Beyond Wynkoop’s Love Language

March 8th, 2010 / 56 Comments

Mildred Bangs Wynkoop’s magnum opus, A Theology of Love, presents a powerful argument for love as the Christian’s theological priority.  But her work would have been more powerful had she been consistent in her language of love.

The first third of A Theology of Love offers the heart of Wynkoop’s argument. She draws from the Bible and John Wesley’s theology to argue that we best understand Christian theology when love is front and center.

When each doctrine of the Christian faith  is identified and defined by [John Wesley],” writes Wynkoop, “the basic meaning invariably comes out ‘love.’”

This means that, “If one is committed to a Wesleyan theology, he must realize that his commitment is to a theology of love.”

Jesus Christ provides the fullest revelation of who God is, and the Christological revelation suggests that love is God’s reigning (but not only) attribute. Jesus called God “Abba,” and he declared the greatest two commandments to be love for God and others as oneself.  

Past and present theologians have not agreed with Wynkoop.  They question whether love can play the central role for theology.  Their worry is that love – without qualification – is too sentimental and mushy. Such theologians, however, almost invariably fail to define love.

Wynkoop counters the charge that love is not strong. “Love is not a soft, permissive cover-up of human personality,” she says. “Love… is the disciplining of human reactions.”  

Furthermore, says Wynkoop, “Christian love creates an atmosphere in which all the creative conflicts may not only exist but be matured and fully utilized without tearing apart the fabric of Christian unity.”

In the early chapters of her book, Wynkoop uses the word “love” without qualifications.  She never offers a precise definition of love, but her love language suggests that love always does good. 

Here are some of Wynkoop’s words:

—  “Love is the gospel message.”

—  “The character of holiness is love.”

—  “Love characterizes holiness as presented by New Testament writers.”

—  “Love cannot wrong a neighbor.”

—  “The test of right relationship with God is love.”

—  “Love is happiness – harmony of the whole.”

—  “Love guards over self-esteem lest it slip into selfishness.”

—  “Ethics is the out flowing of love.”

—  “Love is fathomless goodwill.”

Wynkoop’s language of love fits my own definition of love. I defined love as acting intentionally, in response to God and others, to promote overall well-being.

Unfortunately, however, Wynkoop fails to remain consistent in her love language. Confusion emerges in A Theology of Love. Despite indicating that love always promotes good, Wynkoop later slips into a language of love alien to most of the Bible.

 Here are her confusing words:

—  “The very nature of sin is love’s perversion.”

—  “Love positively or negatively defines holiness or sin.”

—  “When…love centers in self, God is excluded and sin is described.”

—  “Love without holiness disintegrates into sentimentality.”

Instead of using language that speaks of love as doing good, Wynkoop slips into an Augustinian notion of love as desire itself.  For Augustine, love = desire.  In such terms, desire can be good or evil, depending on its object.

Although she earlier argues that love is not essentially sentimental and always good, Wynkooop “supplements” her love language with “holy” or “holiness.”

Admittedly, few passages of scripture can be interpreted as understanding love as desire.  But the overwhelming majority of times, “love” appears in scripture only in terms of doing good. The dominant biblical witness does not say that love is desire itself. 

We find nowhere in the Bible the phrase “holy love.” Instead, the vast majority biblical writers assume love must always be holy.  After all, “love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one that doesn’t love, doesn’t know God, for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:7, 8). Love, according to the dominant biblical witness, is never unholy.

For the sake of clarity and biblical faithfulness, I urge us to take care in how we use the word “love.”

Although acting intentionally to do good often if not always has an element of desire, we should not use the word “love” for desire itself.  When defined well and from the dominant biblical perspective, love is always holy. Adding “holy” to “love” is redundant.

Love repays evil with good. Love acts for the benefits of family and enemies. Love turns the other cheek. Love promotes the common good. God expresses love incessantly, because God is love (not desire).  And we love, because God first loves us.

The Wynkoop theology of love legacy lives on. I discovered her work while in my mid-twenties, and it confirmed my own intuitions and convictions about the centrality of love for theology.

For the Wesleyan witness to the primacy of love to be most effective, however, we must move beyond Wynkoop’s linguistic inconsistency.  We must take care to speak of love consistently and in a way that coheres with the broad biblical witness.

We more likely avoid confusion if we always use “love” positively, which is also the usual biblical understanding of love. If we regard love as inherently positive because derived from God, we do not need to qualify it with “holy.”

