The Nature of God’s Love


INTRODUCTION

This is a long post but I want to cover a lot of bases so that more people might be helped by the post. I also make no reference to LDSA’s post which has a masterful explanation of God’s love and should be read for a fuller understanding of the scriptural basis for the ideas of this post. So that post is here. And if you don’t take time to read it just keep these ideas in mind, “All are alike unto God” and from the post this paragraph, “There is only one type of charity: God’s charity.  If you don’t have an overwhelming desire and willingness to share everything you have with everyone else, you don’t have charity.”

If as you read this you think you are in complete agreement and are therefore wasting your time reading it (and you might be right) I encourage you to skip to the last section entitled in bold letters THE TRUE NATURE OF LOVE OR THE NATURE OF TRUE LOVE. There was something I learned while researching this which I have not seen expressed elsewhere. I think it is very important to understand.

NEW DOCTRINE

I was recently made aware that there is an official LDS church policy/doctrine/tradition of the brethren stating that God’s love is conditional.

It appears that the church has not always had this as a doctrine/policy/tradition. In 1992 the Church News had a small article talking about God’s love and it quoted F Enzio Busche in a 1982 conference talk where he pretty much said God’s love is unconditional. You can read it yourself here.

In the February 2003 issue of the Ensign there was printed an article attributed to Elder Russell M. Nelson. The article is named Divine Love. You can view it here.

I don’t know how much earlier this was taught, but from this time on the church’s policy is that it does not believe God’s love is unconditional. The thesis statement says:

“While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us—and certain divine blessings stemming from that love—are conditional.”

Now you may wonder what difference it makes whether the church calls God’s love conditional or if we believe it is unconditional?

God is love. If I have a distorted concept of His love then I have a distorted concept of Him. To become like God I must understand what He is like. Give a man the wrong blueprint and the structure will be wrong. And to take if even further I believe the concept that God’s love is variable towards us it will prevent us from obtaining eternal life.

DEFINITIONS

I am speaking of the love of one member of the God family for other members of that family or the love one human has for another human. And this requires that I explain that humans, all of us are children, actual genetic offspring of God and His relatives. In this mortal sphere humans are not yet perfected but there is no fundamental difference between the species of Gods and us anymore than there is a species difference between a 2 year old human child and the adults who procreated his body.

I will define love as this:

The person who loves desires all that is good for the people they love.

Unconditional means it is not subject to conditions. As applied to love it says there are no requirements for the one being loved to meet. This love is given regardless of the actions of the one being loved.

Do we have to define love? Yes we do because there are those who think love is something which in fact it is not. And I think we might see that this subject gets at a deep problem among many humans, especially LDS humans today.

So my definition means a person who has unconditional love “desires all that is good for the people they love” regardless of the developmental state, the mistakes, the choices or actions of the other person. Now God wants to share all that He has with all of us. But if we are not ready to receive it, it would be a detriment to us. I love my 6 month old son with all my heart. But I am not about to put him behind the wheel of an automobile. It would not be good for anyone.

One of my daughters took a religion class at BYU on Isaiah. She told us part of what she learned in that class, The instructor had taught her, “There is nothing you can do which will make God love you any less nor any more than He does right now.” That is not in harmony with the current teachings of the LDS church. But it may have been back when he said it. My daughter took that class in 1999.

The fact that there was a shift in doctrine/policy/tradition of the brethren on such a fundamental principle should give you cause to think about this.

VALENTINE FROM RUSSELL M. NELSON – ENSIGN 2003

Now let’s look closely at that quote from the Ensign. The thesis statement of the article says:

“While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us—and certain divine blessings stemming from that love—are conditional.”

Now I see a major problem with that statement. The problem is that the statement is erroneously trying to conflate God’s love and God’s spiritual blessings. And this problem just gets worse as you read the full article. The thesis statement says that divine blessings stem from God’s love. And later in the article he places God’s love and blessings on the same footing by saying:

“Understanding that divine love and blessings are not truly “unconditional” can defend us against common fallacies such as these:…”

Do you see what fundamental concept of the gospel as preached by Joseph Smith is contradicted by this pairing?

AP NEWS FLASH SLC, UTAH This morning the LDS First Presidency announced changes in the wording of certain scriptures to be in harmony with the correlation committee’s doctrine.  Section 130 versus 20 and 21 will now read,

“20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 But when we obtain any blessing from God, it is predicated upon how high the level of God’s love is for us.”

