Wednesday, March 11, 2009


More on the Hell thread...

The primary theological challenge, it would seem, is reconciling eternal damnation with the Christian affirmation that God is Love. How can a loving God be wrathful?

To that end, it helps to have an idea of what love is. Numerous Christian writers have dealt with this--C.S. Lewis's "Four Loves" is an excellent primer. Most theologians hold that God's love is "agape" love, a love that transcends self-interest or emotionalism, and involves full participation in the life and spirit of another. Being a flagrant theologeek, I tend to favor the articulation found in the writings of 20th century existentialist theologian Paul Tillich. Tillich defines love as our yearning to participate in another being, to truly know that other being, to share in their joys and their pains. Love is seeking yourself in another, reaching out across the boundaries that limit us. Love is our struggle against our separateness, our struggle against all that divides us from one another. We human beings do this clumsily and imperfectly, if at all.

But while we struggle to make love real, God exists as love in its perfection. Love is God's very nature, and love is, therefore, the foundation and root of all existence. We are created in love, and to love we will return. When we profess a faith in a God who is love, we profess faith in a Love that tears down the boundaries that divide us, and in a Love that allows us to truly be a part of another.