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Author Topic: Unconditional Love  (Read 11251 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: January 30, 2013, 08:10:26 PM »

Is the love of Christ for us unconditional, or is it conditional? What about the love that we are to have for our fellow man? I struggle with this as I do indeed have conditions on love. For instance, if someone murdered thirteen people and then ate them I would not love that person. I may have thought I loved them at some point, but the person I loved turned out to be a fiction--perhaps only in my own mind. My love in that case was conditional--the condition being that they were who I thought they were, and not some sick monster. I could not love the person they turned out to be (or became). Does that mean I fall short of loving my neighbor? I couldn't love myself if I did a similar act. Are we to love all without thought as to conditions or actions or whatever? Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 08:23:04 PM »

we are called to pray for our enemies, Jesus loves everyone and is waiting for their repentance, as for the person who killed and ate thirteen people, there is always prayer Wink
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 08:33:37 PM »

Each and every single horrifying act ever done by anyone was seen by God before He even created anything and He still decided to create it, so I would say His love is unconditional if not why give creation His ok. No person can "turn out" to be something God didn't already expect or know him to be so everything was already a given beforehand hence, forgiven.  As for us we, who have our sanity, should also to some extent know that people are going to do things like kill and eat 13 people no matter what we think we know about them.  We should atleast have a compassion for them cuz they might just be ill.
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 09:02:46 PM »

Everything in the created order is conditioned.

Turn off the Lifetime and put away the Hallmark cards.
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 09:15:09 PM »

Everything in the created order is conditioned.

Turn off the Lifetime and put away the Hallmark cards.

But dude!!! I own stock in both
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 11:14:20 PM »

Is the love of Christ for us unconditional, or is it conditional? What about the love that we are to have for our fellow man? I struggle with this as I do indeed have conditions on love. For instance, if someone murdered thirteen people and then ate them I would not love that person. I may have thought I loved them at some point, but the person I loved turned out to be a fiction--perhaps only in my own mind. My love in that case was conditional--the condition being that they were who I thought they were, and not some sick monster. I could not love the person they turned out to be (or became). Does that mean I fall short of loving my neighbor? I couldn't love myself if I did a similar act. Are we to love all without thought as to conditions or actions or whatever? Thoughts?


Isn't English fairly limited in its vocabulary to describe different kinds of love?   Like types of love that can be rooted in various things?

Isn't all language kind of limited when it tries to describe God's love?   We can't begin to love that way without God's help.  I just reviewed 1 John 4, and in my experience it's true.

You probably wouldn't want to harm any of those people yourself, right?   Like the cannibal, would you want to watch someone be tortured to death, even if they did it to others?  What would you have done if you happened to witness Jeffrey Dahmer being beat to death with a mop handle?   Would you be happy about it?

Romantic love is mercurial, though there is a love of God that is like eros, we wax and wane, and are mercurial ourselves. 

I guess my overall thought at the moment is that it isn't just about having an emotion about someone, because those come and go.  And then we have to forgive everything anyway.

I don't know how to say what I'm trying to say.
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 11:31:31 PM »

I believe it is unconditional.  We don't have to love what people do, but we should love them as children of God.

For instance, we should love Hitler.  We can hate what he did, we can despise the murders..... But he's a person with a soul that God created.  We should pray for him, other sinners, and our own sins.
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 11:36:21 PM »

You all can think what you want. I am telling how life is.

If your love is conditioned by the fact you know of the object of your love, it is conditioned.

Again *, I have to ask are you bored?
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2013, 11:45:31 PM »

You all can think what you want.



Okay, thanks!   Smiley

You're funny.
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 11:52:37 PM »

God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 11:56:42 PM »

You all can think what you want.



Okay, thanks!   Smiley

You're funny.

In your post you trail off into confusion, you would be wise to follow the famous words of Wittgenstein.

If you are able to show how something within the created order is not conditioned, specifically that which is capable of love (persons), then I relent. However, this is nonsensical as is unconditional love.
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2013, 12:00:43 AM »

God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.

This love seems conditioned as well. God's love might be extra or supraconditional, but unconditional is just lazy use of language.

Just in virtue of the act of creation, which I think most here would agree was a free act of God even perhaps conditioned by His love, but nevertheless no love exists without condition. In fact, the etymology works quite happily here. For God cannot love without His Word, which after all is what condition radically means.
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2013, 12:18:48 AM »

You all can think what you want.



