Where does the concept of “unconditional love toward others” come from?
There are various levels in the expression of love.
Luke 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for
sinners also love those that love them.
At the other extreme we have love for enemies.
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for
nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the
children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the
We have the example of the love God has for the whole world.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
While the universal love of God is seen in the verse above, the granting of eternal life is on the “condition” of belief.
The word “unconditional” may have been originally selected to emphasize the universality of love, however, it also can carry with it a sense of inhibited discernment and a withholding of prudence that may have been originally not intended.
It is possible to misrepresent the character of God by an emphasis one just one attribute. Some preachers emphasize a sort of hellfire and brimstone presentation of God that does not fully present his mercy and love. Others present God as a sort of doddering old grandfather who gushes unrestrained affection.
The phrase has an intrinsic imprecision that allows for an emotional sensation of unrestricted acceptance, indulgence, and tolerance. The use of the phrase “unconditional love” may originate with those who want to present God as one who will not object to sin. It may also originate with those who suggest that Christians also resist objecting to sin.