The Deliverance of God - Douglas A. Campbell


a.k.a. ‘the big black D.O.G. - man’s best friend??’ :astonished: I bought this 1000 page book on Chris Tilling’s blog recommendation and, being a bear of little brain, I am progressing through it slowly and carefully (only 79 pages in, but of course I’ve taken a peek ahead at the conclusions :wink: ). The book brings a major reinterpretation of Paul’s theology and as far as I can see is potentially helpful to the cases against Eternal Conscious Torment and Penal Substitution. Douglas Campbell shows the many weaknesses, absurdities and inconsistencies in the traditional doctrine of justification derived primarily from Romans 1-4 and makes a powerful counterproposal in which Romans 5-8 takes centre stage (if I’m following correctly). In comparing the soteriology of Rom 5-8 with the traditional Justification Theory derived from Rom 1-4 he comes close to making a universalist statement but then backs away. Here’s the quote which interests me:-
Hence, the atonement of Christ is, in this alternative system, more emphatically universal, reaching out to all who are lost: “just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification for all” (Rom. 5:18). It is probably wise not to second guess the eschaton and pronounce definitively - not to mention, without warrant - on th future salvation of the human race. Neither is it necessary in the alternative system to affirm the lostness of anyone ex definitione; the system will not break down if the converse is the case. So any sense of soteriological limitation is conceptually curtailed by the alternative system, and the universality of the atonement is unconditioned and consequently more inherently dynamic and inclusive (that is, without being automatic).

From this I guess Prof Campbell is not a universalist himself, but perhaps, like Barth, his work points in that direction. What do others think of this book / know about his views? Drew


I think I have this book on my Amazon wishlist (also thanks to Chris Tilling’s rec). But I haven’t read it yet.

The quote you used, however, backs away mainly by acceptance of an unstated category error, namely that such salvation would be “automatic”. Uh… no, I’m pretty sure that the intentions and action of God in regard to salvation are not “automatic”, whichever soteriology is true. :wink:

i.e., the avoidance of an “automatic” salvation doctrine is commendable, but universalism need not be “automatic” any more than Calvinism (or Arminianism, for that matter.)

What counts first and foremost is whether God persists at the atonement. Arms have to say no, sooner or later, or they would be Kath instead of Arm. (Calvs say yes, but have to limit the scope of God’s intentions, or they would be Kath instead of Calv.) When or even whether a particular sinner ever finally accepts the atonement, is secondary to the intentions of God on the matter.


I bought Cambell’s book and I’m anxious to get going but I’m trying to work through some other stuff first. Has anyone read it? What are your thoughts about it? It look like he is proposing a radical reread if the beginning of Romans.