I didn't grow up in the UK and I didn't grow up a Methodist, so I frequently get told that my experience is due to having grown up in a strict denomination in the United States and that this experience is pretty much unique to me.
Then, as I reread Steve Chalke's The Lost Message of Jesus, he writes (in 2004, so not in The Dark Ages):
...in the popular mind, this is exactly who the God of the Bible is: a sadistic monster, a powerful and spiteful punisher of people who are having a tough enough time on earth as it is...Most people today, if they believe in God at all, think that he is power and that power is all about the domination of others. (p. 47)So what, exactly is the deal? Does 'everyone' believe that God loves them? Are Chalke and I (and Gerard Hughes, for that matter - thinking of his 'Uncle George') all wet? My conversion came when I began to believe that God loves me; is it really the case that few people need to hear this message?