Hi all: I’m looking for another good book on universalism. I’ve read TEU and The Inescapable Love of God by Talbott. Does anyone else have any suggestions? I purchased The Golden Thread and I regret it because he seems close to Unitarian or at least works-based salvation. So, I’m looking for something evangelical and universalist? I’ve heard The One Purpose of God by Jan Bonda is good. Any thoughts?
No evangelical/orthodox universalist library can be even remotely complete without the Unspoken Sermons series (in three volumes) by George MacDonald. (Plus The Hope of the Gospel.) There are excellent reasons why “Gregory” chose “MacDonald” as the second part of his pseudonym.
All three volumes plus HotG are available online for free reading at the website of GMcD’s American publishers: johannesen.com/
They publish very nice hardback bound editions, too, at a good price. All three vols of US are bound in one book, and HotG is bundled with The Miracles of Our Lord, which Lewisian scholars will instantly recognize as being the source material for the structure of his final three chapters of Miracles: A Preliminary Study. (Many of Lewis’ other references to GMacD throughout his corpus can be found in the main volumes I’m talking about here, btw.)
MacD talks a lot about the humanity of Christ, and so might be mistaken by someone not thoroughly familiar enough with his work as a neo-Arian (or ‘unitarian’, as unitarians tend to call themselves. ‘Singluaritarian’ would be more appropriate, as they actually deny the unity of God per se. Which is ironically funny, though not usually polite to point out in conversation with them. ) But he does affirm the deity of Christ, too, in a union of Godhead. (Unlike, say, Mormons.) He just doesn’t talk about it all that much. One of his few weaknesses of approach, IMO; but I expect he was reacting against a near docetic approach prevalent around him.
Those volumes have a lot of excellent theology in them; enough so that if a reader wanted to ignore or (like Lewis, though with respect) discount the universalistic parts, you could just thumb past them and keep going. He doesn’t capitalize his divine pronouns, though, if I recall correctly; and I know I recall correctly that he tends to use pronouns a lot. The result being that it isn’t always easy to follow his pronoun trail. But MacD was familiar with the newly burgeoning study of textual criticism of Greek manuscripts, and puts this to admirable use; and also seems to have been familiar with a wide range of patristic and medieval texts. (He clearly admires the work of Dante, among the latter, though not his soteriology of course.)
Just an absolutely beautiful work of good chewy (but not overly technical) theology. And, in some key places, universalistic in an orthodox fashion, too. If you get the five volumes in two books, I kind-of recommend beginning with Miracles of Our Lord as a warmup (no universalism there that I recall, btw); and then moving on to the three US volumes; finishing off with The Hope of the Gospel (which has less to say about universalism than the three main US volumes but which is basically volume four of the series though not titled as such. It tends to focus strongly on the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes.)
Be aware that it isn’t a systematic establishment (or even a systematic defense) of orthodox universalism, though.
George MacDonald’s sermons have done me more good than any book outside of the Bible.
His is not an academic theology. Rather, his is a mystical theology arising out of his experience of God found in his obedience to Him.
Although not explicitly UR I have always found the books of Father Gerard W. Hughes the Jesuit Priest to be very uplifting and having hints at UR (The God of Surprises, Oh God Why? etc…).
Also if you don’t mind reading online, Stephen Jones has a lot of books available free at gods-kingdom-ministries.org/book_list.cfm
You can download them by right clicking and choosing ‘save as’. I will warn you and say he isn’t an Evangelical - he believes the book of Revelation is being played out right now and that the currect economic crisis is the outward manifestation of the fall of Babylon. So he thinks the second coming is imminent (where have I heard that before ). Having said that the UR stuff is very good and offers a very different take on it than McDonald’s and Talbotts (although a lot of crossover as well).
Sweet!–although I already dubbed them to tape years ago.
