God's Unconditional Love

About two years ago there was a discussion we had out at the prison bible study that has haunted me. I keep thinking about it.

Steve was the one who made the comment that has stayed with me.

Theologically, the men in the prison study tend toward legalism and orient around a works-based righteousness. Which is strange as you'd think that men in a prison would want to talk a lot about grace and forgiveness.

They do want to talk about grace, but they are also preoccupied with the theme from the epistle of James: Faith without works is dead.

The reason for this focus is because the men see a lot of hypocrisy around them. To survive in prison you have to be a chameleon, learning how to show different faces to different people. Accordingly, when the men come to our bible study they have their "Christian face" on. During the study the men are devout and pious, their discussions in the class full of biblical allusions and church-speak.

But we all know that the minute the study is over a change happens. They re-enter the prison world and the face they wear changes accordingly.

But not everyone's. There are a few in the class who work hard to remain overtly and consistently Christian throughout their day. For these men, the face-changing, code-shifting hypocrisy they witness in relation to the bible study drives them crazy. They see members of the study devoutly pontificate about their commitment to Jesus only to see these same men do something wicked thirty minutes later.

Consequently, our discussions in the class often come back to a works-based righteousness: You can say you love Jesus all you want, but you have to do this stuff. You have to walk the walk. You have to put this stuff into practice. Faith without works is dead. By your works you will be judged. And God is watching how you behave out on the unit.

In short, because many of the men are preoccupied with speaking into this hypocrisy their theological orientation tends toward a judgmental and works-based orientation. Consequently, if you speak too much about grace someone will push back with the worry that we're letting the hypocrites in the room--the men who pretend they are Christians for two hours but who are mainly there for the air-conditioning--too easily off the hook.

This is the backdrop for the conversation we had about God's unconditional love about two years ago. This is the conversation that haunts me because of a comment Steve made.

We were talking about God's love and someone said that God loves us unconditionally. That observation, as you know, is a banal platitude in Christian circles. But I doubt many Christians have seriously pondered the radical implications of that claim, that God loves us unconditionally. Because I don't think people actually believe it. Yes, people might say that God loves us unconditionally, but they don't, if you press them, actually believe it.

And true to form, some of the men in the study started pushing back upon this notion. Again, the idea that God loves us unconditionally might let the hypocrites in the room off the hook. God loves us, these men reminded us, but you have to do stuff. You have to be committed. You have to be holy. You have to put in the work.

And then Steve raised his hand.

"No," Steve said, "if God loves you unconditionally then he loves you unconditionally. If you add any condition to it, any at all, then it's not unconditional."

This observation was met with fierce outcrys of objection. All the men in the study who harp on works starting throwing proof texts at Steve. But Steve was adamant and fended them off with the simple logic of it all. Unconditional means unconditional. As in no conditions whatsoever. Add a condition, even if justified by those proof texts, and you can't say, logically, that God loves us unconditionally. It's not rocket science. It's simple logic.

Anyway, all this launched us for about an hour into the classic debates about faith vs. works and justification vs. sanctification. And, as you might have guessed, we made very little progress in getting all this sorted out.

And all through the discussion Steve kept coming back to his core contention. Unconditional means unconditional.

And as the discussion wore on Steve's comment began to work on me. Unconditional means unconditional. So simple. But so radical and destabilizing.

And then in dawned on me.

Christians don't believe in the unconditional love of God.

They really don't. The love of God as described in most Christian churches is entirely, explicitly and unapologetically conditional. This is a data point so clear and obvious that we don't even recognize it, even though it sits right in front of our noses. The love of God, as preached by most Christians, is a conditional love. God loves you...if.

If you are elect. If you have faith. If you repent. If you are holy. God loves you if.


And yet, if you ask Christians "Does God love us unconditionally?" I expect you'd get almost universal agreement that God does. And yet, as we've noted, few Christian actually believe this. Most Christians believe God's love is entirely conditional. God loves you if you are elect, if you have faith, if you are holy.


