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Introduction to Book 1: The Royal Law


Where does love come from? Did love evolve naturally as a part of human history, or does love have its origin from some outside source? Is love simply a part of human nature, part of our survival instinct, or is the source of love beyond human nature? Is love a result of natural selection, or is love a transcendent ideal to which human nature must always aspire? Is love a part of our “collective unconscious” as Carl Jung would say, or is love simply the product of complex chemical reactions only now being explored? Is love a product of genetic programming, or is love something beyond the capacity of discovery by human genome scientists?

Of course, to answer these questions, one must identify what exactly love is. So, how is love defined? Is love an absolute behavior with an infinite variety of expressions, or does love consist of a variety of human expressions each unique and requiring identification? Why are there varieties of love? Is one kind of love better than another kind? Does love mandate an adjective to be effectively communicated, such as romantic love or brotherly love or a mother’s love? If there are varieties of love, how many varieties are there? What does it mean to love as opposed merely to like? When is love terribly selfish or legitimately selfish? Is there such a thing as pure love, or is love just a transient feeling or altruistic behavior?

If love requires definition, who should define it, or who best defines it? Is love real and tangible, or is love an intangible, abstract concept? Is love merely a convenient descriptor used to acknowledge the good part of interpersonal relations, or is it an ideal that many acknowledge but few experience?

Is love just an emotion or feeling that will eventually be relegated to the laboratories of human physiology? Can love be broken down scientifically into its chemical and physiological components, or is love beyond the realm of science to observe or explain? If love is an observable behavior, what is the motive? How is that behavior explained in terms of survival of the fittest? How does survival of the fittest explain the action of the stronger soldier falling on the grenade to protect his weaker comrade? Is love a behavior that can be learned? If so, who or what would be the teacher?

In the animal kingdom, a mother bear is a dangerous animal if her cubs are threatened. Baby penguins are the recipients of grueling sacrifices on the part of both parents. The lioness vigilantly protects her male cubs even from her mate. Where did these behaviors come from? Are they simply the result of the instinct to survive?

For humans, the expressions of love are countless: a mother’s love, brotherly love, romantic love, platonic love, love of God and country, even sacrificial love witnessed in parenting or in time of war. Humanity indeed expresses a broad spectrum of love extending all the way from God-given instincts to great personal sacrifice.

On a more controversial level, does a pedophile practice love? Can a serial killer love? When a terrorist drives an airliner loaded with passengers into a skyscraper shouting “God is great!” is his ultimate sacrifice an act of love? When a suicide bomber explodes her device in a crowded market place to make a statement for her oppressed people, is she demonstrating love?

Or, from a Christian perspective, does love for correct doctrine justify token recognition for the poor? Is a pro-life Christian a better representative of love than a pro-choice Christian? Does passion for the evangelical mandate excuse evangelicals from having just as great a passion for third-world poverty, or the AIDS epidemic, or illiteracy, or Christians undergoing persecution? Does the evangelical community teach how to love one another as much as it teaches theologies involving salvation or the end times? Does an evangelical church disciple its members in how to love and behave toward one another as much as it disciples them how to interpret Scripture and believe correctly? Does a Christian worldview maximize belief systems and minimize love behaviors?

I have titled this trilogy “The Love Revelation” to answer these questions. The premise of “The Love Revelation” is that the origin of love is God himself and that our knowledge of love is the result of God’s revelation. I will demonstrate that a central theme of the Bible is a message about love and learning to love; that, indeed, Christianity itself can be described as a love message that is presented from Genesis to Revelation. I will show that the love message is the very foundation upon which all the truths of the Bible are based. I believe, therefore, that Christianity can be narrowed down to two basic elements: truth and love. The purpose of biblical truth is to enable mankind to experience—and eventually express—God’s love. There can be no biblical love without biblical truth, and there can be no expression of biblical truth without biblical love.

In Book 1, “The Royal Law,” I will present the relationship between love and truth, for they are inextricably interwoven. I will show that all biblical truth points to love, but all love must be defined in the context of biblical truth. The premise of Book 1, therefore, is that God is the true and sole source of love, and his word is its revelation. That truth alone will drastically affect how we read, understand and apply God’s word.

We will discover in Book 1 that what we normally describe as the ability to give and receive love, both in the animal kingdom and as a part of the human experience, has been built into creation. It is a part of general revelation. God created the ability to care in the same manner he created the ability to procreate. Because men and women are created in the image of God, however, his supreme creation is capable of developing natural love far beyond the general revelation given to the animal kingdom. The image of God provides humanity with a greater capacity to reason, to learn, to be self-aware, to create, and most of all, to receive revelation.

