Does God love Satan?

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The hardest part about this post for me wasn’t stating what I believe the answer of this question to be. (I wholeheartedly believe God loves Satan.) It was finding an appropriate picture. I went back and forth. Do I post as grotesque an image as possible? Or do I find something that exposes our inclination toward the same evil that consumes him, something along the lines of 2 Cor 11.14’s description of the Devil’s ability to “masquerade as an angel of light” — attractive on the surface, even photogenic you might say. We like to think the Devil’s appearance is metaphysically nauseating, but as evil as he is, he remains a suave, calculating intelligence of incomparable capacity, a well-dressed metaphysical black hole.

That aside, I think the question has merit, as bizarre as many readers may find it and as pointless as they who disbelieve his actual existence may find it. Our answer to the question ‘Does God love Satan?’, I suggest, can reveal a lot about our metaphysical commitments, our attitudes about God and creation and the nature of the relation between the two, especially for those who believe Scripture’s claim that ‘God is love’ is to be read with all its metaphysical implication — that is, God really ‘is’ love. His being and existence, his intentions and acts, are wholly convertible with supreme and unconditional benevolence. I pose the question especially to those who believe this.

Does God love Satan?

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21 comments on “Does God love Satan?

  1. I have wrestled with this question many times over the years, and I, for one, am glad someone is asking. For me, I have to ask another question in reply. How could God not love? How could He not love a being that He created and bestowed such magnificent intellect, beauty and abilities upon? For God is love, and must love all that he creates, for all creation comes from Him, and God loves Himself.

    I am sure God deeply mourns the loss of all the loving possibilities sown into the one who became the satan. If human beings can mourn the marring and destruction of a beautiful painting that is irreplaceable, then how much more deeply felt is the marring and destruction of all the hopes and dreams that this “son of the morning” must have represented?

    God’s love created this being now called the satan, the accuser, the opponent. Even though God must surely hate what this one has become, he must still somehow love him… for God is love, and if God is Jesus, then would he not love his enemies, even as he taught us to do?

    I can’t proof text any of what I have written above, and understand that I have broken all the rules of hermeneutics, but somehow it is the only conclusion I can come to. Perhaps someone will set me straight.

    Peace.

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  2. James Goetz says:

    Hi Tom, I agree with you and Gregory of Nyssa:

    “These and the like benefits the great mystery of the Divine incarnation bestows. For in those points in which He was mingled with humanity, passing as He did through all the accidents proper to human nature, such as birth, rearing, growing up, and advancing even to the taste of death, He accomplished all the results before mentioned, freeing both man from evil, and healing even the introducer of evil himself. For the chastisement, however painful, of moral disease is a healing of its weakness.” (THE GREAT CATECHISM 26)

    Peace,
    Jim

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  3. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    St Isaac the Syrian:

    “Nor are we able to say that the love of the Creator is diminished towards those rational beings who have become demons as a result of their demonic action, and is any less than the fulness of love which He has towards those who remain in the angelic state; or that it is less for sinners than for those who are justly named righteous. This is because the divine Nature is not affected by what happens and by opposition, nor does there spring up within it any causal stirring which takes its origin from creation, and which is not to be found with Him from eternity; not does He have a kind of love which originates as a result of events which take place in time.

    “Rather, everyone has a single place in His purpose in the ranking of love, corresponding to the form He beheld in them before He created them and all the rest of created beings, that is, at the time before the eternal purpose for the delineation of the world was put into effect. For it was not with an adventitious love that He had, without any beginning, the stirring that initiated the establishment of the world. He has a single ranking of complete and impassible love towards everyone, and He has a single caring concern for those who have fallen, just as much as for those who have not fallen.

    “And it is clear that He does not abandon them the moment they fall, and that demons will not remain in their demonic state, and sinners will not remain in their sins; rather, He is going to bring them to a single equal state of perfection in relationship to His own Being—in a state in which the holy angels are now, in perfection of love and a passionless mind. He is going to bring them into that excellency of will, where it will not be as though they were curbed and not [free], or having stirrings from the Opponent then; rather, they will be in a state of excelling knowledge, with a mind made mature in the stirrings which partake of the divine outpouring which the blessed Creator is preparing in His grace; they will be perfected in love for Him, with a perfect mind which is above any aberration in all its stirrings.” (Part II.40.2-4)

    Note how St Isaac grounds God’s love for Satan in the divine impassibility.

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  4. tgbelt says:

    I was hoping you’d bring up St. Isaac! Beautiful.

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  5. What a provocative question. It really grabs the attention. I don’t think I believe in a literal Satan, but if I did the answer would be absolutely yes, God loves Satan. I say this because the love of God is based withIn God’s triune life and not in any particular value in the one God loves.
    I don’t say this however because God must love his creation because I don’t think that is true. God must have choice as I understand God.it is the age old question that I have been thinking about what a bit lately, does the nature of God determine the will of God or does the will of God determine the nature of God? That is probably a false dichotomy of sorts but I believe that God chooses to love us moment by moment and thus I believe that God chooses to love the Satan.

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    • Jeff says:

      Of course if that scripture deemed canonical isn’t inspired in any unique sense, there are no proof texts of anything. Otherwise, I would say the verse “God is love” is as good a proof text as you can get. Because it’s hard for me to imagine what that could be saying except that God is ESSENTIALLY benevolent/loving. If that’s correct, then God doesn’t have a choice in loving: It’s God’s very nature to do so, even if only teleologically (i.e., in terms of cost-benefit analysis measured over time, since clearly there is inevitable suffering of creatures in this world). Indeed, what would we say God’s love is accomplishing for Satan in the here and now? The perpetual provision of new victims?

