letters to surfers

how does creative love theism relate to predestination and free will?

by robert brow
Dear X.,

 I coined the term "Creative Love Theism," which Clark Pinnock and I used in Unbounded Love (1994), p.8. You suggested it was a form of Free Will Theism. But for me that term lacks precision because it might suggest (I know it doesn't) that God gives us free will, and then we are on our own.

 Creative Love Theism begins with the Love of God intending to make us into loving children of God. It also picks up the creative work of the Holy Spirit in Creation, in the life of Christ on earth, and in effecting all the change that is needed in us to be perfected for heaven. In that sense we are chosen and predestined to be perfected in the love of God.

 But God does not force us or override our freedom. We have the freedom to welcome or reject the love and power of God in our life. What we are not free to do is to produce God's kind of love or the fruit of the Spirit by self effort (legalism; Galatians 3:2-3). This was perfectly expressed in Harriet Auber's hymn about the Holy Spirit: "Every virtue we possess, and every victory won, and every thought of holiness, as his alone" ("Our blest Redeemer," 1829).

 I like to think that Creative Love Theism offers the sense of God's predestination to be perfected in love combined with our openness to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are therefore saved by grace alone without any possibility of self-righteousness (Ephesians 2:8).


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