Books of Gulley and Mulholland


Am rather curious that nowhere on this site (admitting I’ve not read every word of every thread) have I seen mentioned the two books by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Let’s see; IF GRACE IS TRUE was the first one and IF GOD IS LOVE the second. Is it an oversight? or are these writers not considered “serious” enough to talk about? I’ve read only the second book – because it was given me by a close friend who begged me to read it. I thought it was shallow, full of “fluff” and emotion, and easy to dismiss. However, at the time I didn’t accept Universal Salvation anyway so…
A year or two later I read Talbott and by this time my mind was already mostly changed; Talbott kind of sealed the deal for me. So I’d have to admit that maybe reading Gulley and Mulholland sort of “softened me up” somehow and laid the groundwork for later conviction…

Has anyone else found their books frustrating – but somehow helpful?? Are they off the radar of this site?




Heck, I’ve never even heard of them. :mrgreen: So I’m glad to see some discussion on them!

The mere fact I’ve never heard of them doesn’t mean anything, btw; they could have sold a million copies of each title, but to a different kind of reading audience. There’s a place for that, too, and a pretty important one.

(I’d rather the authors be orthodox trinitarians, of course; but I’d also rather people believe in the hope of God for sinners than for them to believe in trinitarianism, if it was a question of one or the other. That’s not to say I believe trinitarianism is unimportant; I think it’s extremely important, including in relation to universalism. But charity and justice are more important.)


On reviewing my first post here seems I did indeed come across and something of an elitist and snob. That’s bad; sorry.

As I ponder my mindset while reading that book, namely I read it with the intent of finding it wrong, that is, my bias was heavily on the side of eternal separation (via annihilation, not hell) so of course these guys must be mistaken.

In truth, had I read Talbott or GM before I was ready (that is, open to an opposing viewpoint) I may well have said something just as skewed and sanctimonious. So thanks Buddy, for reminding me that the book spoke to you when you needed it. I should not have demeaned the book like that.

This all underlines something that I seem to need to be reminded of from time to time. Namely that what “works” for me may not “work” quite so well for other minds. Mine is not the “gold standard” by which others are compared. Also, sometimes it is the simplest and most personal arguments that are the most convincing; erudite and complex analysis of texts may not be the best evidence for many. Indeed these G&H books are in fact written for a “popular” and wide Christian audience.
An audience which includes lots of wonderful people.

Thanks for speaking up Buddy! In the future I’ll try to be more sensitive to those arguments which others find appealing. (Good post btw)



It’s such a jolt when you read someone’s words and they are so close to one’s own experiences that it’s almost as if for a brief moment you are standing outside yourself listening to your own innermost feelings.

Buddy - you really caught my breath with those words. One of the major contributory factors to my agnosticism was my experiences after my parents died (mother when I was 12, father the week after my 15th birthday). From the age of 16 I lived completely alone and this was when I needed what you describe in the first sentence that I quoted above. During many long nights alternating between sleeplessness and horrendous nightmares I got no sense of the presence of God at all. I was a member of the Plymouth Brethren from whom I only got a deeper and deeper sense of guilt and loathing because none of my adolescent behaviour ever showed any sign of changing (if your life doesn’t change you ain’t no real Christian son!). A few years ago I joined a United Reformed chapel here as I felt I may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. I had to leave after 2 or 3 years because I was increasingly called on to fill in for the overstretched minister (looking after 9 chapels) and I just felt a fraud (couldn’t stop the huge doubts as to God’e existance coming through).

I will stop there because this isn’t a confessional :smiley: suffice to say Buddy I know where you’re coming from. I feel more and more comfortable with the tag agnostic universalist as we go on this journey together. Agnostic because I flip back and forth over the God question and Universalist because if any of it is true I hope with all my heart that this bit is true.

[obligatory-topic-reference] I have not heard of these authors either [/obligatory-topic-reference].


Ditto! :smiley:


Thanks Buddy

I suppose at the moment these forums are the nearest I have ever come to a religious environment that has actually helped me deal with some of the issues I obviously have. Not in any forced way but just as the result of the ebb and flow of conversation about UR (of course the web is the opposite of the Cheers bar - here nobody really knows your name (or at least not all of it :angry: )).

Thinking about it perhaps this is the best form of evangelising (should link to Bob#3’s topic) - as an agnostic I am far more moved by a Christian acting like Jesus than one preaching at me - actions speak louder than words. Please don’t take these words as harsh critisism of Christians because I don’t mean it that way - it’s just I have rarely seen the other cheek turned or the extra mile walked or a metaphorical cloak given away as well as the shirt that has just been stolen. I am more impressed when someone’s actions make me think ‘wow! you are different!’ rather than ‘uh oh! you’re the same as all the rest’


Wow JeffA: how central this truth is to human experience. Here’s how Edgar A. Guest puts it (according to one internet search; others assert that the author is unknown.)

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way: The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear, fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.”

Talk is cheap; SHOW me you care! sort of thing.

Which is why, and this touches on so many many threads on this site; the belief that the stunning Love of God is such an astonishingly thorough cleanser that ALL of us will eventually be washed clean, NECESSARILY means we have NO choice but to treat our fellow men with a winsome and compassionate graciousness. Even while we risk being seen as “enablers” of the sinners we thereby embrace. Yes, it can be a lonely road, which is why I’m grateful for you 'al here – who walk it with me.


(and PS JeffA: not to be argumentative at all, but to me you are not really an agnostic at all! For you “know” enough to be making the very same kinds of choices that we Universalists are trying to make as we live our lives! And that’s a compliment btw!)