Muhammad and Jesus Inconsistent On God's Love? A Rebuttal to David Wood
David Wood in his debate with Sheikh Jalal Abu Al Rub put forth an argument, which can be summarized and paraphrased as follows:
The Biblical Jesus told us that we must love everyone including our enemies (Matthew 5:44). The God of the Qur'an does not love everyone (Surah 3:32 and many others). This means that the love of the Islamic God is no better than that of the tax collectors (Matthew 5:46). This also goes to show that Muhammad is a false Prophet for not being consistent by preaching the same message of Jesus.
David Wood clearly took this argument from Dr. William Lane Craig in his debate with Shabir Ally "The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity".
First of all, it has never dawned upon David's mind that it was maybe the New Testament authors that were inconsistent with the message of the previous Prophets that stated that God does hate sinners and rejecters of belief:
4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
6 You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the LORD abhors.
5 The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.
Some Christians such as Dr. William Lane Craig would argue back and say that the book of Psalms is a book of poetry and we cannot establish any doctrine related verdicts based on books of poetry. Even though this argument is unconvincing, we will accept it for the sake of argument and show statements from other books in the Bible which aren't poetic where God says that He hates some people.
23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.
30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.
Some Christians desperately reply back saying that God is intending to say that He hates the sin and not the sinners. This is clearly playing with the plain reading of the texts.
However, there are clear verses that silence this argument:
Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Here God is saying that He hated Esau. Esau is a person. Not an action. Esau is not a sin, but a sinner. So God clearly stated that He hated a sinner.
Also God clearly distinguishes between the sin and the sinner when He says that He hates them:
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
So here we see that God hates false witnesses and people that cause discord between brethren. These appear to be sinners and not sins.
Some Christians try to argue back that the Hebrew words don't mean 'hate', but 'loves less'.
However, this is false.
The Hebrew word used for hate in Psalm 5:5;11:5 and Proverbs 6:16 is sane, which means:
1) to hate, be hateful
a) (Qal) to hate
1) of man
2) of God
3) hater, one hating, enemy (participle) (subst)
b) (Niphal) to be hated
c) (Piel) hater (participle)
1) of persons, nations, God, wisdom
So here we don't see that the word means 'love less'. Some have argued that the same word is used in Deuteronomy 21:15 in order to show that it means 'love less'. However, context is everything and in the context of Proverbs 6, the word clearly means absolute hate. In that verse God does not intend to say that He 'loves less' the lying tongue and so on till He says false witness and people that cause discord between brethren. It is clear that it is absolute hate.
The Hebrew word used for hate in Psalm 5:6 is ta`ab, which means:
1) to abhor, be abominable, do abominably
a) (Niphal) to be abhorred, be detested
1) in the ritual sense
2) in the ethical sense
1) to loathe, abhor, regard as an abomination
a) in the ritual sense
b) in the ethical sense
2) to cause to be an abomination
c) (Hiphil) to make abominable, do abominably
1) in the ritual sense
2) in the ethical sense
So here we don't see that the word means 'love less'. Also the context shows that it means absolute hate.
The Hebrew word used for hate in Leviticus 20:23 is quwts, which means:
1) to be grieved, loathe, abhor, feel a loathing or abhorrence or sickening dread
1) to feel a loathing at, abhor
2) to feel a sickening dread
1) to cause sickening dread
2) to cause loathing
So here we don't see that the word means 'love less'. Also, the context shows that the word means absolute hate.
The Hebrew word used for hate in Leviticus 26:30 is ga`al, which means:
1) to abhor, loathe, be vilely cast away, fall
a) (Qal) to abhor, loathe
b) (Niphal) to be defiled
c) (Hiphil) to reject as loathsome, show aversion
So here we see that none of the Hebrew words used in the passages quoted above mean 'love less'. In certain contexts they do, such as Deuteronomy 21:15, however we know that it means 'love less' in this context because we know that there are other verses in the Bible that state that a man should love his wife and we interpret 'hate' over here to mean 'love less' in order to reconcile between the two. But the passages that I quoted above have contexts that clearly show that the Hebrew words signify actual hatred.
Some Christians argue that when Jesus used the word 'hate' in Luke 14:26 it meant 'love less' and not actual hate. However, there is evidence to suggest that this is what the word means, for if one reads Matthew 10:37 it will clarify it.
However, the Old Testaments passages are clear that God hates. For example let us read Malachi 1:2-3...
2 "I have loved you," says the LORD.
"But you ask, 'How have you loved us?'
"Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals."
Here God clearly distinguishes between loving Jacob and Esau. It would not make sense for God to say 'I loved Jacob' but 'Esau I loved less'. He would have said 'I love Jacob much' but 'loved Esau less' if this is what God intended to say. However, God made it clear that He loved Jacob but hated Esau. There is no point in using the word 'hate' to emphasize this. Even the title of the chapter says "Jacob Loved, Esau Hated". Why the differentiation? If Esau was loved less then it means that both Jacob and Esau were loved, not only Jacob.
Some Christians argue back that it was only the God of the Old Testament that hated, but now the God of the New Testament loves and they quote John 3:16. However, John 3:16 could be interpreted to mean that God offered His love to the world, but if people rejected it then He hates them. Either way this argument makes no sense. For it would basically put forth the proposition that the nature of God changed and that He now loves wicked people. But we know that God's nature doesn't change (Malachi 3:6). Plus, let's say that God could change. Does that mean He was a bad God and then became a good God and started to love everyone?
