conditional unconditional love??

Three of the things I'm really grateful for from my experience in the Vineyard churches was the emphasis on the unconditional love of God, the grace of God, and the loving, fatherly heart of God. These principles undid a lot of the spiritual damage I had acquired in my upbringing. However, one of the things I had to hold with cognitive dissonance was the condition placed on God's unconditional love. Here are a few analogies I was told to explain this.

  • It's a free gift, you just need to unwrap it.
  • It's a blank check, you just need to sign it.
  • Will you consent to be loved?

I turned to Calvinism for a while to break this log jam in my brain. Today's Calvinists will say something along the lines of, God knew I would unwrap/sign/consent from eternity past so I really had no choice it was all God's work. But Calvinism creates so many more problems than it solves and I eventually dropped it.

One of the pushbacks from non-Calvinists is the analogy of divine rape. "If we do not give our consent, then isn't God forcing his love on us a form of spiritual rape?" It is a horrifying metaphor, but I do not think it applies in this situation.

The better analogy, used repeatedly in the scriptures is that of God the Father, and we as God's children. We already and always are children of God. Realizing this is not an action on our part, but an awakening from sleep, a healing from blindness, or deafness, or a resurrection from the dead. All of these are the physical actions used in Christ's stories to elucidate spiritual realities. God's love is unconditional for everyone, and everyone will encounter the loving Father after death who will welcome and celebrate each child who comes through the other side, just like the story of the prodigal son. How can I assert this? I'm agreeing with St. John's epistle.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Why convert or become a Christian if everyone is saved from our sins? I wrote about that here, YOU ARE A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, based on the Epistles of Peter.


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