Chapter 4: Three Forms of Love

The Spirit and the Forms of Love
by Daniel Day Williams

Chapter 4: Three Forms of Love

When we say that the interpretation of love has taken three major forms in the Christian tradition, we are not seeking to fit the entire history into a neat scheme, but rather to emphasize the fact that the interpretation of love has had a history. In this history three main perspectives have appeared as characteristic forms of the Christian life. Our typology is an instrument of analysis, and, hopefully, of vision. it is not a form to be imposed on the data. It is intended rather to sharpen and organize significant aspects of the data, and thus the analysis tends to produce ‘ideal types’, that is, forms which do not precisely correspond to any historical expression of the type.1 We shall try to discover the underlying structures in the three types and we shall base each description upon specific historical sources: St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and Martin Luther.

A typology can have a further usefulness when the comparison of types with one another discloses relationships which might otherwise remain obscure. Two important insights will emerge from a typological analysis of the conceptions of love. The first is that the history of the Western concept of love has been influenced by the fact that St. Augustine worked out his interpretation of love in relation to the metaphysics of neo-platonism with its doctrine of God as being-itself, the absolute. In criticizing that Augustinian synthesis we are agreeing with Nygren that it is the critical point in the development of Christian doctrine. But where Nygren attacks the synthesis by isolating agape from eros as two utterly different conceptions of love, I shall try to show that he focuses on the wrong point. The real task is to see whether another ontological synthesis is possible, one freed from the neo-platonism which causes so much trouble for a genuinely historical view of God and man. Our analysis of the historical types will lead to the development of this possibility. The spirit transcends the forms; but the spirit can be obscured when the forms become hardened.

This leads to a second discovery. Each of the additional types has recreated itself in our era, but in each case it betrays an existential restlessness. The classic types do not quite satisfy contemporary man’s self-understanding. We shall examine the factors which have led three modern interpreters of love who stand within the main types to modify the traditional forms: Martin D’Arcy, Albert Schweitzer, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Thus the interpretation of love continues in a history where new forms break through the old.

Every Christian view of love involves the following themes: the meaning of the love of God in the history of Israel and in his action in Jesus Christ and the Church; the relations of faith and knowledge in the understanding of love; the question of the being of God in his relation to the world; the relation of the divine love to human loves and human self-expression; and the ethics of love as the basis of both personal and collective obligation. We shall characterize each type on these topics.


St. Augustine formulated the conception of love at the critical point in the development of early Christianity, and his vision in some way informs all subsequent Christian thought in the West.2

Augustine weaves together two major themes. God is the Father of Jesus Christ, and Father and Son are united in the Spirit. The life of the Trinity is the life of absolute love. God graciously pours out his love upon the creation and through it he has come to men in the incarnation of his son for their redemption. This is the personal, active, redemptive side of the doctrine. But God is the fullness of being, ‘being itself’, as St. Augustine follows the neo-platonic doctrine. God is being, the ground, the ontological structure within all beings. The world then is a system of structures and powers which exist through participation in God’s being. The fulfilment of anything is the fulfilment of its being in God.

Hence for St. Augustine everything in the created universe shows on its positive side its participation in being. This is true of human knowledge. We can know ourselves as existing persons only through the act of knowing that we are, knowing that we know, and rejoicing in this knowledge; and here Augustine finds a reflection of the Trinity — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. All knowledge, then, whether of logic and mathematics or of the good and the beautiful, is knowledge of patterns of being which participate in God. As the mind moves toward a fuller grasp of the truth it is led toward God. For Augustinians there is never an absolute disjunction between intellectual and mystical experience, for all experience has the power and truth of God’s being as its ground. To know truly is to experience God. Rationalism and mysticism are not enemies but two sides of experience which reinforce one another.

The significance of love for knowledge becomes clearer when we consider the meaning of error and ignorance. Since the mind is properly directed toward being, error is a plunge toward non-being. Now to be is not only to know; it is to love, and indeed love is more fundamental than knowledge. Therefore St. Augustine sees all disorder in human existence as stemming from a disorder in the j creature’s love for God. This is why all hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. Love is the weight which bears the creature toward God.3 Since God is to be loved above all else, a rightly ordered life can be founded only upon love for God, not for God as chief value among others, but as the ultimate and absolute good which underlies all the creaturely goods. Therefore the goal of love is the satisfaction and the culmination of the creature’s life in God. This fruitio dei is the characteristic Augustinian expression of blessedness and peace in God.

An important consequence of Augustine’s teaching is that to love anything, when that love is rightly ordered, is to love that thing or person in God. Nothing is self-sufficient but God. For Augustine, therefore, all truly human love is at the same time the love of God, and its natural uncorrupted intent is to seek the fruition of every finite and proximate love in the absoluteness of God’s being. Augustine is often criticized for this doctrine on the ground that he depersonalizes human love by insisting that we do not love another person for himself alone. But Augustine’s intention should be remembered. The fulfilment of every love is its destiny in the divine life, which is the life of personal spirit, the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. St. Augustine’s superb definition of sacrifice is well known:

Every action which is performed with the aim of inhering in God in one holy society; whose purpose, that is, is to bring us to the end by which we can truly be made blessed.4

Augustine’s God in whom all loves are completed is not impersonal. To love another in God is just to see that other as he truly is, as a participant in God’s eternal life. The difficulties lie, I believe, not in the doctrine that we love others in God, but in Augustine’s failure to develop a metaphysical view which provides for the fully social relationship of God and man.

St. Augustine’s treatment of the love of beauty illustrates as clearly as anything in his philosophy his view of the pilgrimage of human loves. ‘The soul has power to know eternal things as things to which it should cling fast (inhaerendum), but it has not at the same time the power to do so.5 What is the source of this weakness? Augustine explains that we love the beautiful, and beautiful things please by proportion, by number, and by rhythm. We love therefore what Augustine calls ‘active performance’ when the soul, reacting to the effects of its own body, becomes preoccupied with the pleasures of perception. It is diverted from the contemplation of eternal things and becomes restless, curious, and finally infected with anxiety. Cura, care or anxiety, replaces securitas.

Now there is much in Augustine about this tendency of the soul to turn toward preoccupation with temporal things, and much in condemnation of the body’s lusts. Yet none of this is explained as caused by any inherent evil in the body or the material world. All things are good because they participate in the creation. Augustine never calls the body bad because it is body. He rejected that view when he rejected Manichaeism.

No, the real source of the soul’s disorder is pride, ‘the vice which made the soul prefer to imitate God rather than to serve God’.6 Now pride is a failure in love’s proper ordering. When he says that the soul must indeed find it ‘easy to love God’, Augustine is talking about the soul’s created goodness and harmony with the divine order. The ‘love of this world is far more laborious’ for then we are seeking fulfilment and peace and permanence where they are not to be found. The secret of rightly ordered love is to love our neighbour, ‘the surest step towards an ability to cling to God’.7 The source of disorder is the soul’s turning toward the love of lesser things, and this comes from a desire to imitate God, that is, to be God, to dominate others, and to win honours and praise through our influence upon them. All this Augustine sees as the soul’s movement away from being. To become distended with pride is to move toward what is outside the soul’s real being and to become empty within, that is, to exist less and less fully, quod est minus minusque esse.8

With this doctrine of the fall from fullness of being Augustine combines another which for him is essential. Since God, being-itself, is immutable and changeless, the fall away from being is an attachment to the mutable. We turn away from pure eternity and toward non-being whenever the soul’s affection is directed toward that which is changing. St. Augustine’s attitude toward the pleasures of the body and toward human desire generally is profoundly affected by this doctrine. ‘Therefore we must not place our joys in carnal pleasures nor in honour and tributes of praise; nor in our thought for anything extrinsic to our body, forinsecus; for we have God within us, and there all that we love is fixed and changeless.’9

While not absolutely disparaging the realm of the changing, Augustine has repeated the theme of Greek religion which seeks salvation in the changelessness of absolute being. Consequently the vision of a hierarchy of goods appears in which everything in the temporal world is contrasted with the superior value of the non-temporal order. Here a preoccupation with the eternal at the expense of this world has entered into the perspective on love itself. This is why Augustine’s doctrine has at its foundation the distinction between the two loves, the love of God and the love of the world.10 There is indeed a delicate balance in his thought and he believes he has perceived the right use of temporal things; but he is perilously close to saying that to love God is to turn away from love for whatever is changeable. Thus a kind of asceticism of the temporal is introduced into Christian theology, which has affected the whole course of the conception of love.11

The issues concerning this asceticism come out clearly in Augustine’s view of sexual love. There is some point in the view that Augustine had much to do with fastening a negative and morbid attitude toward sexuality upon the Christian church, but we want to find what it is in his view of love which led to this.12 We have to go deeper than the familiar point that Augustine thought of the stain of original sin as transmitted through the act of procreation. We remember that Augustine never says the body is the source of evil. It is in the soul that evil arises. The body may weigh down the soul, but sinful actions result from the soul’s misdirection of the body.13 Further, Augustine can write beautifully upon the spiritual significance of marriage. When we compare him with such Fathers as Jerome and Tertullian he seems positively humane and liberal. The goods of marriage, he says, include the bearing and raising of children in the love of the Lord; the family loyalties of husband and wife, parents and children; and the sacramental unity of marriage. Augustine seems to give to sexual love the same power as that of other loves to participate in the fullness of being.14

