When considering the nature of God’s love, one must conclude that it cannot be both unconditional and conditional. These two words are mutually exclusive in the same way as perfect/imperfect, on/off, alive/dead, black/white, absent/present, war/peace, hot/cold, etc., are mutually exclusive.
We might modify these words to adjust, or even completely change, their meaning. In fact, it is possible to so alter their meaning as to give the exact opposite of their true meaning. Nearly perfect is imperfect. Moderately extreme isn’t extreme. And just exactly what is extremely moderate? And while things may be somewhat tense in a cold war, at least it isn’t a hot one, right? There is no such thing as a loyal traitor.
So what happens when we modify the word love with the adjective unconditional? Many people will attempt to derive their own meaning of what the term unconditional love means as a way to establish their position. This only confuses the issue further. There can be no safety or security in making unconditional love mean anything other than a love that has zero conditions. In fact, the only thing absolute about unconditional love is that there can and will never be any conditions of any kind–positive or negative–on the part of one who gives love unconditionally.
Since proponents of God’s unconditional love claim that God loves us no matter what we’ve done in the past, present, or will do in the future, we can only conclude it possible to have power over God in that we get to dictate the terms/conditions for our own behavior. God, then, has no input on how we are to live. Obedience is discarded as a necessity for the continuance of love. Loyalty to God will have no standard by which this virtue may be tested. In fact, all tests would become moot since the success or failure rates cannot be determined without conditions.
However, a conditional love can test for success or failure. Obedience may be proven possible. Loyalty may be proven certain. But how are we to determine what are the actual conditions that are established by God? How would these conditions be demonstrated so that distinctions might be made between selfishness and unselfishness? Again, how would these conditions reveal the differences between righteousness and unrighteousness? If merit were to enter the equation, then whose merit must be relied upon? And would there be a distinction between a salvific merit and one that is necessary but not of the salvific nature?
Remember, if God’s love is unconditional, then there is no need for salvation, pardon, forgiveness, or a second probationary period for testing. Merit, accountability, responsibility, no longer become matters of concern. No one can become undeserving of anything. Nothing can be counted as lost, guilty, criminal, or treacherous. Having friends become enemies would be an impossibility without conditions being present to determine the point of transition.
So then, what do these conditions of God’s love look like?