“The Master-Passion” -- By: William I. Fletcher

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 054:213 (Jan 1897)
Article: “The Master-Passion”
Author: William I. Fletcher


“The Master-Passion”

William I. Fletcher

A FEW years ago there came from the press two books of apparently contradictory titles—Drummond’s “The Greatest Thing in the World”1 and Trumbull’s “Friendship the Master-Passion.”2 Professor Drummond’s book was not so much an argument for its thesis as an assertion of it, with ample illustration and enforcement. Probably it never occurred to him that any argument was called for, especially in view of the source of the saying, “the greatest is love.”

But when Dr. Trumbull’s book appeared, it seemed that it might have been written as a reply to “The Greatest Thing in the World.” In a chapter entitled “[Friendship] Transcending all Loves,” and elsewhere throughout the book, there is a strenuous argument that love is a thing inferior to friendship. The following may be cited as representative sayings from different parts of the volume: “Friendship is love with the selfish element eliminated.” “Friendship, in short, is love apart from love’s claim or love’s craving.” “Other loves are based upon a love received or desired.” “Friendship is the love of loves, by the Bible standard.” “Thus always from the earliest ages to the latest, in sacred writings and in secular, friendship finds its recognition as the preeminent and surpassing affection of the human heart. The distinction between the

love that craves and seeks, and the friendship that would unfailingly serve, has been perceived all along the centuries; as it was sententiously expressed by Publilius Syrus (and afterward by Seneca), ‘Friendship always benefits; but love also injures.’” “It is agape, a love without ‘desire ‘or craving, not philia, a love which goes out ‘longingly’ for the possession of its object, that seems to be recognized in Bible usage as friendship-love, and that would be better thus translated. ‘Friendship-love is of God; and every one that [thus] loveth is begotten of God and know-eth God.’ The divinest exhibit of God-likeness in man is in this friendship-love of which the Apostle Paul sounds the praises so glowingly.” [And then follows a new rendering of the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, with the compound “friendship-love” substituted throughout for “charity” or “love.”]

Perhaps it may appear that this is a mere logomachy or word-play. If this writer chooses to make the word “friendship” stand for what has always been counted the best quality and highest range of love, it might seem to be a matter of small moment, so long as he disarranges words onl...

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