Thank you for visiting Biola’s Center for Christian Thought. This site is not being updated on a regular basis while we are developing new projects for the future. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy the videos, podcasts and articles currently available on the site.

The Table Video

Jeannine Brown& Wyndy Corbin Reuschling

Situating Love in a Complex World

Professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary
June 9, 2017

In our complicated contemporary context, how do we begin to locate and abide by the ethics of love? The question is addressed from multiple angles.


So what I hope we could start with is by talking about this complicated, complex nature of, the context that we are in, where does love find its place? Wyndy, what do you think about that?

Yeah, it’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? That, our popular culture is not devoid of the language of love. From something as simple to “we love the Thai food that we just had for lunch with you Evan,” to love of spouse. It’s lan– love is a word that is pervasive, and at the same time, it is pervasive, it is also meaningless when we come to understand what it actual– what its nature actually is.

Its usage is so wi– far-reaching.

Well it should become so– and it becomes so thin

and arbitrary.

after a while, and the fact that, love, we can’t, we don’t often use the word “love” in connection with relationship, and instead with connection with objects, makes the relational dimensions of love hidden in many ways. I think the other thing the seems to be going on currently, I have two observations about what seems to be going on currently, is one, there just seems to be, in times of chaos and confusion, a human desire for simplicity.

If we can just go back to such and such a time, or if people would just get right with God. We take complex issues and we really find, want to find very simple solutions. So kinda the 1960s trope, all we need is love, and I had– was just finishing reading a book by Margret Farley called “Just Love,” where she says, “love isn’t the solution, love has been the problem.” The lack of love in very particular ways that have harmed human beings.

So I think that, just this desire for simplicity, I think we miss the dimensions that love is actually a practice that occurs in very complex kinds of relationships.

You say love is the problem.


One way to read that is that the teachings of Jesus, to love, are so radical that it creates these demands on us that’re very difficult to fulfill. Jeannine, I wonder if you could speak to–

Sure, absolutely. I really resonate with the sense that it’s such a complex topic, and love has become its– it means so many things. That when we come to say well the answer is just love, which one of those many things are we then talking about? Is it a warm feeling? Is it relational?

Is it just this more kind of– it feels like it’s this band-aid approach to the problems we have: the fears, the anxieties that are deep, the complex world we live in. If we could just all love. One thing that I think Matthew’s Gospel offers is we think about the theme of love across Matthew is that love is some of the language we get, then we can think about how we can define that in terms of Matthew’s Gospel.

But we also get these other core values of, and we hear them wind up nicely in Matthew 23:23, justice, mercy, and loyalty, Covenantal Loyalty, and those three things feel much more particular than love. And for Matthew, it seems that and claims, Snodgrass argues this in his work on Matthew and the law that love is sort of that overarching rubic, so these are three of the things that helped him ground it. Am I doing what is adjust? Am I doing what is merciful? Am I following loyally?

My god and living in relationships with others in loyalty. That just feels to me like it gets more feet on love, or kind of hands in there, in particular Isisit, and that’s helpful.

And that’s a fascinating parallel to the Micha 6:8 Passage, the love justice.

And I think Matthew goes there, I do believe that’s a avocation, there’s an evoking of that text right to justice, mercy, and walking humbly with our God, which is that covenantal of loyalty piece.