Okay, thanks!   Smiley

You're funny.

In your post you trail off into confusion, you would be wise to follow the famous words of Wittgenstein.

If you are able to show how something within the created order is not conditioned, specifically that which is capable of love (persons), then I relent. However, this is nonsensical as is unconditional love.


Yeah, it's true, I'm tired and trailed off. 


So sorry, what was the point?  That people have only conditioned love in this created order?  There is no unconditional love?   Is that a fair assessment of your assertion?  Was that all of it?
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2013, 12:20:20 AM »

T
God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.



Just in virtue of the act of creation, which I think most here would agree was a free act of God even perhaps conditioned by His love, but nevertheless no love exists without condition. In fact, the etymology works quite happily here. For God cannot love without His Word, which after all is what condition radically means.

The condition is the Logos?
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2013, 12:25:31 AM »

T
God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.



Just in virtue of the act of creation, which I think most here would agree was a free act of God even perhaps conditioned by His love, but nevertheless no love exists without condition. In fact, the etymology works quite happily here. For God cannot love without His Word, which after all is what condition radically means.

The condition is the Logos?

Con-diction is how the more radical meaning would look in English.

With His Word (conditionally) God loves.

Really, I can come up with probably twenty other ways to show how unconditional love is something inane and in fact not love at all. Not something hard to do with cliches.
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 12:36:34 AM »

T
God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.



Just in virtue of the act of creation, which I think most here would agree was a free act of God even perhaps conditioned by His love, but nevertheless no love exists without condition. In fact, the etymology works quite happily here. For God cannot love without His Word, which after all is what condition radically means.

The condition is the Logos?

Con-diction is how the more radical meaning would look in English.

With His Word (conditionally) God loves.

Really, I can come up with probably twenty other ways to show how unconditional love is something inane and in fact not love at all. Not something hard to do with cliches.

So you have experienced the pure quill, the essence of God's love, and you know it to be conditional...on what?

Do you think love is an emotion, or something else?
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 12:40:17 AM »

T
God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.



Just in virtue of the act of creation, which I think most here would agree was a free act of God even perhaps conditioned by His love, but nevertheless no love exists without condition. In fact, the etymology works quite happily here. For God cannot love without His Word, which after all is what condition radically means.

The condition is the Logos?

Con-diction is how the more radical meaning would look in English.

With His Word (conditionally) God loves.

Really, I can come up with probably twenty other ways to show how unconditional love is something inane and in fact not love at all. Not something hard to do with cliches.

So you have experienced the pure quill, the essence of God's love, and you know it to be conditional...on what?

Do you think love is an emotion, or something else?

See argument from the meaning of words above.
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2013, 12:41:25 AM »

This just in over the wire:  


But I say to you, the Lord says, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you. Why did He command these things? So that He might free you from hatred, sadness, anger and grudges, and might grant you the greatest possession of all, perfect love, which is impossible to possess except by the one who loves all equally in imitation of God.   St. Maximos the Confessor
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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2013, 12:43:19 AM »

After Fr. Aidan mentioned St. Maximos in the other thread I skimmed through the Chapters on Love and checked the index, but unfortunately didn't come up with anything that was relevant to that other thread. I never even thought about this thread though! Smiley  angel
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« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2013, 12:44:52 AM »

This just in over the wire:  


But I say to you, the Lord says, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you. Why did He command these things? So that He might free you from hatred, sadness, anger and grudges, and might grant you the greatest possession of all, perfect love, which is impossible to possess except by the one who loves all equally in imitation of God.   St. Maximos the Confessor

See the condition here in the pedestrian sense?

Again. You are going to have to get to some newage to find this unconditional love nonsense.
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« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2013, 12:52:38 AM »

T
God loves us unconditionally, but our relationship with Him is based on our openness to receive His love and return that love to Him.



Just in virtue of the act of creation, which I think most here would agree was a free act of God even perhaps conditioned by His love, but nevertheless no love exists without condition. In fact, the etymology works quite happily here. For God cannot love without His Word, which after all is what condition radically means.

The condition is the Logos?

Con-diction is how the more radical meaning would look in English.

With His Word (conditionally) God loves.

