-Geoff-
> 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".

Agreed. I'm quite sure you'll find the term absent from scripture. 
However, as you note, other (and recent or current) leaders have used 
the very term. Yet Elder Nelson says it's false.

How to rectify the two? Well, we could try some sort of "seniority" 
argument, but I personally think that's baloney. Here's my 
rectification, fwiw: The term "unconditional love" is well-known and 
evokes a certain emotional reaction. People have a sort of gut-level 
understanding of that feeling. I believe Elder Maxwell and the others 
who used the term "unconditional love" were probably attempting to rouse 
that "gut-level reaction", rather than making a philosophical commentary 
on the nature of divine love. On the other hand, Elder Nelson was very 
specifically making exactly such a philosophical commentary.

For that reason, my resolution is to accept the words of Elder Maxwell 
and others in the spirit in which I believe they were intended, similar 
in meaning to what Elder Nelson calls "divine love", while accepting 
Elder Nelson's clear teachings at absolute face value.

> Here is the real kicker - does God still love Lucifer? What about
> the Sons of Perdition?

Not sure why this is such an issue for many people, though I know it is. 
I don't pretend to speak for God or how he feels about this or that 
topic; nevertheless, according to any meaningful scriptural definition 
of "love", it seems clear to me that God does not and in fact cannot 
love Satan. God is merciful, of course, and since he embodies mercy, he 
will show to Satan and his followers as much mercy as he can, which 
basically means confining them to a kingdom of no glory. But "love" in 
any true, saving, exalting sense of the word cannot be a trait that 
Satan evokes in any heart. Revulsion, abhorrence, perhaps pity, even 
mercy, but not love.


> 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 assume the two are intimately related, though I don't pretend to 
understand the connection exactly.

Interesting discussion.

Stephen

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