Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

The Pope and I

I’m not saying Benedict XVI has read Jesus Creed, but his first encyclical is a very nice and clear presentation of a theological and biblical understanding of love and he gets it going with Jesus’ modification of the Shema. (HT: Timothy Morizot).

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Scott L

posted January 28, 2006 at 8:56 am

I thought so too, Scot. It is an excellent way to start off his papacy.

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Scott M

posted January 28, 2006 at 11:16 am

You’re keeping pretty lofty company these days, Scot. 😉
The most likely explanation, I suppose, is that great minds think alike and the Spirit sees a real need to illuminate this point today.
In the first part, he tied body and soul together, eros and agape, as necessary for us in a way for which I can see I was striving, but had not yet been able to do. I find it hard to distill isolated bits, but this thought was compelling.

“In philosophical and theological debate, these distinctionshave often been radicalized to the point of establishing a clear antithesis between them: descending, oblative love ?agape? would be typically Christian, while on the other hand ascending, possessive or covetous love ?eros? would be typical of non-Christian, and particularly Greek culture. Were this antithesis to be taken to extremes, the essence of Christianity would be detached from the vital relations fundamental to human existence, and would become a world apart, admirable perhaps, but decisively cut off from the complex fabric of human life.”

It struck me as I read the above that it seems a large part of the American evangelical subculture has done exactly what he warns about above. I certainly see signs approaching that extreme at times in the church around me. In the second section, where he warns about about sacrificing the sacred nature of deeds of Christian mercy on the plate of justice, I saw there were other segments of American evangelicalism that had taken that path instead.
Then I found his summary beautiful and caught hints of the themes you developed in Embracing Grace as well.

“Fundamentally, ?love? is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly. Yet when the two dimensions are totally cut off from one another, the result is a caricature or at least an impoverished form of love. And we have also seen, synthetically, that biblical faith does not set up a parallel universe, or one opposed to that primordial human phenomenon which is love, but rather accepts the whole man; it intervenes in his search for love in order to purify it and to reveal new dimensions of it. This newness of biblical faith is shown chiefly in two elements which deserve to be highlighted: the image of God and the image of man.”

And in part, I begin to see how a person could, at least for a time, truly be consumed with a love of God, yet appear so unloving to people around them. That had always been a mystery to me. However, I’m not sure we can sustain an authentic love for God without consuming love for those he also loves.
I’ll stop, though there is statement after statement in this encyclical brimming with beauty and convicting power. The second section is on the work of the church in charity. Its concluding paragraphs, building on all he had said before, floored me.

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Stan Friedman

posted January 29, 2006 at 2:31 am

He must have got the copy I sent him. :-)

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