27 February, 2017

Argument: “Two options: Either God is sadistic or He is compassionate …”


“There are only two logical positions: Either (1) God does have pleasure in the death of the reprobate, and He is therefore sadistic [I speak reverently], or (2) God does not have pleasure in their death, and therefore He has (of necessity) compassion and tender mercy towards them. Choose.”


Concerning the pleasure God hath not in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23; 33:11): You seem to believe this concerns only the elect wicked who will later repent, and you may, of course, be correct, in the context concerned; but if one seriously believes God has pleasure in the death of the reprobate wicked then, by the same token, he must actually enjoy their punishment as it were sadistically; which no child of God would want to impute unto him. But if not,—that is to say, if his pleasure is only that justice has been executed,—then logically this surely necessitates that some degree of compassion must remain in Him for these people; for, if he has no sadistic pleasure therein, he must, inevitably, have a regret therein—such as one of the 57 varieties of common grace would attribute to him. And what is such regret, if it be not a species of compassion? Grace, as such, is indeed a misnomer, fair enough; rather it is a common mercy which is the question that interests myself and many of the proponents of some of the varieties of common grace.




H. L. Williams

[Source: British Reformed Journal, issue 18, April-June, 1997, pp. 44-45]

Calvin, Knox, Turretin and Reformed expositors in general rightly interpret the verses concerning God having no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:32; 33:11) thus:

[These verses] do not positively prove that which God has decreed in His secret counsel, but only declare what God is ready to do to all who are brought to faith and repentance (Calvin: Eternal Predestination of God, p. 99).

[The one making the above argument has clearly] accepted from the start that this exposition “may, of course, be correct, in the context concerned,” as he says. But he seemed to want to universalize it to all men, on the grounds that:

(1) If God did actually take pleasure in the destruction of the reprobate wicked, “then, by the same token, he must enjoy their punishment as it were sadistically …”

(2) If God does not actually enjoy their punishment, or is but pleased only that justice has been done, then this implies some degree of regret over their death, and such is but one of the “57 varieties” of “common grace.”

The above propositions are, however, seriously question-begging …

First: How does “pleasure in destruction of the reprobate” necessarily imply sadism? Surely there must be pleasure in God when He sees His justice magnified before all creation in the destruction of the reprobate? Or if not, is God then not pleased with His own Justice? And if it is the Judicial factor that pleases God in the death of the reprobate, and not their suffering, how does this necessarily imply that God has regrets about their suffering? A man can “take no pleasure” in swotting flies without feeling any regrets about the flies, or having sadistic feelings, can he not?

Again, if God has regrets about the wicked suffering in time, then He must have such in Eternity as well, since, as the Scripture says:

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed (Mal. 3:6 KJV)

The Scripture, not Aristotle, note, teaches the immutability of God. Now if God has eternal regrets over anything He is eternally less than perfect. However, if He has regrets over the wicked suffering in time, and then no regrets after the wicked have been put in hell for eternity, then He must necessarily have changed, contra. the Scriptures.

Again, one senses a “whiff” of humanism [here]. The Scripture gives a different perspective: sinful human beings as sinful human beings get a terrible pasting from Scripture, to degrees which make one catch one’s breath; speaking of Babylon, the Psalmist sings:

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones (Ps. 137:9 KJV)

Sadistic? There are plenty more such Scriptures! But the fact is, if the Scriptures teach us anything at all about homo sapiens, they teach us this: that there is nothing, repeat, nothing in us by nature that will attract God’s love. That’s why salvation is all of grace.



More to come! (DV)

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