During the discussion, and since, my mind kept coming back to Steve's point, the point he made calmly, over and over. "If you add a condition to it then it's not unconditional anymore. I think God loves us unconditionally. No matter what we do."

And in that class, listening to Steve, I began to glimpse the true magnitude of the scandal of grace. I saw Jesus hanging on the cross saying, "Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing."

Forgive them. All of them.

No repentance. No election. No faith. Forgive them. Unconditionally.

Listening to Steve that night I think, for the first time, I began to glimpse the true shape of Christianity. I began to see the outlines and contours of a faith rooted in the conviction that God loves us. Unconditionally.

Sitting in the prison that night I felt I had crossed over some threshold.

I saw something that night so huge and bright and beautiful I knew I'd never be the same. I knew I would never be going back.

For a moment, I think I saw the world the way Jesus saw the world from the cross.

I think I finally saw what it might mean to be a Christian. 

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

51 thoughts on “God's Unconditional Love”

  1. I remember in high school and early college years that I often tried to work aloud through my disbelief in God's unconditional love. I would raise these thoughts in Sunday School classes and Bible studies, and folks would often shoot me down with a cliche about how God's love is unconditional or that God never gives up on us. And I could agree that there plenty of scriptures to back up that claim. As I read this post, I realized that I was wrestling with what I saw in how we practice our Christianity rather than what we say we believe. In Christian practice, we act as though the laws of the Lord lead us into experiencing and knowing the love of the Lord, and that is practicing a faith based on conditional acceptance. It also creates a system where one can adopt a favored position, which may be one of our natural attractions to practicing faith in this way. We like to be favored, but unconditional love says we are all favored--and thus, the same.

  2. What I read in James' "Faith without works is dead" is not a condition for us to be accepted by God, but a condition for our faith to be accepted by us. God's love is unconditional, but our love is very conditional, including our love of our selves. The "works" that provide proof of faith are those of "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). There is a condition on God's love, it is the condition that we accept it. But even still, when we do not accept it, God still loves us.
    There is a midrash concerning the crossing of the Red Sea, in which the Rabbi explains that the Host of Heaven began to celebrate as the Hebrews escaped, and the Egyptians were destroyed. God pointed out that it was not a time of celebration because his children were dying, because even the Egyptians were children of GOd, and He loved them as well.

  3. In my opinion?

    In my opinion one implication is that it'll move your soteriology toward something like universal reconciliation. I think it also affects how we live out a vision of radical reconciliation. I think of the witness of Will Campbell here.

  4. I'd start off with Richard Goode's book Crashing the Idols: The Vocation of Will D. Campbell (and any other Christian for that matter) which will give you a brief bio of Will Campbell and a theological analysis. From there read the book edited by Richard Writings on Reconciliation and Resistance for selected writings of Will.

    Finally, for the full Will Campbell experience read Brother to a Dragonfly and Forty Acres and a Goat back to back.





  5. Basically, no one really needs to read this blog. I'm just rehashing stuff. The formula for Richard Beck's theology is:

    George MacDonald + William Stringfellow + Will Campbell + Thérèse of Lisieux = Richard Beck


    God is Love + Resisting the Principalities and Powers + Radical Reconciliation + the Practice of the Little Way = My Christian Vision

  6. "Anyway, all this launched us for about an hour into the classic debates about faith vs. works and justification vs. sanctification. And, as you might have guessed, we made very little progress in getting all this sorted out."

    "Yes, people might say that God loves us unconditionally, but they don't, if you press them, actually believe it."

    And why is this!?? I believe this to be the single most important question any Christian can ask. The same can be said of all religious/theological ideas and thought. Deep down inside, if they are brutally honest, I have come to the conclusion that no person of faith actually literally believes anything that they profess.

    "It's not rocket science. It's simple logic."

