Head First: An Interesting Juxtaposition...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Interesting Juxtaposition...

...but is it sound? To what degree are God and Love interchangeable terms?

(all emphases mine)
(1 John 4:8) "The one who does not love does not know God, for God IS love."

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5) "Love (God?) is patient, love (God) is kind. It (He) does not envy, it (He) does not boast, it (He) is not proud. It (He) is not rude, it (He) is not self-seeking, it (He) is not easily angered, it (He) keeps no record of wrongs." (!!!!!!!!!)

That's pretty much exactly the opposite of what my 6th grade sunday school teacher told me.

23 comments:

SocietyVs said...

It has me wonder for some time the ideas 'God is love' and Jesus main 2 commandments were simply 'love God and your neighbor'. If love is what we aspire to - then are people that try to enhance this idea also (Christian or not) following the aspect at the heart of this faith - so becoming part of it just not knowing it? I always have a great time when studying into this theology - of God and love.

RF2R2 said...

dorsey,

My instinct is that your exegesis lacks precision with regards to the Corinthian verse. I'll look into it and get back to you.

dorsey said...

Come to think of it, you look a lot like my 6th grade sunday school teacher.

mark said...

Forgive me if I missed your inference - do you think that God does keep a record of wrongs?

dorsey said...

Man, I sure hope not.

Ha Kohen said...

Dorsey, sorry to do this... I am not shamelessly promoting something I just thought it made a good comment. This is from an old issue of The Realist:

“God is Love”. I hear this all the time and it is clear that people have very little idea what this means. So God is Love, yeah... but this is not equative. It is not God = Love. Love does not = God. Just because God is Love it doesn't mean that we can limit Him to "God is Only Love". God is also "Just" (Rom. 2:11), "Simple" (John 1:18; 4:24), "Merciful (Ex 3:7), and about a billion other things. If God is Love he also punishes in a just and rightful way. Before you say "God is Love" to someone, please read how God's love worked out for the Egyptians or look at how Christ looks at His return "with fire in His eyes".
-Brad Childs”

dorsey said...

I'm not proclaiming this as doctrine, just my observation. I didn't say that God is ONLY love, to the exclusion of those other things. But I believe God is Love, period, and He's those other things within that primary context. I don't mean this in a universalist sense, but why can't God = Love? Why does scripture confer upon love a greater priority than it does faith?

My whole life, I've heard, "God loves you, BUT..." and it just feels like everybody cheats the idea of it, like they don't really believe that kind of love is possible. It's as if they say, "Sure, God loves you, but c'mon, be reasonable. There's a limit to everything. There's no free lunch, etc" That's just the point. God's love is completely unreasonable. If God treated love as the commodity that we do, I don't think He would be a good God.

"If God is Love he also punishes in a just and rightful way."

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again." (John 3, The Message)

If you consider this just and rightful, then I agree.

JimmyBob said...

The only thing necessary for our salvation is to believe in Christ and confess Him as Lord. This was made possible by His love for us. Jesus died and rose again to pay the price for our sins.

I was thinking about this. Really, God hasn't changed. Faith in God was all that was necessary to justify those who lived before Christ. Animal sacrifices atoned for their sins, of course, but only as a symbol. They were imperfect sacrifices. So, Jesus became the perfect lamb of God and atoned for the sins of everyone who ever lived and will live.

Now, it is still our faith in God that justifies us (Romans 3:21-31).

Through all this, God's love for us is amazing!

Kc said...

“I don't mean this in a universalist sense” (Don’t look now but I think you just said “but” hehe)

I tend to agree with your equivocation of the scripture but not of God’s self. In logic I would use “and”; God is love and God is holy and God is righteous in His judgments and…. God is everything perfect and perfect in everything. ;-)

Recovering said...

Good post, Dorsey. I agree completely with your last comment. It reminds me of some of the Christian hate-mongers like the guy at Oldtruth.com. Too many people have 99% of the Gospel correct but miss the whole "love your neighbor" thing...

...reminds me of Matt 5:43-48. It not only says to love your enemies but seems to suggest that because it makes us sons of the Father...the Father must love them too.

dorsey said...

Jimmybob, I agree about belief, but why does scripture say that love is even greater than faith?

