Ep24-Mormonism and the Nature of Divine Love - The Problems of Theism & The Love of God Ch 1

We start the 2nd volume, The Problems of Theism & The Love of God! We do an overview of the book and then dive into the first chapter. If we take 'God is Love' seriously what does that tell us about our relationship with God and others? Is God's love unconditional?

Topics Discussed:
• Mormonism and God's Love
• The Logic of Love
• The I-Thou Relation
• Unconditional Love and Fellowship

Links: Elder Nelson Article- https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/02/divine-love?lang=eng

Show Notes:


“Mormonism and God’s Love”

“it seems that the interpersonal God disclosed in the scripture is the Most Moved Mover—that person who above all else seeks to persuade us to enter into a loving relationship of the type that exists between a father and a son or a committed husband and a beloved wife.”
“What if, instead, we started from the most basic commitment of Jesus’s teachings—that God is the type of being who can enter into loving relationships of mutual reciprocity and intimate self-disclosure with us? What if we begin with the view that God is the type of person whom we could seek in intimate prayer as our ‘abba, our “Daddy in Heaven”? What if we begin with the commitment that we can enter into a genuine dialogue with God as a means of freely choosing to enter into relationship with God? What if we commence with the faith that God respects our agency because granting us such space is necessary to allow us to choose whether we will”

“Joseph Smith’s most breath-taking and frankly audacious insight is that God seeks a peer relationship with us! He wants to bring us to relate to him and to one another with the very kind of interpenetrating love that the divine persons in the Godhead have for one another.”

“Like a human father, he seeks to create a world that gives us the opportunity to grow and become everything that he is.”

“Thus, there are two types of relationships envisioned in Mormon scripture: (1) a relationship of complete control where one person gets all the glory, and we are not agents to act for ourselves, and (2) a relationship which we are free to reject if we choose to and in which we share mutually glorifying love if we choose to enter it. Moreover, the choice between these two types of relationship is an ongoing choice.”

The Logic of Love

“Vincent Brummer, the emeritus professor of philosophy of religion at Utrecht University, elucidates two types of “games” (in the sense of “game theory”) or models of relationship which God could establish with human beings.8 The first type of game, Brummer contends, establishes the rules of “personal relationship.” In Game 1, God establishes the rules of relationship in which both persons in the relationship may say yes or no to each other. God makes the first move in this game by saying yes to a loving relationship with us. He offers us his love and, through that love, seeks to persuade us to enter into relationship with him by our also saying yes to him. However, we are also free to say no to a relationship with God. We can choose to reciprocate God’s love by saying yes. In this sense, we can guarantee a “win-win” by saying yes because we know through faith that God has already said yes to entering into a loving relationship with us. However, because love is a free choice and cannot be forced or guaranteed by just one party to the relationship, we can create a “win-lose” relationship by refusing to reciprocate the divine love. If we say no, then God has a choice to continue to strive with us to accept his love until we say yes and to redeem us or to say no to us. God cannot coerce or cause us to accept him in Game 1, so he seeks to inspire us through loving persuasion to accept his offer of love.”

“In Game 2, humans do exactly what God decrees for us from all eternity. In this game God chooses to enter into a “causal” relationship wherein he can cause everybody to say yes, or he can cause some to say no and some to say yes.”

“As Hick stated: “It seems that there would be no point in the creation of finite persons unless they could be endowed with a degree of genuine freedom and independence over against their Maker. For only then could they be capable of authentic personal relationship with Him.”

“In his later book, The Model of Love, Brummer clarifies and expands his typology of relationships. He classifies relationships as (1) mutual fellowship; (2) agreements giving rise to rights and duties; and (3) manipulative relations.”

“There is a crucial difference between a commercial relationship based upon a contract and a covenant relationship based on mutual agreements. In the commercial relationship, what I bargain for is an exchange of goods from you, something other than you yourself. However, in the covenant relationship, what is sought in the agreement is the person him or herself. What I bargain for in a covenant relationship is you as the person that you are.”

“Jean-Paul Sartre captured the essence of freedom involved in loving relationships perfectly:
The man who wants to be loved does not desire the enslavement of the beloved. He is not bent on becoming the object of passion which flows forth mechanically. He does not want to possess an automaton, and if we want to humiliate him, we need only to try to persuade him that the beloved’s passion is the result of a psychological determinism. The lover will then feel that both his love and his being are cheapened. . . . If the beloved is transformed into an automaton, the lover finds himself alone”

The I-Thou Relation

“ Immanuel Kant elucidated an ethical imperative that arises in human relationships: We must never treat persons as mere means, as mere objects, but always also as ends in and of themselves.17 The reason for this imperative is that if we use persons merely to accomplish some other purpose, then we have subordinated a person having absolute value to some “thing” else less valuable. ”

Unconditional Love and Fellowship

“the very notion of unconditional love has become something of a dirty word among many Latter-day Saints. A particularly noteworthy instance of the reluctance to see God’s love as unconditional in LDS thought is an article by Elder Russell M. Nelson, somewhat ironically entitled “Divine Love.”27 Elder Nelson states:
While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us—and certain divine blessings stemming from that love—are conditional.”

“Thus, Elder Nelson teaches that we should only give the blessing of our love to our children if they obey us. Love is conditioned on obedience. However, it seems fairly transparent that Elder Nelson has asserted at least three inconsistent positions:
1. God loves only those who keep his commandments.
2. God loves sinners who don’t keep his commandment.
3. God loves everyone.”

“However, there is an easy way to resolve these contradictions: by recognizing that “love” is equivocal in these statements”

Three types here: Fellowship, Universal Love,

“Thus, it seems to me that there is something right about what Elder Nelson says. There is a sense in which God’s love is conditional. Fellowship is available only to those who accept God’s love freely and abide in the commandments which teach the conditions of such an indwelling relationship of intimate love. However, there is something seriously amiss in not carefully qualifying the conditionality of God’s love, for there is a sense in which God’s love is genuinely unconditional. This unconditionality is entailed in the very notion that God’s love is universal. God seeks the best interest of all persons—and this highest good is accomplished when he honors our choices about what we truly desire. God honors our choices out of love. For example, as strange as it sounds, God does not want all persons to be in his kingdom; rather, he wants only those in his kingdom who freely choose to be in that kingdom.”

“We do not earn the relationship by keeping the commandments; nevertheless, the commandments define how loving persons respond to each other; and in the absence of such a loving response, a relationship of close and abiding fellowship cannot endure.”


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