We have further to allow to St. Augustine that some of his warnings about the dangers of moral distraction in the human loves come from an essential insight in the Gospel. Jesus’ extreme words about hating father and mother cannot be forgotten in any Christian ethic (Luke 14: 26). Augustine seems to be giving sensible advice when he says that marriage is not always to be rejected for the sake of the Kingdom. Rather, he says:

those who put their trust in these things, [i.e. marriage] who prefer them to God, who for the sake of these things are quick to offend God, these will perish. But those who either do not use these things or who use them as though they used them not, trusting more in Him who gave them than in the things given, understanding in them His consolation and mercy and who are not absorbed in these gifts lest they fall away from the giver, these are they whom the day will not overtake as a thief unprepared.15

Even Augustine’s doctrine that procreation is the only morally acceptable goal of sexual intercourse is based in part on his concern lest the satisfactions of the world distract us from our first obligation to God. It must be admitted here however that along with all the Church Fathers he failed to see sexual expression within human love as sustaining the personal relationship, and thus he fastened a doctrine of the unimportance of this personal function of sexual expression upon the catholic church which it is only now throwing off.16

The really serious problem in St. Augustine’s view stems from something other than his concern about single-minded devotion to God. It lies in his view that since the love of God is the love of the immutable it relegates every other love to a lesser place in a system of values. Augustine moves from the unchallengeable Christian doctrine that nothing must stand in the way of love to God to the quite different doctrine that there must be a hierarchy of higher and lower loves. The love of God therefore is intrinsically one that can be expressed more adequately by refraining from sexual love. Here is the basis of Augustine’s view that virginity is the highest human state, celibacy next, and that there is a scale of nobility in relation to continence after bereavement, with renunciation always receiving the highest honour.17

Here Augustine’s theology of the Fall and the subsequent redemption of sufficient souls to replenish heaven further confuses his view of the meaning of sex. The divine command to Adam and Eve to be fruitful holds from the Fall until Christ, since the people of God must be propagated in history. But the coming of Christ makes procreation an optional and lesser good for the race. Celibacy can be recommended as the best way of life for all, for redemption is fulfilled in the church whether the race goes on or not.

Augustine does not lose his sense of the moral realities altogether in this glorification of virginity and celibacy. A humble Catholic wife is nearer God than a proud virgin. He allows that there can be a pardoning of sexual gratification sought for its own sake within marriage if it contributes to the happiness and security of the marriage state.18 What disturbs us is that Augustine needs to hunt for this pragmatic justification of sexual fulfilment. His reason is that when all the loves are set within a hierarchy of values any love other than the love of God himself is a lesser love which can have only a relative justification.

It is important to trace this theological disparagement of sexual love to its source. The answer lies in the neo-platonic metaphysics which St. Augustine has taken into his doctrine of God. To love the absolutely immutable good which is above time and growth is of necessity to turn from the mutable and the temporal. Augustine cannot see it otherwise, given his presuppositions about God and the world. Hence he remains in the end double-minded about the human loves. They participate in God’s being and may lead toward blessedness in him. Yet in themselves as directed toward this world, even toward the beloved in marriage, they are inferior to the love of God and therefore dispensable. No one can say that this doctrine is unheroic or without its insight into the issue of ultimate concern. But is it in truth the right appraisal of the human loves? Augustine never quite brings his view of sexual love within the range of his deepest insight as to what loving another in God means: turning the whole current of love for self and neighbour into the channel of the love of God ‘which suffers no stream to be drawn off from itself by whose diversion its own volume would be diminished’.19 To turn the human loves into the stream of devotion to God is one thing, to set devotion to God apart as one kind of love which makes others inferior is another. It is here that later Christian thought in the Reformation began to seek another solution.

Over against this disparagement of earthly loves it is also characteristic of Augustine’s teaching that he declares the constructive power of love in the moral life. Virtue itself is ‘nothing else than the perfect love of God’ and the classic four virtues are rightly to be understood as four forms of love:

Temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity what hinders it and helps it.20

We see even more clearly why St. Augustine can speak with such freedom of love as the sole rule for the moral life. It is because love takes form in the virtues. It is their inner tendency and spirit. ‘Our root is our charity, our fruits are our works.’21

We are especially interested in the relation of love to justice since much modern discussion of theological ethics has turned upon this point. Reinhold Niebuhr in particular has pointed out how actual structures of justice in history represent balances of power informed by fear and self-defence as much as by any kind of love.

For St. Augustine it is clear where we must begin. Love as caritas, the love of God and neighbour, is inseparable from justice. ‘The enlarging of the heart is the delight we take in justice.’22 So Augustine has the interesting teaching that justice itself must be loved. As it is loved there is progress in the Christian life.

Inchoate charity, therefore, is inchoate justice; progressing charity is progressing justice; great charity is great justice; perfect charity is perfect justice.23

Now the deep realism of this position comes into view. For the love which unites man with God must do its work in a humanity which has fallen away from God. There are two cities: one determined by love of God and one by man’s self-love. Thus Augustine begins the City of God. What then are the requirements and possibilities of love in the history of the earthly city? Here St. Augustine’s realistic view of political life is of such character that Reinhold Niebuhr can call him the wisest political philosopher in Christian history.24 What St. Augustine does is to see the way of love in history as requiring the adjustment of life to political necessities. The two cities are mingled in history. A just state is possible, but only on terms in which the state can make demands upon the citizens whether they belong to the church or not:

The celestial kingdom groans amid the citizens of the terrestrial kingdom; and sometimes the terrestrial kingdom . . . exacts service from the citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, and the Kingdom of Heaven exacts service from the citizens of the terrestrial kingdom.25

The principles which guide those who have begun to love God are justified in the service of love. It is St. Augustine who gives the most radical principle of freedom in all Christian ethics. ‘Love and do as you will.’ But to love is to be responsible, and human history is lived out under the conditions of the sinfulness of man. This means that society is involved in discovering and enforcing certain proper restraints in the common life. God intended equality among men; but ‘private property, slavery, imperialism, the State itself, appear in post-Fall society as regulations of God to preserve nature, which is always being disrupted by sin’.26 Justice thus appears as the rough, necessary, coerced order of human societies which is not wholly antithetical to love, since it serves the purpose of God in the creation and history. But the actual enforcement of justice, and the struggle for it shows everywhere the tragic consequences of sin.

Yet St. Augustine does not quite leave the ethic of love in unresolvable dilemmas. History has a tendency, a direction. God’s Kingdom is its goal. History moves toward the Kingdom, not as an irresistible progress in time; but as participating in the final resolution which God will bring about. Hence for St. Augustine there is a continual transformation taking place in life. Ceaselessly, surely, with infinite patience God remakes the world through his grace as the heavenly city grows and is fulfilled. The Church can undertake to convert the world and culture with an ultimate assurance. H. Richard Niebuhr sees St. Augustine as giving classic expression to the conversionist type of relation of Christ to culture.27 Every level and type of human value is internally open to fulfilment through its relationship to God’s goodness. There is nothing positively good in the world which cannot be incorporated into the life which loves God. Beauty, friendship, social justice are all material for the higher order which love seeks. Augustine is also willing to use the power of the state to bring heretics and schismatics into line. They cannot be converted by force, no one can; but there is a proper ordering of human life which should be carried out by the Church in the name of the heavenly city.

Human life displays everywhere a tragic disorder. Human loves are directed toward the self and the things that immediately gratify the self. Man allows himself to be borne away by his own weight from his true centre and life in God. This is so in spite of the fact that all man’s knowing and loving, so far as it is an expression of his being, is a search for God. ‘The learner who is questioned moves inwardly to God to understand immutable truth.’28 Yet disaster overtakes him. Augustine sees sin as intervening in the movement toward God. Here is a paradox, for it is the very achievement of good, the sense of divinity, which tempts man to pride. Man overreaches himself. He becomes puffed up with knowledge and power. He forgets God and tries to make himself secure in his godlike qualities. The plunge into non-being can take the form of self-gratification and self-righteousness in the powerful and arrogant. But these momentary delights are empty and self-destructive.

Salvation which is the fulfilment of love cannot come from ourselves or our own will. It must come from God. Augustine understands God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ as the act of the divine love coming to meet man, and reversing the destructive direction which human love has taken. We have already seen that faith must be the foundation of a right understanding of the truth, and now we fully see why. The only disclosure of the truth which can rightly order the loves corrupted by sin is the divine humility which is displayed in Jesus Christ.

Augustine never tires of portraying the tremendous paradox of the incarnation, The almighty God has clothed himself in the rags of the humblest man:

He is at once above, and below: above in Himself, below in His people; above with the Father, below in us. . . . So then Christ is rich and poor. As God he is rich, as Man poor. Yea, rich too now as Very Man, he hath ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; yet he is still poor here, is a-hungered and athirst and naked.29

The agape of God has come to us in a way which transcends our rational grasp and our human powers to respond. God’s grace does what human power alone cannot do. Augustine’s view of the way in which love does its work in the world is therefore a thoroughgoing doctrine of grace. He does not deny that there is a movement toward God in our existence in so far as we are drawn in some way toward the source of our being. Grace answers man’s search for truth and beauty. But the human search has fallen into disarray and obscurity. The power of God alone can revolutionize our orientation and set us on the straight path.

