Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Richard Beck has asked a great question about the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve even heard sermons in which the preacher, on the basis of the equation “God is love,” substituted “God” in place of the word “love” in the passage.

But does God really “keep no record of wrongs”?

It seems to me that Christians who believe in eternal punishment have two options: to abandon that belief, or to say that the love that Paul is describing here does not characterize divine love.

"As if your average Internet (militant, I hasten to emphasize) neo-atheist is an actual scholar, ..."

Skeptical of Skeptics’ Skepticism
"So, 2 Corinthians 4:4 suggests Paul thought Satan was influencing people's minds. As I said, ..."

James, Brother of Jesus, Bother of ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I saw you linked my post in your example. I just wanted to say that I get what you’re saying. The more I consider God’s love, the less the concept of hell (as I grew up with it) makes sense. For now, I’m okay with some mystery here, and I may stay that way. But if pressed, I’m more apt to say love and God are bigger than we conceive.

  • Shane Chubbs

    This, I think, gives more evidence for the theory that “hell is locked from the inside”. God (=Love) does not keep a record of wrongs, but we humans do. Those humans that despair would be lost. God (=Love) is also not self-seeking and is patient and is not rude, so He will not force himself on the unwilling. Love is not rape.

    • David Evans

      I think when I had been in the lake of fire for even a few minutes I would welcome a quiet voice saying “Are you sure you want to be here?”. I would not consider it rape by any stretch of the imagination.

      Also, in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25), the goats are surprised at being sent into everlasting punishment. I see no hint that they would lock the doors on the inside.

      • Jakeithus

        If you think about heaven and hell in that way, then it doesn’t make sense to talk about hell being locked from the inside, as I don’t think any rational person will condemn themselves to a lake of fire if they have another alternative that they know about.

        If you view heaven and hell more like they are described in The Great Divorce, then it’s not so outlandish. Personally I can imagine people choosing to “reign in hell” if the alternative appears to demand too much of them.

        • David Evans

          Yes, if there has to be a hell then “The Great Divorce” does a good job of making the doctrine tolerable.

        • But “The Great Divorce” is a view of hell invented in Lewis’s imagination. If one is free to “imagine” a “locked from the inside” hell that makes sense of the notions of eternal punishment and an all-loving God, isn’t it easier to simply jettison the idea of hell altogether.

          • Jakeithus

            Easier in what way? If you’re trying to make a messy idea neater, then yes, simply jettisoning the idea is easier. If you’re trying to accurately make sense of the idea of hell as presented in the scriptures, I don’t think jettisoning the idea is any easier.

            I’m fairly agnostic when it comes to the idea of hell and the destiny of those who die outside of the belief in Christ. Given it’s rather complicated and unclear position in Christian thought, Imagination is all any of us have in a sense.

          • But that’s my point. Lewis’s Great Divorce doesn’t make sense of the idea of hell as presented in the scriptures. It has little to do with hell as presented in the scriptures; it’s an exercise in imagination.

            But you are correct that I am jettisoning the idea; in the same way that most of us have jettisoned most mythologies and superstitions that humans come up with over thousands of years. I jettison hell as I jettison hades, alam ghaib, duzakh, erlik, and mictlan.

  • starrdark

    Take it the rest of the way. ‘Not proud?’ ‘Not boastful?’ What would this do to our concept of a being who demands eternal worship and unquestioning obedience? Or who constantly ‘tests’ our love?

    • Jason

      Jesus was not too proud to become human. Jesus did not boast in his status as the son of God in order to obtain favor. Jesus did not demand that people worship him or obey him without question.

      Jesus = God = Love.

      Finally, I would argue that the only person testing our love of God is our self, not God.