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Defending the Faith: Two opposing errors about the love of God

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  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    July 3, 2014 5:28 a.m.

    It's going to be interesting in the "next" life when we find out there is no such thing as a "judgement". There are too many variables that make it impossible and frankly I were it not for mankind's constant effort to scare and control all this judgement silliness would never have existed.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 3, 2014 7:39 a.m.

    Dennis,

    Though I do not agree that there will be no judgement, I do agree that the variables would make the task impossible for any save the one perfect judge - imbued with perfect love, full of mercy, and a knowledge of all things and of us from beginning to end. And that is why he sits in that seat alone.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    July 3, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. All the words in the world don't mean anything, it's what you do that shows your devotion to God.

  • RBA Fairview, UT
    July 3, 2014 8:06 a.m.

    Thanks for the straightforward look at God's love. Of course he loves us and is patient with us and all our sins, He is our Father. But like any good father He reprimands us for our sins and demands our repentance or suffer the consequences. We must be good as He is good, and clean as He is clean if we want the ultimate reward of immortality and eternal life. He will help us if we submit to his will, but He will not, He cannot, save us in our sins.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 3, 2014 8:41 a.m.

    It’s easy and tempting to project a human psychosis onto God. Men have been doing that for thousands of years. Evidences for it are abundant in the pages of the Bible which was written not by God but entirely by the hand of man.

    So if you find yourself torn between a God of wrath and judgment and a God of love and mercy, you need only search the Bible and selectively pick the passages that conform to your point of view. That’s how simple it is as Dr. Peterson has just demonstrated for us.

  • janette.yj American Fork, UT
    July 3, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2014 said,
    Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    July 3, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    In the apparent conflict between a loving God and an angry God, the greatest weight should be given to the actual appearances of Christ in the New Testament and the risen Lord in the Book of Mormon. In person, he frankly seems to be quite compassionate and to have no desire to kill people. On the contrary, people killed him. Even the whip that he braided was merely used to drive animals, not to strike people.

    I suspect the angry-God syndrome is more a reflection of reprobate mankind getting what the laws of nature impose on those who need to learn the hard way. Frankly, I suspect that a lot of the atrocities attributed to God tell us little about God and more about people creating a God in their own image. Frankly, parts of the Old Testament are borderline nonsense anyway.

  • Tom Johnson Spanish Fork, UT
    July 3, 2014 9:14 a.m.

    Mercy cannot rob justice--this is the reminder that God is not always forgiving and those who ignore and rebel against His commandments will pay the price, either in this life or at the judgment day because it would be unfair of God to give the same blessings and rewards to those who do not keep His commandments as to those who do keep His commandments. The tension between mercy and justice is resolved in only one way--the atonement of Jesus Christ who pays the price required by justice for our sins on the condition that we obey His commandments to claim mercy.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 3, 2014 9:23 a.m.

    Great piece, and very much needed in this Christian culture. Reminds me of the most frightening verse - for me - in the Bible: Matthew 22:14 - "For many are called, but few are chosen."

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 3, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    Re: "God is love" (1 John 4:8). It’s not simply that God "loves," but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

    God is light (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of "darkness." In Scripture "darkness" stands for sin, evil, death; and "light" for holiness, goodness, life. God is light, means that He is the sum of all excellency.

    RE: Twin Lights, "God is *a spirit"(John 4:24 KJV). "As translated correctly"=(God is spirit John 4:24 NIV), There is *no article’ in the Greek text before the word spirit. The word spirit is first in the sentence for emphasis. The literal idea would be like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God.” Jesus did not leave any doubt about this truth. God(The Father)= spirit!

    RE: Moontan, but few are chosen." “… His mercy toward them that fear Him" (Ps. 103:11).

    "He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy."(Romans 9:15)

    It is pure sovereign grace which alone determines the exercise of Divine mercy.
    The elect are designated "vessels of mercy" (Rom. 9:23).

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    July 3, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    Of course the Bible can used to support MTD. It can be used to support Catholicism,the tens of thousands of different forms of Protestantism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. While an exact number is impossible to find it has been calculated that there are well over 100,000 forms of Christianity and every one of them can successfully support their different beliefs by using the Bible. Every one of them can also use the Bible to show that all the others are wrong. So what is so different about MTD?