Really, I can come up with probably twenty other ways to show how unconditional love is something inane and in fact not love at all. Not something hard to do with cliches.

So you have experienced the pure quill, the essence of God's love, and you know it to be conditional...on what?

Do you think love is an emotion, or something else?

See argument from the meaning of words above.

We can stop talking now if you like.

I'm too tired from long days with no days off and I'm totally procrastinating in my work and I have to be in for an early meeting.  We might even agree if we can determine what our set of words mean.  I'm not motivated enough to look up diction in the OED to figure out if that's really a root for condition.  con=against diction=how one speaks?  Es contra la ley.  contra punto, au contraire,

What was God's condition?
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« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2013, 01:01:09 AM »

This just in over the wire:  


But I say to you, the Lord says, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you. Why did He command these things? So that He might free you from hatred, sadness, anger and grudges, and might grant you the greatest possession of all, perfect love, which is impossible to possess except by the one who loves all equally in imitation of God.   St. Maximos the Confessor

See the condition here in the pedestrian sense?

Again. You are going to have to get to some newage to find this unconditional love nonsense.

Um, but if it were conditional, it is on our part, because He receives the prodigal son, the tax collector, the sinful woman who wept at his feet, Fotini at the well, etc.  He's the perfect gentlemen, and doesn't force himself on anyone.  Do you continue to visit people who loath you, insult you, and otherwise make it clear they don't want your company?   If it were conditional, it would already be too late, we already did all the bad deeds, acted like monsters, said the 'f' word in the morning meeting, etc.
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« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2013, 01:04:13 AM »

You need to re-read the thread. I am arguing for conditionality in at least three different ways. You are skipping around with ostensible counter-factuals which are not.
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« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2013, 01:07:09 AM »

Yeah, probably when I'm awake would be a better time.  Hey, but Asteriskos seemed happy about St. Maximus, so it's all good.
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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2013, 01:54:28 AM »

Asteriskos

Aster-iskos - "little star".

A-steriktos - "unstable/unsteadfast".

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« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2013, 01:58:20 AM »

Asteriskos

Aster-iskos - "little star".

A-steriktos - "unstable/unsteadfast".

 police   Wink

Trust me . . . this is one time new and fascinating board member that you ain't telling us something we don't already know.
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« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2013, 02:00:35 AM »

 Grin Cheesy
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« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2013, 02:05:43 AM »

Oh no!  The spelling police!

Why does he choose a name unstable / unsteadfast?  What is that about?


Good night
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« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2013, 02:28:21 AM »

Oh no!  The spelling police!

Why does he choose a name unstable / unsteadfast?  What is that about?


Good night

I was tricked! They told me it meant "big buff manly man," which would be a perfect description of me. Apparently it means unstable(!), which is obviously as far from my personality as is possibly possible. Amazing!
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« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2013, 02:39:40 AM »

Perhaps germane to this discussion is another quote by St. Maximus, from the same Centuries on Charity which I hope will prove of some help in reconciling the divergent positions (but perhaps that is simply how I have always understood this chapter):

Century I: Chapter 25-

God, Who is by nature good and without passion, loves all alike as His handiwork; yet the virtuous He glorifies as one who for his good will is made intimate with Himself, while because of His goodness, He shows mercy on the bad, with chastisements in this world to convert him. So also he, who by good will is good and without passion, loves all men alike—the virtuous because of his nature and good intention, the bad because of his nature and that fellow-feeling which causes him to show mercy upon one without sense and wandering in darkness.

This is the Sherwood translation with my emphases. I am not conversant in the original Greek but I intuit that the sense is the same.

The Catholic theologian Dietrich Von Hildebrand wrote an entire book with a central concept of love as 'value-response', which I am too tired to get into here. But it is worth seeking out. 'The Meaning of Love', it is called.

But, to the OP, I think the vital thing is being free from the passion of hatred. Otherwise, I think we are doomed to love everyone differently, and hence conditionally, by virtue of their different personas. Some we will pity, some we will admire, some we will consider our closest friends. I hope it will not scandalize anyone here to remind them that the Lord Himself, in his humanity, demonstrated special affection for some. Hence, his tears over Lazarus; hence 'the disciple whom Jesus loved', etc.

