A Calvinist Perspective on “Jesus Loves The Little Children”

“Jesus loves the little children…

All the children of the world…

Red and yellow, black and white…

They are precious in His sight…

Jesus loves the little children of the world”

Herman:  Well, that song was quite obviously written by an Arminian

Calvin:  Why do you say that?

Herman:  Well, the song says that Jesus loves “all” the little children of the “world”.  That is what Arminians believe, that Christ died for all and loves the world in such a way that He truly desires all to believe in Christ and be saved.

Calvin:  Oh, well you have just misunderstood the context of the song.

Herman:  What do you mean?

Calvin:  Well, the context plainly demonstrates that “all” doesn’t mean “every child without exception.”

Herman:  It doesn’t?

Calvin:  Of course not.  Look at that one line that says, “Red and yellow, black and white”.

Herman:  O.K.

Calvin:  Well, it seems obvious to me that when he says “all the children of the world” he only means all the different colors of children in the world.  You see, he is really concerned about racism and guarding against the false teaching that Jesus might only love red children and not any black children, etc.

Herman:  Is that right?  I never realized that?

Calvin:  Well, most people don’t, but that is just because they pay no attention to context.  That is why God gave us Reformed theologians to explain these things to us.  I could give you a good book by a Calvinist where he spends about twenty pages explaining why “all the children of the world”  really means “only a relatively few children from among all the various races of the world”.

Herman:  Wow, it is amazing to me that I never realized that before.  I think I would like to read that book.  Thank God he didn’t leave us on our own to interpret songs like this one or we might come to some really bizarre conclusions.  I don’t know what we would ever do without those Reformed theologians you mentioned.  I think from now on I will just read from them so I don’t misunderstand something else as I am obviously easily confused.

Calvin:  Absolutely.  Just make sure you don’t put their writings above what the songs actually say while understanding that it is impossible to rightly understand what the songs actually say and mean without reading from them.

Herman:  Uh, sure.  That makes sense.  I think.  Are you suggesting that they might be wrong about this song after all?

Calvin:  Of course not.  They are right because that is what the verse plainly means when considered in context and you can be sure that the song plainly means that because the Reformed theologians say so.  Got it?

Herman:  Yeah, I got it.  Well, I’m off to buy some of those books you recommended.  Thanks for all your help.  Imagine, if I had never talked to you I would have just gone right on foolishly believing that the song was saying that Jesus actually loved “all” the children of the “world”.

Calvin:  No problem.  That’s what I’m here for.

16 thoughts on “A Calvinist Perspective on “Jesus Loves The Little Children”

  1. I’m not sure if you picked the best song to make your point, since the focus of that song is racism. I would agree that the Calvinist conclusion is still bizarre, and the satire about how one should appreciate Calvinists theologians is par excellance, but I’m not sure if you should have picked that song.

  2. Hilarious (but scary). And I loved that circular reasoning at the end!

    I don’t think, however, that our friends at Reformed Mafia agree with you (see today’s post). Shock! 🙂

  3. I realize this is satire but unfortunately it does present a key problem with calvinism: the bible presents clear passages that properly interpreted say that God desires the salvation of all. Clearly in these passages “all means all”. But the determinist/calvinist holds to an erroneous theological system that says not that God desires the salvation of all, but that God only wants to save a preselected group of people and damn the rest of the human race (and God decides these eternal destinies before any of these people are born).

    The children’s song correctly represents what the bible declares about the Lord’s intentions..

    But because of their emotional commitment to their false system of determinism, the determinists have to argue against this song. The vast majority of Christians (whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant or Independent) have always taken these verses to mean what they clearly at face value mean: God desires the salvation of all. These verses are so clear that most Christians have never had any problem properly interpreting them. The exception is the theological determinists. The calvinist in an attempt to discredit the correct and proper interpretation of these clear biblical texts will point out that in some bible verses “all does not mean all”. And they are correct, in some bible verses, if the verses are correctly interpreted, the all does not mean all.

    The problem is that in some verses, **all does in fact mean all**. And in these verses it is rather clear that all means all. And when it comes to verses referring to God’s intentions to save: all does in fact mean all. And this has been absolutely clear to everyone except the determinists throughout church history.

