (but I hope that it DOES NOT end up this way) but given the choice between ending up on the side of fundamentalism and people like the Jesus seminar - I would choose fundamentalism. Would you err on the side of Jesus seminar?

(2a) The one significant issue that I have with a pure historical jesus approach - as the best or only way to approach scripture - is this: that is not how some of the best theologians in history approached scripture. Not saying they are infallible but at the same time, I cannot believe Christ would allow his church to be without the "fullness" of truth for so long. But again and Travis called me out on this, I tend to pick theologians out that are reformed so....

(3) I don't understand how, from an orthodox perspective or an evangelical perspective that you could say that humanity as an inherently "good" nature or could choose God. Could you go into deeper on that?

(4) While I don't think that you could ever overplay the sovereignty of God, the sinfulness of man, and the power of the Cross. I think ultimately we agree on this point - that we are dead in our sins before Christ but I think where this serves, in my view, as the core of who mankind is, you wouldn't take it that far. true?

(5) Thats what I thought but the wording that you used left it open so I had to ask .. you can't bait a reformed person like that

(5a) I would disagree. While I believe and trust scripture to say that it is Gods will for all to be saved, God doesn't always get what he wants. But God is still glorified in that he is just and holy and cannot be in the presence of sin nor can he make excuses and that still gives God glory... thoughts?

(5a2) While I think all analogies are imperfect, I have two thoughts on the one that you used: (1) the use of the word "son" brings in the element of security/assurance. Now, from what you've posted and from the authors that you endorse, I don't think you are the assurance/security type person.

If I am God son, can I ever stop being his son? Once God adopts me can he unadopt me (break his word) or can I unadopt myself (supersede his sovereignty)?

(6) Ahh yes, but as you can talk to Travis as he was at Brookhills... Radical makes A LOT more sense in context (kinda of like scripture huh) when you see who David's primary audience is etc....

(7) Just to comment on Rick, although I don't agree with what he says (I'm not even sure what he said), I think you did walk a fine line between criticism and judgement, IN SO FAR as, your comments in your last paragraph....

I mean, you have a different approach to interpreting scripture. I know Gordon and Fee don't have the best reputations in the world in a lot of reformed seminaries, such as the one Platt went to and a lot of very good seminaries. The same comments, coming from the reformed camp, would say the same about you .... just saying :)

(8) and Dr. Archie England, Dr. Jerry Barlow, and Dr. Dennis Phelps are the people who, more than likely, taught David Platt who to do exegesis if you want to look them up.

andy said...

Sam,

1) The whole point of my original post is that I believe Platt was not preaching the Psalms in harmony with the Gospels. I certainly don't want to minimize the Psalms, but everything in Scripture needs to be viewed through the lens of Jesus.

2) If I had to err in one direction, it would be fundamentalism. But I believe both sides are in serious error. Besides, N.T. Wright has single-handedly destroyed the Jesus Seminar, so I'm sticking with him.

3) I'm not saying we are inherently good, but I do believe nonChristians make good and selfless choices from time to time. Common sense tells me that we can choose God, even in our fallen state, because we are not actually dead in our sins, just metaphorically so.

4) No, human beings are the image of God gone wrong, perverted, broken. But we are all still the image of God.

5a) If God can't be in the presence of sin, how do you explain the Incarnation? Or the Indwelling Holy Spirit?

5a2) I have thoughts on this that aren't fully formed, but I am leaning toward the possibility that one can be a Christian for a limited period of time and then commit apostasy. Hebrews seems to say such things.

6) But the book's audience was not limited to his congregation, so some decontextualizing may have helped.

7) I would never question Platt's commitment to Christ nor his sincerity. I just think he's wrong, and I think he's wrong because his exegesis is poor.

8) Fee & Stuart is a fairly standard hermeneutics text. I think that they have a bad reputation in those reformed seminaries says more about the seminaries than the book.

Anonymous said...

(1) Fair enough. I

(2) I agree that NT Wright has dispelled a lot of the Jesus Seminar and let's both hope it never comes down to choosing between the too. But I would say that the historical Jesus approach is not as critical to the study/understanding of scripture as NT Wright and others have made it out of.

(3 & 4) I would say that the Bible is literal in reference to us being dead in our sins. Therefore, we as humans are in capable of doing "good" (true good, not just what we deem as good) and are incapable of choosing God. What makes you read those passages (Eph. 2:1-5) as hyperbole?

5a) I would say that God cannot coexist with sin. The beauty of the cross and the indwelling of the holy spirit is that God no longer sees "us" as sinful man but rather as the imputed righteousness of Christ and coheirs with him. Surely, there is divine mystery in this but, I think scripture is clear on that area. Its not a proximity question rather a relationship question in that regard.

5a2) I would love to hear your thoughts, when you have formed them. I would argue that there is much in scripture that we can debate and discuss within the realm of orthodoxy. However, I believe the scriptures are clear to this point: we may commit apostasy and walk away, but God cannot walk away from what he began and only he could accomplish.

6.) Yes. I think, I haven't read it, but I think the sequel of Radical clarified it. However, I think much of Radical was profitable, especially in America.

7.) I knew that, but blogs can be tough, especially since wit and humor don't always translate the best (I speak from personal experience).

8.) I would disagree. I think many top notch seminaries who have men and women, who I would say, are equals as far as authority, scholarship, and expertise as NT Wright and Scot McKnight, could view Fee & Stuart as problematic.

Random Questions:

Did you have Professor Stuart when you were at GCTS?

Where do you think the reformed and armenian camps overlap?

How far outside would you say begins "apostasy" and the false gospel that Paul warns of in Galatians, Titus, and I & II Timothy?

Anonymous said...

Dave from Toledo here again.