    As the all wise Homer Simpson once said: "The Bible says a lot of things Lisa."

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 3, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    "The Old Testament story of Jonah memorably depicts God’s love for all the world’s peoples, but it also sends that prophet to Nineveh with the warning that its inhabitants must repent or be destroyed."
    ______________________________

    What a pity Dr. Peterson stops there. I’ll recapitulate the ending.

    Jonah preaches to the inhabitants of Ninevah fully expecting them to reject him. To his astonishment, they repent. Here is how the King James Bible describes what follows. ‘God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.’

    It's what Jonah does in response that I find astonishing. He broods. He goes outside the city, sets up a shelter from the hot sun where he pouts, sulks, and prays to die because he thinks God has cheated him out of the satisfaction of seeing Ninevah and all its inhabitants destroyed.

    Jonah is a short book of four chapters that doesn’t take long to read. Check it out and judge for yourselves whether the God of vengeance as parts of the Bible suggest might be a product of human imagination.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 3, 2014 1:10 p.m.

    Sharrona,

    I have no idea what this has to do with this discussion or what I commented above but thank you anyway.

    The Bible gateway site shows a host of translations all at once. This citation goes back and forth depending on the translation referenced. I don't see much consensus.

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    July 3, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    God is our father. Like human parents, his love is unconditional, but his approval is not.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 3, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    Is anyone ever troubled by the fact that there is not one word in the Bible that could not have been written by someone with only bronze-age knowledge?

    The best evidence we have that the Bible is a collection of writings that on rare occasion depicts someone who has achieved an enlightened (i.e., found God) state of consciousness but is mostly a collection filled with all the ethics (such as they were), prejudices, peeves, war-like tendencies, and horrors of most bronze-age people, is the Bible itself.

  • Russell Spencer Boise, ID
    July 3, 2014 2:22 p.m.

    Dr. Peterson's article might have also referenced Hebrews 12, especially verse 6:

    "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

    Contrary to the MTD, God's love is manifested in his merciful correction of our sinful natures, calling us back to repentance and allowing us to partake of Christ's atonement. The principle purpose of life is happiness--but not the temporary "happiness" prescribed by MTD that, frankly, looks a lot more like clinical denial. The purpose is eternal happiness--joy--born of divine approval from living one's life in harmony with the Gospel.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 3, 2014 2:26 p.m.

    "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22).

    We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ where every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. This applies to every soul that has ever been born on the face of the earth (50-100 billion? souls) no matter what their religious beliefs are, true or false, with the exception of babies and little children who died before the age of accountability.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    July 3, 2014 2:43 p.m.

    Craig Clark wrote: "judge for yourselves whether the God of vengeance as parts of the Bible suggest might be a product of human imagination."

    Tyler D wrote: "The Bible . . . is mostly a collection filled with all the ethics (such as they were), prejudices, peeves, war-like tendencies, and horrors of most bronze-age people, is the Bible itself."

    Thanks for the excellent comments about the angry God that some see. This God simply is a God that people have created in their own image.

    The real God is better represented by his actual appearances to man in the four gospels and in the Book of Mormon's 3rd Nephi. Even the whip he braided was not used on people; it was used to drive animals from the temple courts. And let's remember, the real God did not go about seeking to kill people but was killed by them.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 3, 2014 2:46 p.m.

    ... also those who were born with Downs Syndrome are included in the group of babies and little children.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    July 3, 2014 3:25 p.m.

    @Michigander

    The correct name is either Down's syndrome or Down syndrome with the latter being the preferred. The Down part comes from English physician John Langdon Down who fully described they physical aspects of the syndrome in 1866. Not trying to be rude, just bringing awareness.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 3, 2014 4:56 p.m.

    RE: Craig Clark. "Jonah found the order unbearable”, Because Nineveh(gentiles,repented) known for its wickedness, an enemy of Israel.

    Jesus used Jonah's story as example for his own death and resurrection (Mt.12:39-41, 16:4; Lk.11:29-30,32 ) “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

    RE: Tyler D, Current Biblical practices. The Prophetic Significance of the seven feasts of Israel and the Christian meaning, 3 brief Examples:

    1) Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7). Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.

