I have decided to do something different with this and some future posts. I have been receiving some very thoughtful feedback from various readers, so I thought it would be good from time to time to devote a post to responding to some of the comments, questions, and concerns. I have decided not to use the names of those contributing these responses unless they would specifically request that I do so. Ultimately, I am not responding to people but to the ideas they present. Nonetheless, I am grateful for all of you who provide valuable feedback, some in affirmation and some in disagreement. Both are valued and appreciated.
This message came in response to my previous post entitled, “The Bible Teaches that God Does NOT Love Human Beings Unconditionally,” in which I cited verses stating that God has a hatred for the workers of iniquity. The writer responded, “It seems harsh. I wonder if Mother Teresa was a born again Christian. The whole world thinks of her as one of the greatest selfless women that ever lived. So if she wasn’t born again, I guess all her acts of kindness were for selfish reasons, and God hates her. It’s easy to hate Osama Bin laden, but not so easy to hate a person like Mother Teresa.”
I especially appreciate this comment because it calls us to apply these passages of Scripture to real life. In this post I will be sharing some general thoughts about the topic of God’s hatred, and in the next one I plan to consider the case of Mother Teresa. I am glad that she was mentioned in particular because I believe as we consider her we will understand better how the passages on God’s hatred apply and don’t apply.
The opening words of this response, “It seems harsh,” are helpful because they confront us with a biblical reality. I wholeheartedly agree with that assertion. In fact, in looking over my previous post prior to posting it I had some thoughts about toning down the language but decided not to do so. My reason for not making changes was that my comments were compatible with Scripture both in content and tone.
Therefore, the first general point I would like to take is that at times God is harsh. That is a reality. Scripture in many places describes the harshness of various judgments of God, the ultimate one being an eternal hell. We live in a culture in which that which is harsh is also considered to be wrong. I am not suggesting that the writer of the comment was conveying that connotation, but that is our society’s perspective. Consequently, Christians in our society somehow must explain away the harshness of God, even though it is recorded frequently in Scripture. It is a reality.
A second thought has to do with the harshness of human beings. If we just think of the harshness of God in isolation it seems especially severe. However, seeing it as a response to the meanness of human beings, it is more understandable. God is not harsh by nature. His severity comes in response to sin and the people who commit it. As we think of the beheadings of both adults and children done by ISIS and selling women as sex slaves, we better understand the harshness of God.
A third consideration related to the hatred of God is the difference in perspective when we also include the love of God in the picture. When we allow the passages related to God’s hostility towards human beings to stand alone, this leaves a portrait of a God who is uncaring and unsympathetic. However, as we consider how much human disobedience God has tolerated and the incalculable price He has paid for our liberation from judgment, this reveals among other things that God’s hostility toward sinners is not arbitrary. God has done everything possible to enable human beings to escape His judgment.
In addition, in some ways the severity of God is related to His love in that at least some of its hatred is born out of His love for those who are hurt by the wicked.
But since Mother Teresa had never joined ISIS, and as far as we know she never beheaded anyone, how does all of this apply to her? I plan to address that issue Monday. I would be happy to publish a post on Friday, but I fear that because of the holidays it may not get read. So let’s meet together on Monday and discuss Mother Teresa.