The question of how God redeems us in Christ led to the later theories of atonement. Augustine has some suggestions in this direction but it is worth noting that he does not have what later systematic theology would call a fully developed Christology. Neither the incarnation nor atonement is given anything like a precise formulation. He knows the Church and its Sacraments as the channels of grace. In Baptism and the Eucharist the outward signs of invisible grace are present and effective mediators of the grace of Christ. While we speak of the mediation of grace we recognize that Augustine sees a profound tension between the immediacy of God and man’s estrangement from him. This tension exists throughout the life of faith even as we are being ingrafted into Christ’s body:

We seek to attain God by loving Him; we attain to Him not by becoming entirely what He is, but in nearness to Him, and in wonderful and sensible contact with Him, and in being inwardly illuminated and occupied by His truth and holiness.30

In Christ God gave the Spirit of his love to men. We grasp this by faith which only gradually and always imperfectly in this life becomes conformed to the Spirit of love. So there is a paradox in true holiness:

Let whosoever shall have been delivered from sin remember what he was. . .. For then he beareth another man to be healed, if he shall remember that he himself was healed. Therefore let each call to mind what he was, and whether he be not still so; and he then will succour him that still is what he is no longer.31

It is the reality of grace present in Christ which is Augustine’s constant theme. It is this which we lay hold upon in faith. But faith is possible only because love works beyond our deserving. We can begin to walk though feebly in the way of love because ‘The Way has come to us’.32


Father M. C. D’Arcy’s penetrating study, The Mind and Heart of Love, shows how a contemporary Catholic doctrine which moves within the Augustinian and Thomist traditions discovers the inner tension and unresolved problems in the position.33 The tension here occurs with variations in each of our three types. It stems from the fact that the tradition has had a too simple doctrine of man, and therefore the doctrines of love seem inadequate as man tries to cope with his existence in the world of the twentieth century. St. Augustine of course knows the depths in man. ‘Is not man’s heart an abyss? For what is there more profound than that abyss ?’34 This is why Augustine is read by existentialists with a profound sense of kinship. Yet Augustine has a security, both dialectical and spiritual, in his answers to the human questions which contemporary searchers cannot quite share.

The feeling that classic culture had a too simple view of man is related to both sides of the human situation, man’s creativity and his chaotic freedom. There is a radical capacity in human freedom to create realms of meaning and reshape the world, but it can also deny meaning to existence, reject God, and plunge toward self-destruction. In this uniqueness of human freedom, man’s power to shape the meaning of life in his own image, there lies a seemingly unlimited capacity for sensing the absurdity, the futility, the ambiguities of existence, and for rejecting any unifying order in things. Man’s reason becomes a conquering power in his dealing with nature, but it is a suspect and corruptible instrument, especially when man tries to understand himself. All the modern existentialisms have described this radically problematic and insecure situation of man, and have attacked the rational images of being. This has had a profound effect on how the human loves are seen. Some find the meaning of life in a present, intimate and manageable kind of human love, such as that for another person, or in the ecstasies of group belonging. For others love becomes a false value, a lie, and a deception. The history of man is viewed as a story of naked power, destructiveness and cruelty. Is love an option for man as he tries to wring some meaning out of a tangled mass of suffering and strife? Can any ethic of love cope with the politics of nuclear threat and population explosion? We shall see how within each of the three traditions of Christian love there is a search for an authentic realism about man and history which results in a strain upon the traditional forms.

Father D’Arcy’s book takes the problem of the self as its centre, and seeks to interpret love in relation to the complex and dynamic view of selfhood which has emerged in modern psychology. D’Arcy moves into the problem by raising again a classic question in the medieval doctrine of man and his love. ‘We want to know how a man who is by nature bound to love himself can also love God more than himself. If it can be shown that in loving himself truly he is in fact loving God more than himself then the difficulty is answered.’ The question remains, D’Arcy points out, ‘whether a human being imitates God by seeking itself and its own perfection or by going outside itself to want only God’.35 There is a mystery here in the self-realizing love called Eros and the self-giving love called Agape. This mystery must be traced down into the existence of two loves within man. D’Arcy develops the doctrine of the two loves by identifying eros as belonging to the essential self. This love seeks fulfilment. It is possessive, masculine, imperious, and it denies the completion of personal being. It dominates the rational impulses and the will to understand. The other love is identified with the existential self. It is the love which seeks to give itself away. It is emotionally powerful in its heedlessness. It is feminine, intuitive, and spendthrift. It is the agape in the self. D’Arcy thus finds in human nature these structures which are used by and completed in the movement of divine love toward the fulfilment of life.

In insisting that there is a love in the self which lives by giving itself away to the other, D’Arcy asserts an Augustinian theme against the tendency toward intellectualism in St. Thomas, although D’Arcy’s method of philosophical reflection remains close to St. Thomas. D’Arcy believes that this analysis of the two loves can encompass the complexity in the human self which has been exposed by modern existentialism. He gives attention to the work of Hunter Guthrie who combines essentialist and existentialist doctrines by distinguishing between the essential and existential Egos. The former looks within to its own becoming, the latter seeks an Absolute to which it can give itself. In consequence:

In loving God there is no loss. The full love act, therefore if God so will, takes in both the ideal of the essential self and the existential self. There is the sheer giving and ecstatic happiness in being possessed by everlasting love, and concomitantly with this and fusing with it is the joy of possessing God as He is by means of the beatific vision.36

Without committing himself to an existentialist doctrine which gives primacy to the will over the intellect, D’Arcy is attracted to this position, for it fits in with his doctrine of the two loves. ‘The love of self is a true love; it is necessary for the permanent selfhood and splendour of our finite beauty; it is not just a part of another love: it is a co-efficient with it; the animus (eros) and the anima (agape) give each other mutual assistance and love; the essential self and the existential self together make the "I", the person. Eros and Agape are not enemies but friends.’37 This is D’Arcy’s synthesis. He thus restates the Augustinian position beautifully in relation to a radical contemporary distinction between essence and existence, and the two movements of love in the self.

Some queries to D’Arcy bring out the essential problem which remains in this modern Augustinian solution. The internal tension in the Augustinian doctrine finally comes to the surface. We see that Augustine’s metaphysics make the self-giving movement of love into a perplexity.

D’Arcy interprets the two loves in the following equation:

essence mind = self love

existence = passion = other love

This has consequences. One is that the mind is identified with self-seeking, and D’Arcy sees no way out of this.38 All self-giving, therefore, has to come from something other than the mind. And second, since eros, the mind’s love, is identified with essence, the striving, passionate, existential elements have to be formed elsewhere than in mind. This means that mind is something less than concrete existence. But are not intellectual passions just as ‘existential’ as any other? D’Arcy says, ‘To be a person is to be essentially in search of a person. Love presupposes knowledge, but it can to some degree do without it; what it needs is the living and actual being itself.’39 To some degree indeed love can do without knowledge; but only to a degrees hence the doctrine becomes unclear. If knowledge is essential to love, then knowledge and the mind’s participation are as truly ‘existential’ as the passion of self-giving.

In the quotation we have given D’Arcy makes a suggestion that points to the real problem. Something, he says, must unify eros and agape as they work together so that they ‘give each other mutual assistance and love’. But what is this love which unifies? Is it essential or existential? Clearly, it must be both. The distinction breaks down. St. Augustine would say, of course, that it is love itself, the love in God’s being, which constitutes all essence and existence. D’Arcy holds to the essentially Augustinian doctrine that it is love in God which is the key to anthropology, the one love which is grounded in the being of God himself. But what is it in the being of God which makes it possible for love to be both self-giving and self-fulfilling? This is the real problem. D’Arcy does not carry through in his doctrine of God the radical suggestion of his own solution, that essential love in God’s being involves a self-giving. The reason he does not, I suggest, is that he remains within the Augustinian metaphysical scheme even though he seeks a new anthropology. D’Arcy never questions the Augustinian-Thomist assumption of God’s absoluteness as being-itself which receives no increment of value from the world. D’Arcy never reconsiders his position in the light of the analysis of agape to ask whether the love of God is also a participating and suffering love. He says, indeed, that the Christian revelation tells us that ‘God has shown to us, so far as is compatible with the unchanging plenitude of his nature, a love like to that of self-donating and self-giving’.40 But how far is this compatible? That is the decisive question which D’Arcy leaves unanswered as the whole Augustinian tradition leaves it. Again he says perceptively, to be a person is to be in search of a person.41 But this should lead to some consideration of what it means for God to be ‘in search of man’, to use Abraham Heschel’s fine phrase. Notice that D’Arcy says search for the other person is essential to being a person. Must we not say that it is in the essence of the divine love to seek communion with the creature? Here a new perspective arises which the Augustinian type can never quite acknowledge.

The difficulty we have found in the Augustinian synthesis lies in its metaphysical doctrine. Both Nygren and D’Arcy seem to sense this though neither considers the question whether another metaphysical outlook might be compatible with the radical nature of love as grace, and with God’s self-involvement in history. We return to this metaphysical issue in the next two chapters. Now, however, we consider the next major type of love in the Christian tradition. This type is serenely unconcerned with metaphysical problems. It seeks the spirit of love directly in the imitation of Christ. We call this type Franciscan, because it found its supreme expression in the medieval period in St. Francis of Assisi.


The life and spirit of St. Francis of Assisi are well known, perhaps too well known through certain stereotyped images. There are paradoxes and perplexities in the Franciscan way of life no less than in other Christian ways and most of them appear at some point in Francis’ own career. The difficulties in the Franciscan way arise, most of them, from the very directness, simplicity and absoluteness of the expression of love in human existence. It attempts to make a radical break with the forms of possession and privilege, and from all compromise with the world which eats away at the spirit. It is the imitation of him who had no place to lay his head, who went about doing good, asked forgiveness for his enemies, refused all special power and status, and who lived in communion with God the Father and with all men who would respond. For St. Francis this way is possible because it has been taken by Jesus. Thus the Franciscan lives in full dependence upon the incarnation, as does the Augustinian. But for St. Francis and his followers the spirit of love leads to radical nonconformity amid the patterns of culture with their structures of power and privilege. Love must take form in humble service and its source is personal union with the spirit of Jesus.

