True Love - Understanding the real meaning of Christian love
Ed Hotchin, Hucknall, Nottingham, England
James M. Renihan
Published by Evangelical Press, Faverdale North, Darlington, DL3 0PH, UK.
This book will speak to the conscience. James Renihan has not set out to expound 1 Corinthians 13, but rather to describe the essential meaning of its central message, and to challenge his readers to live out that meaning in the world of today. He is well aware that it is no easy task to write acceptably on the subject of love, and has approached his task with commendable humility: ‘We recognise how far short of the standard we come . . . As an author, I have to struggle with my failure to achieve the touchstone of which I write’. His readers will surely echo the same sentiments.
The author is professor of Historical Theology at a Reformed Baptist Seminary, and is an elder in a Baptist church; he has had extensive experience in a pastoral capacity. In the preface he is quite explicit in stating that he has deliberately avoided important questions which an exposition of this chapter might have to address, so that he can concentrate on his main theme, which is to encourage his readers to understand the true meaning of Christian love, and to face up honestly to the responsibility which such understanding brings with it. The first three chapters give the necessary context for this work. In these he emphasizes that love is law – a command, which can only be discharged in the energy of the Holy Spirit. He stresses the centrality of love, and exposes the way its real meaning is often obscured by sentimentality and self-obsession. In chapters 4-12 he leads his readers through the fifteen verbs which Paul uses to define love, emphasizing that all these words have to do with our deeds. He gets behind the familiar words, with which we are all too often so comfortable that they rarely touch the conscience. His style is simple yet direct and searching, and refreshingly honest. Readers who are prepared to approach this book in the same spirit and give time to meditate on its contents will benefit from it.
[Our thanks to Ed Hotchin, Hucknall, England, for this review]