  7. And along these lines . . . We (as do a lot of churches) have a tag line on our sign that says, "All are welcome."

    It's been my general experience that all are welcome as long as everyone is of the same race, orientation and socio-economic class. For the past four years, I've been challenging my congregation on what it means when we say, "All are welcome." Do we welcome street people? Do we welcome non-Episcopalians? Do we welcome lgbt people? Do we welcome people who don't dress like us?

    If we say, "All are welcome," then all means All and we need to live into that unconditionally.

    Like I said, I've been working with the congregation to live into that statement. I must be making progress because our ASA has dropped every year I've been here. At some point the message of "All are welcome" will sink in.

  8. The love of God as described in most Christian churches is entirely, explicitly and unapologetically conditional.
    This is a data point so clear and obvious that we don't even recognize
    it, even though it sits right in front of our noses. The love of God, as
    preached by most Christians, is a conditional love. God loves you...if....

    This was always one of the (several) major disconnects that I experienced in my evangelical days. I have never in my life believed that God loved me unconditionally - everything I was taught made it screamingly obvious that the love of God was very conditional, with very serious and unpleasant consequences - like hell and various forms of smiting - if you did not meet the Big Guy's conditions. No matter how many times people acted like it was possible for God's unconditional love and eternal punishment to coexist, it always seemed like a logical disconnect to me. God was frequently presented as pretty malevolent and unrealistically demanding in other ways too, except that my fellow 'gellies called it love instead. It always felt like they were trying to tell me the sky was orange, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

    I never said that out loud of course, but it was one of the reasons it was such an ENORMOUS relief for me to ditch God the Father and the accompanying overwhelming guilt.

  9. Some very good thoughts already stated. The only thing I wanted to add is that there are some things that can be kept simple, but not shallow. For me, it is the mystery, yet the certainty, of how faith produces deeds, while deeds give birth to greater faith. Others may be saying, "Uh, yeah". But that's the best way I know how to put it.

  10. I should have added, as our deeds feed our faith, then maybe faith grows only to understand the infinity of unconditional love; we know it, but will never get our minds and emotions around it.

  11. And so we don't need to buy your books, either. ;-)

    Especially to keep you from getting trapped in the published-author cultural hero system.

  12. God loves us unconditionally. Nothing can change that, not even if we push our Father to the point of anger. Our part is to learn to love as God loves; that is out of who we are rather than as an expression of approval. It is by walking that path of learning to love that our hearts change and doing wicked loses it's appeal. We Christians don't trust in the power of God's love nearly as much as we claim to.

  13. So good, Richard.

    Yup, I came to the conclusion years ago that we don't really believe God loves us, and, probably related, we don't really believe we are sinners.

    Because of our slavery to death, the way we believe the world should work includes that there should be Retribution for those who "break the rules" however defined, though I myself am exempt, for whatever reasons. There is nothing of God in that; it is our own delusional self-preservation at work, projected onto God. St Isaac of Nineveh explained this 1500 years ago.

    One of the things I love about Orthodoxy is that nearly all our prayers end with "... for you are good and love mankind, and to you we send up glory..." No conditions. We need to be constantly reminded of that, and the prayers do that.


  14. I second that. It's the modern version of whistling past the graveyard. "Sin" is our problem, and why we need "salvation". Cause we're all gonna die. And suffering must be done and blood must be shed. (How utterly this-world materialistic and egocentric is that?) No matter we had no choice whatsoever in our own birth, genetic diseases, or initial geographic and social circumstance.

    For a long time I gave C.S.Lewis much credit for seeing God in our inborn and innate need for Justice. However, once I came to terms in my own mind with the lack of our own, individual choice (and therefore responsibility and culpability), I stopped worrying anymore about the hereafter. It is quite liberating. There is no need to feel guilty about God, any more than there is any need to feel personal guilt about poverty, racism, crime, social justice, reparations, the environment, and a thousand other things that the guilt-ridden are constantly harping about.

