The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Michael McClymond on Universalism

So, I recently found out about a book coming out soon (supposedly in 2014 from Baker Academic) called The Devil’s Redemption: An Interpretation of the Christian Debate Over Universal Salvation by Michael McClymond at St. Louis University. Upon researching McClymond in trying to figure out where he stands, I came upon a group of videos of him giving a lecture on universalism and engaging in a type of round table with some people at the Henry Center at Trinity Evangelical.

I have not yet had the opportunity to watch the lecture (though I’m planning on doing so later today), but by watching the shorter “dialogue” videos, it looks like he’s definitely not a fan of universalism. In the four videos, though, there’s only one attempt made at a substantive engagement with an actual universalist position. In the “Ministerial Reflections” video, McClymond dismisses Parry’s reading of the lake of fire in Revelation as an “exegetical somersault” and thus dismisses all other universalist interpretations as likewise invalid. Welp, that settles it! :stuck_out_tongue:

Unfortunately, since McClymond admits that he’s read at least The Evangelical Universalist, it makes me much less sympathetic and patient when he spends the rest of the videos putting forth (or nodding along with) blatant oversimplifications and mischaracterizations of universalism: that it ignores God’s wrath, doesn’t take sin seriously, is mere (post-)modern cultural accommodation, is just Marcionism, is just Gnosticism, gets rid of any need for evangelism, etc. etc. :unamused: Really just pathetic jabs that don’t even break the skin of an even minimally well-formed universalistic position.

Of course, these videos contain semi-spontaneous remarks in a more informal conversational setting, so perhaps the lecture itself is more nuanced. But, I’ve gotta say, the level of discourse in the shorter videos doesn’t give me much hope that it is.

The lecture on universalism (it’s about 80 minutes long)
“Hell in Cultural Perspective”
“The NT Doctrine of God’s Mercy”
“Ministerial Reflections on the Doctrine of Hell”
“Pastoral Reflections”

I just listened to the first 10 minutes or so. He uses the same worn-out arguments that we hear all the time, and which have been adequately answered over and over:

  1. What is the motivation for preaching the gospel if everyone is going to be saved anyhow?

  2. What was the purpose of Christ’s death, if everyone is going to be saved anyhow?

Etc., etc., etc.

[This is a [b]reaaaaaally long post. Read at your own peril. But I think I do fairly accurately describe the gist of McClymond’s view and offers some at least plausible objections.]

I just finished watching the lecture. I figured I’d give a brief summary. Basically, McClymond is doing a genealogy in which he attempts to show that universalism is rooted in the supposed gnostic narrative of “unity --> diversity --> unity.” He blames Origen for picking this up. Then, he skips to the 16th and 17th century mystic Jocob Boehme, blames him for creating an esoteric, gnostic-influenced version of apokatastasis and tries to show how all the universalists in the modern period can be traced back to Boehme.

McClymond anticipates the charge that he is using a sort of “guilt-by-association” tactic, but he denies this on the grounds that it is not only that universalism is associated with gnosticism, but that it “comes directly out of a gnostic conception of God.” What this gnostic doctrine of God exactly is is not entirely clear, but it appears to include: (a) emanationism (God does not freely create the world), (b) evil is somehow originally present in God, leading to the emanation of fallen material creation, and © that all is brought back into unity with God in such a way to deny a real distinction between God and creation. He asserts that universalism is simply not biblical and thus false, saying: “Even if the New Testament did not clearly deny universalism, we could still reject it because of its gnostic foundations.” The only biblical argument he uses to support his claim that scripture teaches a doctrine of everlasting hell is the crucifixion narrative of the two thieves, one who accepts and the other who rejects Christ.

He goes on to assert that universalism has no essential place for sin or grace. This really begins the section of his lecture which, I think, contains some just flat-out embarrassing statements. Some choice ones:

“Is it not noteworthy that the [supposed] “truth” of universalism should be discovered at a period of time in church’s history that is recognized as a period of moral laxity and cheap grace?”

“I see universalism at the 21st century as just a new expression of the age old struggle between cheap and costly grace.”

“I call us all to recover the central message of the cross…because it’s only a Church that has forgotten the message of the cross that could even toy with the idea of universal salvation as biblical truth.”

