My question is prompted by the Liberate 2014 Conference and the concept of One Way Love. There's also a book by a pastor Tullian Tchividjian called "One Way Love".

What does Liberate 2014/Tullian mean by 'One Way Love' and what is their understanding of man's role in reciprocating per 1 John 4:19?

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)


2 Answers 2


From the introduction to Tullian's book:

The unintended consequence of this push [for a more radical expression of Christianity], however, is that if we're not careful, we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us. The hub of Christianity is not "do something for Jesus." The hub of Christianity is "Jesus has done everything for you."


Our relationships, our careers, our institutions also run on the principle of "I'll do X for you, if you do Y for me." Everything in our world demands two-way love. Everything's conditional. If you love me, only then will I love you. If you give to me, only then will I serve you. This conditionality plagues us at every turn and keeps us enslaved to fear, reservation, and insecurity.

Thus, "one-way love" means unconditional love. Love that doesn't demand reciprocity. Their aim is to show the unconditionality of God's grace.

In the video at your link, Elyse Fitzpatrick says:

You don't have to worry anymore about whether or not you're loved. You're loved, so you can love now because you've been loved.

This could almost itself be a paraphrase of 1 John 4:19. The idea, however, as Caleb said in the comments, is that "the instigator in the equation was God and his love and we only reciprocate because he initiated."

Here are some more comments from Tullian Tchividjian about 1 John 4:19:

  • "Love that doesn't demand reciprocity": So, are they arguing universalism? that everyone goes to heaven in the end? Dec 30, 2014 at 20:26
  • Absolutely not. Tchividjian and Fitzpatrick (and I assume most or all of the rest of the conference participants) hail from the reformed tradition. So it's not universalism, but simply unconditional election. However, I don't think election is what's primarily in view for them. Their focus in the conference is to show the freeness of grace. To quote True Grit, "There is nothing free except the grace of God." We absolutely do not earn our salvation, and cannot. Therefore we can bask in his free favor, totally unearned and unmerited by us. Dec 30, 2014 at 20:46
  • Well, I think its pretty clear they are trying hard to confuse people into antinomianism since that's what "one-way love" implies. If they intended to be scriptural they'd have just made the verse "because he first loved us" their theme, and not this phrase that's clearly intended to deceive. Dec 30, 2014 at 20:51
  • 1
    If you only intended this question as a vehicle for accusing them of intentional deception - a pretty harsh, strong, inflammatory accusation in my book - then I don't think this was the right place for it. If you truly want to know what the conference was about, videos are available of all the speakers. Dec 30, 2014 at 21:08
  • 1
    If the answer to, "What can separate us from the love of God?" is "Nothing!" then God's love is "one-way" by definition. If you don't believe in the reformational doctrine of grace alone, then that's fine, but I think it's offensive to accuse people of being dishonest just because they believe something that all Protestants believe. Dec 30, 2014 at 21:13

I thought that at first as well, that the liberate conference was preaching"do whatever you want. " I was relived to understand that they were not, but it took a few videos to be convinced. I grew up in the church and have been a Christian for some time and I wonder as so many others like me if it's true that God's love and grace are so wreckless toward me? It is very hard to believe and also serves as an offending reminder of my total lack of ANYTHING good to offer the holy God. It would be easier to believe if there was something I could offer to make me a little acceptable to God. I can't explain his grace. After 10 years of wondering if he was displeased with me and setting me aside, I sure am grateful to learn about his grace!

  • 1
    Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. This is the start of a good answer, but more focus on the facts of what Tullian has written / quotes / etc. would make this a much better answer. Jan 20, 2015 at 14:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .