More on Christian Love
One of the reasons I started this blog two-and-a-half years ago was so I could collect all of the cool things I have found on the internet in one central and easily searched place. I have been reminded of that again this week when I found a new article on the topic of “agape” love (I use “agape” love and “Christian” love interchangeably) which is a topic that I am very interested in. So, in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I decided to share it with all of you.
I have written at least two posts on the topic of Christian love (please see my posts “Christian Love” and “Love, Hate, and the Law of Volitional Responsibility”) in which I tried to flesh out what characteristics Christian love has. This is no easy feat! This new article, at least it’s new to me, “The Word ‘Love’ in John 13:34-35” by Carl R. Denti makes some statements about Christian love, what it is, what it isn’t, and how it relates to God the Holy Spirit that I hadn’t thought about before.
There are two ideas that Pastor Denti forwards in this article that I want to point out. First, agape love is a choice. If it isn’t a choice on our part then why are we commanded to do it? Second, agape love is a supernatural love that can only come into being via the ministry of the Holy Spirit. For those who believe in a kind of fatalistic monergism this idea of our free will cooperating with the Holy Spirit will seem a bit uncomfortable and possibly even blasphemous. Everyone else will recognize it as a fantastic opportunity given us by God the Holy Spirit so we can have a dynamic spiritual life.
Here are a couple of quotes from Pastor Denti’s paper:
The loose, careless use of the English word love today renders it almost useless in trying to convey the real sense of the words agapao and agape as they are used in the New Testament. Modern Christianity has made the word “love” small. “Love” has been reduced to nothing more than a trite maudlin, syrupy, sentimental, gooey, drippy, mushy feeling.
The kind of love that is conveyed by the Greek words agapao and agape as they are used in the New Testament goes far beyond the realm of warm fuzzy emotional feelings. Agape love involves the working of the mind, the will, the intellect and the emotions.
Agape love is divine love. It can only be wrought by God the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is a supernatural mental attitude dynamic produced by God the Holy Spirit.
The attitude dynamic produced by God the Holy Spirit that is called love is one that stirs desire within the mind and the emotions of the believer. The word love agapao is frequently associated with the thought of one desiring or wanting something.
The supernatural mental attitude dynamic of intense desire wrought by God the Holy Spirit actively works upon the mind, stirs the emotions and appeals to the volition. The idea that love is volitional, that it is a matter of choice, is foreign to our 21st century culture. However, the volitional aspect of agape love is clearly communicated by God in the scriptures. One of the ways the Bible teaches that love is volitional is by commanding people to love.
The Word ‘Love’ in John 13:34-35
by Carl R. Denti
How often have any of you seen Christian Love presented in such an active way? Please go and read the entire article!
When I read an article like this one that really grabs my attention I will start to interpret other articles in light of it. One example of that is “Pragmatic Christians or Occupy Life” by Jeff Weddle which I read shortly after reading Pastor Denti’s article. Notice how Pastor Weddle in his post emphasizes the pragmatic (or active) life that we have been commanded by the Lord to have. This is very consistent with the active love that Pastor Denti emphasizes. There is a lot of food for thought here.