“Faith, hope, and love remain.  But the greatest of these is love. Pursue love…” (1 Cor. 13:13, 14:1).

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Comments

Mike Schutz

Tom, Thanks for this insight. I noticed some of the same inconsistencies in Wynkoop, and noted them in my margin notes from the first time I read Theology of Love, but could never have expressed it as well as you have here.


Randy McRoberts

When I was at NTS, Dr. Grider was the pre-eminent theology prof and Dr. Wynkoop was theologian-in-residence. Theology of Love was a rather new book, but I had read it ravenously.

I had two early morning classes with Dr. Grider; those classes are my fondest memories of my time in KC.

Anyway, I remember Dr. Grider saying once that he disagreed with Wynkoop. She said God was “holy love”. He said that God should be thought of as “loving holiness”. I expect they must have had some kind of feud about the correct wording. That’s what theologs do, you know.

I appreciate what you have written here, and I appreciate it bringing up and old and happy memory in me.


Dave Gerber

Thanks Tom. My favorite book of hers is “Foundations of Wesleyan Arminian Theology.” While I’ve started Theology of LOve, I have failed to finish it. Almost as many times as I have tried to finish “Atlas Shrugged.”

It is high time to get on it and finish it. This post will help. Thanks.


Johan Tredoux

Would it help if we think of Mildred tracking the question of love thru the filter of what is moral, because of the abuses all around her expecting a metaphysical transformation vs a moral transformation? and then see her tracking the question of love additionally thru the biblical lens of the law? Just thoughts …… thinking that the fulfillment of the law is to love God, others and yourself and to be lawless is to be have a relation destroying motive, which would be a perversion of love.


Scott Davis

It’s frustrating how easy it is to find ourselves using love as a reference for things according to how the world around us defines it rather than how it consistently appears in scripture.  Thanks, Tom, for this wonderful reminder of love’s inherent holiness and goodness and for the appropriate caution of how we utilize it in our speaking.


Chuck Millhuff

This book in my opinion was a seminal turning point for the whole Nazarene church. Dr. G’s great love for her and her work was very influential to say the least. Emergent thought loves to love and that seems to be the essence of what holiness is or the understanding and experience of knowing and receiving God in so much of our thinking today. She does refer to her second crises to be fair but it to me seems to be only in passing. Tom how do you separate love from lust, emotion from true goodness and kindness as seen in many world religions from the love we folk try to refer to? God knew us and LOVED us from the foundations of the earth yet is this onslaught of ongoing love automatic love that we just sit back and enjoy? Am I as an evangelist to only stir the love pot for folks or is there a real sin issue that can trump love if not dealt with? I think I know your answer and to tell the truth I am somewhat afraid to fence if it may be called that with the Dr types of your class. I do believe however that her book created the process theology for the folks called Nazarenes. A Spring Revival Week or at least that’s what I saw it as at MNU a few days ago, was called Green Week. Loving the earth. Yikes, I think you understand my angst.
Blessings Bro,
Chuck Millhuff


Thomas Jay Oord

Thanks for all of the great comments!  I appreciate them.

I want to respond to my friend, Chuck, very briefly.

If we define love in terms of ultimate devotion, I am also concerned that we would love the earth.  Defined as ultimate devotion, love should be for God and we love others as ourselves in relation to God.

But the dominant biblical use of “love” pertains to doing good (e.g., blessing, abundant life, peace, shalom, beneficence, common good).  Defined in terms of doing good, I think we can love the earth.  We love creatures when we act for their good.  And I think there’s strong biblical support for loving creation in that sense.

As my post points out, I think we should reserve “love” for acts that do good and use words like “lust” for desires that promote evil.

Tom


Preston Hills

Love is considered to be happiness. Those who believe that “love can conquer all” and “all you need is love” can be mistaken because the concept of love is not that simple. “Love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one that doesn’t love, doesn’t know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7,8) God tells us to love as he loves and I feel like people try to complicate love by saying, “love can be too sentimental and mushy.” We are taught that love is a profound feeling we share with our families and our significant others and I think that we as a society shouldn’t complicate it more than that.


William Hanson

Thank you Dr. Oord for your post. I totally agree that we need to be careful in our us of the word love. Too often is it used to describe basic lust and desire instead of something more meaningful. I think this is in part due to the English language itself. Many other languages have separate words for the different kinds of love. I do not think there is much hope for changing how society uses the word but Christians should be more selective in their use of love.


