Unconditional what?

There seems to be much confusion within some Christian and quasi Christian circles regarding what the unconditional love of God means. Some equate this love as meaning unconditional acceptance of or  the condoning of their actions, no matter what.

This deeply concerns me, for this framework of understanding makes a mockery of what Christ has done. It makes a mockery of the cross. It makes a mockery of the blood he shed. His blood that poured out onto the earth from his body, which was broken, shattered and wracked in pain. It makes a mockery of the life of Christ. It makes a mockery of his resurrection.

For if God condoned and condones all our actions, we have no need for the act of forgiveness. There is no need for repentance. There is no need for reconciliation. And there would be no need for conviction. There would be no need for community and social standards. Because, no matter what we do, God would be condoning our every action.

The grace and mercy of God is an immense offer to all and for all. The blood of Christ was shed for all, because all are in need of the mercy of God. The blood of Christ was shed for all, because all are in need of this grace. And within this framework we can turn to John 3:13. For so God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, so that who ever believes in him shall not perish, but will have eternal life.

Its because God doesn’t condone our actions that he sent Christ. And its because God doesn’t condone our actions that we need Christ.

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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7 Responses to Unconditional what?

  1. tildeb says:

    For so God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, so that who ever believes in him shall not perish, but will have eternal life.

    But he didn’t really give his only son because it was him, so he knew that death was merely a temporary thing, that the suffering would be temporary, that the pain would be temporary, and that all would be peachy soon after. The sacrifice we sometimes see from parents for children far, far exceeds this weekend jaunt and we don’t expect any major payback for doing what most loving parents would do.

    Also, unconditional love means no conditions. So clearly, your version of god’s immense love is and ought to be conditional, making it – again – less worthy that many parents’ unconditional love for their children.

    The more you try to describe this god, it seems obvious (to me, at least) the poorer he seems to match up with relatively common human capabilities and demonstrated virtues.

    • Tildeb…you have it so wrong. I’m a dad, I love my children and part of that love is bringing them up in the right way to live. I punish them if they do wrong. I discipline them to live right.

      There are many things they do, that I do not condone. However I love them deeply. Your version and understanding of love would have me leave them in nappies and never potty train them. It would leave them uneducated because I would accept their tantrums for not wanting to go to school and allow them to do what they wanted.

      But, love also wants what is right for them, and as a dad, I have the maturity (I hope) to know what is better for them, even though they may think differently at the time.

      • tildeb says:

        Craig, I doubt very much you love your children only when they behave well. I suspect you love them when even when they don’t. Do you place conditions on your love?

        Nowhere did I suggest that unconditional love means no parenting; good parenting means teaching towards a goal… usually to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted, responsible adults. The way we teach matters a very great deal to arrive at this goal. I would no more presume to know what is right for my adult offspring as they would presume for me but I certainly am responsible for making these decisions when they are children. It is in this same sense that being presumed and treated like a wayward child or sheep when I am a fully functioning responsible adult by religious overlords that I find so condescending and intolerable, and am surprised that other adults would find a divine entity responsible for raising us in a way to remain so quite disheartening if not completely misguided.

  2. Craig, I think that when people interpret God’s “unconditional love” as license to do whatever they please, without regard for the consequences, they are failing to recognise the nature of love. It has never really been about “rules for behaviour”, but love does no harm to its neighbour.

    If you accept the great gift of divine love, that love should be something that transforms you. NOT into somebody who adheres to some kind of rigid morality, but into someone who values and honours the worth of those around them, and desires to love them as God loves them.

    (& yes, Tildeb – there are a whole lot of people “outside” the faith who are very selfless in their love, and many who show genuine love far more deeply than a lot of “church” members. Personally, I believe that they are closer to God than they realise. & perhaps, some in the church are a lot further away than they think).

    • Craig Benno says:

      Love does no harm, is a great way to put it Kerry.

    • tildeb says:

      If you accept the great gift of divine love…

      But Kerry, that ‘love’ looks quite bit different to different believers without any way, as far as I can determine, to tell which is divine and which is completely man-made.

      And how utterly lovely it is to have the freedom without fear of punishment and even death to have such a choice. Rest assured, there’s nothing inherent in religious belief to provide you with this ability to choose. It secular law – and ONLY secular law – that grants you the state’s protection to make such choices. Historical and current theocracies allow you no such choice but demand obedience TO god… as someone ELSE determines it to be. That’s why there are still blasphemy laws in Ireland, of all places. Yes, it’s actually illegal to question this divine ‘love’; instead, you must OBEY. And in a nutshell, isn’t this exactly the problem Craig reveals about god’s conditional love to believe? It is this condition, this preset rule that Jesus tells us will determine our ETERNAL lives, as if everlasting parental punishment for non belief is a reasonable choice and in no way coercive or manipulative or conditional. And that’s why this kind of religious ‘guidance’ and ‘moral teachings’ is such an obscenity to responsible and mature adults.

      • Hey, Mr. T!

        No – none of that stuff looks like divine love, to me – but you already knew that.

        The early Christians were political insurgents, and were recognised as such by the Romans, because they believed in “no king but Jesus”. They were religious dissidents, and the Jewish authorities recognised them as such, because they believed they had direct access to God, and did not need someone ELSE to dictate how they worshiped. Then came Constantine, & subverted what was very much a movement that declared freedom, even to the point of a kind of holy anarchy – into the state “religion”, making it instead, an instrument of oppression. You cite some of the fruits of this subversion above.

        Prior to this, in the Roman empire and in Jewish religious culture, Christians were the ones being stoned and crucified and fed to lions. (as an aside, I understand that in various places around the globe, Christians are still suffering death for their beliefs. And yes, I am very blessed to be one of the lucky ones who have freedom to believe as they wish without fear of death.)

        So the thing is, if God is real (and hold your fire – I know you don’t accept that for a moment) and Jesus was really who he said he was, then following Jesus means following freedom. The scary thing about this FOR RELIGIOUS folks, is that if people are genuinely free to follow their own conscience, the result might indeed look like anarchy! It all depends on God actually showing up to breathe life into the mix! Now here you have something interesting. Religion that becomes prescriptive and controlling is, I believe, one of two things. 1 – it has another agenda. Be it political or just selfish, it seeks to use “religion” as a means to control people’s behaviour. In this sense, your own blog is well named. 2. They are afraid that either God isn’t really going to come through, or that people aren’t capable of responding to him without some kind of external control.

        The man from Galilee (whatever you make of him) was certainly no oppressor. The thing that I love (and that you hate) about following Him, is that none of it makes sense unless he is actually living and present. He never set up a ‘system’ that would control people and dupe them into some kind of mindless following. There was always an expectation that he would be there, and the connection with the divine would always be available to whoever sought it. So, as Paul said, if he wasn’t the real deal, we are of all men, most to be pitied. We are following nonsense. If, however, (as my own experience convinces me) He is alive and well – then there is hope for freedom, yet.

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