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Why Is God Love?


PaulS
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Just interested in other's interpretation of God as 'love'.

 

Why have you come to that conclusion and what evidence might you proffer to support such a claim?

 

The thing is this - having grown up with fundy Christianity, rejected this view, experienced anger at God, taken an atheistic view which softened to agnosticism, I then experienced a rekindling of interest in the subject of God. But I've now come to a point that I see no serious argument FOR God at all, other than the gap left by the question of primal cause.

 

Primal cause seems unanswerable at present, so I can understand 'God' being inserted here to answer it. But through this website and others I have seen God interpreted less as a supernatural 'being' and more of a spirit or force that makes the world turn. To use a phrase Marcus Borg uses, God is the water that we fish swim in, even whilst that water is inside of us.

 

But building upon some recent discussion from member BillM concerning his thoughts on a wholesale/retail view of God, putting the human bible aside and listening to our hearts to determine who/what the wholesale God is, I have to ask how anybody can come up with the conclusion that God is love?

 

Just interested in your thoughts.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Seeing as I seemed to stir the pot, Paul, I'll proffer my view. :P

 

I think all who have a retail God believe that God loves them. Christians believe that God loves Christians. Jews believe that God loves Jews. Muslims believe that God loves Muslims. I suspect that we all have this deep need for unconditional agape love, and our retail God meets this need. After all, who would want to worship or be in a relationship with a God who they believed hated them?

 

Now, I've never been Jewish or Muslim, but I have been Christian, so I'll offer my Christian understanding...and then I'll reject it. Ha ha! ;)

 

For many (most?) Christians, God is love because, no matter what, God works all things together for the good of the beloved (a la Rom 8:28). So no matter how bad things get, God is in control, has a plan, and will make everything ultimately turn out alright. This is a very attractive view, is it not? God is love because God either manipulates events in life for the good of the beloved (for either here or in the hereafter) or because God strongly desires the good of the beloved while leaving much to human free will. Again, I find this view attractive.

 

But I am not convinced that it is true. I've seen too many bad things happen and continue to happen to believe that everything in life goes according to God's perfect plan and that no matter how bad things get, God will make it up to us. A dear friend of mine just lost her grand-daughter to a drunk hit-and-run and my friend believes that this is part of God's plan. I don't. But I am not about to tell her that. If people believe in this kind of "loving God", I think they have to close their eyes to reality and have blind faith. But that is my opinion.

 

Yet, yes, I believe that God is love. But I have to define what *I* mean by that and qualify it. What I mean by love is not that God manipulates events in our world for the best, but that God has, in fact, given us a world that, while not perfect, does have elements of joy, laughter, contentment, peace, growth, harmony, fellowship, and other good qualities that are available to many of us if we work at it. In other words, God is good because God has provided what we need in order for us to make ourselves fairly happy, despite all the suffering and pain in the world.

 

Now, are these things equally available to everyone at all times? No, I think not. But I suspect that, other than natural disasters, the reason these things are not more universally widespread is not due to God, but to us. We are still quite selfish creatures who believe that as long as we get ours, who cares about others. So I don't think the problem is so much that God is not love, but that we aren't.

 

So my definition of God as love is that God created at least one world where life and many good things that go along with it are possible. Guaranteed? No. Fairly distributed? No. Could God have created this world in such a way that suffering and pain don't exist? I don't know. But creation does seem to have a life/death cycle at its core. It happens to amoebas, it happens to stars. We shouldn't expect to be excluded. Does any of this rule out an afterlife? I think not. If God so desires, God can and will find a way to give us life beyond this life. But, to me, God is love because of the life-possibilities that we have which most of us seem to enjoy and appreciate (otherwise we would all commit suicide). God could have created a universe with no life whatsoever. But things have taken a different course. Is this love? Is this a God who is love? I think each of us must decide that for ourselves.

Edited by BillM
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Bill,

 

This 'set and forget' God to me doesn't seem to be of love though if he/she/it thinks love is to create something awesome and then walk away from it so that those that come later get to experience the screwed up version, which is what your version seems to suggest. I mean, I don't imagine you would walk out on your kids after they were born and say "hey, I provided a house for you, and a society where you can get a job, so hey, I love you".

 

I know some do, but I wonder how many who were say starving from famine could say "God is love because he created a beautiful planet, but humans ruined it, and now me and my children are suffering an excruciating starvation to death because of those people's wrongdoings".