Alright, now that summary is out of the way, time for some critiques! :smiley:

First of all, I should say that my training is not primarily in historical theology, but rather philosophical theology and philosophy of religion. However, I have taken enough courses in historical theology to have a basic feel about what’s going on in the field. That being said, the very fact that McClymond would base his entire thesis on the idea that universalism is an essentially gnostic invention is puzzling, since the consensus in the field seems to be that there never was some single phenomenon of “gnosticism.” We do not have primary sources of the gnostics that McClymond cites, but rather only the polemical documents of “proto-orthodox” theologians. If I am correct, we have only relatively recently come upon the first primary documents from supposed “gnostics” such as Valentinus, and in many ways they do not match up with the views that polemical proto-orthodox theologians such as Irenaeus ascribed to them. So, that alone seems to be a prima facie methodological problem for McClymond’s narrative: how can we genealogically trace universalism to gnosticism when we’re not even sure what the supposed “gnostics” believed? This does not, I think, completely nullify his narrative. For example, it seems the general gist of his genealogy could remain intact if the formulation of these “gnostic” universalist views found in the proto-orthodox fathers was enough to spawn this universalist trajectory. Still, as I will argue, I don’t think that the most important theologians that McClymond cites do hold these “gnostic views.” That is the bigger problem with his account.

Secondly, McClymond seems to be simply picking up on the old and insufficiently critical notion that Origen was just another gnostic who hid it better than others. But, remember, Origen himself vigorously debated against the “gnostics” of his time. McClymond’s case depends not only on the weak claim that universalism shares some approximate similarities with “gnosticism” but the stronger one that it “shares a gnostic conception of God.” McClymond has to explain how Origen’s doctrine of God is really “gnostic” when Origen was explicitly developing his doctrine of God in opposition to these supposed gnostics! I have not read all that much of Origen besides De Principiis and some bits of Contra Celsum, but I have to say that I do not recognize McClymond’s conception of gnosticism (unity-division-unity) in Origen’s thought. Even if we accept that Origen believed in the pre-existence of souls who sinned against God, were placed in material creation, and are reconciled back to God, this does not entail that Origen held to a form of emanationism that denies God’s free act of creation, that the material world is inherently sinful, that there ever was “sin” in God, or that finally any distinction between God and creatues is erased. Despite perhaps some oddities in his doctrine of the Trinity, Origen’s doctrine of God and narrative of creation are pretty similar in their basic structure to the more traditional views; it’s just that he pushes the Fall up an ontological level, so to speak. Perhaps I’m mis-reading Origen or I’m just so thick-headed as not to see Origen’s gnosticism.

Thirdly, and this is a relatively minor point, McClymond frankly just engages in a bunch of cheap shots. Since an essential part of his narrative is that universalism is inextricably linked to “esoterica” and “visionaries,” he typically mentions a supposedly bizarre position held by each universalist (e.g. that Lucifer might be saved, God forbid! or Adrienne von Speyr’s claim that she mystically “went to hell” every Holy Saturday), many times for no discernable reason other than to make the thinker in question seem silly. The height of this absurdity occurs when he invokes some charismatic preacher named John Crowder who apparently holds rowdy services and performs odd acts like pretending a crucifix is a bong. Perhaps Crowder has a larger following than I am aware of, but I doubt it, and I think that McClymond’s inclusion of him in this narrative serves no other purpose than to implicate the actual respectable thinkers by their supposed association with Crowder’s bizarre heterodoxy.

Moreover, it is unusual that MyClymond chooses, until the 20th century, to skip over the more well-reputed likely supporters of universal reconciliation. He says nothing directly, for example, of Gregory of Nyssa (or the other Cappadocians, who some seem to think have universalist leanings), who only helped formulate the doctrine of the Trinity! Additionally, if McClymond relies so heavily upon universalism belonging to the realm of “visionaries,” why not mention Julian of Norwich in his narrative? Perhaps he doubts her universalist leanings, but it seems to be that he ignores her simply because she is theologically “respectable” in a way that Boehme, for example, is not (at least among the more theologically traditional).