  15. When the Prodigal Son went away did his father ever quit loving him? I think not. He welcomed his repentant and humbled son with open arms. Our sins bring suffering on ourselves and others, not to mention Jesus Christ. . The metaphors about our relationship with The Deity often seem contradictory within the canon. Believers struggle with the implications and tensions. As a son, I sometimes hurt my father by my untoward attitudes and actions. I know he never quit loving me. But I felt the sting of his belt more than once. Once he said, "Son, some day you'll understand." I think I now know a little better what he ment after over fifty years of living and reflection, a wonderful wife and two precious children of my own. We struggle with our concepts and terminologies as disciples, but opening our hearts to God and loving all my fellow human beings unconditionally is no easy task. The loving way is the narrow way....and it is hard. It's called walking the walk. Lord Jesus, hellp me!

  16. Forgive me if this is already been raised in the comments (but I didn't see it)...I am not sure that I immediately see why the unconditional love God is necessarily as scandalous as felt by your inmate friends and yourself. Doesn't it depend on how we define unconditional love? If this means "God loves me unconditionally, therefore my actions/beliefs have not bearing or consequence for my ultimate status" then I see the scandal and why this feels radical and maybe even unfair.

    However, in my experience the definition of unconditional love is far from uncontested. It is not a perfect analogy (by any means), but I would like to think that I love my daughters unconditionally but that doesn't mean I don't care about their actions or that I don't discipline them. God forbid, my daughters do some horrible thing(s)...if I don't/can't shield them from any/all consequences does that mean I don't love them as much?

    Full disclosure: I find myself sympathizing and essentially agreeing with your formulation vis a vis universial reconciliation Richard. Don't many Christians make the "tough love" argument?

  17. You took the words out of my mouth, Rob. The conventional evangelical formulation I heard my whole life is status change above/before behavior change. Behavior change is the cart that must follow the horse of spiritual status change. To reverse this order is to promote works righteousness and legalism. But I think Jesus and Paul and James had a much more integrated sense of the relationship between faith and works, which would render absurd the contemporary preoccupation: "Does God still love me, no matter what I do?"

    In general I hear you espousing a pretty nuanced, integrated view of faith and behavior, Richard, along with the thinkers you most admire, which made me genuinely confused to read about how Steve's comment had such a profound effect on you.

    Or maybe I just need to read more George MacDonald to grasp what you're aiming for...

  18. Coincidentally, it was George MacDonald that initially opened up for me an integrated view of faith and works in his essay/sermon "Knowing Christ Aright", which really blew my mind a few years ago. His basic (very works-oriented) premise is that "there is no belief outside of obedience": http://goo.gl/5SBsJT

  19. "God loves you, if..." is similar to a lesson I gave in our class a couple of Sundays ago. People often supply the next word to this statement "God is love, but..." Then they add, "God is holy, God is a god of justice, etc."

  20. I think that's right. I don't think unconditional love means an disengaged, passive love. Especially when the beloved is acting foolishly or self-destructively. I think love can and often will involve things like "discipline." But those consequences are never an end in itself, it's instrumental, a tool to accomplish love's end, which is the flourishing of the beloved.

  21. Yes, I completely agree. I was in the process of replying to clarify my comments. So short of our eternal permanent status I don't think it is difficult to concieve of God's unconditional love involving disapproval and even discipline.

    However, it is much harder for me to reconcile unconditional love with ECT or even annihilation because as you say, these are not instrumental to restore or increase the flourishing of the beloved. Keeping with the parent analogy, hopefully no one would accept a parent's "unconditional love" justification for torturing or killing their children.

  22. "So short of our eternal permanent status I don't think it is difficult
    to concieve of God's unconditional love involving disapproval and even

    I agree, I don't think it's difficult to imagine. But my point is that most Christians actually don't imagine it this way. What they imagine, by and large, is not mere disapproval or discipline. What they imagine is punishment as damnation. What they imagine is a conditional love. God loves you if.