This book assumes that there is a love greater than that witnessed in creation. Whereas natural love comes with creation, there is a higher love that requires special revelation. The animal kingdom cannot experience it and humanity must learn it. It is “unnatural” in the sense that it is beyond the love found naturally in creation. Nor is it the product of humanity’s invention or inspiration. Humans may have the ability to observe it and abide by it, but it is not the product of human nature or creative abilities.

The love to which I am referring is revealed only in the Bible. There are no sources apart from the Bible where this love originates. Any similarities in other religions are dramatically inferior and most likely have biblical revelation as their source. It is impossible for the animal kingdom to learn this love, and it is beyond humanity to grasp or manifest it apart from biblical revelation. The love that is revealed in the Bible is unique, unnatural, transcendent and revelational. It defies human nature. This premise, of course, assumes that the Bible is true and the only source of truth about God.

It is also the premise of this book that all Christian theology can be summed up with two words: truth and love. The Bible is the only source of absolute truth and the only revelation of what love truly is. Truth, therefore, must always trump love because love requires definition. Only biblical truth can define biblical love. On the other hand, the goal of truth is to teach us love: to love God, to love others and to look forward to the day when biblical love will characterize all human behavior. Without truth, love cannot be accurately defined. Without love, however, truth is merely conceptual, for the purpose of truth is to teach us to love. It is the God of truth who reveals through Jesus Christ the essence of love, and it is through Jesus Christ that the God of love reveals absolute truth. Therefore, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the agent—the only agent—through whom God reveals to humanity his very nature; that is, absolute truth and perfect love.

Book 1 is about the source of truth and love. I have used but one reference point for the revelation of truth and love, and that is the Bible. I believe it is the word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts. Because much has been written about the truth of Christian theology, I have placed the focus of The Love Revelation upon love as revealed in the Bible, and more specifically, its relation to the truth. Book 2 addresses the meaning the revelation of love has to the body, the church, and how the church responds to the world. Book 3 approaches God’s love revelation on personal and practical levels. That is, it answers the question, “So what? What does the love revelation have to do with me, and how do I put the lessons of Books 1 and 2 to practical, everyday use?”

Although there is an apologetic side to The Love Revelation, the ultimate goal of the three books and their accompanying study guides is to address Christian living. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Is love actually the goal of instruction in today's church? Do we truly appreciate the love we so often expound? Do we Christians really understand the love lessons the Bible is teaching us, and do our lives reflect those lessons unequivocally? Do we understand the true message of love beyond quoting a few verses from First Corinthians 13? For evangelicals, is John 3:16 a message of salvation or a message of love? How does the love message enter into our eschatology (the study of the end times)?

There will be some Christians, of course, who will be offended by The Love Revelation. They will be offended not only by some of the concepts presented in this book, but by the illustrations and examples provided both in the body of the book and in the vignettes that precede each chapter. Why? Because the principles of this book challenge some classic evangelical belief systems and the very way we conduct our Christian lives. It will challenge our values and our notions of what it means to live a righteous life. I can accept that some will become offended, if not downright antagonistic. Being a pastor did not necessarily create for me a tougher skin, but it did help me to realize that no matter what you say or how carefully you say it, someone will be offended. Stories on this point, however, will take another book.

If I myself knew naturally how to live in pure biblical love, I probably would not have felt the need to write this book. I have found that consistently expressing biblical love does not come naturally for me, and I suspect that describes most of us. That is not to say, of course, that I have finally learned to live and love biblically, but at least I know what I ought to do. I have discovered over the years that the love that does not come naturally can be learned by appropriating truth, for without biblical truth it is impossible to love biblically.

Lastly, the most difficult part of writing this book was knowing when to stop. The more I examined Scripture, the more I saw the message. Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll see Books 4 and 5!

As I have stated above, prior to each chapter I have written a vignette. The vignettes are fictional, sometimes fanciful tongue-in-cheek stories that serve to illustrate concepts presented throughout the book. In some cases the vignettes relate directly to the chapter that follows; other times, they relate to the principles of the book in general. The vignettes also provide a launching point for discussion in the study guides that accompany the books. I hope you will enjoy them and perhaps even chuckle a little.

Contact Info: Author@TheLoveRevelation.com