Kc, Me? Equivocate? LOL. Help me understand where we disagree. Of course I agree that God is love AND holy AND righteous, et al. I guess what I'm trying to pin down is a graphical representation. I don't see love as just another link in the chain of God's attributes. I see a big circle (love) that contains all the other circles (righteousness, holiness, etc.). As I said before, love has to be the context for everything else. There are plenty of examples of folks who try to live out all the other traits, but leave out love. Disaster.

I should say that I don't distinguish between the love that God has and the love to which we're called (notwithstanding our inability to perfectly execute).

Steve Brown is really messing with my head these days.

Kc said...

“I’m not so sure we disagree. I think we just have a different perspective.” (I should be a politician!)

By equivocation I meant the use of “He” where the verse said “love” but I didn’t mean it in a derogatory sense. I think I would see His attributes as strands of a rope all intertwined in the fullness (context) of Christ. I would agree that, unlike us, His love is omnipresent. ;-)

señor jefe said...

By saying "God is love", aren't we saying that God is the epitome of love, thereby fulfilling all the attributes of love?

The list in I Cor 13 is nothing more than a list of God's qualities.

If I said that kc is the epitome of love, it would be very easy to say, "KC is patient. He is kind. He does not envy...etc."

señor jefe said...

The only thing necessary for our salvation is to believe in Christ and confess Him as Lord. This was made possible by His love for us. Jesus died and rose again to pay the price for our sins.

And now God, who is love, has declared that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I DO mean this in a universalist sense. Apparently, He truly intends to keep no record of wrongs, if He intends to offer this opportunity to everyone...

Anonymous said...

If it's MY faith that saves me, then I'm in big trouble!

bruced

sandytrif said...

Since I am getting here late, I will say that I think God is love, but that is not all He is. Like many of the others have already said. I know that I can only do things from His strength which gives me the ability to love the unlovable. I guess I just need to keep following His example in how to live my life as a servant of His.
Sandy

Steve said...

Jeff... why do you think that just becuase the Bible says that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord that this also means all will be "saved"?

Can't it mean that even those bound for hell will eventually just acknowledge Jesus is Lord... but in the end that admission won't change their final destination. Even Satan knows Jesus is Lord, and I assume he too will confess it... does this mean that Lucifer will be redeemed?

señor jefe said...

Steve,

Those are all very good questions that I have never resolved.

At risk of hijacking Dorsey's blog (I'll be posting on this a little later in more detail on my site...), I'll just say this:

The Bible tells us that to be "saved", one must confess with the mouth and believe with the heart the Lord Jesus Christ. But I find no biblical evidence whatsoever that says this must occur BEFORE one dies.

If Christ's act on the cross is truly a victory, and God is truly a God of mercy and grace, it could be argued that the "every knee shall bow" thing is God's final act of mercy.

I can't really prove it beyond that. But, I've never heard an opposing view that satisfactorily disproves this thought.

Kris said...

Oh Dorsey my friend, it is not only our sixth grade SS teachers that miss it. It is the prevailing wisdom of the scribes of this generation.

I have made a similiar statement many times and there is always those who kick against the goads.

"God IS love"

Of course we can proclaim that infamous answer: "it depends on what the definition of IS is"

tO explain away such "Good News" that our Creator keeps no record of wrongs (done to itself), is actually patient, is actually kind, does not boast, is not proud or rude or "self-seeking" and is not easily angered.

People can exojet all they want to but God covering Adam and Eve's nakedness tells me that He IS love.

JimmyBob said...

Dorse, perhaps 1 Corinthians 13 is speaking of love in the context of what is helpful to others coming from us (like the spiritual gifts mentioned in the previous chapter). Faith, without love, for example, is no good to anybody.

Verse 7 says, "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (NLT)

So, within this context, love is greater than faith and hope because love includes them in its own definition.

Bruced! Are you having trouble trusting Christ Jesus to be your savior? Why are you in trouble if it were up to your faith?

dorsey said...

Thanks, jimmybob. See my earlier comment about the graphic representation. Love IS the context for everything else. I like it.

señor jefe said...

Bruced! Are you having trouble trusting Christ Jesus to be your savior? Why are you in trouble if it were up to your faith?

I will say that bruced is one of the most Christ-trusting people I've ever met on the blogs.

He has helped me understand that Christ's redemption is efficacious, whether my 'faith' is strong in that work or not. Beyond all our doubts, questions and our unbelief, Christ's work is complete, and we are complete in Him.

Anonymous said...

Once you realise there was no judgement in the first place then you've got it. -- DM