Last night I had been reflecting on a particular Collect (prayer) for Ash Wednesday. As I got into bed I got out my phone and quickly typed out “God hates nothing which He has made” on my Facebook status. I didn’t think twice about doing as I consider it a beautiful and insightful truth. However, before long it had generated over 70 comments and some strong words.
This blog post is to address some of the objections that folks had made and see if we can’t iron some of this out a bit. To put the statement in context though, here is the full text of the Collect:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou has made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1. In saying “God hates nothing which He has made” we are not saying that “there is nothing that God hates”. Of course there are many things which we can say that God hates. God hates sin, wickedness, and evil to name a few. But notice that what we proclaim is that “God hates nothing WHICH HE HAS MADE”. Is sin the work of God’s hand? Are evil and wickedness? Surely not. God is good and can do no evil. Therefore, God can create no evil. Sin and evil are, therefore, not “part” of God’s creation. We can, therefore, proclaim that “God hates nothing which He has made” and “God hates wickedness” without contradicting ourselves.
1.a. What about Satan and Hell? Well, if “Satan” and “Hell” are created realities then as absurd as it may sound, these things are created good. “Hell”, as a part of God’s good creation is not meaningless in light of God’s plan and purposes for the world. Likewise, the traditional understanding of “Satan” or “the Devil” has been that he is a fallen angel. Thus, created good.
2) Creation itself is an act of pure love and grace. This is important to try and understand so I’ll try and tease it out a bit without being too convoluted. God is distinct from creation. There can be no confusion here: God is not found “in” any part of creation because then God would be bound somehow by creation. God is utterly and totally *free*. So then, strictly speaking, God did not create because he needed to create for if God had some need outside of Himself then He would not be God. God is never nor can He ever be in a position of need.
Because God is totally free and had no need to create we are then confronted with the question, “why did God create?” Our answer here must be, and can only be, “love”. Creation itself is an act of pure love motivated by no external need but only as a result of the outpouring of God’s great love, namely, His own inner-life. Creation, then, is a gift. Another way of saying this is that creation is all grace. Grace “goes all the way back”, literally.
Yet, some of the responses on my Facebook status included:
“in God’s goodness he loves a few of us. But to us it appears every one has the potential to receive God’s love.”
“I think God hates all sin and loves some sinners.”
“God may have loved all he made but doesn’t mean god loves all he has made.”
God loves only a few of us? It only appears that everyone has the potential to receive God’s love? God loved (past tense) all he made but He doesn’t love (present tense) all he has made? Really?
If Creation is an act of pure grace and love as it most surely is then the simple fact that you exist and are able to read this means that God loves you. God cannot hate you. Why? Because He created you and creation is a gift, it’s pure grace all the way down.
3) Some commenters rightly noted that Christ is the proof that “God does not ultimately hate what He has made”. This is bang on. In light of God entering into creation in the flesh there can be no denying that God loves all that He has made.
Hopefully this has cleared up some objections. Perhaps not? For those who would still object perhaps you can point with clarity to something which God has made that He hates.