The Evangelical Universalist Forum

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

Wow, been a while since I updated here…!

Okay, first picking up spares: I still haven’t finished reading one of the Heliand translations (the prose version), although I’m pretty sure I’ll get back to it someday. (At this rate near Christmas.) I did outright give up reading the other Heliand translation when I got tired of the liberties taken by the author regarding the Saxon text. (The precise moment I gave up was when one of his poetic strophes read, across both parts, “AAAAIIIEEEEEE” or some yell like that. Okay man I could tell you were having a tough time keeping up with your poetic scheme over the long haul, but clearly you aren’t even trying anymore. :laughing: :unamused: )

I have finished reading the first two of the four volumes of Elhanan Winchester’s Lectures on the Prophecies That Remain to be Fulfilled. Those I read as pdf scans imported to my Kindle, which didn’t work so well on the first volume due to technical reasons I won’t go into here. I am pleased to say that the 25ish dollars I risked on ECCO’s print edition of Volume 3 was well worth the effort, and I will be promptly ordering volume 4 from them to finish the collection. Anyone who wants a handheld version of books originally printed in the 18th or 19th century (I think their scope stretches into the 19th…?) would be well advised to try an ECCO print-on-demand edition from Amazon. They simply print and bind a pdf scan of the original pages, although they may be working from their own scans not ones necessarily available already online.

As to the material itself, I can only cautiously recommend it. Winchester should be well-known to Christian universalists as an influential Baptist universalist author, evangelist and preacher from the period of the Revolutionary War onward, and I do strongly recommend his collected series of pseudo-epistles recounting conversations he has had defending his beliefs in universal salvation of sinners from sin, The Universal Restoration. These lectures, presented in London during his years in England working as an evangelist near the end of his life in 1789, do feature some points of interest for the Christian universalist (and opponents) here and there, including a portion originally included with his TUR but omitted in later prints to make room for some other things. (I don’t know if this is in vol 3 or 4 yet.) His analyses of OT and NT prophecies (mostly OT) still to be fulfilled are somewhat less competent in my estimation (and demonstrably wrong in regard to what he thought would be fulfillment, on some points). But I’ve learned a wad of new things from his efforts, even when I don’t always agree with him. The fact that I’m going ahead to spend real live money :mrgreen: on collecting the remaining two volumes ought to show my appreciation for his work. I’m just saying–unless you’re a hermit like me with a good job and not much else you care to spend money on, there are plenty of other books (including some by Winchester himself) worth your time and (for print versions) money on.

I’m currently in the middle of reading several other books, one of which is The Barbarian Conversions, an in-depth history of Christian evangelism by the Western Church (mostly) from the first Christian centuries until the late Renaissance or thereabouts. (I’m halfway done and the author is taking a chapter to sum up where things stand around AD 800.) It’s dry enough reading that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but hardcore history geeks, but for those of us who know who we are (i.e. those of us who spend stupid amounts of money on monographs about particular elements of medieval history, i.e. me :mrgreen: :stuck_out_tongue: ) I’d be surprised if there’s any better book available on the topic. Thanks muchly to fellow apologist David Marshall for mentioning it in one of his recent articles!

In case anyone is wondering, I still have several large (in two cases VERY VERY VERY large) research and apologetic projects on the way, although in recent weeks I’ve added two more such projects to my list of things to do; the one I’m working on today is a multi-part article addressing fellow Christian apologist James Patrick Holding’s arguments against Christian universalism at his Tektonics site. (JPH is also an adminstrator and maybe co-owner, I forget, of We don’t know each other directly but we share some mutual friends. :slight_smile: ) I just finished page 24 and have a lonnnng way to go. :sunglasses: But I’ve already inadvertently run across a very strong exegetical argument for Christian universalism that I myself had never heard about until today! (JPH doesn’t quite mention the argument, but only one part of it–I found the rest of it while doing contextual research. I’ll be mentioning it in my forthcoming series here on the forum, of course. :wink: )

