Essay, Research Paper: Theology Of Love And Hate

Religion

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Theology of Love or Hate? “I make seeking my salvation the main business of my
life.” (editor, Perkins. 103). At the time of the preceding statement,
Jonathan Edwards neither had a full understanding of God’s redeeming love or
the ability to convey the simplicity of salvation through the love of Jesus
Christ. It is improper and unscriptural to imply that an individual must make
the quest for eternal life a prolonged and protracted journey. This places the
salvation experience, or the eternal life goal, in the same class as it would
the lifetime crusade of a physician desiring to help and heal others. Jesus said
in the gospel according to St. John 3:16-17 (NIV), “For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish
but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn
the world, but to save the world through him.” Yes, there is Divine judgement
just as there has been since man’s first fall in the Garden of Eden. However,
one must remember that before judgement, there was love. God made man and woman
perfect. Sin required judgement be placed on man. God’s love lingered with
man. Nevertheless, before the first raindrop of the “great flood” fell, God
would again judge the world by his own law. Notwithstanding, God’s love was
first shown to all inhabitants of the earth. When man rejected that love,
judgement followed. As it is with any father, God does discipline his children.
He disciplines, but with a loving hand. Edwards continually used phrases such as
“always exposed to destruction,” “sudden unexpected destruction,”
“anger and wrath of God,” and “the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of
the wrath of God.” This does not present the New Testament message of Jesus’
love. Prior to Jesus’ birth in that small stable in Bethlehem, the only means
of atonement for sin was through the blood of a sacrifice. When Jesus took his
first breath the old law of God ceased, and the new law began. Although there
would be a thirty-three year wait for a resurrected savior, God’s love, not
hate, was alive, walking the streets, and offering something that would now be
free: eternal life through the Son. The “black clouds of God’s wrath,” as
Edwards termed it, would be absent until the last breath would be exhaled on the
cross, the skies would become dark, and an earthquake happened. When God turned
his back on his own Son there had taken place an exhibition of love on the
grandest scale. I feel that Edwards, with all of his good intentions, was
attempting to do again what the Puritans had failed at doing. He was trying to
frighten his listeners out of hell instead of loving them into heaven. He was,
in my estimation, saying, “You are too stupid to see it. Let me tell you what
God wants you to hear. Believe me because I am a godly man, and you are not.”
In chapter three of St. John, Jesus began his talk with Nicodemus three times
with “Verily, verily, I say unto you…” (John 3:3, 5, 11). I take pleasure
from the manner in which the new international version (NIV) of the Bible
translates it. It reads; “I tell you the truth…” “I tell you the
truth…” “I tell you the truth…” Jesus was speaking. John 3:16-17
speaks of God’s love for man. As a matter of fact, it shows the type of love
that Jesus spoke of when he said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than
this that he lay down his life for his friends.” It would take a father’s
love for me to die for my son or daughter. Notwithstanding, God would lay down
the life of his own Son. It was to be done for a people who would spit on him,
beat him, berate him, and hang him to die. It required not hate but a godly
amount of love. Edwards was failing to proclaim this. God’s message was and is
that of love and life for the spiritually lost. The “fierceness,”
“anger,” or “fury” of God that Edwards ministered is true in relation to
God’s response to sin. This is, however, God’s response to sin and to those
that follow it. There will be Divine judgement. There will be eternal damnation.
More important than this, however, is the fact that there is and will be, the
love of God shows to persons such as Cotton Mather, William Byrd, Jonathan
Edwards, and anyone else willing to accept it. Edwards read all of the New
Testament. Therefore, in doing so, he read the entire third chapter of the
gospel of St. John. It does not appear, comparatively, that he took as much
pleasure in expounding on the hope presented by God than the damnation for the
wicked. To illustrate the message that he wanted presented to the world, Jesus
used an instance that Nicodemus could more easily understand. He referred to the
Old Testament recording in Numbers 21:9 (KJV) of a promise that God gave Moses
for the children of Israel. Serpents victimized the land, and death was imminent
to all bitten. “And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and
it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he behold the
serpent of brass, he lived.” Jesus presented an equivalence of the Father’s
plan for eternal salvation. He said in St. John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” I
fail, in my search of Edwards’ sermon, to find the love of Jesus Christ for
mankind promoted. That love could have been in existence. It could be hiding
beneath the crust of abhorrence that Edwards has for all things not consistent
with the ways of God. In my personal theology, Jonathan Edwards will never truly
exemplify a loving messenger of God. He does not appear to be a man with either
a full understanding of God’s redeeming love or the ability to convey the
simplicity of such love. Works Cited Editors, Perkins. The American Tradition in
Literature: Shorter Edition in One Volume. McGraw-Hill College. Boston. 1999).

Bibliography
Works Cited Editors, Perkins. The American Tradition in Literature: Shorter
Edition in One Volume. McGraw-Hill College. Boston. 1999).
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