God's Politics

God's Politics


Ryan Beiler: Does God Hate?

posted by gp_intern

Several readers responded strongly to the title of Jim’s post a while back: God Hates Inequality (also featured in SojoMail). Here’s a representative example:

I was very disappointed to read an email from Sojourners that began with the phrase “God Hates.” Yes, I believe that God is greatly disappointed in the manner in which humans treat one another. However, plainly and simply, God is a God of love – not hate. While I understand the message you were trying to convey, I think the “God Hates” phrase was an extremely poor choice and sends a message that it’s okay to begin stating: “God hates this” and “God hates that”.

A quick Bible search reveals several passages in the Hebrew scriptures that describe God hating this or that.

The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence. (Psalm 11:5)

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil, a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family. (Proverbs 6:15-19)

Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:14-15)

Of course, as Chief Wiggum of The Simpsons once said, “the Bible says a lot of things,” and the fact that in these passages God hates things that good progressives disapprove of as well (I can’t stand new moons or appointed festivals either!) does not resolve the thorny theological issue pinpointed by another reader:

The Old Testament is filled with incredible hatred and unspeakable vengeance and cruelty. I thought Christ tried to put an end to that. I don’t understand how the word “hate” can be attributed to God. Not if God is love.

As Stephen Colbert might say: “God hates or God loves? Pick a side – we’re at war.” Or is such black-and-white, either/or thinking offensive to the nuanced and paradox-embracing mind of the progressive intellectual Christian? Discuss.



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Elmo

posted February 12, 2007 at 3:44 pm


I think the problem with people’s perceptions of this is that they seem to think that God can only love or only hate. Well, Scripture seems to say he can do both. Why can’t we be comfortable with the idea that God loves the things that he created, and hates the perversions we’ve made of them? The word nuanced is overused…in progressive circles it’s starting to translate to “convoluted”. The paradox-embracing Christian (progressive or conservative) should be perfectly at home with the idea that God is capable of both love and hate. If you can’t accept that how can you understand the tension between law and gospel, holiness and grace, and Jesus incarnation as fully God and fully man?



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Daniel

posted February 12, 2007 at 4:10 pm


Two thoughts I have on the topic…. 1. Yahweh the volcano God of Joshua and Josiah is clearly different in kind from the suffering-with God of Jonah and Jesus. God goes from hardening people’s hearts on purpose to all of us having the free will to choose, from rewarding and punishing people in this life to causing time and chance to happen for us all, from being Evil in Psalms to being completely apart from Evil. When we look at the evolution of our understanding of God, I believe the test we can use is St. Augustine’s: our experience tells us that God is Love; everything else is us misunderstanding. 2. As Wittgenstein essentially proved, all expressions of language are metaphorical (see The Literary Mind by Mark Turner, for example, or the hermeneutics of Ricoeur). To ascrobe action to God as a personal being assumes we understand the boundaries of God – we know what God is and what God isn’t beyond all language and beyond all limitations of the human body. We simply don’t know. So to say God hates, we are really expressing an experience – the way I sense God relates to this or that is as if God is a human hating that thing. If we didn’t makes these kins of statements we’d have nothing at all to say about God.



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Alex Fear

posted February 12, 2007 at 4:36 pm


As I understand it (but would appreciate if I was corrected), when the word “hate” is used in the bible it is taken as meaning “rejection”. Hence why God “loved” Jacob but “hated” Esau. God still blessed Esau, and didn’t hate him in a despicable way. He simply chose Jacob over Esau for his inheritance (since Esau treated it with contempt). However I must say it is a simple and flawed theology to deduct that God must love everything because “God is love”. Love is not simply an emotion nor is it a wilfully naive. It is more of a choice, choosing to love something that is unlovely. Perhaps study in to the original Hebrew and/or Greek texts would shed some light from time to time.