How much God loves us does not determine whether we receive the blessings of the gospel. That is what imperfect mortals do. They limit how much they love others and then limit what they are willing to do for them. And when we conceive of God as having a higher or lower level of love for us based upon our actions we make unto ourselves a God who has one of the worst of mortal failings. All are not alike to such a being.

God established the conditions of obtaining exaltation based upon each of His children’s use of their agency. It is not based upon higher or lower levels of love which some believe God feels towards us. If it were then what of our agency?

If we look closely at that thesis statement it is very confusing.  It says:

”On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us… are conditional.”

Okay it says Father and Jesus feel higher levels of love for each of us but it is conditional. That means they don’t feel it for those who don’t meet the conditions. So how can they feel it for each of us? Why was it worded that way?

Elder Nelson quoted several scriptures to back up his doctrine. In none of the scriptures does it say that God will not or does not love people who do wrong or don’t honor Him etc. Here are some quotes from the Ensign article.

“If ye keep my commandments, [then] ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” 

I always thought that when a person quoted a scripture and placed a word in [brackets] that word was different, in fact it might be one word to substitute for a whole phrase, but it in no way changed the meaning. As I write these words it is about the 6th draft of this post and I just searched the scriptures to see what the [then] replaced. I trusted “Elder” Russell M. Nelson that the scripture actually reflected a meaning of “then” or “therefore” or “in that case” or at least some other phrase which he replaced with “[then]”. You know what? I am upset. No, the word is disgusted.

The scripture is found only in the gospel of John chapter 15 verse 10. It has come to us without any words or phrase which the “[then]” would replace. It simply reads as follows:

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

If Russell [Misleader] Nelson was on a debate team and pulled that stunt he would be torn to shreds for false quoting by the other side. If he was testifying in a court of law and pulled that stunt he would be guilty of perjury or lying. This is a blatant case of perverting the word of God. By placing [then] in there Russell [Misleader] Nelson has tried to change its meaning. As the scripture actually reads it indicates that abiding in God’s love is an action on the part of the person, that keeping the commandments is the action of abiding in God’s love. It has nothing to do with God’s love for us changing.

So if I do not abide in a house does that mean the house does not exist? God’s love continues regardless of whether we choose to place ourselves where we can experience it. It is so ego centric and immature to think that we mortals can control whether or not God loves us.

I know that each human and God also has the ability to choose to love a person without any regard to that person’s actions. And this is where I get people saying, “When someone does bad to you why would you want to love them?”

Eternal truth is constantly shining on us. As we respond positively and resonate with it (follow the promptings of that light) we feel peace and we receive more guidance. If we choose to go contrary to it we damage ourselves and diminish in our power and darken in our minds. We can’t ignore the truth that we are humans and that we need love and that love is good for us. So when we refuse to love others we are convicted in our hearts. When you love someone less, you know you are doing wrong.

I lived for years in an abusive marriage. God did not want me to remain in this marriage. But it was not necessary to decrease my love for my wife in order to act upon ending the marriage. She took a lot of things from me. Money, possessions, my good name, my future, 4 of my 5 children, my love of myself, my health, my self respect. All were gone because of her lies and emotional torture. I did get my self respect and my self love back once I stopped listening to her lies. But she never was able to make me stop loving her. And I never had to. Even when I found she was truly insane. Of course you can understand that made me have more compassion for her. But it didn’t change whether I could be around her. Due to the nature of her sickness I was told by a psychologist that barring an outright miracle she would never recover. He also explained she could easily decide to kill me without out any provocation on my part. So he strongly advised as little contact as possible for the rest of my life.

That is an extreme case. But it illustrates the fact that there are times when even, despite our love we can not allow ourselves to be around another human. As humans we are extremely susceptible to being effected by the communications and actions of other humans. So if you are around someone who is constantly telling you lies about yourself or about life or maybe they are tearing you down and destroying your faith you really can’t afford to subject yourself to that barrage of Satan inspired communications.

Which is precisely why I do not attend the LDS church anymore. Sometimes you need to leave the community to allow yourself to progress toward truth. And hopefully you do it before they pass around the poison kool-aid. But even if not there is time to get your head on straight after death. I hear it is harder though. My point is why wait and delay happiness and progression? I am sure God wants us to live and learn rather than allow someone to abuse us.

So although it does not fit the classic look of love, cutting off contact with someone or a group of people can actually be inspired of God. And yet to this day I do not leave my ex wife entirely alone. I still pray for her and at times send priesthood blessings and thought forms over the miles to help her along in her progress. No I am not carrying a torch for her because I don’t believe in limiting my love to one person and that includes women. I love all of them. And it is the same with men. But I also don’t believe it is a correct principle to stop loving a person, any person. That is the way I believe God is also.