Of course, McClymond’s narrative only works if all and every form of Christian universalism necessarily shares the same “gnostic” conception of the doctrine of God. Again, I think I have called into question whether this can even be said of Origen, who typically has been interpreted as being pretty close to gnosticism. I have no doubt that Boehme held some heterodox views and that these were picked up by Hegel and thus influenced a great deal of 20th century theologians. However, to suggest that all these theologians simply picked up wholesale this supposed gnostic doctrine of God (which we don’t know was actually held by any “gnostics”) and that it is the foundation of their universalism just seems flat-out implausible. Does McClymond really want to suggest that von Balthasar holds a gnostic conception of God? He, like Origen, actively fought against this, and Cyril O’Regan - the leading scholar of the “gnostic influence” in modern thought - claims that von Balthasar is one of the strongest anti-Hegelian (and thus, on McClymond’s narrative, anti-Boehmian --> anti-gnostic) modern theologians.

McClymond, I think, is appealing to the similarity in the supposed gnostic narrative of “unity-diversity-unity” and the traditional narrative of “creation-fall-redemption” and then only selectively identifying universalist Christian theologians’ with the former. But none (as far as I am aware) of the major theologians he cites believe in an emanationist doctrine of creation, of some primordial “sinfulness” in God, or any of the other supposed doctrines that he describes as gnostic. The only distinctions left between them and those good, old traditional theologians are their universalism and the fact that other areas of their theologies consequently look different (atonement, God’s justice/wrath, etc)!

Finally, let’s consider McClymond’s more explicit critiques of universalism. First of all, it’s just silly to assume that an increase in the popularity of universalism in the 20th and 21st centuries is due to the “moral laxity” of the modern age and the “cheap grace” of the (liberal) modern church. It seems to me there is a whole cornucopia of other factors that likely play far greater a role in this shift: watching those who aren’t “saved” die by the millions in the Holocaust and other atrocities of the 20th century, changes in biblical scholarship that open up new ways of reading the gospels and Paul, the re-evaluation of Origen as not a “gnostic,” etc. etc. “Liberalism” and “moral laxity” might have affected some to accept universalism, but to suggest that these are the only causes is just ridiculous.

Additionally, McClymond cannot charge his characterization of universalism with holding to “cheap grace” unless he is already assuming a certain conception of grace that inherently holds to a hell of eternal conscious torment. But this is precisely what is in question! How can one read Robin Parry, as McClymond has claimed he has, and say that Parry advocates cheap grace, rejects the wrath or justice of God, or has no place for evangelism unless one has already a priori ruled out the possibility? McClymond’s definition of true “grace” and “justice” requires that one already hold to a doctrine of God’s wrath/justice in which God punishes those who do not receive grace with eternal suffering in hell. But this just means that McClymond has already smuggled the doctrine of everlasting hell into his doctrine of God and God’s attributes. The universalist need not (and almost never does) deny that God does not display God’s wrath or justice; it’s just that this justice is always working for reconciliation and never for pure retribution.

In fairness, McClymond does attempt to support this assumption by an appeal to the biblical narrative. Here, as I mentioned, he puts forth, as far as I can remember, only one real argument for his view that God’s justice/wrath requires that human beings make a choice of eternal consequence: the two thieves. McClymond uses the example of the thief who mocks Christ as an example of the one who rejects grace and thus deserves eternal punishment, whereas the thief that accepts Christ gains grace and earns everlasting bliss. But, just moments later, McClymond himself mentions how the “good” thief extraordinarily accepts Christ while Christ’s own apostles are denying him and scattering! But this means they did nothing different from what the “bad” thief did! The only difference is that the bad thief dies without repenting, whereas the apostles have the further opportunity to repent. But this leaves a few issues unresolved. As I think McClymond would admit, this story alone does not support his doctrine of hell; it can only do so in conjunction with his interpretation of other passages as pointing to this doctrine. Thus, it makes it an odd choice for scriptural support for his view; he probably would have done better to argue for an eternalist reading of some hell passage. Consequently, McClymond’s reading of this passage to support his doctrine of hell relies upon the assumption that there are no further chances to accept grace after death.The only reasoning which McClymond seems to offer for this assumption is that no second chances makes life’s decisions more “meaningful.” But, this too is just assumed. Far more interpretive work needs to be done to support his reading of this passage.

