Useful for some general loving towards all humans, this well-intentioned effort understandably walks behind the scholarly consensus on the definition of the 2d Great Commandment (2GC) and so misdefines it to our great detriment. In completely missing the mark on the definition of 2GC, otherwise often helpful McKnight disempowers the Church from the synergism needful with the 1st Great Commandment.
In actuality, the 2d is like the 1st Great Commandment (and no less) because they are both about the loving solidarity amongst unfallen communitarian idenitities. The intra-Trinitarian love exercised amidst the communitarian God is reflected in the intra-ecclesial love commanded for the corporate image of that Trinity on earth, the communitarian Body of Christ, the Church. Simply put, the definition of the “neighbor” whom Christians are commanded to love is still limited to fellow covenant members as in Lev 19:18.
In wrongly universalizing “neighbor” to signify any human being, heedless of the determinative distinction between still-fallen and already-redeemed conditions, McKnight understandably emulates erroneous human tradition that keeps the Church from becoming the Holy-Spiritually-empowered, loving global communitarian solidarity that will be formed by such love to enable greater love of the fallen, even of enemies. And only then will we cease destructive schismatic squabbles and restore the centripetal evangelistic attraction of John 17 to its rightful primacy. We will be the eschatologically mature image of God foreseen by Paul, knit together in the bond of love and empowered by Holy Spirit. Once again the world will say, “Behold, how they love one another” and flow up to Jerusalem.
But this work by McKnight, while helpful in some impulses to love and serve God and all humans, bypasses the very agent of formation, the tool intended by God to enable our growth in love, the loving community of the Church. Jesus said that failing to get both of the Great Commandments right would let fall all the other commandments dependent on getting those two right. So, until we love other Christians (our only “neighbors”) as ourselves, we will never be able to really obey the subsequent love commandments dependent on that one, which synergizes with loving God. Only when we love God and His image on earth in the Church, when we love Christ and the Body of Christ, will we best love the lost and those who are enemies to God and His people. Please learn this, Dr. McKnight, and write an even better book.