Love’s Essential Aspects and Diverse Forms – Thomas Jay Oord

The first plenary session at Biola’s CCT conference this year was given by Thomas Jay Oord. Here is an outline of his talk.

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Thomas Jay Oord

Introduction

  • Personal story: faith – atheism – faith
  • At the core of what makes sense of Christianity is love.

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)

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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