A Love Has Succeeded and Will Succeed

We can say straight out: what happened with Jesus is that love happened ...

First, "love" is not so much the name of a personality trait, as shorthand for a narrative: death and resurrection ... "Love" can stand as shorthand for "death and resurrection" because, seen from faith's viewpoint, death and resurrection is what love concretely means ... The usual promises we make each other stop short because we except the condition of death, because we reserve self-preservation; but to promise myself is to try to give up this reservation. Therefore to love is to accept death: it is to give up my cautious claims to hang onto myself, in order that there shall be no checks at all to our creating a mutual world. All love says, "'Till death do us part."

Therefore love is a promise to promise unconditionally. I said earlier that we cannot evade the condition of death, therefore that we can make no unconditional promises ... With love's promise of myself, this paradox becomes thematic. For if I give myself to my beloved, and from this acceptance of death in fact die, I am no longer there for anyone, including the beloved. and the gift is undone. Every radical attempt to love threatens itself with its own final defeat.

Love's self-defeat is well-known ... So we set out to be moderate in our loving--which is the same as hate. The identification of love and death, and the impossibility of love, are the great ineradicable motifs of the poetry of love.

Love could succeed only as death and resurrection ...

To say that Jesus--the content of his life assumed--died and rose again, is to say that there now exists one successful lover. "Jesus is risen" can be said: "A love has succeeded and will succeed"... And if we are to love, it will be when we are freed from having to hold on to our selves in order to survive. For now, there is a lover; and therefore we may now hope to love--which is more than enough.

--Robert Jenson

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