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wayne

posted February 12, 2007 at 5:02 pm


For the most part I think I agree with Daniel. The problem with all of our ideas about the emotional or attitudinal aspects of God is that it allows the thought to creep into our mind that God changes. He loved us once but now, since we have done a bad deed, He hates us, or since I have done so many good things God loves me. I think this idea enters our minds regardless of our theological bent or predisposition and is contrary to the truth of the Gospel’s message. “for God so loved the world…” Our actions, good or bad, cannot change God. His over all attitude toward us must be love so that even Hell is the last act of a loving God. As Lewis put it, (and I must paraphrase), in the end there are only two kinds of people, the ones who say to the God “Thy will be done” and those to whom the unchangeable God lovingly says, “Thy will be done”



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pollyanna

posted February 12, 2007 at 6:02 pm


I agree with Alex on this point.God is indeed love, but His love is very different from human conceptions of love. It is not mushy sentimentality, which is not to say that it is not personal and compassionate. But His love is indeed a different kind of “love” that is multi-faceted. A good resource for this would be D. A. Carson’s book ‘The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God’. Another note – God’s love is informed (for lack of a better term) by His holiness. Holy love cannot “love” evil. It cannot “love” sin. God’s holiness means He cannot dwell with sin – and thus Christ’s atoning sacrifice is our entry into God’s presence because through His death, we have been clothed with His righteousness. God’s love was demonstrated in His dealing with the sin that separated us from Him through the death of His Son. But that sacrifice also demonstrated God’s justice, which will not allow sin and evil to go unpunished (Romans 3 is a good reference for this). You have to have both in mind to have a balanced view of God’s love. That God hates sin is not a negative idea insofaras it speaks of the absolute holiness of God in which He will not “love” sin or evil.We are informed by the Bible that when Christ returns He will judge the world for unrighteousness. We stand between the First and Second Advent of our Lord. Sin still dwells in the world, but God will deal with it definitively when Christ returns to consummate His Kingdom. We must keep that in mind when thinking of God’s hatred of sin and evil.



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Payshun

posted February 12, 2007 at 6:59 pm


God is LOVE!!! Love compelled God to have his son killed, watch while Israel was destroyed repeatedly, watch while Stephen was stoned, order Joshua to commit genocide, and raise his son from the dead, redeem a demon possessed woman named mary… and bring life to Lazurus, and countless other paradoxical and strange things. The truth is God is the Great I am. He can not hate w/o bringing redemption to a fallen institution or people (unless you happen to be a Philistine…) God does not do well w/ boxes. He is loving, wonderful and terrible all in one sentence. All those words are pale descriptions of his nature. In conclusion I would like to quote lewis’ description of Alsan. “He is not a tame lion.” God is not tame or some simple abstract that doesn’t make sense.p



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Frank

posted February 12, 2007 at 7:05 pm


God does hate injustice and any Christian who hasn’t grown enough to understand the tremendous hurt and pain caused by systemic injustice will remain timid, defensive and naive to the concept. People try to hide their pain and they’re wrong in doing so. How can one do justice if they do not know injustice? Jesus became an example of a social revolutinary by standing up for his right to feel his own pain. We must fee our strength in the experience of pain instead of letting in feelings of shame. God is whole reality and all he requires us to do is actively seek the full spectrum of reality, especially our personal reality, including the disturbing, painful, evil and dangerous. Otherwise, how would we ever NOT stay grounded to him? When you make your peace with authority, you become authority. With smiles on their faces, the most loving parents and relatives force us to destroy the person we really are.



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Payshun

posted February 12, 2007 at 7:37 pm


Frank, Agreed God does hate injustice. Anyone that has read the prophets can attest to that. he destroys countries and peoples for that (or allows for them to be destroyed.) p



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jesse

posted February 12, 2007 at 10:52 pm


The real question is whether God hates “inequality” full stop. I don’t see any evidence for it in the Bible. God does hate injustice, and the case can be made that he hates inequality that is brought about through injustice, but this does not define all types of inequality.Someone may be rich because they worked hard, and someone else could be poor because they are lazy. Does God really hate the inequality that exists between these two people?



