Friday, September 28, 2012

Head to Heart

Without investing too much time in this issue, D.A. Carson makes a good argument in his book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God that God's love is not impassible. That type of theology sprang up in reaction to those portraying God as a sentimental, sappy chap, but impassibility came with the sacrifice of emptying the word love of any real meaning. Under this system, God's love becomes definition without relation.

Unfortunately for the church, there seem to be some Christians who believe their responsibility is to model an impassible love. To become like God is to fill the mind with the things of God and emulate his character (as corrupt a view as one may have). And there are definitely those at the opposite end, who treat the things of God flippantly and thrive only on experiential emotion. It is possible to err on the side of all heart and no head (emotional experience without sound doctrine), but maturing does not mean erring on the other side (dry intellectualism with cold stoicism).

Carson ends his book with pastoral implication to studying the love of God. Christians can imbibe more and more theology and have rock solid doctrine, but if it comes without real love, then all that knowledge is as a noisy gong or clanging symbol. Though every Christian is a Professor (and confessor), no one is to live strictly in the ivory tower of academic Christianity. We are to walk Main Street with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in relationship, mirroring the radiantly warm love of God to one another while seeking the higher things of God together.

Carson explains supremely better, so this shall end with his wise shepherding:
The love of God is not merely to be analyzed, understood, and adopted into holistic categories of integrated theological thought. It is to be received, to be absorbed, to be felt. Meditate long and frequently on Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14–21. The relevant section finds the apostle praying for the believers in these terms: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Paul connects such Christian experience of the love of God with Christian maturity, with being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (3:19), as he puts it. It is far from clear that anyone can be a mature Christian who does not walk in this path.
Carson, D. A. (2000). The difficult doctrine of the love of God (68–69). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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