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The Difficult Doctrine Of The Love Of GodGod's love difficult?

What a fascinating book! Only 90 pages but full of meaty insights, D.A. Carson's The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Crossway, 2000, ISBN 1-58134-126-1) is a cracker. It looks at the five different ways the Bible talks of God's love (see the 4th quote below) and highlights the problems that arise if we absolutise any one of them. It also faces up to clichés like 'God hates the sin but loves the sinner' and assures Calvinistic preachers that they can tell unbelievers that God loves them!

The love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.  (p11)

God's discipline of his children means that he may turn upon us with the divine equivalent of the 'wrath' of a parent on a wayward teenager. Indeed, to cite the cliché 'God's love is unconditional' to a Christian who is drifting toward sin may convey the wrong impression and do a lot of damage. Such Christians need to be told that they will remain in God's love only if they do what he says.  (p24)

Not once is Jesus or God ever described in the Bible as our friend. Abraham is God's friend; the reverse is never stated. Of course, in one sense Jesus is the best friend a poor sinner ever had. Nevertheless, that is not the terminology of Scripture, almost as if the Bible is reluctant to descend into the kind of cheap intimacy that brings God or Jesus down to our level.  (p41)

…five different ways the Bible speaks of the love of God - his intra-Trinitarian love, his providential love, his yearning and salvific love that pleads with sinners, his elective love, and his conditional love.  (p45)

Ah, le bon Dieu; il doit nous pardonner; c'est son métier. [quoting Catherine the Great]  (p66)

A difference must be maintained between God's view of sin and his view of the sinner. Nevertheless the cliché that God hates the sin but loves the sinner is false on the face of it and should be abandoned. Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, we are told that God hates the sinner, his wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible, the wrath of God rests both on the sin (Rom 1:18ff) and on the sinner (John 3:36).  (p69)

Do you wish to see God's love? Look at the cross. Do you wish to see God's wrath? Look at the cross.  (p70)

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