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Payshun

posted February 12, 2007 at 10:56 pm


Yes, if his verses about helping the poor and Lazurus and the rich man are any example. p



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Marc

posted February 12, 2007 at 11:11 pm


I think you hit it on the head, if that’s possible, when you alluded to the fact that we, as humans, like to try to make God black and white, because in our human minds, we want to be able to grasp him better than we truly can. So, this means boxing him, in a way, so that we can figure him out. But, as God asked Job, when Job questioned why God would allow bad things to happen to a good man, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (paraphrasing). When, in fact, he is unsearchable, infinitely bigger than our tiny minds can comprehend, indescribable. So, who truly has known the emotions of God? We see them in the Bible, and they are varied and run the range of extremes. Jesus, as God in flesh, showed intense anger at various times. Was that hatred? Who knows. I do know that real “love”, as God is, is so beyond our romantic notions of flowers and comfort.



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jesse

posted February 12, 2007 at 11:14 pm


A rich person can help a poor person, but there will still be the inequality between them. If the rich man fed and took care of Lazarus, there would still be inequality because Lazarus wouldn’t have as much money as the rich man. Would God still hate that?Also, the parable says nothing about the inequality I mentioned (a man attaining wealth through hard work, a man in poverty because of laziness). In Proverbs 6 we are told that poverty will come to the lazy.The parable didn’t really say anything about God’s attitude towards inequality. What it meant was that one could be rich or poor and have different eternal destinations.



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Marc

posted February 12, 2007 at 11:19 pm


I think inequality, in a sense, occurs in God’s kingdom- because Jesus refers many times to the least and the greatest in the kingdom, and also, if I’m remembering correctly, talks about all those coming after him being greater than John the Baptist



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chuck

posted February 12, 2007 at 11:32 pm


Hmm, let’s see. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos, snowstorms, tornados, meteors, black holes, mosquitos, virii, bacteria, politicians, bloggers… Considering His creations, I think it is safe to say that God hates all of us.



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Payshun

posted February 12, 2007 at 11:32 pm


Jesse, That’s inaccurate. What it says is that one can be rich and ignore the poor and be sent to hell while one can suffer in poverty in life and been given eternal joy and everything. So in the end lazyness on Lazurus part was not a condition for salvation. His neediness and brokeness were. While the rich man’s lack of neediness and apathy led him to suffering for eternity. p



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Payshun

posted February 12, 2007 at 11:34 pm


The issue is do we love the poor do weaken inequalities hold? Do we give up our privelege to help others? That’s what the parable was about. if that doesn’t speak to how God feels about inequality and how it can be used to systemically hurt people then I don’t know what does. p



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jesse

posted February 13, 2007 at 12:08 am


Payshun, The parable doesn’t say anything about why Lazarus ended up in heaven. All we know is that he was a beggar in his lifetime. He was ill, as well, thus work would have been difficult for him.We also know that the rich person was rich and likely paid little attention to Lazarus. He wasn’t sent to hell because he was rich. He was sent to hell likely because his apathy about the poor, his pride, unrepentance, etc. I agree with you that apathy about the poor is likely one of the messages of this parable, but it is not the only one.And as I said, if he would have taken care of Lazarus in his lifetime, there still would have been inequality (he would have more money than Lazarus). It’s difficult to argue that this is something “God hates.”Jim Wallis has a lot more money than me. Thus, inequality exists between Jim and me. Is that evil? Something God hates? I think not.



