I'll admit that I haven't read a ton of work by Lewis, but of the work I have read, The Four Loves felt the most scholarly, moreso even than my recollections of Mere Christianity. In The Four Loves, Lewis breaks down the concept of love and analyzes it from a moral and Christian perspective.
He uses familiar scholarly concepts from Plato's day by breaking love into the same four main segments that the Greeks used: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity. He adds to this the Christian scriptural reference that "God is Love" and then explores the religious aspects of love.
Some of the scholarly breakdown twisted my brain a little bit and took multiple readings to try and untangle…as he expounded on "Need Love" versus "Gift Love", I was right there with him, but when he started putting forth various in-depth analysis between Venus (sexuality) and Eros (romantic 'being in love'), things started to get muddled…and when he broke into the chapter on Charity, there were a number of theoretical and rhetorical leaps that were difficult for me to follow at times.
Overall though and in spite of moments of confusion, the general message of the book was good and well presented. He provided great insight into the differences between each of the categories presented. The concept of Affection vs Friendship in terms of what makes a 'real friend' was rather intriguing, especially as he continued his examples through love's progression to show how and why friendships are formed or fail to be formed, how and why friendships can grow into romantic relationships or not, and what aspect Charity plays in all of this.
As with Lewis's other books, there is plenty of theological discussion going on. I don't agree with everything he had to say, which is fine, but I think he made some great points. During the last chapter or so as he speaks on Charity, he provides some great nuggets for us to think on as we think about our own charitable behaviors. He also talks about the idea of Charity being both a 'need love' and a 'gift love' and that as we engage in that paradox, we are growing nearer to God's love.
I enjoyed the message of the book and the well thought out and well expressed arguments Lewis makes. The tone of the book was a little too scholarly at times which made it occasionally hard to read (since I've just finished school and am enjoying the break *grin*).
Still, I really like Lewis's insights, research and writing. I enjoyed "Mere Christianity" and "Screwtape" and I'm looking into a few of his other 'theological'/'scholarly' works. He has a nice style and presents great messages without being overly preachy.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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