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« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2013, 04:28:24 AM »

Is the love of Christ for us unconditional, or is it conditional? What about the love that we are to have for our fellow man? I struggle with this as I do indeed have conditions on love. For instance, if someone murdered thirteen people and then ate them I would not love that person. I may have thought I loved them at some point, but the person I loved turned out to be a fiction--perhaps only in my own mind. My love in that case was conditional--the condition being that they were who I thought they were, and not some sick monster. I could not love the person they turned out to be (or became). Does that mean I fall short of loving my neighbor? I couldn't love myself if I did a similar act. Are we to love all without thought as to conditions or actions or whatever? Thoughts?
I would suggest that even people who do things like this can and do have God's love as these actions are a result of our fallen state and not actually in our nature.
Also, if it was your child who did these things, would you still love them? I don't think there is anything on earth my daughters could do that would make me stop loving them, and God's love for us is infinitely more than that of a human parent for their child.
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« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2013, 04:40:15 AM »

Perhaps germane to this discussion is another quote by St. Maximus, from the same Centuries on Charity which I hope will prove of some help in reconciling the divergent positions (but perhaps that is simply how I have always understood this chapter):

Century I: Chapter 25-

God, Who is by nature good and without passion, loves all alike as His handiwork; yet the virtuous He glorifies as one who for his good will is made intimate with Himself, while because of His goodness, He shows mercy on the bad, with chastisements in this world to convert him. So also he, who by good will is good and without passion, loves all men alike—the virtuous because of his nature and good intention, the bad because of his nature and that fellow-feeling which causes him to show mercy upon one without sense and wandering in darkness.

This is the Sherwood translation with my emphases. I am not conversant in the original Greek but I intuit that the sense is the same.

The Catholic theologian Dietrich Von Hildebrand wrote an entire book with a central concept of love as 'value-response', which I am too tired to get into here. But it is worth seeking out. 'The Meaning of Love', 'The Nature of Love' it is called.

But, to the OP, I think the vital thing is being free from the passion of hatred. Otherwise, I think we are doomed to love everyone differently, and hence conditionally, by virtue of their different personas. Some we will pity, some we will admire, some we will consider our closest friends. I hope it will not scandalize anyone here to remind them that the Lord Himself, in his humanity, demonstrated special affection for some. Hence, his tears over Lazarus; hence 'the disciple whom Jesus loved', etc.



Oops. Was thinking of Solovyov, I guess. See corrected title.
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« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2013, 07:35:10 AM »

Asteriskos

Aster-iskos - "little star".

A-steriktos - "unstable/unsteadfast".

 police   Wink
Oh snap.
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« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2013, 12:43:02 PM »

Oh no!  The spelling police!

Why does he choose a name unstable / unsteadfast?  What is that about?


Good night

I was tricked! They told me it meant "big buff manly man," which would be a perfect description of me. Apparently it means unstable(!), which is obviously as far from my personality as is possibly possible. Amazing!


LOL!!

as to the OP " big buff manly man",lol I am among those who say it is conditional.no such thing as unconditional love.however, it must be understood what people mean when they say God's love is unconditional, they refer to their actions being the condition , as such their action or inaction are not the conditions by which God loves them. He loves them because they are the works of His hands. His Wisdom by which He acts is the condition.Because of that Loving Communion in Himself, He loves us.

for us we are called to imitate that love ( that sets its condition on only one fact that God is the source of all)which is also based on the condition of being of one family all of us coming from Him, so on the condition of loving Him we love others unconditioned by or detached from their actions or inaction. in a way we are having a relationship with Him in others.

on the other hand the personal love of another creature is conditioned by the knowledge of yourself and the otherperson. ingrained in here the condition that is the knowledge of who you are in all dimensions of your being or the lack of such knowledge. either way your love on that level is conditioned.

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« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2013, 01:12:17 PM »

I unconditionally love air-conditioning and no one will convince me otherwise Angry
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« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2013, 06:49:53 PM »

Several years ago I wrote a blog article titled "Finding the God Who is Love."  I referred to the writings of a well known Catholic theologian, Herbert McCabe, but I could just as easily have invoked St Isaac the Syrian. 

Of course God's love for humanity is unconditional.  If it weren't, there wouldn't be a good reason to be a Christian, except for fear of damnation.  But the gospel is not about terrorism, despite what the Old Testament may sometimes lead us to believe.