Finally, McClymond’s charge that a true Christian who believed in the power of the cross couldn’t “even toy” with universalism is flat-out uncharitable. Just like in the rest of his lecture, he simply assumes that a true Christian theology must hold to certain positions, one such position being that God punishes the unrepentent in hell for all eternity. Universalism is thus ruled out as un-christian by definition and without any convincing arguments as to why this is so. McClymond mentioned that his substantiative arguments would be made in the book, but if the peeks at his arguments in the lecture are any indication, his book will be more of the same, tired traditionalist arguments against universalism, only with an odd “historical” genealogy tacked on as supposed support.

Funny thing is that the Gnostics were not universalists (they were elitists and many sects believed that the mass of sarkic humanity was beyond hope); also Boehme was not a universalist - Jane Lead was the first Boehmenist who was a universalists, and her ideas were very controversial among many of the European followers of Boehme. :confused:

Yeah, absolutely.
One of the many reasons i get irritated with the recurring trend to say Gnostic gospels are great (it seems to happen in film and literature a lot) and thus demonise the church for declaring it a heresy is that they were horrible elitists who thought that special knowledge saved you and that flesh was inherently dirty and corrupt. A direct contradiction of Christ who was not afraid to touch lepers and spend time with “sinners”, and basically damned most of those that had the most knowledge and were hypocritical because of their arrogance.
Gnosticism is not nice, and there is no connection to Universalist thought that i can perceive.
This guy is basically creating a straw man to burn. the best word i can think of is “pathetic”.

John Crowder is an interesting old fish. I don’t hold with what i’ve heard and seen of the odd services he’s done, and i hear they’ve moved away from that now. i can sort of understand the rational (if we’re not drunk on wine but on the Holy Spirit (which does require a misreading, but hey)…then why not stoned? as an alternative to drugs, really…or a way to “reach out” to the stoner “community”…but i don’t agree, i just vaguely sort of understand)
He is not actually a universalist…at least not dogmatically. he believes it’s moral to HOPE for it, and it’s possible for God to do it. The theology i’ve heard him teach on youtube was not, iirc, that bad…

I agree with you James -

Are unity-division-unity and creation - fall – redemption mutually exclusive narratives?
Here is a possible way of seeing them as complementary:

The creation expresses the harmony and unity of the creator –
The fall wrecks this harmony and unity and leads to divisions rivalry and strife
The redemption restores harmony and unity to creation, between human beings, and between God and human beings
The final unity is superior to the first unity because in it all of creation has turned freely to its creator.

Unity division unity is not in itself a Gnostic narrative. To make it Gnostic you have to import other element into it; most importantly -

That the creation is in itself the fall – and that matter is evil

That the final unity is achieved when matter is destroyed and the Gnostic elect (or .pneumatics) that have recognised their spiritual/immaterial origins and destination are saved from its burning wreckage. This is clearly the case in Manichean Gnosticism and according to Illaria Ramelli it lead Augustine initially to embrace universalism when he rejected Gnosticism.

I don’ know of any Universalists who have held to a Gnostic doctrine of evil having its origin in God – as if God is the source of sin. I understand that some Gnostics did see the fall as something taking place first in the Godhead. Origin did not hold to this doctrine and neither did Boehme who – as I said – was not a Universalist although he has inspired one of the lineages of universalist thought. Boehme simply thought that those things that become evil in human beings – anger, desire etc – are also present in God but in god they are so harmonised by Love that they are always overcome and put/kept in their rightful place. Boehme did not see any evil – as such – in God.

I think the reason why the pietistic Universalists were so attracted to Boehme with his esoteric symbolism is that the scholastic Protestant theology of their day was so abstract, logical and legalistic that it could no longer express anything of the heart in Christianity. The slightly eccentric imagery of Boehme was an attempt to reconstruct a lost tradition of theological inwardness for which some hearts pined. It expresses many insights that are present in ancient Orthodox theology but in a fragmented and sometimes confused way which speaks of disorientation. The Greek Orthodox ECT idea that God does not create a special fire to torment his creatures with - but it is simply that from the choices we make we finally experience Gods’ love as fiery joy of tormenting fire is completely in line with Boehme’s thinking. However it would be a mistake to equate Boehme with ancient Gnosticism. He believed in the goodness of the created order for starters. Also there is no clear connection between him and Origen - although the Philadelphians, his later English followers who shifted to universalism, knew Origen.

