David Heddle Answered my Question
I asked, “Does God love me?” and David replied (very warmly and generously, as is his custom), “I believe He does, for I sense you love Him, an if He didn’t quicken you (Eph 2) you wouldn’t love Him.” That’s happy news, and I certainly *hope* I love God (though if you lived inside my skin, you’d find the experience of “irresistible grace” is pretty remote from your day to day life).
But, of course, there’s the other side of the coin, which is that at least some people here and there don’t sense a lot of love for God in me and are quite certain and even vehement that I am an enemy of God and man, a deceiver, and other Bad Things. Now, as it happens, I don’t take their assessment as prophetic utterance declaring the Truth of God’s opinion of me, but as their personal opinion. The problem is, I also take your assessment as personal opinion. I appreciate your personal opinion and offer mine in return that you, David, are a good man who is seeking to serve God. But personal opinions don’t get me an inch closer to knowing what God really thinks of me. And when I hear that I am supposed to have had some experience of irresistible grace and I can’t (judging from my wretched performance, my constant nagging fears that God is not going to find things favorable for me, and my general tepid prayer life and sense of devotion to God, that would fill me with terror–if I was a Calvinist (as it in fact did when I first encountered Calvinism as a young Evangelical).
Next question: Does God love a non-Christian? I don’t mean, Joe Abstract Non-Christian. I mean my friend, the Jewish atheist with a drinking problem who is now dabbling in New Age stuff and whose life is going down the tubes since his divorce, but who still doesn’t buy the whole Christian thing and repeats the normal junk our culture teaches about “believing in yourself.” Does God love him? I think he does. My Church insists as a matter of dogmatic truth that he does. However, I don’t see how any Calvinist can answer that question. The best that can be said to a non-Christian, approaching the God of Calvinism, is that God might love you (though so far, you’re giving off a lot of evidence of not being elect), but in any case, you should knuckle under to Him because he’s sovereign, and if you don’t knuckle under that proves he didn’t love you. That is, to put it bluntly, not a God I can love and indeed a God for which I feel hearty contempt. (Which, of course, re-opens the question of whether I really love God, dunnit?)