Shelby Lindley

People believe that if we love that we can conquer anything and everything.  I believe that Love is a very strong word but just because we love doesn’t mean we are achieving anything.  People use the word love way to loose for different things.  Some people say “man i love my friends.” And another may say “mom I love you.”  There are two different ways of saying love in just those two examples.  We must love and show love but we must also be very careful in how we use the word.  I believe the word is being used way to loosely in our society.  Love needs to be a strong and powerful word, that takes on deep meaning of something.


Stan Parker

I agree with Johan Tredoux. I had the good fortune to have many hours with Dr. Wynkoop at Trevecca and NTS. Her thoughts centered around a need for a clear understanding of a moral transformation.


Lance Pounds

I hate to be a debbie Downer, but even if Wynkooop had a stable meaning of love in her writing, it would not be as valuable as one would hope. The spirit of the times changes and with that, the uses and meanings of words change. I have never read Wynkooop (which I should), but if I did, I would want to look for how she constructed here thesis out of her words, not the words themselves.


Kara Notson

I agree that how the word ‘love’ is used is very important. I had never thought of love and desire being the same thing. I don’t think this is because I had never separated the two but because the thought truly never occurred to me. If love and desire were consistently put together I would have a problem with that because God is love and (like you said) is not desire. It would be us breaking God’s character.


Andrea Hills

I definitely agree that there must be a clear definition of love that is used consistently, especially since love was central to Jesus’ teachings and is the core of Christianity.  I also agree that, although desire is sometimes and element of love, it is not equal to love.  If we consider Jesus’ command to, not only love our neighbor, but also to love our enemies, then we know that desire and love are not equal, because rarely does one truly have the “desire” to love one’s enemy.  I think the definition of love as “always acting to promote the overall well-being of others” needs to be promoted, so we all have a better understanding of what love truly means.


Kylie May

I completely agree that the love “terminology” should be carefully made consistent. I think that as a society we have put functions on the word love that imply love as being unholy. The love of money, the love of “sinning”, etc. I think we are the reason people can assign love to unholy things. But love by itself, in its true form is always holy and perfect.


Courtney M

Wynkoop seems so passionate in what she believes and I think we believe a lot of the same things. Yet when she describes how to act on love and that love is turning the other check, I find it hard to do that. For me, I love peace yet it is not in my to sit back and watch someone get beat up when I could go stand up and fight for them. Also she says, “love is happiness”. I agree with that to the extent that when you feel love, you feel that joy. Yet on the other hand, in order to love you must be vulnerable. With this vulnerability comes the chance to being hurt. I believe love can also be sorrowful.


Tracey Berry

I think I believe a lot of the same things as Wynkoop.
I found it interesting how she jumps around in her terms though. I think her opinion would had been way stronger with a more defined and strong definitions.


Archie Hoffpauir

It has helped me to think of “love” as having two basic aspects: attributing worth to its object…and…promoting the best interests of its object. So…loving God is “worshipping” Him…and…“keeping His commandments.” God loves me…by attributing worth to me (seeking me out, while yet a sinner)…and promoting my best interests (my salvation, and sanctification).  And I am to love others…my love is “perfected” as I see others more clearly as God sees them…and perceive and promote God’s best for them. Anyway, that is where Wynkoop…and Wesley…have brought me, to date.


Arielle Askren

I do whole heartily believe that in order to create a good argument, precise language needs to be one of the central cores. But in pointing out the flaws of her language, we can also see that for the times, (this book was published in 1972) there was a sense that love could almost be a desire when looked at through a theological perspective. I am glad to know that there are positive things about her book, as well as the not so positive.


Micah Campton

In reading this passage, I find myself confused and questioning “love” (versus desire) in the light of Wynkoop’s interpretation. All in all, I feel like she has some really strong, really concise points, but would agree that she seems to get more confusing in terms of “linguistic inconsistency,” as they are presented in this evaluation of her writings. The English major part of me, however, wonders about the context of these “inconsistencies,” as the summary offered in the reading did not qualify any of the statements. Should the inconsistencies remain, I would wonder whether they may simply be relative to Wynkoop’s personal experience with the issue of “love.” In any case, I think that “love” should remain somewhat separate from “desire,” but wonder at whether desire can exist completely outside of love, as I believe there are many levels in which desire can and does function.