" Quiet " , By Susan Cain. " The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking "…

“A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weakhearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty-five pages to the dissection of a small boy’s feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight . . . Indeed the presence of outstanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channeled away from them.” - Allen Shawn

I just finished “The Jesus Crisis - The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Scholarship” by Thomas and Farnell and I loved every page. In an age when everyone seems to be telling us we have to believe Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and Q, it’s nice to find scholars who uphold literary independence regarding the origin of the gospels.

just finished reading The Post Evangelical by Dave Tomlinson.
Sobornost lent it to me as i was using the expression “post evangelical” to describe myself and thought it’d be a help. it WAS.
this book, written in 1994 (i think), captured ALOT of my feeling about church, theology, style of worship, spiritual warfare, acceptance of alternate lifestyles and beliefs, and many other things.
i’d recommend it to anyone feeling vaguely or extremely dissatisfied with evangelical culture, or who is to any degree post modern in their thinking.
you’re not alone!

incidentally, i googled the author, and learned that he is now the vicar of a Church of England church about 20 minutes on the bus from where i live, so i have been going…just had my 4th Sunday there and am really enjoying it. i feel like i may’ve found a church home at long last.

also, JRP may be interested to know i have started The Cry of Justice, and am enjoying it so far!

CL, Now let us see what the future will bring. :mrgreen:

In hardback books: I set aside The Barbarian Conversions for a little while (about 2/3 or 3/4 done) because I had found a Craig Blomberg book in my stacks that I never had gotten around to reading (Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction And Survey), and despite our disagreements (he’s a penal sub advocate with definite Calvinistic leanings) I’m a bit of a fan of his work. Haven’t run across much in it new to me, though.

I was alerted by Amazon yesterday that the first volume of Craig Keener’s new mega-commentary on Acts is on the way; I’ve been waiting for that for a while, so I’ll likely start it next. (Or I may finish BarbiCon first. :mrgreen: )

In softback books: at home I’m plugging along through the third volume of Winchester’s Lectures on Prophecies Remaining. While I have some problems with some of his conclusions, I’ve learned a lot of new things from that series. I’m not overly sure I could freely recommend it to everyone, however, even though he wrote what I still regard as the best overall older English apologetic for Christian universalism: the topic matter for the Lectures is an acquired taste, and I’m not a fan of his style.

On Kindle: for convenience of being able to instantly access and search JP Holding’s What In Hell Is Going On? (while replying to his articles vs. universalism and post-mortem salvation), I’m not reading anything on this at the moment. I have several new ebooks I badly want to start though. ARRGGHH!!![1].gif

Well, obviously I finished WIHIGO… :wink: :mrgreen: I have a thread on that around here somewhere I’ve been working on for a while now.

Finished CraigB’s book; not many new (much less surprising) things, but I wasn’t expecting them either. A nice solid introduction to the Gospels. I would rather recommend some other introductory books first, but those would admittedly be more technical. I could recommend this as a good starting place for Gospel study. As usual his footnotes pointed me to some other texts that I promptly bought, although I’m not actually reading any of them yet.

Have barely gone back to the book on the Barbarian Conversions; it’s dry going, and naturally after a while all the topics kind of blend together. Mostly I just wanted to read other things at lunch, and this was my previous lunch book. I will no doubt finish it later.

Finally finished Bishop Alfayev’s book on the Descent of Christ into Hades, and the various ways the ancient church remarked and interpreted it–once I got into the EOx liturgical material, I wasn’t as interested (not being EOx :wink: ).

Still working on Vol 3 of Winchester’s Lectures on Prophecies. He has reached the final judgment/lake of fire material, and has indicated he’ll be arguing for Christian universalism soon. There’s a lot of material still to go, so I’ll be curious how he topically slots his lectures once he’s past the LoF (on which I expect he’ll dwell for another two or three lectures for various aspects of it). My previous caution in recommending it remains in place: this is very much an acquired taste, and not really useful for most people today.