There is an eyewitness account of this fact in the book Return From Tomorrow by George Ritchie. He saw a huge place where the spirits of men and women who had died were gathered in a never ending combat of hate and viciousness aimed at each other. Their emotions of  anger, hate, fear and guilt kept them locked in this battle. They needed no food and there was no physical contact being made so the conflict continued non stop. He was being shown these things by Christ who was with him. He asked the Lord why there was no help for these most wretched of souls? He was then made aware of the presence of large bright beings hovering over each of the benighted spirits on the plain. These great and loving spirits were so bright that George had not realized they were there before. He had just perceived them as the bright sky above them.   This is an example of how, although the people in hell seem to be totally cut off from God He is still feeling after them. Is this verified by the scriptures? Who says the scriptures contain all the truth of God? And where would be the justice if God made people suffer even when the price had been paid? I believe where there is suffering there is an opportunity for growth; otherwise God is a sadist.

I have heard the question asked, “Why do we want God to look that way?”, meaning why do I think it is important to believe God’s love is without conditions? As a mortal I have no real idea how close I am to knowing all the truths of God that I will need to understand and live in order to live with Him and be like Him. From my own experience I have seen how I thought I knew how things really are only to find out later that my understanding was so lacking and in some cases down right wrong. So if God’s love for me is conditional upon my actions and choices then what is the real state of it now? Since I don’t know exactly what I still need to change I have no way to measure where I am on the higher level/lower level of God’s love. That is doubt and uncertainty. Faith in God unto eternal life can not be built on such a foundation.

Back to the article.

“If you keep not my commandments, [then] the love of the Father shall not continue with you.”

Again there is no word nor words which [then] replaces in this scripture. It is in there courtesy of Russell [Misleader] Nelson. The phrase “the love of the Father” is not congruent to “God’s love for you” is it? The words “the love of the Father” would actually refer to our love for the Father.  Just as the white fruit in Lehi’s dream which is explained to be “the love of God” can not be equated exclusively to God’s love for His children. And is there anyone reading this who does not realize that it is only when we love a person that we can sense their love for us? And is there anyone who thinks we can cause God to decrease in His love for us? Yes there are plenty who will believe this lie.

Here look at my analogy. My teenage son asks to borrow the car and I say he can. And then I say now if you will do such and such then you will be safe and be blessed. Perhaps I am even inspired and stating a prophecy. This is what God always does when He tells us truths. So if my son does what I tell him he does in fact remain in a blessed state which we can refer as “the love of the Father.” And that accurately describes it because out of love for me he is keeping my sayings. It is a safe and blessed state. But if he disobeys me then it is he that has departed from his love for me. And he surely will think I don’t love him when bad things start happening.

But I am sitting at home waiting to see if my son will chose to trust in my word, perhaps again by a fatherly foreknowledge I already know he is getting into trouble. So when I become aware that he is disobeying me what is my reaction? According to Elder Nelson in such a case God decides to start loving us less.

But I know that is not what happens in my heart. If there is any change in my emotions it will be that  my compassion will increase and my desire for my son’s welfare will increase (more love) as I learn that he has not trusted my word and is in trouble perhaps even the car is wrecked.

It reminds me of Matthew 7:11 when Jesus  said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” If I being a man know how to love then how much more God knows how to love?

Okay another quote from the 2003 article.

“If a man love me, [then] he will keep my words: and my Father will love him.”

This scripture may have been worded so as to work upon our minds as the Lord mentioned in D&C 19. But again we need to see the real scripture and not take big [M]’s word for what it is talking about. It is a misquote from John 14

Here it is:

“21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

The scripture does not say if a man keep not His commandments then God loveth him not. That fact is sufficient to make the point of this post. But this 2003 article was spun so as to pervert the truth of God and yet in the attempt there are a couple of places where the scriptures quoted condemn the 15 seers of the LDS church. And this scripture is one of them.

Okay so lets venture into falseidealand and pretend that God does love us more if we keep His commandments or to use the church’s words, that God has a “higher level of love” for us if we keep His commandments. If that is true please note the even greater problem it creates for the leadership of the LDS church.

On 2 April 1843 in Ramus, Illinios Joseph Smith remarked about that chapter and verse. The remark was recorded in the William Clayton Diary and written also by Willard Richards at the same event. It was also placed in the D&C in section 130, verse 3.

“3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.”