    2) Unleavened Bread — Pointed to the Messiah's sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

    3) First Fruits — Pointed to the Messiah's resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one Paul refers to him in 1 Cor 15:20 as the "first fruits from the dead."

  • Stable thought FORT MORGAN, CO
    July 3, 2014 5:33 p.m.

    Dr Peterson....as usual you bring insightful truth to a the current generations having difficult time hearing the promptings of the God and father or us all.

    I know you are aware of this but you keep giving your critics and enemies more writing material, from a fan, thanks!

  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    July 3, 2014 8:47 p.m.

    "The Bible is such a gargantuan collection of conflicting values that anyone can prove anything from it." -Robert Heinlein

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 3, 2014 9:47 p.m.

    @sharrona – “The Prophetic Significance of the seven feasts of Israel and the Christian meaning, 3 brief Examples:”

    Or, the Gospels were written to conform to OT “prophecy” or significance… which would be about as challenging as writing the 3rd Lord of the Rings book to conform to the 1st two (I hope it’s obvious that when writing the 3rd book, the 1st two have already been written and you have them in hand… while writing the 3rd… for quick & easy reference).

    For the incredulous, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. For the credulous, only extraordinary faith is required.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    July 4, 2014 5:24 a.m.

    "...non-LDS theologists..."

    So... Your entire world consists of LDS and non-LDS? That's it? That's the prism you see God's Light through? Your simple black-and-white dichotomy that divides the universe?

    Well, gee. Thank you. Glad we cleared that up. It explains so much.

  • redhat Fairfax Station, VA
    July 4, 2014 6:13 a.m.

    From the Gospel of John it is clear that Jesus calls, no! urges, all of us to "love" and to "believe". Why can we say this? In that Gospel Jesus Himself uses those two words over 60 times each, beginning in John 3:16 which is the Gospel in it's purest form. That "love " and that "believing" is to be at the deepest "heart" level of a person. Without any "requirements" added to John 3:16, simply our humble response and surrender of all we are and all we have, we are by the power of the Holy Spirit "regenerated", become children of God, born from above, and most importantly from then on, have "no fear" of God's judgment. When the Son of Man sets you free you are free indeed! Believers should have no fear of God's judgment and emphasizing fear of God's judgment rather than God's unconditional love and our "believing" response seems to miss the point of Jesus' teaching in my humble opinion.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    July 4, 2014 7:31 a.m.

    I stand by my comment. I'm sure God is sometimes amused and sometime bemoaned by the actions of humanity in trying to organize themselves into institutions that will do anything they please in His name. It boggles my mind.

  • Bob Pomeroy Bisbee, AZ
    July 4, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Yet there are many active religionists who tout their exemption from the law of consequences as the ultimate symbol of their faith

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 5, 2014 11:07 a.m.

    RE: Redhat. True, “The one ‘who believes’ in the Son has eternal life. The one ‘who rejects’ the Son will not see life, but God's wrath remains on him. (John 3:36 )

    RE: Tyler D, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Agreed,

    O.T. prophecies which were fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. “ i.e..(2of 61):

    Protevangelium, “ I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and HER seed(sperma,4690); it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3 :15). But when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son ‘made of a Woman’ born under law(Joseph)(Galatians 4:4 NIV).

    Psalm 22 was written by King David about 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. It prophesizes about the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, which predicts the crucifixion 400 years before crucifixion was invented by the Persians. It describes the piercing of Jesus' hands and feet, the pouring out of water, his thirst, his bones out of joint (but not broken), the hurling of insults from on-lookers, and the casting of lots for his garments.

  • abtrumpet Provo, UT
    July 5, 2014 9:22 p.m.

    Thank you for the article, I enjoyed it. I would say, however, that I don't see any evidence of Jesus forgiving the adulteress at that moment. He only said he did not "condemn" her, which, in my interpretation, means that he was giving her the opportunity to repent.

    Still well written, however.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    July 6, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    @sharrona,

    How do you know that Psalms wasn't written and compiled a few hundred years after Jesus lived?

    Just wondering....

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 7, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    RE: Dennis “How do you know that Psalms wasn't written and compiled a few hundred years after Jesus lived?” 2 examples:

    The(Psalms) Septuagint (LXX) is a Koine Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, translated in stages between the 3rd to 1st century BCE in Alexandria, Egypt.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls have shown the MT to be nearly identical to some texts of the Tanakh dating from 200 BCE but different from others.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 7, 2014 9:29 a.m.

