From this answer:

Secondly, men do not hate God because of the world he created, they hate God because he is good and they are not. However consciously or unconsciously, they hate him because he is altogether different than they are. They do not understand him and if they did they would not like what they found. The Bible teaches that men love darkness because their deeds are dark and that God is light. (John 3:16-20) Men will naturally hate that which brings judgement to their deeds.

So people are created sinners and they naturally hate God, right? They could try to love God under the influence of teaching but it's just forced change of their nature through mind (so to speak) and when they experience lots of suffering, it is going to break them at some point and they will realize that they don't really feel the love. Unless of course God has blessed them to love him, in which case they will feel the unconditional love for God. But they have no influence here.

Those who (through God's intervention in giving them a new heart) chose to hate sin and love God on earth ...

So ultimately only a divine intervention can make a person love God?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Nathaniel, Mr. Bultitude, Lee Woofenden, Dan, curiousdannii Apr 27 '16 at 7:18

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • So long as we can desire any good for ourselves or others at all, then God is reaching out to us. Evil is not 'creation' it is the degration of 'goods'. It is absence. So long as we (as we often do) question goodness, rage at it and seek lesser goods...we are turning from God, the being who IS joy. – Sehnsucht Aug 14 '13 at 16:15

Here is how I would explain the viewpoint behind the comments you quote in your question. I do hold a belief about the nature of people that says that since the fall they are inherently bad, totally corrupt. This doesn't mean they were created that way, just that the corruption that we inherit from the first Adam is so complete that we can do nothing truly good or right on our own volition. This is commonly known as the doctrine of Total Depravity. You might check the entry on Theopedia, and articles such as this or this for an overview of how this doctrine is derived from Scripture.

Rather than defend that doctrine here, I simply want to point out that your question hinges on it. You ask:

So ultimately only a divine intervention can make a person love God?

To answer this, one possible way of defining what it looks like for a human to love God would be this way:

John 14:15
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Yet if we apply this simple test to humanity and ask, "Do they keep his commandments?" we are left with the bleak conclusion that there are indeed none who keep God's commandments as God intended.

Romans 3:12
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Of course that isn't the end of the story. Again your question posed whether only a divine intervention can make a person love God. Christianity's answer to that is yes, and that divine intervention has taken place. That divine intervention is very poetically prophesied about in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 11:19-20
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

This is grace. Unmerited favor: a divine intervention to transform undeserving fallen humans into creatures capable of loving that which they once hated.

There are of course Christian traditions that do not hold this view. Perhaps most notably, Catholicism has a different take on the issue. While they agree that man in his fallen state is incapable of doing any works that could affect his salvation apart from the Grace of Jesus, they disagree on how total the fallen state is concluding that the heart of men is not really dead to God, only wounded. While they understand salvation to be affected by God, they think man is capable of acting as an initiator in this process. Likewise several Protestant traditions hold that man in his fallen state is still capable of making some good choices.

In doing so, Reformed Theology would argue, they replace some aspect of grace with some aspect of works. If men can and do in their natural state "choose" to love God and that makes them eligible for salvation, salvation ceases to be purely a grace bestowed by God and his sovereign will in the matter becomes eclipsed by ours to whatever measure men are thought to be capable of deserving anything.

  • While [Catholics] understand salvation to be affected by God, they think man is capable of acting as an initiator in this process. -- I know this is a common view of Catholic doctrine but I am wondering if you have a specific source for it. The concept of "prevenient grace" goes back to St. Augustine and AFAIK is a more-or-less settled (though rarely discussed) point of Catholic theology. The most vivid example of it in the everyday life of most Catholics is infant baptism. – Ben Dunlap Dec 21 '11 at 18:13
  • In "you will keep my commandments" is it generally interpreted to be 100% of the time or 51% of the time? – user1694 Aug 15 '12 at 10:00
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    @Matthew7.7: Vicariously through Christ's obedience? 100%. As played out through our bodies of flesh being infused with hearts controlled by the Spirit? An unknown, possibly small, but growing percentage. – Caleb Aug 15 '12 at 10:09
  • @Caleb: sorry, my question is not clear. Generally, is "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." interpreted to mean "to demonstrate your love for me, you must keep my commandments 100% of the time?" or "to demonstrate your love for me, you must keep my commandments 51% of the time?" – user1694 Aug 15 '12 at 10:23
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    @Caleb: IMO, it realtes to this question because you're citing that verse as the definition of "Loving God"; and depending on whether it's 100% or 1%, the answer will also change depending on whether "total depravity" means "every action is sin" or "some actions are sin" – user1694 Aug 15 '12 at 10:38

No, I don't think so.

1 John 4:19 (NIV1984)

We love because he first loved us.

This implies that all our love, toward God or anyone, only exists because His love comes directly to us or filters through other people to us. Extensive info at this commentary.

Regarding what I think I read from the rest of your question, God chooses to love the whole world, not just a select few:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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    Your emphasis on loving the whole world is tricky... By which I mean: big chunks of the OT are all about preferring some peoples, and ordering the destruction of others. And since God doesn't change, etc... – Marc Gravell Dec 26 '11 at 0:14
  • @MarcGravell: great point and a very interesting topic. I think that would make a great new question... :) – Wikis Dec 26 '11 at 9:40
  • feel free to ask it; not sure I'd phrase it correctly... – Marc Gravell Dec 26 '11 at 21:20
  • While 1 John 4:19 is a good one to quote, you did change the tense of the verb. John says "he first loved us" (aorist past tense) which would be a specific event in the past. It implies to me Jesus's life, death and resurrection. Even still though, you could say that God was still the initiator here. – Seth Jeffery May 26 '15 at 10:21

I say yes to this question. God gave his only begotten son and that is all that really needs to be said. What other way can he show his love. He shows me his love everyday he is a constant fountain of goodness. We tend to let this material world stop us from seeing God's love. When you start to think about all you have to be grateful for it isn't long before you see how much God loves you. God gives us free will and it is your choice whether you love God or not. I choose to love my father and when I started doing that my life changed. Faith is what is not seen.

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