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Thursday, May 19, 2016

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Thanks for the review, Bill.

>>Mann raises the question whether love can be reasonably commanded. Love is an emotion or feeling. As such it is not under the control of the will.<<

>>One way around the difficulty is by reinterpreting what is meant by 'love.' While I cannot will to love you, I can will to act benevolently toward you. And while it makes no sense to command love, it does make sense to command benevolent behavior.<<

I agree that emotions can’t be commanded, but I’m skeptical that Jesus held agape love to be an emotion.

Why not deny that love (in the Christian sense) is an emotion, and hold that Christian love is benevolence; i.e., a state of good will?

And instead of saying that one ought to act as if he loves his neighbor, why not say that love is a matter of character, a mindset of benevolence that naturally produces benevolent behavior? I’d think there is a difference between character and behavior which follows from character.

To only act as if one loves his neighbor seems to fall short of the significance of agape. Perhaps acting *as if* serves as a learning experience to cultivate agape. But an actual mindset of benevolence, regardless of feeling, seems a fuller sense of agape.

It seems that mere benevolent behavior without virtuous character misses the virtue ethic of Jesus; namely, that the good person is good from the inside out, and not merely on the outside. Consider Christ’s analogy between the good tree and the good person (Luke 6:43-45), his statement that the good man does good from the inside (Mt. 12:35), and his comparison of the legalistic scribes and Pharisees as whitewashed tombs (Mt. 23:27-28).

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