(On the other hand, only one vehicle in which I drive with any regularity has a tape player anymore, so… Also, I would like to add that despite the fact that I have a Sean Connery imitation that’s so awesome I accidentally kept using it during my freshman course-advisor’s meeting in college, I didn’t dub those books in that accent. On the other hand, I have to admit that I did do so when dubbing MacDonald’s dialogue in Lewis’ The Great Divorce… )
Connery does McDonald.or JasonPratt does Connery does McDonald. Sounds like a oneman broadway show.
The person that reads them is a bit monotone but not too bad.
A book I found helpful in my transition to universalism was a book that I have recommended to Auggy for review for inclusion on the recommended books list for this site. The title is “What does the bible really say about hell? Wrestling with the traditional view.” by Randy Klassen. I like his book in that it starts out with no preconceived agenda for where it’s going, but starts asking questions and finding biblical answers. He ends up at something approaching or actually arriving at Christian Universalism, but at one point in the book asks the question of his findings, “Is this Universalism? If so, i reject the term” (or something to that effect.) I like to recommend it to people exploring the notion of CU, because it’s fairly conservative theologically, and the book takes you from the traditional view, through annihilationism, and finally to something like what we believe here (although he doesn’t make the statement as boldly and conclusively as some).
Randy Klassen is a pastor, has a Mennonite background and was trained at Fuller Theological seminary.
You can find his book at amazon.com
I have heard that Bonda’s book is good, though I’ve not read it myself.
I also believe that you can find an electronic copy of Elhanan Winchester’s Dialogues on the Universal Restoration, which was written in the 1700’s in a conversational style between himself and a friend questioning his beliefs. He pretty much goes through the scriptural arguments point by point in this fashion, and makes an excellent case for CU.
Here’s the link: books.google.com/books?id=ol2R_8 … &ct=result
Btw, I am roughly 25 pages into this work (i.e. reading the author’s Preface to this edition, where he outlines the history of his conversion), and am enjoying and appreciating it greatly. (I hope he will stay orthodox in his theology, and it seems written at a time when universalists were first trinitarian and only later in the early 19th century joined largely with the unitarians.) It is at the very least an interesting case study of how an avowed and popular and effective and learned Calvinist Baptist preacher came by degrees to accept universalism with but one main adjustment, namely accepting the “Arminian” doctrine of the intention of God to save all sinners from sin, while retaining his other points.
(Of most interest in this regard is that he shifted first to this Arminian doctrine and then found himself attracted to the universalist minority he was beginning to hear rumors of around him; similarly, he quite understandably first began getting into trouble for preaching the actual intention of God to save all men from sin. An interesting historical sidenote, was that in his area of South Carolina during this time, little had been done to evangelize the slaves; but he was so moved by his burgeoning convictions regarding the intentions of our Savior that he began evangelizing them, with great success, including in their rapid commitments to repenting and altering their own lax ways of life among themselves. It is difficult not to infer that the Calvinist doctrine of election had been at least mis-applied in his region, if not elsewhere, to the effect that the slaves were considered to be non-elect and so not worth presenting the gospel to–moreover that this attitude had contributed to the cruelty visited upon them by their masters, itself partially explaining as a practical matter why the slaves had been resistant to really accepting any Christianity.)
Edited to add: I have now finished the autobiographical preface, which I found to be beautifully written all the way through, with a high and charitable spirit, very much in the best style of late 18th century English (continued well into the latter 19th century in some circles.) Even if I found I had to substantially reject the content of what follows, I would be glad and blessed to have read the preface.
Thanks for that Jason - you have whetted my appetite to get this book. I too love the sound of English written in that period (I am an amateur astronomer and have quite a few old astronomical works of the same period).
From what I remember of it Jason, he does seem to stay orthodox in his views; his biblical universalism aside, of course…
I found it (in online electronic format) because a fellow universalist recommended it highly, saying that it was instrumental in his conversion to universalism because he felt it biblically answered every conceivable argument against Christian Universalism. (Every argument he could think of at any rate…)