The concept of God’s love toward the fallen creation has attracted attention of many theologists. Despite contradictory arguments that are brought forward by various groups of faithful people, one thing that is commonly accepted by Christians is that God is Good, He is real, He has power to protect them and that He loves them. This common idea shows little concern about the ongoing debate on the character of God. Jesus Christ is seen as a perfect example of God who truly cares for his creation- man. It is evident from the nature of lessons that He taught and His great works while on earth. Though the nature of God the Father remains argumentative, the ambiguities of his true attributes should be understood by looking at the teachings and works of Jesus in whom the fullness of God dwells. This essay looks at significance of God’s love toward fallen creatures for classic theology and the contemporary discussion regarding immutability of God based on the contributions of various scholars and the Bible.
Perception of the Classic theology is largely influenced by Plato’s philosophy, according to which, God (or gods) is perfect and independent as He needs nothing from man. The argument here is based on a presumption that God is utterly perfect, thus, He cannot change in any way because change can result into imperfection. The argument that God does not love is not supported by any biblical scripture in either the Old or the New Testament. The idea of God’s immutability is also perceived to be a thorny subject that has attracted much attention. For example, a number of contemporary theologians suggest that God must not be immutable. They base their reasoning on the idea that love requires some reciprocity between those that are loved and that the scripture provides irresistible proof of God’s love. From the idea of need for reciprocity, contemporary theologians argue that God must be able to change. This debate is heightened by some contradictory passages that are divided on the idea of God’s immutability. For example, the book of Exodus 18:16-32 implies that God changes while Psalm 102:26-27 and Hebrews 13:8 all refute this by emphasizing that God is immutable.
One challenge that makes it difficult to understand the love of God is an attempt to assume that God’s love is similar to that of man. A close look at the bible shows that God’s love is similar to the divine love but it cannot be exactly the same as the divine love. Divinity of God is His own right rather than merely by appointment.” John 16:27, God loves with the filial love. Complication arises because the Bible also speaks of humans as being able to experience similar love. However, some theologians including Anders Nygren dispute the relationship between God’s love and human love. Anders Nygren suggests that the two are distinct and cannot be taken to be similar. However, his reasoning lacks substantial prove or justification from the Bible.
Vanhoozer highly supports the idea that God has a divine love. He suggests that Christians need to acknowledge that God’s love is something He has, that which He does and something that He is. Vanhoozer also states that Jesus Christ who was the God- Man should be taken as the clear indication of what God’s love is. This example allows assuming that God’s love has similarities to human love. However, it is important to note that God and humans have distinct differences in traits. It is not entirely acceptable to take Jesus as a reference in this argument simply because of his human nature. Jesus Christ had a divine attribute derived from his Godly being. He is God and the Son, hence, set apart from ordinary human characteristics. The argument given by Vanhoozer seems to be more plausible than that of Nygren. Vanhoozer’s argument is supported by Holy Scripture that makes it authentic. It is evident in Luke 3:17, which sets Jesus apart as God’s own Son. However, the differences that are negotiated for by Nygren are not grounded on any scriptures, hence, less satisfactory.
While addressing the concept of immutability of God, Feinberg states that suggestion given by classical theology indicates strong immutability. He states that the picture of God potrayed by classical theology is that of a God who can never change in any way or any degree. He goes ahead to suggest that the God presented by classical Theology is that who is perfect without any change in emotions. The open theists object to this idea but also have a contested presentation of God. They portray a God who is neither all-knowing nor all powerful. This, according to Feinberg, is unscriptural. In an attempt to compare the two, Feinberg states that some aspects about the nature of God can change while others cannot. For example, he points at God’s moral character and His inherent attributes to be immutable. He also argues that God’s emotions and His relationship to humans can change. By catering for the immutable and the changing God, Feinberg appears to give value to two sets of scriptures; those that indicate the changing aspects of God and those that indicate His unchanging aspects. Based on his reasoning, Feinberg is emphatic about God whom he refers to as the King who cares and affirms that no person will ever be like God. He presents a reconstructed model that shows the ongoing development in human understanding of God's revelation but also recognizes God’s word and nature, both of which do not change.
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