The ontological argument for God’s love for the whole world

I ran across a recent Tweet via Google Buzz that read:

Would we be more pious than Jesus? – “I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given Me” – Jn 17:9

During the course of our conversation on the implications of the thought expressed above I come up with the following logical argument for God’s loving the whole world as opposed to a small segment of it per reformed theology.

Per the ontological argument: We can never be more pious than Jesus.

Since love for the whole world is better than love for a particular “favored” group (per Jesus’s own admonition that it is more admirable to love one’s enemy than it is to merely love one’s friend).

We can see that it logically follows that God must love the whole world and not merely a segment of it since failure to do so would entail the illogical conclusion that we are, per the initial comment, “more pious” than the God who is the very definition of good.

No, it’s not very polished and I invite comments and thoughts on it, but I figured its a pretty good start!

UPDATE:
A friend of mine pointed out that I should probabally post a little more showing my thought process and why I think my arguement fits in with “ontology” in general.

Ontology is the study of “being” and the sense I’m using it in here is along the lines of the ontological argument for God’s existence specifically Descartes’ formula:

1. Whatever I clearly and distinctly perceive to be contained in the idea of something is true of that thing.
2. I clearly and distinctly perceive that necessary existence is contained in the idea of God.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Here, though, I’m attempting to show that God does indeed love the whole world in opposition to the Calvinistic doctrine that God only “effectively” loves a small subset known as the elect.

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16 responses to “The ontological argument for God’s love for the whole world

  1. Kant put that argument to bed long ago. Existence is not a property, it is a concept of the instance of a thing. If you were to say that a thing does not exist, you would be saying the same thing as a thing exists without the property of existence. This is the reason that Plantinga came up with his modal ontological argument that even he knows is flaky.

    In other words, ontological arguments all suffer from problems, and those problems have been known of long before you ever heard the argument.

  2. Notice that there is no text quoted which states that Jesus admonished people that it is “more admirable to love one’s enemy than it is to merely love one’s friend”. Notice also the assumption that what creatures are to do is also what God must do; a problem in light of the Creator/creature distinction as well as an absolutely backward line of reasoning.
    The conclusion does not follow at all due to the aforementioned problems with the allegedly logical argument.
    Unfortunately the “argument” here is amateurish and pseudo-philosophical. It displays a clear lack of understanding concerning theological and philosophical arguments in general and the ontological argument in particular. The “argument” taken from Wikipedia (of all places) is not true to either of the two versions of the ontological argument set forth by Descartes. As a general rule one should not study philosophy on the Internet and especially not on Wikipedia.
    I am afraid that this post is woefully inadequate in terms of establishing…anything.

  3. When someone points out the problems with your "argument" you just delete that person's post? That says a great deal about you and your post.

  4. It's actually a terrible start, because it lacks any base in scripture.

    You are seeking to refute scripture. You find a passage that you dont like because it opposes your preconceived notions of what you want God to be (I can guarantee if I was going to imagine God as I pleased, it wouldn't be as described by Calvinism, but its the God that is presented in Scripture).

    Jesus makes it clear that he has come to give his life up for his friends, and that love has no greater man than that. Dislike Calvinism all you want, but you are responding to Scripture by saying that you are more of an authority than it is.

    Absolutely ridiculous.

    • Are you saying that God does not love the whole world?

      Forget the verse mentioned in the initial tweet. It was not central to my following arguement anyway but rather a catylyst that led to the arguement I have given here. Rather, take a look at the arguement as a whole and tell me whether it's premises hold:

      1. God, being perfect in every sense, logically contains the maximal degree of all goods.
      2. Loving all people is a greater good than loving only some people.
      3. Therefore God loves all men.

      Another way to put this would be to use Jesus's command to "love thy enemies" in a more theological or biblically-based argument in that:

      1. We were all sinners (Romans 3:23), separated from God at one point in time. That is, we were under the penalty of death (Eph 2:1) and enemies of God (Romans 5:10).
      2. Jesus told his followers to love their enemies. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, Luke 6:35)
      3. Therefore God loves all men (John 3:16) and even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6, 5:8)

      Several conclusions can be drawn from this chain. Namely that all men are in the same boat at some point in their lives. That is, we are all separated from Christ. Additionally, for those who are saved, we have truly passed from death to life (John 5:24). And finally, this change in position before God is a time-bound stance such that there truly was a time we were heading to hell and for those of us who are saved our eternal destination truly changed from "heading to hell" to "heading to heaven".

