62: Love as a Promise

In this episode John and Gregg discuss Gregg’s view of love and how / to what degree he believes that experiencing God’s love is necessary to embracing Christianity.

Gregg notes that through some of his interaction at Swiss L’Abri he is coming to see several things more clearly.  First, that he needs to do more research on the nature of emotions.  For instance, Gregg finds Margret Nussbaum‘s description helpful.  Nussbaum partially defines emotions as “intelligent responses to the perceptions of value,” such that emotions are “acknowledgements of our neediness and our lack of self-sufficiency.”  Finally then, “emotions are not just the fuel that powers the parts of a reasoning creature, they are parts–highly complex and messy parts–of this creature’s reasoning itself.”

Second, Gregg explains how he has come to see that God’s love may be more than either an experience or and idea: it may also be viewed as a promise.  Specifically, some Christians may establish their belief in God on the basis of truth, though Gregg  notes that “truth” cannot mean anything that one claims it to mean, even (or especially) where truth is used in reference to the Bible (for instance, Kyle Idleman’s presentation of truth in Not a Fan).

Instead, the Bible demonstrates its truth through how accurately it describes human beings and human life and how living in these ways means, on the whole, that life “goes better” with us as a result (i.e., that this truth can be corroborated through experience).  For example, the biblical texts describe the human ability for self-deception, the possibility of both good and evil in human action, and the need for certain virtues (such as forgiveness and mercy) in order for human relationships to flourish.

John wonders: is there a connection between Gregg’s emphasis on love and truth / truth and love with N. T. Wright’s book Simply Jesus, where Wright tries to present both the teachings about Jesus and the accounts of Jesus action–the understanding and the experience of Jesus.  Gregg agrees: he is unwilling to say that everyone who accepts Christianity must do so in the same way / on the same basis as he has.  However, Gregg notes that there may well be certain people, himself among them, for whom something is broken and needs fixing in order for them to have a viable relationship with God!

So Gregg notes that some people may need new / different experiences of God, but that this must always be accompanied by new / truer understandings of the biblical text and, by extension, God.  John both corroborates this and notes that he has been hearing Gregg pushing back against an excessive emphasis on truth, and also hears Gregg as making some “fine tuning” regarding the interplay between love and truth, truth and love.

One thought on “62: Love as a Promise

  1. Joseph Gagliardi

    Is there basis or validity to the supposition that God reveals Himself differently to different audiences at different times?

    Gregg’s perspective resonates with me personally a lot. I have experienced similar things and come with similar baggage I guess, and so God seems to show Himself to me similarly.

    But does “meeting us where we are” sometimes mean He might choose instead to show tough love instead of graceful tenderness, or show Himself as patient rather than proactive to some people in some cases? If He does choose parts of Himself or elements of His character selectively to reveal, how can we reliably vet these revelations as accurate rather than due to subjective interpretation both when they happen to us and when they happen to other people?

    Are there any shortcuts or best practices (open to anybody) to assimilating these potentially different experiences and interpretations of God?

    Reply

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