 

But I appreciate your views for my consideration.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Paul,

 

I agree with you, this deistic view doesn't seem to be very "loving." And I like your parental metaphor. I have four children, so I know what it is like to try to provide a safe, nurturing, loving environment for them. I put food in their tummies, clothes on their backs, shelter over their heads, gave them medicine when they needed it, read them stories, cuddled them, took care of their hurts, and many other loving things for which I never expected payment or some kind of recompense. I did it simply because they are my children and I love them.

 

Two of those children (from my first marriage) are now grown with families of their own. I no longer do all of the things for them that I used to do because it is now up to them to build their lives. This doesn't mean that I love them any less. In fact, I often worry about them more because I can't fix things for them. Should those grown children now accuse me of "walking away" or of no longer loving them because some things in their lives are screwed up (one was on drugs, the other had a nasty divorce)? What kind of loving parent am I to not protect them and care for them throughout their whole lives?

 

It seems to me that, against my scenario of love, there are two other major possibilities. The first is the afore-mentioned Christian notion that despite all the pain and suffering in life, God is still in control and manipulating events according to a "loving" plan that only he is privy to. The second is, as you know, there is no God. For me, I actually respect the atheistic view more than the typical Christian notion of God being a big Protector in the sky. But the problem with the atheistic view, at least for me, is how to account for all of the good things (and there are many) in life. Is it all chance? Or dumb luck?

 

On a practical level, Paul, there may not be much difference between my deistic view and the atheistic view. In both views, God does not directly intervene in human affairs. In mine because God will not. In yours, because God is non-existent. So I no longer expect God to be my protector, my shield, my fortress, my cleft in the rock, my great shepherd, my warrior, etc. Other than God's presence with me as an influence, I am left to make of my life what I will. And I (and we) are left to make of our world what we will. Sure, those starving could complain to my deistic God about why God walked away. But the truth of the matter is we have more than enough money and resources to feed everyone on this earth -- but we won't due to national and corporate greed and apathy. I don't blame God for that. IMO, God has given us some pretty good examples about how to love one another. But most of us expect a supernatural God to fix things, and I just don't think it works that way.

 

Just my 2c.

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Paul,

 

The main Christian view of “God is love” that I have heard all of my life is that if we believe in Jesus, God will save us from going to hell and take us to heaven when we die. Though there are certainly many Christians who adhere to this view, I don’t think it lines up with metaphysical reality whatsoever, neither do I think it is moral.

 

Atheists, especially the New Atheists, are quick to point out that if God existed and God is love, there would be no pain or suffering in the world. But, to me, this is based upon a false presumption of the retail God that the reason God exists is to prevent pain and suffering for his creatures and his creation. If the Bible demonstrates anything about ideas about God, it is that people have always questioned pain and suffering, even while still believing in God.


Speaking only for myself, while these New Atheists are good at deconstructing the retail God who, they believe, is supposed to encase his creation in a plastic bubble to prevent all harm, I wish they would address the question of why there is goodness, love, joy, beauty, compassion, and other good things in this world. To me, I don’t find Darwinism and “survival of the fittest” a convincing reason for all of the good that does exist. Of course, being a theist is no guarantee of escaping the greed and corruption that exists in our world. And being a theist, despite the claims of many Christians, is no guarantee that we won’t experience pain and suffering. Anyone who is honest knows this. But I have not heard, to date, a cogent argument from the atheist community as to why there is good in this world. They appeal to how good is a means to clan or tribe survival, that it is in our best interest to help one another, but I don’t find that appeal to get us very far because I don’t generally see that played out on a national, political, or economic scale. Humans, IMO, are naturally very selfish beings who, apart from God’s influence to live for the benefit for others, while watch out only for number one (my opinion only).


So while the atheist may wonder, why is God love, I wonder why some (perhaps even most) people are loving? Not all, of course. But why have we survived this long, given that most of us are not the “fittest”?

Edited by BillM
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To me, Love is total acceptance rather than an emotion or a carnal mind defined course of action. God/Creation accepts itself always. The story of man is an evolving one. Pain and suffering are temporary words that are inherent to an evolving human consciousness.

 

It seems to me ...... All life here in this world is temporal in nature and subject to a myriad of emotions and opposites that the mind creates. As long as one loses oneself in ones "story" and confuses the "story" for Life, pain and suffering will exist. To understand who or what one is at the deepest level is to free oneself from such a story and see the natural harmony and beauty of Being. This is not to say that such a one does not emphatize with those lost in their "story" nor contribute to easing the perceived suffering . However, there is an end to personal suffering and it does require "death" , howbeit not that which is physical.

