Disclaimer: I seem to have not made it clear in the past, but my current background is one of no belief in any non-physical sentient beings. (I’m totally comfortable with the likelihood that the universe is teeming with life, including intelligent life, but I also think that if intelligent beings had ever visited us we would know all about it, and the huge distances involved make it highly unlikely within any contemplatible timespan.) Thus when I discuss subjects such as Heaven, Hell, God, etc. it is purely in a hypothetical sense as far as I am concerned, because I find it interesting to think about how “well-designed” a religion can be, and whether it contains contradictions and inconsistencies, etc. (e.g. I tried to push the point in the past that we are unable to say that Hitler could not possibly have gone to heaven, but people here just refused to countenance the thought – an attitude I don’t understand because it seems to me to be glaringly obvious as a possibility, whether likely in the particular case of Hitler or not.)
So it’s agreed that angels were God’s creation, and the point I want to make now, is that this means, when we discuss whether God loves the sinner but hates the sin, or God can hate the sinner as well, we have an existing example in his treatment of angels, and can say without hesitation by reason of this example, that God can very well hate both the sin and the sinner.
I would reason thus:
If angels were God’s creation, and we know a good proportion rebelled and were cast out of heaven, and that the only future for those angels is eternity in Hell, it immediately follows that Bnonn is right and Stuart is wrong about God’s hate of the sin/love of the sinner. I say this because as his creation, there is no reason for God to treat Satan and his followers any differently from human beings. He obviously created angels because he wanted worship, presumably love, and not just mindless automatons. Clearly he gave angels free will, or they could not have chosen to rebel against him. This makes them not different in any important way from humans, and as such they would have been highly valued by God. They both (angels and humans) were tempted, and they both fell. In fact Satan, the leader of the rebellious angels, could not be seen as any worse than many humans, in fact better than many. His worst sin was probably pride, pushing him to think he could displace God as king of heaven (I’m guessing here – was that his ambition?) and the worst evil he seems capable of since his defeat, is putting temptation in humanity’s path. People don’t actually need him to push them into temptation, by the way – it’s quite easy to succumb to it without any help, and as far as doing evil, obviously man’s inhumanity to man far exceeds the bounds allowed to Satan. Has Satan done anything as evil as Bin Laden? Not to my mind. And has Satan ever done anything remotely as genocidal as wiping out every last vestige of humanity except one family in the flood? So generally, Satan seems quite an admirable and restrained fellow, making allowance for a little deviousness. He just tries to lay temptation in someone’s way, and they do the rest themselves. My main point then, is that he would seem to have sinned to a more far less malign extent than many humans, in fact less than people we read about daily in the news, and God would have no more reason to deny him the possibility of redemption than to deny any humans.
Now my understanding is that, in fact, God _has_ totally denied Satan any chance of redemption, and intends to let him suffer for eternity in Hell. In that case, given that man was created for basically the same reason as Satan, and given the same chances, if man follows the same path he can suffer the same fate, and expect God to see him in absolutely the same terms as Satan and his angels, i.e. if he hates Satan, he has no reason not to hate human sinners also.
Thanks Bnonn. I was going to argue the case that God hates the sinner, along the lines that Satan is clearly a far better being, morally, than many people we read about in the news every day, yet God hates him, when I suddenly realised it’s by no means clear that God does hate him. Is this question in the same category as “Does God hate the (human) sinner?” or is the answer more clear-cut?