We can understand the freedom and radicalness of this Franciscan way when we see it within the spiritual expectancy which characterized the beginning of the thirteenth century. St. Augustine’s view of history was ultimately optimistic since its end term is the Kingdom of God; but we have seen how this was adjusted to a patient and complex view of history in which the two cities of church and world are mingled in cultural creativity and conflict. St. Augustine died experiencing deep despair as the barbarians sacked Rome. In contrast St. Francis’s age had an ecstatic hopefulness which found its prophetic voice in the strange mystic and biblical interpreter, the monk Joachim of Flora (1154-1202). Joachim meditated on the biblical texts and especially upon the signs of the passing away of the present age and the coming new age. He worked out a view of history in biblical terms in which the first period is that of the Father, characterized by the rigour of the law, and man’s response of servile obedience and fear. The second period, that of the Son, is the rule of grace, marked by the requirement of filial obedience. Significantly, this period is dominated by the clerics. The third age is that of Spirit, the age of the plenitude of love, in which man responds in liberty and love. It is this third age which is trembling to be born, Joachim says. Indeed it is in some way already present. The ages interpenetrate in Joachim’s thought, which is not without its subtleties.42

It is not certain that St. Francis knew Joachim’s thought directly. Paul Sabatier thinks he probably did.43 Certainly the radical freedom and expectancy of spirit which Joachim articulates is present in St. Francis. We find an illustration of the interpenetration of the two ages, as St. Francis experiences the frustration and perplexity of dealing with the powers of established institutions and finally has to compromise with temporal possessions and make his peace with the Church. The most important element in the Franciscan doctrine of love is related to Joachim’s theme of radical freedom. The spirit of love breaks through the established institutions, the ethical order and personal relationships. It cuts its own channel with a cheerful abandon. It can despise the timidities and adjustments of ordinary existence. It creates human community where none was before through the directness of loving, humble action. The return to ‘evangelical simplicity’ carries the explosive power of a new witness.

Underneath this simplicity and radical freedom there are decisions to be made. The world has to be dealt with and persuaded. Life involves relationships to things, to institutions, to the needs of people. Let us see how St. Francis meets these requirements, and compare his solutions with those of one who belongs to the Franciscan type but who lived in the twentieth century — Albert Schweitzer.

These are the main themes of the Franciscan way of love:

First, there is the directness and simplicity of the rule of love nowhere better expressed than in the first rule which Francis laid down for his order. Paul Sabatier sums up the spirit of the first rule:

all is alive, free, spontaneous; it is a point of departure, an inspiration; it may be summed up in two phrases: the appeal of Jesus to man, ‘Come follow me’, the act of man, ‘He left all and followed him’. 44

This is a rule for a monastic order, and there are certain decisions which it requires. Love sets itself free by renouncing the kinds of obligations which would prevent its direct exercise. ‘To buy love I have entirely renounced the world and myself,’ St. Francis declares.45

This means the renunciation of grades of power and privilege and results in the attempt to create an essential equality and democracy in the order. It is true this democracy was never fully achieved, and one of St. Francis’s temptations lay in the imperious use of his authority, but his intent is clear. ‘As for me, I ask of God no privilege unless it be that I may have none.’46 We note also the origin of the name ‘Brothers Minor’. ‘Let the brethren . . . never take an office which shall put them over others. . .’47

The renunciation of privilege is less important (and less drastic) than the renunciation of possessions. The injunction to sell all that one has and give it to the poor is taken literally by St. Francis and is the rule for all members of his order. He even wanted the rule to keep the scriptural injunction for the traveller, ‘take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money’ but this was omitted under pressures of necessity.48 The brothers were to work to earn their bread; and if earnings were insufficient they might beg the little they needed. They owned the tools of their trades, but little else. Nothing illustrates more clearly the concrete meaning of the Franciscan practice of love than the attitude toward wealth. It is renounced by those who choose the way, and it is denounced as an evil. St. Francis can speak of it as a sacrament ‘of evil’.49 Yet he does not call upon all men to give up their possessions. It is goodness and kindness, forgiveness, repentance, which can be asked of all. Those who become members of the order must indeed renounce all wealth, and thus the way of poverty will address its own message to those who are bound by their possessions. Francis does not say ‘you cannot love and possess’, but he does say, ‘here is what love requires as we see it in the Lord’.

All force and violence are renounced. The way is the way of peacemaking and this means renunciation of military service, and of all sharing in coercive enforcement of the state power. The third order was founded as a peacemaking order renouncing all military service.50

Is learning a possession which must also be renounced, or is it a good which can be pursued in love? The attitude of St. Francis here also is ruled by the spirit of renunciation for the sake of the purity of love. He does not command ignorance, but he does see in the search for learning and the intellectual life a temptation which must be exposed and chastened. We remember that humility is essential to love. Learning easily leads to pride, the worst of sins. St. Francis fears that in competition with the Dominicans his order will become another school dedicated to acquiring knowledge. ‘A man’s knowledge is just what he does’ is a saying attributed to him,51 a motto which has an important history in the philosophies of Western civilization.

The history of love is full of ironies and one of those is the Franciscan tradition that this non-intellectual faith with its directness and derogation of philosophy and learning produced a line of Christian philosophers which includes some of the great names in intellectual history: St. Bonaventura, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. One of Francis’s sympathetic interpreters sees him as making incarnate in the integrity of loving action the essential Christian doctrines. ‘All the highest intellectual conclusions of the Fathers appear in St. Francis under the aspect of reality, of deeds, of life.’52

For the first Franciscans the practice of the way was not through theological reflection but in preaching and healing and other forms of personal service. The ministry to the poor and sick is the cherished and familiar picture. The labour is manual labour. The deeds are the meeting of obvious human needs. The element of self-renunciation is clear. Marriage is renounced. There are mortifications of the flesh. The sense of identification with the sufferings of Jesus enters into the heart of religious devotion, as is witnessed by St. Francis’s reception of the stigmata. Yet it is a joyful asceticism, and here we come upon one of the distinctive marks of the Franciscan type, its happy and lyric quality. It is the Franciscans who have linked the Gospel love with love of nature, the spirit of communion with the animals and the whole creation. We can discount some of the sentimentalities which have grown up around the image of St. Francis, but the genuineness of his delight in the created world, and the expression of interior joy in outward song is inescapable.53

As the new way found its form within the larger structure of the church the strain between Francis and the established powers becomes a familiar part of the history. He never separated himself from the ecclesia or its forms of worship. The way of love is sustained by the sacramental life. Daily mass is part of the rule.

The deepest note in the way, however, is sounded only when we come to the identification of the lover with Christ. lt is the union of the servant with the master, of follower with leader, of forgiven sinner with the Lord of mercy. This union is the source of love’s power. Just before he receives the stigmata Francis prays that he may feel in his own soul and body the suffering of Jesus, and, this is decisive for the meaning of love, that he may receive into his own heart that ‘excessive charity by which thou, the son of God, wast inflamed, and which actuated thee willingly to suffer so much for us sinners’.54

The source of love is the personal bond with him who made love incarnate; and the bond is an immediate personal communion of spirit. This is the real sense of the imitation of Christ. It is being conformed to the love which informed the incarnate Lord. We may call this ‘Christ-mysticism’ if we wish. It is a mysticism which may culminate in such ecstatic signs as that experienced by St. Francis; but its essence is the personal union of spirit with the love of Christ in a way of life guided by the command of complete devotion.

The desire for freedom from compromise and restriction which breathes through the Franciscan spirit is not a solution of all problems. The history of St. Francis’s life is filled with tension. His constant fear of the corruption of the order is part of the price paid for his attempt to keep free from all attachments which compromise love. In actual fact a continual series of adjustments had to be made to the authority of the Church. Further, this rigorous way is for those who can renounce the world to follow it; but it cannot be for all men. St. Francis seems quite clearly to accept this. Therefore the question of the possibility of the imitation of Christ in love is really not answered. Critical reflections also arise in connection with the psychological ambiguities of motivation. It is not a denial of the reality of love in the Franciscan way to point out that the will to power can take many forms and one of them may be the commitment to humility. St. Francis’s self-knowledge seems to have brought this truth to consciousness for him as he sought to guide his order. As we read the words of his will we are struck by the combination of humility with the final attempt of the founder of a community to impose his decisions upon it for all time to come. He writes:

I interdict absolutely by obedience all the brothers, clerics and laymen, to introduce glosses in the Rule or in this Will, under pretext of explaining it. But since the Lord has given me to speak and to write the Rule and these words in a clear and simple manner, without commentary, understand them in the same way, and put them in practice until the end.55

The will to be a servant can conceal an imperious desire to control. This is not to suggest that this form of love is more subject to pathological distortion than others; but only to say that the Franciscan type with its thirst for absolute love is subject to all the human temptations.

We can say, then, that the Franciscan type of expression of the love revealed in the Gospel has its characteristic forms. The very search for purity of spirit is itself one form of human expression. St. Francis shows the holy impatience of Gospel love to be free from stale compromise and lethargy, but he also has to find ways in which the life of simplicity and purity can take shape in the historical situation in which he lives. He must deal with the church, with the powers of a feudal society, and with the disciplines, temptations, and style of life of a monastic order, as he seeks heroically to have that order conform to the spirit of love.

