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Could God Be Loving, in a Way That Amounts to More Than Merely Intending the Good of Human Beings?

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Metaphysics and the Nature of God

3. Could God be loving, in a way that amounts to more than merely intending the good of human beings?

Introduction

The Christian faith presents a definite world-view in which the God of the universe is revealed as loving. Amongst an abundance of biblical references to God's love, some that may be described as great , immutable , infinite , incomprehensible and many more Ð'- most are aloof and at times contradicting one another. However, the one claim that we can be assured is irrefutable is that God is "mysterious" . Thus, metaphysics or any other study of man for that matter can never arrive at an indubitable account of God's loving nature. Nonetheless, as a devout Christian my immediate response is that, indeed, an omnipotent, omniscient and infinitely good God is capable of loving in any way He chooses. Nevertheless, departing from one's beliefs, it is possible to philosophically arrive at an assertion that God Ð''is' capable of loving, in a way that amounts to more than merely intending the good of human beings.

Ð''True Love'

In order to ascertain an accurate account of God's love, we must first distinguish what genuine love is to us humans. Love is a simple and often used term. We use it to describe a lot of our emotions, feelings, actions and so on. However, in doing so we have misapplied and misinterpreted this powerful and meaningful word. We say that we love food; that we love a particular musical band or a type of automobile, such uses for the word have distanced the true meaning of Ð''love'. M. Scott Peck says:

Ð''Of all the misconceptions about love, the most powerful and pervasive is the belief that Ð''falling in love' is love or at the very least one of the manifestations of loveÐ'...The Experience of falling in love is specifically a sex-linked erotic experience. We do not fall in love with our children even though we may love them very deeply'

According to Peck love is confused with infatuation - that elated, "high" feeling we get when we "fall in love." This kind of "love" is something that lasts typically less than a year, and unless replaced by true love, results in broken relationships. We can accentuate the point of this claim if we say that God, an omnipotent, omniscient and infinitely good being, loves us due to the hormonal rush He experiences. Hence, surely, there must be a more sacred meaning to love than is often used.

To love someone is to seek their wholeness, to desire their growth. It is to seek the best for another person, to seek to allow the other person to blossom and become the best person they could possibly, in their own uniqueness, become. By Ð''loving', we refer to the commitment to act creatively and constantly into the life of another so that they can grow spiritually Ð'- including emotionally, intellectually, and socially Ð'- to become their true self as created by God.

In light of the mistaken applications of the word Love Ð'- our definition means that we can behave in a loving fashion toward close friends and new acquaintances, to work colleagues and sporting competitors, to our children and to our partners.

At this point we can already declare that God loves more than just to intend the good of human beings. God has committed himself to "Ð'...going wherever [his people] may go' . Even if they choose a path that leads to sin or if they have totally dislocated themselves from Him, God will still be at his people's side. Which begs the question that if God loved only to intend the mere good of human beings, why does he lead some to pain, sorrow and eventually death and yet still proclaim to be at their side? Therefore, he must love in a manner that is greater and more significant than just intending the good of human beings.

Ð''God's Love'

There are two sources from where we can derive versions of God's love. One is from human (personal) experience and the other is from biblical scripture. The former is more susceptible to arriving at a metaphysical dead end. Christian's often project their personal experiences of love onto God; thus, they relegate any apparent real world contradiction of God's love to the category of mystery. Where as the Bible's account of God's love neutralizes contradictions manifested by personal experiences and satisfies real world arguments.

(i)Experience

We cannot totally disregard the experiences one may hold of God's love. Every detailed explanation of what the Bible says about God's love can be recorded and explained, however, it is impossible to find meaning into these explanations unless they are communicated through experience. Martin Luther Kind once described his experience of God's love:

Ð'' The agonizing moments through which I have passed during the last few years have also drawn me closer to God. More than ever before, I am convinced of the reality of a personal God. True, I have always believed in the personality of God. But in the past, the idea of a personal God was nothing more than aÐ'...theologically and philosophically satisfying idea. Now it is a living reality that has been validated in the experiences of everyday life. God has been profoundly real to me in recent years. In the midst of lonely days and dreary nights I have heard an inner voice saying, Ð''Lo, I will be with you'

From Dr King's account we can describe God's love as a blanket that brings comfort, relief, warmth and security. By using Ð''experience' as a catalyst to explaining God's love we learn what it is qualitatively like, this is something that a biblical definition cannot espouse. But such subjective accounts will inevitably invoke contradictions about God's love. One might reply to Dr King, that he or she has experience God's love in the form of discipline, mercy, wrath etc. Given that both subjects are esteemed we cannot dismiss either account, even if they contrast in a significant way. Thus, this is the point which, biblical definitions breath worth.

(ii) Scripture

Before we delve into the Biblical account of God's love I must reiterate that the God revealed in Scripture and worshipped by Christians

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