What does such a belief say about the 15 apostles of today? None of which have ever claimed to have been visited in person by God. And there hasn’t been an apostle who did claim such a visit since John W Taylor, son of the 3rd president of the church who was first removed from the quorum because he was in disagreement with the other 11 and then later excommunicated for continuing to practice polygamy after the manifesto.  And yet he claimed openly to have been personally visited by Jesus Christ. Are you thinking of Lorenzo Snow being visited by he Lord? It does not change anything since he was called as an apostle prior to John W Taylor so again the truth remains none of those called as apostles since John W. Taylor have claimed a personal visit of Jesus Christ. Since the first apostles of this dispensation were told their apostolic calling was not complete until they had received a personal visit by Jesus Christ it makes you wonder how the latter ones can claim to be true apostles.

So if Elder Nelson is correct that this scripture proves God’s love is conditional then wouldn’t the facts of the last 100 years prove that God the Father doesn’t love the seers of our day?

I am not saying that. The doctrine of the LDS church as applied to this scripture says it. For my part I believe God does love those 15 men and all of us without condition. When we receive a blessing from God even the greatest of all gifts the gift of Eternal life it is because we love God enough to trust in His Word.  Yes blessings are 100% conditional. But blessings and gifts of God come based upon obedience to law, not based upon the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for us. What that really means is that we are the ones whose choice to love God determines whether we will become like Him.

“I love them that love me; and those that seek me … shall find me.”

But I the Lord don’t love those who don’t love me? What the ?? Don’t we teach young children and teenagers to treat others nice and love them even if the other person is acting mean?  So what is this? We hold God to a lesser standard? He is less loving than a spoiled brat? Even typing the question seems blasphemous.

“God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

But those who do not fear Him He has no respect for? No that would violate the first clause. Again look at the wording “accepted with Him.” Does that mean accepted along with Him? And who accepts God as God? All of His creations with the exception of us, His children. And we are in the process of making our choice whether we will accept God as our God or not. That is the truth of the matter regardless of the way we interpret this scripture. Because God got to be God by His choices. And He has promised us the justice of it being our agency and our choice which will determine whether we are like Him and not the level of his love for us.

Is the problem here that these people don’t know the difference between love and acceptance? Come to think of it my fifth generation LDS ex wife did not know the difference either.  I am not jesting. This is dead serious. There are those who in all sincerity have been raised by parents who never gave love but always controlled their children (and their spouse) by giving or withholding acceptance. They do not actually comprehend true love since they were never given it by their mother. And if you think of it this is exactly what the church does to its members; it controls them by the offer of acceptance and the threat of withdrawing that acceptance.

Back to the article.

“The Lord “loveth those who will have him to be their God.”

Again the fact that He does love group “A” does not prove that He does not love group “B”.

Then we read this in the 2003 article:

“Understanding that divine love and blessings are not truly “unconditional” can defend us against common fallacies such as these: “Since God’s love is unconditional, He will love me regardless …”; or “Since ‘God is love,’  He will love me unconditionally, regardless …”

My close friend and I have gone around and around on this. He asked at one point, “If God’s love is unconditional then what would be the motivation for being good?” Now the answer to that question is the real heart of why this doctrine is damning to our souls.

WHY OBEY GOD IF HE LOVES ME NO MATTER WHAT?

There are many possible motivations for obeying God and living a principle of the gospel. Most any motivation will be included in one of these groups.

Fear of punishment

Desire for personal gain or money

Desire for acceptance or praise

Sense of obligation or DUTY (perhaps a higher harmonic of fear)

A good result in your life, good feelings or even blessings (perhaps just a higher harmonic of personal gain here)

Your love for God and others which is one and the same

Which of these groups would enable you to claim the same inheritance as Jesus Christ? Which of the above motivations were involved when Jesus suffered the atonement and death on the cross?

There is no higher love than God the Father giving His Son Jesus to suffer and die for people who are in a sinful state. He acted upon that love before the foundations of the world. Has His love waxed and waned since?

Looking at the various levels of motivation we can see that all contain the element of fear but the last. Even the desire for good results or blessings means we are doing it out of fear that we won’t get these things if we don’t do it.

Can we rationally have faith to obtain His glory if we must be motivated by the threat of losing His love? Was Jesus motivated by the threat of losing God’s love? Or can it be that the greatest motivator possible is the fact that no matter what we do or have done He did and always will love us completely. Then the question of whether we receive His glory is whether we receive and reciprocate His love.

Telling some one that you will love them more if they obey you is what you do when you want to control them. When you use this carrot of love and stick of less love you don’t want an equal with whom you can share all that you have. You want a slave who is controlled by the fear of losing your love.

