Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religion

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Roy
Posts: 5606
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Roy » 01 Apr 2014, 09:35

Ray DeGraw wrote:I agree, Roy - but I understand completely why most people (in all religions) don't. I can't complain, ridicule, dismiss or otherwise denigrate people who can't see it that way - and I know you feel the same way.
Of course Ray, I wish that there was much more civility in religious discourse. Also I've been on the other side of the isle so I can better empathize.

These talks are frustrating to me because:

1) They limit the capacity of God's love (IOW He loves you enough to create this world and the plan of salvation, what more do you want???)
2) They limit the bounds of accepted ways to practice Mormonism (IOW they limit the "tent" and declare my beliefs as outside acceptability. I imagine I would take some level of offense to any talk that said that my perspective was unacceptable.)

I'm not mad at the Brethren. They have a job to do. This is just par for the course of seeking non-traditional ways to adhere to a very traditional faith - every so often people that you seek acceptance from will "complain, ridicule, dismiss or otherwise denigrate [that you] can't see it [their] way".
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Roy
Posts: 5606
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Roy » 07 Apr 2014, 09:32

I seem to be the poster boy for believing in an unconditionally loving God. That does not mean that I believe that he will treat us all equally. I believe that he will treat us in the way that is best for us individually - for some that might be with treatment and rehabilitation.

Recently Elder Holland spoke the following:
“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods and smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes — and this seems the greatest irony of all — these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of ‘comfortable’ God. Really?”

Just as Christ understood and taught, individuals must remember — even though many in the modern culture seem to forget — that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin, which Christ had an infinite capacity to do, and the warning against condoning it, which He never ever did even once.
I feel that this talk is attempting to dismiss my beliefs as coming from a place where I am too lazy or too prone to sin to believe in a more covenant/transactional based God. I was happy to believe in Him when I felt that my dedication to Him would be reciprocated with blessings for my family. I am aware that some are able to rationalize that God is still blessing their obedience even in sometimes terrible circumstances. For whatever reason - that was a leap of faith that I was unable to make. My expectations of blessings that would accompany my lifetime of priesthood service were too specific and set me up for a fall.

In the moment that I needed it most, I felt that God loved me - not my performance and dedication (all good things) - but that he loved me. I also had to separate God's intervention in my life from His love. My feeling of His love is greater than it ever has been but my expectations of what I will get/deserve from Him has been greatly reduced.

In short, my former belief that God owed me blessings because of my performance was very "comfortable." It was a safe and stable security blanket. Now I see a world of possibilities. Many of these possibilities are outside of my control and I no longer believe that God will control them for my benefit. But I still take comfort in His love for me. I will still cling to that corner of the blanket. I guess that religion in all its forms is there to give us comfort, to shield us against a dark, cold, and lonely nihilism. I will gladly take that comfort - in whatever form that best speaks to my soul and my circumstances - because I feel that it is a better, more joyful and compassionate, way for me to live.

So Yes! I conceptualize and frame my concept of my God by my experiences, my understandings, and my needs - IOW it could be said that I create my God out of my own image. Don't you?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1736
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by On Own Now » 07 Apr 2014, 10:24

Roy,

Thank you for this post... If there were a like button, I would have clicked it and then talked my friends into liking it.
Roy wrote:So Yes! I conceptualize and frame my concept of my God by my experiences, my understandings, and my needs - IOW it could be said that I create my God out of my own image. Don't you?
Yes, absolutely, we all do... clearly Elder Holland does too, and his God is very different from your God, and even more different from my God. As an atheist, I believe there is no actual being. Yet, I frame the image of a set of attributes that are 'godly' and I still seek the love of that 'God'. When I reach the end of my life, if I wake up the next morning and look around, glimpsing the afterlife and asking myself, "Why do I still exist?", then I truly hope that the God of reality is similar to the God I worship rather than the taskmaster God.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Roy
Posts: 5606
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Roy » 15 Apr 2014, 10:45

