This debate started on myÂ FacebookÂ timeline. Â A friend of mine, who is a Christian, updated posted the following:
Chris: Â Love God, Love People.
This is how the comments rolled:
Adam (me – reason42):Â But does God love people?!……
Chris:Â Â i think so, i would have done away with us ungrateful lot years ago!
Adam:Â You don’t seem sure!
Chris:Â You’re right, but God’s been trying to convince me that He does for more than 20 years… and that’s just that He loves me… some people hey! 😀
Adam:Â Ok so you think, or believe, or have faith or whatever that he loves you. That’s you all wrapped up. How about other people – because that’s where I was going… you know… thinking about *other* people…?!
Chris:Â I think I’d be a bit self centred if I thought he only loved me… hmmm interesting thought tho lol! maybe someone should write a book on it – I vote for Tom Holt!
Adam:Â It would be ridiculous to suggest he only love *you* though some people have thought that (a kind of Solipsism)!
Okay so shoot from the hip – does he or does he not love people. Or let’s get some precision here. Does he:
A) love all people
B) some people
Your answer please 😉
Chris:Â I’ll let you know if I meet someone and God tells me He doesn’t love them… If I do then I’ll love them anyway… Or maybe that’s God’s Spirit living in me… 😀
John (a friend of Chris (a friend of Chris is a friend of mine 😉 )):â€Ž”For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). I think that is where Chris is coming from. Its quite difficult to discuss this subject without a clear definition of the meaning of the word, “love”. As a father, I love my children unconditionally, but that does not mean I approve of everything about them. I feel that love more intensely at times when I least like them (eg when they are having a quarrel). Jesus said “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another”. The body of people that are redeemed by Him are at their most convincing when they have, and show, that love.
Adam:Â Hi John, I know the perspective Chris’ quote is coming from however – still the question is on the table:
A) love all people?
B) some people?
John: God loves all people. (Adam – my emphasis <- this answer is what I was expecting all along as will come clear later)
Chris:Â Does God love you Adam?
And if you would like to explain why please
Adam:Â Hi John, expected answer â€“ but there are deep deep problems with your answer. I would have been more impressed if you said B! I would like to discuss – you up for it?
Chris, good question. As you know, I’m an atheist – but from a philosophical enquiry point of view I would say A if I was to grant all aspects of God I assume you take to be ‘true’ – scare quotes intended! Again, I would like to discuss whyâ€¦. But facebook comments are not very conducive and Iâ€™m not in London for a wee while…
John:Â Hi, Adam, I’m up for discussing it. What are your deep deep problems with my answer? Â And before we go too far, just in case we are talking about different things, what exactly do you understand by the word ‘love’?
…and this is how we ended up here. Â All comments are welcome and moderation will only weed out racist and obscene posts – and here I’m thinking of random posters from around the world.
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Hi John, Chris
I’ve been very busy since our exchange on Facebook so I apologise for the lack of response. I can tell you that tomorrow I will also be very busy but from Friday my schedule is back to normal.
Ok, John – you asked: And before we go too far, just in case we are talking about different things, what exactly do you understand by the word â€˜loveâ€™?
I know the reason why you ask me this question… …and I’ll let you know now that I am a father. I have a young child and in terms of ‘punishment’ and ‘tough love’ I guess I’ll be just like any other decent father – or so I hope!
Now I have two views on the meaning of the word love. The everyday sense and my own philosophical and pedantic sense.
Everyday meaning (and this is where I think we should settle our definition)…
…love based on a relationships. Now see further explanation on my pedantic meaning below…
The word Love is used in many ways in language… eg.
a) I love skiing
b) I love reading philosophy
c) I love my car
d) I love my wife and my daughter.
With (a) this is a sport I engage in once a year and have great *fun* doing it. I may as well say I really enjoy skiing – so perhaps an abuse of the work love.
With (b) like skiing, reading philosophy is something I take great pleasure from. So again love in this sense is my *affection* towards an activity.
With (c) I work hard, save my money and buy a sports car. I could buy just an everyday car to get me from place a to place b but I have an interest in motorsport and engineering – so I buy a car that I *desire*. To say I love my car is to say probably many things – I have *fun* in it, I take care of it (a kind affection) and so on.
So far a, b and c is the use of the word love in a non-reciprocal sense. Or not based on relationships between beings.
So with (d) love is based on relationships. I naturally love my daughter and my wife. I have affection for them. I have desires for them (of different complexities depending on the person). They also show me love and therefore there is a reciprocal dimension to the word love. Love here is bidirectional. (Now I know that love can also be unidirectional!)
Love based on relationships – type (d) here is what we are talking about so this is the meaning I will focus on. In bidirectional healthy and relationships all is well. Sometimes things don’t go so well and good relationships work through these issues. These issues are dealt with in the wrapper of love – *understanding*, *patience*, *commitment* and so on. Sometimes the actions taken within the context of a relationship with a dimension of love make perfect sense immediately. Sometimes the actions don’t make sense, or are confused but again – in the broad wrapper of love will demand *forgiveness* and understanding – mistakes are made and so on. So in essence love is all those things I’ve highlighted in the context of relationships.
I can go deeper and deeper into the meaning of love. Some philosopher dedicate many years of their lives trying to understand and explain it. So I think we should stay with the lay meaning of the term – and this is within the context of relationship – no matter how complicated relationships can be.
I will follow up on my answer to your question: Does God love you, Adam?
Chris, good question. As you know, Iâ€™m an atheist â€“ but from a philosophical enquiry point of view I would say A if I was to grant all aspects of God I assume you take to be â€˜trueâ€™ â€“ scare quotes intended!
I will respond to this later (probably Friday) as it is late and I’ve had a busy day.
Hi, Adam, sorry I put so much work in your court to define “love”, but posting a long elaboration of the subject from my Galaxy had just failed by a slip of the finger, and I didn’t have time to repeat it, so asked you what you understood by it.
I did mean relationship love, which you cover in (d), though I suppose if God made us, he might have taken pleasure in the process (like (a) and (b)), and in the product (like (c)). But the two kinds of relationship love in (d) do not include the kind of love that I understand God to have for all mankind. A basic tenet of Christian faith, as you probably know, is that those who receive Christ are “born again” and become children of God. So in that familial sense, I am loved by God, as you love your child, but you are not. BTW, the offer of becoming a “child of God” is as open to you as it is to me – God is not unfair – the difference is that I (and Chris) have received it, you have not (yet).
Oops, problems posting from my Galaxy again. I scrolled up the comment box to review what I had said, and it would not scroll to the bottom again, so could not continue. Probably a font metrics issue. I’ll have to continue this later on a full size pc.
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