Monday, October 8, 2007

The Role of Love in Debate

Eph. 4.14-16

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Here in Ephesians, Paul pronounces the eschatological destiny of the church: to grow up.

What is notable is that the growth occurs by means of speaking the truth in love and working to build itself up in love.

Here, "in love" is adverbial; it is the manner in which we speak and work. Love is the motive that supplies the context for our speech and actions, and only that motive will suffice to cause growth (cf. 1 Cor 13).

Love is the frame in which our truth rests. Without that frame, our "truths" are not Truly True.

It's that simple: speak the truth *outside* of a motive to love, and you've failed to tell the whole truth.

And so we have

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (4.25-27)

and again,

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (4.29, and 30-31 prob. relevant as well)

At some point in the future, I'd like to explore here the connections between speech and love in the context of theological debate. I need to explore, for the sake of my soul, the ways in which I fail to frame my "truths" in love -- and hence fail to tell True Truth.

At issue are passages like 1 Cor 13 and 14, James 3, and the odd connection of phrase between James 5.19-20 ("whoever turns a sinner from his ways ... will cover over a multitude of sins") and 1 Peter 4.8 ("Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.") Perhaps other passages will surface also.

JRC