In The Rule of Love, Jonathan Leeman argues that love and authority are two terms that belong together which is a decidedly different viewpoint than what society upholds today. The author first describes how love is being redefined in our culture as being unrestrained acceptance towards everyone and everything so long as no one is offended and the individuals involved are happy. Leeman then moves on to discuss how love has been defined historically by theologians and how some distorted views have shaped liberal Christianity’s adherence to unconditional agape love as the gold standard of Christian love. The author agrees that unconditional love is an indispensable aspect of Christian love but contends that agape love is only one dimension of the love that God displays in Himself and to His creatures. Leeman expands his arguments by first examining the nature of God’s love in the context of the Trinity as being both self-exalting and self-giving at the same time. Next, the author addresses God’s love for sinners and how such love is best described as being contra-conditional rather than unconditional as our forgiveness is through the blood of Jesus in which we acquire His righteousness while He takes on our sins. Thus, our love for others should be God-centered and God-glorifying so that we yearn for what is best for others in considering what God is doing in their lives. As the book’s target audience is the local church, Leeman moves on to outline his vision of what the local church can do to practically show love to both its members and nonbelievers. The final two chapters ties in how law, judgment, and authority are all essential to exhibiting true love within the covenant community of the local church.
I would recommend this book to all Christians as the challenge to love others while upholding truth requires courage and wisdom that comes from God. Believers who desire to uphold the orthodox Christian faith are often viewed as being bigoted, old-fashioned, and intolerant. Even within the local church, there are frequent disagreements over the process of disciplining church members and whether such actions are indeed loving. Leeman argues that to truly love someone is to desire for the other person’s good for the sake of God’s glory. To love others as God loves us is the sincere hope that the individual grows in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. The path towards spiritual growth is through the Spirit and Word of God which requires obedience, surrender, and submission. In the context of the local church, this will include exhortation, correction, and rebuke that is rooted in God-centered love. By doing so, the body of Christ seeks to reflect God’s holy love in actions of judgement and authority so that its members are growing in holiness which results in God gaining the ultimate glory.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Crossway.