As I was sitting here having just completed my last blog post I detected a critical hole in the argument. I don’t think the governor loved his son in my example. That’s not the problem. The core problem lies in my criterion for what it is to love someone:
to love a person means that, if it is at all possible, you want that person to achieve shalom.
Despite the fact that this seems intuitively compelling it seems to me that it is, as written, wrong. The problem is rooted in the so-called “Sophie’s choice.” Perhaps you remember the William Styron novel and/or the 1982 Meryl Streep film based on the novel? Both focus on the unimaginable decision of Sophie, a Polish survivor of the concentration camp, who was given an impossible choice by an unimaginably cruel Nazi: choose one of her two children to live and the other to be killed. And she makes that unthinkable choice.
We can debate the fact that Sophie made a choice at all. Some ethicists (e.g. J. Budziszewski) consider Sophie’s choice to have been an evil one. On their view the loving and good choice would have been to refuse to choose. I think that’s unfair to poor Sophie. But really that’s a side issue. The main point is that I think she loved both her children equally.
And that’s enough to defeat my definition. After all, either one of Sophie’s children could have been saved. She could have acted in a loving way so that either one achieve shalom. She just couldn’t will that both acheive it. My definition would oblige me to deny that Sophie loved the child she chose to die. And that just seems to me wrong.
So in principle this would allow one to say that God could love those he wills to reprobate. But it would only do so if we are willing to commit God to a Sophie’s choice. And that brings us full circle to my analysis of Calvinism of several days ago. God always acts to maximize his glory to his creatures. And on the standard Reformed view the only way this can happen is if God reprobates some of his creatures and elects others. So everything comes down to this one critical question: what reason is there to believe that God faces a Sophie’s choice?