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The Science and Theology of Godly Love

Matthew T. Lee, Amos Yong

Publication Year: 2012

Arguing that there are ways to move beyond the limitations of methodological atheism without compromising scientific objectivity, the essays gathered in The Science and Theology of Godly Love explore the potential for collaboration between social science and theology. They do so within the context of the interdisciplinary study of Godly Love, which examines the perceived experience of loving God, being loved by God, and thereby being motivated to engage in selfless service to others. This volume serves as an introduction to and a call for further research in this new field of study, offering ten methodological perspectives on the study of Godly Love written by leading social scientists and theologians. Drawing on the work of Douglas Porpora and others, the contributors contend that agnosticism is the appropriate methodological stance when religious experience is under the microscope. Godly Love does not force a theistic explanation on data, instead these essays show that it sensitizes researchers so that they can take seriously the faith and beliefs of those they study without the assumption that these theologies represent an incontestable truth.

Published by: Northern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. v-viii

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pp. 3-14

The topics of religious experience and benevolence are endlessly fascinating and complex by themselves, but when they are combined, the complexity of the subject matter increases exponentially. The authors have been studying these topics for decades, from scientific, theological, and philosophical standpoints. ...

Part I—Theology and Godly Love

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pp. 15-16

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One—Godly Love: Why We Cannot Endure without It

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pp. 17-32

Adherents of the Abrahamic traditions self-report experiences of God’s love, but these experiences do not necessarily inspire the powerful universal benevolence that characterizes agents of “Godly love” who have truly been shaped and formed by such experiences. ...

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Two—Agape, Self-Sacrifice, and Mutuality: An Exploration into the Thought of Jonathan Edwards and the Theme of Godly Love

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pp. 33-55

Mutuality seems to be the new emphasis among ethical theorists and investigators of human love. A recently published collection of essays from sixteen authors, entitled Mutuality Matters: Family, Faith, and Just Love, proposes the general thesis that “love is mutual” and that “the aim of all genuine love is ‘to bring others more fully to life’ by closely attending to one another.”1 ...

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Three—Imago Dei and Kenosis: Contributions of Christology to the Study of Godly Love

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pp. 56-76

The concept of Godly love as defined in the introduction of this book leads to the hypothesis that human perceptions of divine love motivate persons to act in loving ways for the Other in works of social benevolence. Godly love is a new field of study in the social sciences that, in dialogue with theology, ...

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Four—Violence and Nonviolence in Conceptualizations of Godly Love

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pp. 77-93

This chapter is a critique of theology that supports a violent and bellicose God. For although violence is often justified as loving action, as a Christian theological ethicist this author proposes that from a Christian perspective Godly love should be understood to be both active and entirely nonviolent. ...

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Five—Testing Creaturely Love and God’s Causal Role

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pp. 94-118

Two largely unanswered questions reside at the heart of theological and scientific research on love. The first—and more typically scientific—has to do with measuring love: how should love be measured? This chapter attempts to answer this question and offers general measuring domains scientists might use to pursue research on creaturely love. ...

Part II—Social Science and Godly Love

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pp. 119-120

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Six—Methodological Agnosticism for the Social Sciences? Lessons from Sorokin’s and James’s Allusions to Psychoanalysis, Mysticism, and Godly Love

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pp. 121-140

It remains an unsettled issue to what extent the term science applies to the domain of the social sciences. In a recent review of the psychology of religion, Emmons and Paloutzian called for a new multilevel interdisciplinary paradigm.1 While the paradigm implies a natural-science approach, the call was accompanied by the assertion of the value of using data at multiple levels of analysis ...

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Seven—Godly Love from the Perspective of Psychology

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pp. 141-156

The concept of Godly love suggests that love flows from a perceived God to people, who then pass that love to each other.1 As shown in this volume, members of diverse disciplines have their own unique perspectives to contribute to this area of study. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of some concepts and methodology ...

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Eight—Sociology, Philosophy, and the Empirical Study of Godly Love

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pp. 157-182

The question may be asked, “What does “God” or “love” have to do with sociology?” The epigraph by Samuel M. Shoemaker, an Episcopal priest and leader of the Oxford Group, whose spiritual principles were built into Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), provides one illustration that casts light on this question. ...

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Nine—Socialization, Empirical Studies, and Godly Love: A Case Study in Survey Research

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pp. 183-199

This chapter is situated at the interface of theology and social science. It is written by a theologian who uses empirical research methods within the discourse of theology, but who also uses social science theory to inform that discourse. In other words, while the overall approach is driven by the desire to offer a theological account of religious life, ...

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Ten—Toward a Grounded Theory of Godly Love: Latino/a Pentecostals

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pp. 200-216

This chapter offers two case studies of Latino/a pentecostal organizations as “exemplars” of Godly love, both viewing their ministries as extensions of their desire to extend God’s love to the world. These two organizations offer us divergent views of how Latino/a pentecostals operate in terms of adopting a “love vs. law”1 ...

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pp. 217-232

This volume attempts to break new ground in two interrelated ways. Thematically, its focus has been on the new and emerging field of Godly love. Methodologically, it has sought to capture some of the energy devoted to bridging theology and the social sciences in the study of Godly love. ...


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pp. 233-234


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pp. 235-237

E-ISBN-13: 9781609090579
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875804491

Page Count: 268
Publication Year: 2012