The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What books are our members reading? Post updates freely! {g}

This thread might work better in another category–if another admin or mod wants to move it somewhere more appropriate, I have no objections.

What I would like to see is a “current reading list” that our members update on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be UR related, and you don’t have to make a book report about it–in fact I would prefer if discussions about the books (aside from some explanatory remarks and brief opinions) take place in other dedicated threads.

(I am assuming “The Bible” is a constant entry, so please let’s not have people dissing each other if that isn’t listed, okay?)

So for example, as of today I am currently reading:

Jesus and the God of Israel by Richard Baukham. (Starts with his monograph “God Crucified” and then adds chapters based on followup articles he has done over the years.)

Universal Restitution by James Stonehouse. (The 1761 text as a pdf doc. I’m about 3/4 of the way through it, and am curious about his followup books although most are not available.)

“All Shall Be Well”: Exploration in Universal Salvation and Christian Theology etc. edited by “Gregory MacDonald”, i.e. Robin Parry. (I haven’t come back to this one in a while due to reading on other things, but it’s still on my current-reading list. :wink: Its essay/chapter format lends itself to being put down and picked up sporadically. :laughing: )

Recently I finished:

The Forge of Christendom: The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West by Tom Holland. (Rollicking narrative history, overviewing the history of Europe, North Africa and the Near Middle East, i.e. the remnants of the Roman Empire and areas on its borders, more-or-less during the Dark Ages. In effect a sequel to Philip Jenkins’ Jesus Wars covering the rise of Christendom up to the fall of Rome in the west; and The Lost History of Christianity covering the orthodox schism and the history of the Oriental Orthodox and the Church of the East up through their being overrun by the Muslims and/or the Mongols.)

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre. (Very nicely detailed argument, written largely for purpose of arguing in favor of transsubtantiation of the Lord’s Supper. Overreaches in a couple of places but not fatally so for the general argument. Didn’t have quite as much about the relationship between the Supper and the seder as I was expecting (stripes on the bread, hiding of the bread, etc.), but that can be found in other places. Already respected transsubstantiation though agnostic about it; greatly improved my leanings in that direction. Not at all sure what to do about it :laughing: , but helps remove an obstacle from my joining a denomination teaching this.)

It’s always interesting to see what others are reading.

Currently I’m reading:
Malcolm by George MacDonald
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton


I’ve been meaning to start this thread for a week or so, ever since reading Alex’s list of things-to-read. (One of which was CoJ, #9 at the time. :wink: :mrgreen: )

However, I thought I’d narrow it down to what we’re currently reading (and maybe have recently read), since in my experience lists to-read tend to fluctuate a lot more! :laughing:

I just finished “Raising Hell” (Julie Ferwerda.)

Awesome. You can tell she did her homework, yet it is very readable.

I loved this bit, where she anticipated some likely comments tongue-in-cheek style:

What people are saying about Raising Hell…

“Mercy triumphs over judgment…brilliant reminder!” —Saint James

“Ms. Ferwerda dares to believe in a victorious gospel, where God actually wins and Satan loses. The author promises much more than God possibly can or will deliver! If you read this book, you may be putting your soul in danger of eternal hellfire!” —Pastor Todd Doubter :laughing:

“This book fully explains what was meant by the famous declaration of long ago: ‘Good news of great joy shall be for all the people.’ I love it and will buy it for eleven of my friends!” —A. Fisherman

“Julie has not been to seminary and therefore her message is rife with the ignorant heresies you would expect from a regular lay person with no formal training.” —Dr. Theo Logian PhD, M.Div., D.Min. :laughing:

“My opinion? Julie Ferwerda is going straight to hell with Rob Bell!” —The Church Lady :laughing:

I just finished reading:

  • “The Minister’s Restoration” (AKA “Salted with Fire”) by George Macdonald / Michael Phillips - as usual, I love GMac.

  • “Wide Open Spaces” by Jim Palmer - This was a good read, conversational with an inclusivist mentality.

Currently reading:

  • “Christ Triumphant” by Thomas Allin

  • “Discovering the Charater of God” by George MacDonald / Michael Phillips

]Finish “All Shall Be Well” by Robin Parry/]
]Finish Hope Beyond Hell by Gerry Beauchemin/]
]Finish Raising Hell by Julie Ferwerda/]
]2nd ed. of The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott/]
]The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis/]
]The One Purpose of God by Jan Bonda/]
]The Sacrifice of Jesus: Understanding Atonement Biblically by Christian Eberhart/]
]Terms for Eternity by Ilaria Ramelli & David Konstan/]
]Reread The Evangelical Universalist by Robin Parry/]
]Cry of Justice by Jason Pratt/]
]The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis/]
]Hope against Hope by Richard Bauckham & Trevor Hart/]
]Her Gates Will Never be Shut by Bradley Jersak/]
]Evil and the Cross by Henri Blocher/]

I was reading “The Jewish Response to Missionaries - Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz but I stopped halfway through.
It is a booklet put out by the Jews for Judaism website on what to say if a Christian comes knocking.
Interestingly there is a brief Q&A on pg 37
Q. “Do you believe in Heaven & Hell?”
A. “…We do not believe in eternal damnation and hell. The Jewish belief is in a purgatory that purifies the soul of it’s spiritual blemishes prior to it’s return to G-d. (Psalm 49:15, II Samuel 14:13, Isaiah 45:17) …”

And just picked up

“30 Second Theories” edited by Paul Parsons
The 50 most thought-provoking theories in science, each explained in half a minute.

