WHOM, WHY, and HOW One Ought to Love

Conference on Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Loving One’s Neighbor

Conference focused on biblical and theological perspectives on Loving One´s Neighbor ran in Martin had welcomed guests from Roanoke College, Virginia and many students from Lutheran Academy in Martin and other visitors from community or city.

After registration, Pastor Milan Kubík opened the conference by explaining that “one heart that can beat in three different places with the same goal – to serve God.” These three institutions are the Lutheran church, Bible School and Lutheran Academy. They are testimonies about God´s promises in the post-communist town of Martin. Shortly afterward, Pastor Kubík expounded on whom, why, and how we ought to love our neighbors. The conference was supported by a new book with the same name, in which editor, Bohdan Hroboň, reminded us that is an opportunity as well as privilege to “be useful to the neighbor who is like you for the Lord.”

Bohdan Hroboň – ‘Be useful to your neighbor who is like you’

Director of Bible School, Bohdan Hroboň, explained to us that the traditional translation of Leviticus 19:18b ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is often subjected to great variety of (mis)interpretations. “Considering some exegetical insights on the text and its close connection with the context of vv. 11-18a.“ Hroboň argued that the rendering ‘Be useful to your neighbor who is like you’ reflects the original meaning of v. 18b more accurately with less chances to be misunderstood .

Paul Vilhan – ‘The book of Sirach’

Paul Vilhan introduced us the book of Sirach that is mostly known for its unique message about personified wisdom as being identified with the Torah. Paul Vilhan demonstrated how Ben Sira is concerned with fulfilling the commandments of the Biblical Law in the realm of diverse human relationships of his time. P. Vilhan reminded us that, “although the Greek and Latin versions of the book are the most commonly used in modern translations today, reading of the Hebrew and eventually Syriac versions are indispensable for better understanding of Ben Sira’s logic.” He also added that “a comparison of the extant Greek and Hebrew versions points to substantial alterations in reading Ben Sira’s ethical proposals to love other people.” The ultimate aim of Vilhan´s presentation was to formulate the unique message of the Hebrew version of the book of Sirach, as to who really ought to be loved the most as oneself.

Adrian Kacian – ‘The Circle of Love’

Adrian Kacian focused on the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor from the perspective of the Gospel of Mark. As Adrian said, “The role of the Great Commandment in (the Gospel of) Mark does not end with expressing the essence of Jesus’ ethics as the herald of God’s kingdom.” It also presents man’s redemption from the perspective of love – as a circle that starts with God, extends to man and his neighbor and is fulfilled in God again, namely in His kingdom. The Great Commandment in Mark played an important role in understanding the Temple sacrifice and the Torah in the new dispensation of God’s kingdom. The Temple sacrifice system is replaced by the composite command to love God and neighbor because it accentuates inner devotion and makes the access to God’s holiness universal. Mark’s story of the Great Commandment confirmed the Torah as the guide that is able to bring a person right to the threshold of God’s kingdom. “However, its role ends here, as the actual entering rests solely on God’s promise of love and a man’s response of love“, Kacian reminds us.

Tomáš Gulán – ‘Love Your Neighbor for Your Neighbor’s Sake’

Tomáš Gulán lectured about Luther´s Theological Proposal for the Possibility of Genuine Good Works. He therefore examined the juxtaposition of good works, doctrine of sin and salvation in the theology of Erasmus and Luther in their 1524/1525 debate. “Erasmus is shown to have at the core of his argumentation an ethical maxim, which is informative both for his anthropology and theology, while according to Luther the orthodoxy of the two latter loci suffers,” said Mr. Gulán and added that “Luther, on the other hand, grounds his argument in the work of God juxtaposed with human sinfulness, which on the anthropological level leads him to claim utter bondage of sinner´s choice.“ T. Gulán reminded us that, subsequently, in the realm of Christian ethics it “frees good works from the realm of earning and preserving one´s salvation, and frees these works from being motivated by one´s own spiritual aspiration unto that for which they are intended by God, i.e. to serve the neighbor solely for the neighbor´s sake.“

Paul R. Hilnicky – ‘”Love your neighbor” as an Aspect of Christian Doctrine’

Professor Hinlicky asked, “what is against love?” Following Jesus’ ordo caritatis, Augustine saw that proper love of oneself as of one’s neighbor is not for one’s own sake or even for the neighbor’s sake as such, but for the sake of God Who is Creator of both self and neighbor. Thus explains the transcendent bond of their equal and common value. Early modern philosophers, e.g., John Locke, sought to loosen the grounding of love for neighbor in love for God above all. This was justified to the extent that dogmatic restriction by the warring confessions of the scope of love for neighbor to the religiously like-minded was a betrayal of the universalism intended by Jesus. Yet the project was unsuccessful. Reclamation of the theological grounding of neighbor love begins with the Christological reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). This anchoring has the importance of making any person in need to summon God, the common Father, to see a child of the same God for whom free and creative responsibility is required. Early modern thinkers like Gottfried Leibniz and Jonathan Edwards are re-examined in this light and the challenge of Nietzsche is noted in conclusion. Only the theological grounding in Christ, the Good Samaritan, is capable of resisting the sovereign self of late modernity as love against what is against love.


INTRODUCION: The new book “WHOM, WHY, and HOW One Ought to Love”

This book is a collection of articles discussing the so-called Golden Rule – “Love your neighbor as yourself” – from various theological perspectives. Even though this rule is notoriously famous, and a vast amount of literature has been dedicated to it, there seems to be a general lack of knowledge about its essence, purpose, and application. The contributors are scholars as well as active teachers who witness the need for a deeper understanding of this command especially among young people. This observation is raison d’être for the present volume. As for the purpose, Leonardo da Vinci is credited with stating that “the love of anything is the offspring of knowledge, love being more fervent in proportion as knowledge is more certain. And this certainty springs from a complete knowledge of all parts, which united, compose the whole of the thing which ought to be loved.” It is our hope that this book will enhance the fervency of the reader’s love toward his/her neighbor.

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