Stephen,
 
I guess in order to clear up the semantics issue, we would need to turn
to the scriptures and words of the prophets and determine how / when
they use the term "unconditional love". I had always thought that the
term meant we were to love and forgive our fellowmen, no matter what
they have done, because they are children of our Heavenly Father - and
thus, our brothers and sisters. Does this mean that God (or we, for that
matter) condones what they wicked do? No, of course not. Yet doesn't He
still love them, despite the bad that they have done? Where are the
conditions that limit God's love?
 
Here is the real kicker - does God still love Lucifer? What about the
Sons of Perdition?
 
The other question is this: Does divine love encompass the command to
forgive all men? Are we to love those who hurt, abuse, and murder us
with divine love or unconditional love?
 
I guess what we need are definitions of each term.
 
When I searched through GospeLink 2001 for the words "unconditional
love", and these are the times they were used by General Authorities:
 
"Express unconditional love to one another through word and act." - A.
Theodore Tuttle, 1979 address
 
"There he found acceptance and affection and unconditional love." -
Elder Marion D. Hanks, Conference Report, October 1970
 
"First Questioner: Is it possible to become too subtle with something
as simple as the gospel?
 
"The Disciple: Indeed it is, and we must ever be aware that this
possibility exists. I don't think of the gospel as subtle, however; I
think of it as deep and simple. For instance, some might say that what
follows is a subtlety: God can love the sinner and hate the sin. When
our desires and our actions go against his plans for us, he must be
against us and what we are then doing. But that really means that God is
always for us. He never regards man with contempt, but regards many of
the things we do as contemptible. In the very moment in which Jesus sent
Judas away to do his awful deed, He still loved Judas; His disciple whom
He had taught unconditional love, who could not love Jesus, nevertheless
could not move outside the range of Jesus' love even in betrayal. Some
truths take a good deal of pondering, but not because they are complex.
Because they are so powerful and cut so deeply, we must truly feel their
edge—and more than fleetingly." - Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Desposition of
a Disciple
 
"His duties have long been galactic, yet He noticed the widow casting
in her mite. I am stunned at His perfect, unconditional love of all.
Indeed, "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me." I thank Him
for His discerning way of loving us without controlling us, for never
letting the needs of now crowd out the considerations of eternity." -
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Even As I Am
 
"This leads us to the process of making covenants and participating in
ordinances, which are sources of power as we realize the importance of
the Lord's will in our lives and have faith in it. Such faith turns us
toward the Savior, his life, and his unconditional love for us. As these
truths sink into our hearts, we hear him requiring the sacrifice of a
broken heart and contrite spirit. We must give up the ways of the world
and accept and do his way." - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Finding Peace in
Our Lives
 
"Because of his rebellion, Lucifer was cast out and became Satan, the
devil, "the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead
them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto [his]
voice." (Moses 4:4.) And so this personage who was an angel of God and
in authority, even in the presence of God, was removed from the presence
of God and his Son. (See D&C 76:25.) This caused great sadness in the
heavens, "for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the
morning." (D&C 76:26.) Does this not place some responsibility on the
followers of Christ to show concern for loved ones who have lost their
way and "are shut out from the presence of God"? (Moses 6:49.) I know of
no better way to do this than to show unconditional love and to help
lost souls seek another path." - James E. Faust, Reach Up For The Light
 
Sorry for the long post. Since I have not read Elder Nelson's talk, I
do not know if he refutes the concept "unconditional love" or not. If he
doesn't, I guess I am not able to state that this concept is
meaningless. I can easily see, however, the difference between divine
love and unconditional love.
 
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
 
Your brother,
Geoff


>>> [EMAIL PROTECTED] 01/24/03 02:29PM >>>
-Geoff-
> Great post! According to the prophets, then it appears that there
> are actually two types of love:
> 1. Divine love
> 2. Unconditional love
> They are not one and the same. However, it is true that our
> Heavenly Father has and exercises both, and that we are
> commanded to do likewise. Would you agree?

Not quite, I don't think. While it is true that "God is love", it is
not 
true that "Love is God". That is, "love" is not an overriding or 
ultimate principle wherein everything and everyone is loved. I believe

that "unconditional love" is nothing more than a linguistic construct.
I 
think it's false as a concept, nonexistent, nonsensical, without 
meaning, just like "sinful God" or "miserable exaltation" are 
nonsensical and meaningless. All love, even God's love, is conditioned

or predicated upon the laws set forth (by God) that govern it. Parents

may think the love for their child is boundless and unconditional; but

let that child turn against the parents and everything they have stood

for and tried to build, and actively seek their destruction, the 
destruction of their other children, and the desecration of all that
the 
parents consider holy, and the parents, while mourning their child's 
loss and hoping for his return, are likely to find that their love is 
conditional after all.

In this vein, I don't think we're commanded to exercise "unconditional

love", which wouldn't even make any sense anyway if that term is an 
oxymoron. I think we're commanded to love as God loves, but as Elder 
Nelson pointed out, divine love is not "unconditional". We are
commanded 
to forgive all men, and to show forth the love of Christ; but I don't 
think this means any sort of "unconditional love". Admittedly, like all

philosophical discussions, this becomes a matter of defition and 
semantics.

Stephen

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