By WALTER ALBRITTON
I love discovering a captivating new idea, like the one I found in “Resilient,” John Eldredge’s recent book — that salvation is a new attachment. Equally exciting was learning that one of my favorite authors considered this the most important lesson of his life.
Having been blessed by Dallas Willard’s writing (“Renovation of The Heart” ), I was pleased to read Eldredge’s poignant story, written by Jim Wilder, about his visit with Willard shortly before Willard died.
His eyes wet with tears, Willard said to Wilder, “What I have learned in this last year is more important than what I learned in the rest of my life. But I have no time to write about it. … You need to write about this.” Then Willard unveiled his riveting idea: “I know of no soteriology [doctrine of salvation] based on forming a new attachment with God.”
Wilder elaborated: “The only kind of love that helps the brain learn better character is attachment love. The brain functions that determine our character are most profoundly shaped by who we love. Changing character, as far as the brain is concerned, means attaching in new and better ways.”
This realization, Wilder says, brought Willard to more tears. “If the quality of our human attachments creates human character, is it possible that when God speaks of love, ‘attachment’ is what God means?”
Willard was less than 3 years old when his mother died. His mother’s death, Eldridge said, was “incomprehensible,” robbing the little boy of the attachment every child needs with their mother. Willard was so devastated that during the funeral he tried to climb into his mother’s casket. An unforgettable scene.
How remarkable then, Eldredge observes, that this little boy would discover, at the end of his life “his most important lesson — salvation is a new attachment, the soul’s loving bond to our loving God.”
The concept of attachment brings to mind several relevant scriptures:
John 15:5 — “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains [attached] in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me [unattached] you can do nothing.”
John 16:33 — “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (peace through our attachment to Jesus).
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 — “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (Attached to God, we become attached to one another in the Body of Christ, thus becoming vessels of God’s comfort.)
Attachment love — what God offers us in Jesus. A new way to comprehend our great salvation. An exciting new way to invite those who are unattached to Jesus to seek the only attachment that satisfies our deepest desire — the soul’s loving bond to our loving God.