 

As we die daily to self and the importance of its story, a new world appears where old things pass away and the light of Life illuminates the world as a world of effects in which contrary to man's thinking, no real causes are found. Perhaps one will find that Love is not 'good ' or 'bad' nor does it manipulate life here but rather accepts life and evolution in a perfectly regulated universe and experiences its handiwork in all its diversity without judgement.

 

Just my own unique experience and take on that which is hard to accept for most of humankind on why God is Love,

Joseph

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PS. just for clarification of the above post ...... Total acceptance of the moment is not to be confused with apathy . It is in my view merely a place of total peace one can go beyond the thinking mind and from where one can see more clearly to choose ones action or inaction wisely in harmony with the whole or natural progression of human consciousness .

Joseph

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Paul,


This just happened in my home-town last night:


http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Body-found-in-tarp-in-Saginaw-neighborhood-213940401.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_212385728909895_760286_212497418898726


For me, there is absolutely no way to reconcile a God who is BOTH loving and in control with tragedies like this. To me, if God was BOTH loving and in control, he would have prevented something like this. But it happened.


Because (for previous stated reasons) I do believe that God is a loving Creator, I then am forced to reject the notion that he is in control. He has left us to be stewards of our world and each other, and evil certainly can happen.


Conversely, if God is somehow truly in control, then he is not loving, for a loving parent who was controlling all events would not allow one child to kill another. If they did, that parent would, IMO, be evil themselves.


So I am forced to conclude that God is not in control of this world or his creatures. He influences through the Spirit, but he does not force nor manipulate events.


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BillM,

 

Bad things happen to good people, but this does not cancel the existence of God in my view. We are all here for a purpose in my worldview and while tragic as the loss of innocent life is, it creates ripples throughout the entirety of existence and forces changes both for good and bad. I do not believe in a "rose garden God". You take on a body and move through a period of preparation on this Earth in order to return to God in my view. Salvation, saving and the like are terms that I believe human beings use to attempt to describe a process of "improving one's lie" (as in golf if I spelled that right) with regard to the holiness and vibrational characteristics of God. As your holiness with reference to God increase you move closer. Decrease and you move farther away. We are no closer in my opinion of understanding God than people were in the time of Christ. As science helps us understand, we can draw a better picture of what God is not, but still understand that his laws control the universe, not the behavior of humans. Free will is just that and I believe the other side of the coin has dominion here, whatever you wish to call that (Satan, Baal, etc). Not a fire and brimstone guy myself. Also I have determined it unfruitful for me to blame God when bad things happen on Earth. I am not aware of an argument to the contrary in scripture anywhere where people that love God tiptoe through the tulips and die and go to heaven.

 

Appreciate your thoughts...

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Why is God love?

because God is (at least for some of us) a reflection of what we perceive as our better selves.

 

For some acceptance of everything ... while I agree it is a useful position, I question is it God.

Love? I had no choice but to love (and eventually accept) my wife.

 

God being love ... does not make sense to me.

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It is entirely possible to reverse the question and ask "Why is God Not Love? If the first question is valid, as well as the second, then we know, to some degree, that we are human and not God. Not a bad fact to consider? It is not a new concept, BTW, as it has been around for a very long time.

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It is entirely possible to reverse the question and ask "Why is God Not Love? If the first question is valid, as well as the second, then we know, to some degree, that we are human and not God. Not a bad fact to consider? It is not a new concept, BTW, as it has been around for a very long time.

 

Do we know we are not God?

John 10:31 ???

 

Many of us have a belief in free will which is pretty much godlike.

 

Actually I agree with I and the Father are one ... A wonderful monistic point of view. It is only literal interpretations that say this statement does not apply to you, minsocal. There is no distinction between me, a lump of coal and god.

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Bill,

 

I think the difference between your parenting and any Gods is that you do anything and everything you are capable of to help your children. So if your child was starving to death, you would do what you could to intervene and save them. That's because you love them. I can't reconcile how a God sitting back and allowing things to play out as they may, could be described as 'love'.

 

We have an agreed view on an interventionist God - there isn't one. True, how do we account for the good things in our lives, but rather than luck or chance I think I would simply put that down to "that's life". Maybe something/someone called God wound us all up to experience good things, and it's our fault that the bad things get in the way. Perhaps, but again, I can't see then why anyone would relate this to God being Love.