I’m quite a fan of Dr. Michael Brown, the Messianic Jewish missionary and apologist, and my lunch/dinner reading currently features his latest book The Real Kosher Jesus, which serves as a handy summary of his huge Answering Jewish Objections series while doing double duty as a reply to his friend Rabbi Boteach’s recent book Kosher Jesus–which follows the fringe theory of Jesus as a failed military revolutionary whose movement was benevolently hijacked post-mortem by the conniving Saul of Tarsus, a Gentile convert to Judaism posing as a rabbi and rejected by the apostles and original Jerusalem disciples. No, it doesn’t actually take much effort for Rabbi Brown to poke gaping fatal holes in this. :wink: I just wanted to see if this would serve as a single-book slice of his much larger series, and it serves that purpose admirable. The link above goes to the Kindle edition. (Rabbi Brown is not a universalist, by the way; I seem to recall him being an annihilationist, but I don’t recall clearly. It wasn’t a big topic in his larger series.)

After Dr. Brown’s book, I expect I’ll be starting a book extensively arguing Christian universalism from Jewish Feast/Jubilee typologies. More on that when I get to it!

Love Wins by Bell

I’m currently reading (and almost done with) Dropping Hell and Embracing Grace, by Ivan A. Rogers.

I’m fairly certain this is the book that “The Hour We Least Expected” should have been, as it takes a similar line, but does a better job of getting there.

Re-reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller :slight_smile:

I just finished Legacy: Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart

This is a 4 book series ($6.99 for the set for Kindle). I really enjoyed the first 3, but the 4th was not as good.

I’m also reading The Hobbit to my kids.


Greetings …

Plot summary

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way …
—Opening line, The Last Question
The story deals with the development of computers called Multivacs and their relationships with humanity through the courses of seven historic settings, beginning in 2061. In each of the first six scenes a different character presents the computer with the same question; namely, how the threat to human existence posed by the heat death of the universe can be averted. The question was: “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?” This is equivalent to asking: “Can the workings of the second law of thermodynamics (used in the story as the increase of the entropy of the universe) be reversed?” Multivac’s only response after much “thinking” is: “INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”
The story jumps forward in time into newer and newer eras of human and scientific development. In each of these eras someone decides to ask the ultimate “last question” regarding the reversal and decrease of entropy. Each time, in each new era, Multivac’s descendant is asked this question, and finds itself unable to solve the problem. Each time all it can answer is an (increasingly sophisticated, linguistically): “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”
In the last scene, the god-like descendant of humanity (the unified mental process of over a trillion, trillion, trillion humans that have spread throughout the universe) watches the stars flicker out, one by one, as the universe finally approaches the state of heat death. Humanity asks AC, Multivac’s ultimate descendant, which exists in hyperspace beyond the bounds of gravity or time, the entropy question one last time, before humanity merges with AC and disappears. AC is still unable to answer, but continues to ponder the question even after space and time cease to exist. Eventually AC discovers the answer, but has nobody to report it to; the universe is already dead. It therefore decides to show the answer by demonstrating the reversal of entropy, creating the universe anew. The story ends with AC’s pronouncement,
And AC said: “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” And there was light–
—Closing line, The Last Question[2]
you can read the wiki article here …

Also Robots in Time … and the other series
Cheeseburger Brown – The Christmas Story … ending is superb !
RL Stine re-reading thru all of the original Goosebumps series !
also I found the The Last Question complete story if anyone wishes to read it … hehehehe

all the best !

Derek Flood’s “Healing the Gospel”. Excellent book!

I’ve started reading Stephen Jones’ Creation’s Jubilee; but I was expecting more discussion of OT typology off the bat, so after getting through about 1/4 of it I lost a little interest (though I still hope to finish it) and have also/instead started reading Waclaw Hryniewicz’ The Challenge of Our Hope. For a Roman Catholic theologian, he’s remarkably far more outspoken about universal salvation than even his peer Balthasar! (Also apparently a major influence on the two recent Popes!) But then, he was a convert from one of the Eastern Orthodox groups.

