72: Too Much Love and Mumbo Jumbo

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a post, “Are we supposed to balance love and truth?” on Gregory Boyd’s blog.

John is surprised to learn that Gregg has hesitations about the article’s view. Gregg explains that while evangelicals tend to fix truth over love, this article fixes love over truth. Yet in his view both alternatives are problematic: love and truth instead appear to be co-central and in tension with each other, but not fixed in a hierarchy.

For Gregg the lack of biblical references is worrying; for John the references used become far less straightforward when seen in their larger contexts (within the chapters they are situated in). Gregg also finds the terminology to be vague and confusing: what is “the command to love”? In other words, to help readers understand as best as possible why not cite the passages (Matt 19, Mk 10, Lk 10)?

John finds several parts of the article to be unnecessarily confusing: too much mumbo-jumbo. For instance, the author writes: “Any attempt to qualify God’s love with another attribute—God’s wrath, for example—amounts to a fundamental denial of the centrality of the revelation of God in Christ.” From Gregg’s perspective, in these instances the author is not making his point but is simply restating the point (and his view of what constitutes orthodoxy).

Instead, Gregg emphasizes the need to specify the “greatest commandments” as loving God entirely, loving oneself rightly, and loving one’s neighbour likewise. Further, would we not want (and even need) to have these commandments be valid and valuable—in other words, to be true! If these commands are not true then they have no value. So Gregg specifies what he considers to be the essential relationship between love and truth. First, in order for truth to be more than mathematically or trivially true it must be oriented toward my being and my existence. In other words, truth must be oriented toward human flourishing—truth fosters love. Second, for love to have any real significance it must truly be love, and in order to be more than infatuation it must include true knowledge of the beloved. So truth as ‘humanly-oriented truth’ is embedded in love.

For Gregg truth is not only adherence to reality (which is the typical view) but is also openness to possibility. In this latter sense, to a certain degree we access the ‘truth value’ of certain truth claims by using our imagination! This does not mean that we “imagine” things into existence but that we allow for more (such allowing for the possibility that God loves me even when those close to me, because of who I am and how I live, are unable to love me).

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