Apologetics of Love

It is always a fair question to ask: Why Christianity?  Why choose to be a Christian rather than adopt any other worldview?  I can see a number of good reasons but there is one that I would like to focus on here.  When we think of other religions or philosophies, what is their core message?  Understanding that there is only so much that can be said in short statement, I think these summaries are fair:

Hinduism – Making up for bad karma.

Buddhism – Escaping suffering through detachment from desire.

Judaism – Celebrating tradition and the heritage of being the chosen people.

Islam – Submission to God.

Humanism – Escaping superstition and improving humanity through science.

So what is the core message of Christianity?  I would like to share a number of passages on this.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 ESV)

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11 ESV)

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8 ESV)

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–13 ESV)

Love is the core message of Christianity.  It is not a side issue or an option for being a better person.  Christianity is about love.  Now I must make two clarifications.  I am not saying that there are no loving Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims or Humanists.  Nor am I saying that all Christians live a life of love.  What I am saying is that Christianity is the only worldview that has love at its core.

If you hold love to be the most important thing, you cannot afford to ignore Christianity.

9 thoughts on “Apologetics of Love

  1. I love the way Richard Rice put it, “love is not something God happens to do. It is the one divine activity that most fully and vividly describes God’s inner reality. Love, therefore, is the essence of the divine nature. Love is what it means to be God.”

    I would also add what kind of love this is – one that even loves its enemies. This love distinguished itself even more than more familiar notions of love. The standard has been set and we are called to love in this way. As the new CEB translation puts it, “you will be acting the way children of the Most High act.”

  2. I agree with your characterization of Christianity. w.r.t. the other faiths, have you read “God Is Not One” by Stephen Prothero? I think he gives a good overview of other faiths as experienced by followers. His framing of the comparison as problem/solution (e.g. Islam problem = pride / solution = submission) works well for me.

  3. Let us never forget 1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love is an action not necessarily a feeling.

  4. As the bible quotes given above demonstrate, God commands His people to love Him and each other. This is vital. It is our duty. It is the essence of the law.

    But it is not the core of Christianity.

    The core is a bloody sacrifice in which God the Father was pleased to crush His only Son, in order that He might save hell-deserving sinner from their just condemnation.

    “Do” is law and is at the core of every religion besides Christianity. “Done” is gospel and is at the core of Christianity.

  5. I hear you but John 3:16 puts the giving of the Son in the context of love. Jesus also said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)

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