  23. Again, trying to grasp unconditional love is like trying to wrap our minds around eternity. We cannot; but we do have pieces of eternity called, time. In the same way, deeds are pieces of love which allow us to taste that which we cannot fully comprehend.

    A cup of cold water given, a morsel of bread, a tender touch, are not things done as much as they are experiences. When money is place in a beggars hand on a city street the giver is no more in the love of God than when sipping coffee in a favorite recliner on a lazy Saturday morning. But what the receiver of the gift does is let the giver experience being the center of the universe; not in a selfish way, but as a divinely shaped, porous sponge at the center of a pure, eternal, infinite sea, called love. We cannot begin to fathom the vastness of the sea; we just know we are there.

    We will have our times of doubt, our times of guilt and self loathing, our times of anger when we are trying too hard to bring up the experience. But these things are integral in being human. Perfection has no need for love; the pieces of soul that have no purpose in the cosmos but to connect, do.

  24. I don't know - I would distinguish between a) the concept of original sin that states that we are inherently defective and bad just because we were born vs b) actual systems of injustice and oppression that we should maybe give a shit about.

    I believe that original sin is not what's true about us - people are much more complex than that - and that it's a pretty psychologically destructive way to view ourselves and the world. The systems of justice and oppression part - feeling guilty can just be an excuse for not doing anything about it, and I don't think that acting out of feeling guilty works out very well as a general rule. However, as some famous rabbi whose name I don't remember and am too lazy to look up said, "We are not all guilty, but we are all responsible." - not because Big Daddy in the sky will smite us, but because (hopefully) we would want to take a stab in the general direction of caring about the well-being of the other people with whom we share a planet (and the planet itself too.)

  25. for those of us who preach from the lectionary this issue is most poignant this coming Sunday. Jesus advocates 70x7 forgiveness (Matt 18) and then tells the story of the kingdom in which a king forgives a servant to comical proportions but the practice doesn't rub off. However it's not clear that this kings extraordinary forgiveness was unconditional because when the the recipient proves to be a non-forgiver her immediately goes to retaliation mode rather than forgiveness. What should the preacher do?

  26. I'm only recently aware of how incapable I am of unconditional love, how often I mess up in my attempts to love those who are close to me; perhaps that is why it is so hard to believe that I can be loved unconditionally. Then this little thing came into my FaceBook feed:

    "Dear Human, You got it all wrong. You didn't come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you will return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of ... messing up. Often. You didn't come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering." - no author cited

    Somehow reading this felt like a weight taken off my shoulders.

  27. @ Bruce

    Given that we are called to forgive without calculation -- 70x7 is obviously not a calculus of forgiveness, as if at 491 we let the sinner have it; given also that the 70x7 obviously precludes any notion of "retaliation" (as you put it) = vengeance -- with its clear allusion to the rule of Lamech (Genesis 4:23-24); given, too, that a case can hardly be made for the Abba-God of Jesus suddenly turning into the commander at GTMO rather than being (eternally) the divine model for the human 70x7: well, I'd argue that we're dealing with narrative hyperbole in the story of the Unforgiving Servant, to underscore (a) the urgency of the 70x7 (which, of courses, is the immediate background of the parable), and (b) the fact that limitless forgiveness is the non-negotiable heart of Christian faith. And there is the psychology/pragmatics of forgiveness to consider, viz., that we cannot receive the blessings of forgiveness unless we express these blessings in our relationships with others.

    Something along these lines. Of course I'm aware that I'm not telling you anything you don't already know!

    BTW: Miroslav Volf, to be sure, while eschewing human violence, insists on eschatological divine violence, "not because God gives people what they deserve, but because some people refuse to receive what no one deserves" [like the parable's second servant?]. But I don't buy it. I'm one of those goddam universalists (not because I believe that God is "nice" but because I believe that God's saving cruciformity in Jesus, climaxing on Good Friday, confirmed on Easter Sunday, is omnipotent).