The Franciscan type erupts perennially and unpredictably in history. There is something untameable in it. Personal dedication takes the form of dramatic protest and ethical judgment against an age or society. Our twentieth century has recognized its reappearance in a few lonely figures, and one of these of greatest ethical stature is Albert Schweitzer.


To characterize Albert Schweitzer as a twentieth-century Franciscan is not intended to establish a rigid parallelism between these two disparate lives in very different times. It is however relevant to the history of love to show that the force and mode of Schweitzer’s life exhibits a fundamental kinship with the spirit of the Franciscan type. Schweitzer, the highly talented scholar and artist, renounced the privileges of life in European society to bring healing to people in the steaming jungle of Africa. Again the direct power of the example speaks for itself. Schweitzer responded in several ways to the question of why he went to Africa. His replies taken together suggest that he never really intended to give a reply. If one cannot see or feel the meaning of the act, there is no use trying to say it in words.56

Schweitzer’s pattern of life exhibits much of the simplicity and impatience with organization that one finds in St. Francis. There is the same renunciation of the accepted structure of values in the world of affairs, and the same persistent problems of compromise and adjustment to necessities. His human relationships show the direct personal concern for hurt and suffering people. There is the same love of nature, and the principle of non-injury to life.

There appear to be two important respects in which Schweitzer’s way differs from the Franciscan. The first is his high evaluation of intellectual and artistic creativity. In his love for music he shares with all the Franciscans the tradition of God’s troubadours. But he also regarded his philosophy of civilization as an essential part of his life work. So the ‘renaissance ideal’ of creativity is upheld, and Schweitzer was explicitly conscious of his affinity with the renaissance spirit.57

The second fundamental difference is Schweitzer’s independence of ecclesiastical order, and his freedom from identification with any traditional pattern of religious life. He maintained the devotion of a Christian family worship in the hospital, and he never rejected the Christian tradition, but his life and work were not constituted within a religious order or sect, and he was responsible to no overarching religious institution. Further, his philosophy of life appears to seek a universal perspective beyond the bounds of every religious tradition including the Christian.

The deepest affinity between Schweitzer and St. Francis lies in the interior religiousness which finds expression in the directness of the spirit of love. Schweitzer’s radical demonstration of love in the form of unpretentious human service, under conditions which involve personal renunciation, corresponds directly to St. Francis’s rule of love and humility as the authentic foundation of a way of life free from attachments of privilege and power. The act of service to the neighbour under conditions which require sacrifice marks the Franciscan protest against the world’s tendency to trim love down to its own size. Schweitzer explicitly relates his doctrine to the tradition of ethical love. He says his principle of ‘reverence for life’ is broader and therefore more ‘colourless’ than what love has meant in the tradition, ‘but it has the same energies within it’.58

We come then to Schweitzer’s relationship to Jesus as the foundation and impulse of his way of life. We saw that for St. Francis personal identification with Jesus and dependence upon him is the centre of his being. The familiar closing words of Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus suggest a similar relationship:

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: ‘Follow thou me!’ and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfil for our time. He commands.

And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.59

Did this remain the source of Schweitzer’s commitment, or is it a stage in a growth toward something beyond personal mysticism? Perhaps this question cannot be answered. The life speaks for itself, but there is enough to indicate that the carpenter of Nazareth was recognized as ‘speaking the same word of command’ in the Lambarene doctor’s daily existence, even to his carpentering.

Schweitzer was an authentic saint, exhibiting the power of radical dedication to express the meaning of love. He was also an intellectual, a philosopher, and moralist who continued throughout his life wrestling with the issues of modern civilization. It is here that we find in Schweitzer a break with tradition similar to that which we found in D’Arcy. The traditional forms of ethical insight do not adequately comprehend the perplexity in which modern man finds himself when he tries to understand his place in nature, the dynamics of selfhood, and the ambiguities of history. Schweitzer shows how the Franciscan spirit in its very directness of attack on the problem of ethics finds perplexities which force a reappraisal of the foundations of ethical life. In a remarkable article in 1953 Schweitzer restated his reflections on the ethical tradition of Western man, and it is necessary to hear his argument.

Underneath man’s quest for an ethical way of life Schweitzer sees a struggle which has not been sufficiently recognized, that between world-affirmation and world negation. The latter he finds in Hinduism, Buddhism, and in Ancient and Medieval Christianity. World affirmation he finds in the Hebrew prophets, the Chinese thinkers, in the Renaissance, and in modem thinkers. It is a large generalization, but the important point is the choice Schweitzer makes. ‘Only the ethics which is allied to the affirmation of the world can be natural and complete.’60 Christianity has never turned away from the world entirely; it has called for renunciation in order to transform the world and prepare for the Kingdom of God. Thus Schweitzer sees Jesus: ‘In his ethics activity preserves all its rights and all its obligations.’ Schweitzer then traces the history of ethics in the West, emphasizing the importance of the discovery that the ethics of love could be defended rationally, and the new enthusiasm this gave to philosophers. On the whole, he says, this confidence has dominated modern ethical theory until very recent times.

But now a perplexity has arisen in moral experience. The rational justification of compassion has become more difficult. Here Schweitzer discusses questions which critics of his position have often raised. How is it possible to have life at all without taking life? Does he not as a doctor take the life of bacteria, and does he not have to choose between saving a man and the animal who is attacking him? He must sometimes choose between the life of a mother and that of an unborn child. Here Schweitzer says we come into the realm of the arbitrary. We become guilty by necessity. This leads to an insight into the nature of the world process itself. The world as experienced offers no justification for compassion, because life is in conflict with itself, ‘Ethics can expect nothing from a true knowledge of the world’. Schweitzer holds that the ethic of respect for life is based on the human will to live and that it follows we should respect the will to live wherever it exists. The good consists in preserving life, favouring it. Schweitzer now says this principle is even broader than love, for from it one may deduce the moral requirement of veracity, but this cannot be derived from love alone. We have then a universal obligation to enhance life, even though we find the creative process of the universe in conflict with itself. Schweitzer ends on a typically existentialist note, ‘We live our existence instead of submitting to it’.

The new ‘canticle of the sun’ following Schweitzer would celebrate all living things, but recognize a dark mystery as well as beauty amidst the sun and stars and the struggle for life. The decision of the moral man requires the courage of risk in a world which does not yield a direct and obvious support of the principle of universal reverence. For the Christian this courageous decision is made in personal identification with the man Jesus, crucified for love. But again we have heard the contemporary note of perplexity struck. The Franciscan spirit finds itself less at home in the world than ever before, less able to give a direct assurance that such faith in love is the key to human existence. Yet in the dark insecurity of the world the light of a courageous and dedicated love may shine even more brightly.


The third way of love in the Christian tradition, like the Franciscan, intends a return to the purity of the Gospel. Like the Franciscan also it protests against the ecclesiastical order, a protest which appeals to the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ in judgment against the authority of the ecclesiastical tradition. But in contrast to the Franciscan way the Protestant Reformation understands the love of God as grace, as forgiveness given to man, rather than as a spirit which can be directly and immediately realized in man, Justification comes by faith in God’s grace. It comes to man who is incapable of loving God and his neighbour through his own power or will. ‘That which I would I do not, and that which I would not that I do. . . .’ ‘For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh. I can will what is right but I cannot do it. For I do not the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. . . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 7:18-19, 24-5).

Martin Luther’s revolutionary conception of faith consists essentially in this, that the love of God which is man’s hope and salvation has come to us in the form of the Servant which Christ has assumed. It comes only in this way to sinners. Hence the only form under which we can grasp the love of God is that which it takes when in faith we depend wholly upon God’s mercy toward us. The way of love as a possibility for man rests wholly on faith in the divine forgiveness, and knowledge of the love of God comes only through that faith.

In his Treatise on Christian Liberty Luther interprets the Christological passage in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the great hymn of the incarnation, as the movement which takes place away from the equality with God which belonged rightly to Christ to the form of the Servant:

Although Christ was filled with the form of God and rich in all good things, so that he needed no work and suffering to make him righteous and saved (for he had all this eternally), yet he was not puffed up by them and did not exalt himself above us and assume power over us, although he could rightly have done so; but, on the contrary, he so lived, laboured, worked, suffered, and died that he might be like other men and in fashion and in actions be nothing else than a man, just as if he had need of all these things and had nothing of the form of God. But he did all this for our sake, that he might serve us and that all things which he accomplished in this form of a servant might become ours.

So the form which love takes in Christ becomes also its form in us when we are joined to him in faith.

