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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Addressing Omnibenevolence Part I: Why God's Love Is a Difficult Doctrine

Donald Carson has written a very insightful book called The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000). This short, 94 page book is broken down into four chapters: On Distorting the Love of God, God Is Love, God’s Love and God’s Sovereignty, and God’s Love and God’s Wrath. Carson has addressed some of the key issues with the love of God, not the least of which is how God’s love is to be understood in light of His other perfections. Subsequently, as we begin to discuss the doctrine of omnibenevolence, I believe it is fitting to start with Carson’s five reasons why the doctrine of the love of God must be judged difficult. These five reasons are below and do not include my personal commentary; however, I would be interested in hearing yours.

5 Reasons Why the Doctrine of the Love of God Must Be Judged Difficult

  1. If people believe in God at all today, the overwhelming majority hold that this God—however he, she, or it may be understood—is a loving being (9).

Quote: “This widely disseminated belief in the love of God is set with increasing frequency in some matrix other than biblical theology. The result is that when informed Christians talk about the love of God, they mean something very different from what is meant in the surrounding culture. Worse, neither side may perceive that this is the case” (9-10).

  1. We live in a culture in which many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved (11).

Quote: “I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity. The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized” (11).

  1. Some elements of the larger and still developing patterns of postmodernism play into the problem with which we are dealing (13).

Quote: “In short, the most energetic cultural tide, postmodernism, powerfully reinforces the most sentimental, syncretistic, and often pluralistic views of the love of God, with no other authority base than the postmodern epistemology itself. But that makes the articulation of a biblical doctrine of God and of a biblical doctrine of the love of God an extraordinarily difficult challenge” (14).

  1. The first three difficulties stem from developments in the culture that make grasping and articulating the doctrine of the love of God a considerable challenge (15).

Quote: “One of the most dangerous results of the impact of contemporary sentimentalized versions of love on the church is our widespread inability to think through the fundamental questions that alone enable us to maintain a doctrine of God in biblical proportion and balance” (15).

  1. Finally, the doctrine of the love of God is sometimes portrayed within Christian circles as much easier and more obvious than it really is, and this is achieved by overlooking some of the distinctions the Bible introduces when it depicts the love of God (15-16).
************************************* Addressing Omnibenevolence Series: Addressing 'Omnibenevolence' 05.24.06 Denying the 'Core and Classical Attribute' of Omnibenevolence? 05.26.06 Addressing Omnibenevolence Series 05.31.06


Blogger Gavin Brown said...

Amen to Carson (I'm going to have to read that book now that you've peaked my interest).

Omnibenevolence as the topic of a thesis in a debate on Calvinism precludes (IMO) a balanced discussion of other attributes of God (wrath, holiness, etc.)

It (omnibenevolence) is extrabiblical (in a bad way) and in a sense, unsubstantianed. It's like taking a verse out of context, except here it would be taking an attribute of God out of context.

Good post. I look forward to the others.

6/01/2006 11:27:00 AM

Blogger Carson Allen said...

Thank You so much sir for your "Together for the Gospel" Pictures. I actualy fell to the ground in tears praying while listening to Pipers message.

6/01/2006 03:13:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


You're welcome. I will adding some more photos soon. I have a few weddings that I need to complete as well as other deals, but I will have more up soon (on Flickr).


Yeah, the book is great and easy to read. You can finish it easily in one sitting. My next couple of posts will also be a sort of outline from a couple of the chapters, so it could be a sort of book review I guess.

It is crucial that we address the love of God as it is expressed in Scripture. This is what tomorrow's post will be about. I think you will see precisely where the Caner's get it wrong.

6/01/2006 03:42:00 PM


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