 

I do like your question - "Why is there good in the world?" Maybe that is God.

 

All good fodder to ponder!

 

Cheers

Paul

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Joseph,

 

So how would you describe God then? Do you think of God as a soundwave, or like water and we are the fish swimming in God. How does God as love 'exist' to you?

 

Cheers

Paul

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It is entirely possible to reverse the question and ask "Why is God Not Love? If the first question is valid, as well as the second, then we know, to some degree, that we are human and not God. Not a bad fact to consider? It is not a new concept, BTW, as it has been around for a very long time.

 

Myron,

 

Do you have a view then whether God is love or is not love?

 

Cheers

Paul

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Joseph,

 

So how would you describe God then? Do you think of God as a soundwave, or like water and we are the fish swimming in God. How does God as love 'exist' to you?

 

Cheers

Paul

Paul,

 

I do not think of God as any_thing nor as something. I experience God as 'being' or 'isness' for lack of better words.

 

See my post #6 above for how God exists as Love for me. God does not exist to me as an emotion called love as commonly defined in dictionaries though emotion may be present.. To me Love is more of a total internal acceptance of the moment as what is and while somewhat euphoric is as difficult as God to describe or define.

 

Many as you indicate " can't reconcile how a God sitting back and allowing things to play out as they may, could be described as 'love'." Perhaps the problem is not only in the concept of God, man's definition of love and assumptions one is using but likewise in the absence of a realization in the asking of the questions "who am I" ," what is the world" , and "who/what is God". As long as they appear as three postulates, how can a realization be possible? To inhere in one's 'being', the three become one and both the question of reconciliation and the need for an answer disappear.

 

Anyway, thats my best take on your question and reconciliation comment ,

Joseph

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Paul,

 

I do not think of God as any_thing nor as something. I experience God as 'being' or 'isness' for lack of better words.

 

See my post #6 above for how God exists as Love for me. God does not exist to me as an emotion called love as commonly defined in dictionaries though emotion may be present.. To me Love is more of a total internal acceptance of the moment as what is and while somewhat euphoric is as difficult as God to describe or define.

 

Many as you indicate " can't reconcile how a God sitting back and allowing things to play out as they may, could be described as 'love'." Perhaps the problem is not only in the concept of God, man's definition of love and assumptions one is using but likewise in the absence of a realization in the asking of the questions "who am I" ," what is the world" , and "who/what is God". As long as they appear as three postulates, how can a realization be possible? To inhere in one's 'being', the three become one and both the question of reconciliation and the need for an answer disappear.

 

Anyway, thats my best take on your question and reconciliation comment ,

Joseph

I'm getting your picture now, I think. God is everything. God is you, me, our thoughts, our feelings, our physicality, our spirituality. God is a leaf and all of it's components. God is air, space, fire, cloud. God is because God can not be not?

 

Close?

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If one can put god into words, it is not god?

 

Why? By what rule does it have to be this way? How do you come to that conclusion?

 

(Not arguing or saying you're wrong, just trying to understand).

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I like to think of God as pure energy because we are
communicating with the energy around us every second. Einstein even showed us
that matter is energy. I accept this responsibility so I have to think, “What kind
of energy am I putting back?” This energy I label love so God would be pure
love. The belief institutions teach us to rely on the systems and not our own
connections to the energy around us so we have to restructure our skills to understand
the frequencies and subtle energies of consciousness. It seems the Divine
matrix or consciousness permeates and connects all things. Understanding the
limitations of the belief institutions, I feel the need to realize my potential,
and I feel Christ Consciousness is the key, not the narrow interpretations of
doctrines. I feel every person is a living Christ if they communicate with
absolute and unconditional love by just being in harmony. Truth will set us
free.



Everything is energy more than what we see with the five
senses. We seem to be a symphony of vibrations of light and sound. We have
solar systems of atoms in our cells and the atom bomb has shown the great amount
of energy in one atom when it is released. Einstein proved that gravity warps
and curves the matrix of space so everything in the universe has an effect on
everything else. Steve Hawkins is working of the formula for the wave of the
universe, one vibration or uni-verse. Something universal is going on. Buddha,
Laz Tzu, St Theresa and Jesus did not know each other. They lived in different
times, places, different cultures but all describe similar sequences, events or
stages of this energy, matrix, consciousness, or love, which we call God.



