Today I will address the declaration by a prominent Southern Baptist: “God loves all races.” This is the continuing challenge of the article posted by David Johnson, “The Bible Speaks on Racism.” The belief that God loves all races is the extreme majority view of both Catholics and Protestants. Again, like the rest of Mr. Johnson’s declarations, this one is also based on a presumption of what the Bible says and means. Let’s examine what the Bible says and if it supports this all-inclusive view of whom God loves.
This verse cited by Mr. Johnson is perhaps the most referred to proof-text that God loves all races on the planet:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
The conclusion that this verse says God loves all races is based on the presumed meaning of “world.” It is believed that “world” means every “human being” on the planet. Is that the correct meaning? Is that what the Apostle John meant when he used the word “world”?
Mr. Johnson interprets “world” in this way:
“When the Bible says, ‘For God loves the world in this way …’ (John 3:16 CSB), it is talking about the people of the world of all races and nationalities. God did not just show His love to one ethnic group, but all. That is why John says later that He is the world’s Savior (1 John 4:14 CSB). – (Emphasis added.)
I John 4:14 says:
“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
Again his argument is that John used “world,” implying that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all races.
Naturally, we might assume this meaning of “world” is all-inclusive because of our modern-day view of the world as the planet and every “human” on it. But is that what John meant in the context of his writings and of a comprehensive biblical “world” view? Is that how the word “world” was understood in the first century?
I discuss the immediate context of John 3:16 as well as the broader biblical context in my book, God’s Covenant Creation (Book Four), chapter 11. I also review the meaning of “world” translated from the Greek word, kosmos. My conclusion, according to the evidence of the Bible, is that “world” is limited in scope, referring to the world of Israel or the world of Adam’s race.
The presumption by many that the word “world” used in John 3:16 or I John 4:14 is universal in scope and definition cannot be proved by the evidence and, in fact, is defeated by it.
Does God Love All Races?
It is inconceivable to the modern mind to believe that the God of the Bible doesn’t love every race on the planet. This idea is a very emotionally-held belief, but does it have any basis in the Scriptures? In respect to the truth that God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6), consider a few Old Testament references as to who God loves:
Deuteronomy 7:8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he sware unto your fathers … [that is, of Israel].
Psalm 47:4 … the excellency of Jacob whom he loved.
Isaiah 63:7-9 I will mention the loving kindness of the Lord … and the great goodness toward the house of Israel … in his love and in his pity he redeemed them …
Hosea 3:1 … according to the love of the Lord towards the children of Israel.
Hosea 11:1-4 When Israel was a child, then I loved him … I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love …
Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord thy God in the midst of them [that is, Israel] is mighty, he will save, he will rejoice over them with joy, he will rest in his love …
Malachi 1:2-3 … yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau …
The above states that God loves Israel, they physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, it’s objected, “But that’s the Old Testament. Now we are in the New Testament age.” I must ask, Is not the whole Bible the unified, consistent written word of God and is not the God of the Bible the same God Who does not change?
Did God only set His love on Israel in the Old Testament, but now in the New Testament open His love to all the other races? Based on what evidence?
If it cannot be demonstrated that John 3:16 and like verses about “the world” refers to all races, then are there other possible theological factors that would clearly be inclusive? How about the New Covenant? If you haven’t done so already, look up Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 8:8-10. You will see that the New Covenant is strictly exclusive to Israel. The New Covenant is specifically for the house of Israel and the house of Judah. That’s it.
How about the “Gentiles”? Biblically speaking, the meaning of “Gentiles” in the New Testament means the dispersed house of Israel. I cover this in Discover the Story of Your Biblical Heritage, Book One.
Racially-inclusive theology concluding that God loves everybody on the planet is based on zero biblical evidence. Sorry, but the Bible does not say God loves every individual of every race. It actually says the opposite.
Next time, I will discuss the next declaration that “Christ died for all races.” See you then!
By Lawrence Blanchard, ND, MDiv