I’m moving Exploring_Theologies post on Gregory’s book here in the “books” section. Exploring is going through his first read on Evangelical Universalism so it will be quite interesting to get his opinions on the book.
Hello Mr. MacDonald:
First let me say I’ve began reading your book & excellent points so far, particularly the idea that the joy of the redeemed would be diminished (and imperfect) if they knew others (namely loved ones) were being eternally tormented (or even if they remained unsure of their fate).
I was at one time a professing Arminian, but always had problems with some of its core doctrines (particularly the idea of a prevenient grace, which affords all the equal opportunity to believe – even wayward jungle inhabitants who have never heard of Jesus Christ). It always seemed logical to think if some never gained exposure to the Gospel message, and no one can believe in someone they don’t know exists (i.e. Romans 10:14) then they are denied at least one aspect of grace. In other words if we’re saved by grace through faith – and we can only have faith if we’ve been exposed to the Gospel, then such exposure must be an aspect of grace (which is given to some & denied to others).
However, the Calvinist answer has never sat well with me either. The idea that God creates people for the sole purpose of destroying or torturing them seems disturbing. Moreover, both Calvinist and Arminian doctrine run into problems with scripture that are frequently resolved by apologists with what can only be termed as theological gymnastics. Then I read N.T. Wrights perspective & it opened up a whole new set of possibilities for me. Obviously Bishop Wright does not advocate universalism – however, his value to me has been to help me understand the relationship between eschatology and soteriology.
Revelation 20 tells us all people will be judged. Those in Christ are raised first & those whom are not are raised at the outset of the millennial kingdom. However, all are judged all the same – so it seems counter intuitive to think God will raise those whom passed away ignorant of Christ & go through the process of judging them if He simply intends to toss them all in hell anyway. Moreover, we are taught that no one gets to the Father except through the Son. Hence it seems highly likely that men are given another chance at faith. This has helped me resolve the tension between the reformed view of grace and predestination with the universalist verses (such as 1 Tim. 2:1-4). So I’ve become more open to the universalist perspective (though I do concede I’m not there yet). I at least think it’s “hypothetically” possible.