Peter Kreeft answers the question: What is love?

August 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

From Envoy Magazine:

No subject is more important, in any day. And no subject is more misunderstood, in our day.

Most mature people, if asked to choose just one word for the meaning of life, Life’s greatest value, the most important gift one can give or receive, the thing that makes us the happiest, the thing that makes one a saint, the supreme wisdom, and even the eternal inner life of God, would say that it is “love.” And they are right.

Without qualification, without any ifs, ands, or buts, God’s Word tells us, straight as a left jab, that “love is the greatest thing there is” (1 Cor 13: 13).

Scripture also tells us that “God IS love.” It never says God is justice or beauty or righteousness, though He is just and beautiful and righteous. But “God is love,” (1 John 1:8), not just loving or a lover, though He is that too. (That’s why He is a Trinity: He is Lover, Beloved, and Loving, complete love in three Persons. Love is God’s essence, His whole being. Everything in Him is love.)

Even His justice is love. Paul identifies “the justice of God” in Romans 1: 17 with the most apparently unjust event in all history: deicide, or the murder of God, the crucifixion; for that was God’s great act of love. On our part, that was the most unjust, evil, and hateful thing we ever did; but on God’s part, that was His perfect justice, because it was perfect love, and so good that we call the holiday on which we celebrate this murderous deed “Good Friday.”

But no word is more misunderstood in our society than the word love. One of the most useful books we can read is C. S. Lewis’s unpretentious little masterpiece The Four Loves. In it, Lewis clearly distinguishes supernatural love, agape (ah-gah-pay), the kind of love Christ is and lived and taught, from the natural loves: storge (natural affection or liking), eros (natural sexual desire), and philia (natural human friendship). All natural loves are good; but supernatural love, the love that God is, agape, is the greatest thing in the world. And part of the Gospel, the “good news,” is that it is available to us; that Christ is the plug that connects us to the infinite supply of divine love-electricity. . . . (continue reading)

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4 Responses to “Peter Kreeft answers the question: What is love?”
  1. FORMER Fetus says:

    WHO is the fantastic illustrator of this article?

  2. Ismael says:

    Indeed too many people today… perhaps MOST people do not know what love is… Kreeft is right on the money (he usually is :P).

    Indeed too many confuse love with ‘kindness’ or the mere emotion of being ‘in love’ (which is part of the love called ‘eros’).

    Indeed there is somewhat of an extremism when it comes to kindness, because most people think that loving others means being kind and ‘nice’.

    However sometimes you canNOT be nice. If you know an alcoholic, you canNOT be nice and ‘let him drink’, but you must be tough and help him to stop drinking, if you truly love him.

    Sure kindness is important, when appropriate, but so is justice and doing the right thing for the benefit of others.

    Also parents often confuse ‘being nice’ with love… and forget to discipline their kids… and kids often grow up with no good sense o right and wrong (there is indeed a spike in youth crime and youth misbehavior). BTW I am *not* saying here to ‘go back to the switch’ or that corporal punishment is the right thing… but discipline in some form or another and in the right dose (you cannot suffocate kids with rules either) is utterly necessary.

    On atheism (since Kreeft mentions that it misunderstands love): the more I learn the more I realize that atheism is a series of misunderstandings… these misunderstandings are like the mutations that lead up to cancer… and atheis is a form of cancer, a cultural cancer. Mind you I am not saying atheists themselves are evil or stupid, but they just often criticize religion and spirituality without having any clue of what they are talking about… and that is WHY it’s usually the ignorant about their own faith who turn to atheism (but not always it’s their fault but the fault of those who did not catechized them properly!)

  3. mary d says:

    I think the greatest tragedy today is that most people confuse love and lust.

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