Both books are available for free, and I’ve attached them below.

I haven’t read much of Hryn yet, but the little I’ve read encourages me to expect interesting things from the book, and I already want to hunt up his two Pascha theology trilogies, one (trilogy) of which is based on Old Rus and Old Slavonic Orthodox texts.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to his book, itself a runimation on the recently promulgated (a few months earlier in 2003) apostolic exhortation of his fellow countryman Pope John Paul II “Ecclesia in Europa”; Hryn’s rumination is called “We Are All The People Of A New Beginning”:

The Challenge of Our Hope (Waclaw Hryniewicz).pdf (2.83 MB)
Creations_Jubilee.pdf (1.11 MB)

I have very little time to post at the moment – but there are two websites I’ve been reading and like very much (I know websties aren’t books but - thought I’d tell you anyway).

Has anyone seen the ‘Discernmentalist Mafia’ site? Its’ a satirical site that claims to preach the full Gospel of discernment that ’God hates you!’. It’s a bit naughty – but it made me laugh a lot. It gives a funky take on the ‘heresy’ of universalism at … y-exposed/

On a more serious note I have benefited from reading ‘Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion at

Dr Richard Bartholomew is a lecturer at the School of African studies at London University. His blog carries news analysis of the latest stories concerning relgion in th ewrold today - concentrating on the slightly off beat

It has been awhile since I’ve read Creation’s Jubilee, but I remember thinking that it was a good introduction to universalism from an OT perspective, and I did appreciate the typology stuff once he got around to it.

I’ve gone back to Creation’s Jubilee over the past week or so–he still doesn’t do a lot of work with the OT ceremonies (I was hoping for something similar to a book I read earlier this year on how Catholics derive the doctrine of transsubstantiation from Biblical testimony which I was much more impressed with than I was expecting), and I certainly don’t agree with all his various positions (currently he’s rambling on about how Satan either doesn’t exist or if he did exist could be reconciled but not saved per se. Which requires him to contradict his prior close connections between reconciliation and salvation, mainly on the ground that he doesn’t think rebel angels will be resurrected, so maybe it’s only a technicality for him but he treats other people like nits on the topic. :unamused: Wait, I was supposed to be explaining why I’m back on him…! :laughing: )

But Hryn has (for obvious reasons, since he converted to RCC from Eastern Orthodoxy) a tendency to write like an EOx on matters, which means lots of contemplative noodling and meditation without really going anywhere with it. I’ll no doubt go back to him eventually, but after twenty or thirty pages of that and no end in sight I’m ready to read something else. Jones at least is trying to accomplish something, and despite my occasional annoyance with him I’m learning something new and interesting (or at least worth researching) every chapter.

I will say this for Hryn: I can’t figure out how he’s managing to write so blatantly in favor of universal reconciliation, and not just a hope that no one ends up in hell (which would be hopeless) but a positive expectation that God will be able to save sinners post-mortem and that there is never any hopeless fate or punishment for sinners. I mean, I can’t figure out yet how he’s managing to do this while still being a well-respected teacher in the RCC. In the EOx he could get away with it so long as he presented it as a theological opinion and not as dogmatic teaching of the church, but in the RCC teachers aren’t supposed to do something which goes against papal teaching ex cathedra on faith and morals. Hryn is a relatively recent author, too (as in the past 10 years), who has to have had major papal connections via John Paul 2 (and thence to JP2’s ally Cardinal Ratzinger now Pope Benedict).

It seems that I remember that Creation’s jubilee talked mostly about temple imagery and feasts and/or harvests imagery. I’d forgotten about the satan bit…

Evolving in Monkey Town by Evans.

That’s a great book, I think you’ll like that one, Rob :slight_smile:

Healing the Gospel by our own Derek Flood (I definitely qualify a someone who has been damaged by the Gospel).