I had been going to buy Christopher Bryan’s newly released The Resurrection of the Messiah anyway, but wasn’t in much of a hurry having recently finished Licona’s tome on the topic (and still never having gotten around to NT Wright’s).
Then fellow Cadrist, J. D., posted this review alerting readers that Bryan’s final appendix, on “The New Testament and the Negative Eschaton: The Possibility of Damnation” involved some things that believers in ECT and/or annihilation would disagree with.
Having quickly read the appendix on my Kindle, I can report that the position Bryan takes is only about a quarter-step behind that of Rob Bell and the Big Three Bs (Balthasar, Bulgakov, Barth. So… four Big Bs now + Bell who isn’t nearly as big but is still a B? )
I lack time and energy this afternoon to go into details, and the chapter is pretty sparse anyway, but analytically:
1.) Bryan affirms the scope of God’s action to save all sinners from sin (so he’s at least Arminian);
2.) Bryan more-or-less affirms the persistence of God’s action to save sinners from sin, while not turning around and denying it.
He does speak of irrevocable damnation as being a real possibility, but insists that this is due to the choice of sinners not to God’s choice, while not claiming that God would give up at that point (unlike Lewis for example) and while affirming that anyone can repent and leave hell whenever they choose.
I’ll have to read it through more closely (and check his endnotes where he frequently has more parenthetical discussion of issues) to see if I’ve missed a relevant nuance, but so far his only significant difference from Bell and the Big 3 Bs is that he sorta kinda affirms that a soul might get themselves into a position where they could not repent (perhaps through permanently lacking the ability to even want to repent anymore.)
On the other hand, he refuses to affirm that even one sinner certainly shall reach such a hopeless condition.
So a quarter-step beyond Lewis (who affirmed final perdition really is coming to at least some people), but behind the others (for affirming that the final perdition wouldn’t be an ongoing stalemate but an irrevocable reality–even though, unlike Lewis, he avoids saying that God would give up at that point.)
My impression is that he hasn’t thought all this through systematically enough yet, not that he’s only trying to avoid his work being rejected as connected to universalism and so is being wary about what he says (though probably that, too.) It really does seem to be a kind of appendix to his thoughts on the Resurrection.
I’ll try to post some more details later, after this weekend: nieces to watch over!