      The sad reality, though, is that while everyone is dead in their sins and an enemy of God, and while Christ loves all men who are, by nature, his enemies, not everyone is made alive. Why? is it a lack of love on God's part? Or is it a lack of acceptance on ours?

      You see, only one option leave God's love undiminished.

      God is love. (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16)

      Choose life. (Deut 30:19)

      • The Premise falls apart on the second point. Loving all people is a greater good, in your opinion. Whether right or wrong, your premise is built on opinion and not Scriptural foundations. Because 2 is an opinion without Scriptural base, and we are dealing with the God of scripture, 3 is moot because 2 can't be substantiated.

        Jesus saying to Love thy enemies does not translate to Loving the whole world, atleast not in the sense that you equate it to.

        You equate loving the whole world with Jesus dying and making salvation available to the whole world. I equate him loving the whole world by saying that He gave his life as a Ransom for Many (Mark 10:45) and giving common grace to all of man, while saving his chosen people.

        God's love for man is so great that he was willing to save any of man.

        Your statement says that God's will can be thwarted by the actions of man, which is utter-nonsense.

        Whose Will is greater? The will of man or of God?

        • How is loving a part not lesser than loving the whole?

          I find your objection to this being a philosophical line of reasoning to be quite strange since 1.) I claimed it was and framed it as a philosophical argument at the outset, 2.) Scripture is not the source of our disagreement at any rate, our philosophical presuppositions are (to claim Scripture answers this question entirely rather than merely shedding light on various aspects of it at best, is to make a categorical mistake) and 3.) Scripture is not our only source of revelation in regards to the nature of truth. Just like if our topic were on mathmatics or physics I would choose the best sources and/or arguements whether they were secular or not when it comes to this topic I don't see why you would say that using the best arguement in the category best able and designed to fit the question before us is not relevant or a valid basis for the formation of an arguement or belief.

          In regards to your objection to my Biblical argument from "love thy enemies". I've planned that as a separate post so I'll save that discussion for when it posts (which will be in April due to a slight backlog of other articles).

          In regards to your assertion that "Your statement says that God's will can be thwarted by the actions of man, which is utter-nonsense." I agree with your conclusion but think your premise is flawed. How have I said that God's will can be thwarted? Are you referring to the fact that some people do not obtain everlasting life in heaven? Would you honestly want to make the case (as Calvin was forced to) that God forcefully threw people into hell rather than hell being locked from the inside (as CS Lewis wrote) as the result of a free choice to reject the love offered by God?

  5. Wes your argument was already responded to in full but you deleted the comments containing the response. Why have you deleted those comments and then pretended like you are being reasonable in responding to this other comment? That is not being 'intellectually honest' at all. Shame on you.

    The second premise of the first argument, "Loving all people is a greater good than loving only some people" begs the question against the view you are trying to refute. It can be changed to "loving some people is a greater good than loving all people" and the conclusion of the argument will be the exact opposite. The disagreement is textual, the argument does nothing to help.

    The conclusion does not follow from the premises in your second argument. You take the command where Jesus tells his followers to love their enemies and try to say that this means that God must love all of His enemies but this is not the case. God is not *obligated* to love all of His enemies and even in loving *some* of His enemies God does not have to love them all.

    • CL, the reason I deleted your initial comments is the same reason I debated deleting this comment. However I decided I'll go ahead and respond to you this once so you can understand why you aren't really welcome here. So here goes:

      Basically, I don't really like you. Nothing personal (ok, perhaps it is) but I really just don't feel like interacting with you.

      You can call me intellectually dishonest or whatever else you want but the fact is that in the limited freedom that God has granted me to make free decisions on this earth I have decided not to put up with your comments.

      Love ya, just at a distance 🙂

      You are right about one thing, though, in that God is not obligated to love his enemies. That was never something I claimed (although it is something you would like me to claim in order for all of your other straw men to stand up). Rather, what I claimed was that we were all equal in our stance against and separated from Christ at one point in time and that Christ loved us, while we were yet sinners (which is surprisingly exactly what the text says, no eisigesis or external human philosophy/theology added).

