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IS God Love?

On her show, Oprah Winfrey would often say: God is love!  As if this was self-evident.  As if anyone who believed in God simply accepted this as a given.  As if all religions believed this fundamental truth.  In fact, it has become an unquestioned “truism” in our culture that all religions agree on this one basic thing: God IS love. 

According to the polls, the great majority of people—consistently slightly over eighty percent—believe in God.  This would suggest that, whatever religion or denomination they belong to, or whatever brand of spirituality they follow, the great majority of people presume that God is love. 

The only problem with this “truism” is that it simply isn’t true.

All religions don’t agree on this one thing.  Only one, only Christianity, teaches that God IS love.  No other religion does.

Although it gets a little more complicated than this, essentially the great religions of the East—Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism—teach that God is impersonal.  Eastern philosophy views God more like “the Force be with you” from the Star Wars movies.  God can’t be love if God is a force, an energy, a thing.  Love is only possible between persons.  Only a personal God can BE love.

However, the two great faiths that do believe in a personal God outside of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, adamantly insist that He is ONE—a Solitary Being.  And since by nature, love is relational—love can only exist between persons—a solitary God can’t BE love either.  As these religions maintain, He can be kind, gracious, merciful, and loving.  But His very essence isn’t love.  In fact, it couldn’t be.  Throughout all eternity, before creating anything, God would have no one to love.  Love of other couldn’t be central to His being.  His eternal nature couldn’t be love. 

As I showed in a previous blog, this would also mean His love couldn’t truly be love—to be loving, He would necessarily be dependent on us, which isn’t really love but codependency, fulfilling a need in God.

The only kind of God that can BE love is the kind of God which is only found in Christianity—a Trinitarian God.  A God who is Three persons, loving each other throughout all eternity.  A God whose essence is love, where love of the other is central to His being. 

But, how can One God be Three Persons?  As multitudes throughout the centuries have objected, it’s absurd.  I totally agree.  The apparent absurdity of the Trinity was one of the biggest obstacles I had in accepting Christianity.  But, as I will share over several future blogs, I came to see how this doctrine, in a logically heightened way, makes the most sense of reality. 

For now, though, let me just point out that the fact that the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity has been such a huge obstacle to faith for so many points to two reasons for accepting it as genuine revelation:

First, because it’s so highly problematic, no one in the early church would have ever invented such a doctrine.  The only way to explain why the Trinity even occurred to anyone in the first place is that, against all they held to be most true, sacred, and conceivable as good Jewish monotheists, the original disciples were compelled by their experience (even to the point of persecution and death) to conclude that, in Jesus, they had encountered God in the flesh.  This meant God must be more than One Person.  And what stood at the heart of this experience was His Resurrection.  The absurdity of the doctrine, then, reinforces the reality of the Resurrection—the disciples could never have conceived God as a Trinity unless they were convinced they had seen Jesus risen bodily from the dead.

Second, if the math worked, if understanding the Trinity was as easy as two plus two equals four, we would rightly suspect it is something human beings came up with.  Certainly, a solitary God is something humans could invent—it makes sense.  Likewise, we could easily imagine God being a force, an energy. An authentic divine revelation of the transcendent nature of an infinite God, however, would necessarily be, to a large degree, incomprehensible—a mystery.

What’s stunning, though, is that, like other mysteries of the faith, even though no one could have guessed it, once revealed, it becomes obvious that this is the only way it could be.  This is the only way God IS love.  The mystery betrays a higher rationality, showing us that God is infinitely greater than we’d ever imagine.

I can’t speak for Oprah, but many people who claim “God is love” probably mean something more like “love is God”.  They think of love as some kind of higher power that governs the universe.  Of course, this is absurd.  A higher power is just an impersonal force, completely incapable of love.

But if you really believe God is love, then you believe in the Trinity.  And if you do, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will pour God’s perfect, unconditional love into your heart.

So, do you believe God is Three Persons, or do you find the whole thing absurd?  Go to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and tell me what you think.  Also, please “Like” our Facebook page, subscribe to our YouTube channel and keep telling your friends about us.  Thank you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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