The first plenary session at Biola’s CCT conference this year was given by Thomas Jay Oord. Here is an outline of his talk.
- Personal story: faith – atheism – faith
- At the core of what makes sense of Christianity is love.
- Should we even attempt to define love? So many answers/possibilities
- Can we define love?
- Irving Singer’s series: The Nature of Love
- Answer: Language analysis presupposes too many things
- Answer: In Scripture, there are many normative claims about love, we should have some idea of what love means.
- Love is?
- Desire? Feeling? Choice? Relationships? Well-being? Somehow connected to God?
- Definition: To Love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic/empathetic response to others (including God), to promote overall well being.
Love is to act intentionally
- Try to do harm but end up doing well, not love… (not accidental)
- Motives matter
- Freedom involved
- Seen and unseen actions
In sympathetic/empathetic response to others (including God)
- Relationality matters
- Emotional response involved
- Requires divine action (inspired to love unconsciously, prevenient grace)
To promote overall well-being
- Common good, not utilitarian
- Affirms self-love
- Includes (distributive) justice
Forms of Love
- Agape: form of love that promotes overall well being when responding to activity that generates ill-being. (In spite of love)
- Eros: ……. When appreciating or seeking to enhance beauty or value. (Because of love)
- Philia: ….. by seeking to develop cooperation, friendship, solidarity (Alongside of love)
- Sometimes one of these three predominates….
- Other forms
- Compassion (doesn’t necessitate love)
- Romance (doesn’t necessitate love)
- Forgiveness (doesn’t necessitate love)
- Self sacrifice (doesn’t necessitate love)
- Special obligations (doesn’t necessitate love)