The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Hannah Whitall Smith on the Mother-Heart of God

I am not totally convinced by the theological method here but my heart does warm to this.
My problem is that I think that our understanding of God’s love must be grow from and conform to the revelation of divine love that we see in the story of God’s engagement with creation, with Israel, with Jesus, with the church, etc… It must be an understanding following the contours of the story of the cross and resurrection.

That said, I do think that our reflections cannot even get off the ground without some prior experience of love. I also think that our experience of love will inform our theological reflections as we go. So whilst Hannah’s comments here cannot be all that must be said (and she would be the first to agree) they are nonetheless helpful.

Hannah Whitall Smith was a 19th century Quaker-turned-Wesleyan-holiness-preacher from the USA. She was an influential holiness speaker and writer and was one of the inspirations behind the Keswick convention. The following is from her autobiography:

Only three of Hannah’s seven children lived to adulthood (one went on to marry the philosopher Bertrand Russell)

Ow! Irony… :wink:

Still, it sounds like he couldn’t have married into a better mother-in-law. :smiley:

Having kids has taught me more that I thought possible–more than I can express–about what it means to love. I have held my babies, and thought, “This is every person who ever has lived. They were once a little child just like this.” Every evil man was once a harmless, vulnerable, dependant infant. How is it that he grew into a monster? How much of that was his fault? And does that make him any less precious to his Maker?

When I see my kids being selfish, rude, mean to each other, etc, I am angry with them because I love them. I discipline them because I love them.

I agree with Hannah–how could God create people with a greater capacity for love than He himself has? God must be the perfection of love.


Thanks. As a father and grandfather, you also express my perceptions well!