The Table Video

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Loving God and Loving Neighbor

Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University
June 5, 2017

Nicholas Wolterstorff suggests that the same fundamental agape can be expressed towards both God and neighbor.


And do you make a distinction between divine love and human love?

So in Matthew, Jesus says, in answer to the questions as to what’s the essence of literal love. The first command, “Love God above all,” and then Jesus says, and the second like unto it and it seems to me the clear implication to that is that in some fundamental way, these are well alike, that loving your neighbor and loving God, are in some fundamental way alike.

Now, there’ve been a lot of people will interpreted the second command, neighbor love, in such a way that couldn’t possibly be the same thing as loving God. Benevolence. If you can treat your neighbor with benevolence then you can treat God with benevolence. So, in my thinking about it, one of the considerations that I’ve tried to achieve is that love and the two commands be understood in the same way.

And it seems to me, that we can care about God. Hallowed be your Name. Now, what underlies that is that it’s possible that God’s name not be hallowed, that it can be use abusively and so forth. That God can be wrong, so I think that, we- agape, takes the same fundamental form in both cases. It’s caring in both, may sound a little bit odd that one concur about God, but once you think that God can be- God’s name may not be hallowed, may not be honored and so forth, someone will three speaks of the glory that is the praise of those due God, when we refrain from giving a praise that is to God, we wronged God. So, my view is two manifestation of the same understanding of love.

About the Author