Posted by: rogermitchell | March 23, 2010

more on what unconditional love looks like

Stephen Rusk’s comment on the previous post is important. I think a lot of people assume that God’s love is unconditional without realising that if it is, then it raises huge questions about much of the traditional theology which we have taken for granted. Just this morning I was looking at the website of the Forgiven Summit, an important and exciting initiative of first nation Christians in Canada culminating on June 11th-12th this year ( in response to the public repentance of the Canadian prime minister. It is something in which I may well be involved. Describing the nature of the initiative they state “Forgiveness is not a typical item on a political or legislative agenda – it is spiritual.   Just as wrongdoing can and does affect the future of individuals, families, communities, and even nations, so can right-doing.  Expressing sincere forgiveness founded on the unconditional love of our Father and Creator is the key to unlock greater doors to healing, and a strong and prosperous future that is right for all people of Canada; it will be another momentous timely progressive step and the means to break the yoke of a negative past. Forgiveness will bring freedom from spiritual poverty to our people and nation. Forgiveness will bring renewed hope and life to our common desire for an improved vision of a shared future in our nation. ” This quote from what is an excellent initiative illustrates the importance of the implications of God’s unconditional love. But it also illustrates the ease in which we appeal to it. I know from my own experience that some of the Christians involved will hold theological positions that are incompatible with the unconditionality of God’s love,  and the expected results portray some of the theological contradictions inherent in so much of our thinking. There is something I am uncomfortable with in the statement “a strong and prosperous future that is right for all people of Canada” as a consequence of unconditional love that is displayed on the cross as the loss and pain of the powerful for the healing and blessing of the poor, the sinful and enemies.  It’s not just about exchange of forgiveness for repentance with blessing following as Stephen rightly says but something bigger still. In point of fact it has been the overwhelming grace and unconditional love of many indigenous people despite the ongoing racist and colonising attitudes of the Europeans and their descendants before hardly any of them had ever contemplated saying sorry that has melted hearts, changed attitudes and brought about the repentance. It is to be hoped that the result of taking hold of and passing on the unconditional love of God will result in something way beyond a strong and prosperous future for the people of Canada. Something more like the perpetuation of the genuinely and ongoingly humble, lamb-like intercessory servant role of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Canada may never be strong and powerful politically and I rather hope they are not. But they can be a truly Aslan-like people and I pray they will be.  If the prophetic perspective that sees this as a resurrection season is right, and I think it is, then the question of what a resurrection of the people of God and their work in the world looks like is a crucial one. To be continued …



  1. Roger:

    I have struggled with some of the Watchman theology over the years. But I thrilled at this move by the First Nations. On the whole I find Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, repellent but he did offer an apology to the First Nations, and that be the only reason (from a Kingdom point of view) that he is in office. I think this move by the First Nations will have huge ramifications. But I’m with you – on the results. Why do we look for the health/wealth thing when we claim to follow a saviour who died on the cross? Paul claimed that Jesus’ sufferings were filled up in him and that he shared in them and he appeared to delight in that and find it right. Its funny that we move past that so quickly, so often. I guess we still struggle with what Bonhoeffer rightly understood as ‘cheap grace’. c.

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