"God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14
I've always loved this passage, because it demonstrates one amazing thing about the universe: There is no frame of reference that can define God.
When we describe things, we do so by placing them in a larger frame of reference, by relating them to something already known. We say, "The sun is a big yellow ball in the sky," because we are speaking to people who already understand what "big," "yellow", "ball," etc. already mean. We describe things in relation to something else.
But that method falls flat when it comes to describing or defining God. Moses asks God who he is, and God replies by merely saying "I am ME." Because there is no "larger frame of reference" that we can use to really define God as he is. There is nothing that God exists under, no larger category of things, that we can use to make sense of him.
And since we know that this God is also the creator of everything, we can arrive at another awesome truth: God Himself is the definition by which everything else is defined.
Of Creation and Humanity
Of course, this extends to humanity itself. We are, at bottom, created beings. And we are defined by our relationship to our Creator. Karl Barth says it in a particularly awesome way:
"The being, life and act of man is always quite simply his history in relation to the being, life and act of his Creator."
Everything about us is defined in relation to our Creator and our God. We cannot be defined apart from him; We do not act apart from him; We do not even exist apart from him. We are not "Creations of God, and etc." Everything that I am, I am in relation to God.
Of Knowledge and Love
This means, of course, that accurate knowledge of humanity must, by necessity, be grounded in accurate knowledge of God. Human existence is derived from God and God only, and any claim to knowledge of humanity without a corresponding knowledge of God will be faulty and incomplete.
And, also by necessity, any attempt to bring about the good of humanity requires a true and accurate knowledge of humanity. Which means that any attempt to bring about the good of humanity, or of any one person in particular, requires a knowledge of God.
Which means that any attempt to simply "love" humans, to do away with "confining, divisive theology" and simply get on with the business of "love", is a non-starter.
To love someone is to desire their good. And this isn't just desiring good feelings, but real, actual, capital "G" GOOD. Loving someone is to desire for them to fulfill their identity, to be who they were created to be, to do what they were created to do.
It has to do with ultimate Good, and that means that it has to do with God. For how can you know what is "Good" for someone until you know what they are, and what they are for? And how can you know what they are until you know who created them, and what they are for until you know what they were created for?
It always comes back to God and our knowledge of him. It always comes back to the dogmatic letters of Paul and his dogged claim to faith and truth, to the hard, unyielding truths that Jesus proclaimed over and over again, though it drove his followers away.
And we would do well to remember that while God is, indeed, Love, that does not mean that everything that we call "love" is God.
James (see below) makes the valid point that non-Christians can (and do) show true, real love every day. And, of course, people attempt to show love every single day (and often succeed).
However: When push comes to shove, we have to affirm that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick." And when we try to love well, to work for the Good of our beloved, the ultimate guide for that has to be our knowledge of God. If we try to work backwards from our own love and our own heart and use that as a portrait for God, we're going to end up with a lie, and a desperately sick one at that. We have to work from our knowledge of God, and use that to effect love.