I’m asking this because it seems it would make logical sense that if God is Love then Love is God. And the reason I want to know if this is okay to say is because if we can say that Love is God we can ask an atheist “do you believe in Love?”, and if he says he does we can say, “then you do believe in God because Love is God”. Just a thought. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
God is Love and Love is God mean the same thing. To ask an atheist, “Do you believe in love?” can mean 4 things:
Eros is a carnal and erotic love that most atheists understand the word “love” to mean.
Philia is a brothelyr love that can apply to loving one’s friends platonically.
There is an obscure usage of the word love that signifies the love a teacher has for their student.
Agape is a divine self-sacrificing love, and this is the term to which “God is love” applies.
Therefore, it would be more accurate to ask an atheist if they believe in Agape.
This is something I’ve been thinking about to, not in these exact terms but I’m starting to understand that God is love and not just a legalistic judge. God actually IS love. that’s the crazy thing. so yeah, I think we can say love is God as well. In the sense that it is the proper form of love. I would think most people don’t think of love in the proper sense anymore for this to be a very accurate statement or one that would open people’s eyes. But yes, I think we can safely say that Love is God, it sounds weird at first but look:
1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
John further makes the distinction that love is not that we love God but that he loves us, and warns against confusing the two.
Waayyyy back in the 1960’s there was a slogan that went:
“Make Love Not War”.
A beautiful and very Christian sentiment, but one that became obscured and forever entangled with the wrong understanding of “make love”…
I mention this because, as stated above, the English word “Love” can mean a number of things and it is important that the proper meaning is understood.
So - I would say that it is acceptable to ask the Atheist this question ONCE it is clearly understood by both sides, what we are talking about when we say God is Love.
To this end, I agree using the term “agape” instead of the term “love” is the best way to delineate…
My struggle has always been this: how to reconcile that God is Love with the suffering of innocents. Every answer I’ve ever read - even from the best apologists – leaves me cold. My faith live seems better off when I don’t try to ascribe God any qualities at all.
Yes the matter of “suffering of innocents” is a difficult one.
I have resolved this matter for myself as basically a problem of “world-view”.
Suffering here, especially “suffering of innocents” must be for the building up of the Kingdom. Suffering invites us to recognize how much we rely on God and how little we can do on our own. It is an invitation to grow closer to God.
With this view, the suffering can be seen as comparable to the sore muscles that an athlete gets when he pushes himself further…Yes there is pain…but it is pain that results in greater strength.
Some time ago I saw a T-shirt that said, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”.
A good adage for us in our spiritual lives.
Of course when it is small children who suffer, those too young to recognize their need for God etc…then it is we who become “god” for them while they come to understand…They rely on us, for everything…and most especially for reassurance that their pain and suffering is not without purpose. Amazingly, as we care for them and do all we can - in love - we can find ourselves growing in holiness to an extent we hadn’t considered before…
I know the above is not very clear…It is so hard to explain in human language or in just a few paragraphs. But I think you will find the answers make more sense when viewed more from a mystical perspective than from an “apologetic” perspective.
Read some of the mystics on the subject. The book in my signature is a great introduction to the subject of the Catholic mystic tradition. St Catherine addresses the matter of suffering in her “Dialogues” as well.
Hope the above helps in some small way.
James - thank you for responding, I appreciate it. And thank you for the gentle (and for me much needed) reminder that we are called to comfort those who suffer, to be God’s hands and voice and love in the world.
You are welcome. Glad that my words helped.
I understand all of that. So I’ll rephrase the question to try to eliminate possible confusion about what kind of “love” I’m talking about. Since God is agape love, can we also say that agape love is God?