Thursday 3 February 2022

Don't even try to 'love everybody': Christian love in this mortal life is (meant to be) Much more specific and personal than usually supposed

One of the ways in which Christianity has been effectively sabotaged through the centuries, is by the false teaching that a Christian ought to love everybody, universally - an idea especially harmful when the injunction is to love everybody equally!

Nowadays this may be phrased in terms of an ideal of undiscriminating, non-judgmental, or unconditional love. 

And what eventuates from such an ideal is - and can only be - an abstract and diffuse simulacrum of love

Such love sounds more like a force-field than real love! 

And it is not surprising that such an ideal of love causes its adherents to gravitate towards deistic pantheism rather than a personal god, and the ideal of purging-away both the ego-self and the body, and of Men living eternally as a depersonalized spirits blissfully immersed in abstract deity.

(Spirits that are everywhere all the time, without any progression of time; and through-which abstract love can 'radiate' equally and unimpeded.)

This rather than the Christian understanding of God as person, and the Christian hope that mortal incarnation will be followed by resurrection of the body.   

Yet the eye-witness depiction we have from his disciple in the Fourth Gospel makes clear that Jesus himself loved personally and specifically.

Most modern people's idea of 'a truly loving Christian' is a kind of benign sage; serene, impartially kind and always generous in discernment; undiscriminating, non-judgmental, and unconditionally loving everybody, everywhere - with a love that shines-out upon the world like an x-ray beacon!

Whereas, real Christian love is partial, specific, discriminating: and can only be for a few people - or perhaps (at the extreme) even for just one person. 

So long as Christian can really love one person; he knows what love is, is capable of it; and can choose to live by love as his ideal - which is what is necessary for salvation. 

Meanwhile the sage who abstractly 'loves' everybody but specifically nobody - will want neither a personal God, nor will he desire to follow the specific person of Jesus to Heaven, nor would he commit to live in a Heaven which is based-upon the familial - hence personal - love of God for His children. 


William Wildblood said...

Christians are told to love their neighbours not everybody or humanity, neither of which is possible unless with a fake love which is not love but a generalised "benignity'. Also, there is the disciple whom Jesus loved usually thought to be John. How could that be? Surely Jesus loves everyone equally? No, apparently not. Even the Buddha who might be thought of as the chief exemplar of universal compassion had his favourite disciple, Ananda.

Doktor Jeep said...

Indeed the perversion of the concept of love in Christianity I file under "Everything is a lie. Everything".
Usually the people pushing this love everybody stuff are the same people who think it's going to win them a rapture so they can be wiped of all memory and being and mindlessly worship in heaven forever.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - And 'neighbours' has likewise been falsified.

@DJ - From your recent comments, you seem much more 'together' and hopeful than used to be the case.

whitney said...

Christian love also means reproving people in sin. It can be harsh and unpleasant but it's what you do for people you love for the salvation of their eternal soul. Modern people have a hard time with this because because they see no difference in love your neighbor and be nice to your neighbor

Todd said...

Another great one.
It's beyond obvious that the more "liberal" the denomination or congregation or even individual, the more the focus becomes "love everyone equally." Oddly, the same people/groups also tend to hate those who deviate from the narrative more vividly. E.g., my now infamous Buddhist friend who suddenly goes into paroxysms of hate towards Trumpers or Mennonites or whatever. Very odd. But it now makes more sense. The abstract generalized "love" really doesn't prevent one from personalized hate. And it's not personalized love, either.

Why would God give us incredibly capacities to love our children, or a good friend, or spouse, if it wasn't meant to be a primary model and learning experience for eternity?
Dr. Charlton, is hate a "bad" thing that should be avoided by a Christian/Romantic Christian? I'm thinking that anger is justified often, but that we shouldn't nurture hatred, which seems corrosive. I'll search your blog for the term hate/hatred. Interesting.
I'm finding that I can stand up to evil or bad things (e.g. masking children) now, without really "hating" the other side. I see them as misguided or even as pursuing evil, but I don't have to have that sinking feeling of hatred. Well, I lapse of course.

ben said...

Accepting this imperative to love everybody (pretending to love everybody) seems really to have to do with the disprivileging of those one truly loves and the privileging of those one doesn't.

Accepting all artistic taste is really non-art or deliberately bad art = good. Real art = bad.

Accepting all religions or no religion is really Christianity = bad. Atheism and other religions (the worse the better) = good.

It seems like when people try to ignore their adaptive, moral instincts they actually invert and develop a kind of superficial interest in bad things. All the while thinking they're neutral. e.g. Mr Neutral says "Everyone has different artistic taste". Then why are the galleries full of specifically trash? It seems like Sorathic rejection of Good for the sake of rejecting Good. The idea of neutrality is just a cover.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Todd - Is hate a bad thing? Probably neither good nor bad, because just an emotion. It therefore depends on other factors - what is hated, why, what you desire to do about it.

@Ben - Good observations.

Erika said...

Didn’t you point out that you need TWO for there to be love, if it is only ONE then it is narcissistic?
If there is only one deity manifesting through all of creation,
what kind of deity devours it’s beloved or children so that there is nothing but itself left?
Zeus anybody?

Isn’t this a type of spiritual Darwinism ?
Where you sell your soul for what glitters but is not gold?

WE already have physical Darwinism (especially in the markets)turning the image of God into the image of the Beast.
Now they want to do it on a spiritual level?
Just my take on it.

I can now understand why the PTB are pushing a type of “oneness” Advaita, pantheistic or whatever you want to cal it, spirituality...and there are only two ways you can go by in the long run..
And isn’t it just a coincidence that most of the world’s mystical religions seem to fall into the deity devouring creation models?
(like the Sufi Fana, or Nirvana , etc)

Thank you Dr. Charlton for helping me to understand that.

Bruce Charlton said...

"Didn’t you point out that you need TWO for there to be love, if it is only ONE then it is narcissistic?" - I meant real love, but of one person - as when a man might love his mother - and she loved him, but nobody else. Love of one person is enough for salvation.

On the other hand, a man incapable of love, or who choses never to love any single person; is incapable/ has rejected salvation.

One is enough - but there must be at least one.