But if you give your love without price then it is up to the other person to make an unfettered choice to love you back. So by your love they are motivated to be as you are. Love is the greatest power of influence in all existence. If it were not, Satan would win and God would be toppled and cease to be God.

But the idea in the minds of humans that God’s love is variable will force them to resort to the motivation of fear. And that is why Satan wants it to be part of the doctrine of the LDS church.

And why do some people like the doctrine of God’s love being variable? Well I don’t know exactly but think of this. If I believe that God loves me completely no matter what I do, then I know without doubt that if I do not love Him and others in that way I am being unjust. The responsibility to love others as He loves me is then left to my personal choice. It means that when I have less love for one person here than another that I stand convicted in my conscience. But if I accept the belief that God has higher levels of love for some and obviously lower levels of love for others then I can be justified in being the same way.

I said something once to one of my daughters when she was 14 years old. I said, “I am going to tell you something and you can spend the rest of you life thinking about it. When we love some one all we can do is give them our love. That is our choice. And then we hope they will love us in return. That is their choice. If we try to force them to love us it will not make us happy because it is not love. Love is freely given or it is not love.”

Now if we think of how we might go about “forcing” or even pressuring someone to love us we can see that it amounts to the same concept of a God who will apply the threat of not loving us unless we obey Him. There are many who won’t believe me on this, but it doesn’t work. What you get in return is not love. And when you are trying to manipulate you are not giving love. Motivation by pure love is the most powerful of all motivations. Motivation by fear is what Satan has always done.

Injecting fear into our relationship with God destroys our ability to actually obey out of love.

THE TRUE NATURE OF LOVE OR THE NATURE OF TRUE LOVE

In researching for this post I received an inspired understanding of the nature of love, how it should be. I was then able to see how the Babylonian culture has perverted what real love is.

There are 4 words in Greek which mean love. The definitions of these words are all stated in terms of which group of people are loved in this way. The words are:

Agape – This love for your spouse and children. It is seen as unconditional and self sacrificing and compassionate. It can also be applied to all the world of people.

Eros – This is sexual or passionate love. But Plato explained that it can also be without physical contact, still based on the beauty and sexual appeal of the other person but with a respect and admiration of them as a beautiful creation or an ideal to be admired even if there was not partaking. The latter is the actual meaning of platonic love.

Philia – This is termed brotherly love and is viewed as having its main focus on the community. But family is also included. I will show you in a second why all of them overlap.

Storge – This is often not mentioned. It is a love that accepts a person as they are. It is used to maintain a love for the ruler even when he is a pain at times. But also a family member immediate or extended who is well know to be a jerk at times but this love accepts him so we are willing to retain him as a member of the family/community rather than abandon him and cut him off.

As I studied these something suddenly occurred to me. The four types of love do not apply to four different groups. And by viewing it that way we miss the point and meaning of the different types. They apply to 4 types of actions we take towards everyone. We need all 4 types at all times with each person. Eros with our children? Eros is based upon our sexuality but it does not require sexual intercourse. I love my brother and I hug him and even kiss him and admire his manly body (its easier to admire in that way than mine) but I don’t need to have sex with him. Same is true of my sons and daughters and nieces and nephews etc. They are sexual beings. I should admire and be aware of that. But it is of no blessing to them to be intimate with them so out of love I do not.  Love always responds to the needs of the person you love.

Here is an example of how it applies to a spouse. Yes we can see our passion and desire to be intimate with them coming in to play. But we can also in our agape see sacrificing our lives for them if needed. And on a daily basis we serve and act out of kindness in a philia type love for them. But sometimes even the best of spouses can be a jerk. And when that occurs we need to have storge love for them and not cast them out.

But see what we have been taught? How many of us have heard this? “If you ever have sex with another person our marriage will be over.”

Or imagine you and you spouse have some real close friends another married couple. You have known each other for years. You love the guy like your brother or maybe more than your brother. You never want to lose him as a friend. But what would happen if he and your wife fell in love and are intimate with each other? It would be the real common thing to hear someone say. “If he ever had sex with my wife I would want to kill him.” Or maybe you hear the not so cruel, “If he had sex with my wife that would be the end of our friendship.” Your friendship with who, your friend or your wife? And in all sincerity why?

So what happened to your agape, philia and storge love? They are totally wiped out by the over-emphasis on eros love. All types of love are made of zero strength by being made insignificant compared to our worship of eros. This is where eros has been perverted. The S&M and pedophile effects himself and those he directly touches. And there may be millions involved. But there are billions who have perverted love by believing the Babylonian enforced monogamy laws and the popular media’s version of one true love songs which are a denial of actual God given human nature.