    Again Dr Peterson chooses to influence others to think as he thinks rather than teaching and inspiring them to think for themselves, and in the process of championing a personal Mormon god he stumbles over the realization that God is being itself, not a being.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    July 7, 2014 9:33 a.m.

    A Quaker
    "...non-LDS theologists...", So... Your entire world consists of LDS and non-LDS? That's it? That's the prism you see God's Light through? Your simple black-and-white dichotomy that divides the universe?

    I doubt Dr. Peterson see the universe in the way you describe.

    As the audience of the DesNews and of Dr. Peterson is largely LDS, and the article intends to make a case for an LDS interpretation of the Love of God, it is entirely relevant that Dr. Peterson call upon professional socioligists not of the LDS faith to support his thesis. Had he not pointed this out, many would have (and in fact have done so elsewhere) assumed they were LDS and therefore would add only minimally to the point he was trying to make.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 7, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    abtrumpet,

    "....I don't see any evidence of Jesus forgiving the adulteress at that moment. He only said he did not "condemn" her, which, in my interpretation, means that he was giving her the opportunity to repent."
    ______________________________

    Let's not forget the possibility that she was being falsely accused. Jesus was less concerned with her guilt or innocence than the conduct of those who were ready to stone her. The significance in the account was the example Jesus set for us in the face of intense peer pressure to acquiesce to the will of her accusers.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 7, 2014 12:34 p.m.

    The law (and I would say, the entire Old Testament) was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

    This is why I have a hard time accepting that the full Christian gospel was known and practiced to and by the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs. To me, the Old Testament represents a fascinating story of God leading his chosen people from their starting place -- as desert nomads viewing God as just one more deity whose good side you better keep on or get squashed, and who would fight his people's battles -- to an understanding of who He really is.

    Who He really is is the one God of the whole universe, who is no respecter of persons, who sends the rain on the just and the unjust, and who is emphatically *not* a capricious Oriental despot, whacking people right and left for the tiniest thing. I agree that "God is love" can water that same true God down into something He isn't either -- a cosmic Mister Rogers, a "tame Lion" -- but I can't avoid concluding that much of the Old Testament consists of nothing more than Hebrew tribesmen ascribing their purely human acts and thoughts to God.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 7, 2014 2:19 p.m.

    "....I can't avoid concluding that much of the Old Testament consists of nothing more than Hebrew tribesmen ascribing their purely human acts and thoughts to God."
    ______________________________

    Deities throughout all history are marked by characteristics of human striving. In trying to imagine a god, man draws on what he knows or thinks he knows of himself.

  • GreatScot Eagle Mountain, UT
    July 7, 2014 5:48 p.m.

    True to a point, but with the exception of #4, there are scriptures to support the "MTD". For example, 1. Genesis 1 (God creates, orders, and watches over the earth) 2. Love thy neighbor as thy self. 3. Men are that they might have joy. and 5. Doctrine and Covenants 76 (good people go to the Terrestrial kingdom - a wonderful and glorious part of heaven).

    In the scriptures there are some hell-fire and brimstone messages aimed at the wicked, but there are plenty of scriptures showing God as compassionate, forgiving, loving, and comforting. The scriptures contain many messages aimed at many audiences. Better, I think, to take a broader view of God based on more than a few scriptural examples. :)

  • wilsclanmom Alexandria, VA
    July 8, 2014 1:06 p.m.

    A God who pats you on the head and smiles at you and gives you everything you want, like a dotty grandfather, is not what I want. I want a God who will love me enough to make me like Him, to burn out of me all the unholy, unlovely parts of me. I know this process hurts. But I have been through it enough to know that the pain of the purifying fire inherent in growth towards holiness, comes only from Love, Inexorable Love. Those who say it is wrong to fear God, would suffer the greatest injustice were God to "approve" of them, slaves as they currently are to their own enthroned wills. God help us all if He is no more than a kindly smiling force that keeps the world spinning and is pleased that we remain just as we find ourselves, and nothing more. Dan Peterson hit the nail right on the head as usual.