God’s Holy, Perfect Compassion

Luke makes it even clearer that Jesus defines God’s holy “perfection,” not as vindictive anger towards sinners, but as compassionate love toward all people: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:35-36). God’s perfection is not in tension with God’s compassion. According to Jesus, God’s perfection is defined precisely by God’s compassion. We must be careful to not import our own ideas of what divine perfection must be into the biblical text, as has so often it has been done. It is hard to take Jesus seriously and still come away with the assumption that God’s holy perfection requires the infinite punishment of sinners, especially when Jesus defines this perfection in the completely opposite direction. Those from the traditional view have quite a task before them in explaining how God can be said to be “kind to the wicked,” as Jesus affirms, and yet still inflict maximal suffering and torment on them.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 19

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 6, 2018]

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