Saturday 26 May 2018

Christians are Never commanded to love Everybody in the Fourth Gospel

The following are (in order of occurrence) the verses when love is mentioned in the Fourth Gospel (of 'John') - leaving out the times when the author describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.

What can be seen - and what is very striking, I think, is that Jesus does not ever advocate everybody loving everybody else. He is always talking in specific terms, mostly about the love of and for the Father and Jesus himself; or specifically of love for and among the disciples. I have noted this for  each verse in italics

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God's love for the world

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Men's preference for darkness, evil

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
The Father's love of the Son

For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
The Father's love of the Son

But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
Lack of Men's love for God

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Lack of Men's love for Jesus

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
The Father's love of the Son

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
Jesus's love of Lazarus

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
Jesus's love of Martha

Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
Jesus's love of Lazarus

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
Love as a metaphor for 'giving highest priority to'

For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Men's lack of love for God

Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
Jesus's love of his disciples

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Disciples' love of each other

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Disciples' love of Jesus

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Men's love of Son and of Father

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
The Father's love of the disciples

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
The Father's love of the disciples and of Jesus

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Simon Peter's love of Jesus


In conclusion - the Fourth Gospel has plenty about the need for love, the centrality of love - but this is always love in relation to 1. God the Father, 2. Jesus and 3. the disciples as a group, and specific followers of Jesus.

Specific love - that is love concrete, between named persons.

Whereas, in modern Christianity, the love that is talked about most - almost exclusively, ad nauseam - is the abstract love of all Men for each other, indiscriminately.

Love of neighbour is indeed important in some of the other Gospels - as the second 'great' commandment. Much hinges on what is implied by 'neighbour' - from the Fourth Gospel, assuming these are valid; it is likely that neighbour here has some specific meaning... 

But our eye witness source, the author of the Fourth Gospel, the disciple who Jesus especially loved, does not mention this At All; and certainly he did Not make universal, indiscriminate love between people into the single and sufficient definition of being a follower of Jesus - which is the common and false understanding of 'Christianity'.


Avro G said...

In the US since the 2016 election it is common to see signs in front of homes and churches saying "Hate has no home here," leaving implicit, "…unlike the REST of you!". Another message you sometimes see in front of "progressive" type churches and on car bumpers is, "Love Thy Neighbor – No Exceptions." So any position on the lawless mass-colonization of our nation other than one of fawning welcome is unchristian "hate."

"Love" here is defined as antinomian chaos. The words "love" and "hate" have become heavily loaded political weapons used to manipulate all who have not steeled themselves against the satanic mind-games of the left.

Chiu ChunLing said...

The command to love our neighbors is generally connected with the parable of the Good Samaritan, given as an answer to the question, "who is my neighbor".

Jesus tells the story, and asks, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?" The answer is given, "He that shewed mercy on him."

Then said Jesus, "Go, and do thou likewise."

In other words, the second great commandment is to love our neighbor, our neighbor is defined as those who have shown mercy on us. Jesus then adds the injunction for us to be neighbors, and thus eligible to be loved because of the mercy we have shown to others.

This is merely good advice. One might say such of all the commandments, but when someone properly understands what Jesus is saying here, the shrewd practicality of it becomes evident. Elsewhere, Jesus helps clarify what is meant by mercy, and it is something that people want from us enough to show gratitude for it.

In other words, when we go about "showing mercy" to others, we are to pay attention to whether they are sufficiently pleased by what we have done to thank us for it by obeying the commandment to love us. If not, then what we have done to them is not mercy, it was something they did not sincerely desire such that they were willing to be grateful for it. This is also necessary to understand the injunction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you don't take care to assess whether what you are doing is something they want, you will misapply it rather badly.

One only needs to think of men applying this commandment too literally in dealing with women to realize that it is utter nonsense unless we allow that it must be constrained by accepting feedback from others. The application of the second great commandment serves this purpose. If someone doesn't love us as themselves, then they do not consider us their neighbor, who has shown mercy on them, no matter what it is we think we've been doing for them.

Anonymous said...

While the Great Commandment occurs in multiple gospels, to my knowledge the definition (if we can call it that) of "neighbor" occurs only in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke. And it represents a subtle but very important clarification that is necessary to the interpretation of the Great Commandment. Moreover, it is a clarification that pretty much all of mainstream Christianity misses, and which has in and of itself greatly weakened Christianity as it has led the Church's to treat _everyone_ as his neighbor.

In fact, the definition of "neighbor" is not an inclusive one at all; just the opposite, there is a very high bar to be considered a neighbor, and thus to be entitled to the benefit of the Great Commandment.

After recounting the parable, Jesus asks the following question of his interlocutor:

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

"Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”"

Thus, Jesus views the SAMARITAN as the "neighbor", NOT the man whom the Samaritan helps!!

The implication is that our obligations to love others depends on whether such as person is worthy of love, as evidenced by that person's own ethical behavior.*

This is a point that is almost universally misinterpreted by mainstream Christians, and goes a long way towards explaining why church's are so active in assisting refugees etc.

(H/T to Vox Day who, if I remember correctly, first pointed out this crucial interpretive point.)

*There are some further interesting implications from this as to whether salvation comes through faith (Paul) or through works (James), although I tend to view these as inter-related: "By their fruits ye shall know them." I.e. if someone truly has faith, that will be borne out in his (ethical) behavior, or his works.

Anonymous said...

The problem with universal love is that moderns understand love to be an emotion, so their affections - however wide they might try to spread them - are ever unreliable, since our emotions are inherently wildly fluctuating and never fixed.

But take the very first quote:

"For God so loved the world that He ... had good feelings about everyone."

Is that not how it goes?

No, how it goes is that He DID SOMETHING GOOD for them. It turns out that the very people who (A) he did something good for, and (B) know it and claim to be reciprocating, are the very people who most anger and disgust Him. Therefore, plainly, love is not a matter of invariably positive emotions.

No, the love of God is a matter of invariably positive ACTIONS.

cf Matthew 25: 43 to 48.

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for the comments - BTW I wrote about the Good Samaritan a couple of years ago:

Nigel Worthington said...

In Matthew Jesus commands to love your enemies and do unto others. Surely these are inspired notions. Love isn't an emotion in this context.

Anonymous said...

Further, the Gospel commission is go into all the world, to make them disciples, and teach them all things Jesus has commanded us.

Few contemplate that doing this IS doing something good for everyone, i.e. it meets the biblical definition of love. It is not a coincidence that the Christian nations became the wealthiest and most powerful.

And you can still be disgusted, angry, frustrated, saddened, disappointed and generally fed up with some people all the time, all people some of the time, etc.