Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages 1 John

Re: 1 John 4.8 and Mal. 3:1 - Is God love or hate?

Postby Fishface » Thu Apr 28, 2016 11:42 am

And what about those that have not experienced love OR do not reciprocate it? Our definition of love tends to be fluid and varies from society to society. If we were in Ancient Greece, it might be that if you told me God is love, I would understand that to mean that God is the love shared between a man and his little boy sex servant. Sounds repulsive by today's standards and it is harmful for obvious reasons but it was practiced back then. Or better, perhaps when you say God is love a gay couple would equate that to the love between them.

So you see, when you point to "love", your expectation and image of what that is will not always align with an outsider to Christianity. In fact, love looks different even amongst Christians of different denominations. So the label has no meaning without a reference point, and a reference point outside of God, according to your world view, is illogical.

Furthermore, you take the behavior of us as a social species, assert that this behavior comes from a God creator and claim ownership without justification. It's also a nonsensical statement because according to your own world view we exist in a fallen sinful imperfect state.
Fishface
 

Re: 1 John 4.8 and Mal. 3:1 - Is God love or hate?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:02 pm

Love, just like peace and justice, exist whether or not people experience them or reciprocate them. Whether or not any particular individual has experienced or reciprocated love, others of their contemporaries have. A triangle as an ideal, as well as abstract and physical examples of triangles, exists even if an individual hasn't seen one.

I agree that the definition of love is somewhat fluid. Even in our society what we mean when we say we love pizza or our favorite movie is not what we mean by it when we say we love a person. And even at that, our love for one person may be different than our love for another. No matter. It doesn't change what we all understand to be the ideal of love, which every culture has.

If we were in ancient Greece, we would know they have four terms for love (in contrast to our one in English). The love shared between a man and his little boy servant may have been eros, but they may have never used "love" for that situation. But they knew what love was. They had storge, philos, and agape to explain the ideals of love.

So when I point to love, my definition aligns well whether one is a Muslim, a Hindu, a Roman or Greek, A Christian, an American, or an aborigine. God is the reference point, and we are designed to be relational creatures, and we all know what love is. Motherhood, romantic love, and true forms of genuine love exist wherever humanity is, as well as abuses of love, lesser forms, and distortions of it. But the distortions don't detract from the ideal that we all know.

> you take the behavior of us as a social species, assert that this behavior comes from a God creator and claim ownership without justification.

It's not without justification at all, nor is it nonsensical. Any trait that exhibits itself across the species regardless of era or location gives evidence that it is a trait beyond any individual or culture, but part of the fabric of what it means to be human. In other words, there is both evidence and justification to assume love, like a sense of right and wrong, is a transcendent characteristic of humans, a necessary relational part of humanity ( a value we all share)—a metaphysical necessity—and therefore something above and beyond each individual person, and even each culture, since all cultures in all eras know and practice love.

> It's also a nonsensical statement because according to your own world view we exist in a fallen sinful imperfect state.

There's nothing nonsensical about it. If we examine the biblical picture, God created us out of a heart of love, and desired that we live in love relationship with him. He invested all humanity with a desire for loving relationship, even between humans (not just between us and God). We are capable of and desire love as part of our nature, even apart from God. We, with our free will, chose to rebel against his love and "fell" into a sinful, imperfect state. In that state God still loves us (Rom. 5.8; Jn. 3.16) and has taken reconciliatory actions to draw us back to a loving relationship with himself. There's nothing nonsensical about it.
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Re: 1 John 4.8 and Mal. 3:1 - Is God love or hate?

Postby Fishface » Wed May 04, 2016 10:11 am

> love, just like peace and justice, exist whether or not people experience them or reciprocate them.

You miss my point entirely. Love is a label we prescribe to things or behavior. You acknowledge it is fluid, which is the core issue here: if your definition of love doesn't align with that of the person you're trying to tell god is love, then they can't make sense of it. In addition, you've already conceded my point: you liken love to behavior you agree with. That is to say, you point and say "this behavior is good, therefore love, God is like that". Without this point of reference, "God is love" means nothing. It doesn't matter what the Bible says because it's a claim, not the evidence.

If you tell a pedophile God is love, in his mind God is loving kids in a sexual way. God is repulsive. In order to make sense of that statement you need an objective reference point, and as soon as you use it you defeat your own argument: love isn't an objective point, love is whatever God is or God says. If you can objectively identify love, God is a meaningless and useless label.
Fishface
 

Re: 1 John 4.8 and Mal. 3:1 - Is God love or hate?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:26 pm

You have misunderstood the teaching of the Bible. You said, "In order to make sense of that statement you need an objective reference point, and as soon as you use it you defeat your own argument: love isn't an objective point, love is whatever God is or God says." This is incorrect. Love IS an objective point. It is what God is. Since God is constant (immutable), his nature exists as an objective reference point—the very thing you seek. We have made the term "love" fluid by using it in various ways, but there is an immutable objective standard of love as grounded in the character of God. the New Testament writers used only one of the Greek terms for love in reference to God (agape), because it was the highest concept of love that we had language for, so it was used to describe the ideal love. "Love" of pizza and pedophilic "love" are distortions of the ideal, of which God is the objective standard, the immutable reference point. Neither God nor love is a meaningless or useless label, because we have both terms and concepts to comprehend the ideal and give meaning both to his being and the attribute he manifests.


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