April 30, 2017
Does God Love the Devil?
Greetings Dr Craig,
I am a Muslim, from the westernmost parts of Africa. I have been following your work for years, watching practically all your debates, reading some of your articles and much of the weekly Q&A section.
Even though I am not a Christian, you have helped me greatly in my own pursuit of truth, to identify much more with the issues that Christians face today, and in learning to appreciate the Christian tradition in philosophical and theological thought.
What I would like to have some clarification about is the following (I will use quotes for things you affirmed):
You have argued in some of your work that since God is the greatest conceivable being, since He is morally perfect and since loving is morally better than not loving, then He must be "all-loving"; also, as the greatest conceivably loving being His love must be "unconditional, impartial and universal" even for those who are “damned and who have rejected Him forever”.
- Is it not true then that His love for all includes the Devil? For if it were not the case then there would be at least one eternally damned being whom God does not love or loves less, i.e., He is not all-loving or the greatest conceivably loving being.
- Is it not true that His impartial love is for Jesus as much as it is for the Devil?
- Is it not true that His love for the Devil prior to his falling is the same as it is after, since it is unconditional, not conditioned by the choices of the Devil?
Thank you immensely.
It’s wonderful to think that you’ve been reading and reflecting on my work all these years, Adami! I should very much like to visit your region of the world someday.
Your question derives from my plausibility argument for the doctrine of the Trinity. Since God is essentially loving and love involves giving oneself to another person, and since created persons exist only contingently, God must be a plurality of persons, in contradiction to unitarian conceptions of God as a single person.
I’m not sure if the intent of your questions is to force me into an awkward position. But I feel no awkwardness whatever in affirming that God most certainly does love Satan. Indeed, what I should find awkward would be affirming that He does not! God is a perfectly loving being, whose love is not based on a person’s performance. Satan is a person, indeed, on the traditional conception an angelic person of unparalleled beauty and perfection among creatures. How could God not love him? The fact that that person is now fallen and unspeakably evil does not imply that God ceases to love him, any more than He ceased to love us when we fell and became enemies of God (Romans 5.10).
Notice that my claim is that God loves everyone universally, impartially, and unconditionally. It is no part of my claim that God loves everyone equally. Even if God loves all human persons equally, Christ on the Christian conception is not a human person, but a divine person, the second person of the Trinity, and therefore plausibly the special object of the Father’s love.
So in short answer to your questions:
- Is it not true that God’s love for all includes the Devil? It is true.
- Is it not true that His impartial love is for Jesus as much as it is for the Devil? I see no reason to think so.
- Is it not true that His love for the Devil prior to his falling is the same as it is after? It is true.