So a Christian, like Christ his head, is filled and made rich by faith and should be content with this form of God which he has obtained by faith.61

The consequences which Luther and the other Reformers drew from this theme constitute the Protestant Reformation. It is by grace alone, and by faith alone that the love of God can be known, responded to, and expressed in love for the neighbour. Nothing in human effort or will, nothing in our human loves, distorted as they are by sin, can be relied upon as indications of the love of God. The image of God in man has been defaced, so that there remains only an awareness of God’s power and law, and therefore of condemnation and wrath; but there is not in unregenerate man any power to know, express or share the love which alone can restore him to his true humanity. Self-love rules in actual man, and it contradicts the self-giving love which God has given in Christ. ‘The dregs of the heart and the bilge of the old man remain, namely love of self (amor sui ipsius).’ Luther continues:

For none loves righteousness save this one, Christ, all others either love money, or comfort or honour, or else despising these things, they seek glory, or if they are the best of people they love themselves more than righteousness. . . thus while love of self remains, a man cannot love righteousness or do its works, though he may pretend to do so, and the consequence is that the so-called virtues of the philosophers, and indeed of all men, whether the lawyers or the theologians, may appear to be virtues, but are really only vices.62

The force of Luther’s protest against the claims to authority of the established Church is to be found partly in the appeal to scripture, but also in this doctrine of man’s condition and of the love of God as present only through God’s grace. For notice, if this is the only way love can become known and powerful in human life, then all claims to possess or domesticate it, and all self-reliance on human virtue, power, and wisdom must be challenged in the name of the love of God. Thus the Protestant Reformation is a decisive moment in the history of the understanding of love, whether one accepts this position or not, for it raises in the sharpest possible way the question of the meaning of the human loves when seen in the light of the love of God as known to faith through Jesus. If love has a history then here is the point at which that history is shaped by a new understanding which claims to have its source in the history of Jesus.

Nygren’s exposition of Luther as having recovered the pure motif of agape against all synthesis with eros does bring out the decisive aspect of Luther’s treatment of love. Luther sets the agape of God sharply off against all human loves. Its character is its gracious outgoing, not to the desirable and lovely, but to the meeting of whatever need is present. Luther says, ‘it (love) betakes itself not where it finds a good to enjoy but where it may confer good upon the poor and needy’. Nygren sees this as an obvious thrust at Augustine’s ‘fruition of love’ in God.

All that can be called Agape derives from God. From above his love comes down to us, and it must pass on through us to our neighbour. ‘Amor crucis cx cruce natus’ does not seek its own; and it has also left behind the idea of ‘fruitio’.63

Nygren thus uses his doctrine of the contrasting motifs of eros and agape to point to what is distinctive in the Reformation conception of love, but he treats this as the only interpretation of love which really expresses the New Testament conception. We have found good reason to doubt that this extreme claim can be supported. There are several ways in which the relation of God’s love and human love can be interpreted on the basis of the New Testament. What Nygren has shown is that the Reformers’ doctrine of the gracious love of God as utterly beyond all calculation and analogy with human love establishes an aspect of New Testament faith which helps to shape every Christian perspective on love.

There are however certain characteristic issues which the Reformers’ doctrine raises with other interpretations of love. Each type has to come to terms with persistent human problems in its own way, and the evangelical way has some especially acute tensions just because of its clear affirmation that the agape of God comes from the free grace of God beyond all human intent and capacity to grasp it.64 Three major questions must be faced: how love comes to man; what love does; and how ethical decisions are possible in the life of faith.

As to the first of these questions, God’s love comes to us in Jesus Christ, but we need to say how. Spirit and power are communicated but by what means? Love uses the means of grace in church and sacrament. Further, its communication is bound up in part with preaching. The Reformers probe this mystery, but never move from the view that love comes by grace alone, not by what men can think or prepare or grasp with their own power. It is received by faith alone, not by some answering love in man. In consequence God’s love in his incarnate Word must be interpreted in fully personal terms but in a way which never permits any human power to contain it or control it.65

All the questions concerning the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to sinners arise here. Is our new status as justified sinners one which can be understood dynamically as present transformation by the power of God, or is it sheer hope, relying upon the promise of God while we remain sinners? The positions of Reformation theology are varied and complex, but it is fair to say that Luther gives the central theme. Through the Word of God Incarnate in Jesus Christ, as that word is preached and heard, and with the clarifying and renewing power of the Holy Spirit at work in man, the believer begins to live by the promises of God. He is released from condemnation. The new life consists in becoming conformed to the image of Christ and joined in spirit with him. Love becomes effective through the personal relationship which God creates between the believer and Christ, and the believer’s side of this relationship is faith which is casting his trust completely on to the grace of God.

Luther’s expression of this relationship is full of metaphors, none of which is wholly adequate. Some are fully personal, some are analogies drawn from nature. There is the image of the seal impressed upon wax as Christ’s image is impressed upon human nature. There is the glow of the iron which is heated in the fire. There is the well-known ‘one cake’ in which believer and Christ are ‘baked’ into union. In view of the importance of the analogy of marriage as used in the scripture it is noteworthy that Luther uses it freely:

For if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers? . . . Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and he cannot sin, die, or be condemned; his righteousness, life and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death and pains of hell which are his bride’s. As a matter of fact he makes them his own. . . . He suffered, died, and descended into hell that he might overcome them all.66

Calvin’s definition of faith is put with characteristic intellectual coolness and precision; but his doctrine of the Spirit as the present power of God making faith possible is clear:

Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which, being founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds, and confirmed to our hearts, by the Holy Spirit.67

Calvin can also speak in personal and dynamic terms of the relation of the Christian to Christ. We are being transformed into his image:

Christ is not without us, but dwells within us; and not only adheres to us by an indissoluble connection of fellowship, but by a certain wonderful communion coalesces daily more and more into one body with us, till he becomes altogether one with us.68

These passages help us to grasp the meaning of the evangelical way. Later orthodoxies sometimes lost the significance of the remaking of the person through the relationship to the Person of Christ. Later pietism sometimes sentimentalized this relationship, making it depend upon emotional responsiveness, doctrinal correctness, or moralistic striving. For Luther and Calvin the key to the whole matter is that the love of God in Christ comes through the freedom of the Holy Spirit. It is grace, and its truth must be preached and received in faith. It depends upon no human law or pattern of life. It is the wind of God, blowing where it listeth. Yet the Reformers combined this radical freedom with the insistence that the new life is lived in the community of the church with its tradition, its scriptural authority and the celebration of the sacraments, for now the church is known as the community which God creates by his grace. Therefore the Church is itself subject to the judgment of God.

The second issue for the evangelical way concerns what the new life of faith requires of man. Man the sinner is utterly incapable of loving God or his neighbour. Sin is forgiven but not eliminated by grace. What then is to be the ethical expression of the new life?

We begin with Luther, whose picture of the redeemed life differs slightly from Calvin’s. For Luther there is no question that a new life begins in faith. That life is the life of love to neighbour. Luther also speaks of love to God, and certainly of love to Christ, but neighbour love is the most prominent theme:

Behold from faith thus flow forth love and joy in the Lord, and from love a joyful, willing, and free mind that serves one’s neighbour and takes no account of gratitude or ingratitude, or praise or blame, of gain or loss. . . .

Therefore if we recognize the great and precious things which are given us, as Paul says (Romans 5: 5) our hearts will be filled by the Holy Spirit with the love which makes us free, joyful, almighty workers and conquerors over all tribulations, servants of our neighbours, and yet lords of all.69

What, then, of the human loves, sex, play, artistic creativity? Are these to be displaced or transformed? As we read the Reformers today it is astonishing how little this question occurs in their writings. They do not seem to feel it as an acute problem. The reason may be that they have such a low view of man in his actuality. All his loves are but the refuse of a shattered original humanity, and it does not concern them what becomes of the ordinary human desires and attachments. One cannot deny that something of this attitude is present.

But there is a more important attitude, the ‘secularizing’ of the Christian life, and the refusal to make a distinction between a religious vocation and others. They accept the natural scene of life as the realm in which God works through every person. The relation here between the renaissance affirmation of human creativity and the reformation with its reliance on grace presents a complex and baffling problem. But we miss the real spirit of the reformation if we do not see the element of the renaissance with its acceptance of man’s natural life as essentially good and the scene of his creative action. Luther and Calvin attack asceticism. They reject the necessity of celibacy or service in the church’s ministry. The life of love is to be realized in the world of affairs.

Each one should do the works of his profession and station, not that by them he may strive after righteousness but that through them he may keep his body under control, be an example to others who also need to keep their bodies under control, and finally that by such works he may submit his will to that of others in the freedom of love.70

Calvin keeps this note of the uses of work as discipline in his doctrine of the Christian life. For Luther the tension between the freedom of love and the actuality of sin remains at a high pitch throughout. For Calvin there is more emphasis on ordered progress and growth in the redeemed life.71

We have said that the Reformation spirit accepts the natural scene of human life. This was given theological justification through the doctrine that grace comes through the personal relationship of God and man. The reformers of course did not reject the church, the sacraments, and the mediation of the witness through the scripture. They were not individualists. They did reject any view that grace is under the control of a human power, even that of the church. A man can be outside the sphere of grace even though he conforms to the objective requirements of the religious community. And he can remain inside the sphere of grace where he works in the secular community, for grace is not a special religious addition to the natural life of man. It is the personal presence of God in his mercy and forgiveness for every man as he is. The sacraments impart grace when faith is present and not otherwise.72

There is additional theological guidance for the life of the Christian in the world. God provides for the necessities of human living under the conditions of sin. Luther can boldly say that if all men were truly Christians there would be no need for ‘secular sword or law’. There would still be need for work to meet human needs, but God has provided forms of law and government that man’s life may be ordered, sin restrained, and the necessities of communal existence met. There are really two sides to Luther’s doctrine:

God has provided for non-Christians a different government outside the Christian estate and God’s kingdom, and has subjected them to the sword, so that even though they would do so, they cannot practice their wickedness, and that, if they do they may not do it without fear nor in peace and prosperity. . .73

But Luther joins to this special doctrine (and it is not clear just who he considers ‘real’ Christians), his more general view that God has made provision for all men in the orders of creation:

Therefore you should cherish the sword or the government, even as the state of matrimony, or husbandry, or any other handiwork which God has instituted. As a man can serve God in the state of matrimony, in husbandry, or at trade, for the benefit of his fellow man, and must serve Him if necessity demand; just so he can serve God in the State and should serve him there.74

This doctrine came to be called the ‘Orders of creation’. It brings us to the third major issue in the Reformers’ conception of love. The freedom of the Gospel is the freedom which makes love for the neighbour the criterion of all action and obligation. That is why Luther can say no law would be needed if men were Christian. But life, Christian or not, must be lived in the world as it is. What then are the criteria for Christian action in the world, in politics, in economics? Here the long history of the Protestant ethic begins. And it is here that new problems have emerged.