Troy Watters

I believe that she struggles with the same thing I do. What if the world was perfect and all that existed was love? What would you compare it to? But if you do end up comparing it to sin or evil, then you’re saying you have to have one in order to have the other. I think there’s a fine line there, and it can easily be crossed. Ever since I started taking this class I’ve noticed how much my theology contradicts its self. I’m constantly rephrasing my words so that I stick to what I believe, and not accidentally cross into a different idea.


Shelby Lindley

Wynkoop makes some great points on how love will help us in everything that we do.  One thing that she doesn’t ever bring up that love can sometimes hurt a individual also.  Dr. Oord talked about it in class that love can sometimes, not be a great feeling when you have love for something or someone it doesn’t mean that they are yours.  It can break people’s hearts to see someone else with another person that they have love for but cannot have or share in their life.


Robert Uehlin

I appreciate that you highlight the redundancy of “holy” in regard to love.  I find that holiness is often used redundantly as a kind of Wesleyan modifier.  Thanks for keeping love pure. 

On another note, however, I want to defend the notion of love as desire.  The way you define love sounds an awful lot like altruism.  If altruism is in any way equatable to love, then I believe that love does = desire.  This is because, from an evolutionary perspective, altruism is a genetic desire that has evolved through blood ties via natural selection.  In other words, altruism is an evolutionary trait to “[act] intentionally, in response to…others, to promote overall well-being”.


Jason Montgomery

I think that the points you bring up about Wynkoop’s rhetoric are very interesting and useful, because the way that we use words are very important. I appreciate your emphasis on the meaning of words and the manner in which we use them, especially when related to a complex issue such as love. The way that we understand love in relation to desire certainly will influence the way that we understand ourselves and our relationships with others.


Allea Meza

I too agree that love can never be unholy. For me, I think it is contradictory to say that love can become perversive or sentimental. I think this goes to show that we have either been misusing the word or that we don’t have enough words to describe emotions like sentimentality. However, it does make me wonder how one would explain sin. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone say that sin is the perversion of love, some would also say that sin is anything that is not considered holy by God-the opposite of love. For me, it is safe to say that sin is not love gone wrong, but rather, the absence of love.


Mark L. Ward, Jr.

Is it possible that ἀγάπη is generally positive in the Bible because the Bible generally speaks of positive loves? When it speaks of negative loves, it doesn’t hesitate to use ἀγάπη:

Lk 11:42–43 “Woe to you Pharisees! For you…neglect justice and the love (ἀγάπη) of God….Woe to you Pharisees! For you love (ἀγαπάω) the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces!”

Lk 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love (ἀγαπάω) the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

1 Jn 2:15 “Do not love (ἀγαπάω) the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves (ἀγαπάω) the world, the love (ἀγάπη) of the Father is not in him.”

Jn 3:19 “People loved (ἀγαπάω) the darkness rather than the light.”

Jn 12:43 “They loved (ἀγαπάω) the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

2 Tim 4:10 “Demas, having loved (ἀγαπάω) this present world, has deserted me” (NASB).

2 Pet 2:15 “They have followed the way of Balaam…who loved (ἀγαπάω) gain from wrongdoing.”

Rev 12:11 “They loved (ἀγαπάω) not their lives even unto death.”

2Sa 13:15 (LXX) “Then Amnon hated [Tamar] with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love (ἀγάπη) with which he had loved (ἀγαπάω) her.”


Maylee Berschauer

I agree with the statement, “We must take care to speak of love consistently and in a way that coheres with the broad biblical witness.” Many people are going to have different meanings and interpretations of what “love” means to them, but we must look to the bible and God and try to understand what “love” is all about.  We should use “love” positively and understand its importance.


Shelby Santistevan

I think if someone is going to discuss the topic of love you must be consistant.  Ms. Wynkoop does not appear to be consistent in her statements about what love is.  She seems to contridict her own words.  If you are going to discuss any topic ecspecially one as tough as love you must be on the same line the whole time and not wonder off.  She does however have some really great words to describe love and she definetly makes a statement.  I love her statement, “Love is happiness – harmony of the whole”.  I feel this is a very good place to start when you are trying to give a definition of what love is. Love is true happiness but to have it you must have harmony in everything else before it can happen.


