Alex Jordan responded to my last post on the arbitrariness of God’s love for his elect creatures in Calvinism. Here is an excerpt from his response: ”
“though God has not revealed why He sets His love on some unworthy objects rather than others, we do not not need to call this love arbitrary. The Bible does not describe it this way. God’s love is kind, merciful, purposeful and emanates from His character, which is trustworthy, good, just, holy, etc. So though we aren’t privy to His reasons for choosing some rather than others to love with His special electing love, this does not make the nature of that love arbitrary.”
I agree about the way the Bible describes God’s love. But I also believe that the proper understanding of that love is omnibenevolent. If, on the contrary, God only loves some of the beings that he willed to be fallen creatures, and there is nothing worthy of love in those creatures which would distinguish them from the other fallen creatures he chooses to hate (or not to love with his special love) then that is indeed arbitrary.
There is one way that God’s love for the elect is not arbitrary. Here’s an illustration of that point:
Little Billy is watching Teletubbies on PBS. (Dear PBS, home of NOVA and Nature and Bill Moyers, how could you sell out to the bottom dollar by turning the minds of a generation of toddlers into mush with that mindless crap?) Sorry, that’s a sore spot unrelated to the illustration. So anyway, Billy’s mom walks in the room. “Billy I told you to clean up your toy box!” Billy turns around and sticks out his tongue at his mom and then reverts to his Teletubbie-induced trance. That’s it. Mom runs into the kitchen, opens up the drawer where a dozen wooden spoons are kept, and grabs one to spank Billy. Suddenly Billy comes back to reality and begins to whine. And we shall leave the scene at that point.
Billy’s mom’s choice of which specific wooden spoon to take was indeed arbitrary. They’re all pretty much the same. She simply required one of them to make her point to Billy’s bottom. But the fact that she chose a wooden spoon to begin with is not arbitrary. That is a reasoned response to the demands of the situation.
Just as there are various wooden spoons in the drawer, so there are various different possible sets of elect and reprobate. In some of them I’m elect and Bret Michaels is reprobate, and in others vice versa. Which set God chooses to actualize, like which wooden spoon Billy’s mom chooses, is arbitrary. But the fact that God must choose one ratio when he creates, just like Billy’s mom must choose one spoon when he misbehaves, is not arbitrary at all.
So the choice of a set of elect and a set of reprobate is a reasoned choice, even if the choice of which members constitute each set is an arbitrary one. Is that any consolation? Well it can’t provide the Calvinist with an answer to that one burning question “Why does God love me?” There is no answer. Assuming of course that God does love you.