Also, let's not forget that there is a difference of opinion regarding the interpretation of John 3:16:
The Five-Point Calvinist changes the meaning of the word "world" here and adds to the Word of God by placing immediately behind it two words, "the elect." (What's Wrong With Five-Point Calvinism? He loves me - loves me not, Source)
Plus we see in Romans 9:13, that Paul quotes the Old Testament passage from Malachi 1:2 that states that God hated Esau. Why would Paul quote that passage to remind us that God hates someone?
Some Christians would argue back that it is possible that God can both love and hate at the same time. God hating someone does not mean that He can't love them as well. I agree with this. I have no objections to that.
However, these Christians will argue that no where in the entire Bible does it show that God does not love anyone. This is where I have to disagree. The Bible does make it clear that God does not love certain people.
Let us look at the following passage:
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
- God disciplines those whom He loves.
- There are those who are not disciplined.
The conclusion logically follows and that is:
- There are those whom God does not love.
John Gill in his commentary stated:
All men are not the objects of God's love, only a special people, whom he has chosen in Christ; for whom he has given his Son, when they were sinners and enemies; whom he quickens and calls by his grace, justifies, pardons, and accepts in Christ; and whom he causes to love him; these he loves with an everlasting and unchangeable love, and in a free and sovereign way, without any regard to any motive or condition in them. (John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, Commentary on Hebrews 12:6, Source)
Elsewhere in the Bible it states:
38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This verse is speaking about how God's saints will never separate from the love of God. The verse makes it clear that the love of God is in "Christ Jesus". It is because those saints take Jesus as their Lord and Savior that they will not be separated from the love of God.
- One will not be separated from God's love if he believes in Christ Jesus as Lord.
- There are those who do not believe in Christ Jesus as Lord.
The conclusion logically follows and that is:
- There are those whom God does not love.
One Christian in a sermon refutes the arguments that other Christians put forth to prove that the Biblical God loves everyone:
16. But . does not the Bible teach that God loved the world?
A. Yes, the Bible teaches that God loved the world in John 3:16.
B. This is the "gospel in a nutshell," many say. They say, "This is all I need and all I want." But it is merely one verse out of 31,173. Every word of God is pure, and helps explain the others.
C. But this oft-quoted, never-understood verse does not say that God loves every single human without exception so very much and so very badly that He had to send His son to try to save them all, with the overall project being a colossal failure in that most are not saved at all.
D. The whole issue with this popular corruption of the verse is the definition of the word "world." But what of 12:19; 14:17; 15:19; 16:20; 17:14?
E. First, if we force world to mean every single descendant without exception or distinction, then we have a serious contradiction with all we have already read and studied in the perfect Bible.
F. Second, if we force world to mean every single descendant without exception or distinction, then we create a whole basket full of absurdities and contradictions elsewhere in the Bible.
G. Jesus is speaking to a ruler of the Jews and laying heavy doctrine on him. He has described the new birth that blew his mind, now he points out a dying Messiah, who would die for Gentiles.
H. Whomever God loved, He gave His Son for them, meaning the elect (Jn 6:39; 10:11; 17:2-3).
I. And true to John's purpose for writing, believers only can know eternal life was purchased for them (John 20:31; I John 5:13).
J. Jesus had already made crystal clear that sovereign regeneration had to precede any belief, which is granted only to the elect (John 1:12-13; 3:3,8).
K. There is a sermon and extensive outline explaining John's own interpretation of John 3:16.
17. But . does not the Bible teach that God is love?
A. Yes, the Bible teaches that God is love in I John 4:8 and I John 4:16.
B. But these words do not prove (1) God is only love, (2) God loves all men, (3) God loves any man, (4) God loves you, (5) how long God loves, or (6) just about any thing else you imagine.
C. It simply and only teaches that one characteristic of God is that He loves, and He does love.
D. But He is also holy and righteous, which John introduced first in this very epistle (I John 1:5).
E. While God is love, God cannot love sin or sinners, as we have clearly proved in other places.
18. But does not the Bible teach that God loves us as sinners?
A. Yes, the Bible teaches that God loved us when we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
B. However, in what sense(s) we were still sinners? This is the key, for we were already in Christ.
C. When we read the personal pronouns "us" and "we" in context with God's love and Christ's death, we are not to understand a letter written from heaven to the whole human race!
D. We were still sinners vitally and practically before our regeneration and conversion, when Christ died for us. But we had been loved eternally long before the cross of Calvary.
Thus, we have clearly shown according to the Bible that God does not love certain people.
Secondly, as Jalal Abu Al Rub pointed out in the debate this would have moral implications. If we are to love our enemies then that means that we are also to love Satan since he is our enemy as well (1 Peter 5:8).
Thirdly, this shows that Jesus was a hypocrite since he did not show love towards unbelievers or even believers for that matter:
33"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
For more on the Biblical Jesus' moral character visit this article.
We would have to say the same for Paul:
1 Corinthians 16:22
If anyone does not love the Lord - a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!
Do you "love your enemies" by asking God to curse them?
David Wood in the same debate also argued that Islam teaches us to not initiate greetings with non-Muslims and that this shows that we are no better than pagans (Matthew 5:47). However, this issue has already been addressed:
Thus, I would have to say that David Wood's argument here is pretty weak and actually serves to harm Christianity, not Islam.