THESIS #55 of 95. GOD IS LOVE, and any theology that requires for its intrinsic coherence the notion that divine love is different in nature and outworking to that quality as it is defined in Scripture should be rejected, however revered its formulator may have been
1Jn4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love [Greek: θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν]
1Cor13:4-5 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered
These theses are intended to follow on from one another and the assertion that God is love is a corollary to what was asserted in the previous thesis: the fact that Jesus precisely represented His father’s nature (Heb1:3). But the apostle John was not merely saying in his first epistle that God possessed love or even that He is loving by nature, but that He is love personified [ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν]; ἀγάπη (love) being a noun, not an adjective. This is astonishing in itself; all the more so when one tries to reconcile that with the God of the bible, or rather what many understand it to be saying concerning the Creator’s providential purposes and intentions towards humanity. As I am in the process of demonstrating, that is because so many are under a misconception. They believe that only the relative few who have had a faithful account of the Gospel and have positively responded to it are to avoid perdition. Most of the remaining theses directly or indirectly point to why such is not the case.
Another reason John’s statement will appear barely credible to many pertains to what I also referred to in the previous thesis. That is that whilst God’s nature is humanly comprehensible and was reflected in life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Creator’s ways are often incomprehensible and extraordinary. That will be evident in any consideration of history [which is ultimately “His story”]. Not least, the career of the churches, but especially the global suffering, distress and confusion we continue to observe today. My theses and especially The Little Book of Providence’s theodicy explain why this is the case. It pertains to God’s plans for humanity, starting with His elect – the children of promise (Gal4:28) who in some measure must share in the sufferings of Christ (Rom8:17).
Any loving deity of human devising might be expected to ensure that those he/she/it created had opportunity to enjoy a peaceful, happy life, ideally extending through eternity. Truly, the God who is love, revealed in the bible, has done far, far better than this. He has not only created beings in His own image, but by the very suffering and trials they experience whilst in mortal flesh, He is preparing them to be united Himself and ultimately share His domain. But it is not just our suffering that He knows is necessary for such elevation (even in the case of His Son: Heb2:10), it involves His own suffering also. Quoting from my book:
“God had been perfectly entitled to enjoy unbroken felicity but for mankind’s sake He was prepared to endure the agony of observing His only begotten Son’s humiliation and death. If Satan had been barred from planet earth or Adam and Eve had been erased for their disobedience and replaced, Christ need not have died. But He permitted His enemy what appeared to be an extraordinary victory for the sake of what He knew would be the ideal preparation for the beings created in His image to be raised from dust to glory. This is the third reason apart from Satan’s treachery and our first parents’ disobedience that things have been as they have been in the world and in the Church. Suffering partnered with essential spiritual healing and progressive enlightenment are how God is drawing man toward his ultimate destiny as exemplified by His Son’s own experience (cf. Heb2:10)”.[Excerpt from chapter 7 (theodicy) – Little Book of Providence]
In accordance with the progressive enlightenment just outlined, much traditional Western theology simply does not do justice to such Love as this. There has inevitably been bemusement regarding the continuance of evil and suffering, falling as it does under the auspices of a sovereign God, at the same time described in the bible as Love personified. And for many traditions, such as the Reformed Evangelicalism I grew up with, the matter is exacerbated by the dire eternal prospects awaiting the bulk of humanity. If this were the reality, divine love would need to be defined very differently from “love” as humans understand it or indeed the bible defines it for believers in 1Cor13.
That is why this thesis concludes that such paradoxical theology is to be rejected, however revered its formulator may have been. Especially so, now that a workable solution has been provided regarding the mystery of evil and the outworking of divine love, integrated at it has been within a synopsis of the whole bible. Still more so once it has been grasped that such a disclosure was foretold in ex-canonical Scripture that had not been intended (or even made available) for the Church through most of her history but for the final generation of believers [note #1]
NOTE #1 “The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and the righteous who will be living in the day of tribulation when all the wicked and godless are to be removed [opening verse of the Book of Enoch]]
The relevant prophecies: Enoch93:10 and 104:11-13 https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Enoch_(Charles)
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