The Ascent, by David Linn

I regard the directive to love thy neighbour as something to be followed as much as possible; and explained if possible; not something to be explained-away.

But – how does loving our neighbour, and trying to be good to them, help their salvation? It is a question which seems to demand some kind of answer.

My own current answer – for what it is worth – is that when we love somebody then he will at some point know our love for a fact – I assume this happens after death. And then this fact of love may – if that person chooses – influence his decision about whether to accept or reject Christ’s saving work, and may influence other choices as well.

So, the fact of my mother’s love for me will be (as it were) brought to my attention after I die, and her wisdom and experience then becomes a factor in my choice. If my mother has herself accepted Christ, then I can benefit from her advice in full and certain knowledge that she loves me and therefore wants the best for me.

The same might apply to a Father, sibling, child… or any person who loves me.

Thus, I think, Christians can, by their love of specific persons, ‘pull-up’ non-Christians towards salvation and along the path of divinisation – without in any way violating the ultimate free agency of each person.


Universalism (universal salvation) is a bit of a snare, because it pre-empts personal choice. God wants universal salvation, but Men must accept it. So, God has made a system with multiple influences towards that goal of universal salvation – the main influence being via love (as indicated by the two great commandments to love God, then neighbour).

We are instructed to love God first, because that is the necessary first step to understanding God’s system – I mean, we must first acknowledge that God is loving towards us, well-intended, doing His best etc. – The second commandment flows from the fact that this is a system in which love is primary – and we must understand our situation in that light.

Whatever explanation of ‘love thy neighbour’ we adopt, must therefore be one in which love is effectual in achieving God’s ultimate purposes. Any explanation which contradicts this must be, to some significant extent, mistaken.

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