Andy, you said that "common sense" leads you to believe that man can choose God even in our fallen state. It does appear that you are elevating your human logic and intellect over what seems to be quite clear throughout Scripture.

No one come to me unless the Father draws them (draws them, not lures or woos them)

There is no one righteous, no not one, no one seeks after God (does no one mean no one? or is that also metaphorical?)

We are by nature children of wrath, enemies of God. That is our nature, there is nothing good in that. Again, literal or metaphorical?

And there are many more. If these are metaphorical rather than literal, who gets to determine the Truth to which these metaphors point? Who is sovereign? My intellect and common sense or the clear, literal Word of God?

Anonymous said...

Saying God doesn't hate sinners is illogical. It's akin to saying "God hates water, and you're a pond, but he loves you". If God hates sin he MUST also hate sinners. The miracle o what Jesus did on the cross, and the truest form of the too oft-used phrase "born again" is that we exist in two forms:

1) the sinful nature we are born into which God hates.

2) the redeemed form that, through they shed blood of Jesus, has been renewed to the orginal image of man, i.e. like God

JRAG said...

[2:1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Children of wrath. Whose wrath? God's wrath. God's love displayed on the cross is greatly cheapened when we fail to understand that we were his enemies, sinners, rebels, those who would kill Him if we had the chance (and did with Jesus Christ), and therefore hated by Him. There was nothing inside of us, no worth or excellency, to incline Jesus Christ to die for us. That is what makes the Gospel so amazing! "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a WRETCH like me." Without understanding God's hatred of sin (which cannot be separated from the sinner since it dwells in the sinners heart; cf. Matt. 15:18, 19) God's grace is no longer amazing. We replace our amazement of God's grace with the amazement of our self-worth. But the BIble makes it plain and simple that we had no worth; nothing inside of us inclined God's love.

"God shows his love for us in that while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 ESV). To say sinners were the object of God's love would be to argue that God loves injustices and evil. Yet, the foundation of God's throne is righteousness and justice, and from that goes forth his steadfast love (cf. Psalm 89:14). His love never compromises his justice; hence, the necessity of the cross!


Also, if God loved sinners then them being considered children of wrath makes no sense. Christ had to die for us in order that we may enter into God's eternal love, which has existed eternally within the bonds of the Trinity!

Therefore, I believe that Platt is actually declaring an infinitely greater and more biblically sound love of God than you are. The "love" you are describing may pass the approval of this world (having a veneer of sentimentalism) and may (and often does) find its way into the world's movies, but it is infinitesimal in comparison to God's love as revealed in Scripture.

Highly suggest Don Carson's book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.

In love,

andy said...

JRAG,

I have one question for you: Is God's love conditional or unconditional?

Anonymous said...

Well Andy,

Why don't you ask Pharaoh? Or Lucifer, or his minions, or any of the OT people God righteously hammered. (or if that offends you how about Ananias and Sapphira, if you prefer the NT)?

For you to state things like "..Your misunderstanding of basic exegetical principles and misapplication of Scriptures is astounding..." and "It would be comic if your reach weren't so vast..." I'd wonder if "perfect knowledge" and your blog haven't puffed you up a bit. This has to be one of the most pompously arrogant posts I've had the displeasure to read, and I'm sorry to have to say that.

Given all of the amorality that President Obama and the Democrats are pushing today, don't Christians have bigger issues to face as well?
When your blog becomes personal "identity" and your "Walter Mitty" moment and doesn't glorify God, it becomes the work of man (and that's not good).

Peace.

She's My Girl said...

You are on deeply dangerous ground when you discount scripture, or explain away it's meaning with man's philosophical reasoning.

Scripture is infallible, you sir, are not.

Bill Hamilton said...

I haven't the time to read through all the comments here, but what do you do with non-Psalms verses indicating God's hate for certain people/sinners? For example:

• Leviticus 20:23 - "Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them." Isn't it true that "abhor" is even stronger than "hate?"

• Leviticus 26:30 - "I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your [a]remains on the [b]remains of your idols, for My soul shall abhor you."

• Hosea 9:10b, 15-16 - “But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as DETESTABLE as that which they loved.... Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I HATED them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will NO LONGER LOVE them... if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring" (all caps emphasis mine).

This Hosea passage and Lev. 26:30 actually remind me of David Platt's video above... of both God's hate and love for sinners, because Hosea is talking about Israel. If God can hate His Chosen People, yet still have a loving, redemptive plan for them, then there's hope for any hated sinner. Far from being "the end of the line" for sinners, Ps. 5:5 and 11:5 should actually point us to the cross, where God's hate for sinners was poured out on Jesus!

Stephen Anderson said...

If God truly loves sinners, why will He throw them into the lake of fire? Where does the Bible explicitly say "God loves sinners"? Have Christians created a conception of God that simply is not biblical?
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Joh 3:36 NAS)
Is it not better to say God hates sinners, but offers His pardon and love in Christ to those who will repent?

Anonymous said...

All I know is I was sitting in the pew and the pastor said "God hates sinners." And my first thought was "I'm glad I didn't bring someone new to church who doesn't know Jesus." And my second thought was "wait, didn't Paul say 'sinners, of whom I am chief.'" And my third thought was "Wait, I'm a sinner...we are all sinners."

At a time when post-Christian books are at the top of the New York Times bestseller lists, we Christians need to be preaching God's love, not the hatred of God.

"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life though him. This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."

Don't preach to me a God of hate. If you must torture your doctrine so far backwards as to completely remove the free will of man, then do so. But don't turn God into an evil hate filled persona who points to some and says "into the lake of fire with you." It is we who chose sin. God has knowledge of those that will and will not choose the darkness but that does not mean that God wills them into the darkness.