Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The Evangelical Universalist?
Mark Casserley of SPCK forwarded me the announcement of the publication of the following volume: The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald (this is a pseudonym based on Gregory [as in 'of Nyssa'] and MacDonald [as in 'George']). The book addresses several questions: Can an orthodox Christian, committed to the historic faith of the Church and the authority of the Bible, be a universalist? Is it possible to believe that salvation is found only by grace, through faith in Christ, and yet to maintain that in the end all people will be saved? Can one believe passionately in mission if one does not think that anyone will be lost forever? Could universalism be consistent with the teachings of the Bible? The author's answer of course is "yes". You can find discussions of it at blogs associated with Maggi Dawn, Chris Tilling, and Jason Clark. No doubt this will prompt much discussion and debate. Imagine me saying in my Yoda voice: "Beginning it is of the Universalist wars."
I have three comments:
1. As for myself, I'm pretty much an exclusivist but with inclusivist leanings on some areas (see Jason Clark's blog for definitions).
2. I'm not a universalist. I side with Dale C. Allison: "I do not know what befell Mother Theresa of Calcutta when she died, nor what has become of Joseph Stalin. But the same thing cannot have come upon both. If there is any moral rhyme or reason in the universe, all human beings cannot be equally well off as soon as they breathe their last and wake again" ("The Problem of Gehenna," in Resurrecting Jesus [London: T&T Clark, 2005], 99).
3. As a comical point, I must include the infamous Dr. Peter Williams' reply to Mark Casserly's email:
Dear Mr Casserley,
Thank you for the information. I hope that SPCK will also be paying for body guards and for safe housing for 'Gregory'. It is very important to keep him safe from all those evangelicals who might take the law into their own hands...
(Used by permission).