Friday, August 23, 2013

Unconditional love?

Do I believe that we should show unconditional love?

Probably, given texts like Matthew 5:43-48; 7:12; 22:35-40, and the like.

The problem is, when many people use this phrase, I think they really mean:
  • Unconditional approval
  • Unconditional enabling
  • Unconditional refraining from Biblical assessment
  • Unconditional refraining from Biblical warnings
  • Unconditional effective trivializing of God and His Word
  • Unconditional ignoring of God's verdict
  • Unconditional shared residence in the Land O' Denial
Those things, I do not believe.

9 comments:

Michael Coughlin said...

Good points.

Charles Putnam said...

Excellent - spot on

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh you hit the nail right on the head.
Love = Approval.

UGH!

You know, if you really love me, you won't say anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, right?

Julie

jmb said...

If I posted this on some blogs, you would not believe the amount of non-love I would receive.

jmb said...

Just a follow-up to my comment.

I think there is such a thing as spiritual abuse in some churches, and there are people who have really suffered from it. The last thing they need to hear is that an omniscient, omnipotent God ordained it, even if that's the truth. They may get to a point where they can take it in, but I think there are some who never do.

They would rather have a limited god than a God Who ordains everything that comes to pass. The latter makes them crazy, and I'm not exaggerating. It doesn't matter how gently you deal with them. They can't see such a God as loving in any way that's meaningful to them, and that includes Rom. 8:28. They see Him as satanic.

Sorry if I'm derailing this thread, but I'd appreciate comments on this if DJP doesn't mind. If there's any doubt where I stand, it's with the Truth, no matter how uncomfortable.

Unknown said...

Biblical love is not approval. In fact, approval of sin is the opposite of love. God is able to love us through Christ. It is only in Christ that the holiness of God is vindicated and His wrath is propitiated. The thrust of the New Testament is that God is taking those He has justified and He is sanctifying them. He does not leave us as He finds us; that is not love. Rather in His love He is changing us (think renew, conform, transform). Real biblical love is grounded in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and has at its end Christlikeness.

jmb said...

Quite true. But there are some so-called "Calvinist" pastors who so emphasize sin and de-emphasize grace that they teach that there is very little difference, if any, between believers and non-believers. Often, people who come out of this false teaching are so filled with guilt that they can hardly bear talk of their sin, and can't countenance the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent God who even allowed, let alone ordained, their suffering. (Or worse suffering, such as sexual abuse, though not necessarily from anyone in the church.)

Even after years of counseling, they can only accept a limited god who loves them unconditionally, and get very angry when the God of the Bible is described. And there are plenty of professed believers who enable them and their beliefs.

Daryl said...

jmb,

You said "The last thing they need to hear is that an omniscient, omnipotent God ordained it, even if that's the truth."

While there is truth to the reality that we need to be careful how truth is taught or communicated, we also need to be even more careful that we don't put our own "wisdom" above Scripture and start deciding which bits of the Bible people need to believe.
Yes, it's true that some will find those truths hard to take, at first. But we all found that.
Teach truth, about an unlimited Holy God who ordains all things, and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.
You comment sounds almost like you're suggesting that the Holy Spirit isn't as good as He needs to be at doing what He does, so we need to curtail Him a little bit.

Biblical truth is always helpful. Always. It just maybe that we need to sometimes be more gentle in the delivery than at other times.

jmb said...

Daryl,

Of course, I completely agree with your theology, which includes the Holy Spirit doing His work.

However, I'm interacting with people online who have been severely abused, usually as children, and were sometimes told by the abusers that they (the abusers) were doing God's will. Now, sometimes decades later, the very thought that God was aware of what was happening and didn't do anything to stop it, plunges them into depression.

They seem to be believers, and they want to love God, but they can't abide a God that had anything to do with what they went through.

Obviously, this is not the God of Scripture. Perhaps, in cases like these, God excuses them because of what they suffered.

Maybe the most important thing is that it doesn't seem that any of them believe that they never sin, or that they do and God condones it. That might be the line they cannot cross.