Love as a Buzzword

The following is from an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader about Bishop Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington (see the entire article here).

Sauls put it differently. Saying that “Scripture is full of logical inconsistencies,” he told his annual convention Friday that “when it comes to family, how I love matters more than how I think.”

Leaving aside the “logical inconsistencies” issue (isn’t it a bishop’s job to sort those things out?), I note with interest the disconnect he proposed here between thinking and loving.

In the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the Peace is exchanged just before the clergy and congregation recite the Nicene Creed. The priest and congregation have the following exchange (emphasis mine).

Priest: Peace be unto all.

Choir: And to your spirit.

Priest: Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess,

Choir: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! The Trinity, one in essence and undivided!

Then the Nicene creed follows. Apparently the Orthodox liturgy has no trouble connecting love with doctrine.

When are these people going to learn that, according to Christian teaching, how you love depends on how you think? Does Bishop Sauls truly believe that loving (the long term, difficult sort and not the warm and fuzzy stuff) and thinking are really separate? That the Church’s teaching (which he has sworn to uphold) is disconnected from its love?

Of course, everyone can point to unloving people who were or are “orthodox.” Formal assent to moral or theological propositions does not in itself produce the love that Christianity teaches. But is “thinking” for Bishop Sauls only a matter of boring theological technicalities (or perhaps “logical inconsistencies”)? Does he see no connection between what we believe and how we act (i.e., how love is expressed)?

Many moons ago, Jerry Brown popularized the term “buzzword” for terms that appeared to mean something but are in fact a retreat from real thinking into the vague psychobabble of loosely associated impressions. With men such as Bishop Sauls, “love” has now entered the buzzword lexicon.


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