The Evangelical Universalist Forum

List of those of who reject traditional hellism

We know where you are :smiley:


Of course, sobornost! :slight_smile: Please, at this stage of the project we can afford to expand and improve the bios’ we’ve got. There’s quite a few where I regret being so scissor-happy with my editing, and there’s a few that need better quotes (or quotes at all).

And I’m still waiting patiently for Jason and Alex to finish digesting Rammeli’s tome and then throwing some great stuff for the early church :slight_smile:

Minor update to Hanson.
Now Harlow Barton.

I’m not overly far along (not much more than 10%), but I expect to speed up for the rest of the month to be done by All Saints Day which seems appropriate. :mrgreen:

Her extended comments on Irenaeus are the most surprising thing I’ve seen so far, but I’m only up to Clement of Alexandria. She argues from extensive textual evidence that Ir believed in purgatorial universalism for human beings, and annihilation (most likely but maybe universalism, definitely not ECT) for rebel angels.

Wow. That’s awesome! Really? Can’t wait to see the findings of that book … must start saving money to buy book …

I’ve finally started posting up a better table of contents over on the main thread for the book, along with some brief preliminary comments about the sections within the chapters.

That should go to the proper recent comment.

Don’t forget Arthur Custance. In his Sovereignty of God he devotes an entire chapter to the possibility of universal restoration and although he does not actually take a dogmatic stance for it i would classify him as a hopeful universalist.


he writes the following…

It seems to me that the fate of the unsaved is not clearly revealed in Scripture, and has been greatly confused by centuries of imaginative thinking in a way that is probably detrimental to our understanding and may be a gross misrepresentation of the mind of God. For reasons which will be considered briefly later, the art of the Middle Ages became increasingly grotesque whenever its subject matter was the fate of the wicked. We find it difficult to escape from this cultural heritage.
So the problem of the future of the non-elect and how this is to be reconciled with the justice of God persists. And it seems proper in any book which deals with the Sovereignty of God’s Grace to make at least some attempt to sort these matters out a little bit even at the grave risk of being entirely misunderstood.

 When I first became a Christian nearly forty-five years ago, I was enormously helped by a dear saint of God whose concern for my spiritual growth made her a veritable "mother in the Lord" to my soul. She had, at that time, found her thinking greatly stimulated by the writings of Andrew Jukes. Among his works which she had acquired was one by the title The Restitution of All Things. This volume presented a form of Universalism which attracted her and she asked me to read it and share my reactions with her. This I did. I found it stirred my thinking and aroused my interest in the possible fate of the unsaved for the first time. I had known the Lord for only about eighteen months, so it was perhaps not surprising that I had not previously given the matter much thought.
 I visited a number of secondhand bookstores, and soon found other works which pursued equally unorthodox lines of thought on the subject. One of these was Farrar's Eternal Hope. This I did not feel happy about, though the level of my Christian thinking was admittedly far from informed

or sophisticated. However, I then searched for and found a copy of Mercy and Judgment by the same author, a volume which still left me unsatisfied because of some of the author’s presuppositions regarding the inspiration of Scripture which I felt were inadequate.
Shortly after this, I picked up a copy of Hanson’s Universalism in the First Five Hundred Years of the Christian Church, but in my poorly informed state of development I had a feeling I should view his data with caution, since I had no way of checking whether the extensive quotations he had extracted from the early Church Fathers were accurate and not out of context. But I did begin to feel that there were some valid arguments for questioning the deeply entrenched doctrine of everlasting punishment.
I soon added other works to a growing collection of volumes on the subject, some of them for and some against, one of which struck me with particular force because of the gentleness and spiritual tone that pervaded the author’s arguments against everlasting punishment. This was Samuel Cox’s Salvator Mundi. I have now some fourteen works on the subject and, thanks to the same dear child of God, I have also a complete set of the works of the Early Church Fathers in the Scribner thirty-eight volume edition under the titles Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers. All these have been much studied, and I must admit that my personal views have swung back and forth somewhat over the years, resting today in the not altogether satisfactory position of being undecided in the matter.