That's what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about:  God is love.  It's not about resolving a metaphysical conundrum about how one can be three and three be one.  This is one reason why the East will always need St Augustine.  Whatever flaws his Trinitarian reflections may have had, he understood that the doctrine of the Trinity is all about love.  Fortunately, St Gregory Palamas assimilated his insights into his own trinitarian reflections (without attribution, however).  It's all about unconditional love.  Nothing else is worth preaching.   
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« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2013, 09:09:04 PM »

I heard a nice prayer today on the Prayers By the Lake audiobook:

Prayer XXXIV

Love makes me God, and You, O God, man.

Where there is one, there is no love.  Where there are two united there is only a semblance of love. Where three are united, there is love.  Your name is Love because Your name is trinity in Unity.

If You were solitary, You would not be love but hatred.

If You were a duality, You would be an alternation of love and hatred.  But You are a trinity, and therefore You are love, and in You there is neither darkness nor alternation.

Love knows neither time nor space.  It is outside of time and outside of space.  For love one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.

When I am united with You in love, neither heaven nor earth exists--only God exists.  No "you" or "I" exists--only God exists.

Love has three hypostases: chastity, knowledge, and light.  Without chastity love is not affection but selfishness and passion.  Without knowledge love is not affection but selfishness and passion.  Without knowledge love is not wisdom but foolishness.  Without light love is not power but weakness.  When passion, foolishness, and weakness combine, they become hell, which is what satan likes to call "love."

When my soul is a most pure virgin, and my conscience is keen-sighted wisdom, and my spirit is life-giving light, I am a love that coincides with Your love.  Through love I see You in myself, and You see me in Yourself.

Through love I do not see myself but only You.  Through love You do not see Yourself, but only me. 

Love sacrifices itself, and does not feel that the sacrifice is giving but rather receiving.

My worldly children:  the world "love" is the deepest prayer of all.

"Does worldly love not exist?" my neighbors ask me.  "To the same extent that a worldly God exists," I answer.  "Worldly love burns and burns out, Heavenly love burns without burning out.  Worldly love, like everything worldly, is only a dream and semblance of Love.  Your love resembles divine love the way smoke resembles flames.

"When you exchange a gold coin for copper pennies, you do not call the pennies a gold coin but copper pennies.  Why then do you call divine love that has been broken and ground into ashes by time and space 'love' and not 'ashes'?"

O Lord, make me worthy of Your love, O Lord, and I shall be free of all laws.

Move Your love into me, and love will move me into You.


St. Nikolai Velimirovich
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« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2013, 05:00:36 PM »

That's what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about:  God is love.  It's not about resolving a metaphysical conundrum about how one can be three and three be one.  This is one reason why the East will always need St Augustine.  Whatever flaws his Trinitarian reflections may have had, he understood that the doctrine of the Trinity is all about love.  Fortunately, St Gregory Palamas assimilated his insights into his own trinitarian reflections (without attribution, however).  It's all about unconditional love.  Nothing else is worth preaching.   

I'm not sure that I can go along with the implications of this, Father. Are we to say that until someone got around to translating St. Augustine into Greek, or perhaps even until the late time of St. Gregory Palamas, that Orthodox theology was somehow distorted or wrong and in need of a counter-balance or corrective?  Huh
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« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2013, 05:46:37 PM »

That's what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about:  God is love.  It's not about resolving a metaphysical conundrum about how one can be three and three be one.  This is one reason why the East will always need St Augustine.  Whatever flaws his Trinitarian reflections may have had, he understood that the doctrine of the Trinity is all about love.  Fortunately, St Gregory Palamas assimilated his insights into his own trinitarian reflections (without attribution, however).  It's all about unconditional love.  Nothing else is worth preaching.   

I'm not sure that I can go along with the implications of this, Father. Are we to say that until someone got around to translating St. Augustine into Greek, or perhaps even until the late time of St. Gregory Palamas, that Orthodox theology was somehow distorted or wrong and in need of a counter-balance or corrective?  Huh

So St. Augustine is not part of "Orthodox theology"?
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« Reply #39 on: February 01, 2013, 05:50:13 PM »

That's what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about:  God is love.  It's not about resolving a metaphysical conundrum about how one can be three and three be one.  This is one reason why the East will always need St Augustine.  Whatever flaws his Trinitarian reflections may have had, he understood that the doctrine of the Trinity is all about love.  Fortunately, St Gregory Palamas assimilated his insights into his own trinitarian reflections (without attribution, however).  It's all about unconditional love.  Nothing else is worth preaching.   