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Anon

posted February 13, 2007 at 12:22 am


There are many words that are translated “poor” in scripture. Some mean those who are poor because of oppression or historically poor. Others refer to those who are lazy. In my experience the former out number the latter by far. I have known many more hard working poor or people who come from backgrounds that do not prepare them for work at all. In fact many may have never known a person in their family who worked. It really doesn’t make any sense to lump people into catagories so you can throw stones at them easier. I have been a drunk and a drug addict. I have also been a banker and a small business owner. I worked during all those parts of my life. None of them made me better than you or worse. The rich man didn’t care. He could have been middle class, he could have been poor. I believe Lazerus was sent to him as if he were an Angel, (yes I know it might not be literal but it doesn’t matter). Poor sick Lazerus could have been the avenue through which the rich man might have found heaven. I think caring can do that. It can show us how alike and needy we are despite what we own or our station in life. It didn’t work out that way though, did it. Glad to be sober for almost 22 years.



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Carl Copas

posted February 13, 2007 at 12:32 am


Anon: “Glad to be sober for almost 22 years.” Praise the Lord.



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Debbie Lackowitz

posted February 13, 2007 at 12:53 am


I totally agree with you Ryan. The “hate” in the Old Testament was overcome with Jesus. He didn’t “hate” anything, except maybe hypocrisy, the powerful, those that sit in judgement, things like that. I love Colbert, but that’s not “him” talking that’s his alterego who sees things in black and white (there’s a difference).



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Payshun

posted February 13, 2007 at 1:52 am


Jesse To be fair you are right in a way. God doesn’t hate being rich. God hates those whose life’s are dedicated to it at the expense of the poor. I think God weeps for the rich that trust their wealth over him. As for inequality God seems to not like it so much during the time of the exodus. He likes wiping out debt, and other forms of inequality. It would seem that his view of inequality is a little bit more nuanced than God hating Jim’s wealth. It would seem that wealth at the expense of others is what God hates. p



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Jacob

posted February 13, 2007 at 4:56 am


Dear everyone: I am relatively new to the blogging world, but I have enjoyed (and benifited from) the insightful comments. Essentially we are trying to understand the very nature of God to whatever extent possible – obviously not fully possible. We understand God on the basis of human experience. While recoginzing that we cannot assign human charateristics to God, we have not other paradigm through which we might understand God. [With that said, I will still comment.] Perhaps if God did not “hate” then Christ would not have been crucified. Let me explain. God is by nature holy. That which is not holy (we might say evil) is in opposition to God’s nature. Would it be worng to say that God hates what is in opposition to God’s nature? Hate entails disdain, disapproval, rejection, extreme dislike. I would like to believe that God “feels” this way about evil (or that which is contrary to God’s nature). Maybe I am making a jump here, but if God was not [by very nature] apposed to evil, would it be necessary for Christ to redeem the world from evil. If God does not hate that which is contrary to God’s nature, then it seems unlikley that God would send his only begotten son as a sacrifice – not to condemn the world but to save it. God can “feel” anger, but that does not mean that God IS anger. likewise, maybe God can “feel” hatred toward a particular thing (like societal injustice), but that does not mean God IS hate.God is so great. The love of Christ is real. The spirit is present. But dang, WELCOME TO THE MYSTERY.



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Jacob

posted February 13, 2007 at 5:03 am


Last thought: Perhaps we could think of the definition of “hate” to be that which we can not tolerate.



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iggy

posted February 13, 2007 at 1:13 pm


There is a big difference between saying God hates something that stands between man and Himself… and hating humans… The issue of God hating the nations that opposed the Hebrews was just this, for no good reason… other than God decided to “love” the Hebrews, the nations that opposed the representatives of His love, received His wrath.We miss that the ones chosen were always loved, even when chastised.The thread of love is throughout the OT and cultivates in the NT at the Cross… yet even more at the Resurrection as death is conquered. God, was and is and has always been the compassionate and just God… righting injustice…. often we miss that the wrath was also against those who were unjust as in Sodom and Gomorrah (they were not destroyed because of homosexuality but because the kings of S and G did not continue to be thankful and God used Abraham to conquer the kings that attacked S and G and took their people and wealth… The kings of S and G gave thanks with Melkezidec to God and then went back to being wicked… forsaking the God that delivered their people… God gave them justice since they did not want a relationship. (Genesis 14) The two sided coin, so to speak, is compassion and justice.We also forget that God is perfectly just… and He could at anytime just as well “uncreate” all He created… we could just not exist… and God would be perfectly just and owe us no explanation. Regrettably many turn this compassionate God into a hateful God… God is against one thing and that is man seeking knowledge in anyway that is not from Him. To forsake God, and be a god unto ourselves by thinking we may know good and evil without God’s help. Blessings, iggy



