Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 16: No 2) >> Words Upon a Monument: The Liberalism of Simms' Public Theology >> Page 26

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Page 26

Secondary Scholarship | 2008
Transcription "attributes" frequently associated with the being of God together with His
"goodness." These might be "wisdom,""power" and "justice" for example.
But Simms does not suggest that "the goodness of God" be replaced with
anything like His "wisdom,""power," or "justice." Rather he wants
"indulgence,""kindness," or "mercy" to be on the monument. Broadly
speaking, the qualities of "wisdom,""power" and "justice" tend to suggest
God's "righteousness" or "holiness" whereas those along the lines of
"mercy" etc. point to His essence being love. And it is here that we see the
"liberalism" at work in Simms religious thinking. This is made apparent by
comparison to a much more "conservative" theological voice in the form of
W.E. Best who says that "The most tragic theological error of our day is
the belief that love is the chief attribute of God."4 Best explains that an
overemphasis on the "God is love" principle of I John 4:8 and 16 together
with a good dose of "prejudice and Biblical ignorance" has led to the error
of claiming that "love is God." And as a result of this confusion "men have
enthroned a deified love where holiness should reign." But for Best the "God
who is love is maligned...by representing Him as loving without any regard
for righteousness."

The oversimplification of "God is love" has resulted in a dislike
for doctrine in general and for distasteful passages, like "Jacob
have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13), in particular. A
system of doctrine built on the oversimplification of. "God is
love" leads to affinity with modernism and socialism.5

4 Wilburn Elias "W.E." Best (1919-2007) was for fifty years the pastor of
the Kingwood Assembly of Christ in Houston, Texas. His fundamental
principle is to distinguish between what he calls "Man Made Doctrine" and
"Biblical Truth." For example "Man Made Doctrine" says "Faith is counted
as righteousness before God" while "Biblical Truth" says "Faith does not
precede grace; it originates in grace." Honoring the True God
http://www.kaoc.org/truegod.htm. The implication here is that justification is
unachievable not only via "works" but also via "faith" itself. In other words
absolutely nothing that human beings can do can influence the direction of
God's grace including utter confidence in God himself. Such a God is way -
too capricious for the likes of Simms. Indeed, for him God's grace has been
replaced by His "mercy" or "compassion" the warrant for believing in which
is the Reverend Young's life of good works.

5 W.E. Best God is Love.
http://www. webbmt.org/EngHTML2/God%20Is%20Love.htm.