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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 22, Fall 2002

Gene Outka
Pages 97-114

Theocentric Love and the Augustinian Legacy
Honoring Differences and Likenesses between God and Ourselves

Jesus' teaching that there are two love commandments, that the commandment to love God is the "first and great" one, but that the second commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself is "like" the first, suggest that we should neither blend their features wholly together nor separate their features entirely. This paper supports the suggestion. It considers three central emphases in the Augustinian legacy that specify normative differences, normative ranking, and normative links between the commandments. The emphases are: "God-intoxication," "The Predominance of the Double Love Commandment," and "A Good World Gone Wrong." Such consideration explains and defends the claim that a faithful life honors both differences and points of correspondence between God's action and our own. This study indicates that we can go wrong in distinctive ways, and that we should distinguish "relationality" (that obtains both "before God" and "with one another") and "reciprocity" (that obtains "with one another"). The conclusions reached may inform exchanges with other religious traditions, above all "God-intoxicated" ones. This article was the Presidential Address, given at the annual meeting of the SCE in Vancouver, British Columbia on January 11, 2002.

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