In an earlier thread (“Singing the Praises of the Imprecatory Psalms”) I said to David Houston: “by your logic the unimaginable torment of those in hell is a cause for delight. And many Christians from Tertullian to John Piper have agreed with you.” David was happy to find himself in this venerable tradition. And so he replied “My brothers in arms” complemented with a smiling emoticon.
This of course fits perfectly within the logic of the imprecatory psalms with the haunting echo of their laughter at the coming judgment upon the wicked. But it simply extends the disturbing picture of praying those psalms in that it seems to leave us with an end goal in sanctification that looks anything but sanctified. Adam stated the problem nicely in the thread “Imprecations for Arminians” and invited Calvinist responses. Since he was largely ignored (save Pete’s comments) I’ll repeat it here:
 If we conform our attitudes to God’s attitudes, then we make progress in sanctification. (premise)
 God’s attitude towards the death of the wicked is pleasure and joy. (premise for reductio)
 If our attitude towards the death of the wicked is pleasure and joy, then we make progress in sanctification. [1 and 2]
 Yet God does not take pleasure or joy at the death of the wicked (Ez. 18:23) (premise)
Therefore, if our attitude towards the death of the wicked is pleasure and joy, then we do not make progress in sanctification.
When you consider this question against the backdrop of eternity, the picture becomes even more perplexing. According to the view being endorsed by David Houston — a view fully consistent with his Calvinism and his view of the imprecatory psalms — our joy at the suffering of the reprobate will be greatest when we are fully sanctified and they are suffering maximally in hell.
With this in mind I asked Jerry Shepherd the following:
“Do you think it is possibly true that you and or I might, as resurrected beings fully conformed to the will of the Father, extract pleasure from the damnation of our children such that their torment would elicit no sadness on our part but only joy?”
If David is consistent in his views, and from why I’ve seen I have no doubt that he would be, then his answer would be an unequivocal “yes”. He would think it is possible that he would extract pleasure from the damnation of his own children if in fact they should be reprobate. (To deny this would present him with intractable problems of consistency.)
Surely this is the logic of the position. At present we do not know who the elect or reprobate are, so we cannot derive pleasure now knowing that certain persons are reprobated. But in eternity we shall know who is reprobated, so it would follow that in that circumstance we could derive pleasure knowing that specific persons have been damned. In the same way that Mr. Smith would derive pleasure knowing that his ex-boss is in hell, so he would derive pleasure knowing that his once beloved child is in hell as the revelation of God’s justice and mercy would shine more fully through both instances of damnation.
With this in mind I was a bit surprised by Jerry’s response: “No”. He doesn’t think it possible that a fully sanctified parent derive joy from the damnation of their children.
I agree with Jerry of course. But how does Jerry hold this position?After all, like David he advocates praying the imprecatory psalms, passages which express undiluted anticipation and excitement at the coming destruction of God’s enemies. Every indication is that the imprecatory psalmist would smile if he got word of Babylonian babies being killed and his once proud enemies having their teeth broken. So presumably we should derive even greater and purer joy at contemplating the torment of the enemies of God in eternity, even if those enemies were once our beloved friends, spouses, or even children.