  28. Did I offend someone? I rarely post here anymore, so you must indeed mind. However, I am interested in the subject at hand, I listen attentively to others, I do not call names, and I ask probing and sincere questions (which usually go unanswered). My tone is sometimes brusque I admit, and for that I do apologize. And, BTW, I ask many of the same questions on a popular atheist blog. But I am not stupid. The main reason I sometimes offend people at both sites has nothing to do with God/non-god. It is because I am a skeptic who also happens to be a political and social libertarian. It's all about politics, political correctness, and Group-think. Moderate this post away, and you prove that you are not "tolerant", allowing only for people who happen to agree with you.

  29. Does unconditional love or forgiveness also mean unconditional mercy? I am just wondering whether unconditional love also means unconditional salvation or if it is possible to separate the two because it almost seems like that is where the argument is. People agree that God loves everyone, but they don't agree that they are all pardoned.

  30. @ Sam Daniels

    Here is what is wrong with your comment:

    (1) Its rhetorical introduction: Please excuse me ... -- the petulance adds nothing to your subsequent point. But, hey, you later admit that your "tone is sometimes brusque". Mine too!

    (2) The real problem is that your point turns out to be rather feeble. My comment is a heartfelt endorsement of Richard's post. When Christians speak about God's unconditional love, we often have our fingers crossed behind our backs. Let's say what we mean and mean what we say! If God's love is unconditional, it follows, by definition, that it is unconditioned by our responses to it, or by human belief and action as such. God's love just is, though, of course, because God's being and act are one, God's love is dynamic, busy, creative and redemptive. In its proper articulation, the classical Christian doctrine of the divine immutability speaks to this point: the Creator's love is "changeless", non-reactive, not contingent on the deportment of his beloved creatures. Herbert McCabe makes the point radically -- and inimitably:

    God's "love for us doesn't depend on what we do or what we are like. He doesn't care whether we are sinners or not. It makes no difference to him. He is just waiting to welcome us with joy and love. Sin doesn't alter God's attitude to us; it alters our attitude to him, so that we change him from the God who is simply love and nothing else, into this punitive ogre, this Satan. Sin matters enormously to us if we are sinners; it doesn't matter at all to God. In a fairly literal sense he doesn't give a damn about our sin."

    (3) If such an image of God sounds like your dog, who happens to be a bitch ("SHE"), that's fine (a) because only one who is theologically ignorant thinks that God is gendered, and (b) because if your dog's love for you really is unconditional, then that's a nice metaphor of God's love for us. However, it's a metaphor that can't be stretched: as MrYowza07 observes, kick the crap out of Fifi and see if her love for you isn't evacuated along with it.

    (4) Finally, And SHE [i.e., Fifi] is actually real dismissal of the unreality of God. Clearly, like Ditchkens, you take existence to be an exclusively empirical, evidential question. Well, if you begged for money as you beg this question, you would be right up there in the Forbes 400. But I'm afraid Hegel was right: "God does not offer himself for observation." That is, if God were "real" like your dog, God, I'm afraid, wouldn't be God.

  31. @Kim, I've said it before and I'll say it again, you and Richard are excellent conversation partners.

  32. Cool summation of your influences, except that it doesn't add up, because you left out a couple things: First, your perspective as an experimental psychologist reveals an astounding depth of understanding of the human psyche that is embedded in theology when viewed, well, correctly. Because christian formation involves a self-critique by way of applying that theology to self, my guess is that more readers than I find themselves returning to your blob regularly because of its surprising relevance to their lives. And second, the evident commitment you bring to your ongoing christian discipleship ids inspiring and touching and convicting. So, if Ernest Becker informs the core perspective you apply in your experimental psychology, the part you left out can be summed up by saying that you are (in addition to the theologians you note) an earnest Becker.

    Now, I always find it interesting when something obvious is left out...

