Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What is GOD?

Chris Tilling has a thoughtful little blog-post on GOD IS LOVE. I would just like to supplement his post with two delightful quotes from C.H. Dodd's commentary on the Johannine Epistles.

1 John 4:8-10 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. 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.
The great British scholar, C.H. Dodd notes the following about this verse:
To say “God is love” implies that all His activity is loving activity. If He creates, He creates in love; if He rules, He rules in love; if He judges, He judges in love. All that He does is the expression of His nature, which is – to love. The theological consequences of this principle are far-reaching. Verse 9 is a restatement of the great Johannine declaration of the love of God (Jn 3:16) in terms differing only slightly from the form give in the Fourth gospel. It reminds us once again that in speaking of the love of God we are thinking of loving action, definite, concrete and recognizable on the historical plane. Verse 10 underlines one point in this declaration which is of fundamental importance: the Christian religion starts not with man’s love for God, but with God’s love for man, and with God’s love expressed in specific action in history.[1]
The meaning of the word [agape] must in fact be understood from the Gospel itself; and the pit and marrow of the Gospel is this: God’s sending of His Son to be the propitiation for our sins… It means that the coming of Christ, and in particular His death ‘for our sins, according to the scripture’ (1 Cor 15:3), constitutes the means by which we are cleansed from the taint of sin, and enter into the sphere of divine forgiveness, with the newness of life that it brings. That God provided such means for us, at such a cost, indicates what is meant by the love of God.[2]
This is enhanced by Anthony Thiselton's discussion of love in his massive commentary on 1 Corinthians, where he writes: Love denotes above all a stance or attitude which shows itself in acts of will as regard, respect, and concern for the welfare of the other. It is therefore profoundly christological, for the cross is the paradigm case of the act of will and stance which places welfare of others above the interests of the self.[3]
While I'm not sure how to answer Chris' final question, I do take refuge in the love of GOD, and I do try and share that love with anyone who is interested.
[1] C. H. Dodd, The Johannine Epistles (Hodder & Stoughton, 1953) pg. 110 [2] Dodd, The Johannine Epistles, pg. 112
[3] A. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians NIGTC (Eerdmans, ), pg. 1035

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