Tuesday, May 11, 2010

God is Love; Not so Allah

Someone recently asked me a question via e-mail and I thought I would include it here along with my brief response (of course names and other sensitive material have been edited out):

Greetings my brother in Christ,

I am working on [something]. [It] consists of a handful of articles that I have written critiquing world religions. One of them of course being Islam. Mike Robinson told me a little bit about you so I would like your input on a question that I am asking a few apologists.

Men like Francis Schaeffer and John Frame as well as some historic greek philosophers, have made a similar argument that God cannot be personal or love if he is a unitarian type god etc. For these two things require multi-persons.

I am kinda surveying a couple of Christian apologist to see how they feel about this argument. At one time I believed that [the] majority of Christian apologist would agree to this statement, but after a few recent conversations I am not to sure how many Christians believe this argument. The response argument being that God can have self love for himself etc. What do you think?


Greetings _______,

For my part, a unitarian god looks like little more than an abstraction, so it is very difficult to conceive of such a being loving "himself" much less others. But if we grant the personality of such a god for the sake of argument, and therefore the possibility that he could "love" himself, then we must ask if loving oneself is really what we mean by love. Usually a person who is defined by self-love is not really thought of as loving in the true sense of the term. Certainly this is not the Biblical definition of love, where love is seen in giving itself away to others and for the sake of others. In fact the word used for love in 1 Corinthians 13 in the King James Bible communicates the point quite well: charity.

4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Would we consider a person charitable if he gives things to himself?

"That Ebenezer Scrooge, what a guy! he just took a million dollars out of his account and stored it in his personal vault at home. Have you ever seen anything so charitable as that in your life? Oh, if the world were only filled with more people who were so charitable as that."

I don't think so.

Likewise, to say that the monad of post-Christian apostate Judaism or the new-fangled "god" of Islam are love because the "god" of either loves himself is to use the word "love" in an equivocal sense, i.e. not in the sense we mean when we say that God is love and when we say that love requires a God who is multi-personal.

I hope that helps. If you have any follow up question, by all means feel free to write back.

Semper Paratus,


Sam Shamoun has written an article related to the above that is well worth reading: The Triune God - The Greatest Conceivable Being that Exists.