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At [revision 23] of ToothyWiki: God, a poster at chiark.greenend.org asked AngelaRayner:

You seem happy to say that 'God is love'. If he is so far beyond our understanding, can what he is really be called something so small, so limited, so quintessentially human as 'love'? And if it's not, if God's love is greater than what we call love, then should it really be called 'love' at all? Is saying that his love is like ours, only bigger, not like saying that a hypercube is like a straight line, only bigger?
and later...
'God is love' nowadays is barely a statement, it's a single word that trips off the tongues of Evangelicals all in one lump: 'Godislove' a three-syllable word by itself. As such a soundbite, though, its essentially meaningless: so if this is the case, I'd ask for an explanation of what is meant by 'Godislove'?

AlexChurchill recently came across this quote from J. I. Packer, which seems relevant
"God is love" is not the complete truth about God so far as the Bible is concerned.  It is not an abstract definition which stands alone, but a summing up, from the believer's standpoint, of what the whole revelation set forth in Scripture tells us about its Author.  This statement presupposes all the rest of the biblical witness to God.
[...]
It is perverse to quote John's statement, as some do, as if it called in question the biblical witness to the severity of God's justice. It is not possible to argue that a God who is love cannot also be a God who condemns and punishes the disobedient; for it is precisely of the God who does these very things that John is speaking.

J. I. Packer then goes on to say to avoid misunderstanding the statement "God is love", we have to consider it in conjunction with two other statements from the writings of the same author: "God is spirit" (NIV: John 4: 24) and "God is light" (NIV: 1John 1: 5).  In connection with the former, he writes:
So the love of the God who is spirit is no fitful, fluctuating thing, as human love is, nor is it a mere impotent longing for things that may never be; it is, rather, a spontaneous determination of God's whole being in an attitude of benevolence and benefaction, an attitude freely chosen and firmly fixed.

(From chapter 12 of J. I. Packer's "Knowing God", ISBN 0340604085 . My understanding of copyright laws is that a small quotation, such as the above, is permitted as long as it's not an entire chapter, which this certainly isn't.  Please feel free to amend or delete this page if that's incorrect.)


Feel free to add here any thoughts, queries, objections, etc:

'"God is love" is [...] a summing up [...] of what the whole revelation set forth in Scripture tells us about its Author. This statement presupposes all the rest of the biblical witness to God.

So in other words yes, it is a meaningless soundbite and is just about equivalent to saying 'God is God'?
Not really.  It's a meaningful soundbite (as 'God is God' would not be).  Like 'The Universe is Big' is meaningful, as the universe is big in comparison with anything.  Actually, now that I think about it, it's measurably meaningful - 'God is love' is not true for all religions, so you can sample f=(God is Love==true) with respect to a number of religions.  So :-P --Mjb67


You can't sum up 'the whole revelation set forth in Scripture' in three words and expect it to have any meaning beyond a convenient shorthand for 'my idea of God'.

Is the statement " God is Love " any more meaningful than the statement " God is " ? It would certainly be received the same way by just about everyone I know. Including atheists, agnostics, Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, and a smattering of other denominations. But not, possibly, those members of other faiths I know. (Oops - have I just answered my own point?) --Requiem

The point of this statement is not, I think, to tell us about God, but about love.  Love is the greatest of human emotions, and one of the most inexplicable.  I believe that human love for one another is a reflection of the love God has for us, and therefore when we love anyone else, part of that is loving God too.  'God is Love' is, I think, taken out of context: the passage continues that anyone who loves at all loves God as well: love is divine, and one of the greatest gifts given to us.
Wow, that's kinda heavy.  I had no idea I had these opinions. Please don't take offense:) --PHL4IVI3R1D3R


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