Thursday, 23 August 2007

Overstating Love

As part of a course we’re doing here at Moore, Peter and I have been reading through a series of classic works on the atonement. This past week was the other great John (Calvin, not Owen), and his three chapters on Christ’s work in book two of the Institutes. One thing which struck me again as I read it was his comment that God ‘loved us even when he hated us’. His grace precedes his wrath. His love for us - his love for me - triumphed over all.

Some time ago we were looking at T. F. Torrance’s The Christian Doctrine of God, in which he says (more than once!): ‘He [God] loved us more than he loved himself.’ The problem I had at that time with what Torrance says is that he seemed to overstate it. How can the perfect God who is complete in himself and needs nothing love externally more than he loves internally? To say that is surely to go too far? Torrance overstates God’s love, doesn’t he?

But that is exactly the point. How can you overstate love that overcomes, that overrules, that overwhelms that which is loved? How can you overstate love that meant that the one who loves, who is love, gives of himself for the unlovely – indeed he becomes unlovely for the unlovely. How can you overstate love that is unoverstatable?

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

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