I have long made it a habit to listen to both Greg Boyd and John Piper’s sermons each week. I like to be pushed from both sides, and keep myself balanced theologically. (Well, my theological convictions lean heavily toward one side, but want to keep wrestling with the opposing views.)
Every once and a while they’re preaching on the same topic, and coming to completely different conclusions. Both deeply rooted in the Bible, and passionately and confidently exegeting the text for their hearers. And then my head is left spinning. I suffer from episodes of theological schizophrenia.
Both have been addressing God’s love for us in the past couple weeks. If you want to know what I mean, go check out the past couple weeks of sermons and get your head spinning, too.
The question I’m most often left with is: Is it an either-or? Is one of them right and the other mistaken? Must we choose one or the other? Or, perhaps, is it the case that both are emphasizing two different sides of the same coin? Are they both emphasizing different aspects of God’s nature over others that are equally true (e.g., God’s wrath vs. God’s love)?
Updated 4/29: For example, here is my paraphrase of two seemingly very different views of God’s love from their most recent sermons:
PIPER: “There are four ways God loves you. By “you” I don’t mean everybody. God doesn’t love everybody in the same way. The kinds of love that are described here are for those who have been [chosen by God from eternity past]… I’m sure not everyone in this room are in that category.” [By implication, God does not share the same love towards those He has not chosen for salvation.]
BOYD: God is madly in love with all people, and pursues all like a husband trying to woo his bride into a relationship of covenant love. In Christ, God was showing the extent of his love by dying to rescue us from the destructive power of sin and win us back to himself. But individuals are free to resist his love and choose a life apart from his saving grace, and therefore suffer the eternal consequences of that choice.
Are these two different views of God’s love? Two sides of same coin? Or, are we dealing with two different gods?
What do you think?