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I have question about God's love:

When, in the Catholic Church, we say "God loves everyone equally", is it same as "God likes each of us to the same extent, and He loves us equally by His action"? or does it mean "God does not like each of us to the same extent, but He loves us equally by His action"?

Someone told me that God's love (or agape love) is an "act of will", which is not dependent on emotion of affection or fondness (or is different than affection or fondness); but I am having a hard time separating agape love from what we would call affection or fondness - and here is my logic: if agape love is an "act of will", that means it is a loving action that is driven by desire. But if we are to truly desire the good of someone, we must have affection or fondness towards that someone. If I force myself to conduct a good deed for someone who I dislike, I am not really desiring the good of the person, as my good deed is being carried out forcefully, not from the bottom of my heart. So we cannot really separate God's love from the affection or fondness that He has for us - thus "God loves everyone equally" means "God likes each of us to the same extent, and He loves us equally also by His action".

But I guess if the definition of agape as an "act of will" is to be interpreted as "loving action driven by determination" rather than "loving action driven by desire", then agape is indeed independent of emotions like affection or fondness. Going back to our previous example, if I force myself to conduct a good deed for someone whom I dislike, that means I am "determined" to do good things for him, regardless of my emotion. Is this what God's love is about? Liking some more than the others (more affection towards some of us than the others), but determined to carry out the same loving deeds to all of us? But I have always thought that God likes all of us very much to the same extent, although he does dislike our sins. It would be pretty depressing to think of the possibility that God not liking me at all, but Him carrying out all His loving actions towards me purely out of His "determination".

So again, I am back to my question: According to Catholicism, when we say "God loves everyone equally", is it same as "God likes each of us to the same extent, and He loves us equally by His action"? or does it mean "God does not like each of us to the same extent, but He loves us equally by His action"?

PS: Some may object that God does not have affection or fondness because he is impassible; but there is also a view that God is impassible but also impassioned. However, that is a whole different discussion.

  • Related: Biblical basis for God's egalitarian love – 3961 Dec 12 '15 at 5:55
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    Possible duplicate of Biblical basis for God's egalitarian love – Jim G. Dec 12 '15 at 13:28
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    I don't see this as a duplicate of the linked question, since it appears to be asking for the Roman Catholic understanding. – Nathaniel Dec 12 '15 at 13:58
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    Hello, I took a look at the previous post that you mentioned, but I don't see it being equivalent to what I am asking because none of the answers seem to depict that "God likes everyone equally". They all assert that "God loves everyone equally", but what I am asking here is essentially whether "God loves everyone equally" means "God likes everyone equally" – hyunjinc Dec 12 '15 at 15:02
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    @FMS Search Twitter for (no quotes) "#SummaHaiku Q20". – Matt Gutting Dec 19 '15 at 21:19
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St. Thomas Aquinas answers this question in his Summa Theologica I q. 20 a. 3 ("Whether God loves all things equally?") c., making a twofold distinction:

Since to love a thing is to will it good, in a twofold way anything may be loved more, or less.

  1. In one way on the part of the act of the will itself, which is more or less intense. In this way God does not love some things more than others, because He loves all things by an act of the will that is one, simple, and always the same.

  2. In another way on the part of the good itself that a person wills for the beloved. In this way we are said to love that one more than another, for whom we will a greater good, though our will is not more intense. In this way we must needs say that God loves some things more than others. For since God's love is the cause of goodness in things, as has been said (Article [2]), no one thing would be better than another, if God did not will greater good for one than for another.

  • In other words God does not love everyone equally. He wishes a greater good for some than for others. The idea that God loves all equally is not a Catholic dogma so much as a democratic egalitarian dogma! – zippy2006 Mar 19 '17 at 21:06
  • @zippy2006 God loves some more than others because he gives some greater gifts/goods than others, but He loves all equally because His Son redeemed all of humanity equally. – Geremia Mar 19 '17 at 23:42
  • Do you have any source for your idea that he loves all equally? I don't think you will find Catholic sources inferring a kind of egalitarian love from the redemption. In any case, the graces by which we are redeemed are not equal, and our place in heaven will not be equal. Christ atones for the sins of all, but this does not mean God loves everyone equally. – zippy2006 Mar 19 '17 at 23:50
  • @zippy2006 I simply summarized what I quoted in my answer: "In one way on the part of the act of the will itself, which is more or less intense. In this way God does not love some things more than others, because He loves all things by an act of the will that is one, simple, and always the same." – Geremia Mar 20 '17 at 14:06
  • But that says nothing at all about your claim, "...because His Son redeemed all of humanity equally." St. Thomas says that the intensity of God's will does not change with respect to different people, but the good that he wills them differs. So God wills more or less good to certain people while maintaining the same intensity of will. For example, why did God give Mary more grace? Because he loved her more, says St. Thomas. – zippy2006 Mar 20 '17 at 18:51

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