The idea that Universalists are also monist or pantheists is also wide of the mark. All of the Christian Universalists I have read speak of apocatastasis as growing communion of all in God and with God but not as an undifferentiated unity of the All.

Who is John Crowder?

Great response mate!

I really despair for humanity when i see how little actual checking is done by people who want to assert a traditional/popular opinion. it happens in the media and in the church…and i suspect it’s largely for mimetic reasons!

The first point about Boehme is good to know. It makes it even more confusing how McClymond is going to support this narrative in his book.

As for the second point about unity-division-unity, I think you’re exactly right. In the end, it seems that McClymond sets up a dilemma for himself: either his account is merely using guilt-by-association and the genetic fallacy or he must somehow show that all varieties of universalism share the same “gnostic” doctrine of God and narrative. The latter is a very, very strong claim and seems simply false, since it’s not clear that any of the theologians that McClymond cites share anything with his supposed “universalist gnostics” other than their universalism! If that is the case, he has simply declared, by definition, universalism=gnosticism, which, as you note, seems historically untenable to begin with.

I totally agree that what you describe as “gnosticism” - how it has generally been portrayed in early Christian polemics - is indeed not something I would want to support. That being said, we have only just recently (mid-20th century) found at Nag Hammadi some of the first extant “gnostic” writings. I’ve gotta say, if you read, say, the Epistle to Flora, it doesn’t really sound like the author was some crazed spiritual elitist. Rather, the author seems to treat members of the “proto-orthodox” community as fellow believers; it’s just that she or he has found “higher” levels of knowledge of God that can be attained, but are not required for salvation. In many ways, that’s not all that dissimilar to Origen’s view of the different senses of scripture. There are some views in Flora and The Gospel of Truth that resemble the polemical presentations of gnostic views, but they are typically not nearly as extreme as they were portrayed. This, I think, seems to suggest that at least some of the supposed gnostics were not quite as bad as Christians have typically thought. Remember, too, that this was sort-of the “wild west” for different doctrinal proposals, so it’s not surprising that we would find in the “gnostics” some views that appear odd to us.

Agreed :slight_smile: The Gnostic code by Walter Wink is a really good and balanced brief introduction that takes account of diversity and tries to read behind the polemics. :slight_smile:

Good to know…i suppose there were many Gnostic schools of thought. And it may also be that some are not totally wrong. The church demonised some things that ought not to be demonised, and elevated some pretty bad doctrines to the level of Orthodoxy, at least for a while, and i’m not even talking about hellfire here…

What do you make of the charge that universalists are specifically like Marcionites?

Great report, Arlenite! Sounds like a classic case of Did Not Do The Research. Someone should take up an offering and send him a copy of Dr. Ramelli’s tome on the patristic universalists. (Although if he read Robin’s much more accessible work and flat ignored large portions of what it was saying, then I wouldn’t waste the money doing so. :wink: )

I have never heard a single word about Marcion being universalistic, and am checking back through Dr. R’s index for refs to see if she mentions it. It’s possible he was and she just happened not to say so because she focuses on what the patristic universalists (including Bardaisan, ClementAlex, Origen and in effect Irenaeus) were challenging Marcion on – and that wasn’t it. Marcion dichotomizes super-strongly between the “OT God” of avenging justice which he painted as false and evil in a fashion mirroring many Gnostics, and the “loving” God of the NT; this was the main point of contention from his (proto-)orthodox opponents, even when they were deploying universalistic Christology arguments against him. It is Marcion, not the patristic universalists, who militantly ignored NT evidence of God’s severity, going so far as to provide a heavily abbreviated and edited version of the received texts (incidentally creating the first known canonical list against the unofficial canon of the orthodox party). Origen, to say the least, could have authoritatively cited more post-mortem punitive texts than McClymond does in his lecture! :laughing:

Still, as I said, it might perhaps be possible that Marcion might have also been a universalist – he denied the real God judges anyone for sin, and his scope of evangelism was certainly much greater than any Gnostic elitism. But even if so, the most that can be said is that he wasn’t much of anything like the orthodox patristic universalists in how he went about it, and they relentlessly hammered on him.

