Eros is an exasperatingly paradoxical kind of love. It is most fulfilled by being perpetually unfulfilled. It is a thirst that wants to stay thirsty. It is also a passion that is beyond our direct rational control, which is what gives it such a dangerous power to destroy the relationships to which we have committed ourselves. At the same time, eros perfectly channeled is nothing less than worshiping God with all of our hearts. It can be directed entirely to God like King David’s eros is in Psalm 42 or it can be directed to God by way of our longing for the intimate depth of another human person who radiates the image of God. What has killed eros in our time is the commodification of sexuality. To see others as “meat” to be consumed sexually is the opposite of true eros. Hear more from my September 22nd sermon:
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 →
You can’t say the N word anymore. You get sued if you racially discriminate in your hiring process. White kids grow up listening to rap music and (if they’re not too “Christian”) going to public school with the black kids. We have a black president. How dare you say that racism still exists in America? Right? White people are very defensive and paranoid about racism, which has come to mean little more than saying “politically incorrect” things when you’re drunk or otherwise off-guard and getting Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to bring their beloved TV cameras to your front door. This trivialization of racism as having to do with little more than “speaking correctly” is one of the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream has been deferred. But the main underlying problem is that the backlash against the civil rights movement that began in the early seventies has created a radically individualist moral vision in which Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself is basically meaningless.
Well I got into a twitter argument with a young Calvinist named John following his response to some of my retweets of Jonathan Martin’s sermon “Playing God” this past Sunday. It was one of those petty affairs where I was nitpicking his “objections,” which I could have at least partly agreed with if I were listening charitably, because of my need to hear him concede a point to me without qualification. He said something that I trashed at the time which I wanted to consider more thoughtfully now: “If your doctrine is sound, you will love deeply.” So interrogating this statement is the focus of my second riff on morality, truth, Biblical interpretation, etc, in light of Genesis 3’s provocative claim that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is paradoxically the poisonous foundation for human sin. Continue reading →
This past weekend, I got to hear my favorite podcast preacher Jonathan Martin live for the first time at Renovatus Church, preaching a sermon about the Garden of Eden titled “Playing God.” He made a number of provocative claims, one of which was basically to say that morality is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Continue reading →
The latest movement in neo-patriarchal evangelicaldom is a call for women to return to covering their heads in worship per the instructions of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. The movement’s website features a quote from neo-Calvinist scholar R.C. Sproul: “The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church…?” Do you think Sproul is right? If not, what would you say to Sproul and on what authority would you justify your response? Continue reading →
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 →
There’s a voice of love in the world that is always telling each of us who we really are and drawing us into the embrace of our Creator. The problem is that we are caught up in a swarm of other voices who tell us lies which distract us and keep us from hearing the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 7 pm, something beautiful is going to start at Burke United Methodist Church: a series of conversations called “The voice you long to hear,” led by our brand-new Barnabas ministry of spiritual companionship. The hope is to discover together how to listen to God and thus gain a much richer and deeper taste of the eternal life that He is constantly offering to us. Continue reading →
I overslept this morning and I need to get out to my lake to walk and pray so today I’m just going to share some quotes from Thomas Merton without my own commentary. I am drawing again from his book No Man is An Island. By the way, apologies for the non-gender inclusive language. I guess because Merton was surrounded by men all the time in a monastery, he can’t imagine ever writing the word “she” in a book. It’s annoying.Continue reading →
A friend of mine who recently had a major shift in his theology wrote the following comment on his Facebook page in response to the Boston Marathon tragedy:
Tragedies like the one in Boston seem to divide people into two camps. One clings to the “natural goodness” in humanity and swoons over the stories of heroism and chivalry while the other sees this as further evidence that our hearts are desperately wicked and in need of a Redeemer. I was once a believer in the first camp but no longer. I know the evil I am capable of all too well. I never stopped to consider that if humanity is so good, what need is there of a Savior? Boasting in our random acts of human kindness has a tendency of blinding us to our real need for Christ. God resists the proud, but gives grace and mercy to the humble.
I’m not going to use my friend’s name because I love him and this is not about shaming him, but this kind of commentary happens often enough that we need to ask whether it’s appropriate to speak this way about other peoples’ tragedies. Continue reading →