Why I’m Writing My Dissertation

This comes from a high school Bible textbook (teacher’s edition, in this case) which I read recently:

The unsaved, and even some Christians, tend to view love as an emotion. Biblical love, however, involves commitment. It desires the best for others, and gives selflessly so that others may prosper. Without love, all Christian service is worthless (I Cor. 13:1-3). Love is the very essence of God’s law (Rom. 13:8-10). Note to your students this difference between the worldly and biblical views of love.

In accordance with findings in my dissertation research, I would suggest instead this paragraph:

Liberal scholars and Christians influenced by them (and ultimately by Kant and other Enlightenment thinkers) sometimes view love as merely volitional. They think that love is only a choice and not an emotion. They often define love as a selfless commitment to do what is best for others—despite how you feel. But in 1 Cor 13 Paul makes it clear that all the volition and self-sacrifice you could muster means nothing if you do not have love. So love must not be identified with volition and self-sacrifice; instead it should produce them.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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