And in fact he tended to teach that those in hades who held to the standards of the OT would remain unredeemed after the offer of Christ’s salvation; so really his only ‘universalism’ was a scope of offered salvation similar to any Arminianism in principle, and offered post-mortem in practice. And only offered post-mortem to non-Jews! Marcion just didn’t believe that the real unknown God of the NT condemned them, but rather that they had been condemned by the evil God of the OT Who set them a law they couldn’t follow thus ensuring their final damnation by the evil God. The good God decides not to even try to save them.

In that sense the universal scope of Marcion’s potential salvation ends up falling to a standard criticism of Arm soteriology by Calvinists: usually Arminians believe in a limited election of sinners to salvation after all, just like Calvinists even though the number of the elect might technically be larger!

The old “cheap grace vs. costly grace” chestnut is one of my personal “favorites” :angry: . They like to accuse Christian Universalism of promoting cheap grace, but what they forget is that grace isn’t cheap (or costly, to us) it’s free! If it wasn’t free, it wouldn’t be grace at all. So this one is doubly bad, in that it’s essentially a false dichotomy within a straw man (or perhaps red herring).

If I recall, the Marcionite charge wasn’t made in the actual lecture, but during one of those dialogue videos. I’m not sure if it was McClymond or one of his interlocutors who brought it up, but it was just the same, old argument that universalism ignores God’s wrath and thus ignores the OT. :unamused:

So, I don’t think McClymond thinks that Marcion was a universalist, or else I’m sure he would’ve included in the lecture. “Look! Another heretic who was a universalist!”

This is what is so puzzling to me. McClymond is an actual academic who holds an actual academic post in historical theology. He supposedly did the research for this book on a fellowship at Yale Divinity, for goodness sakes! (although McClymond is foremost an Edwards scholar, and Yale has an Edwards research center, which might explain it). But, if his lecture and his comments in these videos are any indication, it just sounds like really sloppy work. Again, I recognize it’s difficult to translate the nuance of a book into an hour long lecture, but it seems like it calls into question whether the book really will be carefully argued. The lecture and dialogue videos sound like the usual neo-Calvinist screeds (and McClymond himself admits to be a Calvinist, which also might explain it a bit).

I was actually really excited because I initially thought that his book was just going to be a nice historical work on the history of universalism. I thought I remember reading somewhere that Ramelli is doing a “sequel” to her patristic universalism monster tome on medieval and modern universalism. Anyone know if this is the case? Seems like the only hope left now for a good contemporary historical survey.

Hi Jason and Arlenite -

I’ve looked up Marcion in Hans Jonas’ ‘*The Gnostic Religion’ *and found the following .

(first a paraphrase from me) Marcion was a Gnostic in that he believed that the world was created by a hostile deity. However, unlike the other full blown Gnostics he also believed we are the creation of this inferior and hostile deity it seems,; his alien god of love is the one who reaches out to us in his son’s ransoming death from beyond the cosmos and seeks to adopt us out of pure gratuitous love and save us from our malign creator. However, it is not gnosis of our spiritual origins that saves us – it is purely faith in the power of the alien God. In Marcion’s scheme we are saved by faith rather than by gnosis.

Jonas explains that -

(The Gnostic Religion – page 140)

I’d expect that Professor Ramelli would agree.

So our critic of Christian universalism (whichever one) is using ‘Marcionite’ – like ‘Gnosticism’ – as a very loose ‘guilt by association’ thing as you say Arlenite – whoever made the quip. Yes it is the same old stuff about ignoring OT wrath and therefore trying to bypass God’s wrathfulness; but that’s only one element of the Marcionite creed.

And to top it all I’m not sure that Hegel believed in universal salvation as such – although I could be wrong; he believed in a positive outcome of the historical process but I’m unclear that individuals who lived before the outcome would be beneficiaries. Hard Calvinists tend to be very anti-Hegel because of Hegel’s belief that thesis and antithesis can be combined in synthesis. Perhaps that’s why Hegel - who was admittedly influenced by Boehme - features on the list of ‘universalists’.

