Books Faith

Impressions of “The Four Loves,” by C.S. Lewis

“The Four Loves” contains the original BBC recordings, of C.S. Lewis himself, reading the notes that would become the book, The Four Loves. The writing and speaking are both top-notch, and the book’s structure allows Lewis’s most important points to be naturally emphasized. Unfortunately, this edition is marred by a mediocre and off-putting contemporary Charles Colson.

The “four loves” of the title are the four concepts Lewis states are included int he English word “love.” In Greek, these are termed

  • Storge- empathy or affection
  • Philia – friendship
  • Eros – Romantic love
  • Agape – Christian or self-giving Love

Storge, Philia, and Eros and described in detail, and then Agape is described in relationship to them. Each of the first three loves have unquestionably positive aspects, such as

  • Storge’s automaticity and love in spite of faults
  • Philia’s great empathy and desire for the “naked personality”
  • Eros’s intentionality and desire for the “naked personality”

but each has a dark side,

  • Storge seeks to cripple the ones we love, and itself becomes a devouring mother or a tyrannical father.
  • Philia will walk with a beloved into hell – friendship gives us the ability to become saints or monsters, no matter what the world thinks
  • Eros flees arbitrarily, and is treated as a false god, an idol

But in agape, all these types of loves are completed. Storge, Philia, and Eros are lesser-dimensional shadows or transpositions of Agape. They point to Agape, they are completed by Agape, and they can become themselves through Agape.

Unfortunately, the Audio edition I listened to is inexplicably guided by late Nixon White House Counsel Charles Colson. I know nothing about Colson’s work or history (Beyond what he gives in his own introduction), but his inclusion here is bizarre. Lewis already is a popularizer, and Colson cannot be expected to make Lewis’s words easier to understand.

I read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis in the Audible edition, narrated by the author.

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