Essay / Theology

Love Reigns IN God, Not OVER Him

 I’ve been meaning to write something about this, but every time I read this paragraph, I just want to keep quoting it rather than saying anything about it. So here, in his own words, is W. B. Pope on God’s love and the atonement:

There is prevalent among professedly orthodox theologians a tendency to ascribe to the Eternal God a certain all-commanding attribute of LOVE which is so described as to undermine the foundations of the doctrine of the Atonement. It is possible so to exaggerate the Divine compassion as to make it inconsistent with the most obvious facts of experience. The mind may be so possessed by a morbid sentiment of the necessary supremacy of the tenderness of God as to be incapable of steadily contemplating his holy wrath against sin. To such a feeling the whole of Scripture must appear to be written in a language of the most violent and incongruous symbols. It is the purest homage to love, the bond of perfectness in God as well as man, to correct that one-sided view. If it is the royal attribute –which, however, the Scripture does not say– it reigns IN God but not OVER Him. Of the Divine Being it is also said: Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne (Ps. 89:14).

Taken from the final page of William Burt Pope’s treatise on the atonement, in the second volume of his 3-volume Compendium of Christian Theology, published in 1881.

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