Sarah Reed

In reaction to one of Wynkoop’s statements about love, I believe love can present itself in all forms whether mushy, harsh, strong, weak… the list could go on. Love can be in the mushy form of romantic love or honeymoon love.  Love can be in a harsh form like a parent scolding a child for disobeying.  Furthermore, in reaction to Wynkoop’s statement about love, “When love centers in self, God is excluded and sin is described,” I start to become confused about what she means by this.  How then would Wynkoop respond to the passage where God tells us to love our enemies as ourselves?  To me, that particular passage in the Bible says that we as Christians need to have a certain amount of love centered within us so we can reach out to others with that same love.


Ryan Mangum

It is very surprising to me how theologians can only think of love as something that is weak or passive; “sentimental and mushy,” as Dr. Oord put it. Love is at the core of some of the most profound human expressions that exist, such as sacrificing one’s life for others. In my mind, this expression is hardly sentimental or weak.


Rob Collins

I believe we must be careful on how we use the term love.  There is a difference in the love we have for people and for the things in our lives.  Everyone seems to have a different definition on love.  I do feel that love is a positive force and must be represented in that fashion—if it is not in a positive force it is not love.  There is a redundancy when we talk of love from God when we ad holy or holiness to love.  God has loved since the creation of the world…is there any other way God can love?


Stacie Martin

Wynkoop states that “love… is the disciplining of human reactions.”  Although I agree with this, I cannot help but think about holiness going hand in hand with this. In my head, holiness is a refining of one’s self spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Then moving from here, love is tied together with holiness and sanctification and these three cannot be separated. If this is all true, then when someone wrongs us deeply, and we fight and struggle with it, eventually allowing hate to creep in, does that mean that we are less holy? Does fighting with anger at people for wronging us, and truly despising them mean we are shallow in our depth of relationship with Christ?


Ashley Curtin

I agree with this statement.  Love is holy and God is not desire, he is love.  We are able to love because God loved us first.  Wynkoop has a hard time speaking on love because she never fully defined it.  When theologians don’t agree with her and worry that love is too “mooshy-gooshy” then the problem becomes apparent, love was not properly defined.  Love plays a vital role in theology.


Matt Larson

I believe one of the primary issues at heart for the word “love,” and its struggle to find a consistent contemporary definition, derives from the context and circumstance that the word is used therein.
I enjoy Wynkoop’s statement declaring “the test of right relationship with God is love.” It is a multifaceted test to see into a persons life both in the spiritual and the physical. A person’s comprehension of love in definition and in practice is an expression of their character.


Aaron Blackwill

I agree with many of the previous comments for this blog based on the idea that it is difficult to determine a modern definition for love. One thing I found interesting is the idea that love promotes overall well being. For me this makes me think in terms of utilitarinism, where the greatest good is done for the greatest amount of people, and in essence promoting the overall well being of everyone. I do like thinking of Love as being equal for all, but Im hesitant to say that it promtes overall well being for everone. Sometimes loving someone may be insutling them and even hurting them to get them to realize that they’ve done something they need to change. It could have a positive effect in the end, but the means of getting there are not always necessiarly ‘happy’ and kind.


ashley McCallister

I believe that Wynkoop is giving love a meaning that fits the opposite of what she first says. What I mean by that is how it was shown that she defined love the same way as professor Oord, “as acting intentionally, in response to God and others, to promote overall well-being”. Then she flips around and defines love as desire itself like the Augustinian notion. I personally agree with love as promoting well being of others and that it is “holy” love, not desire equalling love. When I think of love I think of it positively.


Haley Abbott

I think the notion that love is mushy or weak is absurd. The love it takes for a parent to discipline a child is in no way mushy or weak. It takes strength as a parent to have to do that. That is just one example, but there are plenty more I could give. Love is one of the most powerful things at work, and I have to question anyone who thinks it is otherwise.


Macey Mendez-Vigo

Love always seems extra romantic and sentimental as we approach Valentine’s Day, however, I think that in reality love is something bigger than these adjectives. It is difficult for me to hear love called “mushy” or “soft.” Certainly in a blooming relationship these words could describe love, but I see real love as making important choices, as sacrificial and as putting others’ well-being first. To me this is the love of the Bible; strong and faith centered. It is neither easy nor soft to turn the other cheek or love your enemy and love should not be defined as such.


Joshua Mundy

Sometimes when I think of unholy love, I think of love given with good intentions but with bad results.  I am going on a mission trip to Peru this upcoming August and we had a speaker the other night that brought up an interesting parody that I think relates to the topic that I want to discuss.