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      • Jeff says:

        Furthermore, I don’t know how we could have an argument for open theism if God has to choose whether to love or not. If it’s a bona-fide choice, it’s possible for God NOT to love. And if God can choose to not love, theism seems as a-rational as atheism (see Plantinga, etc) in the first place.

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      • Hi Jeff…

        I don’t I think I am following your logic as to why I open theism needs a God determined by love instead of a God who determines what love is. Is love something that is separate from God that God must conform to? As I understand it, it is God who determines what love is. A God who must love would have less power than the libertarian humans God created. But I do concur that that is a risky God indeed.

        Theism to me IS as a-rational as atheism but I am not a theist. I am a believer in Jesus Christ who reveals the nature of God particularly in the cross. There I see a God who both chooses to love and promises to love.

        But as I said in my first comment, the dichotomy I set up between nature and will is probably a false one at some level.

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  6. Jeff says:

    Hello Helluvaguytoo,

    I’m not saying that open theism, as opposed to other theisms, needs a loving God. I’m saying a loving God is the only kind of God that is plausibly believed to be an explanation (i.e., a creator) of the extra-ego, rationally-ordered “world” that we inductively infer. And since open theism is typically part of a larger world-view that posits that a creator that we call “G-O-D” created the extra-ego, rationally-ordered “world” that we inductively infer, a God that doesn’t love those creatures that can experience satisfaction therefrom doesn’t count as a plausible explanation of the “world” inferred by the typical open theist anymore than it does for any other theistic world-view.

    But open theists typically go further and claim that God can’t foreknow FREELY caused events. Thus, if God is FREE to not love, God can’t foreknow when or whether He will love. And supposedly we can’t either if even God can’t. If the open theist says, “… but God can foreknow His own freely caused actions, just not ours,” then the open theist has given up the only argument for open theism that is rational, best I can tell. At that point, why should we believe in open theism?

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    • Jeff…

      “God can’t know when or whether he will love”? Sorry but I am not following your logic. I believe God is committed to loving and consequently is love. This goes back to the old Parmenides and Hierclytus debate about being and becoming. I dont profess to have the answer but I am not satisfied by suggesting that concerning love, God has no choice in the matter. 

      I trust in God’s love for three reasons. 1) because God has a history of loving 2) because Scripture declares that God is love and 3) because I have an experience of God’s love in my life. 

      I am not married, but if I were I would see love in two different stages. The first as a commitment in marriage and the second as a daily choice, although not always a conscious daily choice. I view God in similar terms unless I can be convinced that it is either wrong or unbiblical. God is committed to loving God’s creation.

      I still fail to see why this is in consistent with O.T. which views the future as open to God. Even in O.T. God is not truly going to experience something that God does anticipate at some level. 

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      • Jeff says:

        H, I don’t see the difference between saying God IS commited to loving and consequently IS love and just saying God IS loving. The attributed property following “IS” in both affirmations works as an essential attribute once you assert it indicatively as a matter of fact about the nature of God’s total experience. Otherwise, you seem to be merely saying that God is committed in the way humans are committed. And yet humans fail to perfectly live up to their commitments all the time. So I’m wondering what other than an essential attribute accounts for the difference in your opinion.

        As for “logic,” I’m only aware of two kinds of “logic” — deductive and inductive. Deductive logic is worthless without inductive logic. Because deductive logic can’t establish the plausibility of even one premise. It takes the VALIDITY of induction to do that LOGICALLY. So that’s how I’m approaching it. I’m telling you that I see how the distinction between essential and accidental attributes accounts for the difference between a being that is essentially loving and one that loves non-essentially.

        I think that the verse that speaks of partaking of the divine nature means that we, too, can eventually be essential lovers, as opposed to beings that must choose to love until that partaking occurs. By love, here, I’m meaning intentional action unto the worthwhile benefit of others, not a mere feeling that has no benevolent impact on others.

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  7. Jeff says:

    Tom/Dwayne, if H is interested in my answers to his questions, feel free to give him my email.

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  8. Jeff says:

    H: Even in O.T. God is not truly going to experience something that God does anticipate at some level.

    J: “… at some level” is the key phrase. What I hear open theists typically saying is that God may very well know all possibilities, but not what definitely will happen in the future for events that can be freely caused or indirectly affected. The argument typically is based on a deductive argument that applies to God’s future, freely-caused activity as well.What God is free to do in the future He can not foreknow with definite foreknowledge, in other words. So I don’t see how I can know, per that typical open theistic perspective, that God loves Satan unless God does so essentially. That may allow for room for different “ways” to love, but not whether to love.

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    • kurtkjohnson says:

      Too many “jeff”s here. Are they the same “Jeff”?

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    • So Jeff…it’s god is love then who determines what love is?does love define God or does God define love?

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      • tgbelt says:

        Larry,

        There’s a well-known debate (going back to Socrates) over your question. You may know it. It’s referred to as The Euthyphro Dilemma. Our friend Alan Rhoda discusses it here.

        You can find Christian thinkers on both sides of the debate.

        Tom

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      • ThanksTom. Both are excellent articles and are very clear and succinct. as I mentioned many times in this post, I believe that it is a false dilemma of sorts. To the degree that I choose one horn of the dilemma over the other then I must choose God’s complete freedom over some Moral Form that is outside of God.

        I also can’t help but think that a distinctively Christian theism has much more to say than mere philosophical theism on this issue. I have never understood the cross of Christ as an inevitable choice of God. The cross of Christ negates the speculative fears about what God may or may not do and who God may or may not become. We KNOW who God IS because of the cross.

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      • tgbelt says:

        I agree it’s a false dilemma.

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