We have seen how in each of the other two types of doctrine of love contemporary experience raises questions which have forced a reconsideration of the meaning of love within that perspective. In the case of the Evangelical type the search for a political ethic has been one spiritual area in which the traditional formulations have proved inadequate, and we can explore this development. It is Reinhold Niebuhr in the twentieth century who, standing within the Reformation tradition, has become its foremost critic precisely at the point of the struggle for justice in history. Out of his reconsideration of the relation of the agape of the Gospel to political life he forged a new interpretation of the meaning of love in the Christian faith. He reaffirms the reformation views of the depth and persistence of sin, and the doctrine of justification by faith. But he seeks to show that these doctrines have a relevance to the contemporary experience of man, especially in his collective life, which the Reformers did not completely fathom. Niebuhr gives us, then, another example of the modification of the conception of love under the stress of contemporary experience.

In the background of Niebuhr’s analysis there is Kierkegaard’s view of anxiety as the source of man’s temptation to pride and the flight from the self. With this clue to the nature of sin, Niebuhr has re-examined the actualities of man’s political and economic behaviour. The result is a powerful description of the reality of sin which has few parallels in the history of Christian thought.75

Niebuhr believes the Reformers fell into two major errors. In Luther there is the danger of complacency about the established order, and a deflection of the Christian from radical reforming improvements in the struggle for justice. In Calvin there is the zeal to improve society; but there is a much too complacent view of the righteousness of Christians, and too little awareness of the elements of value and relative progress in the life of purely secular society. Thus Niebuhr combines an Augustinian sense of the elements of good and justice in the whole of creation with the Reformers’ doctrine of the depth of human sin and the impossibility of man’s virtue as justifying him before God. How Niebuhr has done this can be outlined in a brief characterization of his doctrine of love.

The search for a valid ethic is the core of Niebuhr’s theological quest. Every rational analysis of the ethical situation tends to come out to the view that a harmony of interests held together in mutual regard and ultimately in the spirit of mutual love is the highest good conceivable and possible for man. Such a rational good would fulfil the demands of justice which flows from the ultimate principles of freedom and equality.

There are elements of mutual love in all human life. It is possible for one to take account of the needs of another, and there is a rational and a humanly sensitive concern about justice. Yet this drive toward mutual love and justice, so far as it is guided by man’s rational estimate of his good, must always stop at the ideal of the mutual fulfilment of all. Mutual love must, according to Niebuhr, calculate the reciprocity of the other. It is not obligated to give more of the self than it can reasonably expect to be returned. Every concrete search for justice looks for that order in which my freedom and equality and that of my group are fulfilled along with that of all others.

In principle then mutual love works to fulfil life for all, but in actual history mutuality breaks down. It cannot fulfil itself. There are two reasons for this and they are related. There is, of course, the stark reality of life with its accidents and its tragedies, its misunderstanding and its end in death. There are all sorts of natural limitations on the fulfilment of an ordered community of mutuality. It is at best an ideal, not a direct possibility.

But man does not live motivated by his ideal rational good alone. Man is sinner, living in an anxious freedom in which he can both imagine the highest possibilities of eternal fulfilment, and also sense the threats to his existence, his status, and his power which arise from the circumstances of life. Here Niebuhr makes full use of Kierkegaard’s analysis of the nature of sin, and then brilliantly examines the actual way in which men estimate their own good and power and that of others.

The chief result of sin is that we overestimate the significance of our own good. We seek to achieve an absolute security for ourselves first, and thus our self-love is unmasked. If we loved our neighbour as ourselves we could regard the community of mutual love and the spirit which seeks it as the solution of the ethical problem. But Niebuhr denies that such a high ethical place is possible for man as he is. One of Niebuhr’s most telling insights is that the claim to love the other equally usually is the mask of our inordinate self-love. The pretensions of righteousness reflect the inability of the self to be freed from its anxiety. Thus ethical ‘love’ becomes an ideology concealing the will to power. Niebuhr charges that all traditional doctrines, including those of the reformation, have insufficient realism about the persistence of self-love in the life of the redeemed.

Before we see how this analysis of love leads to a new consideration of the meaning of agape there is a complementary side of the ethical problem to be faced.

There are always at least minimal possibilities for the achievement of justice and a measure of brotherhood in human affairs. These do not depend upon the highest ethical commitments of which men are capable, but upon that mixture of human sympathy, rationality and self-interest which constitutes the basic pattern of human motivation While Niebuhr is a realist about the possibilities of human justice he has a strong concern for the social reformism in politics which characterizes modern democracy and the Christian social Gospel. Hence Niebuhr is quite unwilling to remain within the tradition of Lutheranism with its tendency to accept the established order, or with the early Calvinist view of the Christian reformation of the state. The struggle for political justice leads out beyond the power and vision of any present religious institution. That effort is compounded of many forces and powers. Every group has its interest, and must either conquer other groups or achieve some balance of rough justice with them. The motivation here is far from the love of the Gospel, yet the goods to be won through involvement in the stuff of history are genuine goods which must be affirmed in a Christian ethic.

Important as this struggle for relative justice is, it betrays the inadequacy of human ethics and human goodness to establish a righteous order. Every actual system of justice is compounded of rational order, a balance of power and the imposition of the will of one group upon another. Those who profit from the established order will estimate the degree of its justice more highly than those who suffer from it. Every order is precarious for it is subject to the violence of unreconciled forces. Thus the search for justice exposes man’s real situation. Unless some principle higher than justice is found, even the effort for a minimally just order may end in despair. Those who strive for justice must finally be motivated by something higher than the securing of rights and freedom for all, for there will be demanded of them a self-sacrifice in which they do not see the fulfilment for which they give themselves.

Whether, then, we begin with the nature of brotherly love as a rational ethical ideal, or with the stuff of history as the scene of the conflicts out of which some kind of rough justice emerges, we are driven to the conclusion, Niebuhr says, that neither mutual love nor justice are ethical principles which can prove themselves viable in the course of human history. We begin to see that if history has a meaning there must be a transcendant ethical principle which stands above the relativities and wreckage of history.

Such an adequate answer to the ethical quest would be known by faith, not by rational analysis alone, as Niebuhr sees it. The Christian Gospel has its answer in the biblical witness to Jesus Christ. He reveals the love which is more than mutual love. It bears the unfinished tasks of history without claiming success in history. It is the love which gives itself for the other without rational calculation of results. It is sacrificial love, disclosed decisively in the story of Jesus, though there are intimations of it outside the Christian revelation.

This sacrificial love (agape) of which the Gospel speaks is the ‘impossible possibility’ for man. Niebuhr uses this paradoxical phrase in order to make it clear that even with the power of faith and the spirit man is still tempted by pride and self-love. Niebuhr will not however separate sacrificial love completely from mutual love or justice. Agape does not turn away from or despise the relative achievements of human ethical insight and effort. Niebuhr explicitly criticizes Nygren for making the distinction between agape and human love too sharp.76

In some respects, then, Niebuhr’s doctrine does belong in the Augustinian type, with its complex acknowledgment of the significance of the relative values of existence as embodying a reflection of divine meaning. But ultimately Niebuhr is closer to the Reformers than to St. Augustine on the doctrine of love. He shares the Reformers’ distrust of rational and metaphysical structure as stepping stones toward the pinnacle of Christian insight. Where Augustine’s doctrine of love finds a synthesis of self-giving and mutuality in the being of the Trinity so that all loves participate directly in the structure of the divine being, for Niebuhr the depth and height of love transcend all rational analysis. Most important, Niebuhr asserts that sacrificial love, the agape of God, is a higher and different kind of love from that of mutuality.

While he does stand with the Reformers’ position Niebuhr becomes the critic of the formulations of the sixteenth century and of later protestant orthodoxy. He is radically critical of the claims to righteousness on the part of the saved as well as the unsaved, both individually and collectively. Love in the Gospel sense is never a simple possibility, and there are new temptations with every spiritual achievement. At the same time, he wants to bring within the concern of love the struggles for freedom and equality which enjoy a margin of hope everywhere in human existence. For Niebuhr the agape of the Gospel, though symbolized by powerlessness in history, leads to involvement in the power conflicts of men for the sake of our humanity which can be rightly understood only from the standpoint of agape.

Our analysis of three types of the interpretation of love should make it clear there is no one way to express the meaning of love in the Christian faith. These conceptions of love have a history. The New Testament itself was born out of the concern to give meaning and structure to love as it had been experienced in the life of Israel and the life of Jesus. It is not only the conception of love which has a history; love itself, we are saying, has its history as God is dealing with his creation. If it is the work of love to create, to reconcile and to redeem, that work will be done in each age and life in ways which are shaped by the situations which love meets. Man’s self-discovery is at the same time discovery of the infinite creativity of love in a history where there is freedom in the creatures and sovereign freedom in God.