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Jean

posted February 13, 2007 at 3:27 pm


It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. 2000 years ago God revealed Himself as One who doesn’t curse the darkness but One who lights a candle, the light of mercy and forgiveness through Jesus. Love is the ability to see the beauty and light in something or someone. Hate is the inability to see the beauty. Systemic injustice that causes suffering for some and bounty for others (due to a faulty system) is darkness. Since human beings have difficulty setting aside the satisfaction their egos feel in benefitting from the system, their satisfaction causes them to be immune to the suffering which others are experiencing. Even if someone is suffering from “laziness” we are to be a blessing rather than curse upon them. We do not turn our backs thus heaping more darkness upon darkness. God desires that we shine light on darkness to transform it from evil to goodness. God shines his light of love on sinful humanity through mercy and compassion, forgiveness. We are to do the same. God hates injustice in that it is darkness, uninhabited by Himself. We are to bring His light into the situation via compassion and mercy. “That which you do for the least of these you do for me.” We have compassion because we are obedient and love God, and eventually — with enough cultivation — because we love our neighbor as God loves us. Because we turn toward His light we find salvation. When we are not obedient thus showing our lack of love for God, God forgives — His light is always available for us. But through our own choices of non-compassion and non-mercy (disobedience) we turn away from His love and inevitably choose hell for ourselves because we have turned our backs on the light of God. It’s not God that turns away from us; that was proof given through Jesus.



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reddopto

posted February 13, 2007 at 5:55 pm


Good comments all! Two biblical references to hate are in the book of Revelations. In the letters to the seven churches, Jesus refers to the Nicolaitans. In verse 2:6, He says he hates their deeds, and commends the church at Ephasus for separating themselves from those deeds. Shortly thereafter, in addressing the Pergamos church, He says He hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and that that doctrine was being practiced by some members of the Pergamos church. We don’t know exactly what the doctrines of the Nicolaitans were, but one point that is established here is that Christ can hate (or reject) some doctrines within Christian churches. Paul also railed against false doctrine. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that doctrine matters to God.



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Payshun

posted February 13, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Red, But not at the extint that Doctrine determines one’s life. God loves doctrines that keep a healthy boundary btwn man and man. God loves doctrine that calls for love but hate’s doctrine that calls for hating the individual. p



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azulnoel

posted February 14, 2007 at 5:11 pm


Reddopto, I hope that was a typo about Jesus writing letters. We don’t know that Jesus wrote anything, and Mark was written 20-30 years after his death.Back to hate – See in Amos where God says he hates, he despises the solemn ceremonies and burnt offerings. This was linked to neglect of the poor, and participation in a system that would create a poor underclass. This is what God hates – the powers and principalities referred to by Paul.The system here in America that needs an underclass to function would be included as something God hates and despises.As Christians I think it is not enough to feed the poor and visit the imprisoned. We must make “new wineskins” and throw away the old – create new institutions that are fair, egalitarian and communitarian like the ancient Hebrew tribal confederacy was. As Christians we ignore the “Jewishness” of our faith and we must bring it back as it is the Hebrew practice of jubilee, and the year of the lord that made for a society that God “loves”.



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Jean

posted February 14, 2007 at 8:11 pm


Does anyone have an explanation why it seems that Jesus was all for charity — helping those who suffer unjustly — but didn’t speak out for changing the institutions that create the injustice? People don’t resist when others perform acts of charity for those who are suffering. When it comes down to changing the structures that cause suffering, however, people are resistant. Obviously the “haves” have something to lose if injustice is addressed at the source/cause rather than at the result/effect.



