C.S. Lewis on loving God through loving people

For our sermon series Love Actually, which we wrapped up this past weekend, we’ve been reading through C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves on the four types of love the Greeks identified: storge (affection), philia (friendship), eros (passion), and agape (charity). One of the anxious questions that comes up around agape is whether loving God amounts to turning away from our earthly loves. When we go to heaven, will we somehow stop caring about the people we cared about in this life because we’re completely focused on God? Lewis has an amazing passage in his agape chapter that I wanted to just read as part of my sermon yesterday until my sermon took a completely different direction. So I thought I would share it below. Continue reading

A new metaphor for thinking about heaven and hell

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I’ve been reading a very stimulating and provocative book by Pauline Biblical scholar Michael Gorman called Inhabiting the Cruciform God. Gorman argues that the central point Paul has to make is that Jesus’ cross reveals the nature of God and that the way we are justified and reconciled to God is by joining Him in His cruciform existence. Gorman claims that to Paul, God is not the triumphalist emperor/military hero that popular American evangelicalism wants Him to be, but rather someone whose nature is to continually empty Himself for the sake of others, the most perfect illustration being the cross itself. This got me thinking about heaven and hell in a very different way that is partly inspired by C.S. Lewis’s Great Divorce but in one way, the opposite of Lewis’s metaphor. Continue reading

Love is not love unless it becomes flesh

One of the things I acquired from growing up in evangelical youth groups and parachurch organizations was expertise on what love is and isn’t. I imagine it was a trickle-down from C.S. Lewis’s famous book on the Four Loves, which is about the four Greek words for love: agape, eros, philos, and storge. The main thing I remember having drilled into me is stuff like this: “The world says love is a feeling — that’s eros, romantic love, but the love in the Bible is agape, which is a choice.” “You don’t have to like everybody, but we’re called to love everybody.” Etc. I recently heard some words in a sermon at the Virginia annual conference from a Cambodian Methodist preacher named Romy del Rosario that defined what love is and isn’t in a very different way that actually contradicts the evangelical youth group definition. Continue reading

Is morality about becoming “fully alive”?

My brother John Meunier recently responded to a blog post from Episcopal priest Martin Elfert in which Father Elfert had contemplated a question from a woman about the morality of living in a polyamorous relationship. As the foundation for his answer, Elfert quoted church father Irenaeus who said, “God’s glory is the human being fully alive,” basically intimating that the moral criterion for evaluating polyamory was to ask whether it makes the people involved “fully alive.” This made me a bit uncomfortable. But read both Elfert’s post and John’s response. What do you think? Is it valid to say that Christian morality is about making us more fully alive? Continue reading