Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Love, and do what thou wilt..."

I've been reading an old book by E.L. Allen, entitled From Plato to Nietzsche: Ideas That Shape Our Lives; it is a thin book, but a good overview of philosophy and theology for the last two thousand years. One phrase from Augustine (from De Genesi ad Litteram) I liked was “Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good”, since it reflects (unsurprisingly) what Paul says in Romans 13:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet, ”and whatever other command there may be, are summed upc in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. ”Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

It serves as an antidote to legalism (that is, worldliness; see Col. 2) and the endless concern with rules. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, then we can do as we please, since what we please will not harm our neighbor.

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