Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Yes, unconditional, but…

Compare again human parents and children. Parents can love unconditionally, never withdrawing their final and ongoing commitment to their children. But especially in relation to younger children, parents do know what is best mediately and in the long term, and not just immediately. Thus loving parents, not least unconditionally loving parents, do harbor moral expectations and make stipulations—and yes, on occasion, even commands—to their children. At their best and in all circumstances, what such parents hope for is the eventual and enduring flourishing, if not the immediate appeasement, of their children.

Similarly, God’s covenant love is unconditional. But it aims to sustain a substantial and long-term relationship, so it includes what might be considered “conditional” elements. As Levenson says, “It is unconditional in that the love comes into, and remains, in force even when nothing has been done to deserve it. . . . But the relationship is also conditional in that it involves expectations and stipulations, and suffers and turns sour if they are not met.” (Levinson, Love of God, 62)— Naming Neoliberalism: Exposing the Spirit of Our Age, 100

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