Thursday, August 25, 2011

LOVE, THE HIGHEST PRIORITY... june 8, 2011..note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward.  Your headline is 'more on  love/doctrine.'  Is there an article or essay being referred to here that I have missed?
The message concerning Jesus and his saving accomplishments is gospel (the good news of what God has done for sinners), not doctrine (how redeemed sinners are to live in response to what God has done). Boyd and the Bible, which he cited, speak of doctrine and not gospel. This is not a clear statement for me.  Not sure what its emphasis is? Whatever the meaning it reeks with  reasoned intellect and what I think of as doctrinal tone.  If doctrine if taken as  'sound teaching' then it serves a very important and essential function for religion. If it refers to systematic intellectual formulas(which I think is  how most of us think of it) that become common convention it has little to offer modern people and certainly cannot contend for 'highest priority' of  one's faith experience  
Eros and Psyche

Yet for love to be recognized as the central message and 'good news' of God, I'm convinced,  it must solicit and reek of  Eros. Christianity, shortly after Jesus died, began to separate itself from Eros fearing its element of 'strong desire' was somehow inherently evil and nonspiritual. What a tragic loss that has been for Western Civilization. All the other loves, including Agape and Phileo to a lesser extent, are intellectual phenomena  and can be experienced without the accompanying Eros.  But Eros is the part of love that is 'living' , 'life and  perception altering' and 'desiring'  to genuinely engage another: mentally, emotionally and yes, as appropriate, bodily. 

The love of parent say for a long separated  child  is naturally erotic in the way I've described above, unless that love has been repressed which is  sadly often the case. But I think many parents actually experience a 'living', 'life and perception altering' love that longs(desires) to engage that child at a mental, emotional and bodily (touch and embrace) way.  This is living(not a head activity but one of the heart)  Eros not in anyway  directed at any sexual union but surely at a heart union. All of this is also what is involved in a fully loving  and mutual human sexual encounter. See  the Song Of Solomon  in the Bible for a vivid description.  So vivid many avoid its intended effect and implications for the Spiritual life. Though Eros  is not  necessarily  sexually directed it is always coming from the same place that sexual desire comes from so brings with it the emotion, joy, anticipation and desire that we associate with sexually directed love. In that sense it always has a sexual quality to it.

 Love without Eros is love without significant Joy, positive emotion and without  any strong desire.*   And  'love without Erotic joy' may be 'good news' somehow intellectually but it can't transcend to a matter of the heart  which it must if it is to be the 'priority', if it is truly to be 'the greatest of these'  Paul sings of  and the central experience of religious life.   Love that includes Eros does not need or seek to control others in their thinking or their behavior. That is simply  not its interest. One of its desires is to 'know' the other not as a matter of curiosity but as a matter of  valuing the other person. Interestingly  'to know' is  one of the old English translations  for sexual love in the Old Testament. If one will read the Song of Songs(Song of Solomon) near the center of the Bible as poetry and let it be sensed and felt  viscerally s/he may get in touch with their own broad Eros and get a 'feel' for how Eros, even if not sexually directed, is experienced by the human and involves some measure of ecstasy. 

Unfortunately orthodox Christian teaching has usually  advised that  Christians beware of  Eros and certainly not take the  Erotic Biblical material seriously.  Song Of Solomon  is surely at the heart of the  Bible for a good reason and  I think it helps fill in the reason  why  'love is always the highest priority.'  The very best , I've found,  and exceedingly excellent commentary  on  Song of Songs and  Eros in the Bible is  The Erotic Word by  Seminary professor  David E. Carr. I can highly  recommend  it  for those interested in Love. Eros must be present in all Human/Sacred love that is approaching fully developed love. Then it can be said, 'Love of everything and love of the world' can be realized and experienced by us humans as that which is 'the highest priority .... more than any of our inherited orthodox doctrines, more than intellect and reasoned knowledge and surely more than any love without Eros.' 

On Wed, 08 Jun 2011 03:59:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge


MOUNT ARARAT? -- What's the latest on Mt. Ararat, identified in English Bibles as the site of landing of Noah's Ark after the Flood? In his blog titled "Down from Ararat" (June 6, 2011), biblical scholar Ben Witherington III offers well-founded thoughts based on data from Genesis, non-Israelite ancient neareastern literature, history, geography and archaeology. One teaser: "Ararat" is actually the name of a range of mountains, not a single identifiable peak. For more, click here.

MORE ON LOVE/DOCTRINE -- I recently quoted Greg Boyd who said: "Whatever else might be said, I honestly don't believe we'll even begin to move in the right direction until we resolve that loving one another (and everyone else) is a higher priority than proving, protecting and enforcing the rightness of our doctrines."
Alongside anticipated kudos and affirmations in response, good friend and gracEmail subscriber Robert Dozier demurred, inquiring why the person and work of Jesus, for example, does not outrank our loving each other. It is a good question to which there is a good answer: the message concerning Jesus and his saving accomplishments is gospel (the good news of what God has done for sinners), not doctrine (how redeemed sinners are to live in response to what God has done). Boyd and the Bible, which he cited, speak of doctrine and not gospel.

TFTC READY ON KINDLE -- The new third edition of THE FIRE THAT CONSUMES (3rd ed.) is ready to order from .

UPCOMING SCHEDULE -- God willing, I will meet the following schedule during the next 90 days.

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