21 October 2009

"The God Who Loves You" by Peter Kreeft (review)

I loved this book.
Here are some of his thoughts: 
Regarding the interaction of the will. Kreeft says we need to understand the critical role of the will, or else really comprehending the love of God will be elusive.
"Love longs for perfect harmony of wills, but not confusion of substances. That means the union in which the two become one without ceasing to be two. … God wants our will, our heart, our freedom. When He gets it, He gives it back multiplied." (p.164).   
And Kreeft finishes this section:
"Once we obey this law [of losing our lives in Christ, to find it]…our lives will fall into line. First comes the heart, the will (free chooser). Then the mind, the understanding. Then desires, which must be instructed by the mind. Then our speech… Then our relationships… Finally, our death. If we consecrate these seven things to God, we fulfill His will and our purpose for living. And that is the purpose of morality." (p.165)  

The loss of our own ego-centric will (selfishness) in exchange for the will of the omniscient, and omnipotent Creator & Lover of Men, begins (on the human level) with the heart's choosing.  But God, He who loves and woos me, will not overtake my will, nor will He 'transform' or 'renew' me against my will or without the bending of my will. 

Kreeft writes: 
"though agape comes from God, it resides in our free will as human beings. Its home is not the body or the feelings, or even the intellect, but the will. …it is not the intellect that loves, any more than it is the light in the operating room that performs the surgery. Agape may be aided…but it is essential an act of choosing, an act of free will. If God is love, the God must be that which loves, an "I will." God is not just the being or force…but a willer with a will…The most intimate and central act of I is willing." (p. 62)

This last sentence is the most profound: every good act in which I allow God to work in my life has to do with my will (no matter its cause). Likewise, every rebellion (small or large) has to do with my will (no matter the “reason”). This is a revolutionary thought for any disciple to live with, particularly as we spend an enormous amount of time and energy scapegoating the ills and sins of life. If my tongue runs away, it's still my fault. If I am ungenerous, it is my fault, not the undeserving person’s fault.  
My will also moves me from the mere goodness that I as a human can summon up to the other, greater love: the agape love through the Holy Spirit. While the world is consumed with a great letting loose of their own will, whose thrust is primarily dominating, or at the least withdrawing. This is in contrast with the exercise of God's love, which is often interpreted as either reactionary or revolutionary. 
Either way, it must break rules to be as expansive as the God who loves you. This love is not centered around the purpose of mankind (to have his will be done), but to have Our Lord’s will be done. 
Sure as water under brick, Love wins out in the End. 
Kreeft’s closes with plea to the reader:
“Please says it all. … please love God with your whole heart and keep doing it for the rest of your life."  and:  "Risk. Be crazy. Hold nothing back. Don't be an investor."

Why? Agape is its own reward. The world may not understand, but it is always amazed by the testimony of this kind of daring love!