The search for love always leads us back to the past, for we learn by recalling and reconceiving what love has done. But it is the task of each age to give its own account of the love which has brought us forth and under whose judgment we stand. In that account we try to say what we see, hoping that the love of God will break through our failures to understand.

In the following chapters we are seeking the meaning of love through an interpretation which emerges within the situation created by and now faced by all the traditional types. We shall try to restate some conceptions so as to meet the problems which have led to the restlessness about love which we have discovered within each type.

We look for no synthesis of all these perspectives. That could lead only to superficiality and compromise. We begin rather with a critique of one aspect of St. Augustine’s thought, his doctrine of God’s being, for it is here, I shall argue, that some difficulties appear which have led to confusion in Christian thought about love.



1. A masterly use of typological method for theological clarification is H. R. Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951; London: Faber & Faber, 1952).

2. Augustine’s doctrine of love is woven into all his writings. The City of God and On the Trinity are of major importance. Erich Przywara’s An Augustine Synthesis (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1936) is a superb collection of texts. Where I have used this translation I have included the reference in Przywara’s Synthesis. I have also used the translations in The Basic Writings of St. Augustine edited by Whitney J. Oates (New York: Random House, 1948).

On Augustine’s doctrine of love the following are especially valuable: Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros, one volume with English translation partly revised by Philip S. Watson (London: S.P.C.K., 1953); J. Burnaby, Amor Dei (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938); Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Augustine (New York: Random House, 1960). See also, A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine, ed. by Roy Battenhouse, introduction by D. D. Williams (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955); St. Augustine by M. C. D’Arcy et al. (New York, Meridian Books, 1957).

3. The City of God, XI, p. 28.

4. D’Arcy, op. cit., p. 244.

5. De Musica, VI, xiii, 38. References to De Musica will be conveniently found in Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns, Philosophies of Art and Beauty (New York: Modern Library, 1964), Translation by W. F. Jackson Knight.

6. Ibid., VI, xiii, 40.

7. De Musica, VI, xiv, 47.

8. Ibid., VI, xiii, 40.

9. Ibid., VI, xiv, 48.

10. The City of God, XIV. p. 28.

11. Nygren. op. cit., p. 650.

12. Dorothea Krook, Three Traditions of Moral Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1959), pp. 271-5.

13. City of God, XIX, p. 27.

14. An admirable exposition and critique of Augustine’s sexual ethics is in Thomas J. Bigham and Albert T. Mollegen, ‘The Christian Ethic’ in Battenhouse, A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine. See also D. S. Bailey, The Man-Woman Relation in Christian Thought (London: Longman, Green & Co., 1959; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959).

15. Enarrations on the Psalms, cxx, p. 3.

16. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on The Church Today (Gaudium et Spes), Pt. II, chap. 1, pp. 47-50.

17. Bigham and Mollegen, loc. cit., p. 383.

18. Ibid., p. 384; Augustine On Marriage and Concupiscence I, pp. 8, 15, 18.

19. On Christian Doctrine, I, xxii, p. 21.

20. On the Morals of the Catholic Church, XV.

21. Psalms, LI, p. 12 (Synthesis, sec. 607).

22. Psalms, CXVIII Serm. X, 6 (Synthesis, 601).

23. On Nature and Grace, LXX, 84 (Synthesis, 610).

24. Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian Realism and Political Problems (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953, pp. 120-1; London: Faber & Faber, 1954).

25. Psalms LII.

26. Bigham and Mollegen, loc. cit., p. 391.

27. H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, Chapter 6.

28. Augustine, De Musica, Bk. 6, xii, 36.

29. Augustine, Sermons (de Script, N. T.), CXXIII, iv. 4 (Synthesis, 303).

30. On the Morals of the Catholic Church, I, xi, 18.

31. Psalms, XXV, p. 15.

32. Sermons (Dc Script. N.T.), CXLI iv, 4 (Synthesis, 329).

33. M. C. D’Arcy, S.J., The Mind and Heart of Love (London: Faber & Faber, 2nd rev. ed. 1954; New York: Henry Holt).

34. Psalms, XLI, 13. Sec the texts in Przywara, op. cit., chapter XIV.

35. D’Arcy, op. cit., pp. 93, 98.

36. Ibid., p. 273; cf. Hunter Guthrie, Introduction au Probleme de l’Histoire de la Philosophie (Paris: Librairie Felix Alcan, 1937).

37. Ibid., p. 304. (Parentheses mine).

38. Ibid., p. 3318.

39. Ibid., p. 321.

40. Ibid., p. 245 (italics mine).

41. Ibid., p. 321.

42. George Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), pp. 58ff. Cf. Herbert Grundman, Neue Forschungen uber Joachim von Fiore (Marburg: Simons Verlag, 1950).

43. Paul Sabatier, The Life of St. Francis of Assisi (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), pp. 50-1. On the study of the Franciscan Sources see chapter by F. C. Burkitt in St. Francis of Assisi, 1226-1926: Essays in Commemoration (London: University of London Press, 1926), and Sabatier.

44. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 253.

45. Johannes Jorgensen, St. Francis of Assisi (London and New York: Longmans Green, 1954), Rev. Ed., p. 78.

46. Quoted Sabatier, p. 204.

47. Quoted Sabatier, p. 117.

48. Jorgensen, op. cit., p. 251.

49. Celano, St Francis II, ch. 35

50. Sabatier, pp. 267-8. Cf. Rigobert Koper, O.F.M., Das Weltverstandnis des Hl. Franziskus von Assisi (Dietrich-Coelde-Yerlag, 1959).

51. ‘Franciscan Thought and Modern Philosophy’ by Camillo Pellizi in Essays in Commemoration, op. cit., p. 165. Cf. ‘The First One Hundred Years of the Franciscan School of Oxford’ by A. G. Little in the same volume.

52. Pellizi, op. cit., p. 204.

53. Jorgensen, op. cit., p. 118.

54. From the Actusbeat Francisci Fioretti (The Little Flowers of St. Francis) in Jorgensen, op. cit., pp. 297f.

55. Quoted in Sabatier, p. 339.

56. Of innumerable books on Schweitzer I believe the most illuminating and balanced from a theological point of view is Henry Clark, The Ethical Mysticism of Albert Schweitzer (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962).

57. Albert Schweitzer, ‘Goethe. His Personality and His Work’ in Goethe and the Modern Age, ed. by Arnold Bergstrasser (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1950).

58. Albert Schweitzer, ‘Ethics for Twentieth Century Man,’ The Saturday Review of Literature, Vol. XXXVI, No. 24, June 13, 1953.

59. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (London: A. & C. Black, 1931), 2nd English ed. p. 401.

60. ‘Ethics for Twentieth Century Man’, loc. cit.

61. Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian. Page references are to Martin Luther; selections from his Writings, ed. by John Dillenberger (New York: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1961). The translation is by W. A. Lambert and Harold J. Grimm and is found in Luther’s works, vol. 31, ed. by Harold Grimm (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1957), pp. 74-5.

62. Martin Luther, W.A. 57, 109.9; 110.3. They will be found in E. Gordon Rupp, The Righteousness of God: Luther Studies (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1953), p. 203.

63. Nygren, Agape and Eros, p. 736 (London: S.P.C.K., rev. ed., 1953).

64. In confining attention to Luther and Calvin I am neglecting the ‘left-wing’ of the Reformation which adds a different note to the spiritual and ethical aspects of love. I am concerned with typology here and the ecstatic side of the Reformation, as manifest in the pietists and in such sects as the Diggers and Levellers belongs more nearly to the Franciscan type though it would require further analysis to support this. On this aspect of the Reformation with its importance for modem Protestantism see Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, Vol. II, Chap. 6, sec. III, and Ernst Troeltsch, The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931; New York: Macmillan, 1931); George Hunston Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962), pp. 80-97.

65. Cf. Wilhelm Pauck, The Heritage of the Reformation, rev, and enlarged edition (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1961), Chaps. 3, 9-11.

66. The Freedom of a Christian, pp. 60-1.

67. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 7th American ed. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1936), Book III, chap. 2, sec. 7.

68. Ibid., Book III, chap. 2, sec. 29.

69. The Freedom of a Christian, p. 76.

70. The Freedom of a Christian, p. 78.

71. See The Institutes, Book III, chaps. 7-8.

72. Martin Luther, The Pagan Servitude of the Church, Dillenberger edition, p. 300. The translation is from The Reformation Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 1, edited by Bertram Lee Woolf (London: Lutterworth Press, 1953).

73. Martin Luther, Secular Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed, Dillenberger edition, p. 370. Reprinted from Works of Martin Luther, vol. III (Philadelphia: A. 3. Holman Co. and the Castle Press, 1930). Translation by J. J. Schindel.

74. Ibid., p. 378.

75. The following summary is based upon Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1941; London: James Nisbet & Co., 1941-3). The analysis of sin is given mainly in Vol. I, chaps. 7-10; the criticism of traditional Christianity including that of the Reformers in Volume II, chaps. 5-7; and the doctrine of love in Vol. II, chap. 3, and passim. I have given a critical discussion of some aspects of Niebuhr’s doctrine in Daniel D. Williams, God’s Grace and Man’s Hope (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949), rev. ed. (Harper Chapelbooks, 1965), and in Niebuhr and Liberalism’ in Reinhold Niebuhr: His Religious, Social, and Political Thought. ed. by Charles W. Kegley and Robert W. Bretall (New York: Macmillan, 1956).

76. Niebuhr, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 84.