Damned For His Glory?

Some Calvinists* believe that God needed to damn some human beings in order to display his attribute of justice. Since God’s goal is the display of his glory and that display requires displaying all of his attributes, it requires displaying his justice. Demonstrating divine justice requires damning some human beings, therefore the maximization of God’s glory requires the damnation of some human beings. This reasoning is flawed in at least three different ways.

First, God’s justice is already displayed in the cross. God punished sin through Christ on the cross. This showed God’s wrath against sin. Everyone agrees that this was sufficient to pay the penalty for absolutely everyone’s sin. Therefore, there could be no greater display of the wrath of God. Therefore any further displays of the wrath of God do not increase the display of the divine attribute of justice. So the glory of God does not require the damnation of any human being.

Second, a display of the wrath of God is not necessary to fully display the justice of God. Since the damnation of human beings is a display of divine wrath; that display is not necessary to display his justice. God’s justice is also displayed by keeping his promises, by not damning those that he has saved and by keeping his power in line with the moral order. So God’s justice can be displayed apart from his wrath. If human beings had never fallen into sin then God would never have displayed his wrath. By never displaying his wrath he would be displaying his justice. Therefore, in a situation with sin God displays justice by wrath. In a sinless world, God displays his justice by not being wrathful. Since these situations are exclusive and both display his justice, the best explanation is that they both express justice equally.

Third, God’s moral attributes are not mutually exclusive but unified. So it is not as if God chooses between expressing his justice or his love. Instead, every act of God expresses all of his attributes. To say otherwise is to introduce contradiction into the divine nature. If one were to claim that God’s loving acts were unjust, then he could not be a just God. If his just acts were unloving, then he could not be a loving God. If every act of God were governed by no universal moral principle, then God would merely be expressing an arbitrary use of divine power. Such a God would not be worthy of any worship – and would not be divine at all.

These are three independent and fully sufficient arguments to show that a display of divine justice does not require the damnation of any human beings. At this point, some Calvinists will respond by claiming that Romans 9 argues differently. Since my arguments have no reference to any exegetical considerations, they might be overturned on that basis. While this is true, I do believe that these arguments will create problems for that exegesis of Romans 9 and they are certainly good reasons to reject the opinion that damnation of human beings is required in order to display divine justice.

*These Calvinists tend to be supralapsarian. Infralapsarian Calvinists need not believe such a thing.