25 July 2006

God is love: The most hated verse in the Bible

Have you ever noticed that hard core Christians don't much like the good stuff in the Bible? And they just can't stand the very best.

But the verse they hate most of all is 1 John 4:8.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Because if God is love, what the hell is hell?

[It is interesting that Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical is entitled Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). But then the hard core Christians that I'm talking about don't consider the Pope to be Christian.]


Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying your blog and your links very much. As a secular Canadian I get freaked out by the insanity going on in your part of the world, Steve. It's refreshing to come across challenge to the predominant right-wing Christian discourse.

Anonymous said...

What the hell is hell?

If you take into account the history of afterlife concepts and their evolution, then you realise that it is not to be taken literally. If anything, it's imagery. A state of mind that can only be described with images. An image constructed with the materials of many cultures. From Hades to Tartarus to Sheol to Gehenna.

I have a feeling that men tend to 'speak for God' more than we'd think. Perhaps it's my more inclusive mindset, but I don't agree with 90% of Christians. It makes me sad to even look back at my own life a couple years ago and to see that I was caught up in this church dogma.


Anonymous said...


I know this is very old but I have just come across it. As a christian I must disagree with you...I don't hate that verse at all. I love it. God is not a big fan of hell. He wants to redeem all people and all creation to himself. However that is not the path all take and there are still consequences some ultimate.

For example as a parent (if you are one) do you love your kids or as a society do we love our kids? obviously we do! However If they reject us and the things we teach are there not consequeses? God continues to pursue all people much like you or I would as parents however in the end justice as well as the natural course of action unfolds.

God is holy (set apart) and unless we accept Jesus we are unclean and must be seperated from him. That's why he created a new system to save us! I hope this doesn't just sound like christian retoric (did I spell that wrong?) but an attempt to explain the truth in a short comment.


Brandy M Miller said...

Because God is love, Hell exists. Let me explain:
God is love. Love, however, is not license. Love has very specific requirements in order for it to be genuine love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes perfect love: "Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it is not perverse, it is not puffed up, it is not ambitious and is not self-serving, it is slow to anger, and does not think evil, it does not rejoice in lies or injustice, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now, because God is Love and Love does not insist on having its own way, God allows us to choose to reject love. If we, by our choices, reject love our ability to experience love and to show love grows less and less and eventually fades altogether. Every action we take which hurts someone else reduces our ability to empathize and thus to feel love. When we have a reduced ability to feel love, we also have a reduced ability to express love. Love still exists, it is still available to us, but we are unable to feel it or to take advantage of it.

Now, when someone has lived their entire life rejecting love and becomes so blind to it and so deaf to it and so unable to express love to others, it is impossible for them to find love after death. That's hell. God is still there with them, but they are unable to see, hear, or respond to him. Human beings need and crave love, but these people have become blind to it and deaf to it and so they crave it but are unable to find it, they have become twisted inside and would only hurt other people if given the opportunity. In order to protect those who have learned how to love, God allows those who have chosen not to love to be set apart from the rest.

Unknown said...

I have yet to find a Christian (and I am one and associate with Christians all the time) who hates this verse.

Have you read Jonathan Edwards' unpublished essay on the trinitarian nature of God? He delves long and deep into the "God is love" verse, waxing eloquent on all the wonderful philosphical and theological revelations those three words make.

Have you ever read the other essays written by other Christians based off Edwards' essay?

Have you ever read anything about that verse by A.W. Tozer?

Or perhaps by John Eldridge (he's modern)?

Have you not seen it written on banners, posted above doorways, and written on Christian plates, shirts, and so on?

Come on! You can't really say that Christians hate that verse. I know I sure don't.

Anonymous said...

I was researching love because I had discussion about it with my ex-husband. I know from reading christian blog and dealing with my behavior as christian I don't show love enough. I say stupid things and show a lot of intolerance. That's not what the Bible teachings me. Thank you for making me examine myself.

stavros said...

Just a note: In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the fact that God is Love is completely compatible with hell, because hell is seen not as some literal place of punishment, but as the awful, agonizing condition of a soul in the very presence of Love. For the saints, that presence is heaven, but for those mired in self-indulgence, greed, and having cold-hearts, the presence of God will be like hell.