Shorten version of The Monkey and The Fish Parody

Their once lived a monkey who lived on an island.  One day, a terrible storm came along and flooded the island and the monkey climbed high into a tree.  The monkey looked down below and saw a fish swimming in the water.  He noticed that the fish was struggling and went down to help it.  So he took it out of the water and took the fish up into the tree with him and laid it down on a limb.  The fish flopped around and the monkey assumed the fish was happy with excitement.  Then after a while, the fish finely calmed down and laid there peacefully on the limb.  The monkey left the fish after the storm was over and walked away with pride and joy in his heart.

Although the monkey had good intentions to do what he/she thought was good for the fish, the result for the fish in the end was bad.  I think in society we are often guilty of unholy love, for example giving a homeless person on the street money.  We hope to brighten up their day or help them get through their struggles, but sometimes we could lead them back into sin.  Instead we should ask them what they need and get them whatever they are lacking or need.  What I am trying to say is that love cannot be holy love, because love is not pure.  I think man/woman is only capable of unholy love.  I don’t think unholy love is all bad, but there can be some negative effects.  The only love we can receive that is pure is from God.  God only has the best intentions for us.  I don’t think we can have holy love for God either because we might idealize him and actually misunderstand God’s love.  I think Wynkoop’s theology of love is meant with all good intentions, but we sometimes miss the contradictions in her philosophy.  Not only should we be careful on how we use “love,” we should also be cautious of how we use “holy” as well.


Lindsay LaShelle

I was very confused by Wynkoop’s use of the word love in a seemingly negative manner.  Also, her references to love as needing to be holy caught me off guard.  It seems very intuitive that love is always good.  And if it were anything but, it would not be love at all.  Wynkoop’s inconsistent use of the word love further emphasizes the need in my mind to clearly define words, especially words like love that can be used so broadly.


Vitaliy Tymoshchuk

There is definitely a problem with Augustinian definition of love and Whynkoop’s failure to define love biblically.  Love does not equal desire according to the Bible. God is love. However, in many instances secular connotation of the word “love” is desire (lust). When one tries to combine secular notion of love and biblical definition of love overwhelming contradiction occurs. How can we know true meaning of love?  The Word of God is truth. Only in light of the Bible we can understand what is good and what love is. Due to the lack of knowledge of Jesus and His Word, this world believes lies. Misery happens due to this deception because people act upon false definition of love.  How many families divorced because foundation of their marriage was lust, not true (biblical) love? Love “…endureth all things” (I Cor 13:7, kjv).


Geoff Groves

I do not understand what was wrong with Mrs. Wynkoop’s defintion of love, as you assert. She follows the Augustinian defintion of love, termed as “desire”. So in this instance, was Augustine’s defintion wrong in accordance to the biblical witness? It seems this reemphasizes the importance of defining the terms. we should not intertwine words and definitions such as love and desire.


Jessica Camacho

Love can be expressed to a favorite song, to a friend or a parent, all of which have a different meaning and intensities; it has multiple yet one has to be careful when it comes to using this word. Everyone is capable of loving, yet only God has the ability to love perfectly without having any impurities. I agree that love is misused by many in society; however, according to the definition that Dr. Oord gives, love should be used to promote the overall well-being of others in response to God.  This can be seen and explained when Jesus told His followers that one must love your neighbor as you love yourself. Through love compassion, patience,  and the well-being of society can be achieved.


Joshua Rast

I agree that Wynkoops use of the word love does seem inconsistent and in some instances mis-used.  I think any version of “love” that is negative or unholy is not actually love. a negative form of “love” may better be described as lust or something other than love.


Evan Chaney

I feel love is much more than just showing affection to a person, or something that is “mushy”. I see love in the most unusual ways. People opening up there doors to total strangers. Families victims of murders and truly forgiving the person who has commit that crime, to me is true love. There is just so much more to love than I can ever understand. Even to this day, I am amazed at the sacrifice and love for people that I still can not understand nor grasp.


Chadwick Pearsall

I take issue with Wynkoop’s claim that “love cannot wrong a neighbor.” I think that she draws too strong of a connection between motives and outcomes. I would agree with her statement if it were something to the effect of, “love cannot intentionally wrong a neighbor.” I don’t know what Wyncoop would say about actions that were done in love, but end up wronging a neighbor, or at least leave the neighbor feeling like they’ve been wronged in some way.