  33. I appreciate the time and effort you put into your post to me. I am sorry if I offended you, and you are correct about my initial petulance. Please note that I have in the past been censored and deleted on this blog by the moderator, and this fact does tend to make me somewhat defensive. And while I have in the past been taken to task for my tone, this is the first time in fifteen years of blogging that I have been accused of trolling. Not your fault or problem, however.

    As to the real crux of the matter, I read and then read again your initial post (the one here in debate) and for the life of me could not make sense out of it. The bottom line (for me) is that you are literally equating "God" to a feeling or emotion (love). That seems not rational to me, but I do understand that to you, that may make perfect sense.

    Many posts here seem either irrational or inconsistent with other posts (yes, I admit to the hobgoblin). An excellent example is Dr. Beck's post for today which devotes much time to a topic of existential theory and speculation. But in the end, since he has in other posts made quite clear his belief in "Universal Salvation", you can understand my confusion over the lengthy post on Type 1 and Type 2 theological "errors". How can a person claim Universalism and still be fretting over heaven and hell like some sort of theological Diabetes? I really do not understand, unless he is speaking not for himself, but on behalf of his church. Since he didn't claim that, then this is only speculation by me.

    Finally, I often get into these debates because, in fact, I do "take existence to be an exclusively empirical, evidential question". To me it is obvious, as it is each human being's own subjective and unique perspective which necessarily paints their own picture of reality. I do not know how anyone else could "know" something in any other way.

  34. I was thinking about what you wrote Sam and my interpretation of love which was the crux for you seems different. I wouldn't call love a feeling, though it certainly results in joyjoy feelings. I think of love more along the lines of self sacrifice and choices. Like your dog loves you most of the time because it chooses to be kind, patient, forgiving, etc but given different treatment would it still choose to always embody those traits? So if we take God at his word that he is love (whatever that word means to him) then we are saying that if something does not embody those ideals of choosing to act in a certain way in all circumstances then it would either not be God or we don't understand how his definition of love differs from ours.

    I'm glad you post here though, I think a bit of snarky can keep us more honest. Well as honest as one can be knowing that we are intentionally skewing our immediate views of life with some sort of massive filter that gives us a way tolerate non-empirical things and somehow transcend our instincts.

  35. Thank you for that. I haven't mentioned this as of yet, as I did not wish to push the metaphor too far, but I have volunteered in animal shelters, and even the most neglected, abused, and mistreated dogs can (and do!) live to love again, against all the odds.

  36. Welcome! You've now joined the club of us who've met the one belief-condition necessary to be really, truly Christian ;-)

    I jest.

    I jest, and I totally agree with this. This has been the realization that's been growing in me over the past several years. That most "Christians" I know are more "salvationists," obsessed with meeting the conditions necessary to earn the golden ticket and avoid the big "D."

    So freeing and scandalous is this grace. So beautiful. Amen to this post.

  37. I can honestly say I didn't believe it. It was hard to believe God even liked me, honestly. (but I tried very, very hard to be a good Christian anyway) But let's face it; it's hard to believe someone loves you unconditionally when your told if you hide your "talents", you will thrown away like garbage, or if you can't find the "narrow way" you will be tortured for eternity, or if you forget your "oil", you will be locked out forever, or if you don't visit people in prison, your a goat and you better invest in a fire suit. (if you've grown up in church, you know what I'm talking about. Sorry to confuse everyone else) Until Christianity makes clear the mistakes it's made in it's theologies around the misinterpetation of "eternal" (in regards to punishment) it will not change. Fear has a way of keeping people stuck.

  38. Unconditional love does not mean unconditional salvation. It means you can get a blessing (healing) first and then come in as you are with a desire to be transformed (die to the old self and be born again to him - Jesus) and you will be redeemed (written in the book - destined for heaven) as well as transformed by the Holy Ghost into his image (Jesus) and your identity as a son of Abba (bearing spiritual fruits).

Leave a Reply