Ilovechrist77 wrote:I know that Stephen R. Robinson in his book Following Christ didn't like the term unconditional love because it wasn't a scriptural term and it sounded like God would give us exaltation when haven't repented. My faith crisis came about with studying church history in depth, but in 2001-2003 I was experiencing moral scrupulosity, a part of OCD. Maybe I was experiencing a faith crisis then and didn't realize it. I believe God, Jesus Christ, Heavenly Mother, the Holy Ghost love us more than we can comprehend. His blessings and the things he does for us can be incredibly unpredictable. Even God allowing one of Joseph Smith's non-member family member exaltation was unpredictable. So was Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit.
I really disliked the book "Following Christ." My review of it is found here: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2675&p=32845&hilit=robinson#p32845
For me it seemed a complete turnaround from the earlier work of "Believing Christ."

Unconditional love is not found in the Bible but "unfailing love" is.
Psalm 6:4
Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 13:5
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
Psalm 21:7
For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.
Psalm 31:16
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
Psalm 33:22
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 36:7
How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 44:26
Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 51:1
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 130:7
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Lamentations 3:32
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
What does the "unfailing" descriptor mean? I believe that it means that God will NEVER give up on me - that there are NO "lost causes" among God's children.

This doesn't mean that I believe that I will be forced into a heaven that I am unprepared for nor that I should get something for nothing. For me, it means that I believe that there will be sufficient opportunity to correct my errors in an environment of understanding, patience, mercy, and love. Doesn't that fit the definition of repentance? It just realligns our ideas of limitations, deadlines, stipulations, and provisos. I believe in the power of unexpected, undeserved, and unwavering love to break down our defenses and resistance until we let it in. Maybe just a drop at first but then slowly but surely I believe it will fill the heart and soul of all but the hardest of stone hearts.

Not all scriptures support my premise. To some a performance based gospel just makes more sense. But I believe that there are also some in the LDS church that are withering spiritually for lack of feeling God's love reaching towards them. I feel that God’s “unfailing love” is under-represented in our theology and discourse. For me, love changes everything.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16517
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Apr 2014, 12:02

Charity suffereth long.


I think God has all eternity to accomplish their work and glory. I think God is much more patient than we tend to realize.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Forgotten_Charity
Posts: 779
Joined: 11 Jul 2012, 18:33

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 15 Apr 2014, 12:40

Roy wrote:
Ilovechrist77 wrote:I know that Stephen R. Robinson in his book Following Christ didn't like the term unconditional love because it wasn't a scriptural term and it sounded like God would give us exaltation when haven't repented. My faith crisis came about with studying church history in depth, but in 2001-2003 I was experiencing moral scrupulosity, a part of OCD. Maybe I was experiencing a faith crisis then and didn't realize it. I believe God, Jesus Christ, Heavenly Mother, the Holy Ghost love us more than we can comprehend. His blessings and the things he does for us can be incredibly unpredictable. Even God allowing one of Joseph Smith's non-member family member exaltation was unpredictable. So was Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit.
I really disliked the book "Following Christ." My review of it is found here: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2675&p=32845&hilit=robinson#p32845
For me it seemed a complete turnaround from the earlier work of "Believing Christ."

Unconditional love is not found in the Bible but "unfailing love" is.
Psalm 6:4
Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 13:5
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
Psalm 21:7
For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.
Psalm 31:16
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
Psalm 33:22
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 36:7
How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 44:26
Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 51:1
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 130:7
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Lamentations 3:32
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
What does the "unfailing" descriptor mean? I believe that it means that God will NEVER give up on me - that there are NO "lost causes" among God's children.

This doesn't mean that I believe that I will be forced into a heaven that I am unprepared for nor that I should get something for nothing. For me, it means that I believe that there will be sufficient opportunity to correct my errors in an environment of understanding, patience, mercy, and love. Doesn't that fit the definition of repentance? It just realligns our ideas of limitations, deadlines, stipulations, and provisos. I believe in the power of unexpected, undeserved, and unwavering love to break down our defenses and resistance until we let it in. Maybe just a drop at first but then slowly but surely I believe it will fill the heart and soul of all but the hardest of stone hearts.

