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Book Review: Godly Love: A Rose Planted in the Desert of Our Hearts by Stephen G. Post

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Godly Love is an odd little book. Presented in a gift format, this 146-page title is printed on small pages with lots of white space and is small enough to fit in most purses and roomy pockets. However it’s not the size that classifies this book as odd, that only accounts for the “little” aspect of the description.

Though Post draws upon the scripture reference of Isaiah 35:1 for its' title and speaks of the agape love of the Christian tradition, he often leaves God out in the cold in his work on Godly love. Godly Love starts with promise sharing pages filled with reflection on the nature of Godly love and examples of this love in action by those who serve Christ and others in love. These pages of reflections are interspersed with quotations from notable Christians such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln along with quotations from scripture.

Not far into the book though I began to encounter quotations from other thinkers including Buddha (who did not believe in any personal God), Muslim scholars and New Age philosophers subscribing to the notion of ‘cosmic consciousness’. Clearly Post is operating under a different understanding of the Christian tradition than I am.

These ecumenical tendencies began to infiltrate the text as well. Phrases such as “Oneness with the Universe”, “Ultimate Truth” and “Supreme Good” began to be used interchangeably with the name of God. Post also began to speak of the essential goodness of human nature, the sacredness, goodness and Godly love that dwells within each of us if only we can call it out of ourselves.

The Bible informs us that not only have we all sinned and come short of the glory of God, but that every thought of our minds and hearts is wicked without God’s revitalizing work in the heart. Since these tenets are vital to traditional Christian beliefs it became clear that Post was not basing his work firmly upon scripture, but resorted to drawing from pluralistic conjecture and his own thoughts.

A scant amount of research soon revealed that the Templeton Foundation – parent organization to Godly Love’s publishing house, Templeton Foundation Press – funds religio-scientific research proposals from those practicing  Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Other East Asian Religions. Knowing that it is less surprising to find strongly pluralistic beliefs in a title professing to draw it’s insights from the Christian tradition.

Those who accept the words of the Bible as literal truth will recognize that this position is far from biblical. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” KJV, John 14:6

Due to these concerns Godly Love is perhaps better suited to a readership of Gnostics, Anthroposophists, Theosophists and New Age believers who are not antagonistic to Christianity (A Course in Miracles, anyone?) The majority of Christians will likely find this title confusing and contradictory at best and entirely entirely incompatible at worst. Christians seeking a deeper understanding of agape love would be better served by a work illuminating the love present in Jesus’ death on the cross.

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