I don’t know what’s more disturbing. Mommy announcing her official retirement from the blogosphere today or perhaps the responses that continue to heap false accusations onto her. If one reads her post from yesterday one can see her intent was to wrestle with the concepts of how we are to evangelize to those outside the faith. The question of the order of condemnation and love. It seems that many responses were saying quite well, they’d be happy to present condemnation first and foremost. That is not the way to evangelize and Mommy is absolutely correct about this.
For me, I attend church at a mausoleum. We see many visitors visiting their loved ones at the cemetery and entering into the mausoleum. The last thing we are certain to do is tell our visitors that since their loved ones did not believe in God, they shall be in Hell. Because we are not God and it is not entitled for us to know that! So we love them first and foremost and assume that God understood their loved one’s situation and why they believed and did what they did in life and have hope that they are sacramentally present with us. Love hopes all things (1 Cor. 13:7). So why would we think the worst when we do not know the judgments of God?
So onto the question–does God condemn us first or does God love us? I do not understand why my Queen was attacked and persecuted as a heretic for simply agreeing with St John the Evangelist.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love[b] because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters,[c] are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister[d] whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters[e] also. (1 John 4:7-21, NRSVCE)
God did not come condemning us when he entered into this world (John 3:16). He did not condemn us in the flesh but he condemned our sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3). It is only by love that we can actually be exposed as sinners. If we stand before a God who wants to scorch us for eternity or even annihilate us simply because we screwed up in life (who doesn’t?) are we going to want to love God or are we going to want to put ourselves above God and tell him how to behave? For me, it was the latter. I was taught in a non-denominational church in the Evangelical movement growing up that I was in danger of the Hell-fire unless I prayed this prayer and received Jesus into my heart. I’ve borne that image of God wanting to send me to Hell all my life and have been constantly reminding myself this is a LIE I was taught that needed to be rejected and repudiated as heresy. My Queen is not a dogmatic relativist. On the contraire, she knows quite well where all doctrine flows from and this is love. If doctrine does not flow from love, it must be thrown into the trash can of theological errors.