Cracking the Insidious Code: Part 3

In an article entitled, ‘A Christian Hedonist Looks at Love Within Limits’, which is a critique of Lewis Semedes’ book, John Piper writes, ‘It is of utmost importance to see, as clearly as our weakness will allow, the interrelatedness of agape and eros in God’s activity.’1

Pastor Michael Butler, in Part 3 of Cracking the Insidious Code series, makes four points:

First, he says ‘Piper seeks to gain his reader’s acceptance of his idea by way of philosophy. Piper stated that Agape and Eros love are both actively involved in the Godhead. Eros is the Greek word from which the English word “Erotic” originated. Erotic love is sexually driven, man-centered, and Eros contains the same self-centered motives. Rather than citing the Bible as proof for the existence of Eros within the activity of God, Piper cites our human weakness as the reason why we cannot understand that God possesses Eros… Therefore, the argument goes, Eros must exist in God because we possess some form of Eros in our fallen nature, whether good or bad, and all of this must have come from God.’

Butler’s second point is that ‘once Piper has captured the mind of the audience, he denounces the biblical understanding of Agape and replaces it with a perverted love; namely, an Agape mixed with the human concept Eros.’

Butler’s third point comes from comes from the footnotes on page 124 of Piper’s book Desiring God (1986).  ‘Piper makes plain that his concept of love is an admixture of Eros with Agape that forms “one kind of love at the root.” Once again, Piper does not turn to the Bible as his sole authority on what he calls “a holy Eros.”4

Fourth, Butler argues that ‘if Piper’s statement is true that there is no linguistic basis to make a distinction between Eros and Agape love, then the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture is at risk of being lost. The Bible only speaks of God as having Agape love. In order for Piper to insert any idea of Eros into the love of God, he must philosophically develop it and then read into the text (eisegesis). On the other hand, since the Bible only identifies God’s love as Agape, then the clarity of Scripture makes the point that there is no other love known in the Godhead other than Agape.’

Butler reaches the conclusion ‘that the idea of a heavenly Eros is completely philosophical, not theological or biblical. In other words, Piper is using philosophy to prove the existence of his so-called “one kind of love at the root.” Piper is not at all interested in a biblical understanding of Agape love.’

To read the full article click here: