Delighted to announce that The Message of Love will be out in September. You can pre-order your copy now before it sells out!!
Seriously, I won’t be pushing the book on this blog apart from this announcement and maybe a couple of posts when it comes out.
Few things are more boring than an author obsessively banging on about their book.
So excuse me this post and then we will move on.
It has taken up weekends, evenings and holidays for the last couple of years or so, so it’s exciting to see publication in sight.
I’ve loved writing about love. For me, the book effectively turned into a biblical theology of Christianity.
It did not start there but that is where it feels like it finished.
By ‘biblical theology of Christianity’ I mean it engages with the great core questions at the heart of the Christian faith. That theology emerges via exegesis, discussion and contemporary application of 17 individual key ‘love texts’ in the Bible.
The sorts of issues are listed below. They are not a table of contents but some of the theological themes that surface along the way.
Who is God and what is he like?
God’s love for his people Israel – unbreakable covenant love, judgement and forgiveness.
God’s just love for the poor and marginalised
The love of the Father for the Son
God is love
God’s great love shown in Jesus Christ
God’s love poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit
Human love for God
Wholehearted love for God – heart, soul, strength
The cost of discipleship love
Love and worship
Love and obedience
Love for one another
The difficult discipline of love as a foretaste of the future
Love, freedom and the Spirit
Erotic Love: sex, the body and desire
Love and Marriage
Misdirected love: the love of money
Every chapter has discussion of implications for how the ‘Bible Speaks Today’.
The more these themes came into focus, the clearer it became how and where a biblical theology of love confronts and contrasts with how love is understood in the twenty-first century West.
Overall, the book discusses how the Christian faith is effectively a beautiful vision of a flourishing life together.
But it also asks some hard questions.
If God’s people are called to love and worship a God who is love, what does that look like in churches? In how Christians treat opponents? In a culture where the church is often seen as opposed to love rather than the embodiment of it?
If love describes God’s character, his dealings with his people and his attitude to the world; if love is the ultimate goal of his redemptive work and is heartbeat of the Christian life and future hope; if churches are to be communities of other-focused love – what challenges does this pose to churches today?
To you and I?
Where do we need repentance and renewal? What is the connection between love and mission?
That hopefully gives you a flavour of what The Message of Love is all about.
A couple of encouraging endorsements are in from NT scholars Scot McKnight and Ben Witherington.
For close to two decades I have studied both how the Bible presents love and how Bible scholars have expressed that presentation. Luminaries like James Moffatt and Leon Morris, from two considerably different traditions, have become standard treatments but I found both coming up short for different reasons. No one will ever offer the final word on what the Bible says about love, but I know of no volume that is as thorough, sensitive to context and contour, as Patrick Mitchel’s sparklingly clear and faithful exposition of how the Bible presents love, how in fact the God of love loves the world and the people of God in Christ. This will become a standard text for my classes on New Testament theology.
Oddly enough, it has been decades since a really good study of love in the Bible has appeared. Finally, we may now thank Patrick Mitchel for remedying this oversight in The Message of Love. There is a reason that Jesus said that the great commandment has to do with love, and Paul said love was greater than even faith and hope. It is because God himself is love, it is the essence of his character, and Mitchel in this book lays out for us how that is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. Highly recommended.