Wednesday, January 13, 2010


We are already into a month’s worth of blogs about theology.

“OK,” I hear you saying, but what is the importance of all of this to me right now, in this life? I am sure that God is a higher level of being than me, and I suppose He may indeed be paradoxically both One and Three. I’ll accept that if that is what the church says but for the life of me I can’t imagine how it really impacts my relationship with God or my personal life in the day-to-day.”

Glad you asked!

This gives me a wonderful opportunity to share one of my favorite Christian teachings about God!

In one of his epistles (1 John 4:8), St. John says, “God is Love.” Notice that he does not say that God loves, though that is certainly true. He says that God is love.

To translate the word “is” into the language of mathematics, we might say God = Love. The nature of an equal sign is that we can invert whatever is on each side of it and be left with the same fact. Therefore, “3+6= 9,” is the same statement as “6+3 = 9.” This implies that if God is love, then love must also be God.

Naturally, everything we call love is not God. However, love in its pure form; love undistorted by all our human stuff, is God. All real love in the universe comes from God because all real love in the universe is God.

That is such a beautiful teaching!

There is just one problem with it.

Love cannot exist without an object!

When we utter the word “love,” we immediately realize that there must be someone who loves.

We also realize that someone or something is the recipient of that love.

Question: how could love have existed before creation, when there was only one being in the universe? When God was alone, whom did He love? In what sense can we use the word love where there is only one being exists?

Before the existence of angels and humans, whom did God love? If He is love, He must have loved something or someone.

The doctrine of the Trinity – God’s Triune nature – evolved in early church theology in order to address this very question.

There is a reality within God’s nature that allows us to use the word “love” to describe Him, even when He is alone.

Evidently, God’s nature is something like the following: the Father loves the Son and the Holy Spirit without limit, the Son loves the Father and the Holy Spirit without limit, and the Holy Spirit loves the Son and the Father without limit. This dynamic of infinite love begets infinite love, receives infinite love, and then gives it out again. Think of it as a trillion Niagara Falls, pouring vast reservoirs of love from each of the divine persons into the waiting pools of love in the other divine persons. Each of these “pools of love” swirl through infinite, unfathomable eons of time and space, ever-multiplying the power of love as God contemplates His own glory and goodness, then pouring the increased love back into the other persons of the Godhead.

And how does this affect you?

Well, St. Paul tells us that those believers are “in Christ.” C. S. Lewis said once we are truly “in” Christ, then we become the recipients of that love that the Father has toward the Son. If this is true, and it seems to be the case, then we are now involved in that cosmic dynamic motion of ever-increasing love within the Godhead.

The divine love for us penetrates our being and mutates us into an entirely new form of life.

Surely you will remember the old science fiction movies where people were somehow exposed to radiation. Usually, the people in these stories gained some strange new power or mutated into some bizarre form. I think the love of God must work something like that in us.

St. John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!”(1 John 3:1) Isn’t he talking about this sort of spiritual mutation?

The love of God, whirling through the infinitude of space and time in self-multiplying glory, overflows to become creation. This same love now infects us, like some great virus. Only this is a “virus” that creates instead of destroys. It gives life instead of taking it away. When we catch it, it creates even more love.

As we grow in God, we learn how to give God’s love to others. Our love too multiplies as we share it.

We learn how all this works by observing the One and Triune God, loving Himself and all of creation so that creation is continually lifted and transformed.

As He loves us and we love Him, we learn to think as He thinks. We learn to feel as He feels. We learn to do as He does.

That, my friend, is Christian theology. It’s not an armchair exercise in foolish speculation.

It is life everlasting.

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