And if we are willing to see it for what it can be then ask yourself what about the love which developed between your spouse and the other person? Why is it evil? The only evil is your selfish demand that they deny their love for each other. And what makes your love for your spouse good? A government marriage license? Please don’t insult us all by thinking anything like that. Oh you had an agreement a covenant to not love any other people in that way and you are enforcing that same promise on your spouse. Is this not part of the covenant with death spoken of in the scriptures? Now if your spouse is stopping their love for you that is a different thing. And it should be addressed. But as always if you are trying to force them even with a previous covenant then you are not acting upon love. No in fact it may be you who had stopped loving them first.

But there is nothing in our nature as humans which prevents us from loving fully, in every way, multiple people. And by maintaining all types of love for our spouse we can honor their right to love all others as they honor our right to love all others. And then we both honor the way God made us in His image. And I believe that is what God wants us to do. I believe that is the way God is.

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18 Comments

  1. I am not quite finished reading the post yet, but I feel compelled to reply.

    “WHY OBEY GOD IF HE LOVES ME NO MATTER WHAT?”

    Every person is different, but my answer to that question is, “If God loves me no matter what, then I have a stronger desire to love Him and serve Him. If He only loves me if I’m “good enough” then I have reason to be afraid of Him and avoid Him. I want no such God that I cannot trust to love me even when I screw up or am led astray.”

    Had I read Elder Nelson’s article ten years earlier than I did, it would have devastated me. In my belief that I was unredeemable (even though I had not committed anything even close to an unpardonable sin), it would have been the nail in my coffin. Luckily, by the time I read that Ensign article, I knew God better – even though the article’s insidious message bothered me for the harm it could do to those with insecure esteems, those the Lord longs to hold and help.

  2. Also, we are told to love our enemies, to bless those who harm us, to do good to those who persecute us (obviously not an exact quote) – and we are told to be like Jesus, who is like the Father. If God hates us if we don’t measure up or if we are wicked, then the scriptures are hypocritical. But the scriptures are not hypocritical. They tell us that even when we are being destroyed for our wickedness, the Lord still has his had outstretched, if we are willing to repent.

    How can the Lord NOT love us after what he went through for us? He went into the intimate depths of each of our souls, felt our pains, our sorrows, our guilts, our griefs, our horrors when realizing how bad we really are/were. He knows each of us more intimately than we know ourselves, let alone as much as we love and know our children (or others we love).

    Most definitely, love is love. Rewards and punishments (natural consequences) for disobedience are in a different ball park. We remove ourselves from His love, just like you said.

  3. I could have SWORN that I made another comment after my first one, above. I wonder if it’s in the spam or if it went the way of the ether. If it’s in spam, I hope it finds its way out.

    In any case, I wanted to point out that if God did not love the wicked, He would never send true prophets to warn us that we will be destroyed for our wickedness if we don’t repent.

  4. It was in the spam queue — don’t quite know the criteria it uses — but I pulled it out.

  5. Toni:

    If God hates us if we don’t measure up or if we are wicked, then the scriptures are hypocritical.

    I like that.

    The sun and rain nurture the just and the unjust:

    for your father
    who is in the sky
    maketh his sun to rise
    on the evil
    and on the good
    and sendeth rain
    on the just
    and on the unjust

    Buildinga fall on the just and the unjust:

    there were present at that season
    some that told him of the Galilæans
    whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices
    and Jesus answering
    said unto them

    suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners
    above all the Galilæans
    because they suffered such things?
    I tell you
    nay
    but except ye repent
    ye shall all likewise perish

    or those eighteen
    upon whom the tower in Siloam fell
    and slew them
    think ye that they were sinners
    above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
    I tell you
    nay
    but, except ye repent
    ye shall all likewise perish.

    God never promised an end to human suffering — or that his people would have ideal life circumstances — his only promise was that his Love would be greater than all those things.

    for I am persuaded
    that neither death
    nor life
    nor things sent
    nor the principalities and powers that sent them
    nor things present
    nor things to come
    nor height
    nor depth
    nor any other creating thing
    shall be able to separate us
    from the love of god
    which is in christ Jesus
    our lord

  6. Thanks Toni I agree with you I am glad you either see the point I was trying to make or already knew it. Either way your view is what I have also.
    Thanks Justin those are great scriptures. And the fact that they exist make us really wonder how someone could think of a conditional love. And I guess I was expolring that idea “How can you believe that?” as much as anything. But then as I point out my super close friend who agrees on almost everything does not agree on this facet.
    So I think he was more damaged by his LDS upbringing that he realizes.