I'm not sure that I can go along with the implications of this, Father. Are we to say that until someone got around to translating St. Augustine into Greek, or perhaps even until the late time of St. Gregory Palamas, that Orthodox theology was somehow distorted or wrong and in need of a counter-balance or corrective?  Huh

So St. Augustine is not part of "Orthodox theology"?

Poor guy.  Undecided
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« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2013, 06:26:21 PM »

That's what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about:  God is love.  It's not about resolving a metaphysical conundrum about how one can be three and three be one.  This is one reason why the East will always need St Augustine.  Whatever flaws his Trinitarian reflections may have had, he understood that the doctrine of the Trinity is all about love.  Fortunately, St Gregory Palamas assimilated his insights into his own trinitarian reflections (without attribution, however).  It's all about unconditional love.  Nothing else is worth preaching.    

I'm not sure that I can go along with the implications of this, Father. Are we to say that until someone got around to translating St. Augustine into Greek, or perhaps even until the late time of St. Gregory Palamas, that Orthodox theology was somehow distorted or wrong and in need of a counter-balance or corrective?  Huh

So St. Augustine is not part of "Orthodox theology"?

For most of the history of the Greek/Russian/etc. speaking parts of the Church? No. Maybe a stray text here or there was translated every few centuries. St. Augustine is a towering figure in Orthodoxy--just not in the Greek/Russian/etc. speaking parts of it. The implication of what Fr. said seems to be that those who weren't familiar with St. Augustine's theology were somehow lacking, at least until they read Sts. Augustine or Gregory Palamas. I find this position confusing...
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« Reply #41 on: February 01, 2013, 06:46:40 PM »

Everything in the created order is conditioned.

Turn off the Lifetime and put away the Hallmark cards.

And the love of God is his uncreated energies.
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« Reply #42 on: February 02, 2013, 12:37:24 AM »

Several years ago I wrote a blog article titled "Finding the God Who is Love."  I referred to the writings of a well known Catholic theologian, Herbert McCabe, but I could just as easily have invoked St Isaac the Syrian. 

Of course God's love for humanity is unconditional.  If it weren't, there wouldn't be a good reason to be a Christian, except for fear of damnation.  But the gospel is not about terrorism, despite what the Old Testament may sometimes lead us to believe.

That's what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about:  God is love.  It's not about resolving a metaphysical conundrum about how one can be three and three be one.  This is one reason why the East will always need St Augustine.  Whatever flaws his Trinitarian reflections may have had, he understood that the doctrine of the Trinity is all about love.  Fortunately, St Gregory Palamas assimilated his insights into his own trinitarian reflections (without attribution, however).  It's all about unconditional love.  Nothing else is worth preaching.   

Father a beautiful article thank you for sharing it. We are in agreement in all those things the article mentions and the ones you mention here as it relates to the love of God towards mankind. The main reason of that agreement being operating within the specific meaning we assign to the words condition and unconditionally. when we are saying ‘ conditional’ if we are referring to meritability  then God’s love can never be earned or lost by what humans do or fail to do. That is the Truth in the Gosple. We can not earn God’s love or lose it by what we have done. in that sense ( i.e. the conditions being our actions and or inactions) God’s love towards mankind is unconditional. We must ask then why it is so? Then we see that God loves us because  we come from Him who is Eternaly in Loving communion with Himself  he loves all the works of His hands, he Loves us because He is our Creator, Our Father. He is the Condition, Love is the Condition of the un-conditionality of Love. I will try to explain what I mean Smiley

The word condition in our daily usage, when it refers to love is so associated with merit of the person's action being aligned with sin and/or sanctity that it is very hard to separate ourselves emotionally at least from such self-centered perspective(ie under such perspective we dont belong we do not give,rather we accquire, we buy,we earn). Under normal circumstances a mother is said to love her child unconditionally, whether that child acts good/bad. Now we can be satisfied with this explanation and say the mother’s love is unconditional! However that would be missing the one obvious condition of such love’s existence namely: the mother child bond, that reality of the mother being connected to the child with that maternal bond in exclusion of all the children of others. She loves her child because that is her child he belongs to her as she belongs to him. think 'my Beloved is Mine and I am His'.This perspective becomes a bit helpful when we look at our relationship with God as well. God is Love, and because of Who He is, He created us to make us His Family. He is Our Father; We are created in His Image and Likeness. Capable to respond to Love, to have free will etc we are created out of the creative power of the Triune Communion of Love and we are made by Wisdom for the purpose of sharing in that Communion to the extent we can in our nature.

We take great pride if pride is necessary as the Apostle says Smiley , in this condition of our relationship with God that we are His Children and He , Our Father. so here when we speak of God’s love being conditional we are not speaking about our actions, rather His action (His Love) that made Him our Father, and we His Children. Because the Triune God loves, He Creates and that He Creates He loves because He created them. that is the Condition of His Love.He loves the works of His hands because they are the works of His hands. Our being belongs to Him, and He cannot hate himself because at the core we remain unaltered, our nature remains what He has given us,no matter what we might have done or fail to do i.e both the sinner and the saint remain human although the saint is in the path that makes humans Truly humans, fulfilling the purpose of creation itself : the Union with God through Grace. In the face of the suffering of the misguided sinner who rejects his purpose and potential for the ultimate good, the Creator suffers yet allows what love must allow: freedom and not tyranny over the beloved.

If by condition we are referring to merit, then It is true we can only preach the unconditional love of God towards mankind as God’s love is not circumscribed by the actions of man, no matter how highly man thinks of himself ( in either being a sinner or a saint) mankind cannot shake or alter the Love of the Creator towards Creation. However if by Condition we are referring to the reason for our Loving relationship and our very existence, then we see that He will forever with unshakable love will love us because we are the works of His hands.


Thank you father for reading this far.asking your blessings.
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« Reply #43 on: February 02, 2013, 09:53:04 AM »


I'm not sure that I can go along with the implications of this, Father. Are we to say that until someone got around to translating St. Augustine into Greek, or perhaps even until the late time of St. Gregory Palamas, that Orthodox theology was somehow distorted or wrong and in need of a counter-balance or corrective?  Huh

I confess I was being wickedly provocative with that line; but I do object to suggestions that Orthodoxy does not need and has nothing to learn from the Latin Fathers.   I find this attitude more sectarian than catholic.  Please know that I am not speaking of you personally.  I am speaking generally about a not uncommon phenomenon.

I do not know of any Church Father, whether East or West, who preached more beautifully, more profoundly, more powerfully on the love and grace of God than St Augustine (see Lewis Ayres' article "Augustine on God as Love and Love as God." 

Someone needs to do a doctoral dissertation to trace out the development within the doctrine of the Trinity of God as an eternal communion of love.  This way of speaking has become fairly commonplace in Orthodoxy (I'm thinking, for example, of Fr Dumitru Staniloae and Met John Zizioulas); but has it always been such?   Who of the Eastern Fathers spoke this way?   I am not asking rhetorically.  I do not know the answer.  For the last seven months I have been immersed in St Gregory the Theologian.  I do not find this notion in him, nor I suspect do the other Cappadocians speak this way.  Perhaps St Cyril of Alexandria.  I don't know.   Is it not possible that St Gregory Palamas's or the Russian appropriation of St Augustine impacted the Orthodox understanding and articulation of the Holy Trinity as a communion of love?   

But until we understand and can articulate the doctrine of the Trinity in terms of love, until we understand that the point of the doctrine is to proclaim "God is love" and he is love even if he had never created the world (God does not need creatures to be love), then our theological formulations will always be in need of further development.   

So why would any Eastern Orthodox believer want to deprive himself of some of the most beautiful and powerful homilies within the Holy Tradition?  One thing I can say for sure:  if Catholic and Orthodox preachers would spend more time reading, say, St Augustine's homilies on the first letter of John, they would be better preachers. 
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« Reply #44 on: February 02, 2013, 11:12:49 AM »

Someone needs to do a doctoral dissertation to trace out the development within the doctrine of the Trinity of God as an eternal communion of love.  This way of speaking has become fairly commonplace in Orthodoxy (I'm thinking, for example, of Fr Dumitru Staniloae and Met John Zizioulas); but has it always been such?   Who of the Eastern Fathers spoke this way? 

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