Josh Siverson

I learned early on in my Christian walk that everything seems to boil down to love. While reading this blog, that notion was confirmed. Whenever I am reading the Bible I always am reading it through the scope of love. I agree with the idea of love playing a central role in the bible, though there seems to be controversy in that idea. For example Old Testament God seems to love in a very different way then in the New Testament. This argument seems to go on and on forever. My takeaway from the post is the importance of word choice when talking about love. We must be very cautious and deliberate with the words we use and do not use when taking on the task of defining love.


Amelia Heller

I think it is very interesting that Wynkoop has variations of the word “love”. The way I understand it, is that she is unintentionally doing this. I started to think that she seemed to as well, be using the word ‘love’ in terms that I feel is wrong. Such as using it as, “I ‘love’ this pizza”. Although she does not outright say this, it seems she does this. I do agree however on her descriptions throughout on love.


Bailee Boring

I feel that it is very important to be consistent when talking about love.  Love can be very complex (not just weak and sentimental) and it can get confusing when being used and talked about inconsistently. Love should be used in a positive manner and i didn’t agree with Wynkoop when she used love negatively.


Marisa Gubbe

It is sad to see how much the word “love” gets abused and thrown around in our daily lives. It somewhat loses that sacred quality that it is meant to have. That being said, I think Christians gain a better understanding and appreciation for the word through studying the Scriptures. Christ gave us the best examples of love, and as we learn more and grow deeper in our faith we see the true meaning of love. Wynkoop’s uses of love in the first portion of examples show this love greatly, but the second portion contradicts some of these things. I would like to see the context she used them in to better understand what she was trying to say… perhaps it would help clear up some of the confusion. Although I do feel that theologians and Christians should have consistent definitions of love, as Dr. Oord said.


Eric Grenier

There is a clear conflict with her language, but at some level that conflict is unavoidable.  Though you and others may have a clear definition of love, I myself do not and I understand both versions of love that she talks about.  I am unsure of whether or not i believe that all love must be holy.  I look back at a lot of my relationships or interactions with the world around me and I find that the things I think i love are not always pure.  They are not always universally good for my self and others.  But that doesnt mean that I did not love, to me it simply means my love was weak.  I believe that we as humans can not love at the level that God loves, which leads me to believe that I am capable of experiencing unholy love.  Maybe.


Krista Webster

I find it interesting that Wynkope believes that love is weak and that love also equals holiness.  I feel like love is not the same concept of holiness, although they do have many intersecting points and opinions.  If I understand right, she is following more of this theory that the absence of love is indeed sin, which I have heard before.  I tend to disagree, because there can be instances where the absence of love is just simply that, the absence of love.  I do not think just because one cannot see love in a certain situation that we can necessarily call it sin.


Hyesu Hwang

It was very interesting see how Love can be defined in different words. However,I do not know if I completely agree with the statement where it says love only can be soft. And as Wynkoop says, Love can not harm people; I actually do believe the love in someway can do bad to people in certain ways.
Overall though, I agree that we are to be careful about what we defined our Love in words because in a way that also defines our action in love.


Justin Kellerer

I find it interesting that Wynkoop’s view on love can be both positive and negative. It seems that even true love in her mind can be wrong and pose negative consequences. I think that true meaningful love is always positive. The intent of love is not ever to harm, or have negative consequences, but to just to love.


David Webb

I was intrigued by Wynkoop’s proposal that Love in it’s perverted from can be sin and other negative qualities. I do not accept this idea at all because the idea that perverted Love is sin means that at some level sin is Love. Just in the same way that Oord talks about how Love is Holy, and that the term “Holy Love” is redundant, I can in no way accept the idea that perverted Love is sin. I would propose that sin is the absence of Love, the opposite of Love, or what remains when one rejects Love.


Elisa Decker

In my opinion, Wynkoop gives love a very real, encompassing definition. I do not think that her points should be labeled as confusing, but rather as all-encompassing. I think the difference that needs to be made that Wynkoop did not do a good job of making is that if the love prescribed to be that of God and the love that is present in human beings. God’s love is innately the perfect love that she describes in her first quotes, while the second set of quotes, to me, is describing perversions off of the first “branch” of love-God’s. I believe she made good points by proving that loves definitions can be contradictory; she just seemed to not prove why.


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