Was R. W. Dale a universalist? (Yes, but then went anni.)


For reasons too complex and trivial for me to bother going into, I was checking back through the pastor’s blog of a church I have attended for several years (and which I like very much, though currently I’m attending another church at the moment), and noticed he had posted up this excerpt from Warren Wiersbe’s 50 People Every Christian Should Know:

Because Dale stayed on at Carr’s Lane at 36 years.

When I see things like this, my Kath radar kicks in. :mrgreen: We have a pastor in the mid-1800s (near the end of the heyday for orthodox universalist Protestants in Britain outside the Anglican church per se), who has Calv leanings but doesn’t like teaching Calv as a doctrinal system and goes out of his way to call into question some key Calv points. Which points are those?–the ones concerning the limited scope of God’s salvation. (“Total Depravity” may not seem like it has anything to do with the limited scope of God’s atonement; but once Calvs deploy the concept in the context that apart from the Holy Spirit human nature has no goodness in it at all, then they synch it up with God’s election and the inextricable fate of the chosen dis-elected. The more moderate view, that all our faculties have been at least a little corrupted by sin, would not be denied by most Arms, or most Kaths either; nor would most Arms or Kaths deny that apart from the action of the Holy Spirit we can have no goodness in ourselves.)

Which points don’t make the list of questioning?–notably, the persistence of God to save all those He intends to save! Which is one of the key major differences between Calvs and Arms. (Also, arguably, the biggest positive selling point for Calvinism per se.)

Keep that persistence and question the limited scope, and where do we arrive?

(Hint: at something that would horrify some “saints”. :wink: )

So, would anyone less lazy than I am like to do some research on this guy? :smiley:


Here’s a biography by his son: archive.org/stream/lifeofrwd … e_djvu.txt

I didn’t read it, just text-searched it. Looks like he did come to believe in ‘universal restoration’ and also ‘repudiated’ the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement.

He wrote a book called “The Atonement” which can be downloaded here.



Sonia scores!

For those whose system can’t read whatever heathen “lbxoeb” format is provided for download in the article Sonia linked to (it’s Libronex :mrgreen:), right-thinking readers can get a clean orthodox pdf copy from Google here.

I’ll be checking through it later myself.

Thanks muchly for the resources! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


Well, a closer check of the biography indicates that although R.Dale started off his professional career as a universalist, he later switched to annihilationism. (Which is probably why John Stott, a famous modern convert to annihilationism, thinks so highly of him.)

“It was not till after this journey that Dale committed
himself by public utterance to the theory of the annihila-
tion of the impenitent.” – page 311.

Dale’s son calls this doctrine of the extinguishment of all hope and condemnation to inconsolable despair “[Dale’s] adhesion to the doctrine of ‘Life in Christ’.” :wink:

While to us that looks stunningly ironic, keep in mind that a standard position of annihilationists is to deploy conditional immortality against the doctrines both of eternal conscious torment and universal reconciliation–as though advocates of either school of thought must necessarily be teaching that the spirits of created entities are somehow intrinsically and statically immortal by a one-time gift of God; a tactic some non-annihilationists have in fact taken.