P.S. I’ve had a look at the Pog List to see which Universalists were influenced directly or indirectly by Boehme – and the list I’ve come up with is -

George de Benneville
Elahanan Winchester
Paul Siegvolk
The Petersens
Jane Lead
Anne Bathurst
Some of the early Quakers
The German Town Universalists of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania (including the Dunkers)
Richard Roache
Sterry and White
Sower the Elder and the Younger
William Law
William Blake
Nicolas Berdyaev

That’s not everybody – it is only a small fraction even of the 17th and 18th century key figures. So Boehmenism is a lineage within early modern universalism – it is not the totality. There were other universalists movements that Boehmenism had little or no influence on.

Arlenite, yes Dr. R is certainly working on a sequel about medieval (and maybe also modern) universalists, or anyway she says so in her tome. She has several connected projects on the stove, so to speak. :slight_smile: (I’m not entirely sure I recall her saying she has a third book about modern universalists on the way, but I half recall it. I’m more sure about the medieval book.)

Another one on the way is a book about how apokatastasis was referenced and used outside orthodox patristics in the early Christian centuries, by pagan and alt-Christian authors, mainly before Nicea. She talks about this for a few pages early in her first huge tome, but only enough to establish the difference in how more orthodox authors used the term.

Given her status as patristic professor at the Catholic University in Italy, I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn her work has been encouraged as part of the RCC’s reclamation of orthodox universalistic fathers (and mothers, starting with the Macrinas, the Younger of whom basically invented monastic sisterhoods with the help of Gregory Nyssa) in the past few decades, pointing toward a more Eastern Orthodox attitude on the topic eventually. Which, not incidentally, would remove one of the big remaining blocks to the reunion of the ancient trinitarian groups, three of whom (Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Nestorian/Church of the East) have historically had strong ties to universalistic teachers.

(As an aside, since he’s teaching at St. Louis University, I suppose he must have a doctorate and we should call him Dr. McClymond not just Mr.?)

Regarding Mr McClymond and his supposed arguments against Universalism, as an old friend of mine was fond of saying, “what is this, amateur night?!” :smiley:

I think a good case can be made that the doctrine of the sinful nature is profoundly gnostic.

Since God cursed us with it, all our earthly desires are depraved and our only hope is to escape this wicked word (and eternal hell) by getting to heaven.

Interestingly enough this doctrine cannot be found at all in the text of Genesis.

Conservative Evangelical scholarship is a farce, a ruse and arguably even a delusion.

Given the self-contradictory nature of the Bible, they are always going to distort many verses for salvaging their favorite ones.
By doing this they all too often ignore the fact that many of their logically possible interpretations of the problematic verses are also extremely implausible.

What really infuriates me is their** heinous bigotry** while attacking marginal viewpoints such as condtional immortality or universalism.
They utterly lack love and compassion while passionately preaching that BILLIONS of human beings are going to be tortured forever due to sins they could not have possibly avoided, having been cursed by the Almighty Himself.

They are worshiping an evil demon they call God, thereby blaspheming His holy and precious name. :smiling_imp:

It is no wonder than approximately 85% of American college students leave behind this wicked faith.
It is very sad they give up Christ altogether, throwing out the baby with the proverbial bathwater.

But as I have argued, I think that many of them might be closer to God now they are atheists.

There is a nice quote “With such a god, atheism becomes an act of religiosity”.

Can someone tell me whom it stems from?

i certainly sympathise with a lot of what you’ve said! Of course, people are free to have ridiculous beliefs about God and still have a relationship with the real God…cognitive dissonance is an odd thing to live with, but God is patient at least. Thankfully, unlike the elitist form of Gnosticism would have it [if they truly believed as the church claimed], we aren’t saved by what we Know [or rather believe we know] but by trusting in God as best we understand…and many that misconstrue God to be a monster maybe still know Him in their hearts better than they realise, but they’re not mature enough to leave behind the harmful myths they already embraced.
those myths, as you say, do point to a monster…a very fickle and inconsistent one, that withholds loving kindness from MOST, and then, almost as insult to injury, gives smug grace and elitist favour to a tiny group. but in practice, many i know of a conservative evangelical bent, are still acting as if despite all that crap, they know and love the real God.
they get stuff wrong about Him, and i guarantee i do as well, even if i get this one bit right, that He would not burn people forever.

but as to this topic, i expect this guy thought this would be a cakewalk, and really didn’t bother to dive in properly. because, as we all know, Universalism is just obviously wrong :wink: