God, first, is love: a probably uninteresting, but potentially important footnote to “towards a judgemental church”

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another…. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because God, first, loved us.

  • 1 John 3:16; 4:7-8, 16b-19

Through some discussion (not on this blog), I’ve come to the realization that my post from awhile back on the necessity of a judgemental church requires a footnote, a footnote that remembers the foundational claims that 1 John makes regarding who God is and what it means to know God. A good place to put this footnote might be after my parenthetical remark that “asking people whether they worship a “God of love” or a “God of judgement” is a tremendously stupid question.” I think that 1 John asks me to say more.

1 John reminds us that, to the extent that God judges it is because God is Love. We cannot reverse this claim. And thus the distinction between a God of love and a God of judgement starts to look pretty important after all. May the same be said of the judgemental church.

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