Not all scriptures support my premise. To some a performance based gospel just makes more sense. But I believe that there are also some in the LDS church that are withering spiritually for lack of feeling God's love reaching towards them. I feel that God’s “unfailing love” is under-represented in our theology and discourse. For me, love changes everything.
The theology of conditional based on check marks of approval or performance isn't new and is as old as history. It's just what the Jewish people thought of love and transferred such understanding to the image of god. So I am not surprised to see its predominance there. But then it can be used as a back board to justify stoning or pre approved check mark
Love that authoritarian personalities love to embody. It forgets the basic premise of love and cast it in the light of I obedience. It never bothers to ask the question of "is there a god and if there is what traits would he need to have in order to worship him"? It simply says "is there a god and if so what do I need to do to worship him?" Automatically assuming that because a god is a god we worship him no matter what. Such a system through a personal integrity away because it try's to establish that "it diesnt matter who I am or what I believe it only matters who god is and what he wants me to believe".

Forgetting that their is no worth in living any kind if life either here or eternity with that very notion and completely throwing out all meaning and worth or self worry to all existence with such a notion,

If i took upon this view established well before Hollands talk by authoritarian figures throughout history then I must ask myself why it is important that I do anything at all for such a good when the rewards for doing something
As great as they may seem mean literally nothing if I can not be authentically me I'm here and the after life while trying to pursue worship in that reguard. No amount of promised blessings can overcome the wconolete worthlessness of not being authentically self and serving in that regard. Even the conceit of complete servitude to anyone no matter how great they are negates completely any point to existence.

I'm short to believe in this as pointed out to Hollands talk is to believe that life and existence is worth nothing and has no meaning. Therefore why bother doing anything since nothing of who I am matters or nothing of what makes me and others happy really matters in the end. It is all pointless since life is about becoming someone else for someone else.

That such a life or a god is even worth any effort at all is to make life for many completely pointless and without merit.

Serving a good I choose to worship because he embodies what I want to become is worth something to strive for. But a god such as what the talk abodies is a pointless and fruitless life. I choose to make a god with personality traits I want to strive for and reject such a god or personality traits that are the opposite of what I want to strive for.

It's the way to positive mental and spiritual health, not of viewing myself as a slave of ownership because I was created therefore indepted to. Creation the act of creation dies not create ownership neither obligation.

To love selflessly means to give without expecting anything in return. It diesnt mean rewarding for mistreatment of others but given without expecting anything. I could not worship a god who does any less then the best of his children who have set such an example. Therefore I strive to emulate that which we seek, what do we seek? Will tell us the kind of god we like to worship.

Joni
Posts: 558
Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 08:36

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Joni » 16 Apr 2014, 10:01

I wonder if Elder Holland is feeling depressed again. I know that when I'm a particularly low point, my conception of God is a mean-spirited, unloving, unpleasant one.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16517
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Apr 2014, 10:04

Interesting question, Joni.

He mentioned explicitly that he has struggled with depression in the past, and there is no guarantee it was just a one-time thing.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1736
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by On Own Now » 20 Apr 2014, 18:00

For my part, I sincerely hope that JRH is not under some external stress of depression or betrayal that is affecting him that deeply. Though I disagree in almost every way with his concept of Jesus, the Holy Taskmaster, I would prefer to know that it is just the way JRH thinks, and that he is happy with that, than to find that he is suffering emotionally/spiritually. I know that nobody is suggesting they are happy that he might have an out, but since I am an outspoken critic of his talk, I feel some responsibility to be extra vocal that I hope for the best and most fulfilling life for him. I was at BYU when he was President, and I had a very high opinion of him and his wife, Pat (who, I guess, goes by Patricia now).
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

mikegriffith1
Posts: 30
Joined: 16 Mar 2014, 11:08
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: Unconditional Love of God in a performance-based religio

Post by mikegriffith1 » 01 Jun 2014, 03:57

I think part of this is semantics. But, I can logically understand that a person's actions can affect how much they are loved. Certainly any parent knows that some children are move lovable than others.

As for our end of the bargain, the scriptures seem pretty clear:

"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).

"They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good" (Titus 1:16).

"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him" (1 John 3:6).

"If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (1 John 1:6).

"And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).

"God, who will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath" (Romans 2:6-8).

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Post Reply