cards-hands-risk

The Risk of Love

The most basic and yet most profound teaching of the Bible is that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8; 16). He is revealed to be a God who is triune—Father, Son and Holy Spirit (See Mt 3:16; 28:19, Jn 14:26; 15:26)—who’s very essence is an eternal, loving relationship. He created the world out of love and for the purpose of expanding his love.

God the Father desires that we dwell in Christ and Christ dwell in us, just as Christ dwells in the Father and he in Christ (John 17:21-26). The Father wants us to participate in and reflect the loving union that he has with Christ. The goal, in other words, is for the perfect triune love of God to be manifested to people, replicated in people and reflected back from people. This is why God created the world. The whole of creation is meant to express and embody the eternal triune love that God is. It exists to glorify God.

Humans are to glorify God by expressing his love and authority as we rule the earth. God wants to be Lord over all creation, but because he is the triune God of love, he doesn’t want to do this unilaterally. Of course he could have created a world where we have to do his will, but it would have been a creation devoid of love. Instead, God wants to rule creation through coregents, free agents who through love apply his sovereign will to the earth. God therefore created us “in his image” that we might “have dominion” and “subdue” the earth (Gen 1:26-28).

In such a world, there is risk because love must be chosen. Unless people can choose not to love, they can’t genuinely choose to love. The possibility of the one is built into the possibility of the other. Love simply cannot be coerced or programmed into people.

A creation in which love is the goal must incorporate risk. Creation doesn’t have to have actual evil, but it must allow for the possibility of evil—if the possibility of genuine love is to exist.

This is why God commanded humans to have dominion over the world in the creation story. If we weren’t free to disobey God, a command would be unnecessary; we would do what God created us to do automatically. Because God wants his will carried out in love, he empowers humans to carry out his command freely. And this, of course, means we can refuse to carry out his command if we choose.

God gave Adam and Eve free will in the Garden. The purpose of this freedom was that they might choose to remain in loving union with God. But because it was a union of love, it had to be possible for Adam and Eve to reject it. Tragically, the first couple chose to disobey God, thereby bringing judgment on themselves and their descendants (Gen 3:1-19). This disobedience was not part of God’s original plan; it was a rejection of God’s plan. Yet the possibility of this rejection had to exist if God’s original plan was to be possible. His plan is for people to administrate his creation as they receive, replicate and reflect back God’s triune love.

—Adapted from Is God to Blame?, pages 62-65

Related Reading

Free Will: The origin of evil

In this continuing series on free will, Greg discusses how evil can only be accounted for if we acknowledge free will. This is especially true if you believe that God is good.

The Lego Movie & Free Will

Last week Greg tweeted about two movies that have themes related to human free-will and God’s control of the world. They were: @greg_boyd: Does God want a permanently frozen “perfect” world or an open-ended world filled with wildly imaginative people? Watch “The Lego Movie”! @greg_boyd: Meantime, me & some peeps are going to watch (again!)…

Why Compatibilistic Freedom Does Not Make Sense

Compatibilism is the view that free will is compatible with determinism. In this view, freedom is defined as the ability to do what you want, though what you want is determined by factors outside of you. Theologians who espouse this perspective, hold that God ultimately determines what individuals want. This is in contrast to “self-determining…

God’s Dream for the World

The future doesn’t yet exist—which is why it’s future instead of the present or past—this doesn’t mean I’m claiming the future is wide open. To the contrary, it’s very clear from Scripture that God has a great plan for the future, and this plan steers the course of history by setting limits on what can…

Podcast: Do Open Theists Believe that God EVER Intercedes Directly in the World?

Greg considers God’s intervention in light of human prayer, and discusses the covenant of non-coercion. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0122.mp3 [3] Swain, 40. Photo via Ted Van Peltflickr.com

A Cross-Centered Evaluation of Responses to Tragedy

I’d like to pick up where I left off on my previous post about Draper’s article entitled “Aurora shooting inspires various perspectives on God and belief.” Toward the end of his article, Draper reports on an informal survey conducted by Stephen Prothero on his CNN Blog. Prothero simply asks people to respond to the question: “Where…