God is Love

by the Reverend Richard Trudeau

This quotation from the New Testament (1 John 4:16b) has been dear to many sects, but perhaps to none more than the Universalists. Two hundred years ago, considering it to be Biblical proof that their own understanding of God was correct, Universalists adopted it as their principal motto. In their very first declaration of faith (1790) they gave it a prominent place. In their homes, they stitched it into samplers. In their churches, they painted it on pulpits and carved it into chancel tables. They put it on the mastheads of newspapers and the covers of orders of service.

Though Universalists' view of the Bible and even God changed over the years, their conviction that "God is love" remained constant. They reaffirmed this commitment in their last declaration of faith, in 1953. And in the 1970s, they even featured it on the badge reproduced here.

But in a time when so many are unable to share the faith of their ancestors, when God is less real than God seems to have been in the past, when for many the word "God" itself is no more than a question mark, a name for life's mystery -- in such a time one can't help but wonder: can this vestige of an earlier age still be of use?

We say that it can. "God is love" is advice for the journey. It shines light on our choice of religious paths. This venerable motto says to each of us: the experience of love can be relied on as a sign that you are headed in a right direction. It says: if the religious path you are following fosters loving relationships, then your path is a right one. [Reprinted with permission from the New Massachusetts Universalist Convention Newsletter, Number 8, Spring 2001, http://home.att.net/~nmuc]

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