Greg Boyd’s premise, communicated very effectively through this book, is that the antithesis of love is judgement. His writing exudes a passion for the Church to be the place of loving invitation that God intended, as his representation on earth.
Boyd begins by describing life as God purposed it to be: a life of freely loving God and those around us; a life of living out the love and gracious inclusivity of God; a life of wholeness and creativity in relational contexts. He then outlines his perception of what happened when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: that rather than the loving God being our centre and our source, we became our own centre, looking outside of God for our source of life.
In making this turn, as people we turned to regulations as our yardstick, believing that if we kept to a set of rules we would become secure in our own rightness. Boyd sets out to demonstrate just how futile and dissatisfying this way of living is, saying “So long as we strive to get life from the rightness of our beliefs and behaviors, so long as we live in the flesh and persist in religious idolatry, we will be spiritually pathological and will judge rather than love."
Boyd goes on to give what amounts to a theology of sin, outlining the lies we have believed about God and ourselves that result in a spiritual death or curse. In the final part of the book, he describes how he sees a life of love being lived out: ways to lovingly grow and journey with one another that are life-giving, loving and grace-filled.
This book challenged me to become conscious of all the ways in which I judge others and hold them to a standard that would condemn me, were it used against me. It was congruent with ways of reflecting that I found helpful when practicing The Examen, asking myself when I had acted out of love and when not. I trust that the words in this book will, for myself and other readers, metabolise into acts of goodness and grace.