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“Love Builds Up” (I Corinthians 8:1). On Spirit and Language: all language use about the spiritual is essentially metaphorical. So what does “to build up” mean? “To build up” considered in ordinary speech Not the same as to build on, does not depend on height, but rather on depth

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“Love Builds Up” (I Corinthians 8:1)

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Love builds up i corinthians 8 1

“Love Builds Up” (I Corinthians 8:1)

  • On Spirit and Language: all language use about the spiritual is essentially metaphorical.

  • So what does “to build up” mean?

  • “To build up” considered in ordinary speech

    • Not the same as to build on, does not depend on height, but rather on depth

    • But to build from the ground up, from a foundation

    • E.g., we don’t say one “builds up air castles”

  • “Building up” is exclusively characteristic of love


Love is the only absolute

Love is the only absolute

  • “There is nothing, nothing at all, that cannot be done or said in such a way that it becomes upbuilding, but whatever it is, if it is upbuilding, then love is present. Thus the admonition, just where love itself admits the difficulty of giving a specific rule, says, ‘Do everything for the sake of building up’.” (202)


Examples of the upbuilding 203 204

Examples of the Upbuilding (203-204)

  • A thrifty mother caring for many children

  • A large family cramped into close quarters

  • A child sleeping on its mother’s breast

  • A great artist who smashes his work out of love to some person

  • Everyone can build up, and everything can build up, and yet it is so very rare!


What does to build up mean spiritually

What does “to build up” mean spiritually?

  • In the spiritual sense love is the ground and foundation.

  • Therefore this work of love means:

    • Either, to implant love in another person’s heart,

      • (but surely this is impossible for humans)

    • Or, to presuppose that love is present in the other person’s heart, such that this presupposition builds up love in him/her.

  • Thus this work of love is about how the loving one upbuildingly transforms and controls oneself.


Loving up love

“Loving up love”

  • In presupposing love one “entices forth the good,” yet one has nothing to show for it. “The lover works very quietly and earnestly, and yet the powers of the eternal are in motion.” (206)

  • In presupposing that love is present in the other person one does something to oneself. Such self-control and self-denial is very difficult.

  • “It is more difficult to rule one’s mind than to occupy a city….”

  • “We can compare this upbuilding of love with the secret working of nature.” (207)


But beware

But beware…

  • “Alas, love is never completely present in any person…” (because we are not perfect, we are not God)

  • …and this makes possible the opposite of building up, which is tearing down.

  • We do this when we find faults and weaknesses in others.

  • But one who judges others in this way “takes the ground-work away—he cannot build up” (208). Consequently, “Love is patient,” etc.


What then is love

What, then, is love?

  • “Love means to presuppose love; to have love is to presuppose love in others; to be loving is to presuppose that others are loving.”

  • “Love is not an exclusive characteristic (such as wisdom, talents, etc.), but a quality by which or in virtue of which you exist for others.” (211)


Our duty to love those we see

“Our Duty to Love Those We See”

  • Transition: From the love of neighbor (all human beings) to the love of those particular individuals in we see in actuality (i.e., full, concrete, embodied existence)

  • Note: This is a corrective to those critics of SK who argue that his view is too idealistic or abstract (Adorno) or “too remote from human experience to be convincing” (Singer).


Our duty to love those we see1

“Our Duty to Love Those We See”

  • “For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (I John 4:20)

  • Prelude: Love is an essential human need (that even Christ felt).

  • Key Point: This duty requires one to find the given, actual person lovable, not to find a lovable person.

  • “When it is a duty in loving to love the people we see, then in loving the actual individual person it is important that one does not substitute an imaginary idea of how we think or could wish that this person should be.” (161)


Our duty to love those we see2

“Our Duty to Love Those We See”

  • Against fanaticism—to love the unseen God more than others—which is “most dangerous.”

  • Against fastidiousness—to look for the perfectly lovable object.

  • Contrasting two conceptions of love:

    • The delusional: seeks to find the lovable object .

    • The true: seeks to find the actual object, “which has now been given or chosen” (163), lovable.

  • Thus, don’t waste your love on invisible, airy phantasms; find “a foothold in actuality” (161) and use your love on those you see, with all their imperfections. Such a love is limitless (164).


Love hides the multiplicity of sins

“Love Hides the Multiplicity of Sins”

  • “Love hides the multiplicity of sins. For it does not discover the sins; but not to discover what nevertheless must be there, insofar as it can be discovered, means to hide.” (263)

  • The world praises discoverers, but the lover is like a child who “lacks an understanding of evil.” (266)

  • Is the lover also like Spinoza’s wise moral exemplar, who only knows the good?


Love hides the multiplicity of sins1

“Love Hides the Multiplicity of Sins”

  • “Love hides the multiplicity of sins, for what it cannot avoid seeing or hearing,

    • it hides in silence,

    • in a mitigating explanation,

    • in forgiveness.” (268)


It hides in silence

It hides in silence,

  • Learn to be silent!

  • Doesn’t telling about one’s “neighbor’s sins and faults increase the multiplicity of sins?” (269)

  • Who is more depraved: a criminal or one whose livelihood involves the “reporting of evil”? (270)

  • A vehement attack on “scandalmongering” (the media?) “which corrupts the mind and soul” (271)


In a mitigating explanation

in a mitigating explanation,

  • There are multiple interpretations for everything, and it is always “in my power, if I am a lover, to choose the most mitigating explanation” for another’s actions.” (271)

  • In its practical effect, isn’t this rather similar to Spinoza’s view to see another’s actions as having a necessary causal explanation?

  • Would you join the ALHMS?


In forgiveness

in forgiveness

  • Forgiveness deals with that which cannot be mitigated, that which cannot be denied to be sin.

  • Love and Faith: “Just as one by faith believes the unseen in the seen, so the lover by forgiveness believes the seen away.” (274)

  • One turns away so the sin is behind one’s back.

  • Don’t say it doesn’t help…

    • Have you ever needed and experienced forgiveness?

    • Doesn’t withholding forgiveness increase the multiplicity of sin?


Love hides the multiplicity of sins2

“Love hides the multiplicity of sins;

  • for love prevents sin from coming into being, smothers it at birth.” (276)

  • On Occasions

    • Sin in others is an occasion for oneself to sin.

    • But love is never an occasion for sin.

  • Lovers give occasion to love not to sin.


A free ebook

A Free Ebook

  • Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Søren Kierkegaard

  • http://www.plough.com/ebooks/Provocations.html


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