Finished “Raising Hell” about 3 weeks ago.
Reading “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis

My reading is a little scattered around…every day it seems I am poking around 1 of my 6 or 7 books.

My Fiancee and I are trying to work through Matthew…we usually get together on the weekend and use the search feature on this sight to get some good commentary on some of the more difficult verses. :stuck_out_tongue: Hey there is a good working database here of answers from some knowledgeable Universalists. Where else would I find that type of Commentary! :laughing:

Since my Return to the Lord (and introduction to Universalism) 2 months ago I’ve read through:

Hope Beyond Hell-Beauchemin
The Inescapable Love of God - Talbot (Half way)
Christian Universalism (half way) - Eric Stetson
Love Wins - Rob Bell
A WHOLE BUNCH Of essays and posts on this EU site.
Universalism The Prevailing Doctrine Of The Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years J.W. Hanson

Other stuff that I am reading through:

Bible Threatenings explained J.W. Hanson
Universalists book of reference (1858) by Rev E. E. Guild
Great Divorce C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis

Yeah I know Scattered around. But I am like a kid on a sugar high. I have all these questions I am trying to get answered so quickly. This whole discovery of Universalism is still real fresh on my mind and so eye opening, so inspiring!

I’m very bad for getting interested in a book and only reading 1/4 to 1/2 of the way through before getting distracted by another one, and my interests are VERY wide, so this list may look weird. Be forewarned. :laughing:

Here are my recent completions and in-progresses:

  1. (finished) Cry of Justice (interesting that JP started this thread!)–definitely the best fantasy I’ve read in a while, and overall in my mind it’s just behind stuff like Lewis’ “Space Trilogy” (which I REALLY love). It was a little slow to begin, but I got the feeling JP may have been testing me a little to see how badly I wanted it, so I kept plowing through. I was on vacation, so I didn’t have much to do. :mrgreen: Anyway, a few (short) chapters in, I was HOOKED through the gills, and I couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of what I heard JP say here at some point, that the Incarnation would have been necessary at some point even in an unfallen world. (Trying not to give spoilers away, here, but that’s difficult to do) :wink: One of the characters seems a little messianic, and I even got some insight into the Bridegroom’s relationship to His Bride…and of the course the epic battle sequences and LOTR-type (sorry JP! :stuck_out_tongue: ) setting and action are great. Suffice to say I can’t wait for my boys to get old enough to share this with them.
  2. (in progress) Raising Hell, Julie Ferwerda
  3. (in progress) Discovering the Character of God, George MacDonald, ed Michael Phillips (thanks for the loan, AaronK!)
  4. (in progress) Terminator and Philosophy. VERY interesting! I can’t believe there’s a book that combines my love of the Terminator storyline and philosophy! … 486&sr=8-1
  5. (finished) Peter Hiett’s 150-page pdf, “All Things New.” Really helped connect the dots for me between OT references to punishment/judgment, God’s character/work as a purifying fire, and the age to come. Maybe it’s worth adding to the resources we recommend? I really liked it. … l-and-gods His sermon podcasts are awesome, too, for those of you (like me) who don’t have a UR-friendly church service to go to locally.

Those are just off the top of my head. I have some others I’m reading for work, but they’re not handy right now, and I don’t want to misquote something, so those will have to wait for another time…

at the moment i am merely reading a Terry Pratchett book, I Shall Wear Midnight :blush:
to be fair, there’s alot of wisdom in his books mixed with the humour, great social commentary.

i wonder what his take on universalism would be, as he’s written some very inciteful observations on religion, albeit from a fairly Agnostic standpoint.

Can we get a link to that pdf, Neal?

The first several chapters of CoJ are more difficult to read than I would have preferred, due to the weird narrative design. I have reasons for doing it that way, and struggled for years to come up with another way to do it that would still allow me to accomplish my narrative goals for the end of the series (which is why I designed it like this in the first place); but I eventually gave up looking for another solution and just trimmed out as much of Section One as I could in order to move things along as quickly as possible.

So don’t feel bad, even people who love the book have a hard time with the first chapters. I even posted a (slightly off-color) satire of the whole first section here in the comments of this review.

Entirely intentional, although I’m holding some plot cards close to the chest there. I think you can agree with me in saying this ain’t Narnia.

hmmm… I hadn’t thought of the connections with what I’ve written on that, but now that you mention it I can see some. Very good!

Mikon is, of course, very much a fallen world. :slight_smile: Though perhaps not quite to the same extent as ours. One of the concepts to the series is a speculation of how loyal angels would work under God in cultural religion in a fallen world; whereas the scriptures tend to indicate that the guardian angels of other nations have all rebelled in attempting to start up their own competing religions. As a result, ‘pagan’ cultic worship works somewhat differently in Mikon. No one in the southern nations worships the gods per se, for example, even when they respect and try to work with them. And yes, I was extrapolating somewhat from Lewis’ ideas in Narnia and The Space Trilogy.

There are a few other members here who have read CoJ… and even one who has read early drafts of EoJ and SoJ! If you wanted to discuss things with them (and try to pry spoilers out of whoever has read the other two, assuming you find out who that is :mrgreen:), you could try setting up a thread for it.

Or add to this one, started by James’ daughter Valerie several years ago.

(I just want to make sure this thread stays on its intended purpose, as much as I love to talk about my books. Or not talk about them, as the case may be, in order to avoid spoilers for upcoming books. :smiley: )

Yeah, I thought I had linked to it above, but let me see…ah, here it is:

Right, it’s almost like a slightly more innocent version of a fallen world. Well, maybe “innocent” isn’t the right word…

Hey! How did THAT happen?! :slight_smile: At least give us a projected publication date…

@corpselight: I’ve also enjoyed Pratchett’s books in the past, as well as Douglas Adams, though I haven’t actually gotten to Hitchhiker’s Guide yet!

The member in question commented so thoroughly and well on CoJ that I offered to send drafts of EoJ and about 2/3 of SoJ for similar comments. Pre-release feedback can be important. :slight_smile:

I keep saying “Next year”, and that reply has worked pretty well so far over the years, so sure, why not? :mrgreen:

A more accurate and detailed reply would be “When I can afford to do it in at least as respectable a fashion as CoJ’s printing, or when some other publisher decides to underwrite production and marketing costs for a publisher’s cut of the proceeds.”

If I have any say in it, the next two books will be released simultaneously to prevent readers from burning me at the stake (in effigy or otherwise) at having to put up with a sharp cliff hanger–so to speak. :wink: Having read the book, you may recall the “sharp cliff” incident being foreshadowed by Portunista twice. Edge of Justice is about the sharp cliff, leading up to it and its immediate aftermath. Song of Justice is about what happens after the sharp cliff and resolving the problems of its immediate aftermath. Also, much butt-kicking of the unrighteous. :mrgreen:

And now, back to the regularly scheduled thread topic.

Finished Bauckham’s book late last week; highly recommend it, especially since he comes close to being a universalist. His theological positions add up that way, and he occasionally realizes this–at which point he routinely ignores something important to his own contentions and takes a stand against universalism! :laughing:

I was wondering if it would happen in this book, too (Jesus and the God of Israel); and as I neared the end I thought he’d… but, no. He does it again. :angry:

I’ll save my kvetching about that for an article sometime, though.

Otherwise, I thought this was an entirely admirable expansion to his “God Crucified” monograph, collecting together and (kind of) synthesizing several subsequent articles of his on the topic.

Next up, another author who (from what I’ve seen) tends to be much like Bauckham, including in his schizophrenic approach to universalism (realizing the exegetical and theological evidence points that way but backing off at the last moment in some fashion self-contradictory to his own contentions elsewhere.)

The Resurrection of the Messiah by Christopher Bryan. (Which from his prologue appears to be a spiritual sequel, so to speak, to Raymond Brown’s series of The Birth… and The Death of the Messiah.)

Jason, when you have time (lol), I’d appreciate your take on “Raising Hell”.

Currently reading “Revelation,” Gordon Fee’s recent new commentary with a largely preterist take; “Naked Spirituality,” Brian McLaren.

That’s interesting. I know Gordon Fee’s son, Mark. Definitely would not have marked him down as a preterist. I know Mark is not a universalist, and I’m betting Gordon isn’t either. I asked Mark to read Hope Beyond Hell the last time I saw him (which was several years ago, gave him a copy) and that I’d be interested in his thoughts on it. I never heard from him…

My impression so far is that Fee sees Revelation’s apocalyptic symbols (with the exception of the final chapters) as referring to Rome’s oppression of the church in the century following its’ writing, and both the assurance of God’s ultimate victory for us and his destruction of the Roman Empire as it disinegrated in the early centuries; he thinks seeing an account of future events fancifully neglects the nature of apocalyptic and the setting that is originally addressed by John.

Sounds interesting. I’ve been looking to pick up a Current Preterist take on Revelation. Is this guy a Universalist or no?