Theology of love

Research question 1. Theology of love in creation and salvation

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(a) Christianity. What is the theological difference between the Johannine affirmation that ‘God is love’ and the attribution of love as one quality of God’s nature?
Is it possible to maintain immutability and impassibility in a God who engages in reciprocal relations of love with created beings?
How can the theological affirmation that God creates out of love enable us to understand the forces and pressures of love in the whole cosmos as well as in human life?
What contribution might scientific studies of the pervasiveness of altruism throughout the biological cosmos make to this question?
What are the implications of the incarnation for the embodiment of love?
How can engaging in relations of love be understood as opening up possibilities for the future according to Christian eschatology?

(b) Islam. How do the Qur’an, the Hadith and the commentary tradition (tafsir) relate the love of God for the world and the love of the whole universe for God?
How might these religious insights be consistent with modern cosmology?
According to these basic sources is the ‘compassion’ of God (as in ‘Allah the Compassionate’ Al Rahman) and ‘mercy’ (the ‘merciful one’ Al-Rahim) the same as ‘love’ [hubb]?
What might be added to the insights in the Sufi tradition represented by Khadje Abdullah Ansari’s Stages of Passengers (Manazil Al-Sairin)?
Is there any difference here between Sunni and Shiite interpretations of the names of God?

(c) Judaism. How much is the Jewish idea of God’s love limited to divine beneficent action in historical events rather than an account of the divine being?
Does this lead to a praxis of love consisting only in willed lovingkindness (hesed)?
What are the implications for the unity between God and humanity of the doctrine that love between man and woman is contained in the divine Shekinah? (see Akiva ben Joseph’s sayings in the Midrash and Mishnah Halkah).
How do Jewish approaches to theodicy incorporate love (e.g. in the optimism of Akiva about the world)?

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