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Payshun

posted February 14, 2007 at 10:23 pm


Jean Actually that’s not entirely true. Let’s look at what jesus did to court of the gentiles. He cleared it by turning over tables and whipping the corrupt money changers. one more point jesus was first and foremost about building his father’s kingdom. That doesn’t always mean tearing down structures unless that gets in the way of the kingdom. p



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kevin s.

posted February 15, 2007 at 5:51 am


“The system here in America that needs an underclass to function would be included as something God hates and despises.” To the extent that you define the lower class as the underclass, what society has come up with a solution to this quandary? Does God inherently hate every nation, for the reason that they cannot make everyone middle class or better?The American economic model seeks to provide prosperity to all Americans, to the extent that it is possible. Attempts to forge a governmental solution have, in the past, resulted in an underclass that serves the government. That seems far less ethical, to me. In America, we share a number of things… Infrastructure, social programs, parks, etc… This notion that God hates us for having a free market system is not supported in scriptures.



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Daniel

posted February 15, 2007 at 3:54 pm


Kevin, The free market system transfers wealth upward by definition – owners of capital create more wealth for themselves and in so doing we hope the labor bought from the non-wealthy will help them get some money-making capital and become the employer. We can’t all be the employers; someone has to do the dirty work. And this system is held in place by two important myths. First, the myth of scaricty, that there isn’t enough and we have to compete. We can’t all win, someone has to lose. Not so. That myth developed to justify what we see, not the way it has to be. Second. The myth that people’s innate goodness will temper the social ills that might result from everyone seeking their own self-interest (Adam Smith’s first book made the argument that humans are inherently good and will take care of each other without reqwuirement to do so.) This has proven inaccurate in our system the behavioral expeirment we call capitalism rewards greed.The whole system is based on inspiring each of us to COVET our neighbor’s belongings and having the GREED to seek more than we need. the result, not surprisingly, is that all sorts of people get thrown under our economic bus.



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Francois

posted February 18, 2007 at 8:50 pm


In my view of semantics, “hate” is *not* the counterpart of “love” (I would instead suggest something like “indifference”). Hate is a feeling that is related to God’s justice, his sanctity, and his impossibility to tolerate (yes, you read correctly) sin.



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Janak BC

posted October 1, 2007 at 10:19 am


Dears!
Rather than debating on this topic, we need to understand the context of the situation. I can’t even imagine that God hates…Look! We , human beings have a big problem that we never want to accepts problems and mistakes. All we want to put the problems on others..And when it comes very extreme situation then we start chant it’s God who didn’t like it .
I have a very fresh incident that happened in my life. One of my friend’s son who was studying in engineering college in India. He was 19 years old. One day, His mother was speaking calling him by cell phone. This young man was walking on the top of the building. A high voltage electric wire was passing near by the building. This man was just near by the wire. He didn’t realize that electric line started to create the magnetic field. As he was speaking to his mama, suddenly the he was caught by electric current and he was over, speaking to his mama. I know this family very well. They were strong family. Everything was ok. But she have heard the Gospel. She knows the Bible . She knows the teaching of Jesus. But I have a little question here, what was the relationship with God. Knowing the teaching of Christ doesn’t guarantee your salvation until and unless you believe and follow His footstep. If she would have sure about her relationship with God perhaps she could have different issue. However it’s the life of her son.
Now, This mama is really upset with God. I don’t want to comment anymore. But I know one thing that God doesn’t hate human beings but definitely He hates the sin of human being. This should not be doubt.



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Peasant

posted July 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm


Oh please….God absolutely hates and abhors middle class and the poor. He is a lapdog of the rich and ensures that the rich continue to get richer to control the world. God’s hatred of the poor and the middle class cannot be described in words. Every death, murder and mayhem of a poor or a middle class person makes God jump with joy and provides a big smile on His face.



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