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 (
5 Reasons Why the Doctrine of the Love of God Must Be Judged Difficult
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).