  7. dyc4557, we are definitely on the same page here.

    What I don’t understand is why an apostle of the Lord would write a faith-destroying, damning article like that. They are supposed to bring souls to Christ, not defeat them and make them feel there is no hope for repentance. I hope he was just not thinking, and that he has changed his opinion by this time, because the article sounded to me like it fits this scripture: “that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to … love God, and to serve him,” and, “… whatsoever thing persuadeth men to … believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil.” And being taught that God does not love one unconditionally pushes the sinner AND the insecure/wounded away from Christ. (The whole scripture is below.)

    13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
    14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
    15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
    17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
    Moroni 7

  8. Grr! Maybe it would STOP putting me in spam if I stopped letting it know I had a webpage. Let me know if the above reply to dyc4557 posts.

  9. Re: the conditionality of God’s love — that concept didn’t originate in Russel’s talk you mentioned in the OP. I just remembered this gem from Spencer:

    One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.

  10. Oh wow Justin. Although that doesn’t say that God’s love is conditional the wording is in direct conflict with what Jesus said was his gospel to the Nephites. Repent and believe in me. If the belief is real then you will be saved. But the first clause is just as messed up. We are saved by grace. If you look at Moroni 7:48 you see that the way to possess charity is to receive it as gift from the Father free for the asking in faith. Then you see that who ever has this charity it will be well with him and that when Jesus comes they will be like him. So yeah now we can see that it has been messed up for a long time.
    Toni it would be better if it was just Russell M Nelson who had the problem. But the first presidency approves everything that goes into the Ensign by way of the policies of the correlation committee. The article is a statement not just of Elder Nelson but of the church because it was never corrected and it wasn’t from a conference talk. It was published for the purpose of setting forth the church’s and hence all 15 apostles official stand on this doctrine.

    And as we think about it if we know in our hearts that the doctrine of God having higher love for you than he does for me is false then this is a prime example of how the statement that “God will never allow the combined voice of the 1st presidency and the 12 to lead the church astray.” has been proved false.

  11. Dyc4557, your last paragraph says it all.

    I’m not sure how much attention the brethren pay to the correlation committee. I’ve been led to believe that it pretty much has a life of its own. Still, it could be squashed down. All the president would have to do is decide to disband it.

  12. Toni,

    President Monson was one of the original founding members of the correlation committee. He is PROUD of it. We can not afford to be so prideful in our vain beliefs regarding the ‘brethren’. It is time to back up and see what is happening. It is only pride that places men in these positions and motivates them. And their pride and our pride is one and the same. We act like they are always the Lord’s servants even when they are not being the Lord’s servants. We want this false sense of security…we want to cling to a vain imagining that says if we follow these guys they will lead us to Christ instead of clinging to Christ and trusting Him to lead us to the Father.

  13. Chantdown, I have to concur with all you said. I have learned recently that when men have not “come unto Christ” themselves don’t have the ability to lead others there. What they do instead is beckon men to “come unto them” To come unto their own ideals and standards. I believe that at first they really think they’re doing a good thing. Biut it gets harder and harder to believe that the further and further from Christ they lead. Maybe they start to like the glory and admiration? The point though is that they are incapable of saving a soul. So in effect they are placing themselves as a barrier between their followers and the only ONE who can save them. A damnable thing .

    Justin,
    I have to ask, isn’t it possible that what Pres. Kimball was referring to was the “Just say this prayer and you will be saved” idea? Without repentance and baptism etc… I just wonder because I have Baptist family members who say they are saved because they believe in Jesus. They recited the “I accept Jesus as Savior” prayer and now they are set. Now I understand what “believing” in Jesus really means and that we are saved by grace. I also understand that belief will lead to repentance etc… However there are those who truly believe the profession of “I believe” is all you need.

  14. isn’t it possible that what Pres. Kimball was referring to was the “Just say this prayer and you will be saved” idea?

    That’s certainly possible — the evangelical doctrine is a pretty substantial part of US Christians.

    But I certainly think that it could have been worded along the lines that you worded it — if that were the case.

    Would Spencer have said that he agreed that we should “rely alone upon the merits of Christ“? I imagine so. But that quote doesn’t make that all too clear.

    He had to have known his rhetoric was sensationalist when he called salvation by the grace of God — justification through belief in Christ alone: “most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan“.