      Your further statement that my premises could be reversed in order to logically prove that the love of some people is greater than the love of all people simply doesn't make sense either philosophically, logically (how do you get around the negation of the omni in omnibenevolent), or theologically. God Himself is the one who has revealed to us that He 1.) loves all men, 2.) expects us to love all men and 3.) is the very definition of love (of whose qualities is "believes all things", "always hopes", etc.)

      It seems to me that most Calvinists are more than happy to sacrifice all of God's attributes under the guise of God's sovereignty (as defined primarily through His omnipotence). It's a sad state of affairs since, rather than reconciling the whole council of revelation we've received _from God_ it appears to be more fashionable (at least in reformed circles) to simply discard or reinterpret God to fir your own preconceived philosophical mold.

      No, our disagreement is not textual, it is philosophical. Just because Calvinism posits a pretty crappy philosophy doesn't mean it isn't firmly rooted in a man-made philsophy (such as a baptized Stoacism)

  6. Apparently you did not like me prior to me pointing out your intellectual dishonesty. If you have something against me you need to make that known so that it can be resolved. There were no straw men or suggested reversals of the premises of the argument. You cite a passage of Scripture wherein men are obligated to love their enemies then falsely assume that the same must be true of God. There is no other reason for you to cite the passage. I agree that Christ loved us while we were yet sinners. It does not follow that Christ loves every sinner. The second premise of your argument can be changed to "loving some people is a greater good than loving all people" and the conclusion of the argument will be the opposite. It is a greater good that God performs in loving His elect than in loving all people. I understand that you do not agree with this. My point is that the discussion becomes exegetical and your argument is irrelevant to establishing your position. You spelled Stoicism wrong and no, Calvinism is not a Stoic philosophy. Do you have formal philosophical training?

    • Are all men sinners and enemies of God? If so, does God not love His enemies equally? Where is it written that we are called to love our enemies less? What does it mean that God is slow to anger if not for the simple explanation that He does not take joy in evil overcoming anyone (a characteristic of love) but would rather men repent and freely choose to love Him?

      Or, to put it another way; How is your view of God not tribalistic? Under your view what is to prevent a person from saying "well that's great that you and your tribe of elect people love God but as for me and my tribe we worship Baal, Asherah, the original Stoic fates, etc.?

      • "Are all men sinners and enemies of God?"
        Yes this is what Scripture teaches.

        "If so, does God not love His enemies equally?"
        No God does not love His enemies equally. God shows His love for *us* in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for *us*.

        "Where is it written that we are called to love our enemies less?"
        Nowhere that I know of but I am not sure how this is irrelevant unless God is obligated to follow commandments that were given to us.

        Hope this helps. If you have something against me you need to make that known so that it can be resolved. Do you have formal philosophical training?

        • "No God does not love His enemies equally. God shows His love for *us* in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for *us*."

          So, from this is it fair to say that you believe that God is not "all-loving"?

          "Nowhere that I know of but I am not sure how this is irrelevant unless God is obligated to follow commandments that were given to us. "

          So, did Jesus fail to live a sinless life or was he not fully human (subject to all of the laws, regulations, and temptations that we are) in your view?

          "Hope this helps. If you have something against me you need to make that known so that it can be resolved."

          I simply don't like you. It's not that I hate you, I just find you to be an unpleasant person.

          To put it another way, I would rather replace the rolls of Charmin in my bathrooms with rolls of sandpaper. Because…

          "Do you have formal philosophical training?"

          …statements like this one tends to chafe.

  7. Where does the Bible teach that God loves all people equally? You need to answer this to support your argument but once you do so there is no longer any need to set forth the argument.

    • "What does it mean that God is slow to anger if not for the simple explanation that He does not take joy in evil overcoming anyone (a characteristic of love) but would rather men repent and freely choose to love Him?"
      We would need to quote the text and exegete it in accord with its context to know what it means to say that God is slow to anger (especially since there are places that say that His wrath is *quickly kindled*!) Even granting your explanation it does not follow that God takes joy in this with respect to *everyone*.

      "Or, to put it another way; How is your view of God not tribalistic?"
      I have no idea what you mean or how this alleged consequence would have any bearing upon the argument.

      "Under your view what is to prevent a person from saying 'well that's great that you and your tribe of elect people love God but as for me and my tribe we worship Baal, Asherah, the original Stoic fates, etc.'?"
      The grace of God. But I do not know what this has to do with the argument.

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