I feel every person has the potential to be a living Christ
if one stops imitating and starts being. It seems we are not just spectators,
but vectors participating, co-creators gaining knowledge and experience as we
rise in frequency. Some polarize energy and manipulate the masses with tension,
fear and division, but that is their choice between the energy of love or the
energy of fear. Freedom of choice, a free will to center in whatever energy we
wish.



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I'm probably one of the few theists on this forum because I still tend to view God as a being who is a Creator. I guess there is enough religion or traditional Christianity left in me that I still view God as a "Thou", even though, as has been pointed out, this view does have its problems.

 

Yet, I agree that when the Bible says that God is love, the apostle John is more than likely speaking of the tribal deity of young Christianity. From what I can tell, John's community saw God as the source of their love. Yet John also makes it clear that if we claim to love God but hate others, then our claim to love God is false. And this, to me, is where the rubber meets the road. Regardless of what God is or is not or our definitions of God, the practical side of the theology is how we treat one another. So even for the apostle John, God and God's love was something that connects us, something that calls us to see ourselves and each other as part of a larger whole, and, as a result, love is action. Love is more than how we feel, it is what we do.

 

Now, if I held to a strictly deistic view of God, my own theology would contradict itself. For it would make no sense for me to believe that our love (which calls us to do) has its roots in God's love (who doesn't do anything). But I am not a strict deist in that, to me, God is still here, still creating, still influencing. God is still the power for good in our world (IMO). But as to whether or not we make the connection to God and let God's power flow in and then out of us to others, that is our choice, that is, in the biblical record, being good stewards of our planet and ourselves. We have the response-ability to do something about the state of our world. And, IMO, the world is much the way it is simply because we are like little children who refuse to clean their room, share their toys, and think about anyone but themselves.

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I feel every person has the potential to be a living Christ

if one stops imitating and starts being. It seems we are not just spectators,

but vectors participating, co-creators gaining knowledge and experience as we

rise in frequency. Some polarize energy and manipulate the masses with tension,

fear and division, but that is their choice between the energy of love or the

energy of fear. Freedom of choice, a free will to center in whatever energy we

wish.

I like this approach and idea a lot!

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Why? By what rule does it have to be this way? How do you come to that conclusion?

 

(Not arguing or saying you're wrong, just trying to understand).

 

If god is transcendent (ie beyond all catergories of thought) then anything I manage to put into words is not god. If god is not transcendent then you are quite right to question my statement. Does this rule/logic work for you Paul?

 

 

I feel every person has the potential to be a living Christ

 

 

I would argue every person is a living Christ - not just has potential to be.

 

 

You are all Buddahs.

There is nothing that you need to achieve.

Just open your eyes.

 

-- Gautama Siddhartha

 

 

edit to add quote

Edited by romansh
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>>I would argue every person is a living Christ - not just has potential to be.

I would, respectfully, disagree. Our notions for who Christ is or what a Christ is are rooted in the Judeo-Christian viewpoint of someone annointed by God for a specific purpose. And, to me, I just don't see what I would call Christ-like character in each and every person I meet or hear about. Whoever killed the little girl in my neighborhood this week, I don't believe them to be "a living Christ" or "one with God."

 

Now, if we want to move our definitions of Christ beyond the Judeo-Christian viewpoint and make Christ mean anything we like, then (tongue-firmly-in-cheek), yes, I suppose that anyone is and can be Christ, from the murderer in my town to my cat to a cockroach in the breakroom where I work. But, for me, I just don't think the language or idea works that way. For better or worse, the notion of Messiah was a human being (not a deity) that was annointed by God to act as God's agent on earth in order to accomplish his will. I just don't find this child's murderer or my cat to meet that standard.

 

Just my 2c.

 

PS - Jesus himself is reported to have said that many would claim to be the Christ, but they should not be believed. :)

Edited by BillM
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I'm getting your picture now, I think. God is everything. God is you, me, our thoughts, our feelings, our physicality, our spirituality. God is a leaf and all of it's components. God is air, space, fire, cloud. God is because God can not be not?

 

Close?

Paul,

 

As close as any words can be, remembering they are only words. Pictures won't do either. As Rom said, if one can put God into words.... that is not God. Yet our mind tries to conceptualize that which we can subjectively experience but not truly understand.with the thinking mind in Newtonian concepts.

 

Joseph

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