    Logically there are only three possibilities regarding the “all verses” in the bible: (1) all **never** means all; (2) all **always** means all; or (3) all **sometimes** means all and **sometimes** does not mean all. We can easily dismiss possibility (1) as no one suggests that. We can also easily dismiss possibility (2) as we can all present verses where all does not mean all. That leaves only possibility (3) that sometimes all means all and sometimes all does not mean all in the bible verses. I believe careful consideration of the texts and contexts will show where all means all and where all does not mean all. The determinist will also grant that possibility (3) is the correct one. Their problem is that when they come to soteriological passages, where all in fact means all, because of their system and not proper interpretation of the biblical texts, they will argue that in those soteriological passages all does not mean all. So for the committed determinist it always comes down to ****allegiance to an erroneous system**** over ****proper interpretation of clear biblical texts****. And if someone makes this move, there really is not much chance of dissuading them of their false interpretation. So due to their allegiance to the false deterministic system, they will then have to argue that in fact Jesus does not love all the children of the world. And that He does not want to save them all nor did He want to provide a provision of salvation for them all through the cross. And if they are candid about what they **truly believe** they have to claim that in fact Jesus planned from eternity to reprobate/damn most of the children of the world. If they wrote the song in accordance with their false theology it would be “Jesus hates most of the children of the world and he reprobated them before they were born for his ‘glory””.

    Sad, very sad what the fruits of theological determinism lead to.


  4. jc_freak,

    Actually, I thought the song was really appropriate due to it’s parallel with passages like John 12:32 where Jesus says He will draw all men unto Himself. Calvinists point to the presence of Gentiles in verses 20-22 and come to the conclusion that since the presence of Greeks may have provoked Jesus’ response, then Jesus must have only meant that He will draw some from among “all races of men” (Jew and Gentile). I did a post about that awhile ago here:


    It also parallels 1 Tim. 2:4 where prayers for kings and those in authority are mentioned in verse 1. Calvinists then conclude that Paul must have only meant that God desires some to be saved among “all classes of men”.

    The problem is that such contextual considerations do nothing to change “all” into “some among all” despite the protests and ramblings of Calvinists (especially note the full context of 1 Tim. 2:4-7, cf. 4:10). In both cases it is more natural to read the passage as saying since something (provision of atonement/desire to save all) applies to all without exception, then those of particular races or classes are naturally included. To try to interpret the universal by the particular is forced and unnatural and that is why it has been widely rejected througout church history; and it is also why many Calvinists reject the L in TULIP as well. These Calvinists seem to be more interested in letting exegesis control theology rather than making theology of TULIP control exegesis (and generally admit this is the motivation behind their rejection of L).

    So, like you said, “the Calvinist conclusion is still bizarre” whether the song has to do with racism or not, just as the Calvinist conclusion is still bizarre regardless of whether or not the passages mentioned above have to do with races or classes of men.

    God Bless,

    For some arguments from 4 point Calvinists against limited atonement see:




  5. Roy,

    Thanks for the heads up. I left a few comments at T-blog. I banned them from posting here a while back so I suspect those comments may be deleted eventually as they have probably likewise banned me from commenting over there. If they get deleted then I will post them here.

    God Bless,

  6. Veggie Tales promote “heresy” too. At the end of every episode they say: “Remember, God made you special, and he loves you very much”. Who are these veggies to assert that God loves anyone in particular?

  7. Kevin,

    Yeah, I really think the Calvinists need to take a strong stand against Veggie Tales and the rank heresy they are promoting. I wonder what a Calvinist Veggie Tales would look like?

  8. Veggie Tales – High Calvinist Edition

    Larry: “And remember…”

    Bob: “God loves the elect very much.”

    Larry: “That’s a good thing!”

    Bob: “But if He didn’t choose you…which He, um, more than likely didn’t…then even if you die before you know what sin is, you’ll be cast into the fiery pits of hell so that your eternal torment for sin committed by some guy you never met can show how glorious and just God is!”

    Larry: “And THAT’s a great thing!”

    Both: “Goodbye!” [cue toddlers crying]

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