 There are, however, certain things about which I am fully persuaded. First, that the Lord is sovereign, gracious, and altogether just. He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. There is no salvation outside of Christ, nor any chance of escaping the penalty of our sins once we pass out of this life. The issue is not whether there is to be punishment, but whether punishment is to be endless. Outside of Christ there is no forgiveness in the hereafter (Matthew 12:32), but if punishment is to fit a temporal offense, the question is whether it needs to be interminable.
 Secondly, when we come to glory and our understanding is enlarged beyond measure in the presence of the Lord, we shall undoubtedly say with exultation, "He has done all things well!"
 Thirdly, our sense of time will be different, and we may well have a new understanding of what eternity really means.
 Fourthly, we shall probably see very clearly the true significance of many facets of biblical truth which are beyond our comprehension at the present. We shall gain a new spiritual perspective which may well provide an entirely new understanding of many passages of Scripture which we take for granted we already understand well enough.
 And lastly, I am tending towards the view that a firm answer may not yet be possible, because God does not intend us to know in this life what we do not need to know. We know only that those who are not yet saved are already under condemnation (John 3:18). For those who are saved, judgment is already past (Romans 8:1). Those who are already condemned are not condemned because God willed their unbelief, but because He decided to allow them to have their own way. As C. S. Lewis put it so effectively in The Great Divorce: *

     There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done." All that are in hell choose the latter. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and consciously desires joy will ever miss it.

  It is not difficult to see that a strong conviction that the lost are not lost forever might be harmful for those to whom the Lord has committed the preaching of the Gospel, unless there is at the same time some compensating reinforcement of their view of the terrors of being lost. Though we are not willing to admit it, all too many of us who know the Lord are comparatively unmoved by any conscious awareness of the fate of the unsaved. We are not sufficiently concerned to seek to pluck them out of the fire even though we pay lip service to a belief in everlasting punishment. There is little doubt that assurance of the ultimate safety of our unsaved loved ones would make us even more careless than we are already. It seems to me improbable that the precise nature of the future of the unsaved will be revealed to us on this side of the grave, since such a revelation could not serve a purpose sufficiently good to compensate for the evil that might be done. It might seem that we would be in a better position to vindicate the justice of God before those who challenge it, but experience shows that the people who challenge the justice of God are not really seeking answers but only seeking confirmation of their rejection of Him.

 The following study must accordingly be accepted in the spirit in which it is presented, with a full awareness of the bias I have which, though far from fixed, nevertheless tends towards a somewhat more hopeful view than is current today in some segments of the evangelical community.

What follows is some very strong arguments in favor of universal restoration.

The entire text can be found here

Thanks wmb. :slight_smile:

I’m away from my comp at the mo, but I’ll add the name to the list ASAP. I’ll pick a suitable quote extract, unless you’d like to do that yourself? Do you have any bio info on him I could use?

Added entry for Arthur Custance under Modern Hopeful.

Updated bio for Prof Wacław Hryniewicz.

Pog how are you? Here’s’ good list that Akimel has just posted … versalism/


I must have missed this over Xmas! I’ll have a look … :slight_smile:

Edit: updated bios as far as/including David Konstan.

Hi Pog :slight_smile: - when you are next on site, due to discussion on another thread I reckon Kierkegaard should go from certain to strong hope. I can do an entry for you on Bonhoeffer (no sure whether he is strong or weak in hope probably borderline but he’s certainly well on the radar). Reinhold Niebuhr (who was a certain universalist).

John Eldredge could possibly be added to the list. Christian author, speaks of Restoration in virtually every manuscript he writes.

"The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God - so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality. Your humanity, and your life. This is the reason he came. Anything else is religion.”
― John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus

"Do you see? Wherever humanity was broken, Jesus restored it. He is giving us an illustration here, and there, and there again. The coming of the kingdom of God restores the world he made.

God has been whispering this secret to us through creation itself, every year, at springtime, ever since we left the Garden. Sure, winter has its certain set of joys. The wonder of snowfall at midnight, the rush of a sled down a hill, the magic of the holidays. But if winter ever came for good and never left, we would be desolate. Every tree leafless, every flower gone, the grasses on the hillsides dry and brittle. The world forever cold, silent, bleak.

If we listen, we will discover something of tremendous joy and wonder. The restoration of the world played out before us each spring and summer is precisely what God is promising us about our lives. Every miracle Jesus ever did was pointing to this Restoration, the day he makes all things new."

-John Eldredge " Epic, the true story God is telling "

Thanks for the added info Sobornost and Wendy.

I think someone’s already moved Soren … ? :slight_smile:

Entries for Bonhoeffer and Niebuhr would be much appreciated :slight_smile:

Wendy, I’d love to include Eldredge but I need something a bit more solid regarding his stance on hell or universalism, and I haven’t been able to find anything on his website. Do you know what his stance on hell is?

John Eldridge isn’t a universalist, alas, or at least he wasn’t a year or so ago. I don’t remember all that was said, but he and I had a brief exchange on his blog and he made it clear (tactfully) that he believed in eternal punishment. I hesitate to say more because I don’t remember exactly what either of us said. It was a little sad, though not unexpected.

