I struggle with John Calvin writing that God created people to go to the lake of fire (Institues, Volume 3, Chapter 21, Section 5). How could a loving, merciful, and gracious God create people so that they will burn forever in the lake of fire? It may be a sovereign act but I fail to see the love. I can understand punishment following the crime, but to create with the intention of suffering before the crime is difficult to comprehend.

  • Can you please edit this to quote the specific sentences from the Institutes you're asking about, including telling us which translation you're reading?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 22:16
  • 1
    Thanks. ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.pdf Page 770 "All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death." Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 0:20
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 23:22
  • You should include that quote into the question with the link. Excellent question btw.
    – Autodidact
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 23:11

1 Answer 1


I found a compilation of John Calvin quotes on the topic of God's love. Here is one that struck me as relevant to your question:

Sermon #28, Deut. 4.36-38, p. 167, this quote was compiled by Andrew Myers.

It is true that Saint John says generally, that [God] loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offers Himself generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer…

Thus we see three degrees of the love that God has showed us in our Lord Jesus Christ. The first is in respect of the redemption that was purchased in the person of Him that gave Himself to death for us, and became accursed to reconcile us to God his Father. That is the first degree of love, which extends to all men, inasmuch as Jesus Christ reaches out his arms to call and allure all men both great and small, and to win them to Him.

But there is a special love for those to whom the gospel is preached: which is that God testifies unto them that He will make them partakers of the benefit that was purchased for them by the death and passion of his Son. And forasmuch as we be of that number, therefore we are double bound already to our God: here are two bonds which hold us as it were strait tied unto Him.

Now let us come to the third bond, which depends upon the third love that God shows us: which is that He not only causes the gospel to be preached unto us, but also makes us to feel the power thereof, so as we know Him to be our Father and Savior, not doubting but that our sins are forgiven us for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, who brings us the gift of the Holy Ghost, to reform us after his own image.

The other quotes are here: https://www.monergism.com/john-calvin-god%E2%80%99s-love

The preceding quote shows

(1) that God loves all people with a first token because Jesus' offer of his life was sufficient to save all mankind,

(2) that God loved a subset of all people by preaching the gospel to them (though none were worthy to hear Him deliver His counsel), a second, more powerful token of his love,

(3) that God loved a subset of those who heard the gospel and made that message powerfully persuasive, converting them to truth and salvation, and ultimately translating them to Heaven.

Thus God loves even those who end up in Hell, and Christ was willing to suffer even for many who wasted His gift of His precious blood, pouring it into the sewer.

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