The evangelical world is plagued by love-o-mania. If you want to be a bit fancier you could say, Agapo-mania. The majority of people who believe in God today believe that He is a loving being. It is an undeniable fact that if you ask anyone on the street if God is loving, statistics show that the average American believes that God is love. Of course, at the point you ask them what that love entails or means, their answers will vary from some form of erotic notion of love to some naturalistic view of love, like environmentalists who love saving the whales and the wild life. Certainly, our problem today is different from the problem Christians had 200 years ago. Back then, our brothers and sisters were not bombarded with sensual/romance paperback novels or the brackish Bradd Pitt/Angelina Jolie story. What we have done is take the absurd and make it the norm. When a divorce takes place, we say: That relationship was doomed from the start, instead of reasoning from a Biblical perspective, which means that God’s covenantal commitment to marriage has been violated and God is angry. In other words, we focus on the relational dilemma, instead of the Creator’s fury.
The church has taken a flawed, perverted, sinful human relation and made a sinful application to God himself. So that, God’s love is like the Richard Gere who falls in love with Julia Roberts the prostitute in Pretty Woman; ((Certainly some may argue that this is a legitimate parallel since the church is also seen as whore; nevertheless, we may be reminded that there was nothing attractive in the church that led God to love her. Rather the opposite is contrary according to Deuteronomy 7:7)) it is like Romeo and Juliet who out of love for one another killed themselves. The problem is that these people who believe that there is a loving God believe it–not because of Biblical revelation–but because of a distorted perception of what love is.
So, we are forced to undo the non-sense evangelicals utter in the name of Christian religion. The reason self-help books are so popular, the reason Joel Osteen is so popular, the reason romance paperbacks are so popular, the reason TBN is so popular, is because the human heart is prone to wonder away from Biblical revelation and resort to all sorts of circumstances to relate to God’s love. Why can I say with certainty that in the home of the majority of modern evangelicals I am not going to find a copy of Christian Charity by Jonathan Edwards; or why am I certain that if I asked an evangelical what Biblical book reflects the love of God, his first ten top answers would not include Hosea? I am certain of these answers not because I have a better grasp of the Hebrew or Greek understanding of “love” but because I am aware of the culture around me and I am aware of the neglect of true Biblical preaching from our pulpits today.
Dr. D.A. Carson summarizes it best when he writes:
The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The Love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized. ((D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, Crossway Books, 2000, pg. 11))