Wendy I got the same impression as Cindy about Eldridge concerning universal salvation. He speaks of a universal restoration which many are not part of I guess :confused:

Will do Pog but I’m still thinking how to couch the entries. I also think that the Soren entry needs updating - I’ve found out more about him. At the moment in research I am doing I’m coming across another group of people who I think extremely important in the history of universalism who don’t fit any current categories; namely that people I would call ‘mitigators’. These are people who still believed in ECT but somehow tried to soften the doctrine. For example -

Aquinas mitigated Augustine’s doctrine of the damnation of unbaptized infants by the idea of limbo where the unbaptized don’t suffer in the sense of being tortured but only in the sense of being deprived of the complete vision of God.

Dante walked among the damned with pity rather than mockery

Even Calvin asserted that the fire that torments is a spiritual anguish rather than material (something his followers forgot)

Simon Episcopius was keen to stress that the torments of hell were not as terrible as others thought

John Pordage who I once thought might be a universalist - and needs to be shifted from this category - viewed hell as self chosen a bit like Lewis etc…

John Piper - against the Westminster Confession - teaches that all children who die in infancy are among the elect.

I’ve loads of examples of mitigators. I think they are important in terms of the gradual shift away from belief in ECT. I don’t what you think - but they are certainly on my radar at the moment.

Yeah, I read a couple of Eldredge’s books back in the day, The Sacred Romance and Wild At Heart, and I liked his passion and his eloquence, and how he focused on the heart and the importance of emotions, which I think a lot of evangelicals have an overly distrustful and dismissive attitude towards, and I like how Eldredge tries to correct that attitude, and I also appreciate his love for good stories and how he used a lot of literature and film to illustrate what he was trying to say (and I believe he has some good things to say), as I often do myself, but nowadays I think he’s off-kilter in some areas to be sure, even in his thoughts on what it means to be a man, which is kind of one of his main focuses (I’ll save my qualms on that for another time) and I agree with Cindy that, unless things have changed with him recently, he’s most definitely not a universalist. :neutral_face:

I remember reading a tract that I found written by him a few years ago, where he talked about salvation, and there was the usual ‘turn to God before it’s forever too late’ kind of thing going on, even if it was put in a more eloquent way than it usually is. :unamused:

In “The Sacred Romance,” Jesus and the Bible’s storyline are presented as the true fulfillment of all humanity’s deepest hopes as revealed in our fairy tales, which ultimately end with, “And they all lived happily ever after.” When I read that, I thought how much such tales implied the desire of genuine love that a good ending will come to everyone who has value in our eyes, and how close Eldredge thus seemed to universalism. Alas, many don’t see where the logic of their faith would lead, or appear satisfied with a good ending for themselves.

Thanks for the info on Eldredge folks, sad but clear.


Yeah, if you can provide extra info for Soren that’d be grand :slight_smile: Also, yes I understand the issue regarding ‘mitigators’. However, I think this would so greatly expand the list beyond it’s initial scope (same as with non-Christian universalists) that it’d a huge undertaking, probably deserving of its own list (most ECTers are in some way mitigators no-a-days, I think - especially in terms of infant salvation). So, unless they can happily fit into one of the current categories (hopeful, anti-hellist, post-mortem salvationst (maybe infant salvationists could fit here?) etc, I’m not sure it’d be wise to include them here and now.

Perhaps and expanded section/ separate list? I’m not sure.

Pog your the editor here - I’ll pass any people that I see as key mitigators from the past over to you as I come across them (they are especially important in the seventeenth century. Yes you can put them in with the anti-hellist if you think they sound useful. I think John Prodage is currently in hopeful universalist category on the basis of a single quotation that isn’t that clear (my fault - I hand’s studied him at the time I gave the quotation). You can either delete him or move him to anti -hellist on the basis of the following -

Thus you see how many eternal spirits through abuse of their own wills make themselves dwellers in the suffering principium, in that they themselves transform themselves into the devilish nature, and thus become one will and nature with the devil, and not that God has ordered them there, or that they are fated to go there. Why should we make of God the source of man’s eternal suffering and damnation? Why do we need to? Why not more the dragon and the devil and the act of our own free will that turns itself from God’s will and to the dragon’s and the devil’s will? Because this is consistent with the teaching of the Old and New Testaments, of that I am absolutely certain.
(from the close of the 22nd chapter of ‘Sophia; The Graceful Eternal Virgin’)