Category Archives: love

A Question About Christian Theology

Why would God tell us to love our enemies if at least some of our enemies are beyond redemption¹ and God has already decided to destroy at least some of them², so by asking us to love them, God therefore is asking us to do something that would be loftier and nobler than what God is willing to do³

¹ This phrase assumes, for the sake of argument, some are predetermined to be beyond redemption (predetermined in this case because of points made in the following notes). Then again, maybe none of “our enemies,” the ones who ultimately really are enemies, are beyond redemption. Furthermore, it might not be clear right now who “our enemies” really are, which might be one reason to love those who appear to be enemies.

² By choosing to save some and to damn others. This point of view, while very present in Christian theology, is difficult because God cannot choose to save some without choosing to not-save others. When One is an all-powerful being*, not-doing must be just as volitional as doing. When all-powerful, choosing not to embrace one sentient being You have created must be just as volitional as choosing to embrace another sentient being You have created.

*or even all-powerful and outside of being

³ This phrase assumes, for the sake of argument, that God does not love those whom He created yet knows ultimately will be His enemies, and additionally, assumes that God has decided to create some to ultimately become His enemies. In other words, God creates some people He does not love or plans to stop loving. So, by calling humans to love their enemies as themselves, God has asked us to do something noble and good that He neither is willing to do nor desiring to do, which you should admit is kind of strange. Again, choosing not to embrace one sentient being You have created must be just as volitional as choosing to embrace another sentient being You have created. Oddly enough, two verses later, Jesus asks, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” So maybe by asking us to love our enemies, God is asking us to follow His characteristics or part of His nature.

The question seeks a coherent explanation of both the command to love our enemies and the interpretative and systematic traditions which affirm non-universalist positions on predestination and election in which some individuals are intentionally created by God for the purposes of committing sins and thereafter being held accountable for the sins without being given grace and therefore damned. Is there some achievable coherence between God’s decision to create some people to experience His wrath and God’s command to love our enemies?

Two easy ways to recognize social cohesion in church communities

1. A sudden shift in a newcomer’s interaction style (social insight has been conveyed to the newcomer).

2. A change in facial expressions from ministerial spouses (pillow talk about workaday aggravations).

A key to questioning the “fruits of the Spirit” and “spiritual growth” is to notice social consensus maintains a greater value than loving enemies or neighbors.

In other words, human social groups act like human social groups, regardless of the particular shibboleth.

If we are stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, then the accuracy or the particulars of the stories aren’t so important as the social consensus that carries them.

An unconventional observation brings about fear because of both its implications about the nature of the social group and its threat to acceptance by the tribe.

You just love me for my good books! (Do books make a romance?)

Marco Roth, an editor at the magazine n+1, said: “I think sometimes it’s better if books are just books. It’s part of the romantic tragedy of our age that our partners must be seen as compatible on every level.” Besides, he added, “sometimes people can end up liking the same things for vastly different reasons, and they build up these whole private fantasy lives around the meaning of these supposedly shared books, only to discover, too late, that the other person had a different fantasy completely.” After all, a couple may love “The Portrait of a Lady,” but if one half identifies with Gilbert Osmond and the other with Isabel Archer, they may have radically different ideas about the relationship.

-A wise and happy ending note to this otherwise depressing essay in the New York Times Sunday Book Review

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Address of Archbishop Mouneer Anis to the House of Bishops

Regarding the address of Bishop Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church U.S.A in New Orleans:

Could it have been a genuinely compassionate and humble conservatism? Read the whole address here: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/6132/

Or read the two following excerpts:

My friends, you may believe you have discovered a very different truth from that of the majority in the Anglican Communion. It is not just about sexuality, but about your views of Christ, the Gospel, and the authority of the Bible. Please forgive me when I relay that some say you are a different church, others even think that you are a different religion….

My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences.

However, if you appreciate being members of the global Anglican family, then you have to walk along side the members of your family. Those who say it is important to stay together around the table, to listen to each other and to continue our dialogue over the difficult issues that are facing us are wise.

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Maundy Thursday

About today:

“The name Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin mandatum, the root of our English word ‘mandate’ or ‘command.’ It refers to the new commandment to ‘love one another’ (John 13:34) that Jesus gave his disciples, after he had washed their feet on the Thusday of his final week in
Jerusalem.”

– Vicki K. Black, Welcome to the Church Year: An Introduction to the Seasons of the Episcopal Church (Morehouse Publishing, 2004)

Everything explained by love

“There is no room in the conception of a Christian praxis for self-sufficiency. This already implicates us in a different construal of ‘freedom’ than that operating in notions of the liberal secular subject. In fact, what characterizes this Christian agent is the surrender, the sacrifice, noted by Paul, such that he or she is bound by what Augustine called a vinculum caritatis – a bond of love. De Lubac clarifies the operation of this love within the Christian, when he writes: ‘The relationship between man and God can never be conceived as being fundamentally governed by any natural law, or any necessity of any kind interior or exterior. In the gift of himself that God wills to make, everything is explained – in so far as it can be explained – by love, everything, hence including the consequent ‘desire’ in our nature, in whatever way we understand that desire.’”

Graham Ward, in Liturgy, Time, and the Politics of Redemption (2006), edited by Randi Rashkover and C.C. Pecknold

This book is available at http://www.eerdmans.com/shop/product.asp?p_key=9780802830524