    That phrasing simply does not accord with Pauline, New Testament salvation theology.

    for as many as
    are of the works of the law
    are under the curse
    for it is written

    cursed is every one that continueth not
    in all things
    which are written in the book of the law
    to do them

    but that no one
    is justified by the law
    in the sight of God

    it is evident
    for

    the just shall live by faith

    and the law is not of faith
    but

    anyone who doeth them
    shall live in them

    christ hath redeemed us
    from the curse of the law
    being made a curse for us

    and

    therefore
    we conclude
    that a person is justified
    by faith
    without the deeds of the law

    Certainly, there’s James 2 — which is a favorite for a Catholic/LDS mode of understanding the faith/works dynamic:

    ye see then
    how that by works a person is justified
    and not by faith only

    But that would be an entirely separate matter to parse through — as you did in talking about the altar-call, say-a-prayer preachers.

  15. Liv,
    What you said reminded me of something I read very recently…and also helped to explain it more clearly to my mind…so thanks for that.

    “Others again, and those who have much knowledge, cannot tell you
    exactly what “belief” is, or how to believe in what defies natural
    laws and existing belief. Surely it is not by saying “I believe”; that
    art has long been lost. They are even more subject to bewilderment and distraction directly they open their mouths full of argument; without power and unhappy unless spreading their own confusion, to gain cogency they must adopt dogma and mannerism that excludes possibility
    . . . . . . By the illumination of their knowledge they deteriorate in
    accomplishment. Have we not watched them decay in ration to their
    expoundings?”

    In essence they are serving as gatekeepers for Babylon….but the since the gate they are attempting to block is the gate to the heavenly realms then we fall for the whole “called of God” role they play…never questioning which god called them to do what Jesus reprimands them for.
    “But woe unto you, scribes (correlation committee) and Pharisees (general authorities), hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

  16. Elder Chantdown, I apologize if my comments made it sound like I thought the brethren were infallible. It is my personal opinion that they do not have a corner on the market of spirituality.

    I assure you that I am no longer of the frame of mind that it is in following the church and in the leaders that my safety lies. My safety lies in Jesus, and in heeding the Holy Ghost (and I have been accused of being apostate for that view, the opposing view being that one should always “follow the brethren” because it is impossible for them to lead us astray). And, to tell you the truth, it was refreshing to wake up to the fact that the Book of Mormon was talking to US most of the time it is warning about the Gentiles’ behavior (Nephi, son of Lehi, as well as Moroni).

  17. As I read this portion of Toni’s remark I thought about the actions of the LDS leaders. They are the gentiles as is well known. And now I know they are way off the mark. And they didn’t get there by just making innocent mistakes. The gentiles of the church have been worshiping money for years and grinding the face of the poor because of it.
    A person who rejects the mentality of the gentile culture of the mighty gentile nation is not counted among the gentiles but is counted among the people of the Lord, “my people” as Jesus says.
    So that is why the really hard words directed at the gentiles of our day.
    3 Nephi 30:1-2
    1 Hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying:
    2 Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.

    Pretty strong words. But it does not apply only to those who are not members of the LDS church. I believe in the next 5 years we will see members of the LDS who are doing these things more outwardly.

  18. If we love as Jesus Loves, so to say ‘love with all its refinement’, as said by the Lady, my Mother and Master, then we are just now and here blessed to serve people. As Jacob was served by the angels of the House of God going up and down through the Gate of Heaven at Bethel, so we serve with Jesus. If you behave as the Sinner, you are a sinner. If you behave as the Holy Lamb, you are a holy lamb and serve as He does.

    If you love either with sin or impurities your love is deceit and Jesus is neither in you nor you in Him. Simply, you are any of the bitches barking out the House of Heaven forever (Ap/Rv 21:27). Because we are not nowadays in the times of prophets but in the times of the Holy Lamb eternally self-sacrificing before the Throne of the Father in Heaven and Earth (Ap/Rv 21:22-23). If you turn your back on His Cross, here in Earth, neither your angel nor yourself are before the Holy Lamb self-sacrificing. These two paragraphs are messages from the Glory and Justice of the Almighty Trinity, whose Love is unconditional though your love either with sin or impurities is conditional.

    But let us meditate about the Rod of Iron (Ap/Rv 19:15), what I call the Stick of Love, when I say «He who fails to use a stick hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.» (Proverbs 13:24). Love of God is unconditional and if you have even a slightest impurity in your thought then, be sure, as soon as in a blink of an eye the Stick of Love comes over you to discipline you.

    I am a mere messenger of the King of Realm, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. It depends on you to love Him -this love is conditional- as He Loves you -this love is unconditional-. If you do not love Him as He loves you, you can not love anybody and so that you are condemned. These words I have brought for you today are very easy to understand and Jesus likes them (Ap/Rv 14:5).

    Thanks


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